Troutman, NC Branch Library

I had the privilege of presenting a program about postcard history and my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina, at the Troutman, NC Branch Library on Thursday evening. The J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Library – Troutman Branch – is a beautiful five-year-old facility that grew out of a grassroots effort in the Troutman community.

Front of the J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman Library
Front of the J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman Library

Janet speaks @Troutman 005

The library patrons in attendance were interested and responsive to my remarks, and I really enjoyed interacting with them. They took my trivia questions in stride with good humor.

Janet speaks @Troutman 008

I enjoyed the hour I spent with the patrons of the Troutman branch of the Iredell County public library system. It is always rewarding to speak at a public library that has my book in circulation! Thank you, Juli Moore, library branch manager, for inviting me, publicizing the event, and giving me such a warm welcome!

Submitted My Author Proposal to Arcadia

I have submitted my author proposal to Arcadia Publishing for a vintage postcard book covering the piedmont section of North Carolina. I sent the proposal to the acquisitions editor electronically a few minutes ago. It felt good to mark that as “DONE” on my to-do list. I have been doing the necessary research to write the postcard captions a little at a time, so I’m well on my way to having many of the captions written.

The book I have proposed to Arcadia Publishing should be a good companion book to my first vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I anticipate that it will cover 32 counties in central North Carolina. I proposed the following three chapters in the book: Metrolina, The Triad, and The Triangle.

I’ll post on my blog as soon as I know if Arcadia Publishing gives me the go-ahead to write The Piedmont of North Carolina.

My Writing Plan of Action

This being my 100th blog post, I thought it was a good time to make a “Writing Plan of Action.” I made such a plan a couple of years ago for making items to sell in my craft shop on Etsy.com — Hickory Ridge Crafts. I tend to procrastinate if I don’t have a written list to keep me on task.

My “Plan of Action” for Hickory Ridge Crafts started as a weekly list. I soon found I needed a daily list; otherwise, the end of the week would arrive and half the things on my list had not been finished. What I present today in this post is seven goals and objectives, most of which have no end date or deadline. As I plan each week, I will assign tasks to each day in order to accomplish these goals and objectives:

(1) Schedule book signings/author events (on-going);

(2) Continue to blog every day (on-going);

(3) Continue to research and write captions for a Piedmont NC vintage postcard book so I can propose the book to Arcadia Publishing (on-going);

(4) Spend two hours each week building a list of places that might sell a Piedmont NC vintage postcard book (which must be included in my author proposal – beginning next week;

(5) Continue to search for writing contests to enter or magazine articles to write (on-going);

(6) Set aside one day each week to edit my historical novel manuscript, tentatively titled, The Spanish Coin, (until I get it polished as much as I can); and

(7) If Arcadia Publishing rejects my author proposal for a Piedmont NC vintage postcard book, start in earnest to find a literary agent to represent me and my novel.

Sounds like a plan! I’ll give a progress report occasionally.

A nice find in Sylva, North Carolina

My sister and I have enjoyed shopping at the used bookstore in Sylva, North Carolina, that is operated by the Friends of the Jackson County Friends of the Library. It is a marvelous store and the volunteers there are always very helpful and welcoming.

I knew there was another bookstore in the small town of Sylva — City Lights. We just never had taken the time to visit it. I’m not sure why. It is a gem and another example of a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains that supports an independent bookstore. I love the Indies!

We visited City Lights Bookstore in Sylva in December. I met Chris, the owner. There was only one copy of my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, remaining on the shelf. Chris asked me to autograph it. I was pleased to be asked to sign the book, although autographing my book is the most unsettling thing I do. It doesn’t look like the signature of an author. It lacks flair. It’s legible. It’s not pretty. It seems silly, but I think I need to practice writing my name. I have fairly good penmanship until I put pen in hand to autograph a copy of my book.

City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, North Carolina.
City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, North Carolina.

City Lights sells new books and used books. It shares a building with City Lights Cafe. In futures trips to Sylva, we’ll make time to visit both bookstores and give the cafe a try!

2014 was an exciting writing year for me

Most people take December 31 or January 1 to reflect on the last year. Leave it to me to wait a few days. I can procrastinate with the best of them! Looking back on 2014, I realize what an exciting writing year it was for me.

I celebrated the following firsts: (1) My first book, a vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, was published on August 25 by Arcadia Publishing; (2) My first author event was held at the public library in Harrisburg, North Carolina, on September 11; and (3) My first book launch was held on September 21.

In the last three months of 2014, I had additional author events at public libraries in Cabarrus and Haywood Counties, North Carolina.

Two whirlwind trips to the mountains of North Carolina in December to promote my book, to thank bookstore owners for selling my book, and to introduce my book to other bookstore and gift shop owners were my first forays into commercial book promotion.

In my spare time, I have done a bit of research in preparation for submitting an author proposal to Arcadia Publishing for a Piedmont North Carolina vintage postcard book in 2015, but most of my time has been spent promoting the Blue Ridge Mountains book. That book is my primary focus. I have two author events scheduled in April and May. With the holidays behind me, it is time to turn my attention to lining up additional author events this spring and summer.

Last week I took time to write a 1,899-word piece to enter in the Southern California Genealogical Society’s 2014 GENEii Nonfiction Writing Contest. I’ll talk more about that and my subject matter in another blog post this month. The winner will be announced on May 1, 2015.

Sometimes I don’t think I get much accomplished. It’s gratifying to take a few minutes on December 31, January 1, or even January 4 to remember what I did in the last year. Will I be as productive in 2015? Stay tuned!

It’s in the mail!

No, really. This is a “red letter day.” As of this morning, the 210 vintage postcards and layout pages for my book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, were shipped to Arcadia Publishing. The book’s text went to the publisher electronically yesterday. It’s time to take a deep breath, celebrate a little, and start working on the proposal for my next book.

The process of writing The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina was a bit tedious at times as there were strict guidelines for the word count on each postcard caption, but it was a good writing exercise. The word count restrictions forced me to tighten up every sentence and delete every unnecessary word. This usually results in better writing. I hope you will agree when you read the book.

Watch my blog for the publication date.

Looking ahead to the next project

I’m in a holding pattern for the next week or so on The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina vintage postcard book, so today I turned my attention to the piedmont section of the state. I was pleased to discover that I have enough postcards to consider proposing a piedmont postcards book for Arcadia Publishing. Something else to look forward to in 2014!

A Book of Vintage Postcards

A lot has happened since my last post. I signed a contract with Arcadia Publishing to write a book of vintage postcards called The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. It will be a thrill to see my name as the author on the cover of a book!

The book will cover the mountains and foothills of North Carolina and the entire Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Doing the necessary research for the book has been educational for me. I have learned a lot about the mountains, but I have also learned that writing a vintage postcard book and writing a historical novel have more in common than one would think. Either book can only contain a small fraction of the details discovered during the research phase.

The text is completed for the book. Caption word counts have been checked and double-checked. Grammar has been examined against The Chicago Manual of Style. All that remains is assigning each postcard a number and cross-referencing those numbers.

Publication will be sometime in 2014. I’ll let you know when I have a publication date!