Summer Festival — An Opportunity to Promote and Grow

I just came off of two days of May’d in Michigan, an event held near my hometown where I promoted my middle grade historical fiction, THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED. When I first read of the event, I thought, “What a clever title.” And since my book is about a Michigan town, it was written in Michigan, and I was made (born) in Michigan, why not try for it? I applied as a vender and was accepted. I sent in my vender fee, and then the panic set in. What in the world did I know about being a vender? I’d attended many fairs and festivals, of course, but only as an attendee. This was entirely different. In fact, the first morning, my nervous stomach was trying to convince me, “Phooey with the fee. Stay home and be safe.” But as I’m not really one who backs out of commitments, I ignored my innards and trudged warily onward.

My first thought of setting up at the event was to keep it simple. I’ve found that simple always a good plan. So I planned on a card table with copies of my book on it. With a chair and pen, I’d be all set. Of course, I’d be wearing my Victorian outfit with hat, so would physically be a potential draw. I knew I needed water so I wouldn’t dehydrate, and bug spray… so I wouldn’t dehydrate. By the time of set up, my “booth” was a bit more elaborate, including a newly purchased canopy, for which I was very thankful; not because it rained, because it hadn’t, but because we were in the woods. The canopy top, not my table top, was littered with fallen pine needles and bugs.

Financially during the two days, I pretty much broke even with the sale of my books, if you don’t count the fire extinguisher each booth was to have. I’m also thinking I was the only one with a fire extinguisher. It was tucked away under my little card table. Still, the weather was lovely and I was in the woods. (I love the woods.) By doing this, I stretched out and tried something new, and even sold a few books.

But the best of the time was that I got to meet new people. My husband bought me a t-shirt which reads across the front: “Careful, or you’ll end up in one of my novels.” Okay. I’ll change the gender or age or size or the person, but there are interesting characters all around us, just waiting to be written down. So go out and do some personal stretching. Try something new and meet new characters, I mean, new people. You may just find someone you put in your next story.

 

New Fairy Tales

 Literature Blogs

As I lay in bed last night, listening to my husband’s gentle snore, my mind kept swirling around a recent blog I’d read dealing with fairy tales and today’s market. Fascinating thing. Of course, the fact that I wrote my master’s paper researching fairy and folk tales had nothing to do with it. The swirling had to do with a new story idea trying to come out of the fog and into clear thoughts.

I didn’t turn on lights. I felt that by doing that, I might dispel the images and snatches of story I could almost visualize. I slipped out of bed and felt around for my itty-bitty flashlight, found a ton of blank index cards, and started writing bits of characters, plots, scenes, theme. About an hour later I went back to bed.

This morning, from a distance, I recalled my night raid to the blank index cards, but honestly couldn’t remember the fabulous story idea which came to me in my sleep fog. After one look at the word “unicorn” on the top card, and — blink — it was dark around me once more, and I was in my story again.

BTW, John Lennon wrote many of his songs at that dream-state of waking.

Moral of this story? At sleep’s beginning and sleep’s end, be prepared to net those fleeting story ideas.

Today’s Writing Market and the Economy

 Literature Blogs

Accepted: Stories which only a few years ago would be published, are getting rejected today? Why? The economy and ever-changing writer’s market (i.e., depending on what will sell by public demand).

Accepted: Publishing houses are businesses, not non-profit organizations. An editor at a recent writers conference said this is one of the reasons celebrity-authored books are contracted. They are sure money-makers. They draw in business, and make it possible to fund fledging, not-so-famous writers.

Accepted: Public demand is a hungry beast.

After a time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wanted to move on from his famous character — a character based on one of his professors. The public demand for his detective stories at the time was so great, that Doyle thought to rid himself of Holmes by killing him off, and proclaiming that anyone could use the character and do with him whatever they wanted. But the beast demanded more, so Doyle resurrected Sherlock and wrote several more stories with his best-selling character.

Acknowledged: I am a writer. I read. I write. I have studied the craft. I continue to improve my craft. I write, research, or plot every day. As a writer, should I pay attention to the economy, the market, making money for me or others? Or should I pursue my passion without concern? I’m not sure I have a solution. At this writing, I believe that if I want to be published, I must be willing to feed the beast. However, as soon as  state that, I find myself climbing right back up on the castle wall. For whom do I write? For the beast? For me? For someone else entirely?