Category Archives: Touring

How do we tour, advertise, keep our schedules, balance family life, keep writing, and still keep our publisher happy? When you find out, let us know. In the mean time, you can read how we try to manage it all.

It’s never too soon to think about Christmas

A SCRAPBOOK OF CHRISTMAS FIRSTS

(Leafwood Publishers, October 2008)

A wonderful new gift book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, is available in October for Christmas giving. Today, I’ve invited the six coauthors to share their unique story of how they came together to publish this exciting book full of stories, recipes, tips for simplifying the holidays and so much more (click on bookcover to see the trailer!).

First, let me introduce Cathy Messecar, Leslie Wilson, Brenda Nixon, Trish Berg, Terra Hangen and Karen Robbins. Thank you for being here today, ladies.

Karen: Thank you for the invitation.

You are from three different areas of the country—Texas, California, and Ohio. How did you all meet?

Terra: We all six joined The Writers View, an online group for professional Christian writers. Trish and Brenda met in person in 2004 for lunch, I understand, and on 9/18/04, after reading a post Brenda sent to TWV, I sent an email to Brenda, asking if she would like to join with me and walk alongside each other, as a Barnabas group. Brenda said yes that same day, and suggested Trish too. Very quickly Cathy, Leslie and Karen joined in and our stalwart band of six was formed. Living in California, I was so happy to find 5 Barnabas writers in other states so we could bring together a wealth of different viewpoints and expertise

Brenda: Actually, We haven’t met. We’re all great colleagues and friends via the internet. Four years ago Terra and I formed a dyad to support each other as Christians who write in the secular markets. Along came Trish, Cathy, Karen, and Leslie (not necessarily in that order) and we formed a close knit bond of support, creative energy, and professional accountability.

Karen: I met Trish through an online forum called The Writers View and she invited me to join the group.

Trish: Although we belong to the same Yahoo writing group, we met one by one online. Eventually, the six of us decided that since we all write as Christians for a secular market through magazine articles and newspaper columns, we could support and encourage one another.

Leslie: Though we met virtually through The Writers View, I have been blessed to give and get hugs from Trish (at a MOPS conference), Cathy (in the area on business) and Karen (in town for a writers’ conference). I can’t wait to meet Terra and Brenda face-to-face, though I feel as though I already know them!

How did you come up with the idea to do a book together?

Brenda: The book is Cathy’s brainchild. She mentioned the concept of telling stories of events that happened for the first time at Christmas and sharing holiday historical tidbits and recipes and each said, “If you need any help, let me know.” That offer morphed into each of us equally contributing and co-authoring A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.

Trish: Yep, Cathy came up with the idea and the title, and asked us if we wanted to join her on this project. Of course, we said Yes!

Terra: Cathy mentioned the idea for a Christmas book to the group, and someone (I think it was Leslie) suggested that maybe our group could all write the book together. Cathy agreed to lead the way on the project. The earliest email I have on this is from 9/7/05, which shows that this has been a three year collaboration from idea to publication.

Karen: (Chuckling) Terra is a librarian and keeps our historical records by saving our e-mails.

Leslie: Actually, Terra, I wrote that comment (in a group e-mail) kind of tongue-in-cheek. Cathy, the ultra-sweet person she is, took my joking at face value and here we are. However, I believe God prompted the passion and ideas we all bring to the project and that He will do mighty things as a result of our collaboration!

Why did you decide on a Christmas theme?

Brenda: It was Cathy’s concept to write a book centering on Christmas.

Cathy: For several years, I’d been thinking about Christmas as a threshold to introduce Jesus to folks who aren’t familiar with him, and I love a simpler Christmas with the emphasis on family, friends and doing for others. I knew of some families who had experienced “firsts” at Christmas—reunions, losses, special surprises—and I wanted to collect those stories.

Terra: Cathy’s idea immediately resonated with me because Christmas books are “a way past watchful dragons,” as C. S. Lewis wrote. Many people won’t buy a book about being a Christian, but will buy a holiday and family fun book, thus the “past watchful dragons.” People who want to grow in their faith, and people who have no faith but celebrate Christmas will buy our book and hopefully be led to put the focus back on Christ for the holiday, and for their lives.

Leslie: Though Cathy birthed the idea, the rest of us quickly hopped on board. Not only is Christmas special to me—especially now that I have a family of my own—but also that particular holiday cries out to be simplified, to return to the meaningful aspects of celebration, and to lose some of the hype and commercialism.

Tell me a little about what is in A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts? What is your favorite part?

Cathy: I like that you can read one chapter in about 15 minutes and, with all the different suggestions, it feels like Christmas Eve. Makes you want to set up the nativity! Many of the suggestions for family activities can be adapted for any family get-together.

Karen: There are heartwarming stories about things that happened for the first time at Christmas. For instance, one of my stories is about the first Christmas with our adopted children. And the book is pretty. When I first saw the colorful pages and drawings, I fell in love with the illustrator’s work.

Brenda: I don’t have a favorite part – I love it all!

Terra: I like the way the parts are woven into a seamless whole, like a patchwork quilt, that is stronger and more beautiful than the parts.

Trish: It’s like everything you ever wanted to know about Christmas, all the best tips and recipes, and neat stories all wrapped up in this perfect little package.

Leslie: I love reading the special stories, hints, recipes—whatever—and imagining the precious family time that precipitated each moment. Plus, the book is gorgeous, beautifully printed, truly something to be proud of. And we are.

I’ve heard that the book is really a nice gift book; can you tell me a little about the format?

Cathy: Yes, it’s a hardbound book, full color interior. The layout makes it easy to read. It has a definite scrapbooky look on the interior. Different logos identify sections, such as an oilcloth-look Christmas stocking appears beside the “Stocking Stuffer Tradition” (help for connecting family members), and the “Cookie Canister” recipes are on a recipe card, and the back ground of “A Gift For You” is a gift box with bow. It’s a classy gift that they can be placed on a coffee table or in a guest bedroom during the holiday season.

Brenda: I like to describe it as a Starbuck’s sorta gift book. It’s high quality, crisp, and practical.

With six different personalities and areas of ministry, how did you manage to put this all together and still remain friends?

Karen: We pray a lot for each other and it helps that none of us have an over-inflated ego.

Cathy: There were no squabbles. Surely, we had differing opinions, but we knew that any of us could suggest an idea for this book and that each idea would get fair reviews from others. We actually voted on some aspects—everyone in favor say, “Aye.” If you’ve ever watched women at a Dutch treat luncheon when they divide up a meal ticket, it can be intense as they split the ticket down to the penny. As the project came together, I was in awe of my gracious coauthors, unselfish women who respect each other.
For some decisions, we did a round robin—things like book title and chapter titles and what categories to put into the book. Then, as compiler, I’d send out a list of needs to The Word Quilters, that’s what we call ourselves. For instance in a section we call “Peppermints for Little Ones” (hints for children’s activities), I’d put out a call, and the WQs sent in their hints, and then I put them into appropriate chapters.

Brenda: (Smiling) Are we still friends? Seriously, we each have our own platform, ministry, and family life, and those interests kept this project in perspective – it was important but not the only thing on our plates. No one was so enmeshed in this project that she campaigned for her own way. We never had a bitter disagreement or insistence to be “right.”

Terra: We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders.We offer support and ideas for our separate writing projects and for personal prayer requests. I love these ladies, and I have only met one of them in person. So far, Karen is the only one who has met each of us, and one day we hope to meet in person, in a circle of friendship and love.

Trish: I think we are all very flexible and forgiving. We do have a variety of personalities here, but God has worked amazing things through our little group.

Leslie: Though I have seven non-fiction projects in various stages of completion, I could not be more thankful that this is the one to reach publication first. I am truly blessed to have worked with these women, learned from them, watched as they’ve poured heart and soul into crafting a product that will impact lives for the Lord.

Where can my readers get a copy of SOCF?

Cathy: The coauthors will all have a supply, plus our publisher, Leafwood Publishers, will have plenty of copies and discounts for buying five or more. Or they can be ordered at most online stores or by your local bookstore.

Karen: And anyone who leaves a comment here can be entered in a drawing for a free book and a gift basket worth $200! For a list of its contents, check our blog, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. And while you’re there, leave another comment and increase your chances of winning!

Tell me more about your blog.

Karen: We started our blog in July and it is accumulating a wealth of information about Christmas. Each of us posts one day a week following the theme for that week. Watch for new recipes, tips, ways to simplify, stories, etc., similar to what is in our book.

Leslie: Ooh, ooh, let me answer this one. I’m probably the newest to blogging among the group, but I LOVE it. I’ve enjoyed posting and receiving comments back from readers. What an amazing adventure having an online voice can be! This blog will focus on a different theme each week—anything from tips to avoid overeating during the holidays to how to give a guest room special touches—and expand on the material in the book. I think readers will get to know the authors’ individual personalities and connect on a more personal level. Plus, they get that many more ideas, information, inspiration (!) at no additional cost.

WQs: As an added bonus for inviting us to your blog, we’d like to pass along this Christmas tidbit to you and your readers:


Enjoy a blessed Christmas this year! And thanks for inviting us to share our book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, with you.

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Organizing a Blog Tour

evidence-of-grace-small.jpgWith gas prices sitting at well over three dollars a gallon nationwide and no relief in sight since summer’s coming and the oil companies have us by the throat, we writers have to do whatever we can to promote our books. What better way than a blog tour from the comfort of our homes.

June 1st will see the release of my new book, Evidence of Grace, the third installment of my Jenna’s Creek Series. Monday, May 14th marks the beginning of a month long blog tour. I highly recommend blog tours for any writer wanting to attract attention for an upcoming release or event. I know, you may argue that no one really reads blogs and how lucrative can a blog tour be? Well, if you’ve ever embarked on a book tour into actual brick and mortar bookstores, you probably know these don’t have much of an impact on book sales either.

The last one I had in Cincinnati, Ohio was as dismal an affair as you can imagine. People are not impressed with meeting an author in a bookstore anymore. Unless you are a celebrity. After I got home from my signing where no one came into the store to see me and I didn’t sell a single book, I read in the newspaper that James Belushi was doing a book signing in a nearby store and Tom Brokaw was in another. I totally agree with you that neither Jim Belushi or Tom Brokaw are authors and probably didn’t write a word in their books, but they are celebrities and I’m not. I was also heartened to learn that even higher list authors from the big New York City publishing houses have little more luck than me at book signings.

I’m not saying I’m through wasting my time with bookstore signings; it’s a necessary evil in this business. But why not try something much easier, cheaper, and easier on my ego? I notified a few writer friends, posted a plea for participants on a few writing sites I belong to and organized a blog tour. It may not garner a flood of sales. But my name might end up in a few places where it had been before.

According to my publisher, my lackluster attention to my blogs has already had a positive affect on sales. A blog tour can only improve that. The best part is, I don’t have to put gas in my car. I don’t even have to get dressed if I don’t want to. Don’t worry, I will.

Look for me next Monday at the kick-off of my tour when I will be the guest of Molly Noble Bull on her blog. I am looking forward to the whole process. I can’t wait to meet you there.

Have a blessed and prosperous Monday.
Teresa

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Author News


The blog has been pretty quiet lately with only 4 posts for the month of October. I know we’re not hearing from some of the writers because everyone is so busy, myself included. Let’s use this week (or however long it takes for everyone to chime in) to let inquiring minds know what we’ve been up to–writing related or otherwise. I’d especially like to hear from those Tsaba House writers who’ve been keeping a low profile lately.

In September I hosted a book launch for my first romance, The Ultimate Guide to Darcy Carter. Everyone who attended had a wonderful time. I’ve been working like crazy on my current WIP for the last couple of weeks, determined to have it polished and all the bugs worked out by the end of the year. This is my busy time of year with craft fairs too. I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Check out the craft fairs and book fairs in your area and buy a spot where you can set up with your books. An autographed book makes a great gift and readers love meeting you in person.

This weekend was spent near Manchester, Ohio at the Old Thyme Herb & Craft Fair. An estimated crowd of 20,000 visitors from 4 neighboring states and beyond, descended on the beautiful hills of Southern Ohio for the fair. What a wonderful experience. Not only did I meet all kinds of interesting people, hear from faithful readers who were happy to meet me in person for the first time, and get reacquainted with old friends, I sold a lot of books. Couldn’t get any better!

I even set up two book signing events for next summer while at the fair.

Other than craft fairs and working on my new book, I am enjoying autumn and the magical leaf transformations outside my door. Occasionally I have to remind myself to slow down and enjoy the season. God is so good and has given me so many blessings I can’t afford to overlook during this busy season of my life.

Have a wonderful week, everyone. I can’t wait to see what you are up to.

Teresa Slack

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Filed under On Writing, Touring