More Sculpture Saturday.
Since my children were small, there’s been a basket in the corner of our living room filled with Christmas books. Some are children’s books, some are grownups’, some are fiction, some are non-fiction. They’ve been collected over decades, and I reread a few every year. I’ve even reviewed a few of my favorites.
I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas story of my own. About a year ago I came up with an idea of a retelling of a classic Christmas tale—and that’s all I’m going to tell you about it, because I’m working hard at finishing it, and I’d really be bummed if you took my idea and did a better and quicker job of it than me.
Writing Christmas books is much like writing any other kind of book, but with a few slight differences. The same expectations for all fiction also apply to Christmas fiction: a vivid setting, a conflict, a main character who grows through time; a beginning, middle, and end; an arc with escalating action that leads to a satisfying conclusion. Christmas fiction also needs to evoke the feelings of the holidays, awakening associations through the senses: the twinkling lights, the smell of pine, the flavor of gingerbread, the sound of jingle bells. Christmas stories can be shorter than other novels, like 50,000 to 65,000 words rather than 90,000 to 300,000.
Christmas books generally sell from October through December. New Christmas books typically appear on shelves the first Tuesday in October. If you self-publish, you’ll want to launch in early October as well. Your book will languish from January through September, but you’ll be wise to self-promote it again starting each October.
Are you thinking of writing a Christmas book of your own? These articles may help you:
- Tips for writing Christmas novels.
- Four suggestions to make your Christmas story awesome.
- Lessons from A Christmas Carol.
- Charles Dickens’ motivation.
- Melody Carlson’s experience writing Christmas fiction.
- Some more things to consider.
- How did Christmas fiction become a thing?
- Christmas-themed prompts.
- The very best Christmas books. (Click the arrow next to “View gallery.” Keep clicking.
Look. Listen. Dream.
- Upcycling thrift store art.
- Interesting sculptures.
- Neil Young playing guitar.
- For the fiction writers: how to write cliffhangers.
- Bread as cartoons.
- A winter scene easy enough for a child (or an adult with a childlike sense of wonder) to paint.
- Beautiful zentangles.
- Using art to promote animal welfare.
- A beautiful Baltimore Album Quilt for autumn.
- The Comic Book Route in Brussels, Belgium.
- An artist discusses a marionette.
- Animal sculptures made from found objects.
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It’s pretty common knowledge in the publishing industry that most book signing tours don’t generate big bucks for new authors. Sure—book tours can stir up buzz and interest. But most of the time, bookstore tours are put in place only after an author has established some kind of meaningful reputation that can translate into lines that wrap around the store.
These days, there’s a new way of connecting with readers that doesn’t involve brick-and-mortar book signings: blog tours. A blog tour is when an author does a series of interviews or guest posts on the blogs of book readers and reviewers. Blog tours are fantastic for author self-promotion.
Most of the time, blog tours are synchronized with book releases so that writers can sell more copies of their books. Blog tours can be inexpensive, fun, and rewarding!
How To Set Up a Blog Tour To Promote A Book
There are many ways to kick off your promotional blog tour. You can:
- Hire a publicist to nab spots on popular blogs.
- Hire an established and reputable book blog tour company (NOTE: There are unscrupulous companies that claim to get gigs for their clients on dozens of blogs, many of which lack a meaningful audience or are owned by the companies themselves).
- Set up blogging dates yourself.
If you’re a DIYer and want to book a blog tour without having to pay for publicity help, here are the five steps that will get your book on great blogs.
1. Start reading book blogs. Do your research and narrow your focus to those blogs whose audiences are active readers in your genre. Make a list and track the blog’s attributes, audience participation, readership, and proclivities. HINT: Establish a clear minimum number in your head for the number of blogs that you’d like to appear on.
2. Establish a relationship. If possible, begin leaving comments on the blogs you like. Visit regularly. You may need to demonstrate your genuine appreciation of the blog before you’re invited to appear on it. Use Twitter and other networks to give shout-outs to blogs you like.
3. Write up a pitch plan. Some bloggers have writers beating down their door, begging for reviews and free promotion. You’ll need to make yourself stand out with a personal touch as well as an incentive. Are you willing to give away free copies of your book? Is your idea of what you’d like to “do” on the blog consistent with what the blogger is already doing? Are you willing to do interviews or only guest posts? Will you host the blogger on your author blog in exchange?
4. Draft your “nice to meet you” letter. Reach out to the blogger via a personal email when possible. Be kind, flexible, and maybe a little deferential: you’re asking to be invited to the party, after all. Express your appreciation for the blog and volunteer to host a giveaway (should the blogger believe that his/her audience would benefit from your visit to the blog).
5. Follow instructions carefully. If a blogger agrees to host you, be sure to follow directions. Also, include links to your social networks and author website in your post—just don’t overdo it.
6. Set up your blog calendar. On the days that your blog post is to appear on each guest blog, be sure to put in an appearance that day. Leave comments, interact with readers, thank the host for having you. Then, if you’re running a contest, follow up as soon as possible by sending out the prize.
When Your Author Blog Tour Is Over
Be sure to thank your host for his/her willingness to help you; you might even want to mail out a little thank-you gift. Then, keep your contacts well organized so that when you have another reason to do a blog tour, their contact information will be at your fingertips.
QUESTION: Do you like the idea of doing a blog tour?
This will work with your poetry word pool, too!
My oldest daughter, Carly, entered kindergarten with seriously advanced reading skills. She was working her way through the Little House on the Prairie series. In school, she was being taught the letters of the alphabet, numbers, counting, and colors. They did have a gifted program, but not for kindergarteners. I fought hard to have her spend part of her day in a first-grade classroom. I was considered a difficult parent.
We lived outside of Trenton, New Jersey, and I began exploring private schools. In nearby Princeton there were schools that catered to advanced students and actively sought them out. I found one that had the resources and experience to work with students like Carly. They offered us a substantial scholarship, and my parents offered to pay most of the rest of her tuition, and that was where she spent the next three years of her education, until we moved to Arizona.
Many of the people who live in the Princeton area are quite wealthy. We are not. It was as though we lived in different worlds.
Parents at the school sometimes threw events at their homes for the parents and/or children in their kids’ classes. You could film an episode of The Crown in their homes. Generations of ancestors looked down on you from the oil portraits on the walls. Birthday parties were elaborate extravaganzas: carnivals, candy hunts, craft parties.
One time I was invited to an “informal reception” in connection with a fundraising drive. Silly me—I saw the word informal and thought it meant casual.
That’s not what informal means in Princeton. At least, not in the late 1980s.
I sewed myself a skirt out of a Hawaiian floral print. I was so happy with the way it turned out. It was bright and colorful—magenta and yellow and green. I paired it with a shocking pink shell and a turquoise over-shirt.
I took three steps into the reception and realized I’d made a horrible mistake.
Everyone was dressed in black, or in black-and-white.
In Princeton, informal is a short step down from formal. So, not ballgowns and tuxedos, but definitely not casual.
And there I was, sticking out like the proverbial neon sore thumb.
I thought about leaving. I thought about bursting into tears. But instead I took a deep breath, smiled, stood up straight, and tried to fit in as best as I could. No one said an unkind word to me. Nobody mentioned my homemade skirt.
For today’s post, I selected an online blogging prompt: Write about a time you were inappropriately dressed for the occasion. This was the first incident that came to mind.
Now it’s your turn. Did you ever show up to an event either over- or under-dressed? Share in the comments below.