Tag Archives: YA fiction

Book Signing Success

PJ here, just off a long weekend at the Granville Harvest Fair. I’ve done many such book signing events over the past couple of years, but this one was by far my favorite. For one thing, I live ten minutes up the road, so it’s close, and I inevitably saw lots of familiar faces. Thousands of folks ambled by my booth, many stopping to chat–whether they were teens or simply teens at heart. The fact that I was a local author was also a big draw. Putting a face to someone local who has achieved what so many others only dream about, seems to be an instant conversation starter. I can’t tell you how many people I spoke to—young and old—who said that they write in one form or another, and that it was nice to meet someone who has actually published their stories. It was lovely to be a source of encouragement and inspiration.

I’ve said in the past, that book signings have netted me little profit in the monetary sense and I’ve wondered whether they were really worth my time, but this event has changed my mind. In addition to making a modest profit from book sales, I gained a couple of dozen names for my newsletter list, and made many potential connections–including school teachers, librarians, mental health professionals, and teens interested in finding me on social media or purchasing my e-books for their e-readers after the fair. All in all, a great success. I thought I would share some tips that I found helpful. I hope you’ll share yours in the comments section below, so others may benefit from your experience.

harvest fair pic 11) THINGS TO BRING-A sturdy, 10×10 easy-up tent, a comfy chair, a couple of tables with table cloths (I have a six foot and a four foot table), books in plastic totes (don’t forget to take inventory and keep track of your sales), swag (bookmarks, post cards, etc.), tape, scissors, pens, plastic bags (recycle those plastic grocery bags and carry them in an empty tissue box for convenience), or have some nice bags made up with your name, website, and logo if you want to make an impression. You might reserve those for people who buy several books. Don’t forget a cash lock box, business cards, and candy (no chocolate on hot days) or a treat.

2) SIGNAGE-Invest in a nice banner, which you can have printed up through Vista Print. I have yet to do this, but I made do with a homemade banner. Plastic stand-up sign holders from Staples work great for specific table top signs. You can make whatever signs you want on your computer to fit the 8×11 frames. “Local Author of Teen Books,” “Sign up for my newsletter and enter to win…,” “Follow me on FB, Twitter, etc.” and pricing signs, are just a few ideas. Be creative.

3) PRESENTATION-Consider your brand, your audience, and your space. Create a visually appealing stage for your books. harvest fair pic 3Use color wisely to catch attention of passersby and don’t overcrowd your space. Too much to look at can be a deterrent.

4) SELLING-You can offer book sets with special pricing/discounts, you could sell merchandise related to your books (cups, tee shirts, or in my case, wooden whistles which I also offer as a free gift to those who purchase both book one and book two in the Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy).

5) SALES PITCH-This is an opportunity to hone your sales pitch. Have a one liner to pull people in. Keep it simple. “Feel free to take a bookmark.” Keep it real and fun. “This is the glamorous life of an author.” This last phrase spoken as I used duct tape to secure my tent signage or while I peeled tape residue off my tent poles. I got lots of smiles with this one. Pitch to your audience. “I write books for teens…and teens at heart,” when speaking to adults and elderly folks who actually might enjoy reading my books. I describe my contemporary YA novels as the kind of books that would make great Lifetime Network or Hallmark movies, and note when I’m speaking to parents of teens that I write books that I wish had been available when I was a teenager. I mention accolades and awards, my million plus reads of SAVAGE CINDERELLA on Wattpad (which made that particular book sell very well all weekend), and try to hone in on what might appeal to the demographic to which I’m presenting. “The book is about a girl who is kidnapped as a child, left for dead in the high country of North Georgia and survives in the wild.” One sentence grabbers are essential! Comparisons also work well as in “Savage Cinderella is like Law and Order SVU meets Nell.” Of course this only works for people old enough to remember the movie with Jodie Foster, LOL. With teens, I might compare The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael to the TV show, Revolution, or books like The Hunger Games and Divergent, but not quite as grim and gritty. As time goes on throughout the event, you’ll find what works best. It’s excellent practice for agent/editor elevator pitches at conferences. You never know who you’ll meet, so always have a professional and friendly demeanor.

6) GIVEAWAYS-Book signings are a great place to expand your newsletter mailing list. Offer entry in a prize giveaway, a FREE download, or some incentive to get people to sign up. Reassure them that your newsletters aren’t spammy and that their information will not be used for any other reason. Be prepared to offer something for free. You can be generous without giving away the store or breaking the bank. It costs me nothing to give away a free download of ON THIN ICE (I get a coupon code through Smashwords, and have cards printed up through Vista Print with my cover on the front and instructions and the download code on the back. I can usually get 250 cards printed up for free or next to nothing when I’m ordering other items through Vista Print).

Most importantly, have FUN! Try to stay engaged with people and don’t stick your nose in a book or hide behind your computer screen. Fortunately, we had a dry and beautiful weekend with a great turnout. I met some amazing people! I also had some fabulous apple pie with Granville cheddar cheese…yum! And yes, I even sold a good number of books.

Any other ideas or things I missed?

Review of TL Costa’s PLAYING TYLER

Good day mates! PJ here, and I have an Australian accent in my head this morning. Does that happen to you? It’s pretty much the norm for your average writerly type. You see, we writers typically hear several voices in our heads every day. We’ve come to understand that ‘no, we aren’t crazy.’ We are creative. Writers hear multiple points of view, snippets of dialogue, crazy characters popping into our minds and saying the darnedest things. It can be maddening, but it can also be amazing. Translating those voices to words on a page is where magic happens and characters are brought to life. When an author does it just right, the reader is transported into the mind of the character and experiences the story alongside them.PlayingTyler-72dpi-1 Such was the sense that I had when I read PLAYING TYLER, by TL Costa. Here is my review:

Part thriller, part geek fest, and part sweet romance, PLAYING TYLER was the must read of the summer for me. The main characters, Tyler McCandless and Ani Bagdorian captured my heart from the start in this fast paced teen drama. Although on the surface, this book was about the slippery slope of Drone warfare and one boy’s journey to discovering who his real friends are, it was mostly about teens trying to find their place in the world. At seventeen, Tyler must face family relationships that are filled with tragedy and struggle, and the wonders/horrors of first love. TL Costa rocked the male teen voice and I was totally swept up in her stream-of-consciousness narrative style that put me squarely in Tyler’s ADHD brain. I found myself bouncing my knee right alongside him and anxious to see how he would negotiate the twists and turns that life tossed his way. Since the chapters were alternating points of view, I waited to see if any of Tyler’s dialogue would spill over into Ani, or vice versa, but each character was well-drawn and unique. A debut author to watch!

 Highly recommend for older teens, especially boys who aren’t typically readers. I think this one will grab them! Great job, TL!

TL Costa pic DSC_3372T.L. Costa graduated from Bryn Mawr College, got her Masters of Teaching from Quinnipiac University and taught high school for five years before becoming a full-time mom and writer.
She has lived in Texas, New York, New Jersey and Spain.  Currently, she lives in Connecticut.
T. L. can be found online at her Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tlcostaauthor) and on Twitter (@TLCosta1).

Purchase PLAYING TYLER at the following outlets:

Amazon, B&N, and Indiebound

For more of PLAYING TYLER, check out sample chapters here!

Thanks for being here TL, and thanks for writing such a great book!

The Farm by Emily McKay

Hello Cyber Peeps!  Vivienne Lynge back from Cool-anta.  It used to be Hot-lanta but since it was easily 15 degrees cooler (heat index-wise) than home sweet home, I’ve changed the name.  Not sure it will catch on.

Anywho – I learned SO much at RWA Nationals.  I can’t wait to tell you all about it.  But up first, I want to tell you about the most awesome, can’t-wait-for-the-sequel book I’ve read in a long time.  Yes, I got it at the RWA Conference.  By the way, those folks who say you can bring home as many free books as you want from the national conference aren’t kidding around.  I picked up 86 book myself.  Freebies.  I couldn’t help it!  It’s the trifecta of books: Romance, Free and Signed!  That doesn’t include the dozens of free digital books either – I haven’t counted those.  And I left about 200 on the tables.  Craziness.  Or heaven.  Either way…

the farmBut to The Farm.  Let me tell you how I “discovered” this book.  One of the many awesome workshops I attended at the conference was entitled something like “What to do when there’s peanut butter on your keyboard”.  It was a session on balancing a writer’s work life and all the other gazillion responsibilities we have.  We’ve talked about wearing many hats a bunch of times here.  This was a great workshop where a panel of ladies talked about how they juggle responsibilities and the main message I got from them was this: “If you want writing to be a career, then treat it like one. Do the work.  Find the time.”

Of course I’ve heard this before, but it was just one of many important messages that I heard over and over last week.  It really all came together for me.

So Emily McKay was one of the ladies on the panel and one of the many pieces of swag being given away was a Vampire Apocalypse Survival Kit.  This kit had many important things in it – golf pencils (aka tiny stakes), a preloaded tooth brush for trading, band aids – you want to staunch any bleeding immediately to minimize the smell, gum and various other things mentioned in passing in the book.  It also had a postcard with the book cover and blurb.  I was so intrigued, that I almost downloaded the book onto my Kindle immediately.

But since I had already gotten an armload of free books by that point, I decided to see if I could get this one for free, too.  The next morning, I checked the goody room to see if there was any info on who published the book.  No dice.  I checked the bookstore (there was one set up just for us!) and saw that it was published by Berkley.  I went to the Berkley signing a few hours later and stalked…er…I mean found…Ms. McKay pretty quickly.  I mentioned the panel from the earlier day, she signed my book and I promised to get started reading right away – well when I got back to my hotel at the end of the day.  She said, “Great.  If you like it, you can cheer for me at the RITAs!”

I cheered, people.  Oh how I cheered!  And she won!  Not only that, but afteme and emily mckay with her ritar the ceremony, while I waited with a bunch of fellow CTRWA-ers, Ms. Emily McKay happened to walk out the door.  She stopped just behind me to talk with some folks she knew, and I leaned toward her giant golden statue, gesturing to my friends that this could be the closest I’d ever get to a RITA.  Would you believe that Emily turned around and saw me, then asked if I wanted to hold it?!  She did.  Here’s the picky to prove it!  

Now that you’re ready to buy the book (and you should – it’s awesome!) here’s a wicked brief teaser.  The Farm is a RITA Award winning YA fantasy set in a post-apocalypse world where vampires aren’t the scariest thing out there.  This isn’t your older sister’s vampire story.  There’s plenty of time to catch up before The Lair comes out in November, and The Before (a prequel) in December. 

What have you read lately that rocked your world?

Cover Reveal and an Excerpt of WESTERN DESERT

I’m so happy to see the month of April and the light at the end of the long winter tunnel. If you want details about all of my April happenings, stop by my blog at http://www.pjsharonyawriter.blogspot.com. There are contests, prizes, a Beach Book Blast Spring Splash book sale, and an Authors in Bloom Blog Hop on the agenda, so pop on over and check out the fun when you’re done here!

PJ here, if you hadn’t guessed. We still have patches of snow in the Berkshires, but I’m finally seeing signs of spring. The Robins have arrived and the pearly white petals of the snow drops are peeking out of the ground where the snow has melted. I think we’re all looking forward to the lovely face of spring that will soon overtake the gray landscape. And speaking of lovely faces, I thought I would share with you the cover to my next book, WESTERN DESERT, Book Two in THE CHRONICLES OF LILY CARMICHAEL trilogy. The fabulous Melody Simmons designed the covers for the trilogy. I think she has done a great job so far. What do you think?

Cover Reveal!
Cover Reveal!

Taking off where WANING MOON ends, Lily Carmichael and Will Callahan embark on a journey across a sun-ravaged and decimated US in the year 2057, headed for the Western Desert on a dangerous rescue mission. The survivors they meet along the way put Lily’s healing abilities to the test, and challenge Will’s talents for lying and conning his way out of some tricky situations. But even with the weight of life and death on their shoulders, the greatest challenge they face is trusting their hearts to each other.

Here’s an excerpt from WESTERN DESERT:

“Rudy really cares about you.” Will stared out the back window. “You’re lucky…to have so many people who love you.” He glanced my way as he came around to face front, his expression sad and hard at the same time.

I adjusted the mirror and straightened my shoulders, gripping the steering wheel with both hands as I blinked back tears. “He’s a good friend.” The words came out softer than I intended, choking past the knot in my throat. As lucky as I was to have my family and community, Will had been equally unlucky, having lost his mother and sister in a storm that leveled his house and wiped out his whole town. With no reason to stay, he’d roamed the country for the past two years in search of his father, the only family he had left. My heart squeezed at the thought of all he had been through.

The road changed from gravel to chunky asphalt, cracked and loaded with potholes. Will held onto the grab bar that hung from the ceiling above the door. “You should have let me take the gun Rudy offered.”

“I hate guns. And what if we got caught with one?”

Will ignored me and shook his head. “I’m more concerned about what happens if we get caught without one? Have you figured out a plan for breaking into Industry Headquarters when we get to Vegas, or are we just going to storm the gates? I’m not sure a blow gun and a baseball bat are going to get us in and out alive.”

I felt the cool gaze of his gray-blue eyes on me but I focused on the road. “No specific plan yet, but we have plenty of time to figure it out.” I pressed my foot to the gas pedal, anxious to put some distance between me and the voices of home that echoed in my mind. “And we’ll make do with whatever we have.” Sam’s words flowed out of my mouth before I had a chance to stop them. “Adapt, improvise, and overcome, right?”

“If you say so; you’re the boss.”

I glanced at Will, whose lips twitched before he turned his head away to watch the Stanton town line fade into the distance in the side view mirror.

I hope you’ll join Lily, Will, and the cast of characters who embody the best and worst of humanity in this second book of the dystopian trilogy, THE CHRONICLES OF LILY CARMICHAEL. WESTERN DESERT is scheduled for release June 24th. If you haven’t read Book One, WANING MOON, stop by my website and purchase your e-copy today, or comment below and you will be instantly entered into a drawing for a signed print copy. Good Luck!

Thanks for stopping in. As always, your feedback and comments are welcome.


Cover reveal for WANING MOON

Oh happy day! PJ here, and I’m thrilled to share with you the cover for my upcoming release, WANING MOON, Book ONE in The Chronicles of Lily Carmichael trilogy. In the past, my husband and I have designed my covers. But this time, I enlisted the help of the wonderful and fabulous Melody Simmons, who has been very accommodating, I must say. Because WM is part of a trilogy, I wanted a cohesive look to the books and I was ready to take my covers to the next level.

We’re still tweaking fonts for the back cover,  but she came up with this front cover after I gave her my ideas for a concept and picked out the stock photo of the model. I think she did great! Let us know how you like it, and if there’s anything about it you don’t like. We’re thick skinned and there’s still time to make changes. Have I told you lately that I love Indie publishing?

Meet Lily Carmichael!

Here’s the back cover blurb to give you an idea of what the story is about:

In the year 2057, in a post-apocalyptic world where a global shift threatens the remainder of the population with extinction, sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Carmichael has more immediate problems. Her uncle is dying of cancer and her healing abilities are ineffective against the blood ties that bind them. In order to find a cure, Lily must leave the protection of her quiet town and journey into the trading city of Albany, all while avoiding the Industry, an agency that would like nothing better than to study and exploit her abilities.

Seventeen-year-old Will Callahan has been searching for his father since severe storms blasted through the Midwest, killing his mother and sister. When he learns that his father may be in the city, he catches a ride with Lily, a girl who has come to his rescue more than once. As the two embark on a dangerous journey, the tension between them grows. But the secrets Will’s keeping could put Lily in far more danger than traveling to the city with him, and if he was any kind of man, he would have told her to run the minute she found him.

Enjoy this short excerpt:

We both groaned as we lifted the heavy iron cover. I dropped down into the icy churning water, sucking in a breath while Will climbed down the ladder. He paused, grunting as he pulled the heavy cover in place behind him.

Just in time. We heard rushing footsteps overhead, voices loud and angry. Will and I exchanged a look and then turned toward the dark tunnel. Will’s hand slipped into mine as he took the lead. “Stay with me. Don’t let go, okay?”
I let him pull me forward. The water deepened as we dragged ourselves along. The sound of rushing water ahead had me backing up against the current. “This is not a good idea.”
Will tugged me by the hand, wincing in pain. “It’s the only way out. Trust me. It’ll be alright.”
“Trust you? That’s a joke, right?” 
 “Can we fight about this later?” 
Before I could argue, a wave of turbulent water rushed in from a connecting pipe, and swept us off our feet. Will’s hand tightened around mine and we dropped abruptly downward. As the slope steepened, the water picked up speed. Darkness and the stench of sewage overwhelmed my senses. I prayed a quick prayer that the end of the tunnel was near. What I worried for next was how far of a fall it would be to the murky waters of the Hudson below when we reached it.
Another rapid decent shot my stomach to my throat and Will’s hand pulled free. “Noooo!”

But the thunderous roar of the cascading waterfall swallowed the sound of my scream.  It launched us into the darkening horizon like a torpedo, and then dumped us thirty feet into the icy roiling waters of the Hudson River.

Well, that’s it for today, folks. Stay tuned for more exciting excerpts from WANING MOON, which is set to release September 28th. Let me know what you think of the cover, and if you want to get in touch with Melody Simmons or see some of her pre-made covers, check out her website @ http://ebookindiecovers.com/contact/.