Sunday, April 6, 2014

COVER REVEAL for THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS!

Drum roll, please...It's finally time to share my cover with the world. Without further ado, here's the artwork for my debut women's fiction, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS! It was created by Soul Mate Publishing artist Christy Caughie. A big thanks to her for a job well done.


It's amazing to see my name on the cover of a novel. Amazing. What a dream come true but don't pinch me! I've seen my name on the covers of my children's picture books (also thrilling) but this novel is something I've worked on since I penned the end in June 2009. I set it aside for nearly three years and turned to kidlit after a horrific family tragedy but got back to it last year. I'm so happy I resurrected it and pitched to Debby Gilbert, Senior Editor of Soul Mate Publishing, last spring. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for believing in me, Debby!

I'm really happy with the cover which represents the three women well. I'd love to hear your thoughts. My women's fiction features Suzy, Alexandra (Alex), and Hope who've known one another since high school and meet over drinks at Coconuts on Thursdays--get it?!--to cope with life's many mishaps and crises. My novel is also laced with plenty of romance, humor and suspense.

As the weeks go by, I'll be sharing behind-the-scenes info, hooks, excerpts, and progress toward a release date. I actually asked that my April release date be pushed back to summer. Horrors, I know. No author asks that. What was I thinking?! But we were in Florida in the middle of a remodeling project, had company for weeks, and most importantly, my daughter's upcoming May wedding. I knew there was no way I could appropriately edit nor market it, so Debby graciously agreed to push it back (even if she did think I was a bit off kilter!)

Here's the blurb, which I tweak constantly and will probably change tomorrow! Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section.
 
As the go-to wedding planner, Suzy cannot find her own wedded bliss. Her wedding day is a shocker, complete with family betrayals. She deftly coordinates weddings for neurotic brides and a racist, pretentious mother of the bride, while still pining for her high school sweetheart. Oh, and her son brings home a bombshell all the way from Europe. 

Alex, a marketer with a “touch” of OCD, falls for a bad-boy cop who's married and possibly stalking her--but he sure is sexy. She tries to stay at arm’s length after she puts her job—and life—on the line for the officer who isn’t always a gentleman. Will she be able to resist their chemistry and the danger that surrounds him?

Hope hates her name, looks and frizzy hair. As a high school counselor, she dishes out sage advice to students, yet can’t see she’s enabling her deadbeat, stuck-in-the-seventies hippie parents. After tragedy strikes, she reexamines their relationship and discovers a secret that almost went to the grave.

Friends since high school, the thirty-something women meet every Thursday at Coconuts for their own form of friendapy.

 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Who Can I Blame?

I finally made it here to my poor, neglected blog and don't have anyone to blame but myself. However, I do have a lot of EXCUSES.

First, we're away from home and are trying our hand at being snowbirds. (Yes, we have a house sitter and are heading home soon, so no worries.) While in sunny, warm Florida, many of our cold-weather friends joined us, extended their visit or made return trips. Who could blame them?! So, we've been very busy entertaining, doing laundry, getting groceries and seeing the sights. That's one reason I haven't been blogging or writing.

Secondly, my daughter is getting married in May. I'm hosting a bridal shower for her in April, so I'm madly ordering gifts, favors, sending out invitations, working on games, and so on. It's an exciting time, and of course, you know me. I am a perfectionist to the hundredth degree.

Third, I'm getting acquainted with my fellow Soul Mate Publishing author friends. They are very friendly, informative and helpful. These conversations equal at least 30 (if not 50) emails a day. Whew. And I've been working with the cover artist on my debut women's fiction, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS. I'll be revealing that very soon!


Finally, we're tackling some renovations which includes tile, wallpaper, paint, and landscaping. Why in the world did I think I had time for that?

So, who can I blame? No one but myself. I hope to get back to a regular routine now. What projects are you juggling? What are your excuses?

Friday, January 31, 2014

And I Dreaded 2013

I really dreaded the year 2013. I'm a tad superstitious. Okay, more than a tad superstitious. But it turns out 2013 was a big year, a REALLY big year! (Sound familiar? Remember Ed Sullivan?!) Maybe I need to rethink my fear of the number 13, black cats, walking under ladders, throwing salt over my shoulder when it spills. You get the picture.

To prove my point, here are three big highlights from 2013 (in order of occurrence):


My first-ever holiday picture book, SANTA'S SECRET, was published and I had several book signings in Springfield and Branson. Barnes & Noble even carried my book! I enjoyed school visits, especially going back to my former elementary school, York, where I donated copies to first graders.

My novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, was picked up by Soul Mate Publishing. This is a life-long dream. I'm still pinching myself and cannot wait to see my cover art and hold that book in my hands! My release date is tentatively Summer 2014 (I asked that it be moved back. Crazy, I know, but read the next bullet point for an explanation.)

My daughter, Amy, got engaged! She and Chris will be married in Los Angeles on May 30, 2014. We couldn't be more thrilled! I'm having a shower for her in April and am trying to assist her long distance with wedding preparations. It's a fun, life-changing time for all of us.

Now, we're well into 2014. (Where did January go?) So, what's up for this year?

Several events will carry over from 2013--the release of THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS including marketing, book launches, launch parties, book signings and conferences.

The WEDDING in May and all the happiness that will ensue for my precious daughter and her soon-to-be husband.

And either another children's picture book, finishing the sequel to THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, continued work on my haiku collections or my non-fiction marketing book for authors. Decisions, decisions.

What were your top three events in 2013 and plans for 2014?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Going Back to Elementary School

As a children's literature writer, I love giving back to kids.
I say we embrace the new year by declaring to change the world one book at a time! Right before the holiday break, I had the pleasure of visiting my former elementary school, York Elementary, to read to two first grade classrooms.

I read my new holiday picture book, SANTA'S SECRET, to 38 children and three teachers. The kids were great listeners, asked several questions about writing, and were delighted to receive free autographed books. I also gave them crayons, coloring books, and Christmas candy. One classroom informed me they had researched me in advance by reading my blog and Amazon author page! I sure hope they visit again and see themselves here.


Going back to my former elementary school proved to be a delightful, nostalgic day. I visited the cafeteria and saw the stage where I played Mary in a Nativity scene. Guess that wouldn't happen these days, sadly. I also visited several classrooms where I once sat as a young girl eager to learn as an extremely shy student.

Afterward, I watched the yellow school buses line up in front awaiting excited children and looked longingly across the street where Andy's Grocery Store used to be. I told one of the teachers that Andy's always had a glass case full of penny candy and students would fill the store the minute school was over. Andy wasn't exactly a "kid" guy. In fact, he was a big grouch. Still, we loved his penny candy and his sour mood never kept us away even if we were slightly afraid of him.


Going back to York planted an indelible smile on my face for weeks afterward. I can still remember the students' smiles, applause, questions, and especially the little girl who hugged me and whispered, "I've never had my own crayons before." Tears sprang to my eyes as I gave her a tight embrace and wished her a Merry Christmas.

I'll never forget that day. I hope all kidlit authors do the same and visit their own schools.

Even if you only donate one book to a surprised child or to the school's library, you'll improve someone's life. Try it. Sprinkle some of that fairy dust. It's fun and what a great way to start 2014.


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book Signing Do's & Don'ts

I'm sorely behind with posting due to several book signings for my holiday picture book, SANTA'S SECRET. Over the past few years, I've learned a lot while having said signings and thought I'd compile a Top Ten List of Book Signing Do's & Don'ts.

DO

#1 SMILE. Sounds simple but I've seen authors who sit at their table like it's the last place they'd like to be. Who wants to approach someone who looks like a Grinch?

#2 OFFER FREEBIES. Often, people are hesitant to approach so if you have something free like candy or bookmarks, it's easier to call them over to your table. Once they are there, potential customers are more likely to inquire about your book.

#3 DRESS PROFESSIONALLY. This doesn't mean you have to wear a suit but don't dress as though you could go bowling immediately afterward. Make an effort if you want to be seen as a professional.

#4 TARGET YOUR MARKET. You probably won't have a successful signing if you are selling an ultra-steamy book at a church convention. Likewise, if you are selling a children's picture book at a teen hangout. Put some thought into your demographic and target them. Think about places your character hangs out or shops.

#5 ANSWER QUESTIONS about writing and writers' groups. Many people will tell you they have a novel inside them but don't know the first thing about getting published. Be patient and helpful.

#6 CREATE AN ATTRACTIVE, TEMPTING TABLE/THEME. For my holiday book, SANTA'S SECRET, I purchased a cute Santa and a small Christmas tree. I offered red and green candy corn and Santa jelly beans. Look for simple ideas to tie in with your book's theme.

#7 PROVIDE CONTACT INFO. Make sure you have business cards and bookmarks with your email, blog address, and contact information. Some people may not decide to purchase your book on the spot but later when facing a birthday dilemma, they just might remember the nice woman/man who was selling a book.

#8 PURCHASE LOCAL AUTHOR LABELS. I found some small, round gold "Local Author" labels online. Many people love supporting local authors and a small label won't interfere with your cover art, yet will easily identify you as a local author.

#9 PLAN AHEAD. Book your signings a month or two before your new release. Sometimes, I don't get this done and always kick myself. Do as I say--not as I do.

#10 TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOCIAL MEDIA. Promote your signings via Facebook, Twitter, email, e-vites, writers' groups, and to friends and family. If you keep it your little secret, there will likely be a small crowd. Sometimes there will be a small crowd no matter how hard you market yourself but keep trying.

DON'T

#1 BE AFRAID. Do not let dust gather on your books and shelve them in your home office. You worked hard on bringing your project to life. Now share it with the world and book some signings!

#2 SHOW UP LATE. Be on time (and this from the Queen of Lateness). But I have yet to be late to my own signings. I know. Shock. At my last signing, I arrived just two minutes beforehand but I'm blaming that on the icy roads. Still, I wasn't late.

#3 GIVE UP. I tried for over three years to land a signing at Barnes & Noble. They finally seemed happy to have me and wanted me there twice! I couldn't believe it. Of course, we got dumped on with snow and a wintery forecast but I still sold books and they're for sale in our local store.

#4 STARE AT YOUR PHONE OR TABLET. As tempting as it is during lulls, try, try, try to avoid looking down at your phone. A couple of times I couldn't resist the temptation and as I looked up someone had been staring at my book and walked away. This happened twice. I think they thought they weren't important to me which, of course, wasn't the case but you know how it feels when someone stares at a screen rather than making eye contact.

#5 HAVE CHIPPED NAILS OR BAD ROOTS. After all, people are going to be staring at the top of your head and at your nails while you sign. If you don't wear nail polish (women or men) just make sure they are clean and short.

#6 WEAR JEANS AND A SWEATSHIRT. I said this above but it's important. You wouldn't go to work dressed that casually, so please make an effort when you are selling your work to the public. This is your career.

#7 BE RUDE if a store clerk turns you down on having a signing or carrying your book. I had one store manager carry my first picture book, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE? and she told me to let her know when the second one came out. I didn't for some dumb reason. Then, when I approached her about my third book, she declined. I smiled and thanked her for talking with me anyway.

#8 BURN BRIDGES. Similar to #7 you just never know when someone will want to carry your book or allow you to book a signing (see example #3). Always be courteous and professional.

#9 LEAVE EARLY. One year I booked two signings the same day (I was overly excited) and I left the first signing two hours early. I wouldn't do that again. They didn't complain but it looked bad when I disassembled my table while customers were still coming in.

#10 GIVE UP. If you have a couple of signings where you only sold a book or two (trust me, I've had those signings), by all means, do not give up. The very next signing you might sell over 40 books. I've had those, too. You just never know who is on sick or on vacation, what other events are occurring, what the weather will do and so on.

I hope these lists help you have successful book signings. I'd love to hear your reaction and feel free to add your own tips in the comment section.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

New Release & Reviews: SANTA'S SECRET

My new holiday picture book, SANTA'S SECRET, has been released! I had my first book signing at the Kickapoo High School Holiday Bazaar on Nov. 2 and am finalizing several more signings for November and December. Watch for details.

I was inspired to write SANTA'S SECRET while spending time with family in warm, sunny Florida and Arizona last Christmas. It just didn't "seem" like Christmas since I had always lived in the cold, snowy, blustery Midwest. So, I wondered if kids felt that way, whether they grew up in warm climates, were transplants or were simply vacationing over the holidays.


The main character, George, is a grump. It's Christmas Eve and his mom tries everything to get him in a good mood (playing Christmas music, decorating, making cookies) but George isn't having it. He is positive Old Saint Nick won't visit. After all, he only sees pictures of Santa where there's snow on the ground. George would do anything to have a snowman in his yard. His mother tries and tries to convince George that Santa goes everywhere to no avail. But, finally, George discovers Santa has a big secret. After that, he can't wait for the holiday magic to begin!

So, now you know the backstory for my new holiday release, and after you view the pictures in this post, I think you'll see why I write kidlit. Just look at eight-year-old Alex delving into my book. His mother told me he started reading before they got to the car because he just had to know Santa's secret! Then, he wouldn't tell his mom and instead made her read my book to find out!

Here is his mother's review: "Alex tested. Alex approved."

 I also received a wonderful review from Kylie, who is Shirley McCann's granddaughter. Shirley told me she asked Kylie if she liked my book and Kylie answered, "I LOVED it." Here is Kylie's exact review (that she wrote herself on Amazon):
"hey Beth its me kylie I loved this book I am 8 years old Santa likes all weather in this book."

Finally, here is a partial quote from Shirley McCann (my good friend, full disclosure):  "...Loved the surprise ending. You'll want to keep this book for generations, as it's the perfect holiday book that will soon become a must read tradition, right along with The Night Before Christmas. We'll be reading it several times during this holiday season."

SANTA'S SECRET is available on Amazon here:
http://www.amazon.com/Santas-Secret-Beth-Carter/dp/1612252265/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_t

And on Barnes & Noble here:
 
Please keep the photos and reviews coming! They warm my heart. Don't you want to know Santa's secret? When you find out, no spoilers, please!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Soup's On!

I love so many things about fall that it would take too long to mention them all. One is that it's soup weather. And sweater weather. And boot weather. And the gorgeous leaves, pumpkins, and cooler temperatures. Oh, my. What's not to like?

I thought I'd share my favorite fall soup--Southwestern Bean Soup. It's so easy and delicious. If you can open cans and a jar, you can make this soup!


SOUTHWESTERN BEAN SOUP

1 19 oz. can Black Bean Soup (not drained)
2 15 oz. cans Red Kidney Beans, drained
2 15 oz. cans Navy Beans, drained
1 16 oz. jar Chunky Salsa (mild or medium)
1/2 cup Red Wine Vinegar
Small can chopped mild Green Chiles, drained

Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray and pour the beans, salsa and vinegar into the crock pot. Stir until well blended. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. This makes 8-10 servings and freezes well.

Serve with cornbread or salad. Also good with condiments like salsa, guacamole, sour cream and chips.

Enjoy and let me know if you tried it. Also, feel free to post your favorite soup in the comments section.