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Sort of like a wedding or Thanksgiving, this huge event in my life, which I’ve been looking forward to with great anticipation and preparing for since last fall, is coming to an end today. And when something extraordinary flies by so fast, we try to hang on to the remaining moments. So, I’m taking a little time before I finish packing in my hotel room to savor the experience. More pictures, along with clips of the video from my presentation on the entertainment program yesterday, will be uploaded once I get to San Francisco with Elaine. (I’m going home with her to celebrate her birthday, and our flight leaves Spokane at 5:13 this evening. So my next post with those visuals will most likely be tomorrow morning–Monday).

Meanwhile … what an amazing four days this has been! We arrived at the festival grounds to set up about 8:30 Friday morning and didn’t leave until 8:00 that evening. By the time we stopped at T.J.’s Tavern & Grill (up the street from the festival in Kettle Falls) for a bite to eat and then drove the five miles to our hotel in Colville, we were falling over in a heap around 10:30. The weather was a bit chilly and windy most of that day, but finally warmed up into the low 60s. Thankfully, there was no rain, and the skies were mostly clear, except for some of those astonishing clouds that came floating over us in the afternoon. And yesterday was absolutely perfect, in the low 70s with a brilliant blue sky and just a slight breeze.

Saturday (yesterday) was the main day of the festival. There was a parade, along with incredible stage performances by the local Irish dancers troupe, and great bands playing all sorts of music. There was also “auto smashing,” where people were taking sledge hammers to an old car, along with an extensive list of other activities. And then, of course, there was some author lady from New Jersey, who spoke about her novel Separation of Faith, which is set primarily in Kettle Falls. 🙂 Of course, there were plenty of food vendors offering surprisingly delicious items from pasta dishes to corn dogs and sinfully gigantic elephant ears (pizza-size fried dough covered with sugar and cinnamon). Elaine and I finally gave in yesterday and shared an elephant ear, and I’ve now ingested enough cholesterol and triglycerides to last through the month! As for the craft vendors … just let me say that a huge dent has now been made in my Christmas shopping.

Now, what about book sales? Well, we sold approximately 60 books (50+ of Separation of Faith and 7 of the newly released 2nd edition of The Truth about Cinnamon), along with a number of T-shirts. This isn’t quite the sales level I was hoping to hit, but I think the outcome is still worth celebrating. We’re leaving a supply of Separation of Faith for the Kettle Falls Visitor’s Center and for a lovely independent bookseller shop in Colville called Coffee & Books. So, for anyone who missed the festival or who hears about the novel set in this community, there will be several options available to secure a copy!

Although the primary reason for coming to Town & Country Days in Kettle Falls was to sell Separation of Faith, the distinct highlight of the trip was meeting so many awesome people! Both Elaine and I were blown away by the warmth and hospitality shown to us and by the programs and plans being advanced in this small but highly progressive community! We have made some very special new friends! And, now that a sequel to Separation of Faith seems to be clearly in the offing, my connection to Kettle Falls will be ongoing–and another trip here definitely resides in my future.

In closing this post, I want to mention one of the memories from yesterday. The day was getting late, and Elaine and I were beginning to break down our booth, when a young lady named Nichole came up to us with a couple of her friends. She was very lovely, and I’m guessing she was still in high school. (Sorry for the mis-guess, Nichole, if you’re older and in college. 🙂 ) She told us that she loved to read, and she really wanted a copy of Separation of Faith after hearing so much about the novel all day, but she didn’t have any extra money and was torn about spending what she did have on the book. But she ended up buying a soft cover version, with what was obviously a very precious $15 to her. And I was deeply moved by her decision. Not only will Separation of Faith be in the hands of someone representing a young, vibrant demographic, but the fact that my book was elevated to such a priority for her was extremely touching. Nichole has my card, and I’m hoping she’ll check out my blog and discover how much I appreciate her popping in at the end of the festival.

Everyone else who made the effort to find us and who then took a  book (or books) home with them is equally as appreciated. Their faces and names are forever imprinted in my mind and heart, and I do hope they stay in touch with me. Without such wonderful people who were willing to take a chance on my novel, I would sort of be doing this job by myself for unknown reasons. So I want each person who visited us to know how very grateful I am for their support and trust. And I’ll be watching for their names to show up in my email or on this blog.

Meanwhile, I guess I’d better get busy with my packing. We’ll be saying goodbye to this beautiful valley community in a couple of hours, but I’ll be taking the memories of every moment and every face home with me.

Will post again tomorrow with pictures. Hope you’re having a terrific weekend!

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About nine o’clock west coast time tonight, Elaine and I returned to our hotel from an absolutely amazing day. We secured the perfect booth for Separation of Faith at the festival, right by the stage and in a high traffic area on the way to the crafters. We then ran a bunch of errands–had copies made of flyers, endorsement quotes, etc., went shopping for items to decorate the booth (tablecloths, flowers), visited an independent bookseller in downtown Colville, and experienced at least three of those life-extending fall-down-on-your-face laughing bouts. We also took a lot of pictures, a sampling of which is attached at the end of this post. There wasn’t much to photograph at the festival site yet, but by tomorrow morning at 8:30 when we arrive, there should be a lot more to capture.

After picking up all the copying, we went back up to Kettle Falls (about a five-mile drive from our hotel in Colville) to visit an antique store we’d been passing repeatedly. Next door to the antique store was a market where I found several copies of a local newspaper featuring an article about me and the novel based on a phone interview last month.

We then returned to the hotel, with the intention of walking next door to a great little eatery for a takeout salad that we planned to eat in our rooms with a little bit of wine and closing conversation for the day. But a message was waiting for me at the hotel from the woman in charge of Saturday’s program. She said she needed a headshot of me and asked if we could come up to meet her at T.J.’s Tavern & Grill in Kettle Falls within the hour. (I called my daughter immediately because she’d dabbled with some modeling in her teens, and I knew she’d get a kick out of my needing to report for a headshot! 🙂 )

Upon entering T.J.’s Tavern & Grill, we were met by about ten women who were preparing t-shirts for a festival fun-run tomorrow afternoon associated with the Kettle Falls Grouch. (See the attached pictures of the Kettle Falls sign.
The Grouch is an elected position, decided during the festival.) Several of the women had already read Separation of Faith, and several others said they are planning to get a copy of the novel from me tomorrow at our booth. We thoroughly enjoyed our conversations with each of the women, learning many fascinating things about Kettle Falls, not the least of which involves the incredibly impressive programs in the Kettle Falls elementary school, details that I will incorporate into my posts as we move through this adventure.

T.J. (the owner of the establishment) and his wife Betty were also filled with seemingly endless morsels of information about the town and about the convent as well. We hope to see them again tomorrow night at T.J.’s, after our duties at the festival booth are over for the day.

As we drove around this afternoon, I was struck (as I was when first here in 2004) by the uncluttered and unspoiled beauty of this valley. The clouds changed their formation frequently as rain came and went through the hours, and I commented several times to Elaine that those clouds somehow seem closer to the ground here. A few pictures are included at the end of this post to show you what I mean.

Now I need to turn in, though. I’m all ready for bed and quite tired. But I suspect that I’ll wake up early again in the morning, ready for Day 2 of the adventure and the first day of the festival. Wish I could bottle this feeling so I could take a sip during discouraging writing days that might be ahead. Actually, I guess this blog is one way of doing just that!

Hope you all have a good night. I’ll return sometime tomorrow with a fresh report.

P.S. Also included in photos are a few shots of my new office on my apartment’s enclosed terrace. Pictures were taken the night before I left on this trip, so the light wasn’t great. I’ll take more when I get home.

 

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Writing from Colville/Kettle Falls, Washington

Yesterday, this long-awaited adventure (and most important promotional element of my fledgling/old-person writing career to-date) was officially launched!

My dear friend Elaine (friends since my 41-year-old daughter was a toddler of two) flew up from San Francisco to meet me in Spokane. By the time I arrived from New Jersey, around 1:00 p.m. via a delayed connection in Denver, Elaine already had the rental car and picked me up outside baggage claim just like we lived here.

Having her here with me for this experience is so exciting and so perfect. She has not only been one of my biggest fans since I reinvented myself from a corporate person and let the writer out of the box, but she’s also been one of my most important critics. None of us can learn, grow, and become the great writers we all dream of being if we don’t have people reading our work who are willing to tell us the truth. Several significant sections of Separation of Faith were extensively reworked due to Elaine’s input.

At any rate, we then made the drive to the Colville/Kettle Falls, Washingon area, which is the primary setting in Separation of Faith and is located about 90 miles north of Spokane. For those of you who’ve read the novel, I’m presently writing this post from my room in the Colville lodge where Isaiah stayed. And, after checking in yesterday afternoon, Elaine and I drove by the property that was the former convent. We also passed through the neighborhood where Tess and Ava lived, and we had dinner at Barney’s.

So, why are we here in the first place? Well, for the past 75 years or so, a three-day festival called Town & Country Days has been held in Kettle Falls during the first weekend in June, drawing attendance from the entire Spokane area. After Separation of Faith received the endorsement of Carolyn Sapp, Miss America 1992, who grew up in Kettle Falls, the goal of somehow being a part of that festival was added to my promotional to-dos. Now, following much effort, press releases, phone calls, emails, interviews, etc., the novel has become a featured highlight of this year’s event.

The wonderful people of this magnificently beautiful part of our country are really excited that someone made their little town a key setting in a novel. As for me, I spent three days here doing research in the fall of 2004, and I’m so excited about coming back that I could just pop! I’ll be blogging once or twice a day as we move through the setup of the booth and then into the event, which opens at noon tomorrow. Pictures will be included, beginning with tonight’s post.

If you’re a writer out there who’s plugging away at your own version of the Dream/Journey, let me assure you that there are lots of different paths available to all of us now. And there are many ways to feel validated and legitimate. The most important goal should be to get your work into the hands of readers. Once that happens, if the readers love what you’ve written, what greater validation can there be? If we’re not writing to give readers several hours of unforgettable reading pleasure, then what is our motivation?

Most of us will never become wealthy or hugely famous from our writing. But I’m here to tell you that, if you focus on completing a well-written book with quality editing–and if you’re willing to work hard on the promotional aspects of this business–the possibility of having your own version of a Kettle Falls adventure is an attainable goal for every single writer out there! (And when the bank teller in Colville got all excited yesterday about who I was, I have to tell you that I did feel like a celebrity. Success on this journey can be measured and attained in so many different ways! And right now I’m having a blast, thoroughly enjoying this moment that I worked so hard to create!)

I’m really looking forward to sharing each step of this adventure with you over the next four days! See you again tonight!

Separation of Faith Is A Proud Bridesmaid Again!

Notification arrived yesterday–and sitting right on top of the honorable mentions for the Beach Book Festival competition is Separation of Faith (http://www.beachbookfestival.com/)! This makes the fifth contest placement in the past few months, and I’m enormously honored! I’d be less than honest, however, if I didn’t add that I’m still hoping the novel will win first place in at least one competition! Still, this accumulating record feels pretty good!

Move Completed … At Last 

The nightmare move that just seemed to never end finally concluded the day before I left on this trip! I took pictures of my new office that night, and I’ll post a few tonight along with the festival adventure shots we’ll be taking today.

Hope you all have a wonderful day ahead! Talk to you later! 

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Topics in This Post:

  • Separation of Faith Places Again!
  • Book Club Update
  • Book Club Promotion to Come Soon!
  • Long-Awaited Promotional Trip to Kettle Falls Just Three Weeks Away!
  • Fascinating and Helpful Tips from Bestselling Author Harlan Coben
  • Photo Gallery of Happy Bookers Book Club Meeting in Atlanta on April 19, 2011

Separation of Faith Places Again!

Yesterday I learned that Separation of Faith has placed in yet another contest! Yay! This time the award is an Honorable Mention in the San Francisco Book Festival competition! Last month the novel was runner up to the grand prize winner in the Los Angeles DIY Book Festival and, shortly before that, the novel made the first cut in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award.

There are definitely elements of Separation of Faith that make the book/story contest-worthy (one of those elements being the extraordinary editorial quality, thanks to the amazing professional editors who worked so hard with me toward that important objective). Still, a first place contest award continues to elude the novel. Nonetheless, I remain both grateful for the wonderful things that are happening and unendingly hopeful about what I believe awaits on the path ahead. There are ten (I think) contests still in process, and I will, of course, post updates as soon as they come in.

Meanwhile, I’m giving myself permission to celebrate for a minute or two. 🙂

Book Club Update

At the end of this post is a complete photo album that captures the incredible visit I had with the Happy Bookers Book Club in Atlanta three weeks ago. The memories of that trip remain tantalizing for me as they linger. In addition to viewing the photo album, you are invited to read the comments posted by those amazing women following our meeting and my subsequent post on April 19 (https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/atlanta-book-club-event-was-today/.

In preparation for that book club event, I shipped to Atlanta a box full of material collected and developed during my research for Separation of Faith. The items included photos taken while I was in Kettle Falls, Washington (a primary location in the novel), as well as my notes, outlines, sketches of period fashions in the 1940s, and so forth. These are the sorts of things that have become interesting to readers who have finished the book, because I don’t have to worry about giving away any of the story’s secrets and surprises.

The photos that show all of us gathered around the table looking at “stuff” are capturing the moments after our wonderful lunch. Book club members were seeing the research material for the first time. Many thanks to Lynn Henderson, her great camera and photography skills, and other book club members who picked up the camera to make sure Lynn was in some of the pictures!

Book Club Promotion to Come Soon!

As we speak, I’m in the process of moving (house and office). Although I’ve said this many times before, I’m fully committed to never relocating again … ever! The move will be competed by this time next week. In fact, one week from today, I will wake up in my new place. Hurray!

One of the top priorities when I start working in my new home office on May 21 will be the announcement of my book club promotion! Details are still being finalized, but in short, the promotion will offer the opportunity for book club members and me to actually meet one another, as we did in Atlanta. So, if you belong to a book club, I will have news for you very soon!

In advance, I encourage you to read the Happy Bookers’ comments following our April 19 meeting and my blog post that night (https://cherilaser.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/atlanta-book-club-event-was-today/). I will be happy to arrange a connection between your book club and theirs, if you’re interested in learning more about their reactions to Separation of Faith. You’re welcome to email me directly at claser58@gmail.com.

Long-Awaited Promotional Trip to Kettle Falls Just Three Weeks Away!

As mentioned previously in this and earlier blog posts, Kettle Falls, Washington is a primary setting in Separation of Faith. (How that came to be, since I live in New Jersey, is a great book club story!) 🙂 In addition, the novel has been endorsed by a former Miss America (Carolyn Sapp, Miss America 1992), an amazing and incredibly impressive woman who grew up in Kettle Falls.

Each year (for the past 75 years), Kettle Falls hosts a huge festival during the first weekend in June called “Town & Country Days.” The event draws people from the widespread Spokane area and is a great source of pride for the residents of Kettle Falls. Sothis year the festival will feature a book for the very first time (to the best of local historians’ recollections)–and that book is Separation of Faith!

My dearest friend Elaine (since my 41-year-old daughter was a 2-year-old toddler) will fly up from San Francisco on June 1 and meet me in Spokane (after I fly in from New Jersey). We will rent a car and make the 90-minute drive to Kettle Falls. June 2 will be a touring-around day that will include visits to independent booksellers, and then the festival will run from June 3-5.

Elaine and I–and 200 copies of Separation of Faith, along with T-shirts, book bags, etc.–will be in a booth that is already being featured in the Kettle Falls local area press coverage. And on Saturday afternoon (the 4th), Separation of Faith (and I) will be on the entertainment program that follows the parade.

All of the festival’s committee members, as well as the local reporters, with whom I’ve had the pleasure of speaking, sound as excited as I am that this too-fun-for-words event is actually coming together. I will be blogging live from the day Elaine and I arrive in Kettle Falls (on June 1) until the festival is over on June 5. Photos, and hopefully video, will be part of the posts.

So … stay tuned for a little slice of the dream to be realized!

Fascinating and Helpful Tips from Bestselling Author Harlan Coben

On April 26, Jessica Strawser, of Writer’s Digest, published an article about, and an interview with, bestselling author Harlan Coben. Mr. Coben has become a contemporary master of the hook-and-twist novel, and his latest work–Live Wire–became available yesterday (May 12).

Since my novels always contain a plot twist that no one sees coming, I was immediately drawn to Strawser’s article and interview (http://www.writersdigest.com/article/harlan-coben-shares-novel-twist-tips/), especially since I’m currently trying to figure out what that twist will be in my third novel. After reading Coben’s answers, this moved to the top of the pile of things I want to share with you.

Highlight points that really hit home for me (as I struggle along with each of you to travel the path to the Dream) include:

Coben: ” … Writing is one of the few activities where quantity will inevitably make quality. The more you write, the better you’re going to get at it.” (Me: This sort of dovetails into a quote I saw recently from thriller writer Barry Eisler–“The highest profit margin activity an author can engage in is writing.” If you’re someone like me who’s trying to promote a book, or books, while also writing another one, both the Coben and Eisler comments certainly help with priorities. Every time I find myself asking “what’s more important today?” I now fall back on these answers.)

Coben: “… it’s much more important that the character’s real than likable. Likable is not really as important as real.” (Me: This was a point made repeatedly by members of the Happy Bookers Book Club. They told me that the characters all became real to them, and they expressed very strong emotions about each “person” in the story, even those who were despicable because their “despicableness” came through as being highly believable.)

Coben: “… So there is usually a theme, and you do need that character that people care about … Otherwise, I could give you the greatest [plot] twist in the world, but if you don’t care about the characters, you’re not going to follow it.”

Coben: “… There are a lot of writers who would love to take my place. And I know that the only way that good things continue to happen for me is to write, to get your butt in the chair and to write.”

Coben: “… You can skip the TV show you’re watching, you can wake up an hour earlier, you can write during lunch–you always have time to write. If your life is so full of other things that you don’t have time to write, then writing isn’t a priority and you’re not a writer. There’s nothing wrong with that, but face that fact. Don’t tell me you don’t have time to write.”

Me: Got it! Guess I’d better get busy! 🙂

Please check out Jessica Strawser’s entire article for more of Coben’s fascinating perspective: (http://www.writersdigest.com/article/harlan-coben-shares-novel-twist-tips/)

Hope you’ve found something helpful and/or of interest in this post! And please take a moment to look at the Happy Bookers Book Club photos! Also, have an absolutely wonderful weekend! See you soon!

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