Book Fairs: Here’s why to go by Elle Mott

Yesterday, local authors and readers got together to put on a book fair. It was the Local Authors Day Event in Northern Kentucky, held at the main branch of the Boone County Public Library in Burlington, Kentucky.

Big thanks goes out to Kelsey Shackelford, Community Events Liaison with this library, for her dedication and commitment.

It was not my first year to show up, yet my first year to come with a published book. Like before, this was an awesome time to connect with readers and writers, alike. Yes, I sold a few books. More-so, it was an opportunity for me to share my journey with others and to hear what they are reading or writing.

While I have given a few author presentations before, this was my first time at an actual book fair with my book. It was so meaningful to have my good friend, Lorene sit beside me.

For those who have read my book, this is the same Lorene from Chapters 24 and 25 in Out of Chaos.: A Memoir.  

If you are a writer and wondering what are the “perks” to have a table at a book fair, here are but a few:

  • To connect with others who also practice the writing craft
  • To better understand the writing industry
  • To listen; really listen to book buyers and readers

If you are a reader and wondering “why go to a book fair” here are but a few reasons:

  • To support those who are sharing their written works
  • To get a first-hand knowledge of books that otherwise could go unnoticed
  • To grab a good read, perhaps at a reduced price from the retail cost
  • To pick up gifts for birthdays and holidays
  • To get to know the author behind a book you plan to read
  • To get your book autographed (how can you do that at Walmart?)

 


I hope to see you at the next book fair in my greater community.

Until then, please share your experience in either shopping for books at such events, or as a writer sharing your book with others.


PS
This same day also saw me on Chanel’s Lit Blog in the Writer Spotlight.

Here, in interview style, I share about my writing craft and my journey.

You can read all about it by linking here:  https://www.chardypublications.com/blog-1/in-the-spotlight-today-elle-mott

If you like what I post, please join my reading community by subscribing to get blog post updates and my newsletter, sent monthly.  Link here.

-Elle-

 

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Writers Conferences–nuts and bolts….

Writers Conferences—the nuts and bolts—and what you can get out of going to one.

•You’ll connect with new writer friends. Those connections are valuable especially since you’re all going through the process.

•Your newly met friends may become your allies and accountability partners.

•You’ll clarify your book concept. Every time you practice talking about your book (not just writing it), you’ll get clearer about the direction you want to take.

•You’ll learn things you didn’t expect to learn. Sessions, lunch gatherings, and happy-hour mingling will present opportunities, which you didn’t expect.

Attending a conference:

Here in my greater Cincinnati area, I’ve been to several writer’s conferences, workshops, and the like, each of which garnered from our community. Last weekend, September 29 & 30, I stepped it up a notch by attending a conference which invited writers from all-around. Although, still here in Cincinnati, people came from as far away as California, New York, and Canada.

Given by Writer’s Digest, it was at the Renaissance Hotel downtown, with a friendly hotel ambiance that was comfortable, and plush. Before even hitting the check-in table, I met up with an online friend, Amy for breakfast, to meet in person for the first time—she lives in the New York area. Amy is an industry leader when it comes to teaching new authors how to promote our book(s) and I’ve been one of her groupies for more than a year.

When my book was hitting publication, I retained her marketing services for her know-how and action that I see she puts in to her passion. You see, an author is always responsible for carrying some, if not all the burden in marketing efforts. A publisher; most any publisher won’t do it all, nor could they even if they tried. My publisher is involved in the social media end of things, but they can’t walk with me in my daily commute to promote my book.

My breakfast time with Amy was not to talk business, but for us to get to know one another on a more personal level. I already knew we are the same age (by two months, I’m the older one)—we were in a group video conference on the day of her last birthday. Come to find out over breakfast, we have much more than age in common. It was an invaluable connection.

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With about 75 writers and authors in attendance, we mingled in the conference room, anxious for the 9:00 hour to start it off. At the front of the room was the podium. We took our seats, with many seats to choose from and four chairs to each table, all facing the front. Each table came with a carafe of water and a place to put our complimentary coffee. Through small talk, we encouraged each other to be proud of our published books. This could be seen as many of us pulled our book out of our tote bag (or attaché case or backpack) and laid it prominently on our table.

The conference opened with a presentation by another well-respected industry leader, Jane Friedman. She gave us her experience in publishing options and then how to proceed once published (the latter of which I tuned in to).

The weekend continued, all day Saturday and much of Sunday, with break-out sessions, guest speakers, and networking with fellow writers through lunch. Our break-out sessions spanned the gamut from readership connection to social media use to audio book consideration, and oh, so much more.  Even Amy had her share of leading workshops during these break-outs.

Key-note speakers were Zetta Elliott (children’s author) and Tobias Buckell (sci-fi author). With the conference focused on diversity, Zetta shared her journey with us, as an African American woman who writes stories which give a voice to the diverse reality of children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aside from the structure in these sessions and listening to speakers, it proved to be an awesome opportunity to meet others. I learned from other authors who are a step or more ahead of me, and I shared my experience with those who are where I was a year or so ago.

Overall, it was great to see a big picture of opportunities and choices available to authors in our writing careers. This big picture will carry me forward as I continue to learn and make informed decisions, which ultimately will benefit readers.

A writing conference comes with nuggets:

•The craft and business of your writing life is enhanced when joining forces with others.

•It keeps you abreast of the rapidly changing shifts in the industry so that you can make informed decisions for the best-fit path in your journey.

•Its uplifting and motivational to be surrounded by other writers. The writing process can be solitary. Being surrounded by other writers who are also going through the process is motivating.

Conferences gives us the venue to invest in our dreams….

Like the protagonists in the books we read or write, we too have turning points in our journeys. A conference is our way of accepting the challenge and rising to the call. It means we are willing to invest in our dreams, learn all we can, teach others through our experience, and do the action.

If you are a writer, what are your thoughts? Have you ever attended a conference? Did your first conference change your outlook and attitude? What were some changes you saw in yourself after going to a conference?

If you are a reader, curious about my writing life, what are your thoughts? Have you ever attended a conference for your craft or profession? Did your first conference change your outlook and attitude? What were some changes you had after going to a conference? And if you knew your favorite author attended conferences, would this influence your opinion of that author?

Please join in the replying comments below. As writers and readers, we come together; it’s a “we thing.” -Elle-

 

 

 

 

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No longer in Chaos (Author Presentation)

Thank you to Tri-State Freethinkers (TSF) for asking me to share my journey at the September meeting.  TSF is a community involved, social, educational, and activist group. Speakers include local experts and organizations about the science of our world, experience of those from different backgrounds & causes that could use our help.  I was the first of four speakers on this night.

I discussed my debut book, a memoir: “Out of Chaos”.

Yes, my book is published and available for your reading. What is my book about? Well, that’s why I stepped up to the podium on this night at the TSF meeting. Through this group, I have had ample opportunities for volunteering. These volunteering commitments have given me a way to show my gratitude for life today, a life out of chaos.

A recent volunteer commitment took me to the Freestore Foodbank in downtown Cincinnati, near me, here on Liberty Street. It’s a choice pantry, laid out much like a grocery store. Volunteers are needed for keeping shelves stocked, bagging food, and helping customers. On that day, I was a runner. My job was to help load groceries into people’s cars or to help them gather their bags for their walk home. As we’d walk out together—me pushing their shopping cart to their car, it was easy to chat. One woman kept saying she was sorry for being so needy and for almost forgetting to get diapers.

I let her know there was no need to explain or be sorry. I’ve been there before, on the edge, wondering if I’d survive. I know what it is like—that raw empty feeling inside our gut, breaking down our mental and emotional cognition when having to depend on others for our very basics.

Yes, sometimes, I feel as though it’s an effort to choose to volunteer rather than hang out at home. But, I know that all I have to do is show up. From there, any inconvenience is uplifted as my happiness to get out of myself and be a real part of the community shows its face.

When we step up to volunteer, we make a difference in people’s lives. I know this. During the times I needed help, help was at times tough to find.  When I did get help; that help helped me help myself.

No matter what hardships we endure—or what mistakes we made—no matter where we go wrong or where society fails us, we can survive. And more than survive—by doing the action, we can make a life which gives us inner peace, a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning.

 

A recap of my volunteering thus far with Tri-State Freethinkers:

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How about you? What difficulty have you faced and what has helped you to overcome such a troubling situation? Please share in the comments. Community is a “we thing.”

Together, we can and will make a difference; a positive difference!  -Elle-

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WIP Update: This Book is Happening!

Publishing my debut book is  exciting and a little scary. Have you ever created something only to wonder if people will like it?  Coming August 9 it’s aptly titled, “Out of Chaos: A Memoir.”

It is my true story of living in chaos, what happened to throw me into that chaos, what I did about it, and now, who I am today. At times, my story is dark and harrowing, yet I promise, it will end on a bright new way of living.

My book is finished, yeah! This journey has involved plenty of hard, yet creative and fun work in collaboration with my publishing house. And questions–oh, so many questions I’d bring to the table when I’d get ideas or wondered “why this way?” The entire publishing team was ever so patient, open to my ideas, and happy to talk about anything with me.  Last Friday, I saw this book’s fruition when I approved the latest proof. This book is happening!

Through my writing and publishing journey, I’ve met numerous supporting and incredible authors. Heartfelt gratitude goes out to my new friends and to my publishing house.

My two writing groups, one on-line, and one here locally in my community have also been invaluable.

No way, could I have gotten this far alone. In all of life, in our community endeavors, and in our own personal aspirations, it is a we thing.

Often, I was asked, “Why don’t you self-publish?” That’s the route many in my local writers group have taken and have been quite successful at doing so. Success means different things to different people, and mostly, I see my fellow authors who have self-published happy with their decision.

The idea of that (of self-publishing) seems overwhelming—I don’t have the skill set in this laborious and complex world. Creating a great book cover while meeting industry standards, perfecting interior design, expense of editors, worrying about metadata and distribution—oh how exhausting to ponder. And then, there’s distribution—I want my book available most anywhere and yet so many places are out there; some I’ve never even heard of. Time was also an issue—I work full-time, writing on my lunch breaks.

My publishing choice has proven to be perfect for me. I’ve gained insight, learned plenty and have felt my fears in publishing lifted as someone else (my publishing house) has done the heavy work garnered from my vision.

You may ask, “What came before yesterday’s finalized proof?”  

  • Ringing in the New Year, I expressed my Persistence, Power, and Positive Attitude to bring this book alive. (Link here).x
  • In late March, it was how I got through developmental editing. (Link here).x
  • In June, it was copy editing; it was my motto of Inspired by memoir, focused on life today. (Link here).

Look for my debut book in paperback and e-book, releasing August 9. “Out of Chaos: A Memoir” will be available on Amazon, Kindle, iTunes, Sony/Kobo, and Barnes & Noble Nook, to name but a few. Incoming reviews (from readers like you) will determine the distribution path into brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries.

Closing this post, a shout-out with a big “thank you” to you for following my writing journey and encouraging me to keep going.  -Elle-

 

 

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WIP (Work in Progress) Update, Inspired by memoir, focused on life today.

In March, I posted a WIP Update that my first round of editing was finished. That was the developmental editing. Since then, I’ve been inside a whirlwind of excitement to get my book ready for you. (Read that post, here.)

WIP UPDATE

Copy editing has been completed. Working with Emily Hitchcock from my publishing house, we did a line by line reading, sometimes jumping back a few chapters, or even forward. Word usage, grammar, and in essence, making my story the best it can be for you. Emily also came to the rescue for fine tuning how I’ve named chapter titles. Moving forward, proofreading will be done.

In the meantime, also from my publishing house, graphic designer Cate Labish is handling the book cover. Cate and I have collaborated well in this. I picked the picture. She’s putting it together. The front side is done. Soon, Cate will have the back cover done too.

 

Publishing my debut book is not only exciting, it is a little scary. Have you ever created something only to wonder if people will like it? My story is not a cozy one. My story is aptly named, “Out of Chaos.” It is my true story of living in chaos, what happened to throw me into that chaos, what I did about it, and now, who I am today.

Today, life is good. With my good life comes a freeing feeling. I’m okay if someone finds my story not to their liking. I am hoping that my story will make a difference in someone’s life.

An excerpt from my book explains why I wrote my story:

….to show that no matter what mistakes we made, what wrongs we did, or what hardships we endured, we can make a right-about face. A change of heart and action makes it possible to become a contributing member in society. This change gives us peace, a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning.

 

I suppose that’s how and why I came up with my phrase, “Inspired by memoir, focused on life today.”

 

-Elle-

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Reading Journey

Reading Journey

My writing journey today is about my reading journey—and perhaps, yours, too.

Admiring friends as they keep up with their Goodreads reading profile, I ticked this to-do item off my list today, and plan to keep up with it.

‘Having read several good books, anthologies, and literary journals lately, Goodreads is the hang-out for connecting with readers and writers. It’s a place to discover the next great book to read and why. You can follow my reading journey on Goodreads.

 

Here are some reasons for reading:

1. (To) Change When writers impart motivational, spiritual, and cognitive thinking skills to us, we become stronger to overcome personal challenges.

2. Exercise Brain Muscles (Yes, our brain is a muscle!)

3. (To) Feel for Others Feeling empathy for what the character is going through gives us greater socialization skills.

4. Imagination Other people’s stories can open a whole new world for us to envision places, people, and ideas that otherwise could remain dormant.

5. Information Gathering Becoming familiar with other places, people, and cultures, we become a little bit more familiar with our world.

6. Learning at one’s own Pace With self-help, how-to, and craft and recipe books, we are in control of our own hands-on-approach.

7. Morality Building How characters approach their challenges gives us an opportunity to discern our own choices.

8. Self Esteem By becoming more informed in various life situations, we become more confident in ourselves.

9. Stress Reliever Even as stories heighten our sensory impulses, this same story can envelop us, letting us become relieved of any current concerns.

10. Vocabulary Builder Whether it’s words in our native tongue, conversations found in other cultures, slang, or a new way to verbally express a concept, our choice in which words to use when communicating expands.

Imagination and Information Gathering are likely my top reasons.

xxx What are your reasons for reading? Any other reasons you read? Please share.x

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Resources:

 

Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/

My Goodreads profile (link here.)

For a more in-depth and comprehensive take on using Goodreads, check out this free PDF: “Make Use Of: an unofficial guide to goodreads for readers and writers” by Nicole Dionisio. (Link here).

The Importance of Reading by Tawni Fagan and Nicole Holley. This 3-minute video found on YouTube is as relevant today as when it was posted.

From my library to yours, happy reading! -Elle-

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Community of Stories

Annually in the spring, the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA), here in Cincinnati, offers a creative writing workshop, Community of Stories (preregistration required.)

Yesterday was their fifth annual event of Community of Stories and my fourth year attending. Setting aside writing rules, this event’s focus is to share our diverse perspectives and life stories. It joins a cross-section of our community as we come together as one with hope, support, and encouragement.

Under the guidance of writing mentors, we divvied up into small groups, each with about ten people. We had groups in poetry, fiction, and I participated in the memoir group. Comprised with many students from its school and area high-schools, this event is open to the community.

Our day encompassed writing prompts, quiet time for writing, then sharing our writing with open discussion. I’m amazed how these young students can make a first draft look like a third draft. My writing feels choppy to me if I compare myself. Rather, I realize my writing is but a jumping off point for me. More so, I learn so much from these students. Their views of our society and community, their hopes and dreams, and their desire for growth in themselves and others is an inspiration to me.

Following this group time, we all came together in the school’s auditorium. Those who wished to, shared their writing from the podium.

Each year following this Community of Stories event, SCPA publishes a chap book. Those who wish too, have their writing included in this literary journal. And each year, we wait patiently for this journal, which comes out in print shortly before our next annual get-together.

My contributions to the Community of Stories literary journals include:

2015

A Community of Stories: Seeds of Change

“Sun Catcher.”

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2016

A Community of Stories: Dream of Change

“Who?” (fictionalized memoir).

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2017

A Community of Stories: On the Wings of Change

“Transformation is About Becoming Who I Am” (reflective essay).

(and)  “Forest” (poem co-written with Isa Walker).

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2018

A Community of Stories: Speaking Our Silences

(Editor’s choice, to be determined).

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A big thank you to those who shared their day with me! -Elle-

 

 

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WIP (Work in Progress) April Update

First round of editing is finished.

With my editor, we tackled these issues:

  • Scene development. Welcome to my world, my reader-friends.
  • Parting with poetic language. Readers, what’s your take-away?
  • And showing the progression from chaos to a new way of thinking or a new set of actions.

Persistence — Power — Positive Attitude, a January post put forth what I was up against. My editor’s guidance in this editing process has been invaluable in my persistence. It has given me confidence. (Thanks, Brad!)

 

Going in to April, the copy editor with my publishing house is now working with me. This is the fine combing through word after word and phrase after phrase, while paying attention to comma and period placement, and so on and so forth. Yes, tedious. I don’t envy her job. (Thanks, Emily!)

 

Following copy editing, there are more steps ahead of us. I’m not going to future trip. Rather, I’m happy to say we are getting my book ready for you. A well-known quote by Aristotle goes like this: “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

 

Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist. Today, I am somebody. I did something to become who I am today. Criticism fell, and I pushed forward. Had I sat still, my life would have stayed in chaos and this book would not be happening.

 

Why I wrote my story:  People told me to get my story out in any way I could. That got me started. When recalling memories to put on paper, I couldn’t forget that when life was incredibly difficult for me, people said, “Keep the faith” or “It will be okay.” Read more, here.

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Brave to Share, Brave to Change Things

Recently I participated in a spoken event to help raise awareness, energy, and financial support in the fight against gender-based violence. Each person who stood at the microphone and podium shared their personal story with our audience. Our expressions in poetry and prose emitted daring honesty to reveal a time we had been powerless yet are now brave and confident.

Heartfelt words of encouragement from others gave me a level of pride, that yes, each of us can make a positive difference in our communities.

My personal experience with this issue comes from a dark point in my journey. As explored in my debut book, coming out soon, choices, and then consequences of those choices push me to the brink of changing my life for the better. Just when I thought I had it figured out, I’m faced with one more hurdle. When at this spoken event, I described this hurdle in my spoken prose.

An excerpt from “Living on a Fork in the Road”

I had no idea how to define [him] but had nodded anyway to their comment. I’d gotten my college degree in June [2010], then in April, still without a career job, I left Seattle with him. I had no family to help. We’ve traveled from Seattle down to San Francisco, east into Arizona and Utah, and west again, through Nevada. Six months out from Seattle, my goal now is to survive.

One woman at that campground had told me, “My husband and I can take you to a women’s shelter.”

Homeless shelters don’t keep people forever. That’s why I went with [him]— I believed it would lead to something permanent, unlike temporary solutions from agencies. He jumps another pothole, then swings his right arm towards me. I’m afraid in his reaction, but then he stops mid-air, damn-near hitting my face. “Ellie, why did you let me break the trailer door? Why?”

We bounce deep into a graveled stretch of road as he grabs his steering wheel for control.  I hadn’t noticed leaving pavement. Cacti and pine trees keep the world out. I can’t rule out he can pull over and kill me. He’s strong enough. And mad enough.

Dust kicks up. I grab my door handle for leverage, not that we’d crash into another car.  There aren’t any other cars [on our road].

He demands, “Stop that. Now, look—you’re upsetting Manny.” (Manny was his dog, at twenty pounds of white matted fur).

He swings his right arm again, this time pushing me deeper into my seat. He corrects his driving one-handedly, screeches to a stop, turns the ignition off and pockets his keys. “I hate you, Ellie…. I (expletive word redacted) hate you, Ellie.”

What difficulty has personally touched you? How can you share your story with others? What will you do to create positive change in our community? Please share in the comments.

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Persistence — Power — Positive Attitude…. (New Year’s WIP Update)

WIP (Work in Progress) Update

I’m starting this first month in the new year with my publisher. We’re working together in my latest manuscript revision. I’m assured I have a story to tell. My goal is to tell it well.

GOALS:

Scene

Scene development is key. I must bring readers into three scenes (on average per chapter), showing my perceptions, motivations, and feelings. How I’m doing this: outlining (again) to decide which plot points to keep and which to let fade. Infusing these points, I’m also letting go of any ramblings which follow.

Clarity

Poetic, and sometimes archaic language, tends to weasel its way into my unfolding story. (“Thanks, Nana”, I say in response to this.) To fix this, I’m replacing certain words with short punch lines to instill opportunity for my readers to have their own “ah-hah” moments.

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Understanding Action

My publisher brought forth a few questions, “Why?” or “Didn’t this happen because of this?” There, I need to clue the reader in. This can be challenging. As a true story, the “why’s and “why not’s” can seem illogical. My homework is to show how chaos evolved into a new way of thinking or a new set of actions.

WHAT I’M DISCOVERING:

Purging unnecessary crap leaves room to fall in love with the must-have and must-keep scenes.

Persistence gives me an incredible high, nearly indescribable. Words of wisdom from my late nana are showing their true face as I work toward my goals.

Power. My story is about choices and consequences and what these make of us. Overcoming obstacles are a part of my story. Describing through rich scenes show how I overcame, and like my late Nana had influenced me, my story is influential.

Positive Attitude. At times, I can allow myself to feel daunted by the current problems in our American society and other world-wide injustices. Yet, by sharing my voice, my concerns, and my answers, I know change is possible.

WHY?

I have a story to tell. You may, too. If you feel your story in your heart and bones itching to get out into the world, check out this recent past blog post: Writing Changes Things. Writing experience not required.

Join me in this journey. What are your thoughts in overcoming challenges? How are you influenced by others’ experiences? And how do you—or can you—influence others?

Please let me know in the comments.xxx

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