Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Great Yard Sale

The old adage is true: one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

That was something that became clear to me this past weekend when I held a yard sale to get rid of some extraneous belongings in the mild hopes of making a little extra cash.

I’m blessed to have an overabundance of things. Maybe a little too blessed, considering how much of my stock consisted of toiletries and bath products I had collected over the years. I can’t help but wonder if people are trying to tell me something.

Many of the items I was getting rid of had become redundant or were obsolete, like older computer equipment. I found two old Palm Pilots, one of which I’d begun my writing career on and neither of which sold. One of the first things I sold was a pair of CD wallets I had no use for. Remember the days before MP3 players, when CD players were the new hotness, and you’d carry a whole bunch of CDs with you? Yeah, neither do I.

Then there were the random things I was sure would go first. Alas, I was wrong. Still among my possessions are a hospital-issued biohazard waste receptacle; a vintage-style Lost In Space metal lunchbox; a brand-new picture frame regifted to me for my wedding; and a toaster oven/toaster combo I thought a needy college student would snatch up.

The thing that always baffles me, though, are how books never seem to sell in yard sales.

Sure, our collection was fairly esoteric; my husband is a prolific reader of history, politics and the sciences, and so most of the books we had for sale were nonfiction titles. But at the low price of $2 per hardcover and $1 for paperbacks, I was shocked only one book sold. It was a Glenn Beck book. Someone was buying it as a gag gift.

What does that say about the value of books? Do people see a book as more than an investment of dollars, but of time, as well? Are people more willing to shell out for a book in a used bookstore than they would at a yard sale?


Chime in with your thoughts! Do you check out the books people sell in yard sales? Do you silently judge people by what they’ve read or are getting rid of? What’s the best find you ever made? Leave a comment below!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Question of the Month: The Research Edition

This month, we asked the Super authors to share one one funny, odd, outrageous, or otherwise memorable fact or skill acquired while researching a book

Laura Drake: I know more about bulls than I ever expected to: raising them, their semen(breeding,) how/why they buck, even how to ride them (though I'm never testing out that knowledge!)  Research was for my "Sweet on a Cowboy" series, contemporary Westerns, set in the world of professional bull riding. The first, The Sweet Spot, released the end of May. The next, Nothing Sweeter, is out in January.

Pamela Hearon: While researching Victor Hugo for my Feb'14 release Moonlight in Paris, I learned that in his later years he went quite mad and took to carving furniture ... with his teeth!  Some of the furniture is on display at Maison #6, Place des Vosges :-) 

Anna Sugden: I had a blast researching my book, A Perfect Distraction, thanks to the help of my favourite hockey team – the New Jersey Devils – and the VP of Operations at the arena where they used to play. I even got to ride a Zamboni! The toughest part was meeting all those half-dressed players. I hope our readers appreciate how I suffered for their benefit J   Interesting fact I learned – hockey players use ranch dressing to flavor all the bland food they have to eat during the season! Apparently, a good ranch dressing can cure any cooking evil.

Karina Bliss: I'm a Kiwi (New Zealander) and through the editing process of my first book, Mr. Imperfect, my Canadian editor queried the colour of a cowpat which I'd described
as olive-green. It's brown, she said. Eventually we worked out that many North
American herds are barn-housed and grain-fed through winter while our cows (in
the North Island anyway) are outside year round and grass-fed, hence the green
tinge. Who knew? So if you're ever in NZ, stop by a paddock sometime and take a look. Not exactly up there with the seventh wonders but...  


Joan Kilby: For my May 2014 Superromance (title TBA) I've been researching the use of horses in treating trauma victims and mental health patients through the program here in Australia called Horses For Hope .  I grew up riding horses and I loved finding out all about this fascinating way that horses and humans can help each other.




Jennifer Lohmann: I learned to make quite a bit of Polish food for Reservations for Two, including pierogi. When my heroine, Tilly, talks about understuffing the dumplings being a "rookie mistake," I wrote that from experience! I understuffed my pierogi and they were flat little Frisbees instead of looking more like a bowler hat cut in half. After checking out a copy of Polish Heritage Cookery from my library, I finally bought a copy. I make the cucumber salad in here on a regular basis (and reference it in my upcoming book A Promise for the Baby).

Vicki Essex: I learned the importance of fact checking when, after an online book club chat for Back to the Good Fortune Diner, I discovered that chicken balls with sweet and sour sauce is not a staple of American-Chinese cuisine in the States, but one that is present on Canadian and U.K. Western-style Chinese menus. Oops.

Cathryn Parry:  I featured an anesthesiologist heroine in my July release, Out of His League. I don't have a medical background, so this required much research--research that I
didn't think I would ever use again. Well, I recently had to undergo an
unplanned medical procedure that required a stint in day surgery, and I was able
to use that research to question a few things that I was unsure about. It
helped me...and also gave the surgical team (all women) a fun conversation
topic...especially when they found out that the anesthesiologist heroine got a
hot pro baseball pitcher as her hero. :-)


Kris Fletcher: my fictional town of Comeback Cove, the setting for November's Now You See Me, is set along the St. Lawrence River in the Canadian Thousand Islands. When the river was being widened and deepened to create the St. Lawrence Seaway, ten small villages had to be flooded. Some buildings were moved. Others were demolished. Tombstones from cemeteries were removed and mounted in displays in memorial parks. Some features - sidewalks, roads, etc - can still be spotted underwater or at times when the water is very low.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kris Fletcher's Winner!

Many thanks to all who commented on my Jell-O promotion post. It was such fun to return from a long weekend writing retreat and read your thoughts!

I'm sending a special shout-out here to Snookie for her recommendation that folks find new authors by connecting on the Harlequin community bulletin boards. I've made some wonderful new friends, both readers and authors, through those boards. If you'd like to drop by the Superromance page, here's the link. We're a fun crew if I do say so myself, and we always love to have new folks join in!

The winner of my drawing is KAELEE! Kaelee, please send mailing address to kris (at) krisfletcher (dot) com and I will get your lovely book thong out to you right away.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cross-country Trips (and a giveaway!)

by Cathryn Parry
 
This week, I’m getting ready to travel from my home on the east coast of the United States, all the way to the west coast of the United States, in order to visit family.  I’m excited to see my young nieces and nephews, but I’m anxious, too.

When I was younger I thought nothing of traveling alone—did it all the time, in fact, happily.  That was before I was made aware of the dangers of traveling alone, especially for a woman.  Over the years, my modes of traveling have changed to keep personal safety in mind—always accompanied by family, friends or colleagues.

Now, I’m taking a walk on the wild side again.    J   It’s good for me to step from my comfort zone every now and then.

So, my tickets are purchased—arriving and departing during daylight hours.  My pickups and drop-offs to and from the airport are arranged.  My suitcase is (mostly) packed.

Since I’m flying on a carrier that does not provide food on the plane, and I don’t have enough of a layover window mid-route to purchase meals, I need to think about food I can carry onboard with me.  Do you have any ideas?  What works well for you?  Any tips or tricks for making air travel more comfortable?

Please leave me a comment—any support or advice is appreciated!  I’m giving away a copy of my July Superromance, randomly-selected from the comments, with the winner posted on Saturday.   Thank you for visiting and reading!
Out of His League
 

 

Cathryn Parry is the winner of the 2013 Booksellers’ Best Award for her December Superromance, The Long Way Home.  She lives in New England with her husband and her neighbor’s cat, Otis.  Besides writing romance novels, she loves figure skating, genealogy research and traveling whenever possible.  :-) For more information about her books, please see her website at www.CathrynParry.com.

 

 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Winner of Jennifer Lohmann's A Promise for the Baby from "Sharing Your Food"

Well, I'm late again with my post of the winner. No excuses, the week just passed me by and I didn't notice. The winner of A Promise for the Baby is:
Mary Preston

Mary, please email me at jenniferlohmann (at) gmail (dot) com with your information. I'll mail the book out to you as soon as I get my author copies.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

PROM-O



This past weekend I took my girls to a place you have probably never would believed existed: the Jell-O
Gallery in Leroy, NY. Yes. I'm telling the truth. There is a museum devoted to the history of Jell-O.

That lovely quivery dessert was created in 1897 in the town of Leroy by Pearle Waite, a carpenter who was searching for a source of income for the winter months. When he and his wife May unlocked the secret to this delicacy, they were ecstatic. At that time, it took multiple days and (usually) a servant or two to make a jellied dessert. This, though – this flavored powder was going to change all of that.

Except Waite couldn't sell it.
 
After some time of trying to generate interest in his product, Waite sold the recipe to Orator Woodward for the price of a new house: $400. Woodward, a canny businessman who already owned the Genesee Pure Food Company, soon found himself in a similar position. He believed in his product but people had no idea what it was. He couldn't sell it either.

But Woodward had what was, at that time, a radical idea. In 1904 he hired massive numbers of young men, told them to dress nicely, and sent them out to towns and cities with the instructions that they were to knock on every door and give every housewife a box of Jell-O. Then the men were to advise the local grocers to stock up, because there would soon be a demand for this product.
 
If you've walked through any North American grocery store, you know just how well his experiment worked. Jell-O in its many incarnations is part of the culture. Try to imagine a potluck without at least one Jell-O brand product (remember, that includes instant vanilla pudding) used in the dishes. Boggles the mind, doesn't it?

With my second Superromance slated to hit the shelves in a couple of months, I've been thinking a lot about ways to promote my product. I have yet to come up with something as innovative as Woodward's strategy was for the time, but with that example before me, I can't possibly be anything but optimistic.

Now readers, do tell – what prompts you to pick up an unknown book or other product? I have a lovely purple and silver book thong to give away to one lucky commenter, so tell, tell!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mine Your Me Time


This past weekend, my husband went on a guys-only camping trip, leaving me to do whatever I pleased. A mini-staycation! I couldn't have asked for better. Because as much as I love my hubby, sometimes...well...he just gets in the way!

If he's reading this, he's probably frowning and worrying that he doesn't do enough around the house, or is hindering me in some way. Let me assure him and readers that this isn't the case at all. He does the majority of the cooking and grocery shopping, all the heavy lifting and half the laundry, on top of earning a living as a freelance writer. He is my other half, and I could never dismiss him.

That said, sometimes, you need a break from your soul mate. I'm talking about me time—the freedom to do as one pleases, to be spontaneous without consultation, to get things done on your own schedule without feeling like it has to be done now, now, now!

Parents know about this precious resource. That half hour while the kids are napping can be used for anything: using the toilet, showering, clearing away that sinkful of dishes, even—gasp!—reading a few pages of that book that's been on the bedside table for six months.

With the weekend wide-open and giving me that come-hither look, I was tempted to just blow it off and do whatever I wanted. But there was so much piling up on my to-do list, I was afraid I'd never get around to it. 

Not just chores and personal grooming, but fun times, too.

When I realized I had to schedule fun, that it had become a part of my to-do list, I knew something was seriously wrong.

One of my favorite Beatles lyrics comes from “Girl”—“A man must break his back to earn his day of leisure/Will she still believe it when he's dead?” I couldn't not do all that stuff I needed to do. If I ignored it, I'd only feel worse later. But if I didn't want to spend my whole weekend being a martyr, either.

So I compromised. I cleaned and organized the house, took out the tools and did some repairs, gardened, cooked, and blogged. And in between, I indulged. Had lunch with a friend, went shopping, got my nails done, and played tourist in my own city. I filled every minute with things that I not only had to do, but things I wanted to do.

No consultation. No interruptions. All on my own terms.

The freedom to do as we please is something we take for granted. Women especially seem pressured to fill their time with productive tasks, which is perfectly fine and normal until their lives are nothing but to-do lists. Off time is something we all need, not only to stay healthy and sane, but as writers, to keep our creative energy flowing.

After a packed weekend that cleared my to-do list, I whipped through a big chunk of editing and even got to plotting ahead. After all that mental decluttering, I even allowed the plot bunnies to overtake my brain for a while.

The moral of the story: make your significant other go camping without you more often. Mine that precious me time resource. Take a day for yourself now and again to get things you want to do done.
Time is rarely free anymore, but it can be invested for better return.


What does your me time include? How do you get away from the daily grind? How can you get more me time in your life? Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Her Son's Hero.
Draw takes place Friday, August 12, 2011, 9 p.m. EST
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