Monday, April 23, 2018

Author Event Summary

This past Saturday (April21st) was the third Articulture event in as many years. Of the 10 WhipCity Wordsmith authors who had signed up to attend9 of us made it to the event. Authors began arriving just past 9AM. Our tenth Wordsmith had an emergency and was unable to attend (but she'll still get her swag bag next time I see her!)

The room rapidly became a beehive of activity as authors began whipping out colorful table covers and setting up their spaces with books being offered for sale and associated props to draw the eye of patrons passing through the room. At Ayden's Rogalski's table he had a vintage lantern, some patriotic wreaths, an antique inkwell, quill pen and pieces of parchment he was writing on. (I was the recipient of a sweet thank you note from our 9-year old youngest author during the course of the day, and several awesome hugs!)

Prior to the 10AM opening, author swag bags were distributed to the authors who had books to offer. I also had fun assembling an additional goodie bag for Ayden, and one for Lex. Debbie (Carol's daughter) and Tanya also got goodie bags. Melissa's mom, Elaine Frankonis couldn't make it to read poetry, but Melissa brought home a swag bag for her because she, too, is a Wordsmith.

Kelly had a LED ghost light to draw attention to her book Parapsychology which was one of the bestsellers at the show. I had wands (Black King Takes White Queen), black wolves (Out), and werewolves/wolves (The Clockmaker's Son). I also had some plush cats to represent Ivy's tiger cat familiar, Bex, who is killed by a demon in Black King Takes White Queen (her black warlock husband, Romney, who has no use for familiars takes her to adopt a new cat she names Jem), and Irina's tuxedo cat, Sebo (her vampire lover moves all her belongings to his castle, including her beloved cat, even though he prefers his black wolves). Most of my props found new homes at the end of the day- Bex went to Melissa who changed his name to Oliver (Ollie) after the Otherwords mascot, Sebo went to Kate Anderson, a fellow cat lover. Atka (I had two of these awesome small plush wolves) went to Lex Volker (Kylo-Ren) and Ayden. Ayden also got the small plastic werewolf figurine, and the wolf pocketwatch he had admired several times during the course of the day.  Together, Kelly and I sold 21 books during the day which was a pleasant surprise! I was asked when the third in the Ivy & Romney series would be coming out- it's partially written, so maybe later this year Bishop Amid the Pawns will find its way into print. The second book in the series is Black Knight, White Rook and is currently available on Amazon and for Kindle. Overall- The Hanging Man and Other Stories, the limited edition preview of the soon to be published The Clockmaker's Son were best sellers for me as was Disturbing, the jointly written ghost story anthology Kelly and I put together. She even sold a copy of Teleport!

Melissa Volker had a book deal going on at her table- for a few hours it was buy two books get a free surprise book. During the afternoon if became buy one book and get a surprise book for free. Her new book Apocalypse Alice, just published under the Inklings imprint of Dark Ink Press was her best seller. At her table with her was her son Lex Volker who was in the awesome Kylo-Ren costume she made for him for various events and photo-ops, kids party appearances, etc. He was a huge draw for the kids and young people who crossed light sabers with him and posed for pictures. It was fun to watch Ayden in his tricorn hat, shirt, vest, and slacks mock light saber fight with the very tall Kylo-Ren in his futuristic attire.

At the far end of the room ensconced in throne-like armchairs were first time author Lindsay Stenico (and her mom, Barbara) with her novel The Assignment, just published by Dark Ink Press. Lindsay is a freshman at WSU here in Westfield, and also the event and media publicist for Blue Umbrella Books here in town.

Beside Lindsay was Dark Ink Press owner and author Kate Anderson with her two novels Hospital Hill and Shadows in the Ward, and her new non-fiction book, Danvers State Hospital. Kate has a lot of irons in the fire- so we're always happy to see her at an event!

VC (Carol) Russell showcased her lovely poetry in her book Life's Garden. She had some framed poems and displayed the letter she got from President George Bush who praised her for her poem about the war in Kuwait and our boys fighting there.

Beside Carol was Judith Foard-Giucastro with her novel Senior Year, and her recently deceased husband (who was also a Wordsmith) Giuseppe Giucastro's book Joseph The Dreamer- Another Face of God. Judith was working on a joint project with Giuseppe and hopes to see it through to completion.

Rhonda Boulette came down from the hilltowns with her Flitten Kitten Fairytales. Her table was a riot of colors and plush animals and things to look at and touch. She had a big bear in a rocking chair, but was unable to read as planned due to increasing loss of voice during the course of the day. She has some new books in the works. It was fun seeing a plush Wolfgang frog! I passed her a tuxedo kitten who longs to become a flitten...he'll have multicolored wings!

On the other side of the main entrance from the reception hall was Ayden Rogalski with his mother, Tanya, showcasing his FOUR books! He had a number of copies of his new book Ayden's Home- The History of Westfield (which was a sellout!), and his first three books, Ayden's Washington, Ayden's Abraham, and Ayden's Titanic. During the course of the day Ayden was gifted with a hand-crafted tricorn hat which he wore for the rest of the day. He had a ceramic inkwell, a qhite quill pen, and a stack of rectangular pieces of parchment paper that he wrote on throughout the day. I loved the lantern on his table, and the decorative, primitive patriotic wreaths that were at the front f his table. His mom owns Country View Primitives on Franklin Street here in Westfield. It's a nice shop crammed full of antique, vintage and custom crafted primitives. Ayden has his own section- Ayden's Pickin's. He likes bottles- so has that in common with my daughter!

Board members of Artworks brought around bottled water and supplied us with cookies during the day. Most of us sampled Moe's donuts and coffee and food selections from the food truck out front.

During the course of the day we met wonderful people, the artists came up when they had a chance to look at the book offerings and a few books went home with them, Kelly ran down and bought four pieces of art during the afternoon. WSKB Radio talk show host Bob Plasse breezed through near the end of the event making contact with each author and laying down preliminary plans for radio appearances on future shows. Authors made connections with one another, which is one of the purposes of the WhipCity Wordsmiths, connecting authors, discovering resources and those willing to offer help and advice with projects.

WhipCity Wordsmith Geri Johnson stopped by and visited with each author. I gave her her Wordsmith pin which she promptly attached to her new black cap.

Photographers from the Westfield News came through (he totally missed Melissa, but got a good shot of Lex). Those photos appeared in the Westfield News on Monday, April 23rd. The Republican also had a photographer present, but I haven't seen any pictures yet.

At 6PM nine tired authors packed up and headed home for dinner and to put their feet up! The room was left spotless with just tables and a couple of chairs to remove at the end of the day.

At each annual event we learn something new that will make the following year even better. Now that Articulture2018 is over...the Board of Directors will be looking toward 2019 and how to make the event fresh and exciting!

Thank you to all the awesome WhipCity Wordsmiths (Kelly Buffum, Melissa Volker, Lindsay Stenico, Katherine Anderson, VC Russell, Judith Foard-Giucastro, Rhonda Boulette, Ayden Rogalski,) who gathered together to make this event a memorable occasion!

Sandy Sessler- we missed you! Next year, for sure!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Gearing Up For Articulture2018

Despite wicked low back spasms from a flare-up of RA caused by inhaled steroids to treat the upper respiratory virus I had for 2.5 weeks, I managed to get downstairs to start organizing all the stuff I need to take to a huge author event this Saturday.
      I've got Kelly's books and my books organized. I have the table cover, the author signs ready to go, props packed and ready to grab and go. Kelly did a pen and ink WhipCity Wordsmiths sign I cut to size to fit in the holder we found for a table sign. I have wolves, purple roses, cats, magic wands...werewolves, but no vampires!
      Book stands and business cards are packed, swag bags are ready to hand out to the authors in attendance, plus goodie bags for the other attendees. Kelly is going to pack her juggling paraphernalia and if weather is good, she'll be juggling outside during the event when she gets bored inside. I also have a framed kitty drawing I did that has been promised to author friend Melissa Volker for all she's done for me- designing the cover of The Clockmaker's Son and now a promo video for same!
      I also have my author event tool box ready to go, except for packing tape which I need to grab.
      It's been a busy week but I've been slowly getting what I need to do done despite not feeling so hot. I had to miss artist set-up tonight- first because I could hardly move when I got home from a full day of work, and second because I had to go out with John to buy a new washing machine- ours bit the dust this evening. It's always something!!
      Hoping to make it to the Artist Opening Reception tomorrow evening...we'll see how work goes. If I'm as wrecked as I was today, I'll have to stay home and rest up for Saturday.
      The past three weeks have not been pleasant!

Monday, April 16, 2018

When Sidelined by Health Issues- Beta Read

The past two and a half weeks have not been the best time of my life as I've struggled to recover from a nasty upper respiratory virus which required the use of steroids which set off other health issues due to allergy to, while I did manage to write an ugly little story, I have also tackled a big beta read for an author friend. I am really enjoying that because it has helped me relaxed and recharge my own battery while drawing on the power and energy of her emotion-charged words in this book.

Reading is an excellent remedy for many things. It allows your mind an escape route from the physical woes you're suffering. You can get lost in a book and emerge feeling as if you've received an enhancing dose of good medicine.

Thanks, Melissa, for sending good medicine to help me through these rough days of recovery!

Monday, April 9, 2018

A Few Copies of Clockmaker handdelivered

Yesterday afternoon (Sunday, April 8) I began hand-delivering some copies of The Clockmaker's Son around town. The first copy was delivered into my wonderful daughter's hands as always. Then two copies were delivered to my sister's house- one for her and her husband, the other for my brother and his wife.

Today some copies accompanied me to work. My office manager, my best friend, a close friend, and the receptionist I usually work with all got their copies this morning. I have two more copies for coworkers- one of whom is currently in sunny FL. She'll be back later this week and I'll give her the copy reserved for her.

The remaining copies are going to Articulture2018 with me. These are all the rest of the copies I have on hand. I most likely will not be ordering more. I suppose you can call it a very limited edition.

If you want a copy, show up early on Saturday the 21st at the Church of Atonement on the corner of Court and Pleasant Streets for this year's Articulture2018 event celebrating the arts in their myriad forms in Westfield, Massachusetts! The event opens to the public at 10Am and closes at 7PM. The authors will be upstairs in the church's Guild Room to the left in the reception all through the French doors.

Yea, It's NOT Pneumonia!

I felt lousy all weekend with shortness of breath and a tight sensation in my chest, and a wet, cough- so I went to work this morning, booked an appointment and was seen...the good news is I don't have pneumonia, which is something I'm always afraid of with my compromised immune system and all my allergies and asthma issues. The bad news is that this nasty super virus can hang around for 3-4 WEEKS before the body kicks the squatter germs out once and for all. (Here I heave a huge sigh.)

As I posted on facebook the other night- I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.

This virus literally knocks the legs right out from under you. Although I haven't felt horribly sick, the constant having to blow my nose and cough up junk has me worn worn out that my legs have actually felt fatigued. Sheesh! Despite the RA and chronic tendinitis in my right foot I spend most of my work day running around the office delivery paperwork to folders, faxing paperwork back, running to refer to charts at the opposite end of the building, chasing down providers for signatures, jumping up and going to talk to people who appear at the window despite their knowing there isn't a receptionist on the side of the office where I work. I can't ignore them and their questions. I run all day long...and then stagger up the deck stairs when I get home on wobbly legs. "Out! Out, damn virus!" I cry.

I am nearly finished writing the so-not-like-me nearly novel-length story that this virus is forcing out of me. Don't know if it'll ever get published or not. It's outside of my comfort zone by several thousand miles.

All I can say is- I'm doing the happy dance that this is NOT pneumonia, just a crappy butt-kicking virus.

Friday, April 6, 2018

6 Days Sick & 30,747 Words Written

   I came down with an upper respiratory virus last Saturday evening. On Sunday night, I began writing something, previously described in the last blog post. I've been testing my limits by not taking any sick time, by going to work every day this week, not letting this virus kick my butt. Work has been busier than ever and extremely stressful all week, but I stuck with it every day and dragged myself home exhausted every afternoon. However, I've been motivated to write this story that wants to be told. Every night I've eaten dinner, played with the cats for a few minutes and then written from 6:30PM to 11:30PM. This morning I reached 30,747 words, 13 chapters written and some of the most gruesome, graphic stuff I have ever put into print. It is one young woman's headlong, dangerous journey through a world perilously controlled by treacherous men who assign little value to females other than recreational use for purposes of pleasure.
   I still don't know where this is going, but it's leading me to places I never expected to find myself.
   Maybe it's the virus talking? We'll just have to see where this all goes.
   The name of the now novella sized story is The Worth of A Woman.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

I Don't Know What I'm Writing, But

    I don't know what it is that I'm currently writing but it's moving along quickly with 9 chapters written since this weekend and most of it already edited. It's a story about a country that has fractures, with misogyny ruling. Girls are raised into their mid-teens by breeding communities and then auctioned to the highest bidder. They're raised and trained to be entirely submissive to males. The government is haphazardly run and disorganized. It seeks faction leaders to perform pay for hire executions and to get rid of undesirable troublemakers in general. These factions are basically left alone and are self-sustaining. The streets are a dangerous place. Even if you are aligned with a faction and have their protection it doesn't necessarily mean that you're safe. There are outsiders living in the woods practicing forgotten arts, like homeopathic and holistic medicine.
    Enter 15-year old Jade, a tempestuous redhead whose father is more than happy that she's finally reached the age where he can send her to auction and make her some other man's problem. The savage and cruel businessman, Mann, bids high on her, but a twenty-something gun-for-hire faction leader with an order of execution shows up and begins bidding against the evil brute. As the price rises for Jade, the drugged and seemingly docile redhead on the auction block, Archer executes the order, killing Mann in front of all the men gathered to bid on the girls. He reverts to being high bidder with Mann dead and wins her. But, before can even get her home, she catches him off guard, grabs his sawed off shotgun, and threatens to kill him. In the struggle that ensues, they both sustain damage. Archer realizes that what he bought for a steep price is not what he expected to take home.
     Jade is her own person- fighting the protocol of her training and trying to find her own place in a society that treats females little better than they treat their dogs. She refuses to submit to her master and though he's furious about that and constantly urged by the men in his compound to just put her down and take the loss, he's not quite ready to go that far. Her resistance to what she is expected to be unexpectedly draws him to her, even while she is repelling him continually and making him even angrier.
     Then, trying to pull herself together to return to the compound after being brutal raped in an alley a few days earlier, Jade overhears two men plotting against Archer. She finds herself angry about who the paid assassin is.
     Both Archer and Jade experience a gradual turning away from the way the world is at the present time toward the way they want to world to be- but whether or not they'll survive the often vicious battles that break out, the treachery of people they thought were friends, and attacks of a personal nature meant to drive a wedge between them once and for all, is unknown because the ground they call home is a constantly shifting landscape more difficult for two young people to navigate than anything either one of them could ever have imagined.
     I don't normally write this sort of harsh realism, so where this is coming from- I have no clue. After finishing The Clockmaker's Son, a cross genre horror/romance novel, this story idea rose like a phoenix from the ashes in my brain and has taken flight with no planning whatsoever. Where it's soaring to- I really have no idea at present. Whether it will ever be a novel is uncertain because it's harsh, brutal, realistic, crude, vulgar, voyeuristic, disturbing, raw...sort of like reality TV in the future when society more or less has reverted to the dark ages.
     We'll see what happens.