Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Random Thoughts on Writing

What helps improve sales? Everyone trying to sell a book, whether a publisher or an author only hopes they know. Or that there are instructions out there somewhere, waiting to be found and downloaded. I do what I can. I do signings and interviews, I wear a fancy hat to create interest and stand out from the crowd without (I hope) looking like an idiot. I have a web site and I am part of this daily blog. I make my own bookmarks and carry a supply in my purse at all times, and will whip one out faster than an innocent passer-by can get out of range. I go to mystery conventions and speak on panels if invited. I subscribe to needlework magazines and catalogs. I read needlework news groups to keep up with what’s new and occasionally can make a contribution or ask an intelligent question. I try to be pleasant to people I meet. I take showers and brush my teeth and try not to use too much perfume. If anyone has any other helpful suggestions, please let me know.

I'm going to try something a little different this weekend. I'm going to a book event that is not centered on mystery fiction. It's just for one day, Saturday, and it's called Deep Valley Book Festival. It takes place in Mankato, MN. I'm bringing along copies of my books to sell. I hope I bring just enough, not too many or too few -- I don't know which would be worse. I will also bring along a immense poster of the cover of my next book, Knitting Bones, a gift from my publisher. I will have a couple of pieces of needlework, including a work in progress, to show off. I’ll be easy to spot, I’m wearing a fancy hat. Come too close and you’ll walk away with a bookmark.

Speaking of covers, I’ve seen a preliminary sketch for the cover of Thai Die. They got the depiction of the hand-woven silk panel I brought back from Thailand perfectly – the colors are rich and bold, the patterns are exactly right. There is a statue of the Buddha standing amidst the folds that is . . . well, it’s all right. But that’s all there is to it right now. There’s no drops of blood or a shimmery-bladed dagger or any of the other things that tell the casual browser that here be (cue scary voice effect) murder. My editor asked for suggestions, and I had one. I e-mailed the picture out and around and Ellen had one. Denise had one. My agent had one. We’ll see which one gets chosen. Or if they come up with another all their own. So far my covers have been wonderful, so I’m not worried.

Have any of my fellow writers had the “dieseling” effect? That is, you’re tired, you shut down the computer for the night, you brush your teeth . . . and the story keeps rumbling along. You get into bed . . . rumble, rumble, rumble. You know what dieseling really is, it’s when you shut off your car and it keeps running in a clumsy way for a little while. When I’m in full writing mode – as I am right now – it’s hard to get it shut off when the day is done. I have to get up early tomorrow morning (I’m writing this Tuesday evening), and I know that when I get into bed the story will continue unfolding. Less clearly both because I’m tired and because I don’t have my fingers on the keys to turn the notions into real English and make corrections as I go along. I keep a note pad and pencil (not a pen, a pen may not write and in the dark I won’t know that) by my bed so if an idea strikes me as particularly fine, I can write it down. For example, I came up with “dieseling” last night as I waited for sleep to come.


Deb Baker said...

Let us know how the festival goes and have fun. You never look foolish, in fact there were quite a few Monica look-alikes at Magna this year. The hat lady said to say hi. Lonnie Cruse bought three of from her.

Monica Ferris said...

Thanks, Deb. I really miss Magna -- I think this is the first one I couldn't attend. And Mattie's hats are wonderful; most of mine came from her shop. Now I won't have a new hat for the new year.

Camille Minichino said...

If anyone can come up with a good way to tell what's working for sales, there's a new Nobel in it for her!
I love the term "dieseling" Monica. I know the phenomenon well. It's responsible for my getting only about 4 good hours of sleep/night most of the time.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Dieseling is a great analogy, Monica. I do indeed diesel nearly every night when my body starts shutting down and my subconscious takes over, plotting my next day's worth of writing. Have fun at your conference!

Kathryn Lilley said...

I love "dieseling" too!
But my husband has another term for it "Yoyo-ing." As in "There she goes, yoyo-ing out to the computer at two a.m. again!" And, "Oh, look! She's yoyoed back again!" I much prefer the term 'dieseling,' lol.

Dee Winter said...

I'm a bookseller and it's also a quandry we wrestle with. Will we have enough books, too few, the right ones? Yep a Nobel would be in order for the one with the crystal ball that gives us those answers. And dieseling is common amoung the rest of us. I've had some great ideas after I thought I'd put the day to bed. And I enjoy your hats and can't wait for the next book.

Ja'niece said...

Instead of using a pencil and paper by your bedside, how a'bout a mini cassette recorder? I use to do that for creative writing class when I was in junior college. It's quicker to get the words out of your head and recorded than scribbling on paper in the wee hours of the night.

Loved the Dieseling analogy too!