Cairn’s Story: Chapter 1

CHAPTER ONE – The Darkness

Water.  I’m so thirsty.

I tried to pry my left eye open.  The scattered light shining through the trees was more than I was ready for, and I blinked hard to focus on my surroundings. Everything was green beyond the blurred outline of my outstretched hand and fingers. When I focused on my hand, I could see blood, my love’s blood mingled with mine, dried and flaking upon my fingers.

I lay there for a long time, numb, caring little if I survived.  I could barely feel the fire burning through the right side of my face.  The cool, soft mud eased the pain, but I knew my situation was not good. I had to move if I wanted to live.

Why bother?  Why care? I asked the trees gathered around my aching, tortured body.

Knowing how monumental the challenge would be, I summoned what little strength I had and forced my body over. I screamed despite the added pain it caused, the burning in my right cheek erupting into a sharp pain that sent bright flashes before my open eye.

I gasped, sucking in air like a struggling babe fresh from the womb.

I lay there, staring up at the tree branches, not daring to move again for what seemed like an eternity.

Why bother? They took her from me. They killed Julia…they killed my parents.

Something more than the fever and ruined face burned within me, and I did not die.  I would either have to find a way to kill myself or find water.  Both options would take more strength than I thought I had.

I tried to prop myself up on my elbows to take stock of my injuries but it was too much. A sudden pain shot up my left side and my right forearm must have been broken. I fell back, exhausted and passed out.

“Water…water,” I groaned again, but I knew no one would hear my pleas.  No one would come.

I rolled over onto my stomach, realizing that the ruin to my face was now infected.  How long had I been here, unconscious, uncaring if I lived or died?  Days…weeks?  I had no idea.

I reached forward with my left hand, shaking as I tried to grab hold of something strong enough to pull me forward.  There was nothing to grasp but mud.  I dug my cut and bruised hand into the soft dirt and tried to scoot my body forward with my legs.  I made it a few inches before collapsing back to the ground, panting from the small triumph.

“Why go on?” I asked.

“Why?”  I heard my own muffled voice beg to the trees.

I saw Julia then—her smiling, beautiful face. I loved her so much.

“Julia…”

“Cairn,” she replied, her voice filled with sadness and regret.

I forced my eye open, to look for Julia, but she was not there.  She was dead, killed by those murderers.  Now, her voice was only a dream, a nightmare to remind me of what we could have shared together.

“Cairn,” Julia’s soft voice repeated, encouraging.

I threw my hand out in front of me.  I forced my fingers to sink deep into the mud and lock into place. I grunted and pulled myself forward, moving only as far as a snail might in its exhaustingly slow journey across a courtyard.

But I would not quit.

I threw my hand out again and started inching my way toward the stream I knew to be nearby.

How long did it take to reach that sweet sounding, fresh water?  Too long.

“Just keep fighting,” Julia called to me. “Think of me, remember me.”

I pushed the nausea, fear, and agony aside.

“Julia,” I said in a firm, resolved voice as I pushed myself through the brush.

With every pull, with every struggle, I called out her name and Julia responded.  My betrothed spoke to me, reminding me of our love and our dreams.

I reached the water that I had heard for the past few hours.  My body quivered, exhausted but excited by the cool, refreshing water that was only a few inches away from me.  With my head hanging over the small ledge of the stream I leaned forward to slurp in my first drink, but then I stopped.

A hand bobbed up and down in the water just inches from my face.

I looked up, my head shaking from exhaustion.  One of my neighbors lay there among the rocks and water.

“Herault,” I whispered the name, as though the corpse might answer me back with a welcoming, hello. I stared at his body for a few moments before I inched further upstream from where the murderers had dumped his corpse.

Herault’s wound was gruesome to look upon, his belly had been cut open and his intestines pooled around his waist and legs, floating in the water.

With the last of my strength, I pulled myself beyond him, a little upstream to where the water was not as fouled.

I sank my head into the water and nearly drowned myself with my first drink in days.  I gulped it in, choking and sputtering, even as I tried to take in more.

Then, I rolled over and fell asleep.

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The Use of Allegory in Modern Fantasy Fiction: Prince Kristian’s Honor

The people shouted out prices quickly. Several argued over the worth and cost of the slave. Eventually, only one person was able to keep bidding higher. His love stepped away from the crowd, handing the slave trader a few gold coins. She grabbed the rope that was dangling on the stage and gently guided her new servant off. The beautiful girl seemed to feel Mikhal’s stare and turned to face him. Her wicked smile quickly fell from her face as she saw his disbelief, but only for a moment. The girl Mikhal knew to be the demon smiled again, pulling her slave behind her.

In his dream, Mikhal fell from the barrels as a tremor from the earth shook the city. People in the middle of the street cringed, unsure of what to do. A statue of a beautiful goddess fell from its pedestal crushing a man. The delicate glass torch that was held in the statue’s outstretched hand shattered on the paved street. A loud boom rocked the foundation of the tavern next to Mikhal even as the earth stopped shaking. He looked up from where he lay to see a column of dark smoke rise from somewhere deeper in the city.

Many stories, through out recorded history, have included allegories as a means of conveying an important message to readers. An allegory can be a story in which the apparent use of characters and events symbolizes a moral meaning; an allegory is a symbolic reference to something of importance to the reader. The opening paragraphs in this discussion are from Prince Kristian’s Honor, Book One of the Erinia Saga; I wrote them to point out issues of racism and depravity within a fictional society. The description of the falling statue with a delicate glass torch should help readers understand that I am alluding to issues within our own society. The earthquake and signs of disaster deeper in the city warn readers that there is something more troubling at the heart of the kingdom within the book, but I am also suggesting there may be issues within our modern society.

Stories of fantasy are nothing more than the retelling of our own triumphs and sad, sad tragedies.

I believe the fantasy fiction genre provides an outstanding vehicle for presenting moral and societal issues (through the use of allegories). In my first novel, Prince Kristian’s Honor (PKH), I use the allegorical convention to describe events and emotions I experienced over the last decade. This discussion will highlight three examples of allegory within my novel, with the intent of encouraging debate on writing conventions within modern Fantasy, as well as, inform readers interested in some of the more nuanced portions of PKH.

The king shook his head. “Religious fanatics don’t win wars, Ferral. I thought you would have learned at least that much from me. If you want to have a kingdom to rule after I am gone, you will follow my lead. Politics can be as threatening as any war and can do as much harm as any army. We shall defeat the Erandians through intrigue and sabotage, not by rushing them with a thousand suicidal zealots.”

“There are the loyal followers of Belatarn and then there are those that deserve to die. The Erandians especially deserve death. Those meddling fools have influenced our world for too long. It’s time they realize that we don’t want or need them. It’s Belatarn’s will that all non-believers die, and I’ll be his messenger.”

The previous passage from PKH was carefully constructed to reflect the conflict between two rivals struggling for control and influence over a larger kingdom. One of the characters, the King of Belarn, believes the way to control the world is through subtle changes and power plays while Ferral, the villain in the novel, believes the only way to dominate the world and force his brand of religion upon everyone is through fanaticism and violence.

In my books, Ferral and his father represent Osama bin Laden and his long time comrade, Abdullah Azzam. Both were founders of the Maktab al-Khadamat movement, but Azzam wanted to take a more unified, cautious, and subtle approach that would work through existing Middle East fighting forces rather than create a separate, militant force. Osama bin Laden did not agree; he felt the only way to change the world was through violent uprising against apostate regimes and the Americans that backed them. In the end, Azzam was murdered. It is not certain whether bin Laden was responsible for his comrade’s death, but it certainly was a catalyst for increased radicalization of people in many countries. In PKH, Ferral also gets his way and is responsible for the chaos that engulfs the land of Erinia. Additionally, Ferral’s quest to obtain magic so he can terrorize the other kingdoms directly relates to the very real threat of terrorists acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction:

Ferral smiled. “These powers will help Belarn influence the rest of the world. Those that might have stronger armies will be afraid to use them out of fear of what I can and will do to their people. They will surrender to me or watch helplessly as their kingdoms are destroyed.”

In PKH, Ferral is able to control the population through intimidation, radicalization, and magic. His followers become nothing more than puppets that perform their duties blindly. The same could be said of people throughout history that have aided cruel leaders in their personal quests for power. Osama bin Laden is a master at understanding and twisting religion to suit his needs. People, desperate for change, cling to leaders like bin Laden, and Ferral, because they offer motivation and an alternative to the status quo. They may not even realize that they are being manipulated; they are simply doing what they believe has to be done for a greater good.

‘Those in the army that had not perished in the fires that erupted from several places at once, like a coordinated attack, fought to save their king. Several servants reported seeing a large fire ball slam into the side of tower that the king slept in . . .

From below the balcony, soldiers and servants tried one last time to rush through the flames and save their beloved king . . . Suddenly, a rumbling sound grew from inside the palace. The grand building collapsed, the ground underneath the rescuers trembling. The tower fell in on itself. First, the roof and battlements fell; their massive weight tearing through reinforced floors. As the added weight and momentum continued to fall down, floor upon floor, the outside walls simply sagged in and fell. Hundreds were still trapped inside. There was no way for them to escape the wreckage. Dozens of rescuers were crushed by the falling rock and smoke, and dust engulfed those that ran from the royal grounds.’

Hopefully, readers will immediately see this as a remembrance of the terrible events of 9/11. I did not incorporate it into my novel for any personal gain; I describe the event as a way to convey my own emotions (I was involved in the Global War on Terror for several years, and I volunteered for hazardous assignments because of what happened on 9/11).

The argument, and perhaps the challenge, that I am writing about is that the Fantasy genre has much more to offer. Stories that cause intense emotion or introduce us to new characters are the foundation of any good novel, but a story that can also remind us of the issues we face in our lives can be worth so much more. Stories of fantasy are nothing more than the retelling of our own triumphs and sad, sad tragedies. I made that argument at the beginning of this discussion; it’s a quote I wrote for the book back in the year 2000. The phrase took on much more significance for me after the events of 9/11 and the years I spent in various combat zones. The allegories within PKH are meant to be entertaining, but they are also intended to be thought-provoking. I used allegory to reflect the issues I personally faced over the last ten years and I intend to continue using the convention in future projects.

For those of you who have supported me by purchasing and reading PKH … thank you. I have room to grow as a writer, but I am also pleased by the amount of feedback I have received. I hope you can now better understand some of the things that I intentionally incorporated into the book. I hope it left you wanting to read more about Prince Kristian, Cairn, and Mikhal, but I also hope it made you think about some of the issues that we face as a society.

Tod

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The Hero’s Journey and Prince Kristian’s Honor – A Reader’s Challenge

The Hero’s Journey is a traditional storytelling pattern that has been used countless times. The purpose of this blog isn’t to further discuss the intricacies of the devices used but to focus those characters and mechanisms in a useful way for my readers.  I thought it might be fun for those that have supported and encouraged me to understand some of the details behind Kristian’s tale.  This won’t be a cliff’s note version of the book for a humanities class but may give you some hints into what went through my mind while writing the book.

Within The Hero’s Journey, there are pivotal archetypes that help define the story and move the plot along. They include: the hero, herald, wise man, shapeshifter, trickster, and the villain. Most fiction books include elements of the “journey”. I think the more poorly constructed ones bore readers with their over used and clichéd, genre specific formulas for characters.  For example, the orphan that turns out to be the only person destined to wield a magic weapon or the sudden, shocking revelation that the hero is related to the villain, are two over used patterns within Fantasy Fiction novels. By design, I tried to develop a story that did not follow the norm. It’s harder than you might think.  Below, I describe some of the main characters within The Hero’s Journey.

The hero is the character that has the most important change to make throughout the story. There can be more than one hero based on the scale of the story and the significance of the challenges they face. The quest that must be accomplished by the hero can be either physical or emotional, or both. To me, the hero has to be a flawed person – someone readers can accept as human but not necessarily have a lot of confidence in. This type of hero has to prove to the other archetypes that he is worthy of their trust, as well as, prove to readers that he is not a god or superhero that will automatically survive and complete the quest.

The herald is the one that challenges the hero to take up the quest. This person realizes that there is a conflict that must be resolved and gives the hero the information that convinces him to take action. The herald may also be a hero but is normally not the main character (though I’ve seen some stories where the hero becomes self-aware of his dilemma through internal struggle – his inner self then becomes the herald).

The wise man is often seen as the “all seeing omnipresent figure” that guides the hero along the path, facilitates learning, and discovery and grants the hero boons to complete his quest.  In religious tales, characters take on the traits of saints, prophets, or even God.  I often think of Asalon, from C.S. Lewis’ writings as a “wise man” that helps the four young children determine their path – he helps them but not so much that victory is certain.

The shapeshifter is a unique character that is used to develop twists within a plot – to create uncertainty. This character is often seen as amoral, often questioning the actions of both the villain AND the hero. Though shapeshifting can be a physical trait for this character, I think the term refers more to their moral ambiguity than to what they look like.

The trickster or “fool” is used for comedic relief after tense sequences. He is also used to bring levity to otherwise dismal tales. When the outcome looks utterly bleak, the fool reminds us that it is just a tale and that there is (hopefully) still a chance to defeat evil and win the day.

And finally, the Villain. The villain is the hero’s antagonist and does not necessarily have to be evil. The villain can be a rival, hated enemy, or even a sibling. The character and true nature of the villain helps set the overall tone of the book and forces the hero to overcome challenges, take a step back and look at himself when he stumbles, and focus all of his efforts toward destroying that which opposes good.

I’ve loosely based my story development upon the Hero’s Journey premise. I say “loosely” because the fantasy setting is used more as a vehicle to focus on character issues involving duty, sacrifice, love, and honor than to describe a fantastic new world, races, or a quest. Like the quote at the beginning of my first novel states, “Stories of Fantasy are nothing more then the retelling of our own triumphs and sad, sad tragedies”, this book also gives readers my views on our own society’s dilemmas over the last decade.

I am offering a challenge for my readers to identify those characters within my book, Prince Kristian’s Honor, that best fit the descriptions mentioned above. The person that responds through the ‘contact the author’ page with the best response no later than May 31st, 2013 will receive a prize.  Entries will be judged based on the content of their argument; that means there really is no absolute answer. How well you make your case will determine who the winner is.

The winner will be contacted via email on June 15th, 2013.

Thanks so much to all of my supporters for sharing my excitement and I hope you enjoy the stories.

Tod

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Social Media Marketing: One Hapless Fantasy Writer’s Journey of Self-Discovery

Part I

I love writing.  More specifically, I love storytelling!  The number of dreams I’ve had about fantastic characters and events could fill a dozen manuscripts, each one winning a Nebula Award, each one ready to become the next bestseller, or blockbuster movie.

Unfortunately for me, writing is only a hobby.  Just like everyone else, I’ve got a “day job.”  I was sure, though, that there should be some method of using what I’ve learned from my years of “on the job experience” that could help me with promoting my novels.  After all, my “day job” is often unique and full of surprises.  I knew there just had to be a way to combine the two.

For years, I have focused a significant amount of time to understanding the U.S. military’s targeting methodologies.  Through that research and experience I have become somewhat of an expert on the topic.  Author’s Note:  I sometimes also play Risk and can defeat my kids in total world domination!  With these types of achievements, it was easy to deceive myself into thinking that I could apply those same targeting principles to book marketing for my personal gain.  “After all, what real difference is there in focusing your efforts against a key target and a niche reader?” I wrongly assumed.

Early attempts failed, so I studied in earnest fundamental principles of marketing; I wanted to understand everything from establishing my own brand to author swag.

Now, I knew with confidence, I would be able to effectively reach my target audience.  Armed with an understanding of marketing principles and a willingness to try new things, I was sure that the internet would make book marketing, for a new fantasy fiction writer like me, simple.

Social Media Marketing is anything but simple.  The days of becoming a successful writer solely based on the outstanding content of a novel are likely over—if there ever was such a time to begin with.  I have also learned a valuable lesson; there are no silver bullets in book marketing.

Today’s writer must understand the principles of marketing, targeting the correct audience, locating where that audience resides (within the internet cloud) and how the readers will receive your marketing message in the shortest amount of time.  There is a lot to research, and I am not here to proclaim that I know it all, or that I have successfully applied this understanding to sell thousands of books.  Time and again, however, I re-discovered that there are some basic principles that a new writer must embrace.  A writer needs to understand the relationship between the Messenger, the Message, and the Medium, as well as the dynamics of Social Media Marketing.

So why do I feel compelled to write an essay on this important topic when I have not successfully applied the principles to my own marketing strategy?  Good question.  There is always something useful to share from your experiences, even when they are negative.

In the military, targeting is often about focusing limited assets to detect the signature of what you want to impact, whether the desired effect is to destroy the target or positively influence the target.  One analytical model that I like to use to describe the inter-relationship of associated targets is called the “Modified Oil Spot Analysis”.  Essentially, the Oil Spot analogy is about the spreading effects of an insurgency within a population.  The first drop of oil into water is the start point from which the oil looks for a path of least resistance.  The oil finds ways to move away from the initial drop point until it has covered a vast area.  Similarly, an insurgent operation often starts with an ideological “hard-core” base that reaches into the local population by recruiting those that are motivated, for various reasons, to join the insurgent’s cause.  The insurgency’s abilities to impact the government, and society, are accelerated once there is a defined network of supporters, skilled technicians, financiers, and leaders embedded within the population.  See Figure 1.  Modified Oil Spot Analysis.

The oil spot method is the same as total domination of the publishing world, right?

Figure 1. Modified Oil Spot Analysis

My analytical mind went wild as I imagined various elements of the publishing world, within the context of the Modified Oil Spot Analysis model.  Why couldn’t the ideological hardcore base in the center of the model be replaced by those entities that a writer needs to influence, like the media, wholesalers, retailers, critics, publishers, and agents?  These large “prize targets” rely upon skilled representatives throughout the publishing community to help them reach potential readers.  If a writer wanted to use the same middle-men that control access to the core publishing group targets, why couldn’t I use that to also reach out to potential readers?  In essence, the nexus targets, gate-keepers, middle men, or whatever you want to call them, would be the primary focus of a new writer’s marketing strategy.  By positively influencing several of these people, a writer (I thought) would be able to reach hundreds, maybe thousands, of potential readers rather than waiting on positive word-of-mouth, or Twitter to reach individuals.  See Figure 2.  The Adapted Model for Book Marketing and Figure 3.  My Grand Targeting Strategy.

 

Figure 2.  The Adapted Model for Book Marketing

Figure 2. The Adapted Model for Book Marketing

 

Figure 3.  My Grand Targeting Strategy

Figure 3. My Grand Targeting Strategy

 

My plan was to focus all of my energy at personally connecting with those individuals that influenced both the core target group in the center, as well as readers.  I was sure that these individuals would quickly see the value of my book and use their contacts to spread the positive word about my novel to the rest of the reading world.  Yeah, that’s what every new writer is also thinking.  The harder truth that I have learned is that the Social Media Network that writers think will create instant buzz for them and their novel is not a simple interconnected web of people; there are groups and sub-groups within every reader niche.  Connecting with one supportive genre forum administrator, reviewer, or writer does not automatically equate to positive word-of-mouth to everyone that they know.  More often than not, people are connected based on a shared commonality, like family relations, classmates, work, and hobbies.  A new writer trying to inject himself into the middle of that network may be welcomed to join the sub-group, but they will be judged more by what they contribute, socially, to the group than by the product they plan to convince others to buy and read.  That’s why it’s called social media network.  Also, imagine hundreds of new writers attempting to accomplish the same thing; a new writer’s motives for entering a group often become suspect.

Several leading experts in marketing seem to profess that the essential elements of any successful advertising plan consist of the following:  the messenger/the medium, the market, and the message.  In the publishing world, the novel is often wrongfully identified as the message but it is not.  The writer and the novel are the messengers conveying a particular message.  The message is the central idea that you want conveyed to the market (potential readers).  You will want to read my book because it not only has an exciting adventure story filled with flawed characters but because the novel highlights societal issues about western civilization during the initial years of the Global War on Terror (through the use of allegorical convention).  Successfully reaching a large number of potential readers with your message and convincing them that your message is right for them, as quickly as possible, is what leads to increased sales.  The messenger (the writer and the novel) deliver the promised message.  The medium are the various platforms the writer can use to deliver his, or her, message.  Examples of various mediums include the author’s webpage, genre reader forums, radio interviews, TV commercials, web-based book preview trailers, Facebook Fan page, etc.  See Figure 4.  My Triple M Triangle Model.

Figure 4.  My Triple M Triangle Model

Figure 4. My Triple M Triangle Model

For more insightful tips into writing check out my other blogs, or join me on Facebook at The Erinia Saga.

You are encouraged to provide your own feedback, or contact the author for more dialogue on writing issues.

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The First Book Signing

On Halloween night, 2009, I had my first book signing at a Barnes and Nobles near where I live and went to college. I was so excited that I showed up an hour early for the event. There was a large poster announcing the event at the main door and a table with a display and books set up along the main isle in the middle of the store.

I was immediately concerned.

There were only four books on the table and no other boxes with additional books in sight. Apparently, to attract potential readers, the store had displayed the books three weeks before the event. Most of them were sold before I even got there! That was a great feeling, but I was still apprehensive. Would the display look good enough if there were only four books out? Would readers still come by if there were no books left? Breath! Breath…enjoy the moment.

In the end, I sold all of the books in the store (a few more were found in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section) and the retailer had ordered another ten. Half of those were pre-ordered by people that I had spoken with. They will get autographed copies of the book once it arrives in the store.

Below are some of the things that I learned from my first experience:

Embrace the Salesman in You! The most important thing I learned was that you are selling yourself, as much as, you are selling your work. Potential readers want to know what you have to offer. They want to connect with the author and may even want to feel something special about getting a signed copy. Heck, I was the one feeling all of the excitement! I was honest with those I spoke with; I told them what I thought my book was really about. I tried to relate it to the things each reader was most interested in. I even let readers know who my favorite authors were so they could see a little of who I am. I also shared that I was a local author, a combat vet, and how everything tied back into my writing. I was not dishonest, I was just enthusiastic and sincere with every person I talked with. I remained standing the entire time (except when I was signing a book). I dressed professionally. I smiled and greeted every person that walked by. I passed out bookmarks to those that looked interested but continued to walk past. The bottomline is that you HAVE to be personable.

Bring in Your Support Base! I invited everyone that I knew, even if they had already purchased a book. They came in to get their books signed, to get a photo, or just to talk. This let others see that I was having fun with the event and wanted to share it with everyone.

Reviews! I have a lot of support from my early readers. They wrote what they liked about my book on Amazon.com and my website. I put them into what I thought was the best order and printed them onto professional paper. When a person seemed curious and wanted more information, but was not sure about buying the book, I asked them to take a look at the reviews.

Bookmarks! I hated developing the bookmarks because I tried to do it on my own. After spending $100 on a terrible looking product, I went to a more professional company associated with my publisher. The bookmarks look great. I think they say a lot about the type of book just based on the color scheme, font, and select quotes. My website address and the name of the online retailers carrying the book are listed on the back. When someone decided they wanted to think about it more, did not want the book, or just wanted to say hi, I gave them a bookmark and asked them to check out my biography and the more detailed back cover on the internet.

Pre-order Forms! This was not something I would ever have thought of but having photocopies of order forms actually helped my credibility. Because most of the books had already sold out, the additional order forms convinced potential readers that both the store and I were committed to offering more books with autographs. It also reinforced that a lot of readers were grabbing the book! “Hurry and buy one before they’re all gone!”

Engaging the Staff! I learned a lot about the ordering, shelving, pricing, and advertising of signing events from the friendly staff. If you can’t tell, I like to engage people in conversation. It helped to be professional and friendly with the staff. They got me free coffee and water from Starbucks, talked with me when the crowd was thinning out, and encouraged me to come back. I can’t wait to meet them more just to talk about things we have in common, as well as things that can make my book sell better.

A Good Pen! My wife thought this was silly, but I just felt that I had to have a quality pen to sign my books with. All pens are NOT created equal. Don’t choose one that is too fat or too thin or your signatures will look sloppy. I didn’t choose an expensive pen, I chose one that would do the job.

A Scratch Pad! I found it helpful to write down the names of readers to make sure I had it spelled right before writing on the novels. There is no room for error.

Flyers that Didn’t Fly! I plastered flyers all around my college campus, the local stores (including Halloween stores) and even my church! I don’t think a single person came to the event because of a flyer. It didn’t take much money or time to get them out, but I was disappointed they didn’t boost my crowd potential. I think you have to really plan out where your potential readers are, when they will see the flyer, how long they will remember the event, and how far they are away from the event.

Make the Signing Memorable! Some of the readers were very friendly. One said she decided to buy my book because I had a great aura and that she wanted to share her “happiness” with me. Though I was somewhat taken back, I know it was meant as a compliment and incorporated her enthusiasm in my short message to her. — “For Gloria, Thank you for supporting me and reading the book…And thanks for sharing your “happiness” with me. I hope it helps both of us become successful! I hope you enjoy reading the story. Regards, Tod”

Have Fun! I was nervous going into the event, but I was ecstatic coming out of it. I was asked back to sign the other ten books that should arrive this week, as well as another signing between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was also asked if I would consider using their store for my next book release (next summer). And I got to keep the poster ads!

Hope these lessons learned help other new writers enjoy their first signing.

Regards, Tod

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