Recently, someone I follow on twitter observed they do not include their characters eating at all in their writing. This made me think of my own writing and made me think of my old blog, Popcorn: More Than Just A Minor Detail.
Sometimes in books, details are just details. Blue curtains could just happen to be blue and the meaning we take from these details are often what we ourselves, as readers, read into the books. But, sometimes, as authors we intend these details to carry more weight.
I can't say I always intend for food to be important to the characters and my books, but food tends to be very important to me. A lot of this is family traditions, like Prime Rib, Yorkshire Pudding, and Green Beans Amadine on Christmas Eve and Chinese Food on Christmas. Some of this could also be influenced by my Jewish background, like Latkas on Hanukkah or Matzoh on Passover. Outside of traditions and holidays, it's the slice and bake cookie dough or mom's mac and cheese.
It's no wonder then that food shows up frequently in my writing, whether it's the popcorn in Society's Foundlings, baking birthday butter biscuits in The Butter Thief, growing tomatoes in Ben's Little Tomato, imagining different uses of pumpkins in Peggy's Little Pumpkin, or drinking hot chocolate in The Memory Tree.
There's traditions, memories, and connection tied to the food in The Butter Thief, Ben's Little Tomato, Peggy's Little Pumpkin, and The Memory Tree. In Society's Foundlings, popcorn is lack of money and resources. It is a dividing line, the feeling of being an outsider, a reminder of all the goals and dreams that are still out of reach, friendship, and feelings of belonging and security depending on the character.
In an upcoming WIP, food is always a source of tension between siblings. There's frustration in lack of resources, but also frustration in what has and has not changed from the past. There is still that feeling of belonging or exclusion.
What does food mean to you? How do you use food in your own writing?
Originally posted on Goodreads!
Recently at Wondercon, someone asked what the hardest part of being an author was for me. It made me pause for a moment, because while there are some challenges, none really stuck out. As an indie author, the things I would find most challenging such as a deadlines are not a problem for me. As I have the ability to set my own and I detest the things because they tend to stunt my creativity, I simply fly by the seat of my pants. Books come when they come. Time is a constraint I only permit for my side job.
And, of course, as often happens with things such as wit and comeback, the answer hit me the moment they walked away. The hardest part of being an author is the promotion. I don’t require motivation to write, because if I didn’t write I’d cease to be and, quite frankly, that’s motivation enough. But, once you have the physical book in hand, once it’s up on Amazon, how does one start the process of getting it seen.
Someone once compared the world of publishing, being traditional and big houses or indie self and small presses, to a sea of books. Every day countless books are being published and it’s hard to break through the waves. Here’s what I’ve found thus far:
- Local events and craft shows:
Events give you the opportunity to speak to readers face to face and one-on-one. The benefits are the ability to become more personable in a way that modern day technology just can’t achieve. Who hasn’t heard the debate over ebook versus physical copies? There are many people who still appreciate, love, and prefer paperbacks. Plus, there is the excitement for them to meet an author and get it signed.
If you do craft shows, you also have the corner market on all those book-lovers. Recently, I helped out Barbara Lieberman at her Torrance Craftsman’s Guild and all the customers were shocked to discover her treasure trove of books. Another author, Evangeline Duran Fuentes, had the same experience. Even with other authors there is no competition because book lovers have the wonderful addiction. They’ll buy more than one. And with no two books being the same, it minimizes the competition even more.
Other benefits include minimum booth fees, great experiences, practice discussing your books, building a following, just to name a few.
- Book swag:
Book swag provides benefits in introducing people to your books and building interest. They may not pick up the book first, but be drawn to a necklace with a quote that speaks to them or a button because they like the image. Always include the information of the book, so they can find it and you for when they’re realize they can continue their love of that quote or find out more about that image.
It also allows the readers of the books to continue the story. If they loved your book, and your book swag relates back, it gives them the opportunity to bring the story to life. Barbara Lieberman has scented fabric “Mouse’s Apples” that are tied back to her The Treasure of Ravenwood. She sells seed packets of Arrowleaf Balsamwood that relates to her Message on the Wind and To Reap a Whirlwind.
I have recently joined not one, but two, anthologies. The beauty of the anthology is that it can feature a variety of authors from all different places. That means that while I’m promoting a work that includes their stories, they’re doing the same for me. I will be introduced to their following and their fan based.
The same goes for if you have an illustrator or cover artist or if you work with a local handmade business to help make some book swag. The same can be said for holding your own signings, release parties, or other events in local bookstore for instance. Collaborations are a great source of cross-promotions.
- Joining the 21st Century:
Just as in-person events are important and hold many benefits, so does the world of technology. With social media and other forms of technology, you are able to reach wider audiences, both out of state and out of country. It is a great place to build communities, such as Indie Authors and Book Blogs on Facebook. This will allow you to build necessary connections that could get you more seen or more help, whether you’re looking for an editor, illustrator, formator, PA, etc. With a wide variety of social media sites to choose from, you also have the opportunity to pick one or more that fit you or are more geared toward what you’re trying to promote.
That being said, they have to be updated. Yes, it can be time consuming, but with certain sites there’s the instant updates, such as Instagram, or posts that can be scheduled, such as Facebook or twitter. There are ways around that such as hiring a PA to assist in scheduling posts or programs like hootsuit that can schedule posts across Social Media.
Online Author events, such as Virtual FantasyCon on Facebook, is always a fun and wonderful way to meet other authors, see what they’re doing, and get your book in front of the eyes of readers.
Whether or not you are going to route of big publishing houses or you’re a self-published indie author, promotion is on you. It is a big challenge and it can be daunting as well as discouraging at time, but when you stick with it, it makes all the difference. What are some ways you would like to see book promoted or what are the methods you use as an author?
Gathering dust in the depths of my mind, random thoughts dusted off and put out there for the world to see...