The Tapestry Baby.
Karin lives in terror that her child will be born a multi-colored version of the mysterious tattooed man she met one night. When Anna is born normal instead, she becomes convinced her daughter is meant to fulfill some special destiny that she herself can’t provide. A believer of signs and premonitions, she takes off on a journey with Vonnie, a writer friend who can’t complete any stories because the peacefulness of her own life leaves her without inspiration hoping she can make a decision along the way. The choice, however, may not fully be her own. Their lives are randomly connected with six other people. There’s Ward, a cross-dresser who chooses his lovers based on their ability to make him look good, and Daria, a photographer who wants to feel emotion with the same level of intensity she can show it in her work. Mrs. Brown is a librarian with a sordid past who masquerades in her own dowdiness and her secret admirer Ned, a music teacher experiencing a nervous breakdown who finds that his images of make-believe women are deteriorating as notes break on his piano. Pivotal are Reggie, a massive tattooed man who despite his best efforts lives in fear of destroying women the same way he once accidentally crushed a bird he held in his hand and Clarissa, a fake fortune-teller who is responsible for bringing them all together. The Tapestry Baby raises the question of whether any of us really has control over our own destinies.
Virtual Book Tours Focus on Audience by Carole Waterhouse
A virtual what?
That was my initial reaction to my publisher's suggestion that I participate in a virtual book tour. The book tour part of the suggestion I understood. I had done that with my previous books, doing signings at local bookstores, readings at literary events, and spending quite a few weekends at book fairs in the eastern part of the country. It was a long and tiring process at times, but also one that gave me an opportunity to meet some fascinating people, and to develop a connection with other little-known authors as we tried to support each other.
It was that connection with people that made the experience rewarding. Posting comments on blogs and answering questions in cyberspace sounded cold in comparison, an impersonal way of sharing a very essential part of myself—my life as a writer—with people I would never actually meet.
But after attending a session on virtual book tours sponsored by the Council of Little Magazines and Small Presses at the Associated Writing Programs Conference this year, I'm beginning to understand. The first words spoken by presenters Dan Blank of WeGrowMedia.com and KateTravers was that it's not about technology, but connecting with people. That was the theme behind every piece of practical advice they offered. And that's when it began to make sense, the one basic piece of information that can never be forgotten. While I may be looking at a screen while I type, the people reading these words in some other time and some other place are essentially the same humans who trailed into bookstores and wandered through booths at book festivals, commenting on a pretty cover design or laughing when they read an excerpt from a book. The internet provides an opportunity to make a connection with people over a longer period of time, but that doesn't mean the relationship has to be impersonal or any less genuine.
According to Dan and Kate, the first step in organizing a virtual book tour is to research blogs, websites and other forms of social media that focus on your book's topic. This is where a publicist can be especially helpful, particularly for authors going through this process for the first time. Appropriate sites should be located two-to-three months in advance and the tour, which generally lasts from four to six weeks, is most effective when it begins the week the book is released. While authors can organize a tour on their own, a publicist will already be aware of appropriate sites, eliminating one especially time-consuming part of the process. Authors can then continue on their own after becoming more comfortable with the way the tour works. Regardless of who locates them, authors should carefully research the blogs and websites in an attempt to understand their readers so that the focus is on interacting with people rather than just pitching their book. Kate and Dan's advice? Treat every blog as though it's The New York Times Book Review.
The most effective book tour will take advantage of all forms of social media, using Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. to get the word out and to connect with as many readers as possible, and will have the author actively involved in promotion. When using these sites, authors should always focus on information that benefits their readers, such as letting them know of a new review or event, or telling them about a giveaways, including annotated links whenever possible.
When doing live book tours, I would often become engaged in a conversation with someone that while often fascinating, was at the expense of talking to other potential readers. I would chat with one person and see lines of others walk by. Blogs and on-line interviews remain in place, allowing the conversation to continue for days or weeks or even years after the initial event. This allows authors to continue promoting their books, long after they are released. As one of those die-hard love-the-feeling-of-a book-in-my-hand kind of people, digital anything has been a bit of a hard sell. My initial desire to be published was as closely connected to the idea of being able to feel the texture of my words on a page as it was to sharing their content. Having just purchased my first Kindle, however, I was surprised when I felt the same attachment to my reader. My experience with a virtual book tour, I suspect, will be the same. Suddenly, connecting with readers on the internet seems full of potential and warmth.
Her fiction has appeared in Arnazella, Artful Dodge, Baybury Review, Ceilidh, Eureka Literary Magazine, Forum, Half Tones to Jubilee, Massachusetts Review, Minnetonka Review, Oracle: The Brewton-Parker College Review, Parting Gifts, Pointed Circle, Potpourri, Seems, Spout, The Armchair Aesthete, The Griffin, The Styles, Tucumari Literary Review, Turnrow, and X-Connect.
A previous newspaper reporter, she has published essays in an anthology, Horse Crazy: Women and the Horses They Love, and Equus Spirit Magazine. Her book reviews have appeared in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Pittsburgh Press, and The New York Times Book Review.
Her latest novel is The Tapestry Baby, a novel depicting a mother who believes her child is born to fulfill some special destiny and discovers her life is intertwined with six other people, raising the question of whether any of us really control our own decisions, and through the process learns that greatness can be defined in the simplest of gestures.
You can visit Carole's website at www.Carolewaterhouse.com.
CHANGING IT UP A BIT by Cheryl C. Malandrinos
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