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October 17, 2010

Well, it said that the optional topics for this month are Author Friends and Favorite Authors.

Actually, this kind of shameless book promoting is disgusting to me. Way too pompous. Don’t y’all agree? Guess I ought to ask my author friend, Karin Gillespie, founder of this blog. Way back, she’d advise us bloggers, ‘Now, don’t be too blatant about selling your books.” But, recently another author friend of mine, Gail Karwoski, who writes children’s books, shook her head and admonished me about my reluctance in book promotion, saying, “Julie, even us artists have to eat!”

That was because I am what you’d call a reluctant hawker of my own books. Now, I can sell the heck out of someone else’s story. Just today I raved about two books to another author friend. I sent Susan Nees home with Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird,” and told her she absolutely must read Janisse Ray’s “Ecology of a Cracker Childhood.”

For those of you who know me, you know I struggle with Laliaphobia, a debilitating fear of public speaking, and in addition to this, it is extremely hard for me to pat myself on the back, to say, “Read this book I wrote. You’re gonna love it.” I was raised by parents who prized humility, who warned against being prideful, and never encouraged us four kids to applaud ourselves.

I’m trying to figure out what has possessed me today. Maybe heading through menopause has changed me (like it changed Evelyn in “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café” by Fannie Flagg, a wonderful and favorite book of mine) or, perhaps I’ve watched too many episodes of Snapped! Because when I pondered the topics, trying to think of talking about my author friends and my favorite books, my mind just went spinning off into SELLING MY NEW BOOK. Yes, I’m asking people outright to please buy my book, because if they don’t, I’ll be hunting a job. Seriously. Don’t smile. I’m not joking. I’ve got a mortgage due, along with a plethora of other bills, debts, and two kids in college and a 12-year-old with crooked teeth.

As an author, I know we have to participate in selling our books. I have this dog-eared notebook on which I’ve written MARKETING with a sharpie, and whenever I have a new book out (this in #5), I take a big gulp and ruffle through tattered sections of media contacts, on-line opportunities for promotions, speaking possibilities, etc…

But this time, when “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” came out, I had a deadline for another novel (which I met last Friday!) and so it was easy to rationalize putting that notebook out of sight and out of mind. Also, I’d been reading this book by Donald Maass that said, and I loosely quote, “It’s word-of-mouth that sells books.”

I clung to that bit of Maass wisdom until, like I say, I snapped. Until it hit me over the head like a two-by-four. HOW is word-of-mouth going to happen if nobody ever first reads your book?! And CHRISTMAS books, it seems, have this teeny tiny sales window, from right around Thanksgiving until December something or other. Oh yeah, December the 25th.

Now, I honestly do love this book I wrote because my heart is inside of it. My favorite character is not Maggie, the heroine. I fell in love with Mr. Tyronious Byrd, the ancient black caretaker of a Christmas tree farm. I still cry when I read his story.

Speaking of stories, I have a story on my website called Crossing Over and if you go to my website at www.juliecannon.info you can click on it and read about how I left the ABA after my last novel, and moved to the CBA. Summerside Press, publishers of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” put a lot of faith in me (no pun intended) and gave me the song title made famous by Bing Crosby in the 1940’s to write a story around. They wanted me to write an ‘Inspirational Romance,” and I did, but they gave me so much leeway it turned into a story about WWII and Mr. Tyronious Byrd, too. When I told my minister about the novel, she said, “What in the world is an Inspirational Romance? Is that when he rips off the bodice, and underneath there are long-johns?” Not really. You’d be surprised.

So, I’m offering my wares to you today. Here’s the heart of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in a brief paragraph: It’s 1944 and Maggie Culpepper is furious at God because of her mother’s untimely death. She stumbles into a recruiting center and enlists in the U.S. Navy WAVES, leaving Watkinsville, Georgia to serve at a naval base in New Jersey. The proverbial boy-next-door, William Dove, whose battle with polio has left him physically unfit for military service, wages a war of his own from the family’s Christmas tree farm. William learns a priceless lesson about surrendering from the farm’s aging caretaker, Tyronious Byrd, who’s struggled through some dark valleys of his own.

If that didn’t grab you, it’s gotten a couple of honors: It’s in Nielsen’s ‘Top 50 Inspirational Titles’ this month, and it has been chosen as a ‘Top Pick for Fall 2010 Releases’ by CBA Retailers & Resources magazine. If that doesn’t convince you either, think about this: It would be a really CHEAP gift! With a cover price of only $12.99 at your favorite local bookstore, and on-line at around $8, there are no excuses. You’ve got lists of folks who you need to buy a Christmas gift for, right? You could do that AND feed a starving artist!

Whew. I don’t believe I’ve ever done so much shameless hawking of books in my entire writing life!

God bless you all and hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a beautiful Christmas – even if you don’t buy my book.

Truly, Julie

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