Meeting Local Readers – #StJohnsRiverEcoTours – Conundrum Book Club

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The Conundrum Book Club
(All Photos by Alicia Keenon Photography)

Taking a brief break from publishing Harbinger to share a couple of pics with you guys. This is the last group of folks I joined for an ecotour on the St. Johns River, and they were just so much fun! Don’t know when I’ve laughed harder, or had readers with more thoughtful questions and sweeter compliments. Such engaging folks!

I don’t want to start rumors, but I was told they call themselves wine drinkers with  a reading problem. I can only add to that by saying they arrived for the tour with coolers full of wine and yummy snacks. I suppose that might have been one of the reasons they were so much fun.  😉 All I know for sure is that I can’t wait to meet with them again! 😀

Hope you are each looking for ways to meet your readers, too. Even without coolers of wine, it’s a great way to have fun while building a local readership. Try it. You’ll like it!

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Me, with some of the women . . .

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. . . and some of the men!

#StJohnsRiverEcoTour Tomorrow!

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Off on a Meet the Author Eco-Tour, with a group of local readers tomorrow, aboard the Naiad. This is one of the most fun things I’ve been lucky enough to take part in. Captain Jeanne Bell and hubby, wildlife photographer Doug Little have been so supportive of me and my books, and these tours are just the best!

We might see these:

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Swallow-tailed Kite

Or these:

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Barred Owl

And certainly, these:

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Baby Gators

But if we see one of THESE:

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Florida Black Bear

…you’ll hear me hollerin’ all the way to wherever you are! (Still haven’t seen one in the wild, after all my many years of birding, hiking, and canoeing in Florida.)

Have a great Saturn’s Day, everyone, and I’ll check in with you when I return to civilization again! 🙂

 

#InspirationBoardSunday

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Great Egret
Photo by Doug Little – St. Johns River EcoTours

Sunday seems a good day to share things that inspire me, particularly when I write, so I’m hereby declaring it #InspirationBoardSunday on #TheWriteStuff. In the weeks ahead, expect to see some beautiful photos of things I find especially inspiring. (And no, they won’t all be of Chris Hemsworth as either #GunnarWolfe OR #Thor. I promise. No, really . . . I mean it. They won’t . . . hardly ever. )

The truth is, beauty surrounds us, even in times when you think the world has gone mad. I figure it never hurts to remind ourselves of that. Here in central Florida, a land known for the element of make-believe, there are still vast areas of mysterious and incredibly lovely natural habitat, where birds and wildlife still hold sway. When all else fails, I look to them for inspiration, and they haven’t let me down, yet. Hope you’ll enjoy my #InspirationBoardSunday feature, and the places it might take your mind.

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Florida Panther

How to Turn a Classroom Into A Tea Parlor – #BuildingLocalReadership

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The Enterprise Heritage Museum is a 1930’s era schoolhouse, lovingly restored. Yesterday the classroom above was transformed into a tea parlor.

I’ve talked before about the wonderful (and profitable) time I’m having building a local readership here in central Florida, so some of you are familiar with how I’ve done so far. For those who aren’t, let me say that my second novel, Swamp Ghosts, is set in an imaginary small town along the St. Johns River, and many of the places in the book are very familiar to folks in this area.

With the help of Captain Jeanne Bell and her hubby, photographer Doug Little,  of St. Johns River Eco Tours, I have met some fantastic folks who’ve been taken by the book, and who invited me to speak at several venues. Jeanne and Doug started it by promoting my book on their Eco Tour boat cruises. (It was a natural fit for them, since, as  I acknowledge in the book, they inspired my main characters.)

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In the past year, I’ve visited quite a few local museums, historic sites, book clubs, and the like, giving a PowerPoint presentation (with gorgeous slides, I might add) about using the St. Johns River basin and its wildlife as a setting for a Romantic Suspense novel. The presentation is filled with loads of information on Florida wildlife, including the best way to ID snakes you’d rather avoid, and an introduction to albino and leucistic reptiles.  And, of course, there are some things specific to my book (which includes all of the above subjects) and how I write. People really seem to enjoy the “show,” and I’ve been invited back to many of the places, so I’m pretty happy with that. And I also have two more presentations available for upcoming events, so I can mix it up a bit.

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One small corner of yesterday’s dessert table.

Now, having said all of that, yesterday, I was invited to do a reading and Q&A session at an afternoon tea, at the Heritage Museum in Enterprise, Florida, and I have to say, it was one of the most FUN events I’ve done. The ladies were a super audience, engaged and engaging, and they laughed at all my jokes, which makes them A-OK in my book.  🙂 Plus, they asked thoughtful and interesting questions, on everything from PTSD (a factor in one of my books), to when and where I’d be doing the Swamp Ghosts presentation again, which is a lovely thing to be asked.

Add to that, the finger sandwiches, scones, pumpkin pies, cakes, and other desserts were wonderful. And then the TEA. Folks, let me tell you about tea. Thanks to one of our members here, Jennifer Melzer, I discovered Adagio Teas, and things haven’t been the same since. Not only do they have the largest and most delicious selection of teas I’ve ever seen, they offer visitors a chance to create their own blends! I’m hooked. I’ve created fifteen or sixteen (I’ve lost count) custom blend teas, named for characters in my books, and featuring my own labels. Needless to say, I provided the tea for yesterday’s events, and judging from the comments, all of my flavors went over very well.

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(Example of a Sample sized tin of one of my teas. Perfect for giveaways!)

ALL of the above is by way of saying, if you use your imagination and get out there looking for local venues that might be interested in having you give a presentation on your books, you might find yourself in demand in your area. I’m lucky that having a book set locally gave me a jumpstart, but I think this can be done no matter what your books are about. I’d like to encourage some discussions on this subject. Have you tried it yet? Are you interested in giving it a try? What are some local venues you could approach? (Libraries, museums, historical sites, book clubs, etc.) How can you tie your books into things happening in your area? 

Let’s talk, because when things are slow on amazon, my local sales keep me going. I have my books in four gift shops, including believe it or not, a plant nursery, where the owner (who loves my stories) has sold an incredible amount of print books for me, given she doesn’t even sell GARDENING books in her store. But her very busy nursery, open every day,  has been in business in the small town of DeBary for decades, and when she tells people they should read my books, they believe her. And they do! And of course, Captain Jeanne and Doug sell my books at their ticket booth at Highbanks Marina, after every tour, and without their support and encouragement…well, hopefully I’ll never have to find out what that would be like.

I STINK at spending time doing online marketing, but I excel  at meeting lovely folks who like to talk books and reading. And if it works for me, it can work for you! What do you think?

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You’d be surprised at which local shops might want to carry  your books!
Bev McCain, at DeBary Nursery has sold hundreds…yes, HUNDREDS…of mine!