Thursday, August 28, 2014

Library of Congress

Well I'm very sad to say that today's blog is going to be me complaining!

Being an author is really hard, as all you writer's know. But today I sent in to the Library of Congress for a copyright on my upcoming book Hippo Bottomless and the fee has gone up $69. I've registered all my books so far and it's only been $35, which to me is reasonable. However, now it's $104. Is there no one out there that can help us authors out?

It just seems like everyone is out to hurt us. It's so difficult to write a good story to begin with. We have to do tons of research to do it right. Then we spend hours upon hours researching publishers and trying to obey their submission guidelines to the letter because we know if we miss one step, all our hard work will be thrown in the slush pile faster than we can say "what the .....!"

And I've heard it's even harder to find an agent to represent us.

I have five more books coming out which is going to cost me now over $500 just for the copyright. And at $11 a book, there is barely anyway I can make that money back, pay off all the other debts associated with keeping my writing a flow and make any kind of profit.

I absolutely love writing my books and participating in book signings but it's hard to keep smiling sometimes when it's so darn difficult to make a buck doing it.

I am sorry if I'm bringing any writers or potential writers down today, but I know tomorrow will be better. However, sometimes a girl just has to get the frustration out! Do any of you other authors sometimes feel this way too?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Blog Hopping

To start this week out, I'd like to share a picture with you'all of two "oh so adorable" fans of Kailee, the character in my books. They have purchased both The Pea in Peanut Butter and Kailee Finds Magic IN Words. Their mother tells me they love them both! Makes me and Kailee so happy to hear that someone is enjoying our stories. Thank you Piper and Zoey!






Also this week I have been tagged to take part in a blog-hop by Courtney.  Thank you so much Courtney for the tag.  I was asked four questions, which are as follows:



1. What are you currently working on? I am always working on my next picture book but this week I'm busy mailing out submissions for a Tooth Fairy story I've written. Researching publishers guidelines and getting the submissions in the mail takes days, and I must admit I hate this part of being a writer. However, after it's done I do feel like I've really accomplished something! But the waiting and wondering about whether the story will get accepted is not only a long slow one, but it can be very depressing. So as soon as I get these submissions out, I'll be working on finishing up the next story so I don't sit around worrying about the one I just submitted.

2. How does your work differ from others of its genre? Well I'm not so sure my work is that different but I try to bring a unique voice to my characters. I also love to sprinkle in a little magic to my stories because that's what I loved as a child and I do believe that's what other kids love the most.

3. Why do I write what I write? Because I love it. It's so much fun to be able to bring out the kid in me by writing picture books. I'm actually addicted to them. I love reading them and looking at the beautiful illustrations. And although I get nervous when reading my story to kids, it fills me with so much joy when I can see they are loving the story. I've learned a lot from reading to the kids and watching their faces and now whenever I write a story, their faces are what I envision as I write the words. 

4. How does my individual writing process work? My writing process is crazy sometimes. When I get an idea in my head, I immediately write it down. I have a huge list of book ideas. Once I decide to finally pick one up and start on it, I do a bit of outlining, not extensive. I need to know what message I'm trying to convey right away. I also need to know the name of my main character or I can't seem to get the story right. Sometimes I have to start with a title and then go from there. I spend a lot of time making up silly titles. A few of my stories I had the title in my head for years before I actually came up with the right story for it.

In order to keep the hop going, I need to tag two other writers to answer the same questions.  I have chosen:
    Mikki
    Sherry

This is a great opportunity to meet and greet these writers you may not know of so please stop on over and say hello to them. Mikki has a new book out and Sherry is about to have her first picture book published. Congrats to them both. Happy writing!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Book Signings in Edgerton, Ohio

"Super fantastic" are the words that come to mind when I think about the recent book signings my mother, sister, and I had back in our home town of Edgerton, Ohio. I have to admit that I was a bit doubtful whether or not people would show up to see us. My first book signing there three years ago was so magical that I wasn't believing it could be anything close to that again this time!


But it was actually better. Not because more people showed up, but because I got to share it with my mom and sister. It was so enlightening and encouraging to see people showing up to see them this time. We truly felt loved.

One of the best things about the weekend was that my two oldest nieces from Texas showed up to surprise us! Sondra, my oldest niece is in the black and her younger sister, Tara is in the blue jean top. Not only did they come, they helped us set-up and tear-down and made our weekend so very special. It truly meant the world to all of us.

The lady on the left is Verna, my mom's best friend and her daughter, Linda in the middle. They were so gracious and hosted a luncheon for us! Thanks ladies!

 
 
 
One of the big surprises of the day was when my brothers best friend in grade school showed up! None of us had seen him in decades so it meant so much that he came to support us. My brother, Mark is on the left and his friend, Brent on the right.
 



I do believe though that the biggest star of our show was my best friend since I was five yrs. old, Penny! She showed up for every single event, just like she did for my first book signing three yrs. ago. Not only did she come, she helped grab people to come see us and spread the word around town. There she is in the peach top and jeans acting like our marketing agent! We love you, Penny and thanks so much for your friendship and support!

 
 
 
I just can't express how much fun my family had seeing all our old friends and how much it meant to all of us. So, I'm just going to show you some more pictures!
 
Here is my dad (on right with arms crossed) conversing with his good friend, Joe Sito. My dad has alzheimer's so I'm not 100% sure he knew who he was talking to but he sure put on a good face. One of the things my dad enjoyed the most was the Edgerton parade. At the beginning, the town stood up to sing the Star Spangled Banner. My family watched as my dad sang along remembering every single word. Woo hoo!
 
 
 
 
Here is the Edgerton High School Band which brings back so many memories for my family. Each one of us kids marched in this band at one time, down this very street. And I must say, they still sound terrific!
 
 
 

 
Here's a picture of some of my best friends growing up. I spent many a day hanging with them, and of course we always behaved! From left are, Kalli, Donna, Penny (of course!) and me. Naturally I'm the fattest one! Story of my life. Love you ladies! I really thought this dress looked cute...what was I thinking!
 

 
Here's my goofy niece, Sondra being amazed at how high the corn stalks are in Ohio. You don't see that in Texas!


 
 
 
Below is a picture of our gracious and generous host, Susan (in blue shirt). She volunteered to let us have a book signing in her hair salon. Now a salon is NOT the most practical place to have a book signing but she made us all feel at home and it turned out to be pretty darn successful! The lady standing beside her is Maxine Sanders who took over my mom's old column in the Edgterton Earth Newspaper. She showed up to say hello and told us she had written a book with recipes in it. She brought one to show us and to her surprise we all ended up buying a copy! So she had a successful book signing as well!

 
 
 
 
Now below is a "not so flattering" photo of any of us, but this was probably our funnest guest. The lady in the hat was our favorite babysitter, Sandy growing up (and of course she's Penny's oldest sister). The guy in the yellow shirt is my hubby, Brad. We had a blast reminiscing with her. Sandy told us a story that one of us kids was always causing trouble. Was it me? NO; Was it my sister, Genilee? NO; Was it my brother? NO; it was my oldest sister Monya (who couldn't make it home). And Monya always called US the brats. We made sure to video Sandy saying this. Ha ha to Monya! We love you anyway. LOL
 
 
 
 
 
Well I have many more photo's of our wonderful book signing events but I guess I'd better stop here. Thanks again to everyone who came out to support us. We love you all!
 
Left to right: Mom, Dad, Genilee, her hubby RJ, Tara, Me, Sondra, Mark, Brad (why is he standing so far away? Do you suppose we were embarrassing him? ha).
 

 
 
 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Here We Come, Edgerton!!

I'm very happy to say that a fellow author, Claudine Gueh Yanting is sponsoring a giveaway of my new picture book Kailee Finds Magic IN Words, on her blog. Check it out for a chance to win a free autographed copy http://www.carryusoffbooks.com/blog/finding-magic-in-words.

As some of you may know, myself, my sister and our mother are all meeting up in Edgerton, Ohio on July 25 & 26th. We are going to have several book signings there.

Edgerton, Ohio is where my siblings and I grew up. It's a small community and according to the 2010 census, there are a little over 2000 people living there. Edgerton has two stop lights and boy do I know them well! As a teenager I drove through those stop lights a million times just coasting around hoping to run into people I knew, which was almost impossible NOT to do. I have some very memorable stories about those events. Some of my friends will remember what we did when passing a certain, Mark Gineman, through town!! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE! What fun.

One of the things that makes Edgerton very special is the fact that we had a statute named Clem, right in the middle of town. At the time, we thought it was a pain to have to drive around but it really did make us unique. Later in life, Clem was relocated to the front of City Hall.
 
 
 
 
I can't imagine growing up in a better community than Edgerton. Our school was small, I think my graduating class had about 62 students, so our teachers were able to give us the special attention we needed to succeed. We weren't just a number, our teachers knew who we were and our backgrounds, which can sometimes be a good thing and other times...not so good. I didn't get good grades in school but was always reminded by some of my teachers that my two older sisters did! Sigh.
 
Here is a photo of our old high school which is no longer the school. It is still there but has been converted into office space for city employees since our City Hall was destroyed in a tornado a few years ago.
 




I still have such great memories of one of the houses we grew up in. I loved that house and have dreams periodically about visiting it again to see how it has changed. My husband and I drive by it every time we're in town. Here's a picture of how it looked when we lived in it. The bay window at top was the bedroom I shared with two other sisters! We only had one teeny tiny bathroom in that house to share amongst four females and two males! I don't know how we ever survived that.


 
 
Growing up in a small town did have it's challenges but we didn't really realize what big of challenges they were until we moved away!


But there are no better people in the world than the people of Edgerton or those that lived there but are now living elsewhere. At least that is how us Swope's feel.

And that is why we are making the long trips up there to have some special book signings! We are all so excited to come back home.

Here is where we'll be having our book signings and we hope that our friends, family, and acquaintances will stop by so we can say hi and give them a giant sized hug!

Friday, July 25 - 11:00 - 1:30pm - Edgerton Library. I'll be reading my book to the kiddo's probably right around 11:00. If any adults stick around and are interested, my sis and mom will speak a little bit about their writing experience.

Friday, July 25 - 5-7:30pm - Festival of Flags under the big tent, Miller park

Saturday, July 26 - 12-3:00pm - Susan's Hair Flair, downtown. We'll be there during and after the parade.

Hope to see some of you there!







Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy Fourth of July

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY EVERYONE!
 
My wish is for all of you to have a safe, fun filled holiday! And that my dogs will go potty outside like good doggies BEFORE all the fireworks start cracking!





Thursday, June 26, 2014

My Book is Published! Now What?

I've announced the release of my newest children's picture book, Kailee Finds Magic IN Words on Facebook and some other social media sites and now I'd like to introduce it on my blog! This book is a sequel to The Pea in Peanut Butter.

Kailee doesn't like to read but her mother is forcing her to practice. She'd much rather play dolls or rock out on her drums. Until she finally opens a book. Magic happens and she finds herself inside the book where she meets a talking chipmunk, Oliver. Together they go on an adventure to find the Grand Garoogle. Kailee discovers that words can take you on all kinds of adventures if you just believe.

I absolutely loved writing this story! I discovered a few things about myself after writing this story too. I love writing fantasy! Being able to use my imagination to its fullest capacity really gets my engine roaring. After all, when I was a kid, my imagination was wild. I played all kinds of magical things with my brother and sister. Sometimes when our parents were gone and my sister and I were left to babysit our younger brother, we really had to stretch our minds to keep ourselves from getting bored. We didn't have all the electronic gadgets of today to occupy ourselves.

My little brother was so much fun (well in between fights that is). I'm sure deep down he thought my sister and I were completely insane with some of things we made him play out. But he was always a good sport and played right into our hands. Even when we made him play the part of Cheetah, while my sis and I were Tarzan and Jane. I'm surprised he even speaks to us after making him do that!

I think one of his favorite "magical quests" was when we set up our living room as an obstacle course. We blind folded him and made him find his way under tables, over chairs, through tunnels and whenever he did, he got some kind of candy! He loved that.

It's because of one of our nutty magical games we played that I am a writer today. One of our adventure's always stuck in my mind and that was what made me sit down and begin writing my first story. I thought it would make a great MG novel. Once I began tapping on the keyboard, I discovered how magnificent it felt and I haven't stopped writing since. However, I've yet to finish that novel.

I discovered early on that it's picture books I'm most passionate about and what I seem to be pretty good at. So that's what I've stuck with the last five years. Someday, I do plan to expand onto novels of some kind.

Ok, so now my second picture book is out. Now WHAT? Well I have more waiting in the wings but in the meantime, here comes the hardest part of writing. At least in my eyes. PROMOTION.

I am not a salesperson, in fact I suck at it. I don't like pushing anything on people. But if us authors don't do that, no one will even know about our books, let alone buy them. And although writing isn't really an expensive side-kick, we still need to make what money we do spend...back. And some profit would be thrilling! But the only way to do that is to get the word out. Which is not an easy task. Especially if you're like me and you just don't know that many people.

So that's where I'm at today. I'm sure that a lot of people that don't understand how important it is to our careers as writers that we remind people over and over about our books, get a little sick of seeing us telling the world constantly that we have a book out. But I hope my audience will be patient with me and better yet...help me celebrate and spread the word!

Kailee Finds Magic IN Words is available on amazon.com right now but soon will be available on all online bookstores. If anyone would like an autographed copy, just shoot me an email at allyn_stotz@yahoo.com.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

I'm Confused!!

Do you ever feel confused? Silly question huh? The way the world is today, I swear there is no way to be sure of anything anymore! Just when you get used to something, it changes. Drives me insane!

I go to the grocery store and try something new, for instance cinnamon butter. My husband loves the stuff on his toast in the mornings. So I buy it for a year or so than all the sudden, it's no where to be found. I search every grocery store in town...none! I search every single time I go to the grocery store and finally after a good 6 months, it shows up again. I buy about 5 or 6 things of it. Same thing happened when I discovered muffintops by Eggo Waffles. And I could name a million more things! I don't get why the shelves are bare with them when obviously they are selling so great they can't keep them on the shelves! They are just messing with my patience, that has to be it!


Computers and cell phones are the same thing. Why can't they just leave well enough alone for awhile?

Then comes all the announcements on the news. Eggs are good for you then 6 months later they aren't. An apple a day keeps the doctor away UNLESS you wait long enough until someone else does a study and finds an apple a day might kill you! Or cause cancer. My dogs love to chew on chopped up ice cubes. No harm right? Then I hear ice is bad for dogs. Oh come on...how can ice be bad for anyone? So I read some comments going on about it and I'm just as confused about it as I was when I first heard it. Some say it's a hoax, some say it's real.



You know that disorder where people are afraid to go outside their house? Well I can totally get that. This world is just so confusing and maddening. Plus the violence that goes on is just disgusting anymore. There are so many sick twisted people roaming the streets everyday. I'm not making light of that disorder, I imagine it must really be terrible for people who suffer from it, but, I think I'll play like I have it today and just stay safe and sound in my little house and write all day. Wait.....is writing bad for you??