The Winter Book Fair failed to expectations. Or, rather, it failed to meet my expectations.
I have no complaint with regard to the event's co-host and venue, Mother Stewart's Brewing Company. They were fabulous. The venue charmed most of the participating authors with its unique character. And the brewery's owner even supplied my caffeine habit with a smile and personal delivery of a cup of coffee to my table.
Parking again proved to be problematic with authors not understanding where to park their vehicles, despite providing people with directions, a map, and explicit instructions not to park in the brewery's parking lot. The brewery posted a sidewalk sign: EVENT PARKING. Apparently, few people saw it. However, we soon got everyone straightened out, freeing the brewery's limited parking space for patrons.
Author registration for this event extended beyond those authors in Ohio. We had one author from Illinois and another from Kentucky. Frankly, I had a harder time filling the available tables than the first go-around. I think the season may have been a factor: weather and travel conditions in February in southwest Ohio are notoriously unpredictable and usually unpleasant.
As noted, most seemed to like the venue, which is an historic industrial building converted into a craft brewery and tap room. One author expressed dissatisfaction, stating a preference for a more traditional location. I think the brewing room terrific. It's interesting and unique. After all, you won't find those huge wooden beams and exposed brick walls in a modern hotel conference room. Nor will you get natural light through windows from a modern hotel conference room.
Mother Stewart's does not serve food, so they maintain a rotating roster of gourmet food trucks that operate just outside the building's front entrance. The food truck scheduled for February 10 was Bistro de Mohr, which came up from Cincinnati. They offered an interesting menu of gyros, goat tacos, pulled pork, and hog balls. Don't ask. It was delicious. We worked out a cross-promotion deal by which we helped promote the food truck and they helped promote the book fair.
Several factors worked against our hopes for unqualified success. Social media analysis suggested that the event would draw in a sizable crowd. Snow and nasty road conditions squelched that. (Of course, Sunday's patronage differs from the Saturday's for reasons so obvious I won't list them here.) Anyway, we had a steady, but thin, trickle of people wander through. Just about every author sold a book or two.
As always there are lessons to be learned. Here's my short list:
I met some wonderful and interesting people. Event like this really do bring together people together who otherwise wouldn't normally ever meet. Introvert that I am, I enjoyed that part tremendously. It's more than just professional networking, it's the opportunity to make new friends who do what I do and understand the vagaries of being an author. They get it.
"Failed to meet expectations" does not translate into a failed event. We've already scheduled the Summer Book Fair for Saturday, August 17. (Registration for the Summer Book Fair will open in May. Stay tuned!) For summer, we'll keep the longer hours: 12:00 - 7:00 PM. We'll bank on the larger Saturday crowd and begin establishing an event pattern that people will expect and anticipate. With luck perseverance, our audience will grow.
#SpringfieldOHBookFair #Winter #Books #Authors #HenHousePublishing
Why Independent Writers Matter
About the Author:
Walter Rhein maintains a web page about travel, musings on writing, and other things at StreetsOfLima.com. His novels with Perseid Press include: The Reader of Acheron, The Literate Thief, and Reckless Traveler. His novel The Bone Sword was published with Harren Press, and his novel Beyond Birkie Fever was originally published with Rhemalda Publishing. He currently splits his time between the US and Peru, and can be reached for questions or comments at: WalterRhein@gmail.com.
My own reaction to advice is mixed.
When I participated in a large (over 50,000 members) Facebook group geared to writers helping other writers, I dispensed advice to those who asked for it. It's the way of the internet: post a question, receive answers. Unfortunately, writers posted the same questions over and over again. Many of those questions concerned the very basics of writing and publishing, up to and including requests for other writers to develop ideas, plots, and content. People pay me to do that for them.
If you haven't learned the basics of writing and storytelling, then take a class or three and educate yourself before attempting to write a book. Or hire a ghostwriter.
Then came the inevitable questions that anyone with two brain cells to rub together could answer for him/herself if only he/she bothered to engage in a few minutes of research. Google is your friend. Their utter lack of resourcefulness appalled me.
When I started writing for publication, I didn't have the internet. I had to go to the library and check out guides such as Writers Market and The Literary Marketplace. Or I bought the guides from the local bookstore. If a writer's too damned lazy to do his/her own research, then I'm not going to do it for him/her.
After several months of fielding repeated questions from lazy wannabes, I canceled my subscription to the forum. I enjoy helping people who appreciate that help, but I dislike being taken advantage of. The entitlement attitude that I owed people the benefit of my hard-earned expertise offended me.
Of course, I myself have received some good advice through online forums. One such forum lit the proverbial light bulb with regard to strong writing. Aha! Now I really get it! And into practice that pearl of wisdom went. For the most part, I don't ask questions on these forums, even if I do read questions posted by others and the responses received. Sometimes I can and do add to the learning process; other times I have nothing particularly valuable to add. I get some good information that way and some not-so-good information. I've learned to determine who knows what he/she talks about and who's just faking it.
Book reviews deliver some of the most effective lessons learned. As I've told others, I don't learn from praise. Sure, I like praise. I love positive reviews. But I learn from the critical reviews: detailed reviews help me become a stronger, better writer. I take them as advice. Sometimes, like most unsolicited and unwanted advice, I disregard it. Sometimes I acknowledge that the reviewer has a good point and internalize it for later implementation. It all depends.
The caution about advice is that you just might get what you wish for, but that doesn't mean you'll like it.
So, ask me for advice if you dare.
Now that she and her best friends are out of danger, Cecily Carrigan is restless. Pyotr’s boss bought a restaurant and installed her as head chef. She lives rent-free with a with a sexy beast of a Russian mobster who treats her like a queen, but hasn’t offered marriage. She detests Cleveland, cold weather, and the Bratva. Conflicted and confused, what's a girl to do when she suffers a crisis of conscience?
She removes herself from temptation and leaves.
Moving to San Antonio where the weather's warm and the restaurant scene fiercely competitive, Cecily works to find herself and rebuild her self-respect... and discovers that she left the secret to happiness behind in the form of a big Russian with a heart of gold.
Cecily lay snuggled in Pyotr’s arms, her body still tingling from his enthusiastic and skilled lovemaking. She blinked and inhaled the heavy fragrance of their spent passion. Pyotr’s light snore worked like white noise, masking the sounds from outside that wafted through the open windows and the typical noises of a multistory condo minium. She sighed. She missed the sound of crickets and the railroad just a mile from her childhood home. She missed the lowing of the cattle just up the road. She missed the fresh country air, even when it made her sneeze.
Moving from small-town Batesville to big-city Cleveland had been a major adjustment. The excitement of moving to a major metropolitan city on Lake Erie had long since faded. The sounds of city traffic and the impersonal bustle of city life palled.
Cecily disliked the discontent that simmered within her. The restaurant Pyotr’s boss had opened offered a wonderful opportunity. Really, as a new graduate, there was no other way she’d have been hired as head chef anywhere else. She knew that Maksim and Olivia had done so only out of kindness to Pyotr who loved her.
She wasn’t sure how she felt about that love.
Not quite as naive as her roommates assumed, Cecily had originally figured that a passionate fling with the Russian thug would add to her growing collection of life experiences. Grandma Polsen, whose advice was usually good, had recommended that she live fully before settling down to cook, clean, and pop out babies. Then she’d have something worth reminiscing about, stories to tell her children and grandchildren. She had seen what became of her high school friends and close relatives: they never went anywhere, they never did anything, they had no interests beyond their small, routine lives.
She wanted more. She looked at the big hand palming her breast and frowned. She knew what those hands did and their value to a criminal organization that profited from drugs, illegal arms, and human trafficking. Grandma Polsen and her entire family would disapprove. Oh, hell, she disapproved. But Pytor treated her like a queen; it was hard to muster the courage to stick up for her principles.
Listening to the urban sounds beyond the window, Cecily missed the peace of her rural hometown where the birth of twin foals at the Patterson farm featured as the most exciting topic of conversation for weeks.
Cecily wasn’t sure she loved him back.
Oh, he made her body sing, that was for sure. She’d had three boyfriends before Pyotr, one in high school, two in college. They were ineffectual, clumsy boys compared to her tattooed, Russian thug with his bulging muscles, broken nose, and wicked, wicked tongue.
A delicious frisson ran through her at the thought of just what Pyotr could do with that talented tongue.
But there was more to a lasting relationship than sex and food. She knew that Pyotr’s attraction to her had begun with her cooking. Few men looked twice at her round face, curly blonde mop of hair, and size fourteen body. Pyotr claimed to appreciate those generous curves. He said her full hips were perfect for grasping when he pounded into her. He murmured praise over her large, pendulous breasts.
Not for the first time she wished she were slender and willowy like Gia. When she first met Gia, she’d wanted to hate the brainy marine biologist. But she couldn’t. Gia was just too damned nice.
She’d wanted to hate Latasha, too, but the feisty woman had quickly and firmly ensconced herself as Cecily’s best friend, helping her with the technical aspects of the food science courses and then fiercely defending her when a group of college boys made fun of the “fat cooking school student.”
Pyotr would have pummeled them and then offered to string their teeth into a necklace for her. Latasha just flayed them with her sharp tongue. The threat of sending her gang-member brothers after them hadn’t hurt, either. Cecily did not know whether Latasha’s brothers would have “put a hurt on” those idiots, but she liked knowing that Latasha would offer their violence to protect her.
She didn’t need them anymore, she reminded herself. She had Pyotr and Pyotr had Vitaly, Gennady, Iosif, Bogdan, and others she’d yet to meet...
Myriad cliches attend the certain knowledge that nothing lasts forever. I remember, probably with little accuracy, a Native American saying: "Only the wind and the rocks live forever."
I saw a "sooner rather than later" glimpse of the future recently when the farrier came to visit. (For those not familiar with equestrian terms, a farrier is the person who trims horses' hooves and fashions shoes for them. All farriers are blacksmiths, not all blacksmiths are farriers.) Because the work requires the farrier to lift the horse's foot and my farrier happens to be tall (6'-4"), I warned him before he got started that the lovely Lady Anastasia was stiff. Lifting Stasia's feet very high wasn't going to happen.
Hey, she turns 34 on February 16, which is ancient for a horse. She has every right to be stiff and arthritic.
So, the front feet went without a problem. He stooped over further than usual to hold her feet a little lower to the ground than I'm sure was comfortable. Stasia seemed okay. Then he moved to the back feet. He lifted the right hind foot and Stasia held for a moment, then listed to the side, then her left hind leg buckled. The farrier scrambled out of the way as Stasia went down, sitting rather like a dog, but with the left hind leg extended. It happened in slow motion, but once started, the fall could not be stopped. Not by mere human muscle.
We gave her a moment to gather her wits. She looked surprised and puzzled, a little disoriented, as she leaned against the gate. I tugged on the halter.
"Come on, Stasia. Get up." No dice.
We clucked at her. A few more tugs. Some taps to the rear end. No dice.
I pulled her left hind leg back, trying to position it better for her. Maybe that would give her a little more leverage. Her leg again (slowly) extended. I pulled it back. I moved the gate to give her a little room to maneuver. She toppled over all the way. My heart clenched. Stasia pushed herself back into a sitting position. We grew a little more forceful in our encouragement, nothing violent, but I felt the cold chill of desperation.
I decided to try bribery. If nagging didn't work, perhaps peppermints might. I jiggled the carton. She looked mildly interested, but not enough to move. I fed her a peppermint.
"Come on, Stasia. Time to get up, girl."
I tried again, let her suck another peppermint from my fingers and then held another just out of reach. She heaved herself upright and wobbled, still looking a little dazed. When she steadied, I led her away and fed her two more peppermints. I always said Stasia would do anything for peppermints.
"She's done," the farrier said. "We won't be trimming her back feet anymore."
To Stasia's credit, she never thrashed or spooked or did anything to injure herself. She remained calm and ... bewildered. For a horse that maintained a reputation for being hell on wheels until she was 32, that's an unusually quiet demeanor.
Most horses live around 25 years. Few make it to 30. For Stasia to have lived beyond 30 is really uncommon. We joke that she'll live forever, because she outlasted almost all of her contemporaries. We teased our younger son that he'd inherit the old bay mare and still be cleaning her stall when he was 50.
Last year, Stasia decided she was old. She'd gotten tired. I retired her from riding. Now she's begun a rapid decline and the end is near. The best we can do is keep her comfortable until it's time for the final call to the veterinarian. I'd like to give her one last spring, maybe one last summer.
The end is near, and now I realize it was nearer than anyone thought.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
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