Book Interview

I did an interview recently for Pittsburg State University and their Alumni Book Club. The book Searching for Fire, a YA Fantasy book, was featured this summer as one of their selection. Here is the interview with Ruth from the PSU Book Club. It was my first interview for the book and I was a little nervous but it seemed to go quite well. I talked about publishing with Archway, which was a very positive experience, as well as inspirations and ideas and images for the book. Here is the video:

4 Books by New Author

J Speer

During social distancing and quarantine time, I’ve had some time to work on these writings. These 4 books are available as eBooks on Amazon. The three self-published works are available for $2.99 as an eBook and the book published by Archway Publishing is available for $3.99 as an eBook. Searching for Fire is also available as a paperback book for $12.99. Searching for Fire has received a great review from Midwest Quarterly Book Review in their December 2019 Issue. It has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating on Amazon and a few really nice reviews from readers. Searching for Fire came out in July 2019.

The other three books are brand new, released just in the past weeks during the social distancing time. I would recommend Summertime Adventures for ages 7 and up. It is definitely G or PG rating. The Curse of the Sapphire Jewel is for ages 15 and up. It is more adult and has 6 short stories based on works posted on this blog. The last book is a collection of poetry based on my life and the lives of my children. I would say this one is for ages 15 and up. All three of these works are writings I developed over the course of ten years and finally got the confidence to publish.

If you read any of them, I would love to hear your feedback or post a review!

Thanks for your interest and please share any information you like with others. Click on the Amazon links to read the previews and find out more info about the books or author.

I am from southeast Kansas. I have lived in Germany and Virginia as a military spouse. I have a Master’s Degree in Human Resources and studied abroad in Israel as a college student. I used to work for the Army and then as an HR manager for manufacturing. Now, I work at a frame shop for photography and artwork. I love my job for MPix.com. I like to write poetry, short stories, and work on other creative writing in my free time. Other hobbies are knitting, cooking, and gardening. I love gardening a lot! Just finished putting in my summer garden this past week and hoping to have lots of fruits and veggies to share with family and friends. It has gotten colder the last few days here in Kansas and I sincerely hope and pray I won’t have to replant due to frost.

I hope you are safe and well. I have been blogging recently about my family’s “social distancing YouTube trips.” You can find out more about this on my blog. So far, we have learned about Tokyo’s Akihabara District, Kyoto, the planet Mars, the Pyramids of Egypt, and Universal Studios/Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. Next stop on our adventures…..the Taj Mahal.

Thanks for your interest and have a good day!

First Book Reading

We had a great time at the Joplin Public Library attending the Joplin Writers’ Faire. There were around 30 writers at the event doing readings and signings. We donated 2 books to area libraries and sold books as well. We bought a book by FC Shultz titled The Rose Weapon. It is a book about Vikings and dragons. We also bought a children’s book and a Vietnam true stories book by Ronald Mosbaugh. It was a great event. Thanks to the Joplin Public Library for their beautiful new building and wonderful hospitality. This was my first reading of Searching for Fire and it went really well. Here are some photos of the event.


EBook Promo & Author Night

The book Searching for Fire is now available for a limited time only, during the month of October, for the eBook discounted price of $0.99! My publishing company set this up through Goodreads and Bookbub ads and using the Amazon store. The eBook price is available here at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07VXTNCD7?pf_rd_p=183f5289-9dc0-416f-942e-e8f213ef368b&pf_rd_r=10V8ZGVSA00AGWV4YFYF. There’s several scary scenes in the book, so if you are looking for a good thriller to read in October, please consider Searching for Fire.

In other news, we’ll be at the Pittsburg Public Library this Wednesday, October 9th from 6:00 to 7:30 pm for a Community Author Night. There will be refreshments and opportunities to get books signed by a nice group of local authors to the 4 states area. Here also are the details about the event: https://pplonline.org/events-and-programs/#event=33746404

eBook Promo

I have good news about the book Searching for Fire. We’ll be doing an eBook promo in a few weeks that will list on BookBub and Goodreads offering the book at a discounted price for a limited time. The usual price for the Searching for Fire eBook is $3.99 but for one month the price for Searching for Fire will be listed on BookBub and Goodreads at $0.99! This is to promote the book and give lots of people the opportunity to read it and maybe review it. I’ll let you know when the book promo goes active.

Searching for Fire got another good review on Amazon a few days ago! It is now listed online with Archway Publishing, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Target, Books A Million, Walmart, Ebay, and several textbook sites. Also, the book is listed on some overseas sites as well such as Waterstones and Foyles.

I’ve written to the local newspapers, the Kansas City Star and the Joplin Globe, to market Searching for Fire some more. I am planning to send the book to the Library Journal for an official book review. I wrote to a couple of independent bookstores and was happy to learn they might carry the book too in this local area! I wish I could attend the Kansas Book Festival this weekend in Topeka but will be busy in my hometown. We do, however, plan to attend the Ozarks Book Festival in October in Springfield, Missouri! We are also looking into some local events like the Maple Leaf Festival in Carthage, Missouri or even the War Eagle Fest in Arkansas or Pioneer Harvest Fest in Fort Scott, Kansas.

A local English teacher asked me to talk to her classes about writing and I might be working with the local public library in October on some writing activities for folks. There’s a lot going on this Fall in regards to the book Searching for Fire! I hope it all goes well.

Anyways, I will keep you posted about the eBook promo that will go out in a few weeks. Thanks, and happy Friday the 13th! My boss said today that it is Friday the 13th and also a full moon. This is the first time both have occurred on the same night in 28 years! I hope you have a fun evening planned! Thanks for following my blog. Good night!

3 Elements of a Story

We did the coffeehouse book signing with friends this Tuesday. It went well. Here is a photo of the group together last night.

I made a video for the blog today just retelling some of what was said last night. I spoke at the coffeehouse about Joseph Campbell and in this video I include two other parts, the reasons for the character type and the location choice. Here is the video. Thanks.

(And yes, my shirt does read the word Allergic, lol. In fact, I got it at Walmart and it reads Allergic to Mornings which seemed pretty appropriate since I need about 1 to 2 cups of coffee to get going for work in the morning.)

Launching A Book

Traditionally, when the publishing work is done and the book goes live on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, etc., people put together what’s called a book launch event. It’s an opportunity to celebrate with friends and family and neighbors usually in your local community. Some people do book launches online. Some people put together a book signing at libraries or bookstores or coffeehouses. One friend of mine is preparing a book launch at the convenient store in their rural town….the place where everyone meets for coffee and donuts in the morning.

I noticed on Facebook that a friend of mine who is a professor at the local university also finished publishing a book. So the two of us got together and set up a “Local Authors Night” at the popular coffeehouse downtown. We set up a Facebook event online and sent out invites. We arranged for the catering and use of the back area of the coffeehouse. There will be coffee, cake balls, scones, and such pastries plus fruit trays for the guests. We both plan to talk five minutes about the books and we asked a friend from Toastmasters to welcome the guests, make everyone feel comfortable, and to introduce us. Afterwards, we’ll do book signing at two separate tables.

There’s a lot of little details to think about when planning a book signing event. This past Friday, we participated in a local festival downtown on the main road called Broadway. The festival is Artwalk and showcases local musicians, authors, and artists. There are craft activities for kids and plenty of food vendors as well. Here are some pictures from the event on Friday.

It rained a lot earlier that morning and afternoon. We expected a smaller turnout but the turnout was great! It’s fun to join up with a local festival because much of the planning for the event is already coordinated and all you need to provide is your products and your booth. Here is a picture of our booth at the Artwalk. We sold about 30 copies of the book Searching for Fire.

We sold the signed books for retail price plus local sales tax and we took both cash and card via a square reader for our cell phone. Square readers are easy to order for free and if you want one for a book event, plan ahead about two weeks for delivery. Also, pay close attention to the type of square reader you need for your cell phone. At the event, keep very close eye on the square reader to prevent it “wandering off”. If that happens, you need to notify your customers that their personal data has been taken. Not good. Other than that, it is real easy to use a square reader. There are several tutorials to get you started and you just set up your products in your square reader library on the cell phone app.

If you plan a book event, it is a really good idea to have at least one volunteer with you. While you sign books, that person handles the money transactions. Other volunteers can help with other activities such as a refreshments table. Also, be sure to order your books several weeks in advance from your publisher. Some publishers provide a nice quantity of books free with your contract and others offer books at a discount to you. The discount is larger if you buy more in bulk.

Before the event, prepare a detailed list of what you need. The following are some items we brought to the Artwalk:

Bottled water, battery back-up for the cell phone, cell phone, square reader, any additional cords needed, and tablecloth. (We got a custom tablecloth with a picture of the book cover. We ordered this through Vistaprint with one of their online coupons. They also do flyers and tote bags and business cards, etc.) We put the books in a plastic tote with a plastic lid to protect from inclement weather. We also needed a booth tent. We got some nice pens. Don’t use gel pens that smear when you sign books. We bought a sales order book at Dollar General to keep track of all sales. You will also need to fill out a sales tax form for a festival as well. Bring a money box and plenty of coins and small bills for exchanging money.

We did some drawings for the Artwalk as well to bring in customers. We did a free drawing for the community in which we gave away three signed books to three individuals. The other drawing we did was sponsored by a local company. In exchange for buying a book that night, our customers entered into a drawing for gift cards. The local company donated 6 gift cards ( 2 $25 Applebees cards, 2 $25 Buffalo Wild Wings cards, and 2 $50 Wal-mart cards……….and yes, I live in the Midwest lol). At the end of the night, we did the drawings. We announced the winners on Facebook and thanked the local company. The next day, we delivered the gift cards to the winners.

For the drawings, we purchased two dry erase boards from Dollar General and 2 metal stands (use metal to avoid them blowing over in the wind). We used dry erase markers to write our messages about the books and the drawings. We had enclosed boxes for the drawings and individual drawing sheets for the customers to fill out.

Other than that, we did two other things to make our booth stand out at the event. Since it was an Artwalk, I spent about a week beforehand drawing pencil images of the main characters and scenes in the book. The drawings were in a black sketchbook. We displayed this on the table and the kids loved looking at it! We also bought some small wolf statues to place on the table to go with the theme from the Searching for Fire book cover. The kids played with these too while we talked to the parents.

If you do more than three festival events a year, it is also a good idea to apply for a separate checking account for tax purposes later on. Also, you could consider setting up a paypal account as another means of payment.

The final information to add about launching a book at a public event……..marketing is so important! Social media is great for this…….Facebook, Facebook events, Instagram, and even a blog such as this. Make certain you thank the people involved with the event and any sponsors. You can do a Facebook Live of the book signing as well or you could make a YouTube video. Prior to this event, I did use YouTube and create a video excerpt of the book Searching for Fire. Basically, I downloaded blueberry voice recording software for free, I setup the book cover as the video image, and I recorded myself reading one of my favorite parts of the book. It turned out well and I recommend trying this. Here is the link to my YouTube video for Searching for Fire:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNwayIWQg6g

Be sure to pick out a nice outfit for the event. We wore some shirts with book themes on them. Fix yourself up to look nice and most important of all, smile! Look like you are having a good time! Celebrate! This book launch party culminates at the end of a very long writing, editing, and publishing process. You did it! Have fun with the party!

So these are some ideas for doing a book launch event. You might want to consider other things like themed refreshments or favor bags or bookmarks with your favorite character on them from the book. You might have a graphic artist friend too that might help you with creating some awesome digital art or a cool video. But most of all, try to stick to a decent budget and don’t overspend. If you can get help from friends and family, do so! Most of the time, they are very happy to assist you with this exciting venture!

I’d be interested in hearing other ideas on book launching. Feel free to comment any tips or suggestions. Thanks and best of luck with your book launch event!

My Name is Janea. My pen name is J. Speer

I am celebrating today. Today is a great day for me. My family welcomed a new niece into the world this morning. My 14 year old daughter passed driving school. And today, I received a package from Amazon in the mail…….one I have been waiting on for a few days now. I opened the cardboard box to reveal the first copy of my first published book. It is called Searching for Fire. The book is a young adult fantasy fiction story with lots of action and adventure. It is a North American odyssey with some dastardly villains and interesting plot sequences. It is published with Archway.

This story started out a long time ago. Over ten years ago, I used to write a great deal of poetry and short stories. I wanted to be a writer someday. I wrote a giant file folder full of work and I submitted to several publishing companies and online contests. I waited and waited impatiently and finally received one acceptance letter from a Boston company. But here comes the hard part……….I lost confidence in myself. I never sent my work in.

Lack of confidence………I have a feeling many other people who write have felt this. I wonder how many have thought to themselves, “I’m just not good enough. This is not good enough.” I know I did. I put the file folder in the back of a cabinet and life went on as normal for over a decade……..

At this point, you are probably wondering what changed?

A friend helped me.

It was January 2019 shortly after Christmas and I was kinda in the dumps…..considering the winter weather and just general life malaise. She invited me on Facebook to her new entrepreneur meeting. At first, I thought, “No, not really interested.” But I went.

The meeting started with 20 minutes of motivational talk and then she said each of the 20 participants had to stand up one by one and say what their dream is or had been. She said, “If you don’t have the courage to say what you really want to a crowd of twenty people in a room, how do you ever expect to manifest it into your life?” One by one, each brave soul got up and said their secret dream. I, however, was too shy and remained quiet.

I went home that night and sat in my mini-van in the driveway and thought for twenty minutes. Then, I went inside the house and opened that old cabinet and searched for the old file folder. I pulled it out from the back and sat down at the kitchen table to read. I had just assumed over the years, that it was not worthwhile. But I was wrong. Some of the poetry and short stories were quite good. I picked one short story, my favorite in the bunch……….and eventually turned it into a novel. I worked six hours a day for six weeks, writing after daily 8 hour shifts at the factory. During the day at the factory, I would go through every detail of the upcoming pages in my mind and then jot down my ideas as soon as I got home.

And that is the story of how Searching for Fire came to be. It is my first book and admittedly perhaps more a lump of coal than a polished diamond. But I truly hope it does well on the market and most of all, I just want people to be entertained and happy reading it.

Thank you for reading about my adventures with writing and I would love to hear from you too on your creative works. Keep writing! Keep creating! Keep being more!

Bless you,

J. Speer