Last weekend was my second consecutive year at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival in Bowling Green. As well as having a signing table throughout the event, I was selected to be part of two panels. On Friday I was in a group of authors (which included one of my favorite local authors Tracy Barrett) about writing YA fantasy. On Saturday I was on a panel with amazing Middle Grade authors discussing the craft of writing.
I have participated in many bookselling events over the past three years since I began publishing as D. G. Driver, including book festivals, fantasy conventions, and school-based events. As soon as I finish writing this post I'll be joining a group of Nashville authors to hawk books at a local arts and crafts festival. Of everything I've done, SOKY Bookfest is my favorite. There are several reasons for this.
1. It's free! We don't have to pay to have a space to sell books. Authors submit their books ahead of time and are chosen to participate. And they aren't like some festivals that only choose books published by the big 5 companies. There were people with small publishers (like me), and even some self-published authors. Not everyone who is selected to have a table gets to present on a panel. Last year I was on one panel on Children's Day. This year they had me on two.
While I've never had to pay to be a panelist and sign for a few minutes afterward at any event, I have always had to pay something to have a table or booth (or even just have a copy of my book on display) for the entire event. Then I have to fret about having to sell enough books to make back what I spent to be there. That doesn't always happen. At this event, all of the books were sold through Barnes and Noble. They either ordered books ahead of time, or they worked on consignment. I make a much smaller profit going through them than if I sell them directly, but that's okay. All the authors are in the same boat in that regard.
2. All of the authors are given equal respect. Again, at many events there is a clear dividing line between those authors with the hardback covers from New York, and those of us with print on demand. At this festival the authors are lined up in rows, side by side, organized by age group. The room goes from picture books, Middle Grade, YA, and up. So, bestselling authors can be sitting beside a gal who only sells a couple copies a month.
3. And there's no over-the-top fanfare! We aren't allowed to bring posters or banners. Just the books and some small swag like bookmarks or candy. You aren't overpowered by someone's eye-catching, expensive ads or cover models walking around. In this way, people walking through actually stop and pick up your books and talk to you about them. It's so much more personal, and more like a bookstore where you have the opportunity to talk to the authors as you pass through.
4. It's so organized! It's put together by Western Kentucky University Library and Barnes and Noble. I'm sure there is lots of fundraising and behind the scenes work to put it together. It's been happening for years and years, so they've got it down to a science. Local schools bus their book clubs to the event on Children's Day and raise money to do so. One volunteer told me she starts fielding questions about the event in October of every year.
5. The panel moderators read your books! I have been to so many events where the people organizing the event haven't even read my book before (which includes school visits I've done). So, it is nice to be asked questions at a panel by an enthusiastic young person who enjoyed my book. One of our moderators was the same lovely lady as last year, and she told me how happy she was to now have both Juniper Sawfeather books and that she loves my writing. My heart was so full.
6. The people are awesome. All of the authors are fun to chat with and so nice. The people who come to the event are book people, and they like to talk. For a shy gal like me, this is a joy. I got to hug some friends I haven't seen in a while. Teri Polen came by and gave me a copy of her horror novel Sarah that I endorsed for her. (Spooky ghost story you should read). I went to a 'Meet the Authors' reception and had a lovely time talking with authors and people from the community while eating yummy food and drinking wine.
7. Oh! And they feed us, too. Free lunch, coffee, soda, and a reception with plenty of hors d'oevres.
Now, I live near Nashville. It's a little over an hour to get to Bowling Green, so I didn't stay there. I drove back and forth each day. To that end, I made a little profit that weekend. Not much, but I am proud to say I didn't lose any money. There are a lot of authors that attend this even that travel. The author next to me at my table was from Florida. I don't really know how this benefits them financially. Most of the authors were not paid to be there. I'm sure the keynote authors like R. L. Stine got some money, and maybe the authors who were teaching the writing workshop that was going on simultaneously. However, all the signing authors in the big hall were probably there on their own dime. It's a fun day, but if I didn't live nearby I don't know that I would be willing to spend the money to be there. I have often turned down events that I couldn't drive to easily for this reason.
And now for some other news!!! If you've been following me, you know that my Juniper Sawfeather Novels recently go a makeover, all to prepare for book 3, Echo of the Cliffs to come out on May 23rd. Well, the change is officially set at all the vendors. So the only copies of Cry of the Sea and Whisper of the Woods left with their original covers are the small amount I have left at my house and the couple that are for sale at Parnassus Books in Nashville. (There might be used ones sold on Amazon, but who wants that, right?)
I have had a couple people contact me about wanting the original covers. So, here's how you can get one. Who knows? Maybe they'll be collector's items someday. One can only hope. I have a handful left to sell. I am willing to lower the price to $12.00 per book (cheaper than Amazon), and add $3.50 for postage. You'll need to fill out this form, letting me know if you want one of the books or both of them. I'll send you a PayPal invoice, and as soon as you get your receipt, I'll sign them and pop them in the mail to you. I will include a handmade mermaid tail bookmark, too.
And if you're more comfortable ordering from a store than a person. You can get signed copies of both books from Parnassus Books in Nashville. If you write PERSONALIZE in the order comments, they'll have me come to the store and write a personal note.
Cry of the Sea
Whisper of the Woods
Ah! I have to get going to the Franklin Craft Festival! I'm running late. Please feel free to leave a comment. I always enjoy hearing from you.
Sixteen authors published by Fire and Ice YA Books have banded together this month to promote the strong female protagonists of our young adult novels. We’ve been doing Twitter talks on Friday nights about it. We’re hosting a Facebook party on the 22nd. Several of us have written short stories base on our characters for an anthology that was released this weekend and is FREE! A bunch of our books are being knocked down to 99 cents all next week. And! We’re doing a rafflecopter giveaway (see below for details.).
So, this begs the question, what the heck do we consider to be Kick Ass Girls? To me, that term sparks images of Buffy doing roundhouses and slaying vampires. Being that none of our books are about martial arts or superheroes, we aren’t talking about the literal kicking of asses, for the most part. We’re talking about outstanding young women who have grit, fortitude, determination, and courage. Girls who are outspoken, willful, smarter than average, and cunning.
I read a lot of YA books from the famous books to barely-heard-of indies. In my honest opinion, nearly all of them feature strong female characters. Yes, there is the occasional really sad-girl-being-sad book (ugh), but for the most part YA books are about girls surviving, overcoming, or making things happen. It’s why I like them so much. In YA you rarely find leading females that are just pretty props for handsome boys to do their heroics. (That’s so pre-millennium) No, even in books that prominently feature a guy in the lead, you usually find an equally satisfying female character as their friend or girlfriend.
Today I shall not write about Juniper Sawfeather (although Cry of the Sea is part of this promotion). I will instead write about the other Fire and Ice heroines I’ve read so far. There are seventeen books in this promotion event, and I’ve read six of them. Not a bad dent. This is only a fraction of all the YA and NA books published by Fire and Ice, so I will probably never catch up. Still, I’ve been impressed so far with the variety and quality of writing coming out of this small publishing company.
Because I’m a fantasy author, I’ll start with that genre:
Aimee from The Haunting of Secrets by Shelley R. Pickens has a horrible, frightening supernatural power. When people touch her, she soaks up their memories. And surprise! Not all memories are good. Some are downright evil. She’s comes across very emo to make herself as invisible as possible to people and covers every inch of her skin with black clothing, hoping to avoid accidental touches. At the start of the book, you’re thinking “that poor girl”. That doesn’t last long, though, because a bomb goes off in the school cafeteria, killing kids and sending everyone else running. Her clothes are ripped and someone touches her, someone who happens to be a serial killer. She can see his sickening memories of kidnapping and killing girls. No longer is this book about a sad girl with an unfortunate power, but instead is about a girl who uses her power to try to catch the murderer. She does wind up doing some real kicking of asses, too. This is the first book of an intriguing series.
Amanda in The Doors by Alice Black is a modern girl thrust into a good old-school ghost story. It’s set in an old, gothic English house that is full of secrets and curses. Amanda becomes obsessed with the history of the house and these doors to a secret room that have a mosaic that changes and sends her mysterious messages. She winds up finding a way through them and ends up in a frightening alternate world with a vindictive witch and has to find her way back. She is a smart girl who keeps her wits even when things seem hopeless. I really liked her combination of curiosity and courage.
Talia in Taming Tigers by Daisy White is living in a dystopian world of poverty and war. She escapes the village where she has been living to try to get to her fiancé in a town far across the desert. There is an accident with the train on which she’s has stowed away, and she must walk across the barren land (infested with tigers and other dangers) to get to her destination. How can she possibly survive? Taming Tigers reminded me a lot of the best parts of Crossed, the second book of the bestselling Matched series by Allie Condie. This book is a bit older, more New Adult. Talia is so brave and her will to survive is incredible. She has a bit of a spiritual journey as well.
Now for the contemporary fiction:
First off, this cover, right? Does it not beg you to read it? Chloe from On the Brink by Christina Hoag is a girl who knows what she wants when it comes to her career. She wants to be a journalist and proves it by getting a job over summer vacation at the local paper when everyone else is hanging out at the pool or mall. However, she’s not as smart in dealing with guys and has been hurt and used a few times. So, she doesn’t see Kieran for who he really is at first. He’s handsome and charming, but he is also possessive, manipulative and abusive. She gets caught up in his flip-flopping behaviors, defends him, and falls for his apologies so much, you might begin to get angry with her and think “oh no, don’t be a victim.” Stick with the book, though. You’ll like how she comes around to find her inner strength and self-worth and becomes a kick ass girl in her own right.
Brynlei (I adore this name) from Trail of Secrets by Laura C. Wolfe is a talented equestrian and spends the summer at Foxwood Riding Academy. This book (which is a good fit for middle school and younger teen readers) has everything you could want from a summer camp story. It’s got the bratty rich kids, the loner good girl, the creepy groundskeeper, and a ghost story/mystery. Brynlei is the one who senses the presence of a girl who went missing a few years ago and is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, even if it means breaking the rules and risking her chances of winning the big competition. She is daring, curious, and open-minded, on top of being just a really nice kid. I like her a lot and can’t wait to read book 2. I hear it’s scarier and has spooky dolls.
Cathy from Swimming Alone by Nina Mansfield is a modern Nancy Drew. I thought this summer mystery book set in a small beach town was so fun and full of just the right about of “eek!” I think it can be read by kids as young as 11 with no issues. Cathy is a bright girl, curious to a fault, and maybe a little paranoid. I think I would be, too, if there was a serial killer in my town. Her paranoia and curiosity are what help her see what others don’t, though, and she finds the clues to piece this puzzle together. I hope there will be more of these mysteries in the future. I’d love to see a TV series based on her, ala Veronica Mars.
I’ve read a few other Fire and Ice books, but they aren’t part of this event. I’ve definitely got several more of them on my TBR list. The Twell series, Sortilege Falls, and The Ashes and The Sparks are among the ones that definitely have sparked my interest.
So dive in and meet some new female heroines to root for and admire. All of the above mentioned books are going to be only 99 cents at Amazon and Smashwords the 17th-23rd. Click here to get to the Fire and Ice website and find links to all the books.
Also, you can read short stories from some of the F&I authors in The Kick Ass Girls of Fire and Ice YA Books as a sampling to see what appeals to you.
From fantasy and steampunk, to mystery and thriller, to contemporary social issue and romance, the authors in this book have all written novels that feature strong girls as protagonists. This book contains short stories starring the heroines—or other characters— from the worlds depicted in our novels.
For this collection, I have written a short prequel story to my Juniper Sawfeather Novels called “Beneath the Wildflowers” where Juniper encounters a bit of magic half a year before she finds the mermaids in Cry of the Sea. I’m eager to see what you think of it. This book is FREE at Smashwords, Nook, and Amazon (currently still 99cents at Amazon, but it will drop to free soon).
And finally, the rafflecopter. Want to try to win a couple of these books? Enter below.
I’d like to know what you think makes a Kick Ass Girl? Do you have any favorites from books, movies or shows? Leave a comment below.
And join us on Friday evenings from 9:00-10:00 EST on Twitter to chat about it using #kickassgirlsofya.
D. G. Driver
Award-winning author of books for teen and tween readers. Learn more about her and her writing at www.dgdriver.com
Author D. G. Driver's
Write and Rewrite Blog
“There are no bad stories, just ones that haven’t found their right words yet.”
A blog mostly about the process of revision with occasional guest posts, book reviews, and posts related to my books.