Stephanie Van Orman
I write novels like I am part-printer, part book factory, and a little girl running away with a balloon. I'm here as an experiment and I'm unsure if this is a place where I can fit in. We'll see.
Ten Tricks to Selling Your Books in Person
Aside from being a novelist, I have spent quite a lot of time working tables at fairs and farmers' markets. I'm also familiar with the work that goes into administering vendor tables and organizing festivals. On other days, I worked at an independent bookstore where I could sell my books directly to the public on my days in the store. With all that in mind, let me give you my ten tricks:
If Diamonds Could Talk
I was in the changing room of a high-end clothing boutique. Christian was choosing clothes for me. This time, he was buying me a dress. The frock I was trying on was pink blush with thousands of sequins and feathered material in the skirt. The price tag read that it was forty-six thousand dollars, but I was choosing a dress to wear to an important event, so the price tag didn’t matter.
My Dune Misunderstanding
The book Dune by Frank Herbert is a man magnet. When I was reading it, I accidentally locked myself out of my apartment. To pass the time until my husband got home with the keys, I decided to try a little experiment. I got down on the grass in front of my apartment building with the book next to me. I nestled it into the grass and I stretched out next to it. How long would it take for a man to pass, see the book, and speak to me using that book as flint for a conversation starter?
Putting a Razor to Your Skin
I remember one time, the most ridiculously handsome boy told me something he found unattractive in a girl. He was describing a girl both of us knew from school and church. She was our age, wore toupe-colored pantihose and she did not shave her legs. He told me that the sight of her leg hair mashed down and completely visible through the sheer pantihose grossed him out.
The Great Gatsby and Me
When I was a teenager taking English classes, I often saw copies of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald hanging around. The blue cover, the crying flapper, the city skyline, and the eyes that never stop watching. It never came up in the English classes I took, but when I was a teenage warthog, I asked my mother what it was about.
A Scorpion Journal
When I was caring for my aging mother, one of the recurring themes in her care was unresolved issues from her past. One of the things that bothered her in particular was a young man she was dating who abruptly stopped seeing her. I'm very good at dating, love, romance, and all that. I wouldn't call myself a love guru, but I would call myself a reliable resource, so I decided to use my skills for the good of my mother. I sat down and told her to tell me everything she could remember about her relationship and to leave not one thing out.
From Idea to Novel
The very first step in creating an excellent novel is first not caring what anyone thinks. It is opening the doors inside you to a room that is all your own, like a little stage at the bottom of rows of theater seats. You take your seat on the second row and start ordering the stage about like you’re the director and everything is going to be exactly as you say it is. You want a character that looks like this. Perhaps you want a set that looks like that. Change the lighting, play the music, bring the mood.
Why You Can't Finish Your Book
I’m pretty good at writing a book all the way to the end. I may not even have that many other talents as a writer besides ferocious tenacity. One of the biggest mistakes I notice in newer authors is that they can’t stop telling people their ideas. I’m here to tell you it’s a bad habit and I’m going to give four reasons why it needs to stop.
One Star Blues
I only leave five-star reviews. Seriously, if I’m going to review a book, I’m going to leave a five-star review or I’m going to shut up. I don’t do this because I’m a nice person. I do this because I am a novelist and the last thing I need is an angry author with a reasonably good vocabulary biting my face off in the footnotes on a bookstore’s website with no way to remove it.
Do You Want a Publishing Deal?
Today, I saw a writer post a question about whether or not they should try to get an agent and then a deal with a traditional publishing house. These questions are not uncommon and there is a lot of conventional wisdom doled out when someone asks a question like that. I will answer the question, but only with what I have EXPERIENCED personally after getting that coveted deal.
Why I Won't Edit Your Book
The other day, I was talking to a newer writer who wanted me to go through their writing and explain how it could be improved. I outright refused and they were unhappy with that, but we were interrupted and I didn't get to explain why I wouldn't do it. So, instead of explaining why to that person, I'm going to explain why to you.