Eden Mills Writers Festival - well, we tried.
I wouldn't say that was a huge success however.
I had hoped my daughter and I would go down, and we'd sell 20 to 40 books. I really had no idea what to expect - it was my first time setting up a booth to sell my books at a book fest, so I had a LOT of copies printed, thinking it'd be worse to run out prematurely, as opposed to return home with an excess of copies.
BUT - we sold... (drumroll)... 5 books.
The painted rocks that I'd done and took with us didn't really seem to help very much. What we really needed was better (i.e. professionally designed and printed) signage. The other booths had real signage - and were also more genre based (horror / fantasy / sci fi etc). I suppose that if you're a fantasy fan, and you walk by a guy's booth who is a fantasy writer, you might stop to browse even if you've never heard of the guy. I don't think that's as true for a booth (our booth) that isn't flaunting a certain genre at you.
"Hi! Come and browse our hard to describe literature books! Festival is a coming of age novel, but Close Your Eyes? God knows what Close Your Eyes is!" :)
Oh well. I learned a few lessons, and my daughter and I are undaunted, and agreed we would try again at another book fest and try to do better next time.
Plus, it was nice to work side by side with my daughter all day. I truly enjoyed that :)
I am continuing to try and put my book (Close Your Eyes) into the hands of book reviewers, and with few exceptions, when people read the book, they enjoy it.
Some recent reviews:
Crossing the Pond / 4 out of 5 stars. And Stefan was intrigued enough by the book that he requested that we do an interview as well - thank you so much Stefan!
OpenMyPages / 4 out of 5 stars. "Equally hopefully and heartbreaking".
The book continues to be on Netgalley incidentally, if any of you want to access it via that site.
As has been mentioned here and there on this site, during the pandemic - despite little to no artistic ability - I got into painting rocks. I've mailed them to friends all over the world at this point, and have left too many to count on local trails.
And now - as I head to the Eden Mills Writers Festival on Sunday, to try and sell copies of my two books and meet some people and make some connections - I've painted around 30 rocks to take with me and use as free giveaways when people buy my books!
I've never done a book fest before - and am excited in general but also super-excited to be going with my 12 year old daughter. Don't tell her I said this, she'll roll her eyes, but I'm going to so much enjoy just spending the day with her doing something pretty darn unique that few kids will ever do with their parents.
Anyway - can't wait to pack up on Sunday and get down there and see how this goes!
Best wishes! :)
I took this photo this morning (Sept 3, 2022).... I think it's going to end up on a postcard soon. :)
I will have some news about a trip to the Eden Mills Writers Festival soon :)
A few comments I've heard regarding Close Your Eyes have to do with the uniqueness of the book, which, to be honest, hadn't really crossed my mind. "Uniqueness" meaning the various narrative voices and the structure of the book, but as well, since it's historical fiction, there's a bit more to writing a book like this than a modern day novel, such as my earlier Festival book. So, I've been hoping to do a post which explains how I wrote Close Your Eyes, or at least, how I did so to the best of my memory (since I wrote it 20+ years ago now).
This video (below) talks about the kind of books and reading I was doing ... not necessarily for Close Your Eyes specifically, but the kind of books I liked to read (history / historical non fiction) which gave me a lot of background knowledge to write the book.
I have some - but I don't think all - of the notebooks that I used when I was writing Close Your Eyes over approximately a five year period. I thought I'd do a video talking about my writing process, as far as writing by hand in notebooks, as well.
I also can not forget to mention that a lot of the inspiration for this book came from my year living in Poland, in 1995/96. I was teaching English as a Second Language in Poland, and while I was writing Festival at that time, I was also soaking up a lot of "eastern europeanness" as well I think. I visited Prague, visited Krakow, and saw a lot of the landscape there in Poland. And a lot of that went into this book.
And a few pages from the notebooks, for anyone who has read the book closely and might find this interesting. These below are most of the "picnic" scene, which I feel is a pretty pivotal scene in the book. And... the last photo, which has the last line of the picnic scene, shows me next sketching out a brief scene that also appears in the final version of the book... the "is this love" snippet from Tycho's journal, where the girl he asks the question to answers him by simply laughing.
And just two more... the beginning of the jeweller's apprentice story... where, in Tycho's story, the boy puts a necklace of dreams around the girls neck. The other photo is an example of many things which I wrote which ended up NOT making the book. Apparently I had toyed with the idea of having some church officials (inquisition types) visit Pawel and try to steal away Tycho and a few others.
As far as Sam being the main narrator, but there being Tycho's journal entries, the Bishop's letters to the Pope, the "1435" scenes where "present day" Sam often talks to Alexandra about how the writing is going - a few (very kind) readers have pointed out how unique THIS is.. to have so many narrative voices.
I don't really have an answer to where this approach came from. All I can say is, if one wonders why I would do this, well, why WOULDN'T I do this? There's obviously a very intimate and heart-felt feeling to this novel (or I hope there is anyway), and I think you'd be hard pressed to create this mood through one third person voice. Sure, I could still have inserted Tycho's journal entries, and the Bishop's letters to the Pope, but, without Sam's voice..... Sam's voice.... it'd all be lost. You have to have Sam, stumbling and fumbling and trying so so earnestly, to tell the story. You HAVE to have that voice... and so... I can only imagine that once I hit upon Sam telling the story, there was no turning back. Sam tells the story of his friend, and along the way, he adds in Tycho's journals and the Bishop's letters. And there you go.
Best wishes folks.
In May, I ran a giveaway for print copies of Close Your Eyes on Goodreads, and I was super-excited to mail 8 copies to the winners in the United States.
But - I wanted some fellow Canadians to have the book as well - so, there is currently a paperback giveaway open for readers in Canada:
The idea of getting print copies into peoples' hands thrills me somehow - something about knowing that their copy of my book might sit on their bookshelf for years with other favourite titles... it's really a powerful thought.
So, I am very excited to do this again, and, due to my pandemic-inspired (and strange!) "painting rocks" hobby, there were a few surprises in the last batch of books I sent to the contest winners, and there likely will be again for this set of winners!
Errrr... not those ones though!!! Those are some of the ones which have been on my front lawn for a couple years now! Just posting that picture as an example of how fun this can be.
I'm Chris Tomasini.