Wednesday, May 18, 2011

BOOK SIGNINGS -- 1, 2, 3, GIVE BACK!

By Debby Giusti

Since a number of Seekerville writers are newly published or close to publication, I thought I’d offer advice on how a book signing can be a win-win for everyone involved.

Ever ask published authors what they think about book signings? They probably groaned and mentioned sitting for hours as people passed by, trying to avoid eye contact lest they have to buy a book.

Fortunately, that doesn’t happen at Omega Book Center in Peachtree City, Georgia. Karen Duncan owns the independent book store in town and has a gift for making everyone feel at home.

Her biggest competition is a glitzy Books-A-Million located just a few miles away in a larger, more upscale shopping area, but folks -- at least the folks who like to read -- know Karen provides not only a vast assortment of books to buy but also suggestions about new authors and new reads specially geared to interest her customers. That’s a service you don’t find at the larger chain book stores.

Lesson #1: Find an independent bookseller in your local area.

Debby with bookseller Karen Duncan
Karen hosted my first signing and each one since then. Plus, she always has copies of my latest releases on hand so when readers ask me where to find my books, I send them to Omega Book Center.

Lesson #2: The local bookseller is an author’s best friend.


Karen knows when people enter her store looking for one book, they usually leave with two or three in hand, and that’s good for business. Plus, readers enjoy meeting authors so she's always eager to host events and scheduled my first signing long in advance of the release of NOWHERE TO HIDE, in 2007.

I have to admit feeling a bit awkward about asking folks to buy my book for that first signing. After all, I’m a writer, not a salesman. I didn’t want the event to be about me, but about the community that had supported me and my family over the years.

Lesson #3: Find a way to give back.

Tracie Russo, a young woman in my area, had a brain tumor and needed surgery, but she didn’t have medical insurance and lacked funding for the operation. As soon as I learned of her situation, I decided to donate the proceeds from the NOWHERE TO HIDE signing to her medical fund.

I was amazed at the number of people who attended the event. A long line quickly formed, and a steady stream of readers mingled in the store as they waited patiently to buy my book. Some folks pulled out their checkbooks and made personal donations. Others bought multiple copies of my book to give to friends and to also help Tracy.

Tracy's mom accepts a donation from Debby.
 Because Tracy’s need was great, I donated the proceeds from my second book signing to her as well. Although my efforts to help were small compared to larger fundraisers in the area, Tracy and her mom appreciated every donation.  Tracy had her surgery, went on to earn a degree in education and has a bright future ahead of her.

Debby donates book to soldiers going to Iraq.
I wrote MIA: MISSING IN ATLANTA when my son was deployed for his second tour in Iraq and dedicated the book to the brave men and women in uniform. For every book purchased at that signing, I donated a free copy of MIA to the military. Each person who bought a book inscribed a bookplate thanking soldiers for their service to our country, and the bookplates were then glued onto the inside back covers.

A few days later, I took the cases of books to the Atlanta airport and gave them to Hartsfield’s military liaison. He, in turn, passed them out to the soldiers boarding flights to the Middle East. The books provided reading material on the long flight, and I'm sure the handwritten thanks lifted the spirits of the soldiers heading off to war.

Pat Rosenbach, left, holds a photo of her friend, Eva.
 When Peachtree City resident Pat Rosenbach told me about her friend, Eva Logan, who died of Von-Hippel Lindau Disease, I knew VHL would play into my next book. PROTECTING HER CHILD is about a mother and her estranged daughter, who may have the genetically acquired disease. Proceeds from that signing went to VHL Connections, an information and support foundation for those suffering from VHL.

Kathy McMullin started Embracing Military Families to help the children of deployed soldiers.

CHRISTMAS PERIL, featuring my novella YULE DIE, came out in December 2009 and benefited Embracing Military Families, an organization that provides Christmas toys to children of service members stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, who are deployed to the Middle East.

The economy was on a downturn when KILLER HEADLINE came out last year. Many folks rely on our local food pantry to get by so that book signing helped the St. Vincent de Paul Society that provides food and financial aid to those in need.


I’m signing THE OFFICER’S SECRET tomorrow night at Omega Book Center and donating the proceeds to Bridget O’Connell, a nine-year-old with end-stage kidney disease. Bridget is on the National Transplant Registry awaiting a kidney and needs financial help to make that operation possible.

In hopes of drawing a good crowd, I mailed 200 postcards to local readers and submitted press releases to newspapers and radio stations. In addition, I’ve mentioned Bridget on a number of blogs. My hope is that people will open their hearts and their checkbooks to this adorable fourth grader who wants to be a chef when she grows up.

Lesson #4: Publicity helps the writer, the charity and the bookseller.

Omega Book Store is taking phone orders for THE OFFICER’S SECRET and promises to ship the book anywhere in the U.S. Call 770-487-3977 to order your autographed copy and help Bridget. To donate to her tax-exempt medical fund, go to the NTAF Southeast Kidney Transplant Fund and type in Bridget O’Connell.

Tomorrow will be a fun night. Karen always provides refreshments, and I’ll have a drawing for a military-themed gift basket. Wish you could be there.

Share the ways you give back or ideas to turn a ho-hum book signing into a win-win event for all. Leave your email address to enter today’s drawing! I’m giving away 5 copies of THE OFFICER’S SECRET.

The coffee’s hot. So is the tea. Grab a plate and help yourself to the breakfast buffet--eggs, bacon, ham, biscuits, hash browns, fresh fruit and, of course, grits.


Wishing you abundant blessings,
Debby Giusti                                
http://www.debbygiusti.com/
http://www.ladiesofsuspense.blogspot.com/
http://www.crossmyheartprayerteam.blogspot.com/

120 comments :

  1. Debby, your compassion for others and efforts on their behalf are admirable and inspiring. Keep up the good work.

    You know, I would dearly love to put your tips into practice. But I gotta have book first!?!?!?!?

    Coffee galore at the coffee bar.

    Helen

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  2. Debby, you are simply amazing!!!!

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  3. What great ideas for a signing. Like you, I can't imagine myself "selling" a book I've written - although I can sell other people's books with no problem. But you've found a way to put others first in your sales! I'll certainly keep that in mind when I get to that point!

    Don't enter me in the drawing - The Officer's Secret is sitting on the top of my TBR pile.

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  4. I love the ideas here. I have only been to signings for cricket books and mostly there was a big turn out. One I went past and the player was on his own and I ended up with his book and the photo (and the book is still unread)
    But I would love to go to a signing and as I volunteer at the local christian bookshop I could see how it would help. I got so excited meeting an Aussie author who was just visiting and came to check the shop out and from that visit have read at least one of her books and have more to read and recommended them and a few other books I read to customers and they have sold.
    So I can see having a small bookshop supporting your signing would work well.
    I also love the giving back I am sure all recipients appreciate it.

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  5. Debby,

    wow.
    God is faithful.
    Thank you for WHO you ARE, lady! Outstanding.

    So many good ideas. :)

    One thing I decided 1-1/2 years ago, was to help a local company called Joshua's Pet Treat Bakery. This has now blossomed into a partnership of sorts, where May the K9 Spy has a mention of her fave flavor, chicken (REALLY!) in the book and then an ad/order form in the back.

    The company was formed by the amazing, marvelous Mom of Joshua. He is now about 20, with severe Down Syndrome. He loves his dogs though, and Lois thought this would be a way for him to have meaningful work. Not only is the Lord blessing their business, but they now provide meaningful work for other adults with disabilities in our area.

    We hope May on the Way will be a blessing not only to those who read it, but also to those who order some tasty biscuits for their four-footed buddies. :)

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  6. Hi Eva Maria,
    Thanks for being the first to stop by the blog. Remember to leave your email to be included in the drawing.

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  7. Hi Helen,

    Thanks for manning the coffee pot. I'm sipping my first cup. Will wait til mid-morning for breakfast.

    Helen, you're getting close. It's time to think about your first signing. Get to know your local bookseller. Talk to her about your goal to publish. She'll be cheering you on, just as we are in Seekerville.

    Hugs!

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  8. Hi Jan,

    Thanks for getting my book. Cyber hugs headed your way!

    The giving back idea works for me and allows me to focus on the charity or person in need and, at the same time, helps me get my book into the readers' hands.

    I hope other ideas will be presented today. Ruthy recently had a great signing in a store that provided inspiration for her June release.

    Mary and Julie do big events with lots of authors so, hopefully, they'll provide other book signing tips.

    Stay tuned...

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  9. Debby, you're using your books not only to give God glory but also to do His work. God bless you! I know He has.

    Our independant bookstore went out of business two years ago. Then the used bookstore that hosted a signing and carried my books just went out of business. These stores were such a blessing to me. I'm hoping to find another store that will carry my books on the shelves.

    My question: How do you donate your books' profits from a signing? Does the bookstore owner agree to give up her profits? Or are you providing the books?

    Janet

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  10. Ausjenny,

    You brought up a good point about having a personal connection with an author.

    Until I moved to Georgia, I had never met a published author. Anne Rivers Siddons came to Omega Books shortly after I arrived. She was delightful.

    Another author spoke at a military wives' function in the area and signed her books following her talk. She told me about Georgia Romance Writers and encouraged me to join the group, which I did.

    I learned so much from GRW and am grateful for the encouragement I received early on from both authors that helped to get me started.

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  11. KC, how wonderful!

    You and Lois have hit on a win-win situation that helps both your books and her pet bakery. That partnership will reap so many blessings, I'm sure.

    And what a lovely story about Lois and her son, which could be turned into an article for a regional magazine or perhaps one of the Chicken Soup books.

    Plus, your books will help her business, and Lois will, no doubt, plug your stories in her shop.

    Perfect. I know your readers will love the connection, as well.

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  12. Janet,

    What a shame about your booksellers going out of business. Unfortunately, that seems to be all too common.

    Karen, at Omega Books, was worried about her business when the small grocery in her strip mall closed. Only recently a Fresh Market opened and that's improving traffic in her area.

    The readers in town are faithful. We want her to stay in business. That's why when folks ask, I always tell them to shop at Omega Books!

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  13. Debby,

    All the stories are heart-warming, but the 4th-grader wanting to grow up to be a chef really got to me. I have a 5th grader.

    For my photo history book, I had the Fairmount Historical Museum purchase the books with the author discount (since they co-authored by providing some photos) and then helped them sell them so they received the profit.

    I've also donated a few copies for local charity auctions.

    I'd love to win your book.

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

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  14. Cathy,
    Great partnering and a way to spread the word about your local museum.

    Plus, what better place to attract readers who love history.

    You're in the drawing. Thanks for leaving your email!

    Didn't you sign at a local event in your town? Some type of special day? That would be a perfect fit for your book, as well.

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  15. Wow, Debby, what a wonderful way to look at book signings. And bless you for plugging independently owned bookstores. I have two in my area -- one Christian -- and I give them all my business. As you say, they provide a personal touch that can't be found in the big chain stores.

    Please don't enter me in the draw. I bought The Officer's Secret already. Read it and loved it! Keep writing!

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  16. Wow, Debby! I'm so impressed but not surprised. Wonderful post! Thank you.

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  17. I wish I could just get my book published. :( Thanks for the contest, please enter me.

    Joyce
    http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

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  18. Hey, Debbie! I'll take eggs, bacon, hash-browns, biscuit, gra- Hey! Where's the gravy? Oh and hot tea and a glass of orange juice. OJ is on me today. ;-)

    Atlanta, huh? you're too far for me to make the trip and just close enough to tease me. NOT fair, Debbie! :D

    What a great post. Totally enjoyed it. Thanks for all you do!

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  19. Kav,
    Thanks for your kind words about THE OFFICER'S SECRET!

    I love Christian book stores. Always find my favorite authors there...like all the Seeker gals! That's where I'll go to buy one title and come out with three or four books in hand. Plus some notepaper and a devotional and...

    You get the idea! :)

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  20. Debby,

    God bless you for using the gift He gave you to give back.

    I’m not published, yet, so I don’t have a personal story. But the Navy Museum, here at the Navy Yard, opens its doors to authors in some creative ways. They have a series of “lunchtime lectures” where authors of books related to the Navy give a brief presentation on the subject of their book. Then there is a period where they can sell and sign their book to those interested. As the name implies, this all takes place during the lunch hour, but brings individuals from all the commands on base and off base, as well.

    A couple years ago the Museum started “American Girl Day” and for a Saturday hundreds of girls and their parents swarm the Yard for a variety of activities and to get their “American Girl” books signed by the authors and a chance to win an American Girl doll. The museum invites numerous military women to attend and talk to the girls about their service. The authors sell tons of books, the Museum gets exposure, and hopefully the Navy and Marine Corps get future recruits, or at least future supporters. :o)

    --Kirsten
    kanavyhist[at]aol[dot]com

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  21. Beautiful way your books--and your life--bless so many, Debby!

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  22. What a tremendous way to use your writing to help others! I have wondered about the book signing but since I'm no where near publishing yet, I haven't given it much thought.

    Thank you for some great ideas!

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  23. WOW, DEB, GOD BLESS YOU IS RIGHT!!! What a FABULOUS way to help others!!!

    I do not care for book signings personally, but WOW ... this puts a WHOLE new spin on them, girl, and I can't think of a better reason to have them, seriously.

    God bless you and everyone your books touch, my friend.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  24. Debby,

    We did a book signing at the town library and the profits went to the historical museum.

    One thing, as a practical matter, making money in books is tough. Have you found your generosity in helping others by giving the sales to charity has paid off in other ways?

    I know some people close to me felt I should have made a better deal for myself rather than about $1,500 I ended up giving to charity, through book sales. I was torn because the book was a lot of work and the most sales were made that first night at the local signing.

    Just wondering how you balance things for the bottom line. If we don't keep some for ourselves, we go out of business. :(

    Cathy

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  25. Debby, love all those photos too. AND, especially, thank you for your support of the military, MOST especially your amazing son. Thank you.

    Our SCBWI group just posted this and it would seem to affect any of us who have or intended to use Facebook for giveaways, etc. sigh https://www.facebook.com/promotions_guidelines.php

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  26. Oops! I see it's Debby. Sorry! I know what it's like to have my name constantly spelled wrong, so I try to be sensitive about that with others. :D

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  27. Oh wow, Debby.
    My eyes are all misty from this amazing post - and your generosity.
    I'd never thought of book signings becoming a way to further our writing ministries.
    Thank you for sharing, not only with Seekerville, but with the hundreds of lives you've touched.
    Wow!
    This is booksigning at a whole new level!

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  28. Wow, Debby. You are so NICE.
    I am humbled and shamed....which is what you were going for, I'm sure.
    These are such beautiful ideas.

    I just usually go hoping to sell a lot of books.

    Guilt is eating wrinkles into my face right now. I hope you're HAPPY!!!

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  29. You are so sweet, Debby. Sigh. I haven't done anything like this! Marketing gets overwhelming to me real fast, and I don't really like to do many book signings, just because of the time factor and the iffiness of the effectiveness of them. And to be honest, I've never really thought about giving away the proceeds. How does that work? Does the book store give away their profits? Because I don't make money off book signings, not directly. I am clueless.

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  30. Thanks for sharing today, Debby. What heart-warming stories!

    As far as ideas for booksignings, I think anything interactive would help it be more successful. A lot of people are intimidated by the unknown, and they definitely don't want to feel singled out by approaching a book table to talk to a stranger.

    When I get to that point in my career (positive thinking!!!) I'd probably try to choose something fun (thematic with my book, if possible) to help create a relaxed, approachable table.

    Please enter me in the giveaway!
    -Emily

    hendrickson_emily(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  31. Hi Jessica!

    Always great to see you on the blog!

    Loved seeing you at last year's RWA book signing! Such a fantastic event. The books are donated by the publishers, and the money raised goes to help literacy...to help teach adults to read. A great give back!

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  32. Joyce,

    Everyone in Seekerville wants to help you publish. You've come to the right blog, for sure.

    So many writers who visit Seekerville are winning contests, and editors are requesting their manuscripts, and folks are critiquing online and meeting in coffee shops across the country and taking lessons learned here and applying them to their own stories.

    We like to share the wealth, so to speak...or at least good writing tips.

    And once you visit, you're part of the Seekerville family.

    Remember perseverance--and a lot of luck--pay off in this business.

    Hugs.

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  33. Linnette,

    Sorry, I forgot to mention gravy! It's there, on the breakfast cart, right behind the grits!

    Thanks for the OJ!

    BTW, Georgia Romance Writers holds a great conference in Atlanta each year called Moonlight and Magnolias. Lots of editors and agents and great workshops on all genres and writing techniques.

    Charlene Patterson, from Bethany House, will be there. Check out the info at www.georgiaromancewriters.org.

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  34. Kirsten,

    Thanks for the great info about what the Navy Shipyard is doing for writers and readers!

    Love both programs.

    Oh my gosh, the American Girl Day must be a hit with so many young ladies! Be sure to let us know close to the time so we can provide information to writers and readers living in the DC area.

    I want to go!

    Isn't it interesting to hear how organizations promote literacy and authors across the country. Some in small ways. Some in large ways. But all do so much good.

    I hope it won't be too much longer before you're one of the authors speaking and signing at the lunchtime lectures. :) We will celebrate in Seekerville!

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  35. Hi Glynna!

    It's cold in GA...still. Feels like I'm living in your part of the country instead of the sunny South!

    Bet you're warmer than I am today. Even have a little heat on in the bedrooms. Amazing!

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  36. Christine,

    The time to think about what you'll do once you get The Call is before you get The Call.

    You're doing so much by being a regular on Seekerville. This blog has a huge following so your name and picture is going out across the country...hey, even to other countries. (Waving to Ausjenny!)

    Get to know booksellers. Plan how you can partner with others, such as KC is doing. Brainstorm a tagline or logline. Consider your author brand.

    The more you do now, the easier it will be later!

    Remember the fable about the hare and the tortoise. I've always been the tortoise, but I did eventually sell. You will too!!!

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  37. Debby,

    Below is the information for the "Girls Make History Day." It is a HUGE hit around here.

    It's free. It's fun. It's next to NCIS (Just a sidebar. You can't bug Gibbs if you come).

    10:00am Girls Make History
    Sat, June 25, 10am – 5pm

    National Museum of the United States Navy

    Do you have an American Girl enthusiast at home? Join us on June 25, 2011 for a fun filled day of activities as we explore the history of the time periods your child’s favorite American Girl characters lived in. Please check the Museum’s website at www.history.nav​y.mil/NMUSN for additional information as the event gets closer.

    RSVPs are NOT required this year…looking forward to seeing you there!

    --Kirsten

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  38. Hi Julie!

    By focusing on a special need, I get excited and energized. I'm praying we'll have a big turnout tomorrow for Bridget. She'll be there along with her mom and dad. I met Grandma and Grandpa yesterday. They're excited, too!

    People are generous and caring, but often they don't know how to help. I like to provide a way for them to make a difference.

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  39. How wonderful, Debby!

    Making a book signing into a charity event would make it so much better! Will keep that in mind for future reference.

    Thanks.

    Cheers,
    Sue
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

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  40. A lady in my church, who has a large family and has a hard time making ends meet, came up to me yesterday and slipped some money into my hand. She explained she wouldn't be able to attend the signing but wanted to help Bridget.

    Of course, the story of the widow's mite from scripture came to mind, and I was deeply touched by her generosity.

    Just a few minutes earlier, I had been thinking about providing a large plastic jar into which folks could drop their personal donations. I told the lady her money would be the first donation in the jug.

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  41. Cathy, good for you donating your sales to the museum, but as you mentioned, everyone can't make that type of a financial sacrifice.

    Hubby and I believe in tithing, so the donation works for me. Plus, the folks in my local community spread the word about my books to their friends and family members across the country.

    I once heard an editor talk about having a big base of readers in one area and how that pays off as good news always spreads.

    Plus, it allows me to help someone else and, in my opinion, that's worth far more than money.

    Again, I'm blessed because I can do it. I'm not the breadwinner of my family. I'm not a single mom trying to make ends meet.

    Paraphrasing Luke 12:48: To whom much has been given, much is required. God has blessed me abundantly, and for that reason, I want to give back.

    But there are other ways to make a book signing special and to give back.

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  42. Hi KC,
    Interesting messsage from Facebook. I'll let Tina, our wonderful Web guru, sort it out! :)

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  43. Linnette,
    Never worry about spelling my name wrong. When I married hubby, I became a Giusti, and you can imagine how often that's spelled wrong.

    BTW, some folks ask how to pronounce Giusti...

    Think of JUICE and TEA to remember me.

    JUICE TEA!

    It's that easy!

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  44. Hi Pepper!

    Now you've got me tearing up!

    When I was trying to find the pictures for the blog post yesterday, I kept thinking of all the people in the photos.

    They're the ones who are doing good things and being strong and fighting hard.

    My part was just to get the word out.

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  45. No guilt, Mary. And no wrinkles.

    I know how much you do for others. Often behind the scenes. I'm the one with wrinkles.

    Hugs.

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  46. Melanie,
    Check out Kirsten's info about the American Doll Day in DC. You need to tie in with teenage girls.

    Maybe someone can provide suggestions.

    One author had story about a wedding and her daughter wore her wedding dress and stood near mama during the signing.

    Another gal I know had her son dress in a period costume when she signed her historical.

    I go by the number of books sold and not how much I would earn on those sales, if that helps. And then I add the amount I want to personally donate to help the charity or person.

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  47. Perfect, Emily!

    You're so right. Adding something special to the signing that gets the customers involved is always good!

    Mary Connealy hands out a little gift to the readers...a bookmark, a recipe, something that draws them to her table and breaks the ice.

    Mary, if you stop back, talk about what you do at your signings, okay?

    BTW, Emily, did you check the Sunday edition of Seekerville? Hint. Hint.

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  48. Kirsten, thanks for providing the info!

    I'm passing it along to Tina!

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  49. Hi Susan,

    Glad you like the idea. Use it and be abundantly blessed! :)

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  50. Debby, this is amazing. And your photos were so touching! You've had some great ideas.

    I'm doing a signing Saturday. I wish I'd thought to plan ahead for something like this. It's a Arts Festival. Maybe I can still figure out something even though I can't advertise ahead.

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  51. What a wonderful, insightful post!

    Thanks for the inspiration.

    Peace, Julie

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  52. Missy, I know you'll have a wonderful signing and the festival will be so much fun!

    Take pictures. Turn them into a future blog! :)

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  53. Hi Julie,

    Remember you need to leave your email address to be included in the drawing!

    Hugs.

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  54. Debby, I was so blessed when reading your post today! I think a lot about how writing would be fun and exciting for me and even point others to God...but this takes it to another level. Your words reminded me that you can use your writing to connect in a personal way and be God's ambassador to those in need. What a great ministry! Thanks for sharing! I already have a copy of The Officer's Secret and can't wait to dive into it! : ) God bless! ~Stacey

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  55. What an inspiring idea, Deb! LOVE how you've used your writing in tangible ways to help others!

    I'd like to repeat Janet's question if I may. How do you arrange to donate the proceeds at a book signing, especially one held at a bookstore?

    Hoping to follow in your prolific--and very generous--footsteps!

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  56. Stacey, thanks for your sweet note!

    And for your comment today.

    Hugs!

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  57. I'll talk about what I do at signings, but remember it is all laced now with wretched guilt.

    I act like a greeter at the door. Which is sometimes tricky when I'm not near the door....but anyway.

    I go up to every person who comes in and I hold a bookmark in one hand and one of my books in the other. I extend the bookmark and say, "Can I offer you a bookmark?" They almost always take it. (keep in mind that I am always looking for a way to respond personally, break out of a memorized spiel)
    When they take teh bookmark I then say, "I'm doing a book signing here today." I extend the book to show them. If they reach for it, I certainly hand it over.
    I say, "Do you read Christian fiction?"
    If they say no it runs along these lines.
    I love to read but life is so hectic. (This is often a woman with a child in her arms and another clinging to her pant leg.)
    I say something like, "I remember these days. I didn't read a book for ten years when my children were young."
    And we maybe exchange a word or two about children.
    If the person shows ANY sign of needing to hurry or wanting to move on I back off.
    If the person says, "I only read the Bible."
    I congratulate her for being wise. (which she no doubt is)
    If she says, "Yes."
    I say, "who do you read."
    The answer is inevitably....Bev Lewis or Karen Kingsbury.
    I try to keep this very light. I usually say, "I get that a lot."
    I look for any opening to continue the conversation. I try to work in the words Romantic Comedy with Cowboys at some point. Or "I write historical western romance." Or I say, "I write Christian romance novels."
    This is by no means a memorized speech I'm giving.
    If it becomes a real conversation I always enjoy that. I talk with people who are writiing...at which point I guide them to my signing table and give them a Seekerville bookmark if I've had the presence of mind to bring them along.
    If they just want to visit I love it. I'm usually LONELY at these things. I try not to cling. :) You really do meet the nicest people on the planet in Christian bookstores. The people that shop there and the ones who work there.
    I try to say, "I think you'd like my books. I think they're a lot of fun."
    If they are leaning but takign a long time about it and I feel it's right, I'll say, "Would you like one? I can sign it to you personally."
    I usually get a yes at that point.
    sometimes they'll say, "I spend so much money on books."
    I'll say, "Well, of all the bad habits in the world, buying too many Christian books has got to be at the very bottom."
    I also sometimes say, "Have you got readers in your life who'd like a book? Signed books make nice gifts."

    So it goes.
    I also try to get to the store early and browse around myself. I try to always buy something myself in each store. (not hard!) And I try to familiarize myself with the store so if people ask me where the cards are, the fiction section, the devotions, the music....the bathroom...I can direct them. I might as well make myself useful.

    At the end I always ask the book store manager if she/he would like me to leave a few signed books behind. I ALWAYS ASK. The answer is usually a specific number.

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  58. Hi Myra,

    I wish my bookseller could join me in the donations, but she has a business to run and employees to pay, expenses, etc.

    I go by the number of books sold and not how much I would earn on those sales. And then I add in the amount I want to personally donate to the charity or person and write a check to cover both amounts.

    Additionally, I always have a "jug" available where customers can personally donate to the cause. It all adds up, and I'm usually pleasantly surprised by the number of folks who want to help the charity or person needing assistance.

    As I mentioned earlier, people want to help, and they're usually very generous.

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  59. Mary, thanks for taking us through that :)

    I have a fun question about book signings:

    Does anyone have a favorite writing instrument to sign with? For example, a blue sparkly gel pen, red ink pen, green marker, etc?

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  60. Debby, that's so cool how you helped so many people!

    What a great way to do book signings!

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  61. Thank you, Mary!!!

    Cut and paste Mary's info about book signings. Great insight into how to meet and greet the customers. Knowing the store, where the bathroom is, greeting folks as they walk in...all so, so good!

    And having a way to break the ice and start the conversation.

    Good idea to mention books being great gifts! I'm adding that to my own file, Mary.

    Thanking the bookseller at the end is important, too. I take flowers in for the signing and give them to Karen when it's over. (Note to self, I need to buy flowers tomorrow.) Then I send a handwritten thank you note to her after the event.

    Some folks take candy/chocolate for the employees, which is also a nice way to say thank you.

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  62. A good pen is important. Felt tips can become tiring to use, IMHO. As in hard to push across the page.

    I had a wonderful ballpoint brand that was perfect for signings, but they're no longer being manufactured.

    The gels sometimes go through to the next page.

    I like black ink.

    If you have a lot of books to sign, your hand can get tired so something that moves smoothly across the page is best.

    And you don't want ink to smear.

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  63. I write a personal note to everyone who buys a book, which takes time.

    I also have a chair next to me for the customer/reader to sit in while I sign his or her book.

    Readers write their name and email and phone number on a 3x5 card to be entered into the drawing for the gift basket. (One card for every book they buy.) They hand me the card as they sit down. That way I have the correct spelling for their name in front of me. That card then goes into the "hat." After the store closes for the night, I draw the winner and notify him or her by phone.

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  64. Signed by Author stickers are nice to have and can be ordered from a number of printing companies.

    Often authors will go together and buy them in bulk to cut down on the expense.

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  65. Hi Faye!

    Don't forget to leave your email to be included in the drawing!

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  66. Thanks for all the 'tips' Debby :)

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

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  67. Debby,

    LOL Cool! I had the pronouncement totally wrong. I'm sure you've heard "guys tea" (with a soft s) so many times you answer to it. But now I know! Juice Tea :D

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  68. You are so precious, Debby - - and what a beautiful servant's heart you have. Such a wonderful idea to use book-signing proceeds to give back and help others. I sure hope there will be a great turnout at your signing (would be there if I could *sigh*). ~ Am loving THE OFFICERS SECRET (almost finished with it--great story!). Blessings to you, sweet friend. Love, Patti Jo :)

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  69. I'm a reader; not a writer. (Well ... that being said, I DO write poetry for friends and family re special occasions, plus my Christmas card is actually an annual newsletter in verse.)

    I feel SOOOOO good when I share. We don't have much money, but I share lots of things. Whenever I bake, I take extra to my friends. In that way, it doesn't go bad, I can cook/bake something else sooner, and everyone enjoys a little bit at a time! (We don't overindulge, which is important at this stage in my life!) Whenever I'm given something (like toiletries in a hotel, street vendor freebies, toothbrushes, online freebies, etc.), I set the items I don't need/want aside for when I get together with my BFFs. We pool our resources several times a year, and then we make donations to a local teen pregnancy/abused women shelter with our extras. We share books and magazines, which then go to their mothers, and in turn to their mothers' retirement homes. Books are definitely the gift that keep on giving!

    It's good to keep authors' names (and book titles) "out there"! I have won their tote bags and love to use them at the grocery store, often sparking conversations with fellow shoppers! I have shared their pens and post-it notes. I will confess that one author sent me chocolate from England, and I only shared it with my husband (grin).

    seytype at hotmail dot com

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  70. I just use a regular pen. I've had bookstore owners prepared with a nifty sharpy or something fancy but my handwriting is so brutally bad I usually think the thinner line I make, the better chance the reader has of deciphering it.

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  71. One of my standard lines is, if they'd got a copy of Montana Marriages on the stack at the store, I'll pick it up and say, "Have you ever read Janette Oke's beautiful classic love story, Love Comes Softly. Inevitably they have or they've seen the movie."
    I say, "Montana Rose is my effort to write a book like Love Comes Softly. Only mine has mayhem and gunfire. I tried to get my publisher to call it Love Comes Hardly, but they wouldn't do it."

    I usually get a laugh out of that.

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  72. I did a book signing with Mary Lu Tyndall once and one of the lines we used a lot was, to men, "Do you have a woman in your life who's a reader? This would make a good gift for her."

    Except somehow, when cute little MaryLu said it, it always came out like she was hitting on them.

    "So, are you married or involved with anyone?"

    As if she was applying for the job.
    Then we'd tease MaryLu unmercifully.

    No one thought I was flirting with them. :)

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  73. Eva Marie... can I say I have a special pen I'm going to use to sign my first book one day?

    A beautiful jade and onyx Waterman that was a graduation gift years ago. They knew back then I was a writer =)

    I love how much I learn here on Seekerville, thank you all so much.

    Of course I'm already picturing my "hat" for reader names. A reproduction Thracian gladiator helmet ;-)

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  74. Debby, your compassion is so inspiring!!! You are truly an outstanding person! Please enter me in the drawing. I still hope to get a call through, however, to order and benefit Bridget. Live too far (but in GA) to be there, but pray it all goes great!! Thanks and blesings on you!
    jackie.smith[at]dishmail[dot]net

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  75. Brava Debby:

    If you were not such a good romance author, I think you could write marketing books. You would be a dream client for a marketing agency.

    From a marketing POV, 95% of the value of a book signing is in the free publicity it can provide an author.

    A book signing might only produce two vaid prospects for the authors books and yet be a great marketing success. How? The news of the book signing was in the major newspaper in the book section, the “News You Can Use” section, the “What’s on Tap" section, the Saturday Magazine, and the Women’s Page. There was also a mention in several weekly papers in the suburbs. Two radio stations carried an interview and the tv morning show also carried an interview at 5:30 am. Flyers were posted in the libraries.

    The notice of the book signing was exposed to over 150,000 people. Some of these saw the notice several times. Each notice should include the author's name, book title, and book genre.

    What’s more important: two people coming to your book signing (or say 50) or having tens of thousands of people read about your new book and associate your name with the type of books you write?

    From the looks of it, you have been doing better at getting publicity than even I would have!!!

    I think the key here is your #3: Finding a way to give back. It’s like the miracle of the bread and fishes. I’ve heard it said that ‘virtue is its own reward’ and I’d say your experience proves this.

    After seeing all the good you do, I think I now know why God blessed you with what I think is your best book yet! The Officer’s Secret.

    Brava again!

    Vince

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  76. Hi Debby & Missy:

    Debby you suggested that Missy take pictures of her upcoming book signing for a future post. I also have a request.

    I’d like Missy to do a post explaining how her video interview with “The Borrowed Book” was put together.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er4nuH9htBo&feature=player_embedded#at=14

    I think this is the new state-of-the-art. When you do a book review, you also include a video interview. I’d love to learn how to do this and then do it on my site.

    And Debby: wouldn’t it be nice if you had some videos of these book signing to link to for this post?

    I can 'see' that video right now:

    “How to Conduct a Purposeful Book Signing” by Debby Giusti.

    Vince

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  77. I didn't know about your wonderful booksignings!

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  78. Hi Patti Jo!

    We need to meet for lunch soon!

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  79. Enjoyed your post, Debby. I so agree with you. The most satisfying book signings were immediately after some humanitarian need when I donated the proceeds from the Chicken Soup books and a few other anthologies to Mercy Corps. And the sales of books were higher than, too. It seems some readers more readily buy when they know they are contributing to something worthwhile at the same time.
    Pat

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  80. Laney,
    We LOVE readers in Seekerville! Thanks for sharing how you give back.

    Using author totes in the grocery is great promo for your favorite authors!

    And I love how you recycle magazines. Wonderful. And pool resources to help the teen pregnancy and abuse shelter.

    We have a pregnancy center not far from where I live...great idea for another book signing. :)

    Also, how sweet of you to share some of your baked goodies. Ruthy usually keeps us stocked with yummy sweets here in Seekerville, but she hasn't stopped by today. Of course, she is one busy lady! And she has a sick father-in-law who could use our prayers.

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  81. Well, Mary, I wrote a reply to your comments and blogger ate it.

    I'll try to repeat myself...

    I giggled reading how MaryLu tried to pick up men at a Christian book store.

    And handwriting? After a couple hours of signing, I'm not even sure I can write! ;)

    Love your tie in with Janette Oke. Good line. Maybe I'll write a suspense titled Death Comes Softly and we can market them as a trilogy...an Oke and a Connealy and a Giusti. I think it has potential! :)

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  82. Good for you, Nancy, with your pen in hand and ready to sign your debut novel. I like that confidence, and writing takes confidence so pat yourself on the back.

    Love your "hat" idea, too!!!

    (Nancy, leave your email to be included in the drawing!)

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  83. Jackie S!

    You are too, too sweet. A Southern belle, for sure. Did you have some grits this morning?

    Wish you could be at the signing. Too bad we don't live closer!

    Hugs.

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  84. Vince,
    Seekerville needs to hire you to be our publicist! Are you interested?

    Great explanation of how to get the most bang out of press release and signing.

    And thanks for your kind words about THE OFFICER'S SECRET. I have tried to email you a number of times to tell you how much I appreciated the review you did on your blog, but the email always comes back. Thank you for such an in-depth analysis of the story and the themes. One of your comments was confirmation about something I've been considering for some time so thank you from the bottom of my heart!

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  85. Vince, more great ideas!

    I'll email Missy and give her your suggestion for a future blog topic. And...my daughter has a camera that takes video footage. Not sure what the camera is called. It's new and little and the video can be downloaded to You Tube. I'll have her shoot some footage tomorrow night!

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  86. I can see how a good local fan base helps. With the author I met Christmas Eve we have become friends and she has been here since and It really helps to know her to sell her books. I think the last 4 times I have been on I have sold one of her books as well as a couple of other Aussie books thanks to the meeting.
    Because of meeting her we ended up included in the readers choice judging of the Aussie Caleb awards which has lead to my reading a few extra Aussie books I can now recommend also. We now have quite a few aussie books at the shop but As Mary mentioned alot of Karen Kingbury and Bev Lewis. We have also a few Janette Oke but we dont have alot of the others (although I keep suggesting really good books to get in) But having met Paula I feel good to help promote her books.
    Here Christian books and mainline books are in different shops You will not find many Christian fiction in a main stream bookshop here which is a pity so if the big shops like Koorong or Word have a signing you have the christian readers coming (and others who are interested) and its advertised well. I just am never in the city to get to a signing or event.

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  87. Nancy, I love that you have a pen in the waiting! :)

    Mary, that story about MaryLu is hilarious!

    Vince, thanks for sharing that video about Missy!

    And Debby, I agree with Vince I would love to see one about your book signing! Good luck with it! :)

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  88. Debby, I love how you use all that God has gifted you with to bless others! You're an inspiration.

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  89. Just wanted you to know that you are my very favorite author! Love your books!! Good luck with your signing tomorrow! We will be thinking about you!

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  90. Hey, Vince. I just got back from choir practice and saw your question. Thanks for asking about the video.

    Elizabeth emailed me the questions. I used iMovie on my Mac to video each answer on the built in camera and put each in a separate file. Then I exported each one and emailed it to her. She did her magic on her end using iMovie to insert her question clips and make it into a movie.

    You can also use iMovie to import videos taken on a digital camcorder. The program has a great tutorial. This was the first time I'd even used it. It's really cool and easy to use.

    Getting the takes to turn out right is another story! LOL You wouldn't believe how many times I had to do each one over! And then once I had a few I thought I could use, my kids had a hey day making fun of them. :)

    What would we do without children to keep us humble??

    :)

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  91. LOVE this post, and love this site. You women are so inspiring!!!

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  92. Hi Pat,
    So glad you could be with us today. And thanks for sharing how you gave back!

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  93. Thanks, Ausjenny, for explaining how book stores operate Down Under!

    So Christian and secular books don't mix. Interesting.

    Aren't you nice to promote the authors you know. That's why writers love booksellers. You're right there when the customer wants to find a good book or a new author.

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  94. Hi Renee Ann!

    Thanks for being with us today! Isn't it great to be able to share ideas!

    I always learn so much from Seekerville!

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  95. Thanks, Liz!

    So glad you could stop by Seekerville this evening.

    Hugs!

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  96. Oh my gosh, Missy! You're amazing! And you did all that by yourself? No help from your techy son?

    I'm impressed!

    Good job.

    Thanks for sharing the how-to!

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  97. Hi Virginia,

    So glad you're part of the Seekerville family! You inspire us!

    Hugs!

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  98. I just put the gift basket together for the signing. It's red, white and blue and loaded with lots of fun gifts, including a patriotic beach towel and beach books!

    Still need to make labels for the small notebooks I'll give away along with my Writers Prayer and Prayer for Our Military.

    I'll let you know how everything turns out!

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  99. It is interesting here. We have big Christian books stores the two biggest are Koorong and Word which have all sorts of Christian books and dvd's cds and the gifts etc. You will find a tiny selection in some secular book stores but not that many. I have to say alot even country people will buy either online or wait till they visit the city to buy the books as the bookshop here has such a small range. I get so frustrated when they keep buying the same author because a few books like Karen Kingsbury. We have a few here who love her buy all her books only problem is they have all her books so they then buy all her books and several copies again the problem is they then sit on the shelf. The same with Beverly Lewis. Its good to have some of there books but we need to have others at least now have a range of aussie books which are selling really well. We have a few heartsong presents books which are now about 8 or 9 years old but instead of selling them cheaper and getting some newer ones. I have been asked for suggestions at times I did get some Gilbert Morris books into the store and Robin Jones Gunn. I wish we could get some of the other titles as we have readers who are searching for more fiction and they then tend to go to the city stores or like me online to christianbook.

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  100. Ausjenny,
    What's your closest big city?

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  101. Thanks Debby!
    I just took my pen out and looked at it =)

    nancykimball@hotmail.com

    While I'm at it, can I get my name in the hat for the weekly 5 page critique? I'm also wondering if it's a cowboy hat, a top hat, Captain Jack's hat, or a hat of zeroes and ones. ;-)

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  102. Nancy, glad you left your email! Also glad you're admiring your pen. A Waterman. Oh my, how nice!

    I'm not sure about the hat. We'll have to ask Tina! :)

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  103. for me its Adelaide which is about 3 and a half hours by car (5 by bus) although alot will go to Melbourne which is around 5 hours by car further by bus but I do like Melbourne.

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  104. Thank you for all that you do to help others. It is amazing how many people you can touch by telling your story. And how many you can help just by listening. Thank you for doing everything you can to help others. And thank you and your son for his service and sacrifice for or country. Military and their families deserve all or thanks.

    Hilleary
    hillpeterson@yahoo.com

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  105. Hi Debby:

    My email is vmres (at) swbell (dot) net. Tina can always get word to me if there is a problem.

    I have to learn how to do the iMovie thing but I have only PCs. I’ll check into it tomorrow.

    I have a FLIP camera but I have not put it to use. My laptop also has a camera in it.

    Computers have changed so much, as I have. It used to be I’d want things that cost too much to afford and now I have features on my computer that I don’t have time to learn how to use.

    Did you write:

    ”And handwriting? After a couple hours of signing, I'm not even sure I can write!"

    OMG! What a problem to have. The only book signing I’ve been to with that many buyers was Louis L’Amour’s. I think I need to come to your next book signing and observe the master. : )

    Vince

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  106. So great to see that authors like to give copies of their books as much as we like receiving them lol

    leanne_gag[at]hotmail[dot]com

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  107. Thank you for the story of the beautiful Bridget O'Connell. I've just come back from the NTAF site where I made a donation in her name. You both touched my heart.

    Bless you for your generosity.

    I, too, love this site.

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  108. You are a true blessing to so many people, Debby!
    jilian2011@hotmail.com

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  109. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraMay 19, 2011 at 7:48 AM

    What a great cause! I will be calling to order a few copies of your book to help out!!

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  110. Ausjenny, hubby and I had dear friends in the military from Melbourne. I'd love to go to Australia some day. :)

    My neighbor is from New Zealand. Another country I'd like to visit.

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  111. Thanks, Hilleary.

    I am proud of my son and all the men and women in uniform. They deserve our support...and need our prayers.

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  112. Thanks for the correct email, Vince. I had typed vince@sw....

    The flip camera. That's what my daughter has. Hoping it works tonight. I'll let you know.

    As I mentioned, the folks in my local area are very supportive. ;)

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  113. Hi Leanne,

    Getting books into readers' hands is the best thing any author can do to promote his/her work.

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  114. Bless you, Anonymous, for making a donation to Bridget's transplant fund. I told her mother this morning about your kindness and she had tears in her eyes.

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  115. Jilian, I'm just glad I can help in some small way.

    Hugs!

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  116. Oh, Laura, thank you so much!!!

    I'm praying for everyone who buys a book, who reads the book, who visits this blog, who in part of the Seekerville family. Hope you feel the Lord's hand on you this week. You're wonderful.

    Much love. Many thanks.

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  117. Hi Debby:

    I don’t know if you’ll see this but last night I think I had a kind of holy nightmare!

    There was this beautiful music, and then the Grand Canyon came into view below me, and then a woman’s voice was saying: “Give me courage to step out in faith,” and then I jumped off the rim of the canyon with a hang glider on my back…and then I woke up!!!

    I don’t know how to hang glide!

    Did you do a video of “A Writer’s Prayer”? If you didn’t, I think you will. I already saw a part of it.

    Please have a woman use the hang glider.

    Vince

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  118. Vince,
    I'll remember your dream when I do the video!

    Maybe God is telling you something about taking a leap of faith.

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