Is it a form of Fatigue or Blindness?

Is it a form of fatigue or blindness?  Have you ever wondered why so often we fail to see the most blatant mistakes when proof reading our own work?  Is it a form of fatigue or blindness?  This was the question that I posed to my husband over dinner last night.  Is it fatigue born from having looked at the same piece literally hundreds of times, or is it blindness because our eyes and brains know what we intended to type and therefore assume it is what is on the paper without really looking?

This question arose last night as I was reviewing the promotional pieces I am working on for two upcoming literary festivals.  After not seeing any errors on my “final” review I (very smartly it seems) sent it to our committee members to have fresh eyes look at it. Wouldn’t you know it, the biggest error was on my husband’s listing as a sponsor – you would think I would check that, wouldn’t you?  Well, I thought I had but my eyes and brain were either too fatigued or too blind to see the error.   And apparently, this is a thing.  When I posed the fatigue vs blindness question to Rob he searched it on the internet and apparently other people have actually researched this topic.  (I’ll include a link to one of the articles he sent me later). 

But the good news is Fatigue and/or Blindness be darned we finished the proof read and the posters for The Walker Percy Weekend have been ordered and work is well underway on the brochures for both that event and The West Feliciana Children’s Book Festival.

Speaking of the children’s book festival be sure and gather your kiddos, or borrow some, or come by yourself, but whatever you do, be sure to join us in Parker Park on Saturday May 5 when we will once again have authors, illustrators, story tellers, facepainting, and a town wide sidewalk chalk art contest. This year will also add a storytime that teaches kids Yoga and Meditation, a visit from Alycat of the Alycat series of children’s books, a book drive with a fabulous prize to help the Women’s Service League replenish the Little Free Library at the Sports Park, and awesome activities from several other community groups (more info to come later).

So, here we go into a 45 day span with lots of literary activities in our town for both kids and adults and a lot more proof reading for me – at which I apparently do not excel.  But luckily I work with a group that is so talented in so many ways not the least of which is catching my mistakes before I print them on 1000 brochures.  (Just a thought, maybe I should have them proof read my blogs but I think my run on sentences, commas, and stream of consciousness writing style might have them running away and I really need them , so I better not ask.)

Here’s that article Rob found: “Why it’s so hard to catch your own typos” https://www.wired.com/2014/08/wuwt-typos/

Save the dates:

The Second Annual West Feliciana Children’s Book Festival is Saturday May 5, 2018

And The Fifth Annual Walker Percy Weekend is the weekend of June 1-3, 2018

 

 

Newly discovered time for reading even more books!

I read at work, I read while waiting for meetings to start or friends to arrive at lunch.  I read while I eat, I read while I bathe and brush my teeth.  With all this reading going on you might not think that I could find a way to fit in even more “reading”, but I have found it! 

I now read while driving believe it or not!  And not in some crazy, unsafe, book in my lap, eyes off the road kind of way.  The Conundrum bookshop has now partnered with Libro.fm to offer an audiobook option to our customers.  I just plug my ipad or phone into the USB jack in my car and it plays over the car speakers.   This is a great additional resource for me, I’m in the car a lot!  As many of you know I split my time between New Orleans and St. Francisville each week which is about a two hour commute each way.  Until now I have filled that time with Satellite radio or singing show tunes but that can get a bit repetitive and the time drags.  Now I can’t wait to get back into the car to hear what happens next and the trip flies by in seemingly no time.   I spent some time trying the system out before sharing it with you guys listening to A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and all I have to say is that I was making up excuses to get back on the road.

Now, audiobooks will never replace paper for me, but I certainly appreciate that I have the option available to fill the time on the road while also hearing more terrific stories.  I try to stay abreast of current literature so I can speak knowledgeably to you guys when you come in the store and this just added at least 4 hours of “reading” time to my schedule each week without having to give up anything except a boring drive and repetitive music on the radio. 

Libro.fm works just like other audiobook companies.   By that I mean that you can either buy a monthly subscription that gets you one book at a great discount each month or you can buy individual books.  But unlike other audiobook companies Libro.fm partners with independent bookstores .  So if you are coming to a book club meeting at the store, or you come in to talk about and learn about new books,  but you know you are going to listen to them in your car; now your bookstore can “sell” them to you for the same price you would have paid that other company.  This partnership helps to keep bookstores like ours relevant in an ever digital world.   To learn more about Libro.fm or to sign up visit our website at:  http://www.conundrumbooks.com/audiobooks/ or go directly to our partner site at: https://libro.fm/conundrumbooks

So for those of you who find yourself driving to and from work, kid’s schools, running errands etc  you no longer have to listen to the same old, same old.  Use that time instead to step into worlds not yet explored or to learn something new.   I hope those of you inclined to audiobooks enjoy it ( I hope the rest of you come into the shop and buy a paper book ) but either way I have to go now because I am heading back to New Orleans and I just started Tangerine by Christine Mangan  so I really must find out how my new friends Lucy and Alice  are doing in 1950’s Tangier. 

 

It's Book Festival Season!

What an amazing literary town.  St. Francisville plays host to three different literary festivals each year and I get to participate in the planning of all three!   We are well underway planning for all of the 2018 events and you won’t want to miss these so pull out your calendar and mark off these dates.

First up we will have The Writers and Readers Symposium on February 17, 2018.  This event is in it’s eleventh season and is hosted by A Celebration of Literature and Arts.  This day long Saturday event brings together award winning authors from different genres to talk about their books and the craft of writing.  With such a diverse group of authors there is something for everyone.  This year’s featured presenters include :

Genaro Ky Ly Smith whose two novels The Land Baron’s Sun and The Land South of the Clouds have garnered much attention for both their subject matter and writing style.  The first book described as  “an elegant novel-in-verse, exploring the rise and fall and dispersal of a Vietnamese family across generations.”.  The second book serves as a companion piece and beautifully continues the story.  Mr. Smith will also lead a Writers Retreat and Workshop on Sunday Feb 18 at Greenwood Plantation 

Poet , essayist and scholar of French literature Catharine Savage Brosman will present poems from her newest book The Memory of Manaus as well as beloved favorites from her other works.

John R. Kemp will present his book Louisiana Expressions of Place.  This exquisite book is a collection of Louisiana landscapes by 37  contemporary Louisiana artists .  In this one book you will see an extraordinary grouping of work that truly express the varied beauty and style that is Louisiana. 

M.O.Walsh will present on his New York Times Bestselling novel My Sunshine Away.  Set in Baton Rouge this combination crime  novel meets coming of age story will keep you guessing until the very end at which time you still might continue guessing when you start to notice the stylistic nuances that make this book such a satisfying read.

Michael H. Rubin whose first novel The Cottoncrest Curse won the Indie Fab Gold award for best thriller by a small press has now written a second novel called Cashed Out and we are looking forward to another of Mr. Rubin’s fast paced, multi media presentations. 

And finally to close out the afternoon we will be honored with a presentation by Ernest J.  Gaines who will join us to talk about his new novel The Tragedy of Brady Sims.  In true Ernest Gaines fashion this novel set in Louisiana explores the lives , race relations and mores of small town life in Louisiana. 

 

Up next will be The Second Annual West Feliciana Children’s Book Festival.  Scheduled for Saturday May 6, 2018 this day in the park will once again feature lots of authors and storytellers reading to the children.  Illustrators giving demonstrations, face painting, craft projects and more.  Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

 

Then in early June our little town will once again be swamped with lovers of Southern Literature and culture as we celebrate The Fifth Annual Walker Percy Weekend.    We will again begin with an over the top soiree on Friday evening that will set the tone for a weekend of fun and literature.  The presentations on Saturday will bring in scholars and experts from around the country to discuss Walker Percy’s writing as well as that of other southern writers.  This year there will be an additional focus on the works of Shelby Foote.   As lifelong friends Walker Percy and Shelby Foote had a huge influence on literature in the south and on each other’s lives and works.   Saturday would not be complete with the now legendary Front Porch Tour and Bourbon Stroll which will be followed by a joyous,  delicious, and musical  crawfish boil downtown.  There are plenty of other surprises in store for attendees this year and All-Inclusive tickets now available at special early bird pricing, but buy them soon this price won’t last long.   As you know space is always tight for this event and a sellout is once again likely so get your tickets early.

I am so honored to be a part of each of these events and hope you will join us for one, two or even all three.  See you soon in St. Francisville!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two years...

Two years.  Two years of having the privilege to talk about books with both strangers and friends every day.  Two years of meeting authors and finding out that they are real people.  Two years of Storytime (which means 2 years of occasionally wearing a tiara in my role as Missy the Storytelling Princess – BONUS!).  Two years of attending book conferences with hundreds of other booksellers to share insights, ideas and hear about books coming out in the future.  Two years of publishers sending advance copies of books so I can read them before they are even released and be ready to knowledgeably share my thoughts on the book with our patrons (did not even know that happened before opening the store).  Two years of writing this blog and newsletter to try and share my experiences on this journey of a lifetime. 

There have been ups and downs, stress and joy, and more satisfaction and happiness than I could have imagined.  Thank you for taking this journey with me and I hope you buckle up and stay on the ride for a long time to come.  We have big plans in the upcoming year to expand our events and programming in store, to participate in more off-site events and literary conferences and to expand our online presence. 

But before all that, we hope you will join us to celebrate our first two years this Saturday December 2, 2017 from 5pm until 7pm.  We will have music by Kevin Landry and Rebecca Richard, we will have food and drinks, good friends old and new, and ,of course , Books. 

 

Book Club 2.0

Book Club 2.0

 

People love to talk about books they have read, and authors REALLY love to talk about books they have written.  Wouldn’t it be great if the two could meet up?  Well they can!

Recently I have talked to several authors who love to talk to book clubs and lead the discussion of their books. I first heard of this idea before I even opened a book store when my cousin’s wife (cousin-in-law?) mentioned that her book club often has authors as guest leaders – even skyping them in occasionally.   At the time I could not imagine how you contact the authors, but suddenly a few authors have asked me about meeting with book clubs.  I love this idea, and one of the most fun parts is I get to act sort of like the matchmaker and help “set your book club up” with a selection of authors.  You can think of me as a bookish match.com. 

Does your book club like mysteries and thrillers?  I have an award winning author for that!

Does your book club enjoy a regional story ?  I have an author for that?

Does your book club prefer non-fiction about the area?  I can find you an author for that!

To kick this off I thought we would revamp our own book club and kick off with a discussion of the Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale.  I was introduced to Celeste’s books by The Storied Life Book Club of Baton Rouge.  The ladies of this book club held a book club girls weekend retreat in St Francisville a few months back and mentioned that they had read this fabulous book and then skyped a discussion with the author.  They could not stop saying great things about the author and her books, so of course I had to contact her myself.  As a result Celeste will join us for a book signing the Friday night of Christmas in the Country (December 1, 2017) from 5:30 until 7:00 and she has graciously agreed to discuss the book with us at the beginning of this event.  So come into the bookshop and pick up a copy early, read it , then bring it back to have the author sign it on December 1.  I started reading my copy last night and I am so looking forward to getting back into it tonight. 

If your book club would like to contact an author to participate in a discussion with your group send me an email at missy@conundrumbooks.com and let’s see who we can match your group with for Book Club 2.0!

Do you ever get a "Good Book Hangover"?

Do you get a “Good Book Hangover” ?  You know what I mean? You have just finished a book you really enjoyed, you have the next book you want to read right on the side of you ready to go, but… Every time you read a line in the new book you still have a movie in your head of the cast of characters of the last book wondering what they are up to now.  So much so that it is keeping you from truly focusing on the new book.   But then you decide to push through anyway and keep reading, and eventually you start to at least partially focus on the new book and it’s characters.  Then you fall asleep and find yourself dreaming next chapters for the last book characters, or maybe incorporating them into the current book.

It can be very confusing, and very frustrating.  You can’t take an Excedrin to make it go away, you could have “hair of the dog” but re-reading the old book would only make it worse.  What you need here is a “sorbet for the brain” .  You know. a little something to cleanse the book palate.

Maybe you need to read a story or two from a favorite magazine, or a chapter from an inspirational book that can be taken in pieces (I’m thinking “Make your Bed” or something similar that is written in short standalone chapter/lessons), or maybe you just need to play two or three dozen hands of online solitaire  - whatever it takes BUT you cannot just jump into that new book because you have  Good Book Hangover.

I would love to hear your good book hangover remedy ideas, email me at missy@conundrumbooks.com and I will share them with our followers and maybe we can all stop suffering these hangovers and start moving on the next great book even faster!  

From Both Sides Now...

I have had the most interesting opportunity to see the other side of bookselling  these past few weeks.  As I previously told you,  we recently started our own publishing company, Feliciana Publishing Partners, and published our first book.  Suddenly,  I found  myself calling and visiting other bookstores to ask them to carry the book and to host book signing events with our author, Ronnie Virgets.  

This has been so eye opening.  In my previous experience when authors and publishers reps have approached me I thought about it from the bookseller prospective.  Did I think I could draw a sizeable crowd?  How would we build interest in the book and the author with our patrons? Quite frankly, what was in it for me?   And then I would spend time advertising the event through our newsletter, facebook page, the newspaper , our website and anywhere else we can think of to spread the word. Then when the author arrived, I was a nervous wreck thinking I might embarrass myself by not getting a respectable crowd. 

Now flip the script and I am on the other side of the glass arriving with the author after having spread the word via our newsletter, website, facebook page,  etc and I still find myself  getting terribly nervous  worrying about drawing a respectable crowd so as not to embarrass myself and my author in front of the bookseller.

All of which begs the question: whose responsibility is the success of a good book event anyway?  And I submit to you I believe the answer is BOTH.  The bookstore knows the local area and has local contact lists who will want to know about upcoming events. The writer may have a national following and there may be people on his ( her )  friends lists who live in the area but until now (and particularly with a newer bookstore)  do not even know your bookstore is  there! When bookstores, authors and publishers partner together everyone benefits.

Its fabulous that I have had this opportunity to see both sides of this equation so early in my bookselling career.  …. Or maybe all of this can be boiled down to the simple fact that I am going to feel guilty and responsible regardless of what I do in life or what side of the fence I am standing on.  Call it catholic guilt, call it a stress disorder, call it just being a worrywart, call it whatever you like. I choose  to see this as an opportunity to learn and assume that all booksellers and publishers feel the same way. I have just been lucky enough to , in the words of Joni Mitchell get the chance to look at clouds from both sides now!

So many books, so little time!

So many books, so little time.  Do you ever feel like that?  This past weekend I attended the Southern Independent Book Sellers Association’s annual conference and trade show.  There were over 50 authors in attendance to tell us about their new and upcoming books, and representatives from just about every publishing house also attended to pitch the books of authors that couldn’t be there (again with the “So Little Time” part) .  And then they all want to give you advanced copies of the books so that you can read them, fall in love with them and order them before they are released – you know so that we will inevitably fall in love with the book and tell everyone who walks into the shop about it.  Only now there are 57 new adult fiction and non-fiction books spread out over my dining room table awaiting their placement in my TBR (To Be Read) list.  Ok, so far I have read One, only 56 more to go! 

 

Now don’t get me wrong, someone handing me 57 not even yet released books to read is by no means a hardship – actually it is a bit of a dream come true, but also rather over whelming and intimidating.   How will I ever read them all?  What if I miss one and it is the big hit of the season?  What if I love one and no one else does?  Where do I even begin, alphabetically, by release date, by genre ? Decisions, decision! 

 

The first one I read was a mystery about an agoraphobic woman who loves old noir films.  I chose it because he was on a panel with our friend Michael Rubin’s whose new mystery Cashed Out has just been released.  (Oh, I already read Cashed out so that’s 2 read!)   As you would expect from Mr. Rubin “Cashed Out” was a fast paced thriller with lots of twists and turns.  It stars a failed lawyer, his ex-wife, a toxic waste entrepreneur and almost $ 4.5 million dollars in cold hard cash.   If you enjoyed his first novel “The Cotton Crest Curse” you will definitely enjoy this one, and if you did not enjoy Michael’s award winning first novel it is probably because you haven’t read it (we can help you fix that). 

Next up?  I think we will stick with mysteries and go with Laura Lippman’s upcoming Sunburn.  I’ll let you know what I think.