May 30, 2011

Readers Great and Small

My doll reference books are primarily geared towards adult collectors, but over the years, some moms have shared photos or stories with me about how their young children have enjoyed my books as well. Two weeks ago while attending the Tammy Collector's Convention I got to witness a child in action enjoying my books. Here is seven-year old Sage getting her first look at "The Collector's Guide to Dolls of the 1960s and 1970s": 

Sage’s Mom and I have been online, long-distance friends for more than a dozen years. The first time her mom and I met in person was at a large doll show and flea market. Neither of us knew the other would be at the show, and Sage’s mom actually picked me out in a crowd of a zillion people, recognizing me only from earlier photos she had seen of me.

That first meeting, Sage was just a bulge in her mom’s belly, and the second time we met, Sage was still a baby. This was only the third time I got to meet Sage in person, but I feel like I know her intimately since she’s practically a youtube star. She’s bright and articulate, and would give a younger Dakota Fanning a run for her money if Sage’s mom ever decides to put her in showbiz.

Here is one of my favorite youtube videos of Sage back when she just turned four telling the story of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

Part 1
Part 2:
Part 3:

Check out some of her other youtube videos and let me know if you fall in love with her sweet little voice and adorable personality the way I did. Knowing this young collector-in-training is now a fan of my doll books is one of the wonderful fringe benefits of being an author.

May 20, 2011

It's Official: My Book Is Out

This past weekend my fourth doll book, Tammy Rarities From Around The World, made it’s publishing debut. Thanks to a group of generous, dedicated, doll collecting friends, the book was featured at the Tammy Collectors’ Convention in Chicago. The book received much fanfare at the convention, and even the theme of the convention centered around the book. As an author, it doesn’t get much better than that unless you happen to get a call while you’re at the convention saying your book just hit the New York Time’s Bestseller’s List…but…oh well…maybe next year...  

There were many things that happened this past weekend that touched me, but there were two things that especially amazed me and caused my head to swell just enough that I had to poke it a few times to stay grounded. One of those things was gushing comments made by a Tammy collector about the new book. Listening to her tell me how the book turned things around for her at a point in her life when she really needed it wasn’t just an ego booster, but it also humbled me to know the book had such a positive impact on someone. The other thing that really touched me was when one of the convention attendees came up to me with all four of my books and asked if I could sign them for her. Later, she told that I was like a rock star to her and how thrilled she was to meet me. Hearing someone say something like that totally blew me away. Both these people, as well as many others I spoke to this weekend, made me appreciate the fact that as a writer you can touch people’s lives--hopefully, in a positive way.

I can’t thank the chairpersons of the convention enough for all they did to honor my co-author and me at the convention this past weekend. I also am indebted to many of the convention attendees, some who have been following the journey of this book since I first started work on it, which now seems like a million years ago. Without their constant encouragement (and yup, sometimes nagging), I might have abandoned the idea for the book. Many of them also contributed photos to the book, and without their help and contributions, the book would not have been what it is. Of course, a big thank you goes to my co-author who came to my aid at a time when the book looked like it would never get published. She gave the project a jump start when it needed it, and added so much to the book since coming on board.  

I’m still catching up on much needed sleep from the wonderful convention weekend. I'm also keeping the phones lines open, just in case the New York Times wants to call to congratulate me for making their bestseller’s list.
Hey, it could happen!

*convention logo by Dal Lowenbein--who also helped design the cover of the Tammy Rarities book

April 21, 2011

Cheerios® New Author Contest

Cheerios® is having a contest to search for the next great children’s book author. The contest is for new writers over the age of 18 living in the USA who have never been published before.

If you meet that criteria and have written (or are about to write) a terrific story for children ages 3 to 8, you might want to check out this contest. The Grand Prize is $5,000 and the winning story will be offered to Simon & Schuster, Inc. for possible future publication. The contest ends July 15, 2011.

You are not eligible to enter the contest if:
  • You are a professional writer, such as a novelist, magazine, blogger or newspaper writer who writes books or articles for pay (I'm assuming bloggers who don't get paid, are still eligible).
  • You have authored any work of fiction that has been published or is about to be published in exchange for payment.
There's plenty more fine-print, so hop on over to their website to see all the contest rules:

Good luck to those of you entering!

April 4, 2011

My 30 Seconds of Fame That Didn't Happen

When my second doll book was still in its just-published infancy, I “almost” had my thirty seconds of fame. I was scheduled to sell at a doll show when the promoter called me a couple of days beforehand. “How would you like to be interviewed on The Today Show?” she asked. 

The Sunday edition of The Today Show was going to report live from the doll show and wanted to interview some of the vendors there. The promoter thought since I was the author of a doll book AND a vendor, I would be a great candidate. She instructed me to bring plenty of copies of my book to the show because when people saw me on television, they would flock to my booth to buy my book and I’d sell millions of copies.


So here’s what really happened:

Thursday afternoon: I learn I am going to be interviewed live on-location by The Today Show (I am thrilled, excited, terrified).

Thursday night: I count how many copies of my book I have on hand and discover I don’t have nearly enough for the droves of Today Show fans who will rush to the doll show to buy it after seeing me on television.

Friday morning: I call my publisher to get more copies of my book. I instruct them to FedEx them Overnight Express to be delivered early the next morning (shipping cost: $135.95). 

Saturday 10:00 am: Books don’t arrive.

Saturday 10:30 am: I call FedEx to find out why my books haven’t arrived. I’m told they will be delivered on Monday morning. (I begin to hyperventilate). FedEx Customer Service Person explains there is no way I can get them that day as they are located in some airplane hanger somewhere with no one working that facility on weekends. I hang up the phone in despair.

Saturday 10:45 am: I recover from despair and become empowered. I call FedEx back and ask to speak with a manager. FedEx Manager calmly tells me someone will research the problem and will get back to me in about an hour. I inquire what are the odds of getting the books that day and she admits, “not very good.” I insist I need the packages on Saturday and not on Monday and that I hadn't paid $135.95 to have them delivered a day later than I needed them. Manager calmly keeps repeating her mantra, “Someone will research the problem and will get back to you.”

Now for the record, I don’t lose my cool too often, but by this time the good-natured, fun-loving me was replaced by some crazy, panicked, hysterical person. This person (who I swear does not normally live in my house or in my body) begins to yell at the poor FedEx Manager, “I am going to be on The Today Show promoting my book tomorrow morning and if the boxes of books I was expecting are not in my hands by then I will be sure to tell the entire world how FedEx could not deliver on time!”  I hang up the phone angry, frustrated, and a little bit embarrassed that I actually yelled.

Saturday, 15 minutes later:  Mr. Big Wig from Corporate FedEx calls me to assure me they are doing everything they can to locate my books. Apparently my bad publicity threat triggered enough fear to move my case up the ranks.

Saturday, One Hour Later: Local FedEx Center calls to tell me they have my books in hand and I can come pick them up.

Saturday, Shortly After That Call: The Husband picks up a couple of boxes of books at Local FedEx Center and Clerk asks, “So…is your wife the one who is going to bad-mouth FedEx on TV?” 

Amazing how name dropping The Today Show gets results, right?

There is more craziness to this story that followed after we had the books in hand, but since I’m shortening it to the Reader’s Digest condensed version size, I’ll just zoom to the ending.

Sunday morning after waking at 3:30 a.m. and arriving early at the doll show to set up my booth, I learn The Today Show had cancelled because of flooding throughout the state. Apparently they felt the flooding deserved more coverage than the doll show and some little-known author who wrote a book about dolls.

So there you have it--my near brush with the big time. I certainly didn’t gain any fame from television, but who knows what kind of notoriety I received in FedEx offices and airplane hangers around the country.  If anyone from FedEx sees this, I humbly apologize. I have no idea who that crazy person was who took over my body and made the whole company jump through hoops to deliver my packages, but thank you for going beyond the scope of every day service to get them to me in time for my Almost 30 seconds of fame. And if anyone from The Today Show happens to see this, I’m still available for interviews.

March 21, 2011

Why Write When You Can eBay?

Had I known I could auction off my book ideas on Ebay for millions of dollars, I would have saved myself years of hard work and the bother of waiting for those royalty checks to trickle in.

All over the blogosphere are posts about a guy who was trying to sell his story idea on eBay for an opening bid of three million dollars with a buy-it-now for ten million dollars. He claims this great idea of his “will bring in endless fame and money to anyone who takes it.”

After hearing about the auction, I had to see for myself if this “sell your story idea” is worth doing because I have a head full of ideas that I know will make someone rich (obviously not me, but someone). I headed over to eBay to research how viable this selling of ideas could be. Unfortunately, it seems to be a slow week on eBay and no one is actually selling any brilliant story ideas right now, which might turn out to be a good thing because if I do go this route, there will be little competition for my own brilliant ideas.

Even though there were no story ideas for sale, there were plenty of other interesting auctions listed. I found an author trying to sell all rights to his book including the book, movie,“et al” for a cool $1,500,000-- that’s one million, five hundred-thousand dollars, just to clarify.

Another author was selling the movie rights for his book for a bargain price of only $95,000. That price doesn’t include a copy of the actual book, which the seller says the winner can purchase on Amazon. You’d think he’d at least throw in a copy of his book to whoever buys the movie rights, but I guess that’s why it’s such a bargain price.

It’s not just book ideas or movie rights that people are trying to sell on eBay. I also found for sale a used copy of a book for $6,099,577.95. Again…so your brain can wrap around a figure that size, it’s six million, ninety-nine thousand, five hundred seventy-seven AND ninety-five cents. That’s over $6 million dollars for a used book, and not even a rare antique book. It’s a book published in 2008 that is available on Amazon for as low as $9.18. The only thing I could figure is that the book on eBay was printed on a solid gold brick lined with diamond studs. But even at that, you’d think it would be worth only about $3 million because it’s USED.

My own books often turn up on ebay and one time a seller actually tried to sell a copy for $900. That same book was readily available all over the internet for $24.95. Needless to say, the book didn’t sell--not even when the seller dropped the price down to $358. I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered the seller thought my book was worthy enough to command those prices or be insulted that it didn’t sell. If it had sold, I would have jumped on the eBay bandwagon and offered a signed copy for double the selling price. Seriously, who needs royalty checks from a publisher if you can get eBay prices like that? Come to think of it, why even write books if you can just sell the ideas for them for a few million dollars?

You have to say this about eBay—it is the sales-land of opportunity. Anyone with the guts not to care if people think the asking price is delusional has the chance to hit it big—either in dollars if the item actually sells or in fame based on the number of blog posts and tweets the auction generates.

If I ever have a brilliant story idea that rivals Harry Potter, I’m going to think about posting it on eBay instead of wasting time working on it myself. Even if I never sell another book, I could still earn my fame as a writer with a multi-million dollar eBay listing. And to help sweeten the deal...any of my ideas that I sell on ebay will include FREE shipping.

March 15, 2011

Presenting the New, Soon-To-Be-Released Tammy Book

You saw it here first, folks!  Here's a sneak preview of the cover of Tammy Rarities From Around The World:

The book, written by me and my co-author Rebecca Wingler, will be out in May, however, pre-orders start April 1st at It was a long time coming, but finally--Tammy Rarities will make its publishing debut in just a matter of weeks. Champagne, anyone?

February 28, 2011

Who Will Be The Next American Best Selling Author?

With all the reality TV shows cluttering the airwaves, how come they haven’t yet done a “So You Think You Can Write” show where they pick the next American Best Selling Author?

Think about it: Millions of wannabe writers give a pitch in front of a panel of three judges. I’m thinking the judges should consist of a famous writer (preferably British), an attractive female agent, and then a third judge who no one really knows what he does except he is “involved in the industry” and wears really cool glasses.

There would be no age limit for this competition. 80 year old wannabe writers would be pitted against 15 and 16 year olds who squeal, “This has been my life-long dream! I’ve wanted it since I was 14!”

First the wannabes have to do their audition pitch in front of the judges. If they impress them, they get a golden ticket to go to New York City (just seems right to hold it there). People who wear the gimmicky chicken costumes to give their pitch usually don’t make it through to the next round, although if you wear nothing but a bikini and you have the body to pull it off, your chances might be increased.

During New York week, contestants participate in the dreaded group sessions where writers with different styles and running on no sleep have to work together to produce a great piece of writing.

And so the competition continues….all the way up to where the American public calls in their votes for the writer who they think has the most talent--or just the person they like the best, because we all know it isn’t just about the writing--you have the have the whole package to be the next American Best Selling Author.

I thought up the idea for this show a couple of years ago, and you’d think it would be fair to say if the reality show ever does come into being, I should get royalties for the idea. However, I did an internet search on the title “So You Think You Can Write” and come to find out other people had similar ideas. Just goes to show, few ideas are original—it’s how you present them that matters.

February 14, 2011

It's Almost a Real Book!

On Friday the book proofs for “Tammy Rarities From Around The World” were delivered to my home.
Here’s a sneak preview of what the book is shaping up to look like: 

 After snapping this photo, I thought about jumping in the middle of the pile and rolling around in it, but being the refined and dignified person that I am, I resisted. 


February 8, 2011

So Close, Yet...Not

Big News! Harper Collins called my home. Harper Collins, as in one of the world’s leading publishing houses!!!
When I saw their name on caller ID I nearly piddled myself with excitement thinking they were calling to tell me they wanted to publish one of my YA books. But then confusion took over and I wondered how they even knew I had an unpublished YA book since I had never contacted them telling that? Could a friend of a friend of a friend’s brother-in-law’s cousin have mentioned to someone who worked there that I write YA books?
I picked up the phone using my most bestselling-author-like voice.
Me: Hello?
HC Person: Is this Representative Boehner’s office?
*pause while confusion boggled my brain, then…*
Me: No, I’m sorry, you have the wrong number.
HC Person: Oh, I’m sorry.
Phone: *click*

That was the closest I’ve ever been to negotiations with a major publishing house.

*logo copyright HarperCollins

February 4, 2011

Why I Became A Writer Instead Of An Artist

I wasn’t one of those people who knew right off that they wanted to be a writer. “Back in the day” I sort-of/kind-of wanted to be an illustrator. I liked to draw when I was a kid, and one of my childhood friends loved to write, so we decided that she would write books and I was going to illustrate them.

This is a typical picture I drew when I was about twelve or thirteen years old, and as you can see, I wasn’t exactly a child protégé when it came to drawing human subjects (truth be told, I was better at drawing houses or other square things). As a kid I didn’t let the fact that I wasn't that good detour me from the thought of being an illustrator anyway.

Then my sort-of/kind-of dream of being an illustrator completely disappeared in high school after my art teacher wouldn’t sign for me to go on to advanced art because she said I “fooled around too much” in Art 101 class. I’m guessing it was probably her way of telling me she didn’t think I had much artistic talent. The fooling around part she referred to was me making faces at my sister who spent lots of time hanging around the back door of the art room. I blame my face-making antics on “middle-child syndrome”--you know, that obsessive need that middle children (or children from large families) have to get attention. As for the part about not-pursuing-my-dream-in-spite-of-what-that-dream-crushing-teacher-thought, that part I blame on not really wanting the dream all that much anyway.

Fast forward five or six years. A pile of rejection letters from editors of magazines I submitted to didn’t crush my new dream of being a writer. Writing success came slowly and in little bits, but the thing I had going for me is that I wanted this dream bad enough that I wasn’t going to let any dream-crushing comment or rejection detour me along the way. I practiced, and took writing classes (where I still made faces at people), and attended seminars until I learned the skills necessary for editors to finally say yes.

If you ever decide to give up on a dream, don’t blame it on someone else. If someone tells you don’t have the talent or skills necessary to reach your goal, don't let that cripple you. They may be right, and if they are, then do everything you can to get those skills and foster that talent. If they're wrong, prove it. Success is the greatest revenge against dream-crushers.

January 31, 2011

I'm Back

“Superior Blogger of the World” is obviously not a title I am going to earn at the rate I’m going. My excuse for being negligent with this blog for so long is that I was working on a book. Two of them, actually.

Since my last post, I finished writing a YA book and was just starting to shop it around to agents when I had to switch gears and put all my creative effort into finishing up my latest doll book with my co-author, Rebecca. The manuscript, “Tammy Rarities From Around the World” is now officially in the hands of the printer--or should I say, the files are on their computers (yippee!!!).

This book has been a long time coming and over the years that I've been working on it, I've had many collectors tell me how they can't wait to see it published. Every year at the Tammy convention I was asked about the status of the book, and every year I had to admit the difficulty I was having finding a publisher willing to take a chance on it. Still, Tammy collectors patiently(?) waited for it and gave me lots of encouragement to keep plugging on. I think a lot of Tammy collectors will be excited when they see the book, but no one can possibly be more excited about the book’s publication than I am. My co-author is probably a close second...but I’ve been working on it longer, so surely I deserve the crown, right?

The book will make its official public debut at the Tammy (Doll) Convention in Chicago where convention attendees will be the first ones to see the book--not including the authors’ families, of course. Naturally, they deserve to see it before the general public because they had to make huge sacrifices and give up meals and clean laundry in order to allow us more time to work on the book. Showing them the finished product will prove we really were working and not just playing on Facebook or ebay all this time.

While I’m waiting for the Tammy book proofs to come back from the printer, I can now turn my attention back to working on my YA books. But first I want to check out Facebook and a few ebay auctions...