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:
http://www.spoonfulsofstoriescontest.com/

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.

HA!

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.