Tag Archives: being a writer

When Not Selling Books is Fascinating

When Not Selling Books is Fascinating

Sometimes these vendor events that mom and I attend are entertaining for reasons other than selling our books. Here’s a sample:

We had the opportunity recently to be analyzed by a lipologist. One of “only six in the U.S. and one on the east coast,” this individual had piqued my interest as she walked by, adorned in a flowing skirt and blouse decorated with kisses. Early into the event, she had the opportunity to announce to attendees that, for just $10, they could press their lips to a piece of paper and she would ‘read’ the print and tell them about themselves.

We sat next to a booth table where a woman had only a stack of construction paper preprinted with giant paw prints. She began to apply glue, then gold glitter to each print, then was joined by two high school students. The three of them sat there for three hours putting glitter on the prints until they were joined by another two high school students and the four of them packed up to find a bigger spot where they sat for another two hours applying glitter. I had to admire the fortitude of all five of those women for “sticking” with it for five hours.

We received an education on what a “cropping” is. Mom and I had no idea that scrapbooking had taken off and sprung wings to include painting, card making and other crafts. Women get together and spend a whole day working at their art and sharing conversation, methods and table space. They come laden with huge canvas bags full of strange-looking cutting and pasting tools, pots of paint, mounds of stickers, bows and intriguing paraphernalia. What we found out from meeting a few cropping attendees was that, the most common reason they give for being there is: “to get away from the husband and kids.”

We found out that in some European countries where health care isn’t as prevalent as in the U.S., people use natural ingredients to create herbal oils, which they then spread on the bottom of their husbands’ feet to prevent colds, on their children’s pillows to stop snoring or on their own feet to relieve the stress of taking care of sick husbands and snoring children.


Valery Li and helper

The most remarkable aspect of these four examples, however, is that all occurred at one event last weekend. Since we had no traffic at all at our table, we were happy to be entertained, though we felt like we were in the Twilight Zone (we never did figure out where the occasional strains of flute music were coming from). We also had the very best food ever at an event (rich lasagna, creamy chicken penne and mouth-watering breakfast sweets as opposed to the usual overdone hotdogs, pizza and donuts). And despite the fact that most of the vendors that were there were selling branded products, we met an artist that wowed us. Her company is appropriately called “Valery’s Wonderland Treats” ( and I’ve never seen anything like it: little cookies and pastries that are so hard to describe, I’ll just call them, “beautiful” and show you pictures.

We won’t be making a reappearance at this particular event. But we thank the hardworking women who scrapbook, the student volunteers who persevere and the friendly vendors and croppers who stopped by our table and made up for a total lack of public visitors for keeping us entertained. And we thank Valerie Li for simply wowing us.

–Genilee Swope Parente





Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Learning My Circus Act

juggling blog


One of the thrills mom and I get when we talk to groups is the excitement audience members express for what we do. Written on the faces and weaved into their questions is this: “It must be so fulfilling and romantic to be an author.”
At the moment someone says this, it’s true. However, being an author in today’s hugely complicated world of publishing is not just being a writer. Authors today also have to be:
Bosses: I’ve learned to be a mean boss because someone has to get my sorry butt out of bed an hour early in the morning if I’m going to find time each day to write. That same mean boss has to wave the red flag after the hour is over, which is even harder than getting up. Once the writing begins, it’s heart-breaking to stop the flow of creativity so I can get on to my paying clients.
Traffic cops: I sometimes feel like Linda Blair in The Exorcist with my head spinning round and round as the whirl of advice to writers that’s out there goes by. I read, I attend conferences, I talk to other authors, I research my options constantly on the web; what I’ve discovered is there is no one-lane road headed to success. It’s a clover leaf of congestion out there, and the one person that can make the multiple decisions that will give it any sense is me.
Psychologists: The only way to survive the extreme ups and downs that comes with getting published is to band with other people going through this clover leaf. I have to lean heavily on other writers for the mental support that sorting through everything requires. Part of the reason is that I need to lament to someone besides my cat about the frustrations. But the other part if that I need the bond that listening to others creates.
Bean counters: To move forward in any business venture requires a way to measure what’s behind that forward movement. I have excel spreadsheets and multiple file storage locations on my computer so that I can at least stop once in a while to gather and count my beans—what events have worked; which books are selling well. I have to admit, however, that I often look at those beans and wish just one of them was a magic one.
Jugglers. Most authors can’t afford to write full time. We are trying to hold down a job, take care of families, find time for old and new friends, keep up with daily household tasks while adding a fifth ball to the mix: pursuing a passion for storytelling. It’s the same juggling act that anyone who finds a way to go after what they truly want must perfect—finding time for what we love. So I guess instead of hoping for that magic bean, what I should be doing is being grateful that life has allowed me to have that fifth ball in the mix.
—Genilee Swope Parente

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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in Uncategorized


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