Mom and I have two exciting events coming down the pike. First, the fifth book of The Fate Series—Architect of Fate―should be out in the next few weeks. Architect of Fate is a two-year labor of love. Mom created such an intricate plot that both of us have been working on smoothing it out and ensuring we were as accurate as possible. We’ve talked to police, the FBI, specialists in pharmacology, a psychologist, you name it, trying to get as close as we could to what would really happen if four people of widely varied backgrounds suddenly went missing.
For this book, we also made a major decision regarding what happens in the life of our main character, Sam Osborne, and we changed the ending and the name of the book accordingly. I won’t tell you more, but those of you who have come to love our hero have got to read this installment—we’ve been stringing you along with a mystery that involves Sam so we decided it was time readers had more details.
The second exciting development is that we’ll be relaunching our series this spring. We’re doing this for several reasons. You’ll see when Architect of Fate comes out that the cover is vastly different than what we’ve had before. We loved what the artist for this book did enough that we’re redoing all the covers to make them more appealing and easier to see. We’re also relaunching as part of an effort to make our books more accessible to people. We hope to fulfill the many requests we’ve had to put our books on tape, and we’re seeking other new channels for reaching readers we know would love the series.
Our blog’s been too quiet over the last year—even as our sales have gone up and our plans for the future have crystallized. We’ve concentrated on moving forward, and we hope you’ll be there to help us get there.
–Genilee Swope Parente
Tags: Architect of Fate, best mystery series, best new mystery series, best recent mystery series, book launch, F. Sharon Swope, Genilee Swope Parente, getting The Fate Series, Holiday Connections, launching a book, mystery book series, mystery/romance series, packaging a book series, recent mystery/romance series, relaunching a series, republishing a series, Sam Osborne the detective, The Fate Series, Treasured Fate, Twist of Fate, Violet Fate, wretched fate
A new Pew research study found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of the American public read books today, and this number hasn’t changed significantly in the last five years, though how they read is evolving. (E-device usage has climbed from 17% to 28% from 2011 to 2016.) All of that reading makes an author very happy—until she compares those figures to the 1970s, when only 8% of the American public answering a Gallup poll indicated they’d not read at least one book in the last year. That means up to 92% of us were reading.
Ah well, with so much information and distraction thrown at the public every day from multiple sources, the numbers shouldn’t surprise me. Those of us who put words on a page and hope someone sees and understands them will take what we can get. And some of the other stats from the 2016 Pew study are promising.
For example, the percentage of us who read simply for pleasure (as opposed to work, study or to keep up with current events) has remained steady over the last five years at about 80% of readers. Since mom and I write to entertain others, I’m pleased with that statistic. And nearly 35% of the Pew study respondents said they pursue this passion nearly every day.
I also found the figures on print vs. electronics heartening: people still like to hold a printed book in their hands and that number seems to be holding its own: The same number of people who read a print book in 2012 (65%) read in this format in 2016. What’s more, nearly four in ten (38%) said they read print books exclusively while just 6% read only through digital device.
E-book reading appears to have stabilized at 28% of readers where it’s been since 2014, though how that reading is getting done is changing: many more people are reading on computer tablets and cell phones while e-readers have stayed about the same. Interestingly, young people today are no more likely to read by digital device than their counterparts: 6% of 18- to 29-year-olds read books electronically only compared to 7% of 30- to 49-year-olds and 5% of those over 50.
Americans today read an average of about a book a month, and that number also hasn’t changed in the last five years. College graduates read more books (a median of about 7 per month); those who have not graduated from college are much more likely to use cell phones. The share of people who read to do research on a specific topic appears to be growing: 84% of Americans said they read a book for that reason, and 29% said they do so every day.
But all of these numbers are just numbers. Mom and I are much more heartened by what we discover at every event we attend and that is: readers are passionate about their past-time. Although we occasionally get the person who has no time or desire to look at a book, we get many more that are in awe that we’ve managed to produce five books in a few years. By far the most common comments are: “Of course I’m a reader” and “I always wanted to write a book.”
Join us next week (Sept. 15; 4 to 7, Dumfries Applebee’s) as we celebrate that fifth book: Treasured Fate. We know you’ll find others that share your love of reading.
Genilee Swope Parente
Tags: book launch, books read per month, celebrating reading, do Americans read?, electronic readers, frequency of reading, love of books, love of reading, passion for reading, passions for books, Pew study on reading, popularity of reading, print books, readers, reading for entertainment, reading for pleasure, statistics on reading
There is one statement people passing our display table make that chills us to the bone: “I don’t read.”
The response is an answer to a standard question we throw out to grab someone’s attention: are you a reader? “I don’t read” is usually followed by a) don’t I wish I had time!! b) I used to love books, but haven’t read one for years, or c) my job or my kids require all my attention.
It shakes me up to hear those things because I realize that reading is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. I love nothing more than a respite from the job or my family or any of the other everyday pressures that fill everyone’s day to immerse myself in the plots and characters that have nothing to do with my personal challenges. Yet either these poor people can’t find enough time in the day to do something so relaxing or they’ve thrown away the ability to lose themselves in the written word.
I know there’s television, cell phones, tablets and computers to distract and entertain, but it isn’t the same experience at all. When you read, your brain fills in the blanks of what you cannot see. The visualization is an internal experience. If the writer is really good, you feel the deep cold of the blizzard, the light touch of a lover’s lips, the numbing fear of a dangerous situation or the radiant freedom of the character’s epiphany. You’re doing the feeling and thinking instead of letting the images someone else created do the thinking for you.
It’s why mom and I wanted so badly to write books—because we love reading them. As authors, our greatest reward is meeting someone who has read our work who stops to exclaim how they couldn’t put one of our books down. When someone says that, we know we’ve attained our goal.
This September 15, when we gather at Applebee’s to launch Treasured Fate, the fourth Sam Osborne mystery, we are celebrating the blessing of having heard that statement multiple times. Come and share our joy.
Join us Sept. 15 at Applebee’s, 3330 Pine Bluff Drive, Dumfries to launch Treasured Fate
–Genilee Swope Parente
Tags: Applebee's, book launch, finding time to read, I don't have time to read, I don't read, joy of reading, launching a book, new reader, reading enjoyment, reading experience, the written word, time to read, visualizing characters, visualizing plots, why people read
You’d think with four books already under our belts, having the next book of the Fate Series finally done wouldn’t be much of a thrill. But it is. This book took longer than any other to finish mainly because we took a year off to put out Holiday Connections. We also published Treasured Fate ourselves, which meant hiring an editor and a designer and spending more hours going through the book carefully, searching for plot flaws and typos.
The excitement with this book is that finally someone besides us gets to read about Elmer and Maud and the hidden treasure that’s central to the theme. We know you’ll love the new characters, and we’ve brought back some of the other favorites in the Fate Series as friends to the main protagonists.
For those writer friends out there considering self publishing, we want to report that yes, it can be done. Certainly if you have the money upfront to put into perfecting your book or the money to pay someone else to do the production and administration, it’s an easy task. However, for those us living with limited budgets, putting together your own book can be grueling. As with most aspects of being an author today, you spend too much of your writing time worrying about details and making a mistake because suddenly, you have to be an expert in the software packages that make producing a book possible. You also have to deal with a large printing/distribution firm that does almost everything remotely and through technology.
But that made getting this book into print even more of an accomplishment. We made the decision to self publish based on advice from several authors who suggested that since the series is already up and running and popular, we should use the momentum to produce, instead of seeking a new publishing situation—something that can take years.
The result is Treasured Fate, and we can’t wait for you to read it. It usually takes a few weeks for the book to be in print and a week or so after that for it to appear on the main retail sites. We’re now planning an official launch in September, but the book should be available by about mid August.
Let mom and I know if you’d like a signed copy or an invitation to our launch, and we’ll arrange it.
–Genilee Swope Parente
Tags: book launch, book publishing woes, book writing woes, finding a treasure, going to press, good reads, mystery in Lancaster PA, new book launched, new book release, rural mystery, Sam Osborne, self-publishing, self-publishing woes, The Fate Series, Treasured Fate, writing a book
My ex-Navy hubby and I were driving home from Pensacola last Monday, mulling over what a fantastic weekend we’d just spent at the reunion of the U.S.S. Coronado when I turned to him and said: “and a good time was had by all.”
It made both of us laugh—the grammar is so atrocious. But the sentiment is sometimes so appropriate.
The phrase is one that has stuck inside my head since the days of working at my hometown newspaper—we are talking WAY back when we had local neighboring village representatives that basically wrote gossip columns on social events in their necks of the country. None of the women could write worth a lick, but they were vital to that era and people read every word of their columns, which often ended with that phrase.
The words seem to pop into my head after any major event that has had me in a slight tizzy leading up to it because of the necessary planning or the hassle of preparation. After the dust has settled, the event concluded, I realize it was all worth it—everyone had a good time.
Such was certainly the case with the Pensacola trip. I did none of the planning—a crew from just after the years my husband served had put the whole wonderful weekend together. But we had to drive two days to get there and it was right before the Applebee’s book launch for mom and me, so the week leading up to the naval reunion was hectic. Still, the timing was perfect because it took my mind off the details of the launch, details that have plagued me for the last month and consumed a lot of my spare time.
Hubby and I didn’t know a soul going into that U.S.S. Coronado reunion. We listened to stories from the ship and swapped life’s details with a large roomful of people and by the end of two days, had many new friends. Meanwhile, I got to taste just a little bit of the part of my dear husband’s life that preceded me: the Navy.
A good time was truly had by all.
And when we returned home, it was finally time for the launch. I was biting my nails by the time it came…absolutely positive no one would come. That it would be me and my mom at a table with a sad little tray of cheese sticks and restaurant patrons walking by wondering why there were balloons.
We had a blast: the restaurant had put out the red carpet: literally. They’d also decorated the alcove where our event was held, made giant teaser signs with sayings from the books and put out loads of appetizers. Lo and behold, guests started arriving immediately and we had a crowded event the whole three hours. We sold loads of books, but even more importantly, we saw what a great support system we had and how many people still love to read enough to be thrilled to get autographed copies of books.
To Sara McElroy and Dennis Benson of Potomac Family Dining: what a terrific and wonderful launch you gave us. To the local restaurant staff: thank you for all your kind words and your cooperation (not to mention the yummy and bountiful treats). And to Applebee’s Grill and Bar: you really did make it a neighborhood event.
A good time was had by all.
Genilee Swope Parente
Tags: a good time, a good time was had by all, Applebee's, Applebee's event, Applebee's neighborhood event, book event, book launch, book signing, holding a book launch, naval reunion, party planning, planning a book event, planning a book launch, successful book party, USS Coronado, USS Coronado reunion
Two weeks to go until our book launch and I’m wondering how authors who are widely recognized and have a zillion books out ever do it! Somehow I cannot see James Patterson or Mary Higgins Clark keeping an excel spreadsheet in an attempt to keep organized.
Granted this is a first-ever event for both Applebee’s and these authors but I know the same ingredients must go into the mix of many significant book events: much nail biting, hours of planning, scratching at the doors of local media, multiple trips to the post office to drop off invites, many encouraging hurrahs from good friends who remember (when they get those invites) that you write books, quick trips around town to drop off fliers and beg for publicity, hours awake at night as ideas keep popping into your head and … most importantly … pure terror that when you arrive at your own event, the wind will be whistling a lonely tune through the mostly empty room.
I know the terror is unfounded―my husband and child love me enough to show up. My mom and I both have good friends. But this is a party and even though I haven’t planned one in several years, I used a magic formula one of my best friends gave me many years ago: Invite as diverse a mix of people as you can find so that when they show up, they’ll have some interesting conversations. For this party, I reached into every pocket of civilization I could think of to alert people in the community that we were celebrating, and they were invited.
It’s never failed me in the past … and hopefully it will make for a fascinating evening of mingling and fun.
I hope you’ll join mom and me May 14 between 4 and 7 for an evening that promises to be … exciting.–Genilee Swope Parente
FINAL INVITATION Swope Parente
Tags: Applebee's, being an author, book event, book launch, celebrating a book launch, Dumfries event, James patterson, Mary Higgins Clark, planning a book event, planning a book launch, Spectacle Publishing Media Group, Twist of Fate, Violet Fate, Woodbridge event, wretched fate
Would this beginning to a book make you want to purchase it?
“Kill the kid.”
He sat looking at the sleeping child, who was dressed in a clean white T-shirt and shorts that had grown dingy in the week they’d been here. The blond curls were cut tight to the head like those of the angels he remembered from childhood Sunday school lessons.
“Kill the kid.”
The words echoed in his head, bouncing off the walls and returning to haunt him. Those three words had ended the conversation he’d had with his partner late last night. He knew she was right—they had to get rid of the evidence. Why hadn’t he done it yet?
Because our book launch is in a restaurant, we can’t do a book reading. Applebee’s wants two teaser posters with words from the book. But how do you choose a couple of sentences from an entire book? I chose part of the prologue because I’m particularly proud of one character Mom created in Violet Fate, and let’s just say, it isn’t the hero. Mom got into the mind of the bad guy long enough to give us a glimpse of motive, and I had a blast expanding on the villain’s story. Some of our favorite books are those in which the bad guy’s zeal for what he or she does captures the imagination. I think it eases our conscience when the person doing wicked or evil things is driven by passion and/or misfortune. We want a theory on why they do what they do.
Mom created enough facts in Violet Fate to make you wonder, and I gave you even more reasons to speculate.
Oh, and just to really leave you in a loop: here’s the end of that prologue. It’s what I’ve chosen for the second poster board:
Suddenly, he knew what he had to do. He picked the child up gently and carried the snoozing form down the wooded path to the lake, laying the small body gently on the ground, then bending over and taking off his shoes. The sand felt warm on his feet. Did that mean the water would be warm? He hoped so, though he didn’t understand his own thinking.
He shook himself, then scooped the child up close to his chest and slowly walked into the lake. When the water got to his upper chest, he lifted the body high above his head. The child stirred; eyelids flickered opened and he was staring into eyes so deep blue they looked purple.
He flung his burden as far as he could.
Do you want to know more about this villain? Good, then I’ve accomplished my objective.
–Genilee Swope Parente
Tags: Applebee's, Applebee's event, book launch, book teaser, buying books, killer's mind, murder mystery, prologue, sales incentive, sales teaser, villain's mind, villains, Violet Fate, writing book teaser
Mom and I got some exciting news this week, and we’d like your help with the planning.
We are launching book three, Violet Fate and re-launching books one and two, Twist of Fate and , at a special open house May 14 hosted by our local Applebee’s.
Why Applebee’s? Mom and I have been meeting there from almost the beginning of our collaboration. We needed a nearby restaurant that was comfortable, had good food (since we go there so much), and was reasonably priced. Applebee’s changes their menu enough that we are still going there almost four years later. But the real reason is because we acknowledge the wait staff in our first book. They’ve listened to mom and I discuss how to poison someone and get away with it, how to murder a person in the middle of a blizzard, how to steal valuables from an entirely locked up house and many other juicy tidbits. They’ve also listened to us lament about how hard it is to market a book, how rewarding it is to talk about what we’re doing and how in the heck we became authors in the first place.
It seemed logical that we would hold a special event in our neighborhood grill and bar, and when I contacted corporate Applebee’s, I was met with much enthusiasm. The local franchise owner, Potomac Family Dining Group, also jumped on board, and we’re now all planning this event together.
What we need from our blog readers is suggestions for what to do at the event, how to attract attendees and what giveaways might be appropriate for an author. We want to make this occasion fun for our readers.
We also want to attract the attention of local media so let us know what newspapers you read, radio stations you listen to and television stations you watch.
And please come anytime between 4 and 7 p.m. and join the fun:
May 14, Applebee’s Grill & Bar, 3330 Pine Bluff Drive (on Jefferson Davis Highway), Dumfries, VA 22026
Genilee Swope Parente
Tags: Applebee's, attracting media attention, becoming authors, book celebration, book launch, book marketing, book party, creative writing marketing, getting readers help, launching a book, launching a series, local book event, local restaurant event, mystery novels, special event, Twist of Fate, upcoming Woodbridge VA events, Violet Fate, Woodbridge VA, wretched fate
A new year is the perfect time to announce an exciting new development initiated by Spectacle Publishing Media Group for these two authors: we’re getting a new face for the entire Fate Series at the same time our latest book is launched.
As Violet Fate, the third in the Sam Osborne series comes out later this month, our publisher is re-launching Twist of Fate and Wretched Fate. The first two books received additional copy edits and have been redesigned so that the three books can be marketed together.
Mom and I love our new look for its vibrancy. Spectacle’s design team maintained the important elements of the stories: for Twist of Fate that was Casey’s wheelchair and the rose that hints at romance; for Wretched Fate it’s Jacob’s beloved Quan Yin (goddess of mercy and compassion) statue and the nail that brings our surprise character into the picture. However, the design team added a rich red that pulses with danger and passion. The look works wonderfully to tease readers into opening the new book―Violet Fate―where a set of eyes is a focal point of the plot and where our characters are drawn into the Amish country. Since that’s the goal of any book’s cover—to create a yearning to see what’s inside—we think The Fate Series redesign is a huge success.
The new books will be available online later this month along with Violet Fate, and we will be launching the new book locally in February.
Mom and I are in awe that we now have three books in print and are working hard on getting the next two into place. It’s only been four years since we began this process inspired by the success of my sibling, children’s book author Allyn Stotz (www.allynstotz.blogspot.com), who is also about to have a banner year. It hasn’t been an easy ride, but it’s been an exciting one, and none of us could have predicted things would go so well. Like I told a young woman who called me for advice on publishing her children’s book early this week: the key to becoming an author is to want it bad enough to pursue all angles, be patient, and not give up the quest.
We hope that 2015 will be the best year ever for all our readers and supporters.
—Genilee Swope Parente
Tags: Amish books, Applebee's, becoming an author, best mysteries, best romances, book covers, book launch, challenges of getting a book published, getting published, Kwan Yin, launching a book, mystery, new look, Quan Yin, reading, relaunching a book, romance, success in getting published, The Fate Series, Twist of Fate, Violet Fate, wretched fate, writing success
Mom and I at Applebee’s working out the details of one of our mysteries.
In our first book, Twist of Fate, mom and I acknowledged the wait staff of our local Applebee’s restaurant. We did so because of the many times we met for lunch there and worked out the details of the plot. We received more than a few odd looks as we talked about the best poison for not leaving a trace, the proper police procedures following a murder attempt, what expired drugs might be sought on the black market, how to let our villain escape discovery. But after we explained what we were doing, we also got enthusiasm and encouragement and have continued to collect praise for having received our dream of being published authors. Many of the people that work there recognize us now when we walk in. They know mom likes to get the closest booth possible because of her physical limitations; they know that she needs the blinds pulled half-way shut for her vision impairment; some even know to bring an extra plate because we love to split an entrée and a house salad.
So what more appropriate place to launch book three, Violet Fate, than our local neighborhood restaurant? I got in touch with the corporate offices of the restaurant and proceeded to get the same kind of enthusiastic response as the local restaurant. The young man I talked to congratulated us immediately on our success, then talked to his boss in communications as well as the local franchise owner, and they’ve all been supportive.
The event is still very much in the planning stages, but I have found this whole exercise invigorating and rewarding. Mom and I now know after three years that publishing a book is very hard work that pays pretty terrible wages in terms of monetary value, but a pretty fantastic salary if you like being paid by gratification. As my little sister Allyn Stotz, a children’s book in Baton Rouge, LA, (who is our No. 1 cheerleader) has said many times: it’s those voices that praise you for having the courage to pursue your dream that make this a worthwhile pursuit.
As mom and I found at this past weekend’s art and craft’s fair, one person’s comment or action can make an entire day’s efforts worthwhile. We sold just enough books to deem the fair a success. But about half an hour before the fair’s end, mom turned to me and kiddingly said: we need to sell one more set of Twist of Fate/Wretched Fate to make it a true accomplishment. Fifteen minutes later, a quarter hour before the fair closed its doors, a young man wandered by, found out we were local authors, then proceeded to pump us for information on what we’d been through. He was fascinated. Then, even though he readily admitted he didn’t read many books these days, he bought a set. I patted myself on the back for having convinced him they make great Christmas gifts. But when we went to address the signed copies to a gift recipient, he grinned sheepishly and gave his own name.
Thanks to Applebee’s and to Daniel for this week’s needed “salary”.
Genilee Swope Parente
Tags: Applebee's, author, book launch, Genilee Swope Parente, getting published, local restaurants, mystery plot, plot details, publicity for book, Twist of Fate, upcoming Woodbridge events, Violet Fate, Woodbridge events, wretched fate