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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.

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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” (www.valeryswonderland.blogspot.com) 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

 

 

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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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May 14 is our Book Party!

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 VioletFate1st edition_coverfront, 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

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s a Small World After All

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In the blog I wrote following my emergency hospital visit, I talked about an unhappy coincidence: ending up in the same room where my dad was taken when he was first diagnosed with what would eventually take his life. It was a chilling incident. This week, mom and I experienced a more positive kind of “it’s a small world” situation.

We were attending the first book event of this year: an arts and crafts fair at Ft. Belvoir. After the terrible beginning to 2015, it felt great just to be out, talking to people about how much we love writing books. I kept glancing at the woman whose booth was catty corner to ours. She was friendly and had smiled our way several times as she painstakingly dragged out pillows and stuffed animals and other goods she’d handcrafted. I almost offered to help her because I felt so sorry for how hard she was working to set up her extensive collection. She also seemed so familiar to me that I could visualize what her voice sounded like. When we did finally stop in our preparations for the fair and approached each other, she sounded just like I’d imagined. Within minutes of exchanging pleasantries, I found out that she does extensive volunteer work, including taking her dog around to medical facilities. Then I knew.

“Where do you visit?” I asked too loudly.

Her eyes widened slightly, but she rattled off a few places. They included the rest home where Dad spent just a little over a week before passing.

“I knew it. I knew it. I met you.”

Then she remembered as well. In fact, she remembered what room we were in when she and two other volunteers brought their dogs through and stopped to cheer mom and I, and my two sisters up. We had gathered to talk to the administrator who had gone to bat to get dad admitted and were awaiting an appointment to finalize details.

We were very much in need of some cheer and the dogs and the friendly ladies showing them provided a moment of respite from sorrow.

In a metropolitan area like ours, that kind of coincidence is pretty shocking. The rest home was 30 miles away from where we live, which is another 15 miles away from where the arts and crafts fair was held. And there are millions of people in all those miles. Yet here was a woman I’d met by chance and even shared a hug at the door as we said our goodbyes at the rest home. She’d promised to pray for our family that dad would be admitted. I guess it worked.

When I told my little sister and fellow author Allyn Stotz this story, she was amazed, but wasn’t surprised. Allyn is also from a large metropolitan area—Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She’d been to her first book event several weeks before. She was talking to a woman who loved Allyn’s current books and mentioned that her neighbor, an illustrator, had just had her first picture book published. When the woman shared what that book was about, the two discovered the illustrator was the very same woman who is helping Allyn with her next book!

It truly is a small world … or at least it feels that way sometimes. It makes you wonder how many times you bump into someone whose path may have crossed yours at some point without either of you knowing it!

Genilee Swope Parente

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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The Swope Clan in Edgerton

I don’t think I’ve ever received as many hugs in as short a time as I did during a 48-hour period last weekend. I went to Edgerton, my home town, for a book tour with mom and my sister Allyn. Mom and I weren’t the stars of that show; Allyn has kept in touch with many people and has some really close friends who are her cheerleaders. They became our cheerleaders too. But all of us, including those of us not there as pen-wielding celebrities, but rather as supporters, got a huge dose of Home Town Pride, and it was nice to be a small part of that pride.

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Our hostest Susan Herman of Susan’s Hair Flair and president of the Edgerton Chamber of Commerce

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Verna and mom

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Allyn & Sondra

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Mr. Smith (center)

A few highlights:

We were sitting at breakfast the first morning, already happy to be together and sharing laughs when my nieces walked into the restaurant. They flew in from Texas to surprise grandma and grandpa—arriving at 3 a.m. the previous night after a grueling flight on a cheaper airline. Once I saw them, I knew that—no matter the results of our book events—the weekend had just become something I’d never forget.

Our high school English teacher Richard Smith came to the Edgerton Public Library signing. I am quite certain I never hugged Mr. Smith in high school. Hugs were not so plentiful in those days. But neither Al nor I could help ourselves when we saw him. He is the teacher that got us interested in words. He laughingly explained he doesn’t read fiction (though he read our first book) anymore because his life was so consumed by it when he was a teacher. But he still has that delicious acerbic wit that delighted us as teenagers so much that we paid attention to him in class.

Verna Wortkoetter, the friend mom has remained closest to, not only had the clan and some old neighbors over for lunch, she invited some of mom’s old sorority sisters. The gesture was especially thoughtful because Verna was not part of that club. But she knew how important it was to mom, and she knew they’d all soon be trading memories of the parties they had and what had happened to the rest of the crew. I believe my nieces got a taste of grandma’s (and grandpa’s) wilder days by listening to the stories.

My husband saw his first parade, and (as I expected) instantly transformed into a kid. He kept himself from scrambling into the street after candy, but it couldn’t have been easy.

All of us choked up when grandpa struggled up out of his chair to sing the star spangled banner word for word. Alzheimers has nothing over patriotism!

God seemed to be smiling down on the whole weekend as the weather, which is usually hot and humid and miserable this time of year in Ohio, was gorgeous and sunny and cool.

The number of people who told us they were proud of what we’d done was incredible. It just kept coming and coming from old classmates and neighbors and friends of friends.

One of the signings we had was at Susan’s Hair flair right downtown Edgerton in the building that used to house the Edgerton Public Library. As I looked around at that building, I realized that it all really began there with mom pushing us all to learn to love books. Here it was, 50 plus years later, and we were back, signing books we had written ourselves. Thanks Mom, for getting us started on this path.

 

–Genilee Swope Parente

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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