Feb 162018
 

I thought I’d posted this one already, but apparently not. This short story was my final assignment (Editing and Revision) in my Creative Writing course. We had to submit our first draft and the final revision. Here’s what my instructor had to say:

“The story is expertly designed, and the writing style is professional and virtually flawless. It is not hard for me to imagine this as the work of a published author. I hope one day that will be the case.”

Me, too. 😉


On Tranquil Shores

Zane came down the steps off his deck just as she rounded the corner from behind dunes and golden grasses, the waves of the Atlantic tickling the shore behind her. He started towards her, across the soft sand. He wanted to see her eyes, needed to see the secrets hidden in their depths, and found himself sailing through the air, landing with an oomf at her feet. Pretty feet, with nails painted coral. Were those happy faces on the nails of her big toes?

Lifting his head, he admired long, long legs; the pale blue sundress flirting in the breeze; muscular arms folded over her abdomen below small breasts; a straw beach bag slung over one sun-kissed shoulder; long neck, tilted slightly; the smirk of a smile; and one perfectly shaped, raised eyebrow. There was a sparkle of amusement in her blue eyes. Whoa! The whole package up close was something to behold.

“Well,” she said in a warm, rusty voice. Sexy. “It’s not every day I have men falling at my feet.”

The weight of the pain and sorrow emanating from her, so sharp he could feel it himself in the weeks he’d watched her from his office window, seemed to have lifted with her amusement. “Ah,” he said. Jesus! He was a man who made his living with words and that was the best he could do? He pushed up to his feet, brushing sand off his rumpled clothes – the wrinkled t-shirt he’d taken out of the laundry hamper, the tan shorts he’d spilled his morning coffee on. “Sorry about that.” He glanced behind him, narrowed his eyes at the piece of driftwood in the sand. “I guess I should pay more attention to where I’m going.”

“You never know when beach trash is going to jump up and grab you.”

He laughed, stabbing his fingers through his medium brown hair and realized he hadn’t bothered to run a comb through it. Dropping his hand to his side, he said, “I just came out to invite you to dinner.”

“Dinner?” Her arched brows drew together.

“Yeah, I thought it was time to introduce myself. Be neighbourly.”

She cocked her head, staring at him.

“I’ve seen you coming up from the beach from my office window for weeks now. You look physically strong, yet whatever you’re carrying around with you is weighing so heavy you can barely lift your feet.” He motioned to the marks in the sand behind her. “You’re dragging your feet.”

She turned, examining the drag marks in the sand.

He was making a mess of this and wasn’t sure how to rescue himself. “Sorry, just an observation. I’m a writer, so I observe.”

“A writer.” She turned back to him with fire in her eyes. “So, what? You want me to come to dinner so that you can observe my brain, figure out what it is I’m carrying around with me?”

“I…hmmm.” He frowned, scratched his head. “I thought maybe I could help.”

“Are you a reporter?”

“What? No. I’m a novelist. Zane Ziegler.” He held out his hand, saw the recognition in her eyes and it stemmed some of the fire. Her hand slid into his, gripped firmly.

“Elle. Elle Dawson.”

Zane grinned. “So, you’ll come for dinner, Elle Dawson?”

She sighed deeply, brushing loose strands of hair from her face. “Sure. It will give me the chance to make up for my amusement at your misfortune.”

#

Elle studied herself in the mirror, turning to take in the simple sundress. Stupid, she thought. Stupid to accept a dinner invitation from someone she knew wanted to pick her brain. But, it had been so long since she’d had someone to converse with and the dishevelled, clumsy Zane seemed harmless.

She’d given herself a month at the beach house to figure things out and decide what to do with the rest of her life and, three weeks in, she was no further ahead than the day she arrived.

So maybe Zane Ziegler could help. And that was stupid, too. Who goes to a writer for psychological help? She dropped down onto the bed and buried her face in her hands. Get a grip, Elle. It’s just dinner.

She let her anger at herself propel her next door. She marched up the deck stairs and froze, staring at the quaint table set with gleaming silverware and short candles in crystal bowls. Not exactly what she’d expected.

“You look lovely.”

Elle spun around to see Zane leaning in the doorway. He didn’t look so unkempt now. Although still shaggy, he’d made an attempt to tame his hair. He wore dark dress slacks and a pale blue button up shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Casual elegance. Man, he cleaned up well! He pushed off the jamb and walked to her, offering one of the glasses of wine in his hand.

“Thank you.” Elle motioned to the table with her glass. “You’ve gone to a lot of trouble.”

“No trouble. I enjoy eating in a … nice setting. Why waste a view like this?”

She got the impression he’d been about to say romantic setting, maybe because that was exactly what it was. Elle turned to look out over the beach and the ocean beyond. “It’s beautiful.” She was going to miss it. One week seemed entirely too soon to be leaving.

Zane brought out salads to start and they sat at the table. It wasn’t long before the small talk turned to questions about her.

“Tell me what’s troubling you?”

She nearly laughed, and would have if he didn’t look so serious. “Just like that? You expect me to just vomit out all of my…” She waved her hands in front of her as if searching for the right word. “Stuff because you ask?”

Zane shrugged. “Sure. Why not?”

The sun was beginning to set, casting shadows among the dunes. Elle set down her fork and stared out over the beach, let the whoosh of the waves rolling into shore, the caress of the warm breeze, the fresh, salty scent of the air, settle her. Why not? Maybe vomiting out her stuff would help. “All my life I wanted to be a cop,” she began.

“A cop? Damn, I had you pegged for an athlete.”

She couldn’t help the smile that spread across her face. “It burns that you got it wrong, doesn’t it?”

“Well, yeah.” He frowned into his wine glass, the candlelight flickering over his face. “I’m usually pretty good at figuring people out.”

“Keeping in shape is important to me. I need to be strong in my job.”

“Okay. I get that. So, what’s got you questioning your career choice?”

She cocked her head and locked onto his hazel eyes. He was good at observing, she thought. He saw more than most. “We were investigating a series of murders where the victims were tortured, raped, and their bodies dumped like trash. We knew where he was targeting the victims. They’d all been taken from the same mall. But, that was all we had. No witnesses, no forensics. Nada. We had a member of the team who matched the victimology, so we organized an op, sent her in as bait.”

Zane’s fork came to a halt halfway between his plate and his mouth. “You were the bait.”

Yeah, he definitely saw more than most. “I was the bait.” She traced the rim of her wineglass with her finger, surprised at how easy the words were coming. “We had cops all over the mall, inside and out. A couple of hours in, the mall Security Supervisor, Michael Cheney, walks up to me and says Detective Aldsworth would like to see me in the Control Centre. They had a guy on CCTV, stalking a woman fitting the vic profile on the west side of the mall, second level. I headed to the Control Centre in the basement on the east side of the mall while the rest of the team raced to the west side. Cheney badged us in to the Security Admin area then motioned for me to go ahead of him. I didn’t even think about it … until I felt the pinch on the back of my neck.”

“You would have investigated all of the security employees when you knew where he was grabbing the victims.”

“Yeah, we did. There was nothing there. Nothing that popped.” She stared out over the beach again. “I made a rookie mistake and I’m no rookie. I should have called Aldsworth to confirm. When he didn’t answer, I would have known something was hinky.”

“The rest of the team just reacted as well. No one stopped to question the supervisor.”

“I knew better. I was blinded by my desperation to get this guy. I guess we all were.” It was the first time she’d allowed herself to contemplate that she wasn’t the only one who’d screwed up. She took a gulp of wine then sat back and closed her eyes. She could see it all happening like it was yesterday, today, five minutes ago. “I came to strapped to a table, like the ones they have in the morgue. Six hours. That’s how long it took them to find me.”

“He made a big mistake. Better if he’d waited for the heat to die down, but he took you in the middle of an op. That gave the team his name and the basis to search for properties he’d have access to.”

“Not hard to tell you write mysteries.”

He smiled, raised his glass to her. “Finish it.”

“That’s it,” she shrugged. “It was humiliating. I screwed up. Really screwed up. How am I going to face them again? How am I going to be able to walk into my station house?”

She’d done a darn good job of skipping over the trauma she’d suffered during those six hours and that was okay. He didn’t expect her to talk to him about those details, but she needed to spill them to someone. “You’re going to piss me off if you keep blaming yourself. Do you blame the other victims for falling into his trap?”

Her fist slammed the table sending her fork clattering off her plate. “They weren’t cops!”

“Then it was every member of the team’s fault that raced for the west side of the mall without checking in with Aldsworth. If you blame yourself, you have to blame the rest.”

The sun had set, but she turned to stare out at the darkness. Damn, she hated that he was right.

#

“Wow. You made this yourself?” Elle stared down at the plate Zane had just set in front of her with the main course of grilled grouper, steamed vegetables, and baked potatoes. She looked up at him with wide eyes.

“I figure if I want to eat, I better be able to cook since I spend so much of my time sequestered.”

“Yeah, but I bet you could afford someone to do it for you.”

He laughed. He could probably afford a house full of staff to see to his every need at this point, but he enjoyed the solitude. And he enjoyed cooking.

He let her get a few bites in before he hit her with his next question. “Are you afraid to go back to work because you feel like you screwed up or because you feel ashamed of the trauma you suffered?”

Elle narrowed her eyes at him as her neck and face flushed red. “I’m not afraid.”

He preferred that flash of anger in her eyes to the despair he most often saw there. “I’m sure your department provides counselling, so why haven’t you seen someone?”

She shrugged. “I took a leave of absence as soon as I got out of the hospital and I came here.”

“Elle? You need to talk to someone.”

The despair was back in her eyes and they brimmed with tears. She turned her head away from him, but not before he saw those tears begin to fall. “It was my own damn fault.”

His heart broke for her. He was sure he could feel it tearing in half. “No,” he said, with more force than he intended. “It was Cheney’s fault.” She had to stop blaming herself or she’d never heal. “Maybe you made a mistake in not contacting Aldsworth, but you said yourself you checked out the security staff. He was in a trustworthy position and there was nothing in his background to cause suspicion. Stop blaming yourself. Stop punishing yourself.”

#

Zane had given Elle a lot to think about and, over the next few days, she worked on forgiving herself.

Her last week flew by. Elle spent every afternoon at the beach, secretly reading one of Zane’s novels. She’d heard of him, but had never actually read his work. The evenings she spent with Zane, talking about everything under the sun. He was so easy to talk to and, even better, he seemed to understand her. Now she was down to her last night, and she still hadn’t made a decision on what to do with her life.

She took a last barefoot stroll down the beach with Zane under a full moon, the sand soft and cool between her toes.

“Do you still want to be a cop?” Zane asked.

“Yeah. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do and I’m good at it, but I still don’t feel like I can face going back to my squad. I don’t know that that will ever change.” It had helped considerably to talk to Zane about the op. She knew she’d have to see a therapist and that she still had a lot of work to do, but she wasn’t as afraid of doing that as she had been a week ago. Still, going back to work didn’t feel right. The job she loved was slipping from her grasp with her dilemma.

“Why did you come here to get away?” Zane asked. “Here specifically?”

Elle slowed to a stop, breathed in the sea air, and took a moment to enjoy the soft, warm breeze on her face. “I’ve always found the sea so tranquil, so relaxing. So when I’m stressed, it’s where I tend to go.”

“Why don’t you transfer to the police department here?”

“What?” Her eyes flew up to meet his.

“You love the beach. You still want to be a cop, but not where you were working. Stay. Make this your permanent home.”

She had to admit that she was dreading leaving this place. She’d found a sense of peace here, with the sea air, warm breezes, the sounds of the waves rolling up on shore, even in the easy companionship she’d found with Zane. Starting fresh with a department that didn’t know all of the details of her ordeal had quite a bit of appeal now that she thought about it. She’d miss her old squad, but she couldn’t see herself working with them again. Here, she could start fresh and still do the job she loved.

It was like a weight had suddenly been lifted from her shoulders, like she could finally breathe again. “Why do you want me to stay?”

“For the obvious reasons,” he said. “I feel safer with a cop living next door.”

“Yeah, right.” Elle laughed. “You just want someone to fix your speeding tickets. I’ve seen that little sports car you drive.”

Zane took her hand and brushed his lips over her knuckles. It was the first time he’d made any move on her. She felt the tingling sizzle all the way up her arm.

“Stay,” he whispered.

Elle looked up into his eyes, seeing the desire in them and something else that she couldn’t quite identify. If you’d asked her a week ago if she was interested in getting involved with a man, she would have answered, “Hell no!” But, she felt comfortable with Zane. More, she trusted him. She slid her palm over his until their fingers interlocked. “Okay,” she whispered and he grinned. A slow smile spread across her face as they began to walk again. She drew in another deep breath of sea air, breathing so much easier now. “How can I resist a man who falls at my feet?”

The sound of their laughter drifted on the breeze.


I received a grade of 97%. Not a bad way to end my course. 😀

Feb 072018
 

I am participating in NYC Midnight‘s Short Story Challenge 2018. At the start time for the First Round of the Challenge, we were given a genre, subject, and character for a 2500 word short story with 8 days to complete and upload it. I was assigned horror, a checklist, and a gatecrasher. Horror is not a genre that I typically enjoy, however, writing out of my comfort zone proved to be challenging and educational. I’m hoping to move on to the second round at the end of March by placing in the top 5 out of the 32 in my heat. Wish me luck!

Update: Although I did not make the cut for the second round of the Short Story Challenge 2018, I did receive an honourable mention. Considering horror is not my strong suit, I was pleased with this result.


Cat Scratch Fever

“Rebecca’s still not answering.” Lily huffed and dropped her hand to her side, her phone clutched in a tight fist.

“Stop being so paranoid.” Jeremy hissed, bored with Lily’s incessant worry. “She’s probably too busy having a good time with Ben to take your calls.”

Lily didn’t believe that for a moment. Rebecca always answered her calls or texts. Her skin itched with a sense of dread.

“Let me see that.” Lily snatched at the crisp sheet of paper in Jeremy’s hand, but he lifted it above his head, out of her reach.

“Let’s go to the car and plan out our strategy where no one else can hear us.” Jeremy herded her to his beautifully restored 1965 Dodge Rambler, away from the sign-in desk for the Shade University Annual Car Rally Scavenger Hunt.

He read their checklist of fifteen items, each one to be accomplished by one or more team members and documented with a cell phone picture. The first team to return with the least errors or omissions, won a cash prize, not that Jeremy cared about the money or even winning. The thrill was in the chase.

“A picture of a phone booth?” Jeremy sneered. “Phone booths don’t exist anymore. This is 2018, not 1999.”

“Oh! There’s one at the Reference Library.”

“Get out. Really? Cool.” Jeremy flicked his weighty golden bangs out of his eyes. “Photo of an out of state licence plate. We’ll hold off on that one and keep our eyes peeled while we work on the rest.” He read the list to himself for a moment. “A video of one team member Gatecrashing a party and having a drink. This one’s easy. There’s bound to be parties at any number of the fraternity houses on campus.”

The horn sounded, signaling the start of the three hour event. Jeremy shoved the checklist into his back pocket and started up his Rambling Rose. She roared to life, all shiny black and gleaming chrome with an abstract rose decal in the rear window.

Thirty minutes later, with three of the fifteen tasks completed, he pulled over at the Reference Library and Lily snapped an image of the graffiti ridden phone booth. Four down, eleven to go.

“Frat house next,” Jeremy said as he shot back out to the road. “While you gatecrash a bash, I’ll explore the campus parking lot for out of state plates.”

With a shrug, Lily stared out the window, still a little annoyed Jeremy wouldn’t show her the stupid list. His controlling nature tended to feed her ire.

Jeremy cruised down a tree-lined street with old two storey abodes on either side, the Rambler rumbling like a purring kitten. University students occupied most of these homes. He parked at the curb in front of a red brick monstrosity with loud music vibrating from inside. Squeezing Lily’s hand, he furrowed his brow. “In and out, Lil. Take the video and haul ass out of there.”

Lily smiled at the worry in Jeremy’s tone. “No sweat.” She leaned over and brushed a chaste kiss to his cheek – a reward for his concern. Jeremy rubbed his face against hers in a feline like gesture.

“What?” He grinned when she pulled away. “Don’t like my whiskers?”

“Whiskers? Who says that?” With a laugh, she opened her door. “Be right back.”

Bending over the seats, Jeremy stared up at Lily. “I’ll find a licence plate and be back in five minutes.”

* * *

The wind kicked up and the gnarled branches of an old elm tree in the yard creaked as they swiped close to Lily. She hit record on her phone, holding it up facing the house. Her long chestnut hair whipped around her face as she pushed the black iron gate on the fractured path. It groaned in protest before clanging shut behind her. Glancing up, she glimpsed the bright, full moon through the swaying branches and a shiver ran down her spine. She didn’t bother knocking on the dark steel door, considering she was gatecrashing this shindig. The music blared deafeningly when she eased the door open – some hard rock band screaming out lyrics of cat scratch fever. Not her cup of tea.

The place reeked of a mixture of cat piss, sweaty gym clothes, and raw, rotting meat. Ew, why were men such pigs? She would have been smarter to suggest a sorority house for this task. Lily scanned the rooms off the foyer, but saw no one. The raunchy song burst from the room on her right, a living room with mismatched dated furniture and an old vinyl stereo system against the wall. A red and green plaid couch with stuffing bulging out between strands of shredded fabric sat in the centre of the room. She backed up with the hair on the back of her neck standing at attention.

As she reached for the doorknob with a trembling hand, the music came to a screeching halt. She peered back into the living room at a man looming over the stereo. Silver threaded through his thick tawny hair. This guy was way too old to be a student.

“Hello. Can I help you with something?”

“Uh … sorry, I-I must have come to the wrong house.” Lily wrenched the handle, but the door wouldn’t open. She tried again, her damp palm slipping on the glossy globe. Gripping harder, she twisted and yanked, but the door refused to relent.

“You can’t leave. Unless I let you, of course.”

The raspy voice came from directly behind her and Lily spun around to face the man wearing a crumpled grey t-shirt with a dark, crusty stain down the front, filthy jeans, and bare feet. Well, now she knew where the vile gym clothes odor came from. “Can you open the door, please? My f-friends are waiting for me.” She held her cell phone at her side, hoping it captured him on the video.

He snickered and Lily thought if the university offered a dental hygiene class, this freak missed it. A rusty brown stained his teeth. Gross.

“I don’t think so.” He padded forward, stalking his prey.

The same reddish-brown caked the corners of his lips, cracked and peeling like dried blood. Lily pressed herself into the door while her eyes darted all around, scanning for an escape route, for a weapon. “Listen, mister, let me out of here now or my friends will call the cops. They’re waiting right outside.” She should run to the back of the house and find the back door, but, God help her, she couldn’t make her legs move.

The man lunged for her and yelled, “Aaaah!”

Lily jolted, a shrill howl ripping from her lungs. Shocked into action, she sprinted around him, raced to the back of the house, ricocheting off drywall and doorframes. She stuck her phone in her pocket as she neared the back door in the kitchen, wrung and pulled the doorknob with both hands, but it denied her efforts.

A sinister cackle echoed from the hallway. “This is fun. I tell you what, little girl. Run and hide. I’ll find you.”

Jesus Christ! Lily foraged for something to throw through the window until she noticed the steel bars on the other side of it. Shit. No way in hell was she going back out to the hall to try for the stairway to the second floor with that creeper out there. That left this floor or … damn. The basement. How many horror movies had she watched and shook her head at the idiots who went into the cellar? But, she needed to buy herself enough time to call Jeremy to come and rescue her. She pulled a door open and found a walk-in pantry. The next door opened to a set of rickety stairs descending into a pitch-black abyss. She reached around for a light switch. Nothing.

The music came back on, blaring out the same hard rock crap, the base reverberating through her entire body.

Lily closed the door behind her and used the flashlight app on her phone to guide her down the dilapidated steps. The pungent rancidity of rotten meat and cat pee singed her nostrils and made her eyes water. She lost her footing on the last step thanks to her rubbery, quivering legs and her phone skittered across the cement, disappearing under an old pine workbench before plunging her into complete darkness. “Oh, God.”

She lumbered over the floor, her hands outstretched for the bench, then lowered to her hands and knees. Her right hand slid in a dense, slimy substance. Grease? She wiped her hand on her pants and reached under the lower shelf of the work table, sweeping her hand back and forth, praying there were no rats or creepy bugs under there. The tips of her fingers met the edge of the phone and she inched it out, turned the flashlight app back on, and lit up the deep red, congealing puddle in front of her as a coppery taste filled her watery mouth.

A sharp pain slashed through her chest as she struggled to contain the terror-filled scream crying for release. Hold it together, she told herself. She needed to find a hiding spot and call Jeremy. Fast. Her rasping breaths came in short gasps as she flashed the light around the room, searching for a place to conceal her curvy body. A blue plastic tarp hung like a curtain from an exposed pipe in the ceiling, blocking off part of the room. Whatever horrors hid behind it, Lily didn’t want to know. She went in the other direction, wedging herself behind a stack of cardboard boxes. Her hands shook so bad, she tapped Jenny in her contacts on the first attempt, missing Jeremy’s name. She managed to select the right name on her second try and held the phone to her ear. She couldn’t hear if it rang over the blasting music and her pulse throbbing in her ears, so she checked the screen. The call wasn’t going through. No reception. Her heart plummeted from her chest.

Lily frantically scurried out from her meager sanctuary, probing the cinderblock walls for a window. Nothing. To inspect the rest of the place, she had to go behind the dreaded tarp. A tremor creeped up her back, over her scalp, and goosebumps prickled her cold, clammy skin.

The music upstairs stopped, cloaking her in silence except for her own whimpers. No footsteps, but the creaking of the floor above her moved closer and closer to the back of the house, closer and closer to the door to the basement, to her.

She took one stiff footstep towards the tarp and froze, her arms pulling into her chest, her shaking fingers tightly grasping her phone, its glow aimed at the dreary curtain. A droning hum grew on the other side of the flimsy wall.

Creak, creak.

Lily whimpered. A slice of light beamed down from the top of the stairs, widening inch by inch, and Lily stumbled forward. She nudged the edge of the crinkly sheet aside, shining her beam ahead of her. Hundreds, thousands, of flies swarmed the confined space. Her brain took several seconds to register what she was looking at and her face solidified into an obscene silent scream.

“Lily? Lil?”

She registered Jeremy’s voice, but couldn’t respond, couldn’t tear her eyes away from the gruesome scene before her – the mangled bodies, sliced and torn to shreds, the grisly flesh ripped from bone, strings of tendons and muscle hanging grotesquely out of joints. A sea of maggots gorged, their tiny forms moving together in sickening waves. Vulgar smears, splatters, and pools of coagulated crimson covered every surface. And the funk. Oh, the foul stench.

Lily bent forward, the contents of her stomach spewing out and spraying a horrid blanket over the repulsive display of wasted life. She caught sight of long, blonde hair matted with blood. The face was obscured by slashes and bloody stains, but she recognized Rebecca and howled.

Jeremy grabbed Lily’s shoulders and pulled her back, turning her before he wrapped his arms around her. Hysterical sobs heaved her rigid body. “I’ve got you.” His glowing yellow eyes drifted to the massive, tawny wildcat on the stairs and he smiled, displaying a row of small teeth bracketed by broad, sabre like canines. “I’ve got you,” he whispered with a purr. He didn’t know why he got such a kick out of luring these tasty treats to his father’s door, but he supposed he enjoyed playing with his food as much as his father did.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave me your comments below. How’d I do with the horror theme? Do you think I have a chance of progressing to the second round?

Nov 202014
 

image3Going into the Inspire Toronto International Book Fair as a new Canadian self-published author, I had an idea of what to expect, but was it realistic since this was my first time promoting my books? I was excited at the prospect of promoting my novels at an event that was a targeted audience of book lovers. How do you determine how many books to bring with you to an event like this? I brought 125 copies of my first novel, Saving Grace, and 75 copies of the second novel in the Taylor Sinclair Series, Unfinished Business, and I was worried I wouldn’t have enough. What I learned was that it wasn’t about book sales. Sales for unknown indie-authors like myself were pretty much non-existent at the Book Fair. I failed to take into account that we would be competing for sales with over 400 authors, many of them best-sellers and a few of them legends.

What the inaugural event of Toronto’s Book Fair was about for authors like myself was networking, making contacts with professionals in the literary world, and getting our name out there. These things were invaluable and made the event a success despite the financial loss. I invested a lot in the creation of promotional materials such as banners, business cards, and a Kindle Fire HD draw to entice people to join my email list. Other costs included the purchase of the booth itself, travel and hotel expenses, and the printing of 200 novels (which I will still be able to sell). So, all in all, with only ten books sold at the event, it was a financial loss. But that doesn’t take into account future online sales that may result from handing out my business cards, or from people checking out my website from the links on the Inspire Toronto International Book Fair website and print materials, or from the exposure on social media sites.  It may be too early to determine just how much of an impact the Book Fair will have in regards to book sales, but I definitely believe it has been a very worthwhile investment.

Networking with other authors, both traditionally published and self-published, publicity firms, publishing companies, printers, and marketing specialists provided a valuable learning experience as well as the opportunity to share social media exposure. These things are where the value in taking part in such events come. I also had the opportunity to spend time with some amazing talent and incredible people who I hope to keep as friends for a long time to come.image2

What I have learned that I will take into next years event is that I need to schedule hours where I will be available for signings and either share a booth with other authors or hire someone to man my booth for me. That would free me up to take full advantage of what the Toronto Book Fair has to offer in terms of speakers offering advice for writers and self-published authors. It would enable me to do more networking and visiting the other booths and exhibitors that I missed out on by being tied to my booth. Next year I won’t be concerned about book sales, although I hope that the sales will be better than this year. I will be more concerned with the networking opportunities and the valuable relationships that can be built during an event like this.

If I had advice to give to help make next year’s Book Fair even better it would be to give more attention to the Hub exhibitors. I was scheduled to speak on the Soapbox Stage on the Saturday from 12:20 to 12:40pm. I had thought that there would be Book Fair staff or volunteers there to help out and to introduce the speakers, but this didn’t happen. I just put one of my banners on the stage and went about my reading with no support from staff anywhere in sight. It felt a little bit like the Hub area was ignored. I know that there has been talk of putting the Hub in a more central location next year so that it isn’t ignored, so writing that piece of advice is probably a moot point. That is another of the impressive things about the organizers of the event: they were already looking at what they could improve for next year. Very impressive!

image5I am very grateful to the Inspire organizing staff, particularly Maddy Curry and Jesse Bernstein, who were extremely helpful both before and during the Book Fair. Also, whoever runs the social media sites for Inspire_TIBF, thank you for retweeting my tweets! It is very much appreciated.

 

See you at next year’s Inspire! Toronto International Book Fair!

 

 

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