The pleasures of a signing

  • Hi everyone,

    Yesterday at my Barnes & Noble signing:

    My thanks to Kathy McQueen for introducing me to her grandson. It was a highlight of the event.

    Writers Hall of Fame was having a Book Fair at the store, meaning that a percent of all purchases accompanied with a free coupon went to the organization for future writing scholarships to budding young writers.

    To do my part I signed copies of the three recent titles: 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR WRITING SUCCESS, A PLACE TO START A FAMILY, and CRAWLY SCHOOL FOR BUGS.

    As always, my thanks to Renee Hunt, Jim Troye, and everyone at Barnes & Noble for making my stay so enjoyable.

  • A unique sort of event

    Hi everyone,

    I don’t talk about our gift store often but we have an unusual event coming up that I want you to know about. Below is a brief I just sent out so I think it’s self explanatory. If you have any questions, let me know.

    February 14, 2018
    From: Gamble’s Gifts, 2704 S. Glenstone (Brentwood Center)
    Springfield, Missouri 65804
    Regarding: Virtual signing event, February 15-March 1, 2018
    Owners: Sandy and David Harrison
    Store number: (417) 881-7555
    Home number: (417) 881-0084
    Cell number (Sandy): (417) 830-5634

    GAMBLE’S GIFTS in the Brentwood Center is one of four sites in the United States selected to host a first of its kind event — a virtual Waterford signing. Two of the others are in Chicago, one is in New York City.

    Ten preselected pieces of crystal created by Waterford Crystal in Waterford, Ireland are now on display at Gamble’s Gifts as well as on the store’s website. From February 15 through March 1 anyone interested in acquiring one or more of these crystal collector’s items and having them signed can qualify for the signing event by placing their orders through the store.

    Orders will be forwarded to Tom Brennan, Waterford Crystal Spokesperson & Master Artisan, who will fly from Ireland to New York to sign each piece. Signed pieces will then be shipped to Gamble’s for customer pickup or drop-shipped directly to anyone who lives outside the Springfield area.

    Sandy Harrison says this is a unique example of using today’s technology to bring people exquisite treasures from one of the oldest and most revered crystal houses in history. For centuries Waterford creations have graced homes and castles alike with a wide range of creations including chandeliers, stemware, trophies, lamps, dinnerware, bowls, and numerous other lines of keepsakes that have been handed down from one generation to the next.

    Each year in Times Square, an estimated 100 million people in the United States and one billion viewers worldwide watch the Waterford ball descend to mark the beginning of the New Year. One of the largest crystal masterpieces ever made, the ball weighs 11,875 pounds, is twelve feet in diameter, and is adorned with 2,688 crystals.

    Harrison says, “No matter where you live, you can now own a signed piece of Waterford thanks to this first ever virtual signing event. It’s like owning a little piece of history.”

    Writers at Work: Wait for It

    Hi everyone,

    Sandy Asher and I are bringing you another series of WRITERS AT WORK this month, on Tuesdays as always. We’re calling this one “Wait for It,” as we reflect on those times in our own careers when unsold work from the past has eventually found its way into print. We know that many of you have had the same experiences and hope you’ll send them to Sandy or me by e-mail so we can include them in the last (fifth) Tuesday in October. Thanks and welcome! For anyone interested in reviewing our previous fifteen series of WRITER AT WORK, here’s the link.

    Topic 16: Wait for It
    October 3, 2017
    Part 1 — Sandy


    David, you’ve inspired this exchange of thoughts with your recent comment about finding an old manuscript in your files that seemed to be asking you to come back and work on it. Thank you!

    That reunion with an old manuscript really struck a chord. It’s something that’s happened to me many times over the years. I’ll bet it happens to most writers, at least now and then. And yet we hardly ever hear it mentioned in advice articles or courses or workshops. Sure, we’re told to put a new manuscript away for a few days or weeks so we can revise it with fresh eyes and renewed energy. But what about manuscripts that have been lying around for years?

    They don’t get enough respect!

    In fact, they’re kind of a secret, aren’t they? Maybe we’re not comfortable admitting there are incomplete or unsuccessful manuscripts languishing on the back burner — or off the stove altogether?

    Well, let’s shout it out here: I don’t throw anything away! Not even if it seems hopeless and I think I never want to look at the useless thing again, let alone spend another minute of my precious writing time wrestling with it. I hang onto it, anyway.

    One just never knows when that idea’s time may come. Circumstances change. Markets change. Editors change. But perhaps most importantly, WE change. Sometimes we just have to live a little bit more, learn a little bit more, grow a little bit older and wiser — or do a whole lot of that stuff — to solve the puzzle certain pieces present.

    Some ideas simply knock on our door too soon, but they’ll wait until we’re ready to answer. The very first of my successful file-digging finds is probably something of a record holder. It was a story I wrote for a college creative writing course. It earned a respectable grade at that time, but it wasn’t until 18 years later that I hauled it out, revised it, and sold it. Yes, you read that right: 18 years!

    Fresh out of college, I tried sending it off to what I thought were appropriate publications, but it never found a home. No doubt, that’s because I was aiming at literary journals. I just didn’t know enough to understand what I’d actually written, or even what kind of writer I was meant to be — a children’s author. After the story collected a depressing number of rejections, it went into my file cabinet and there it stayed, abandoned and, eventually, forgotten.

    Some years later, I enrolled in elementary education classes at Drury College (now Drury University) where my husband was teaching. (I’ve always enjoyed working with kids, I just didn’t know I was supposed to be writing for them!) One required class changed everything: Methods of Teaching Children’s Literature. It was there that I first read young adult novels. Suddenly, I felt as if I’d been wandering all my life and had finally found home. My whole approach to my work — and its marketing potential — shifted.

    Not long after that epiphany, I read about an educational publisher looking for stories about teenaged protagonists for a graded reading series. I found my old college story, reread it with new perspective, and sent off the requested query. There was interest. BUT. There were also a few requirements for this series: I had to count not only word length, but average number of syllables, and I had to work in six new vocabulary words twice each. Considerable revision was in order!

    The ensuing labor only made the story better. After it was accepted, I enjoyed a long, productive, and profitable relationship with that publisher. Plus, with each story needing to comply with stringent length, reading difficulty, and vocabulary requirements, I honed my revision skills. Big bonus!

    So, in 18 years, my focus changed, and my writing improved. I also learned something about patience. Sometimes an idea just has to wait for its time to come.

    And, now, David, your time has come!

    The final day of Reading Roundup

    Hi everyone,

    Two days ago marked the end of a campaign that began seventeen years ago. We called ourselves Reading Roundup. We formed to help Springfield Public Schools libraries improve their book collections to meet the highest standards set by the state. We were a small group of like minded members of the community who believed passionately in the necessity of placing quality books into the hands of students. We were always advised by numerous knowledgeable district folks: librarians, supervisors, administrators; but we operated as an independent, grass roots band of seven people or so: Terry Bond, Morey Mechlin, Rex Hansen, Renee Hunt, Jim Troye, Linda Fredrick, and me.

    We met monthly for a long time and found all sorts of ways to bring our campaign to the public. The schools needed books! Our Springfield community agreed and we raised a lot of money. The school board pitched in by dramatically increasing its annual budget for books. From 2000-2007 the combined efforts of the district, Reading Roundup volunteers, and others added or replaced more than 190,000 library books costing more than $3.6 million.

    When Reading Roundup reached its original goal, we shifted focus to meet specific needs of individual school libraries. Librarians throughout the district began submitting grant requests each year for money to make things better for their own population of students. From 2007-2017 Reading Roundup raised $150,000 to fund or partly fund 180 librarian requests that impacted on 50,000 Springfield Public Schools students.

    It’s hard to sustain a fund raising campaign for seventeen years. Over the last few years our donations — the only source of our income — dried up. We could no longer continue and so this year we gave away the last of our money to fund grants, and took down our shingle. These pictures show most of our gang surprising librarians by showing up together on sort of a farewell tour. We loved it. It has been a privilege to work beside so many good people. I’d do it again. But for now, Reading Roundup exists no more.

    Happy Anniversary, Sandy

    Hi everyone,

    I can’t tell you how many years we’ve been married. She won’t even tell me! I can tell you that Mrs. Harrison (sometimes when I’ve been good I get to call her Sandy), and I have been together for a while now. And as it works so often with long-term couples, we agree more and more on just about everything. There are those rare exceptions, of course. When we’ve both been good, life is sweet. At the end of the day or the trip or the road, we’re going to have some mighty fine memories.
    Happy anniversary, Sweetheart. I love you.