Housekeeping and Coupons!

So this week, Friday to be exact, I have a book releasing. This one was a weird one for me. I wrote it as a flash fiction exercise for my patrons over at my Patreon page. So it took a fair bit of editing once it was done. By the time I was done with it, I wasn’t even sure if it was a book or not.

But, my critique partners all assured me it was, in fact, a book. The three of them and my editor all seemed to have glowing things to say about it. So, I should feel better, but I’m still kinda like, what did I even write? This will be my 23rd published novel between both names and I’m still like, okay but am I any good at this?

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Well, you can always voice your opinion if you want to grab a copy–you can pre-order now or buy it on Friday.

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Amazon Barnes & Noble | Smashwords Kobo iBooks

Add it on Goodreads now!

Speaking of getting a book ready, I’m plugging my professional critique services again. I have time in June to take on a couple of books, so if you want to hit me up, now is the time (though I’m happy to book you in advance for other months so if you want, just email me)! If you mention seeing this blog post, I’ll give you a 20% discount on the total price! I’m especially in the mood for some fantasy or cozy mysteries, but I’m pretty open to most genres. Just email me at shaunagranger82 @ gmail . com — Gimme something to read, y’all! My Red Pen of Death™ has been lonely!

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And, since I’m mostly just reminding you guys of things, this week’s pledge-free Tarot Card Reading is live on my Patreon page. This week’s card is The Hermit.

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I offer these posts pledge-free so you can check out my page and see if you’d like to chip in and become a patron–levels start as low as $1!

That’s about all that’s going on right now. I wanted to make sure you guys were aware of all the Things. Can’t believe it’s almost June and half the year will be gone already. But hey! That means my half-birthday is coming!

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One Month Until Hexed is Released!

Exactly one month from today the Eighth Matilda Kavanagh Novel will be released! And I just wanted to thank all of you who have already pre-ordered your copies, each one means so much to me!

If you missed my earlier announcements and want to pre-order yours, you still have time!

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Pre-order links:

Amazon Barnes and Noble | Smashwords Kobo iBooks

Catching up

I’m trying to be better about this space because I’ll forget about it for months at a time and then it’s awkward when I come back, acting like we’re cool, like I haven’t abandoned you for so long and am trying to pick up like it’s only been a couple of days.

So, with that in mind, I’d like to remind you that you can follow me on quite a few platforms outside of this blog. I’m usually much better about being active an vocal there.

We’ve got my FB fan page. I’m good about keeping people up to date about writing and bookish things there. And, I promise, I don’t spam post so I won’t be clogging your feed.

2017-07-28 11.03.48We’ve got my twitter feed. I’m far more outspoken there. I don’t shy away about my rage screaming over politics. If you like to keep art and artist separate and you don’t swing toward the liberal side of things, consider this your warning about my twitter space. I like the freedom I have there and I won’t apologize for it or anything I say or share there.

Then we have Instagram. Oh, I do love Instagram. That’s a lot of puppy pictures and what crazy hair color I’ve got going and food pics and coffee (lots of coffee) and of course, bookish stuff.

patreon bannerAlso, I have a Patreon page (with a new post up today!), where you can help keep me from being a starving artist with your monthly pledges. You can pledge as little as a dollar just because or you can pledge $3 a month and have access to all the exclusive fiction content I’m sharing (right now I’m posting the installments of Maggie’s [from Dandelions] story that will eventually become a real book, but you can read as I write), at a $5 pledge you get a free ebook of your choice each month and the rewards grow from there. Also, every patron gets their name listed in the acknowledgements of each book that releases as long as they’re a patron. I’d love to see that list of names grow.

spellbound widget invertedAnd, of course, we have the Spellbound Scribes. Through accidents and luck, I somehow became the moderator of this awesome group blog where I, and some awesome fantasy authors, post once a week on various bookish and writerly things. It’s very informative and helpful, I think.

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Second to last, I have two manuscript critique slots open for August. I don’t have any time in September, so if you want to grab one of these two slots, now is the time. You can check my rates and philosophy on my Manuscript Critique page and contact me at shaunagranger82 @ gamil dot com. If you mention you saw this post, I’ll give you 10% off the total cost of the critique!

Finally, just to remind you, or tell you if you don’t know, the eighth Matilda Kavanagh Novel is set to release in September! Eeep! And you can preorder your ebook copy now at your favorite ebook retailer.

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Pre-order links:

Amazon Barnes and Noble | Smashwords Kobo iBooks

Hexed – Pre-order Links Are Live

If you’ve been waiting for the next installment of the Matilda Kavanagh Novels, your wait is almost over! The eighth book, Hexed, is now up for pre-order on all your favorite ebook retailers! Get yours now so you can wake up on September 5th and find it waiting for you:

Pre-order:

Book 8 in the Matilda Kavanagh Novels!

Hexed

Pre-order links:

Amazon Barnes and Noble | Smashwords Kobo iBooks

New Release!

It seems like only yesterday I’d started writing this piece of flash fiction for my patrons over on Patreon about a girl in an attic, waiting for the monsters to go to sleep for the day. All she had was a BB gun and a little bit of hope–and a little bit of a smart mouth. But I loved her. And now she’s out in the wild for others to read and get to know.

I really thought this was going to be a novella and a standalone. But once I hit the 40k word mark, I knew there was plenty of story left and when I got to the last chapter, I realized there was, not only a sequel to be had, but other stories from other supporting characters to be written.

I’m not sure if the next book in this spin-off series will be the sequel (though yesterday I thought of a perfect title for it) or if the next will be Maggie’s story. I’m really excited to write Maggie’s story because hers will take place before Containment and mass evacuations, which I think will be very interesting to see.

But one thing I do know is that I’ll be sharing the stories, one flash fiction bit at a time, on my Patreon page. So if you’d like to be able to read before it’s polished and packaged and released, you can sign up to be one of my patrons! Every little dollar helps! And if you sign up for more than $1 there are more rewards to be had! But I do make flash fiction pieces available to all patrons $1 and more.

Anyway. Happy reading if you’ve gotten your copy. If you haven’t, I hope you will. If you haven’t read my Ash & Ruin Trilogy, I think the book is clear enough to stand on its own, but you can always pick up the trilogy at your favorite retailer before starting Dandelions.

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Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Kobo Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | ibooks

(It, along with all of my other books, are available on all of Amazon’s sites, but there are so many to list, so just do a quick search for it and you’ll find it!)

I’ve Kept My Promise About Patreon

If you remember, I posted that I was giving Patreon another go and I promised I was going to be better about posting there and making it worth your while to become a patron of mine.

Well, I think I’ve done a fairly good job about it.

There are some exclusive fiction posts that only patrons can read and I’ve started adding some flash fiction for everyone. Yes, that means these posts are available to anyone to read, without pledging any money.

The flash fiction I’m working on right now is a novella set in the Ash and Ruin universe, which, believe me, was difficult to get into the mood for after the week we’ve had. But I’m pushing through! Fiction is where we find escape and help to deal with the real world around us. So I keep writing.

Supernatural, prophet, Chuck

Anyway.

I hope you’ll check it out, check out the reward levels I have set up for patrons. If you become just a $1 a month patron, you will be included in the acknowledgements of my upcoming book, the seventh Matilda Kavanagh Novel! If you sign up for a higher amount, you’ll get some awesome, tangible rewards!

Check it out here.

My First Con

So, if you were following along, you know I was going to have a table in Artists’ Alley for the first time ever at a Comic Con this month. Welp, that was this past weekend at the Ventura Comic Con, aka Central Coast Comic Co, aka C4.

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I learned a lot over the two and a half days and I had a surprisingly good time. I thought it would be good to share my experiences with you, dear readers, in case this is something you’re ever considering doing. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the behind-the-scenes stuff at this particular con because there were some issues, but they were specifics to this con. I’m just gonna give some generalities.

So, going in I was ridiculously nervous for a few reasons. First, this was the first time I’d be in public, face-to-face with people asking them to buy my books. Secondly, I have social anxiety and I have a hard time dealing with the unknown if things aren’t organized well. Third, I am not artist who draws or paints or sculpts, I write books and would be selling books alongside talented drawing, painting, sculpting artists. What the hell was I thinking?!

Well, amazingly, I did really well. I beat my own expectations of what I would sell. I met some awesome people. And I got to have some fangirl moments myself.

When I went in I said I just wanted to sell one book and get a picture in Baby (the Impala from Supernatural) and a picture with Doug Jones.

So I bought a table banner from esigns.com, which was reasonably priced, easy to design, and the quality was awesome. I bought bookmarks and pins and business cards (the cards were minicards from moo.com which were super popular) that featured my book covers for people to take in case they wanted to check out my stuff online later. And I had around 50 copies of my books, ready for sale. I had more of book 1 than the other two in the trilogy, thinking most people would want to buy the first, not the whole set, to see if they liked it. Boy was I wrong.

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I sold about 50% of the stock I brought with me, which is pretty fricken amazing because most people looked at me with furrowed brows when they found out I was selling books at a Comic Con so I really thought I wouldn’t sell anything. But of those sold, only 3 were singles. Everyone else said, “Well, if I’m gonna buy them, I’m gonna buy the whole set.” Which I cheered while being totally shocked on the inside.

So, first thing I learned – not for the first time: don’t under-value yourself. I was super worried my price of $9 for a paperback, or $25 for the set, would be too high. But I saw people walking around with $9 cups of Budweiser, so I decided I would be confident in my price point.

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Second thing I learned: don’t freak out. This is the hardest thing for people like me, with social anxiety, to learn. Because of some of the behind-the-scenes stuff, me and a few other locals, or lesser-known peoples, had no idea what the hell to do or where to go and some things weren’t done on time, which stressed us all out. But the fact is, for a table, you don’t need a lot of time to set up and people are pretty forgiving if you’re running late or setting up late. I am so lucky I had my husband with me, helping me and supporting me all weekend. He took a lot of the stress off of me just by being there so I didn’t feel alone. I don’t know how anyone does this alone. Even just for the bathroom breaks! So lesson 2b, bring a partner or friend to help you.

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In the end, we got our table, had everything set up nicely, and met our table neighbors who were just as nice with time to spare. I was even lucky enough to be across from Brian Pulido, the creator of Lady Death, and his beautiful muse and wife, Francisca. I read Lady Death and Purgatori as a teen so I got to squee over him and he even traded me two gorgeous prints for a copy of my book – which still freaks me out!

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With my husband there to help man my table so I could take breaks as needed, I even got to meet the astounding Doug Jones. If you don’t know him, you probably do and just don’t know it. He was Billie the Zombie in Hocus Pocus. He was Abe Sapien in Hellboy. He was the Faun in Pan’s Labyrinth. And much, much more. He was amazing. He was so sweet and approachable and he kept the same amount of energy for every fan. He cradled my face and hugged me so many times.

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Then my husband told me “Hey, Xander’s here.” Xander, Nicolas Brendon, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer was at our con. I grabbed my phone and ran. The day before he’d tweeted with the hashtag, hugtheshitoutofme, so when I found his table, I smiled at him and asked, “Can I hug the shit out of you?!” And he jumped up and hugged me. Both of these guys are great huggers. We saw Nicolas Brendon again the next morning passing my table and he stopped to hug me and my husband. Such a great guy, hug him if you ever get the chance.

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And, I got my picture in Baby.

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So, another lesson, try to have fun. It’s stressful and overwhelming to do this for yourself, so try to have fun while you’re there, even just a little. And if you get to know your con-mates, they may want to trade with you if they’re interested in your stuff.

A commision I got from my table neighbor, Jenney Martinez of one of my characters! (instagram.com/jenney_todd)

A commision I got from my table neighbor, Jenney Martinez of one of my characters! (instagram.com/jenney_todd)

Another thing you should do is make sure you take both cash and cards for payments. With Square and PayPal nowadays there’s no reason why you can’t. I had people totally relieved when I told them I could take their cards for payment because there were actual booths that were only taking cash. Don’t let someone who wants to buy your product walk away to “come back later after the ATM” because they probably won’t.

So who bought my books? The majority were grown women, many who were mom’s coming to the Con with their kids. Which was great. They were lugging things around for family that they’d bought, but they’d stop at my table, talk to me, and then buy the whole set for themselves. So it was good that I was different from those around me. Some said they were buying for them and their kid, which might be true. Lots asked if they could buy my stuff online. So you know, just like the card reader, always be ready to say “Yes!” But my favorite sale was to Darth Maul who said, “I have a growing TBR pile, but I can’t help myself.” Yeah, those are my people.

I had people tell me “cosplayers don’t buy” but Darth Maul and this awesome Steampunk lady bought full sets, so… yanno.

And lastly, probably most importantly, have a good attitude. This was a smaller con with a lower attendance than a lot of the other, more established cons out there and a lot of the other vendors maybe didn’t realize that and were disappointed in the turn out and let that show in their faces and tone of voice. Don’t do that. Try to stay positive and happy to meet people. There were things that bugged me about the con and some of the attendees, but how would that have helped me make sales and meet potential new readers? It wouldn’t.

So yeah, I’m exhausted, my back still aches, and I don’t have a lot of mental bandwidth left over, but I feel good. I feel excited for the new readers. And I am so glad I did it.

Things I might do differently: no candy on the table, have a raffle, and calm down.

I brought Dum Dums to have on my table to attract passersby, but the truth was, people who bought from me didn’t stop for the candy. 97% of people who took candy didn’t even talk to me. People were happy to take the candy, some were polite, others super rude about it (had two kids dive bomb the bowl, dig around, and get pissed at me when they couldn’t find the flavor they wanted), but if they wanted the candy and asked about my books, it was only because they thought they had to not because they were ever intending to buy a book. Just because of the rude people, I wouldn’t do it again. People who were interested in my books/table didn’t care about the candy.

I thought about a raffle, but I couldn’t think of how it could work for me. I mean, who would buy a book if they could win it? But I could give extra tickets for every book bought. So next time, I’ll raffle a toy, like a Funko Pop figurine to entice more people.

Now that I’ve done it, now that I know how quick I can be since I am organized, the con could be a shitshow behind-the-scenes and I know I’ll be okay.

So that’s how it went, in a condensed nutshell! If you have questions, please ask, I’m happy to answer. I skimmed over a lot because there was a lot to cover, but if there’s something you’re curious about, as a vendor or attender, let me know and I’ll try to help!

Remembering to Reward Yourself

When you work for yourself, you don’t get awards or bonuses or raises for your hard work. No boss is coming into your cubicle to say thank you and give you a gift certificate to Starbucks for that report that stole a piece of your soul. There’s no promotion hanging in front of you like a carrot that you can’t wait to take a bite out of.

tumblr_n94ef3odT21s2peono1_500As an author (especially a self-published author) there’s no one else to reward you for your accomplishments. It’s you. Just you. Sure, your partner or friends might give you flowers and bagels when you publish a book and, believe me, those little gestures mean the world because it reminds you that other people recognize what you’re trying to do. But you have to remember to reward yourself.

People often forget to take care of themselves. It’s easy to do things for other people, it’s easy to spend money on someone else. I get so excited to buy people the perfect present and watch them open it, especially if it’s unexpected. But doing that for yourself? It’s hard. It feels selfish and frivolous, maybe even a little desperate? But it’s not. It’s not any of those things.

When you work a 9-5 job (really 8-6) there are people holding you accountable and chances to move up in the company or at least get raises and bonuses, so why then, when you’re on your own, would you feel badly to reward yourself?

When I finish a book, I reward myself. When I publish a book, I reward myself. These rewards don’t have to be anything crazy and extravagant (though, there’s nothing wrong with that either), just something that I can treasure and later can look at and say, “Oh, I got that when I finished World of Ash.” “Oh, that was when I published the last of the Elemental Series.” It’s a memory as much as a reward.10348444_855653917792682_3923520702654342654_n

Personally, I love trips to my local comic book store, Hypno Comics, and I love perusing the toys. It’s a small thing, less than $15, but these little things sit on  my desk and make me smile. When I found them, I clutched them in my hands and squeeeeed over them.

And I happen to be a bit of a shoe horse. I love to be barefoot more than anything, but I adore shoes and boots, and when I published Time of Ruin I spotted a pair of gorgeous grey (fake) suede boots. They fit like a dream and were on sale (less than $40!) but I was putting them back, talking myself out of them, until my husband reminded me I hadn’t rewarded myself for publishing TOR.

image (11)And in the next five minutes they were purchased. Yeah, it’s still averaging in the 80’s right now and I won’t be able to wear them for another month or so, but I have them and I love them and I deserved them.

You deserve a reward. Even just dinner out at your favorite restaurant (that is my normal reward for finishing the first draft of a book)!

Go, order your favorite glass of wine and toast to your accomplishment. We’re always talking about refilling the well to keep going, well remembering to congratulate yourself is part of that too. You did something amazing, you deserve recognition, do something nice for yourself. Here’s to you and to me and to everyone who needs a little reward.

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TFiOS and My Feels

I finished The Fault in Our Stars last night. I basically read this book in two night sessions over the last two nights. Pretty much everyone in the world has read this book already, but in case – like me – you’ve been avoiding this book and don’t know what it’s about here’s the GoodReads description:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

I’ll try not to spoil anything for you guys going forward. But beware, there are some spoilers ahead.

So why have I avoided this book? A couple of reasons. First, while I like John Green for the most part, sometimes I don’t like how his characters talk. I’ve only read a short story by him in Let It Snow – which I recommend come Christmastime for a fun read – and I liked his installment, but sometimes the dialogue, man. I know I’m not alone in my criticism of Mr. Green. He doesn’t jive with everyone, as is true of most authors. But I do like him, I just have to be in the mood to read him. Which is true of any lit fic for me.

Another reason I was avoiding it: the book is about death. I know, I know, some are going to argue that it’s about love and living the best life you have, no matter how shitty that life might be, but seriously, it’s about death. Cancer specifically. I do not have a close relationship with cancer like so many other people do. When I was young, I lost a great-grandmother to cancer (I can’t remember the specific name because, seriously, they make the names so hard to say and remember). I have an uncle who beat a tumor when I was even younger than that. My most recent acquaintance with cancer was about five years ago when my husband lost his uncle to pancreatic cancer that he got from being exposed to Agent Orange back in Vietnam. Man, cancer is a sneaky, cunning bastard.

But all these things aren’t exactly visceral for me, like it is every day for so many other people. Like it is for the characters in this particular book. So I was pretty confident that I could go into the book and be able to deal with the cancer aspect pretty well. So why was I avoiding it? Because I knew it was also a love story.

Marriage is a very strange thing. It can really change a person. I was changed by marriage. When I was young I didn’t date a lot, I was, what you would call a professional monogamist. If I started dating someone, I committed for a very long time. If you go through my high school dance pictures, each of them are me and the same guy because we dated for two and a half years – that’s a long time in high school. So even though I made long lasting commitments, I didn’t ever think about death. I never, ever worried about my boyfriends dying. I never worried about my friends dying (though mostly because I was always the DD and I made sure they didn’t and if anyone was contemplating suicide, I was the hotline they all called – but that’s a post for another day). I never thought about my parents dying. I don’t know if it was some twisted sense of teenage invincibility or whatever, but I didn’t think about it.

Sure, I wrote my fair share of teenage agnsty poetry, my whole damn wardrobe was black, and I loved me some angry, hard music. But death was an abstract concept for me back then. People didn’t die.

Then I met my husband. We dated for four years before we got engaged and I never thought about him dying, or me for that matter. But then we got married. And it was as if a switch was flipped in my brain and I thought about death a lot. About his. About mine. I don’ t know why it’s so different. But I worry about death now. All the time.

So I didn’t want to read TFiOS. But I did. And I cried. In fantasy books, you know it’s not real, it’s never going to be real, and while you can fall in love with characters and be sad when they die, there is something about it being fantasy that doesn’t hurt you. In books like this, which are contemporary and about real things in real life that can totally happen, it’s different for the reader. While I figured out what was really going to happen long before it did, it still hit me. It hit me because I am terrified of my husband dying. I am terrified of dying before him. It is strange that we form these relationships with people knowing that, some day, we’re going to hurt them with our deaths. Obviously you can’t help it, and that’s the point of the book – we are going to hurt each other because we love each other.

But oh god, having a book zero in on your greatest fear, it hurts something inside of you. It was the middle of the night when I finished the book and I put it on my nightstand and then rolled over to hug my husband.

It was a good book, the character dialogue bugged me once in a while like Mr. Green always does, but it hurt me to read it. You’ve been warned. Be prepared if you haven’t read it yet.

Now I will look for a lighthearted fantasy, full of magic and fun to scrub my brain. And here is a cute kitten to make you, and me, feel better.

All Hallows Read – Halloween 2013

Last year was the first year I ever participated in All Hallows Read. If you’re not familiar with it, it is this cool concept that Neil Gaiman came up with, where on Halloween you give out at least one scary/Halloween-themed book to kids to help promote reading. Though it doesn’t have to just be kids, people are taking the concept and running with it, which is pretty cool too. But the idea is to promote reading among kids who might not be so excited about reading.

Now, I’m no fool, I don’t just give out books, I also give out little goody bags and then offer the books too. Last year I only gave away five books. I was heartbroken when one little girl looked me in the face and said, “I don’t like reading.” Yeah, this is what we’re working against.

I’ll admit, last year I was actually kind of nervous asking if kids wanted the books and often found myself not asking, especially if it was a huge group of kids at one time. Though often, once you drop the treat into their pail or bag, the kids turn and run too quick for you to say anything about the books. I found it was way easier to give the tiny tots books because their parents were right there and I could look at the parent and say, “Would s/he also like a Halloween picture book!?” And of course parents loved that.

But this year I decided to be more active and vocal about the books. And this year not ONE kid said no if I got the chance to ask. Yes, some still turned and ran before I had a chance to ask, but if they lingered just a second, that’s all I needed to quickly say, “I have books too! DO YOU LIKE SCARY BOOKS?!” Once again the parents of the tiny tots loved it and were happy to take the picture books, but the older kids surprised me so much. Last year, every single pre-teen and teenager said no when I asked if they wanted a book. But not this year.

I gave out seven copies of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline to kids ranging from 7 years old to 12 years old. I gave out four copies of Forest of Hands and Teeth to teens ranging from 13 years old to 15 years old. I gave out nine copies of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps to kids ranging from 7 years old all the way to 16 years old. And that 16yo zombie boy was my favorite. I looked at him, sad I didn’t have an “age appropriate” book for him because his friend got the last copy of Forest of Hands and Teeth and said, “You might be too old to want Goosebumps.” To which he replied, “No way! Never too old for Goosebumps!” And happily picked one from the stack.

I also gave out five copies of It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and around 10 copies of two different Witch-themed picture books to various tiny tots. And often, when I held out the choices, the kids (even as small as 2 years old) would pause and actually consider which book they’d like to pick.

At one point, I heard one mom say to another, “Oh yeah, I think they do that every year. They gave us a book last year.” That’s right, I’m developing a reputation which is fantastic. And very often I heard kids yell to their parents and friends, “I GOT A BOOK!” Which of course made me do a little Halloween dance. At one point a little girl yelled from our porch, “They’re giving out books!” And I was really worried she was warning people off but then five kids came running up for their books. I can’t even.

But more surprising? We ran out of goody bags because there were actually more trick-or-treaters this year than last, but we still had books. So when people came to the door, I apologized about being out of candy, but offered the books instead and you know what? They happily took the books. Not one kid said, “No thanks.” Not. One.

So I started out with nearly 40 books and now only have 5. This is amazing.

Gave away one more book right after I took this pic.

Gave away one more book right after I took this pic.