Saturday, September 27, 2008

Of Blogging, Speaking, Signing and Traveling

A number of great things from this week!

Wednesday I was the guest author on the Petticoats and Pistols blog, talking about forts and why some were still about and some were gone. P&P was founded by a group of women who write romance set in the Wild West and I got some GREAT questions from the group. It was a fun day answering them and getting more exposure for the book - Mary Connealy of P&P said they got around 2,300 hits for the day which is phenomenal!

I followed up with an email to Mary Yager from the Nebraska Humanities Council this week - I had been asking about getting added to the council's speakers list and she came to see me at Lee Booksellers in Lincoln last Sunday.

Well, she apparently liked the program - she said she'd be sending me a speaker's agreement in the mail soon! This is a BIG deal - the NHC is the source for speakers in Nebraska if you want to know its history and heritage, and to be asked to join them is GREAT for my budding career (and isn't it nice to be "budding" at 50?) I'm coming right at the tail end of their putting together the current list for the speakers bureau as well; they only do this every two to three years, and the "auditions" concluded earlier this summer. Mary made an exception in my case since the forts are so essential to the history of the state, so I am VERY appreciative.
Had a great signing at my brother Rodger's Borders store at 132nd and West Maple last night. They were already low in inventory before the signing, so I brought my own inventory to sell and ended up selling in the double digits. A couple friends stopped by - Lori Grinvalds from my hometown of Yutan and Tim Ryan from my wife's workplace. Business REALLY dropped off for the second half, though - must have been the debate keeping people home!
I'm off to Minnesota for the weekend - visiting the family cabin, but stopping to visit museums and historical organizations on the way up and back to "spread the gospel" of Forts! This week is also my presentation on the "Lost Forts of the Northern Plains" for my Westerners group to which I am REALLY looking forward - I expect I'll have some things they haven't seen or heard of before!

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Busy Week of Signings and a Blogcast!

A busy week, with a few ups and downs and surprises AND a special blogcast this week!


Last Tuesday I had a speaking engagement with the Retired Omaha City Employees, a presentation my Aunt Shirley had helped set up... but then I had accidentally scheduled it for when she was in Florida!

I got there early to set up the Power Point and the room was already packed - I had heard they liked history, but enough to get there a half-hour early? Nope, they just like to get there early - the organizer told me that the restaurant had even asked that the retirees PLEASE hold off on their arrival so the staff could set up the room, but they still get there early to visit.

There was close to 70 people in the room! I had around 40 books with me and was somewhat worried that I could run out. Anyway, the presentation on "The Forts of Omaha and Council Bluffs" went well, I took a few questions and then set up to the side to sell and sign books. I only sold one book! A couple guys came over to talk history and I may have another speaking gig, but still disappointing for such a large group.


Much better on Saturday - Sue and I went down to Nebraska City for a signing at the Book Clinic, a bookstore in our former doctor's offices (Keitha Thomson - Dr. Thomson's wife - is one of the owners). After breakfast with our friends Scott and Joyce Harpster, we went to the store and were happy to find about a dozen books already waiting for signatures!

This was the Applejack weekend and traffic was pretty steady throughout the morning. I ended up seeing a lot of friends come in - Tom & Cathy Boeche, Mike Redelfs, Kent Schwartz, Linda Sedlacek, Brian Volkmer - and met a lot of new people. We ended up selling 35 copies, which is the best since the "coming out" party at the General Crook House. Fun time at the Book Clinic - hope to be back soon!

(Oh, and if you read the article in the Nebraska City News-Press, you can take it with a grain of salt - I'm saying it was "based on a true story," as the writer took a lot of liberties. Keitha was wondering why it didn't mention the signing, which was the reason I wanted the article in the first place!)


Sunday had us off to Lincoln for a presentation/reading/signing at Lee Booksellers, one of the state's best independent stores. Jim McKee was a great host and provided a fine introduction - I yodelled for about a half hour about the book and the history of the forts, read the chapter on Fort Sidney and told the story of U.S. Grant's visit to Fort Sanders. With the pre-sold books, I think we sold around 20 copies, a very respectable turnout!

I also made contact with a representative from the Nebraska Humanities Council whom I've been visiting with via email, and also with Lori McAlister from the Barneston Otoe-Missouria Reservation Heritage Project. I'm certain my family has some relation with the Barneses of Barneston - this might be a good way to find out by getting involved with the group.


On Wednesday I'm the guest blogger at, a web blog site for mostly female western romance writers. They saw the feature article about me in the Omaha World-Herald and asked if I'd be willing to sit in this Wednesday and talk about forts. Absolutely! Hope all of you tune in!

On Friday I'm at the Borders at 132nd & West Maple from 7 pm to 9. Hope to see you there as well!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Overseas Sales, Western Legend... and an Update!

I keep getting surprised to find readers in Europe! I sold a copy on eBay to someone in Spain, there's a review on Amazon to a guy in Ireland, and Stackpole told me they had an order for five copies from Italy! I've always known the Old West has fans in the Old Country, but it still amazes me to hear this stuff.

A big deal for me - and everyone else in the room - to have Jerome Greene speaking at the last meeting of the Omaha Corral of the Westerners last week. Jerry, retired historian with the National Park Service and the author and editor of NUMEROUS books on the Old West, was in town to present a capsule history of the Sioux Wars to our group. He was also kind enough last year to write one of the "jacket blurbs" for my book, giving it some immediate credibility! It was our first meeting outside of e-mail and a genuine honor to meet a contemporary western legend.


People ask me how the book is doing. Short answer: Great! In its first two and a half months, we've sold about half of the press run which is good for a book of regional history. When we get close the selling out the run, Stackpole will look at a second printing as well as whether they want to do my second book.

Second question I get: Am I gaining fame and fortune on it? Yes and no - yes in that I'm more famous among my family and friends than ever! No in that I've got a LONG way to go before I make money on it.

I once read that authors rarely make money on their book and that's true in this case. I get 75 cents for each copy that Stackpole sells and I don't see a royalty check until the advance that they gave me is paid back. Because Stackpole pays royalties only twice a year, I probably won't see a check until next June.

And that's why I'm trying to make as many appearances and get as much publicity as I can right now. The one way I CAN make money is by selling the book directly to individuals (I get a 50 percent discount from Stackpole) and occasionally finding speaking gigs that pay. This helps to recoup some of my gas money and research fees from the past few years AND the more books sold, the faster I can get the advance paid back and actually get some checks in from the publisher.
So if you know of a speaking opportunity, let me know!