Yesterday, I totally eavesdropped on a Twitter conversation (that’s the thing about twitter– thing is private) about lip balm swag. Call me a ditz, but I still can’t figure out why book promo stuff is called swag.  If someone wants to enlighten me about this, I would be very happy.

Here is my soap box about lip balm swag. You can order it premade with your logo on it. It will be expensive and it will most likely come from China and contain stuff like paraffin and mineral oil which A) do nothing for your lips and B) you don’t want kids to eat. Let’s face it, if it’s on their lips, it goes in their mouths. I have a better solution for you, if you are adventurous enough to try it…. Make your own. Here’s how:

Lip balm is as easy as measure, melt and pour. You need a food scale and some good ingredients. A good recipe contains 20% beeswax, 25% solid at room temp oil (coconut oil, palm oil, Shea butter, lanolin, etc.), 15% brittle at room temp oil (cocoa butter, palm kernel oil, etc.) and 40% liquid at room temp oil (olive oil, avocado oil, sweet almond oil, etc). This recipe can be turned into grams easily: 20 grams beeswax, 25 grams Shea butter, 15 grams cocoa butter, 40 grams olive oil. (Or whatever oils you choose.) That will make about 20 tubes. I halved it for the demo today.

I buy all my oils from http://www.thesage.com and I think they are very reasonably priced. They sell tubes, colorful caps and everything else you need. If you don’t want to invest in individual oils, you can buy a premade base. I haven’t used them, but the folks at MMS test everything and blog about it. If they sell it, it’s most likely a good product.

First, measure your ingredients using grams into a double broiler pan. (If you try it with ounces you will have to make 500 tubes at a time.)

 Put water on to boil, and set your pan on top.

It will take only minutes for the ingredients to melt if you are making a small batch. This batch looks tiny, and it makes 10-12 tubes.Once the oils are melted, add flavor oil. This batch makes 10-12 tubes. A good rule of thumb is one drop of flavor per tube, so I add 10-12 drops. Mix well.

Using the same pipette, fill the tubes.

 Filled and ready for caps. If you are using Shea butter, it needs to cool quickly, so I put them in the refrigerator after I cap them.

Since Painted Blind has hot pink on the cover, I used hot pink caps. Also, around here I color coordinate my flavors. Hot pink is always raspberries & cream flavor. EEK! I ran out of hot pink lids.

 This is a regular sheet of address labels. I went to www.avery.com and put the cover art into the template and turned it sideways. Then I printed the sheet.

 Trim off the excess white label.

Place the labels on the tubes.

Ta DA! Your book in lip balm. I love these. They are the BEST thing to give to teenage girls. No one passes on lip balm.

Just some last thoughts. When I’m not trying to take photos and blog it, a batch of lip balm takes me about 10 minutes. Skin care products are not like food products. You don’t have to make them in a commercial kitchen, just a clean environment. I priced out all my oils, divided up the costs and added in the tubes and lids last year to find the bottom line. It costs me about a quarter to make a tube of lip balm. That number would be higher if you used a premade base, but you would have a considerably smaller investment. (I buy oils in 5 lb buckets which DOES NOT make sense if you are only making lip balm.) Plus, you are getting a handmade, AWESOME lip balm that you will love to use.

I would recommend buying 100 tubes and 100 lids of one color and a single flavor oil. Coordinate your flavor & lid with the colors on your book cover. They also have black tubes and lids. MMS is a one-stop shop. I love them. Plus, if you have questions, you can call them and they are very, very helpful.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them for me and I will follow up. You can email me specific questions in the contact tab also. Have fun! Oh, and post pix if you try it. I want to see!









Random Thoughts

I am totally sealing Kelly’s “Monday Mishmash” theme today, because after reading her post I realized I, too, have random things going on, and none of them seem to create a full post alone.

1. Today’s writing roadblock:

The raspberries came on hot and heavy. My husband did such an awesome job thinning, pruning and fertilizing them. There are HOARDS of raspberries out there, and they all decided to be ripen. Today. I took all four kids out and picked for an hour. We got three pans and didn’t cover half the patch. The laptop waits patiently, and the birdies are devouring my beautiful berries. After making jam, I hope to finish a scene.

2. Today I read Sara Nego’s blog post on writing a bad first draft.

I so very much needed to read this post. I have been getting whipped by the WIP. It’s not that I don’t know what to write. I know exactly where the story is going and how it’s going to get there. It’s just that there is this nagging voice in the back of my mind that keeps saying, “It’s the sophomore book that makes or breaks an author. The second book has to be better.” It is stifling my creativity because I don’t know if I can make this book better than Painted Blind. It isn’t now, and I’m second guessing myself at every turn. I really need to relax and just write. Write badly. Write it all, then worry about making it good. Shannon Hale said in a tweet recently, “I’m shovelling sand into the box so I can build castles later.” That is such a good philosophy for first drafts. Just keep shovelling sand!

3. This website gives me grief.

It is an author’s website. True. However, I don’t want to post about writing everyday. I wrote privately for a decade and was rejected continually. I did it alone. I didn’t blog about process or post in forums. A few years ago, I got tired of reading about writing and publishing, and I didn’t renew my subscription to Writer’s Digest. I do appreciate writing communities, and I appreciate venting a few writerly frustrations, I just can’t do it all the time. And, writing about writing keeps me from actually writing. I’m not sure that will win me many followers, but hey, that’s my name in the address bar. I am what I am. Take it or leave it.

4. I am doing a great deal of driving lately. It’s one of the hazards of living in the boonies. This week’s driving detail is thanks to swimming lessons. I drag my notebook around with me and I try to finish a scene here or there while the girls are in the pool, but I don’t get very far. It’s okay. They love swimming. I want them to swim well. It’s one less thing to worry about as a mom. I love it when scout leaders ask me if my boys can swim. Why, yes. They swim very well. I still remember watching my oldest when he was seven swim the butterfly the length of the pool. Seven years old. I was so impressed. Today was overcast. Several of the kids didn’t show up for lessons, so each of my girls had a private lesson.

5. The WIP is just shy of 40,000 right now. I promised my friend a complete draft “by June.” I meant the beginning of June, and I’m disappointed that I’m probably not going to make it by the end of June either. TIme to shovel some more sand.



Loving that Richland Bookworm

Have I told you how much I love that Richland Bookworm?

I have, but let me tell you again. I LOVE them! They are such a supportive group, and make an author feel like a million bucks.

Friday is the Farmer’s Market, which is literally right outside their door, so we scheduled a signing. They had ten copies of Painted Blind in stock when I arrived, and they were concerned because they did a signing a few weeks ago and didn’t sell a single book.

I was determined not to repeat that, especially when I realized the Bookworm opened an hour early for me. They usually open at 10 a.m. on Saturday, but the market starts at 9 a.m. I said I would show up at nine, not realizing that it was before their regular hours.

I set up outside with my 20″x30″ cover poster board and started greeting shoppers. At first it was slow, then I got to chatting with book lovers. Soon, I was signing books. About 11:30 I sold the last one off my table and went inside to get more. They had only two books left! I was supposed to stay until 12, but I hung around until one and found a home for that last book! The buyer was this sweet young woman about 17 or 18. She was a tough sale. She sat down and read the Prologue and Chapter 1 before committing.

Her name was Shampa. She said, “I like the story, but I hate that she’s so pretty.” We had a good discussion about Psyche’s beauty and how it was an essential part of the story. We also discussed how when a character is beautiful, it is even more important to make them feel “real”. As I was packing up my table, they rang up Shampa’s book. I signed it and marked a few lines in the Epilogue that I thought would be especially meaningful to her.

Before leaving I restocked the Bookworm. To date they have taken 30 copies of Painted Blind. They haven’t even shared them with their sister store. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE those ladies!

Oh, and I took my camera, and totally forget to get a picture to share. Dang it!

Say What?

Here is a laugh out loud moment for you.

My novel… in paperback on Amazon marketplace.

Used from $109.08.  What? Seriously? Why would they even post it if it is so outrageously priced?

But, no! It gets better.

You can buy it new for $888.00 plus $3.99 shipping (from Canada, so I’m pretty sure it will be more shipped to the U.S.).

Hey, if you have $888 you want to spend on Painted Blind, I will make you a MUCH better deal. And I will personalize each and every copy.

Has this happened to anyone else? Or is my book just on some wacky list?


Coming Up…

So, what is next? We had two very fun launch parties.

Next up is a signing at the Richland Bookworm on Friday, June 22, 2012 during the Richland Farmer’s Market. I will be signing books from 9ish to whenever there stops being lots of people around. We hope that will be close to noon. It may be sooner.

Today the weather was crummy. I really hope summer decides to show up on Friday. My poor girls started swimming lessons today in 65 degree weather with the wind blowing and intermittent rain. The youngest had blue lips by the time her lesson was over.

Then, I have a pretty open summer… well, not exactly. I just don’t have book events scheduled because I have kids going to scout camp and kids going to day camp and a family reunion. You know how it goes. Suddenly summer is a busy time of year. Come August I will be here!

No one needs to tell me that an MFA in Creative Writing is a foolish endeavor. You can write books without it. The thing is, I want to be the very best author I can be, and let’s face it, no agent or editor was beating down my door trying to sign me.

I’ve looked around. This program is unique because it isn’t run by college professors. It is run by working authors. Yep, getting trained by the ones making a living writing. That is what I want. Plus, I’m an educator. If I want to get re-certified I need credits. I looked for years for a master’s program that I actually wanted to complete. I didn’t want a MA in literature or education or educational administration. This feels right. I admit, I make some major decisions based on how it feels to me. After years of searching for “the next step” this was IT. I just knew it.

Come August, I am moving back into student mode. Nine blissful days on Whidbey Island in the company of other authors. I can write without playing mom. It sounds heavenly.

When I come back, it will be time for this….

… the Painted Blind blog tour hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews. I am SO excited about his. This month I am sending out the ARCs to  the reviewers and gearing up for posts.

So many things to look forward to. I hope you will keep stopping in and enjoying them!