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Here are the answers to the quiz I posted early this month as part of Second Wind Publishing’s launch party for Stormy Weather. I hope you enjoyed getting to know a little more about me!

Thanks to all who entered! (A winner will be announced soon!)

Quiz Answers:

1. Sherrie worries about her sex scenes being too steamy because she:

A. is an old-fashioned girl at heart.
B. is married to a pastor and is afraid of what the church ladies will say.
C. has Baptist relatives who frown upon such things.
D. All of the above.
E. None of the above. Why worry? Be happy.

2. Sherrie’s response to the question, “Have any of the scenes in your books really happened?” would most likely be:

A. “Yes, but I’ll never tell which ones.”
B. “My books are works of fiction in their entirety. Any similarities to real people, situations, or events are purely coincidental.”
C. “Of course not. If I really had gone skinny-dipping, do you think I’d actually tell anyone about it?”
D. All of the above – depends on whether or not her mother is in the room.

3. Sherrie has lived in all of the following places except:

A. Bar Harbor, Maine
B. Lawton, Oklahoma
C. Colorado Springs, Colorado
D. Albert Lea, Minnesota
E. Wheaton, Illinois
F. Augsburg, Germany

4. When traveling to castles in Scotland, the beach in California, and a cabin in northern Minnesota, Sherrie takes along __________ so she can write whenever the mood hits her.

A. her AlphaSmart
B. a moleskin journal given to her by a dear friend
C. a plain steno notepad and a sharp pencil
D. a cute notepad with cherubs on top and a quill pen
E. a state of the art MacBook Pro.

5. Sherrie belongs to a great writing / critique group called:

A. Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Alpha Writers.
B. just Cherry Writers. (formerly known as Jenny’s Cherry Writers)

C. Romance Writer’s of America Elite Critique Group.
D. Very Berry Writers.
E. Juicy Romance Novelists, Inc.
F. The Rainbow Connection at gather.com

6. Sherrie can hardly wait until the next book in the __________ series comes out.

A. Diana Gabaldon Outlander
B. J.K. Rowling Harry Potter
C. Debbie Macomber Blossom Street
D. Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum
E. Sue Grafton Alphabet

7. Sherrie has read every book ever written by all of the following authors except:

A. LaVyrle Spencer
B. Jennifer Crusie
C. Sandra Brown
D. Pamela Morsi
E. Jill Marie Landis
F. Susan Elizabeth Phillips

8. In addition to writing, Sherrie keeps busy doing all of the following except:

A. playing the piano at church.
B. running a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn.
C. fishing at her cabin on the lake.
D. taking her two young nieces on weekly adventures .
E. planning her next European vacation.
F. watching the latest episode of Big Break on the Golf Channel.

9. Night and Day, the title of Sherrie’s first book, refers to:

A. Midnight in Milwaukee and Daybreak in Delaware.
B. a romance between a night watchman and the host of an early morning talk show whose paths cross for a few seconds each morning.
C. Midnight in Minnesota and Daybreak in Denmark.
D. a romantic dance to Frank Sinatra’s hit song, “Night and Day”.
E. Midnight in Manhattan and Daybreak in New Delhi.

10. In Stormy Weather, Sherrie’s new release, one of the main characters is:

A. a well-known meteorologist.
B. a reckless storm chaser who fears nothing.
C. terrified of tornadoes.
D. haunted by childhood memories of a blizzard that claimed the life of her mother and father.
E. a cute young weathergirl who does the evening news for the local television station.

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I posted this article on my publisher’s blog (Second Wind Publishing) on April 15, 2009. Since then, I’ve been asked to share my thoughts on this subject many times – in regard to selling not only books, but other products, including romantic evenings at a B&B. I hope it’s helpful!

Sherrie

So you’ve written a wonderful book. Friends and family who’ve read it rave about how good it is.  Now all you have to do is to figure out how to get it into the hands of the hundreds and thousands of other people who you know would enjoy it.

Marketing your book can be far more intimidating than writing it – especially for a writer who is more introvert than extrovert. For me, it is not so much the lack of courage, but lack of time that comes into play.

Whatever your reason for not getting your book out there, conquering a few easy marketing strategies can make the difference between your book being a success and not.

I’m not a marketing expert by any means, but I’ve owned and operated a fairly successful bed and breakfast and tea house for 17 years, and I have learned quite a bit about promoting a product. Here are a few ideas that I’ve come up with for marketing my recent release, Night and Day, that I hope you’ll be able to adapt and use to market your own books.

Night and Day by Sherrie HansenNight and Day by Sherrie Hansen

(Note:  In this article, I will concentrate on old-fashioned, non-internet marketing ideas. )

1.  A couple of weeks ago, I personally visited several grocery stores and specialty shops in my area with a book in hand to let them know about Night and Day. One shop owner handed me cash right then and there and said they’d call when they needed more books. They’ve already called to order 2 more. Other shop owners seemed more skeptical, and wanted to have the books, but on consignment.

One woman wasn’t there when I stopped by, so I left a book for her to take a look at. When I returned a week later, she had read half of it, and was  saying things like, “What are you doing living in St. Ansgar, Iowa? You should be in New York City writing full time – you have such a knack for this! The book is wonderful! I love it!” and “If I don’t get my Easter ham in the oven, it’s going to be your fault. I can’t put this book down!”

While not everyone is going to react to your book with such enthusiasm, all it takes is one person – in a store, a community, an area, and the word is going to get out. Word of mouth is always the best advertising. Giving away a few books to people you think might be good cheerleaders might really pay off.

2.  I also sent out a letter to a dozen or two shops in areas mentioned in my book. For Night and Day, I targeted Scandinavian specialty shops, quilting shops, and book stores in areas of Minnesota mentioned in the book, as well as areas of Iowa and California with high concentrations of Danish settlers. So far, I have only had one positive response, but it was definitely worth my time. And, once I follow up with a personal visit (I’m planning to head to Red Wing, Welch, Cannon Falls and Blooming Prairie, MN as soon as I have more books, and a free day.)  I hope to land a few more placements for my book. You can find email and mailing addresses online if you visit the chamber of commerce pages for the community you’re targeting.

3.  Offer to do a book signing at the shop’s next sale, open house, or special event. Shop owners are always looking for ways to attract a few more customers. Some shops have wine tastings, or craft demos, or participate in community celebrations. Ask if you can come to their next event and be part of the excitement. Everyone I spoke to reacted enthusiastically to this idea. I’ve even been invited to do a book signing at the Book Loft in Solvang, CA next January when we’re out on the West Coast. It might have something to do with the fact that I offer to bring a plate of Melting Moments (a little Danish butter cookie my family has always made) with me when I come.  A unique slant can catch their attention.

4.  Woman’s groups and clubs, church groups, community groups, most any kind of group enjoy special speakers. I’ve been on several committees, and it’s a constant challenge to find someone to speak at our monthly meetings. Prepare a 10 – 15 minute long talk on some aspect of your experience, and contact libraries, churches, friends, community centers, senior citizen centers, and let them know you’re available. Odds are, they’ll be delighted, and you’ll soon have an opportunity to present your book to a captive audience! I will be speaking to a local writer’s group this Friday at 10 a.m., and another, in the next town over, sometime next month.

5.  Send out press releases to area newspapers, radio and television stations. Include a blurb, a bio, a photo, a list of places your book is available, and hopefully, a slant that makes your story unique. A unique slant might be how you were discovered, how the story ties in with a local legend or current event, or what inspired you to write the book in the first place. Most of them will go in the trash, but if even one picks up the story (who doesn’t love a “local girl or guy done good” story?), it will have been worth your while. I taped my first radio interview yesterday, for a station in Atlantic, Iowa, a large Danish community a couple of hours south of here. Who knows what will come of it?

6.  Offer your book as an auction item or special prize for your favorite charity, a church bazaar, or a local contest. Most places will also let you leave a stack of business cards or book marks to maximize your exposure.

I’m sure there are many other ideas that you can use to market your books, but hopefully, this short list will jog your creative impulses and help you get started. If not, make a list of what kind of people you think would enjoy your book (who is your target customer?) and where you are most likely to reach them.  Then, make a list of each place, area, craft, hobby, or profession mentioned (hopefully in a positive light) in your book, and start thinking about how you can market to those niches.

You HAVE written a wonderful book. Now it’s time to tell the world!

More Stormy Weather?

In the literal sense, I hope not!

In the literary sense, I hope so!

Most of you know that my latest novel, Stormy Weather, came out in late November, right about the time we started upon the stormiest winter we’ve had in years. With all the stormy weather impacting travel plans and business at my B&B and tea house, it has been a slow winter.

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The good news is, we are all looking forward to spring! Although people keep reminding me that the month of March can account for our highest snowfalls of the winter (I hope not, since we already have several feet on the ground), we in Northern Iowa and Southern Minnesota have decided to think optimistically and assume that these book signings and speaking engagements will all happen as planned!

If you’re anywhere near these locations, I’d love to see you! If not, you can order both Stormy Weather and Night and Day by calling the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House at 641-713-3113 (we accept MC, Visa, Discover and Am Ex) or by visiting www.SecondWindPublishing, or http://www.Amazon.com.

More Exciting News!

KSMQ (Minnesota Public Television, Channel 15 in Austin, MN) will be taping a segment of Cities on the Move from the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House on Monday, March 8th. Stephanie will be interviewing Sherrie about her books and the B&B. We’ll let you know an air date as soon as we find out when it will be broadcast!

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Book Signings, Speaking Engagements & Interviews

Charles City Women’s Club, Trinity Methodist Church, Charles City, IA – March 2nd at 1:30 pm

Nissen Library, St. Ansgar, IA – March 6 at 2 pm

Live Author Chat with Connie C. at www.gather.com – March 11 at 8 pm

Joice Public Library 22nd Annual Omelet Breakfast Fundraiser and 7th Author Invitational, Bethany Lutheran Church, Joice, IA – Saturday, March 13 from 8 – 11 am

Iowa Bed and Breakfast Innkeepers Assn Conference, Okoboji, IA – Sunday, March 21 – 3 pm

Thompson Public Library, Thompson, IA – March 30 from 3 – 5 pm (Rescheduled due to stormy weather.)  🙂

Danish American Center, Minneapolis, MN – Sunday, May 23 at 3 pm

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Purchase your copy of Stormy Weather or Night and Day at the Blue Belle Inn

or any of the following locations:

Hy-Vee West, Mason City

Hy-Vee, Austin, MN

Hy-Vee, Albert Lea, MN

Main Street, Austin, MN

Larsen’s Food Pride, Osage, IA

Sweeney’s on Main, Osage, IA

Saintly Stitches, St. Ansgar and Mason City, IA

Home Sweet Home and Thymeless Treasures, St. Ansgar, IA

Valhallas, Visalia, CA

The Book Loft, Solvang, CA

For more information, please visit www.BlueBelleBooks.com

Some of you know that I’m been busy at work on my next release, Water Lily, targeted for publication in early summer of this year. Water Lily is the 2nd in my Maple Valley trilogy, which began with Stormy Weather, published late last year by Second Wind Publishing.

I’m still working on edits – the next step is to read the book out loud to my husband, a process that will no doubt reveal rough patches, discombobulated sentences, and little errors previously unnoticed.

Like Stormy Weather, the cover of Water Lily will have a photo on the top, and a quilt block on the bottom. Marianne R. , a friend from Gather.com, has graciously consented to let me use one of her water lily photos on the cover of the book (I am so excited!), and I am now in search of a water lily quilt to photograph. If I don’t find one soon, I will have to make one, and photograph it. (Much as I love to quilt, I have so little time right now that I’m hoping NOT to have to make it myself…) Then it’s off to Second Wind’s talented graphic artists to make it into an eye-catching cover.

Yesterday, I wrote my first draft of a back cover “blurb” for Water Lily. I’m hoping you’ll give me your feedback. Does it sound appealing? Does it make you want to buy / read the book? If not, I would welcome your suggestions as to how to make it better.

Thanks in advance!

Tag Line:

Water Lily… a fresh blossom born in the murky waters of the past.

Back Cover Blurb:

Once upon a very long time ago, Jake Sheffield and Michelle Jones graduated from the same high school.

Jake can’t wait to take a trip down memory lane at their 20th class reunion. Being with his old friends is like guest starring in a favorite episode of Cheers. Everybody knows your name. Everybody’s glad you came.

The last thing Michelle wants to do is dredge up a lot of old memories and relive a part of her past that wasn’t that great in the first place.

Will the murky waters of the past destroy their dreams for the future, or will a water lily rise from the depths and bloom?

Water Lily by Sherrie Hansen… coming soon from Second Wind Publishing.

This is a truly awful photo of me (my eyes are closed and I’m definitely having a bad hair day) but it’s a good article about my latest book, Stormy Weather, so I’m going to share it anyway. 🙂 http://www.mcpress.com/articles/2010/02/09/news/news04.txt

I thought being in the zone was an appropriate topic since it’s Superbowl weekend and everyone is thinking about End Zones.

While I’m not quite in the end zone of Waterlily, the second book in my Maple Valley trilogy, I’m deep into revisions, writing new scenes, getting to know my characters better and making great progress – in the zone.

A writer I greatly admire from my just Cherry Writers critique group, Robin LaFevers, once led an online workshop where she asked us to identify our character’s greatest fears. What is he or she afraid of? Then, what is he or she really afraid of. Then, what is he or she REALLY, REALLY afraid of? Discovering these often hidden truths about your characters speaks to their motivation, helps you understand what they might do or how they might respond to situations, and can lead to the black moment, when they come face to face with their biggest fear. (Forgive me, Robin, if I’m misquoting you.)

This morning, while laying in bed thinking, then later, talking to my husband, I finally put my finger on what Michelle’s greatest fear is. Now, I hope to make the black moment reflect her deepest insecurity. Waterlily will be a better book because of it.

I also wrote a scene last night that I think is one of my best ever – clear protagonist, antagonist, goals, value change – it meets all the criterion, and it’s funny, too. I read it out loud to my husband last night and we were both cracking up so hard I couldn’t continue.

Is writing seasonal, like winter, spring, summer and fall – like football, baseball, or basketball seasons? Are there times when the words flow, when a flood of new ideas washes over you, and conversely, are there times when the well seems completely dry?

Whatever the triggers might be for me (I’m not sure I fully know or understand why this varies so much for me), I’m certainly glad I’m in THE ZONE. And for what it’s worth, I’ll probably be typing the whole time the Superbowl is on TV.

Here’s hoping your team wins!

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Daybreak – New Release! (Sequel to Night & Day)

Night and Day

Golden Rod

Sweet William

Shy Violet

Blue Belle

Wild Rose

Thistle Down

Love Notes

Stormy Weather

Water Lily

Merry Go Round

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