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Austin, Minnesota is the town where I grew up and graduated from high school. Most of my family still lives there, and I visit at least once a week. I’m thrilled and proud that my hometown is supporting local artists, authors and musicians at their annual Artworks Festival. I’ll be speaking and reading from my new release, Blue Belle, at 3 p.m. on Saturday, August 23rd. I hope you’ll join me, and check out the times that your favorite authors and musicians will be appearing as well as checking out the talented artists whose work will be on display. Hope to see you there! I’ll be the one with the cute hat on.

Blue Belle, a contemporary romance by Sherrie Hansen  Sherrie Hansen, author of Blue Belle, a contemporary romance

Sherrie will be signing books and talking about Scotland and her newest book, Blue Belle, the 2nd of her Wildflowers of Scotland novels.

Blue Belle, a contemporary romance by Sherrie Hansen

Caramel Shortbread and other Scottish Dainties will be served. Please join me.

Food - Cookies pedestal

August 19 at 6 p.m. Mason City (IA) Public Library

August 23 and 24, Austin Artworks Festival, downtown Austin, MN – Sherrie will speak and be present to sign books at 3 pm on Saturday, August 23

September 9 at 6 p.m. Austin (MN) Public Library

Thistle Down (a prequel novella), is still free at Smashwords.com. Sherrie’s other novels – Wild Rose, Love Notes, Night and Day, and the Maple Valley Trilogy:  Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round – are available in paperback or electronic formats from the Blue Belle Inn, www.SecondWindPublishing.com, or online at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.  

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Follow Sherrie at http://www.facebook.com/SherrieHansenAuthor

or her blog at https://sherriehansen.wordpress.com

Blue Belle is now available in paperback and electronic versions! Here are some links: Kindle http://amzn.com/B00K33ND3K – Smashwords (any e-format including Nook) https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/434398 – Amazon Paperback http://amzn.com/B00K33ND3K – Second Wind Publishing http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=241 . I have copies of all three books at the Blue Belle Inn B&B and Tea House and I’ll be at La Vida Loca Winery in Indianola, IA on Sunday from 1 – 5 p.m. for a book signing.

Blue Belle Front Cover Draft

Blue Belle is the 2nd of my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, following Thistle Down (a short prequel novella) and Wild Rose.

Books - Scotland Promo

From the back cover:  Isabelle doesn’t want to be found. Michael doesn’t want to be found out. When Damon starts searching for the centuries-old gold he thinks is buried in the bay, it won’t matter what walls they’re hiding behind. Rocks will fall. Castles will crumble. No secrets will be safe.

Blue Belle - promo jump

I’m going to be signing copies of Thistle Down, Wild Rose, and – hot off the press – Blue Belle, on May 4th at La Vida Loca Winery in Indianola, IA. Please join me and the other Iowa authors listed below for a taste of wine and some delectable stories, too. May 4th in Indianola, Iowa. Please stop by and say hello if you’re in the area! 

Books - wine flyer Apr 2nd

My books aren’t written about the most earth-shattering events. When you read one of my books, you can be fairly certain that the world isn’t going to end in 24 hours. Life as we know it isn’t going to cease to exist. Murders – at least of anyone you dearly love – aren’t likely and extreme violence is rare. But my characters do learn and grow from the world around them, be it a sleepy little town in the heartland where everybody knows way too much about everybody else, the coldest place in the USA, or a quaint village in Scotland or Denmark. My characters are smart, savvy, and intuitive, They know how to figure things out and make the best of a bad situation. Sometimes it takes them awhile, but in the end, there’s always an ah-ha moment, a reawakening, an eyes-open-wide experience when they finally get it.

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Last night, I spoke about my latest books, Thistle Down and Wild Rose, at the library in Hudson, Iowa, where my husband is a pastor. We had only a small crowd, but my photo journey of Scotland on the big screen was well received, the caramel shortbread disappeared very quickly, and I sold 7 books. More importantly, it was good for me to get my slides and my impressions of Scotland organized in to a nice presentation, since my next two books will be set in Tobermory (Blue Belle) and on the Isle of Skye (Shy Violet). If anyone wants a speaker for their library or group, let me know! I’m all set now, as well as being inspired to start working on my Wildflowers of Scotland novels again.

Here’s part of what I spoke about – lessons learned while traveling in Scotland:

1. Don’t stay inside and miss out just because it’s raining a little.

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I’m not recommending that you venture out in a hurricane to see what’s up or become a storm chaser in tornado alley, or go looking for your cows in the middle of a raging blizzard, but so many people miss out on so many opportunities because it’s a little windy or overcast or too hot outside. The day we had designated for golfing St. Andrews, visiting the beautiful gardens on nearby Cambo Estates, and hiking down to the sea on the garden path, was alternately drizzly, and downright sopping wet. Between the 7th and 8th holes of the famous golf course, my husband was so wet that he ducked into the men’s room at the clubhouse, took off his shirt, and crouched under the hand dryer to take the chill off. Would he have missed the probably once in a lifetime chance to golf St. Andrews so he could stay warm and cozy? No way.

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Mark’s sister, Becky and I donned floppy hats and vinyl rain gear, shielded our cameras with a sheet of plastic and slipped at slid over the muddy paths that wound through the walled garden and down to the sea at Cambo Estates.

191 Scotland - Cambo gardensSea2

Were we sorry? No. In fact, here’s another lesson learned.

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2. Colors are brighter on cloudy days and raindrops on roses are one of my favorite things.

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3. When your life appears to be crumbling around you and everything’s in ruins, there’s still beauty to be found. (On the beach at St. Andrews.)

203 Scotland St. Andrews

4. When everything around you feels sad and gray, add a splash of color to the mix and everything will look brighter.

173 Scotland House Blue Door

5. Keep looking up! There’s always a rainbow after the storm.

135 Scotland - Rainbow 5

6. Even the most nondescript things in life look better if you plant a few flowers.

166 Scotland Window boxes

7. Find balance wherever you can. It helps.

205 Scotland - House1

8.  Be thankful for what you have.

209 Scotland - Street in Luss

While I was oohing and aahing over their little stone cottages and thinking they were like something straight out of the pages of a story book, the Scots were loving the photos of my Victorian B&B and saying it looked straight from the pages of a fairy tale.

169 Scotland -- B&B

9. Never judge a book by it’s cover, or a house by it’s formidable exterior. There’s probably something nice and cozy waiting for you inside.

171 Scotland - KirktonBarns.Parlor

10. No matter how impossible the path ahead looks, there is always a way through the mountains – or over whatever’s blocking your way .

199 Scotland - Mountains  195 Scotland Moat  91 Fence - ladder

11. Bloom where you’re planted.

201 Scotland -- Fence

12. Sometimes you have to dig your heels in and be tenacious. If you think you can do it, you probably can.

197 Scotland - Flowers in Stone

13. The road may seem narrow, but there’s always enough room to get where you need to go – somehow.

207 Scotland - Street in Tarbet

14. Pay attention to the little details. All information is useful, and bound to come in handy one day.

13 Scotland - Band in Kilts

15. Keep looking up. (This one bears repeating.) Often, what you see will point you in the direction you need to go.

217 Scotland - Celtic Cross1

I received a very warm welcome from Erik and friends at the Danish American Center in Minneapolis yesterday. I spoke about “Night and Day” and its Danish connections, our recent trip to Denmark, and the creative process of writing a book.

My first book, Night and Day (It's Midnight in Minnesota and Daybreak in Denmark...)

The Melting Moments (little Danish butter cookies with almond frosting) I took were a great hit and the book signing went well! My Mom and Dad went along and so did my husband, Mark.

I told several family stories and told about my niece making Danish aebleskivers when I was talking about new generations of Danes. I also told them about the delicious pork roast with the crackled skin and brown gravy that my Danish cousin’s daughter, Anne-Sofie, who is 21 years old, made for us when we were in Hillerod last month. (Red cabbage and new potatoes, too!) My mouth still waters thinking about it! It was so fun getting to know another generation of Danish relatives, who will hopefully keep the family relationships and stories going strong for another several decades!

My Danish cousin, Helle, me, Anna-Sofie, her daughter, and Boyda, her mother, who wrote letters to my Grandma Victoria for decades.

Another of Maren Jensen’s descendants (my Mom’s second cousin, Shirley) also came to hear my presentation and bought a copy of Night and Day for each of her brothers and sisters. It was a great day, and I enjoyed meeting all the fellow Danes at Danebo! I even met a fellow Betsy-Tacy / Maud Hart Lovelace fan!

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

In this year’s Christmas letter, I said,  “I am now a published author of two books, Night and Day, and Stormy Weather – a most wonderful happening, squeezed in between daily stresses that do not go away simply because something extraordinary has happened.”

Being published is certainly a dream come true for me. I’ve signed more than 800 copies of Night and Day – To dreams come true,  Sherrie Hansen (with a flourish under my name).

So why is it, when our dreams finally come true… when we finally find the pot of gold at the rainbow… the experience often isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

As a single woman, I was convinced that when I met Mr. Right, all my problems would mysteriously vanish.  I would lose all the weight that I had gained over the years because I had no one to hold me, no one to be with. My financial woes would disappear, my sorrows would simply go away, and my frustrations would evaporate, so wrought with great joy and extraordinary sex my life would be.

As all of you old married couples tried to tell me, being part of a couple comes with its own set of challenges, and that’s not even taking step-children into account!

When the economy is in a down cycle, I console myself with dreams that this or that politician or promise or occurrence or happening will make everything all better again. My troubles will all fly-away, and I’ll be in the money again. Then, everything will be wonderful.

As a yet-to-be published author, I told myself much the same little white lies. Being published was all I needed to make me happy. If I only had the affirmation of knowing my work was worthy of publication, I would be satisfied. All I needed is to hear is that someone likes my book, and then everything would be okay.

Don’t get me wrong – being published is a wonderful feeling. Hearing from readers who like my books and can’t wait to read more is a joyful, unparalleled thing.

So why is it that this year, of all years, I have a royal case of the holiday blues?

Perhaps it is because my back is out, I’m estranged from my 19 year old step-son, and I’m still faced with frustrating circumstances on a near daily basis as I struggle to juggle a time-consuming business, family, friends, husband, church, and now, a blossoming writing career with it’s own set of demands. Perhaps it’s because I’m in my 50’s and my body, both physically and emotionally, is changing, falling apart, failing me.

Perhaps it’s because I’m still deluding myself, thinking that any one occurrence can make me happy.

Perhaps its because I keep forgetting to count my many blessings, name them one by one…   Perhaps it’s because I am a blue belle living in a blue house, when I should be out painting the town pink, or green or yellow or even purple, looking up, seeing rainbows.

The pot of gold may be ever elusive, but the rainbows, ah, the rainbows… the rainbows always keep me looking up.

What about you? Have you ever achieved a goal, then found it less than satisfying? Are you singing the blues this Christmas or swinging from a chandelier as you ring in the New Year? Have you found the secret of happiness? Contentment in any circumstance? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

The author is in, and signing copies of her latest release. Keep looking up!  Sherrie Hansen (with a flourish under my name.)

I finally downloaded my photos from the past two months and found a great photo of the authors and writers that attended the Writers Retreat we hosted at the Blue Belle Inn in October. Best of all, I’m not in the photo! Looking at it brings back fond memories of a wonderful weekend in which I was privileged to meet fellow Second Wind authors Christine Husom, Norm Brown, and Amy DeTrempe.

We had a great time learning more about writing, and watching a murder mystery, Next of Kin, by Haley productions.

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PLUM TART IRIS – New Release

Seaside Daisy

NEW RELEASE!

Daybreak (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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