Signing and Selling Books at Holiday Markets by Rickey Pittman

Signing and Selling Books at Holiday Markets

“I’ve never met a holiday market I didn’t like.—Marissa Casciano

I am a storyteller, folksinger and songwriter, and the author of these three children’s picture books: Cajun ABC, Louisiana Animals ABC, and the Louisiana Night Before Christmas. Last week, I signed these books for several hours for three days. The event was Tinsel & Treasures, sponsored  by the Junior League of Lafayette, held in the Cajun Dome, using the wonderful staff of volunteers. It is designed to help support the Leagues charities and causes. If you would like to learn more of this event, view the image below. HERE is the link for the event’s Facebook page.

            My publisher (Pelican/Arcadia based in New Orleans) knows that the best time to sell books is the fall, the festive holiday season, so he made the decision to follow the money and attend the largest Holiday Markets in Louisiana, promoting the work of local Louisiana authors. Tinsel & Treasures was a very successful event for my publisher (and myself)  and will be followed by Holidays in Baton Rouge (Oct. 18-21)  at Cane River’s Center, and The Steinhauer Christmas Extravaganza, at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center (Dec. 8-10).

            These markets are well-advertised festive events, and I always see many happy faces in spite of overpriced food, concessions, and drinks.  Though the shoppers must pay to attend, they are eager and excited to see the numerous vendors. Excellent security is provided. The crowds are large and the full parking lots indicate a high degree of interest. Holiday music and sometimes live entertainment create a nice mood. There are door prizes and silent auctions for the women who attend. (There are very few men seen).  If you attend, you will see an endless stream of well-dressed women shopping with friends, expectant mothers shopping for their little ones, moms with newborn babies carried in baby-sling-wraps, and wide-eyed pre-school girls or toddlers holding their mother’s hands as they learn to shop.  The crowds are so large that baby carriages are only allowed in a few windows of time and shoppers are required to use clear shopping bags.

            Pelican/Arcadia is the only book publishing company I’ve seen at these holiday events, though I have seen a very few individual authors with booths. Usually there are four local authors each day for the Pelican booth, and usually they work a two-hour shift promoting and signing their books, and then leave to do their own shopping or to return home. I always work a full day when I sign, working steadily without pressure or gimmicks, relying on the quality of my books and my elevator speech to move shoppers to action. I always gather new contacts for my school Songs & Stories programs.  The event generally has a hospitality room for authors and vendors to serve snacks, meals, coffee and other drinks, which  can take the edge and pressure off the hard work of marketing books.

            Yes, it’s very physically demanding to work a holiday market,  and often quite a drive for me as the events are in South Louisiana and I live in North Louisiana. Yet, when each day of pitching and signing my books is over, I join the Pelican staff for a late supper, and retire bone weary to my hotel for a short night’s sleep, rising in the morning to a hotel breakfast and coffee, and push myself through the next day’s book signing. Trying to make it as a writer is sometimes a brutal experience, but as one famous writer said,  “All serious daring starts from within.” —Eudora Welty, Pulitzer Prize winning author and Junior League of Jackson, Mississippi volunteer

Archaeology: Discovering the Past on a Tour

Debbie Adams Gullet is a fascinating and very talented lady. She is an RN, a history fanatic, a lover of Science, a martial arts student, a ghost chaser, an animal lover, a world traveler, and a collector of weapons and antiques. I  first met her on a group tour to Scotland in 2018, on which I was a featured music performer. Somehow we started a conversation about history and she shared some information on an archaeology trip to Turkey she had participated in. Some photos of her trip are included at the end of this post.  In response to my questions for an interview, here is what she said.

  1. (Have you always been interested in history and archaeology? Do you subscribe to any archaeological journals/magazines?  Biblical Archaeological Review? Have you taken any classes or studied any subjects that were helpful?) I have loved history and archeology since I was a little girl finding arrowheads in creeks and fields. Western Civilization was one of my favorite college subjects. I have subscribed to Biblical Archeology Review and Archeology Magazine, but now I mainly just read online. I’m a Registered Nurse by trade but have an extensive home library that includes history, anthropology, and archeology.
  2. (Where did you go in Turkey? Were you with a group? How many were in the group? Did you work with more than one site? Does Turkey have many strict rules?) I visited Turkey on a Mediterranean tour with a group via Explorica. They do educational tours all over the world. I was lucky enough to know someone that got me into the dig sites in Ephesus. They were excavating a gladiator cemetery and a huge amphitheater. I was a glorified dirt hauler!
  3. (How did you find out about this trip? What is the typical day like for participants on a trip like this?) I found this trip through some friends, I had never known about Explorica. They’re a great company for educational tours.  My typical day started early, breakfast, then we would shuttle to the site for work till dinner, then made time for some sightseeing.
  4. (Did you make new friends on this trip? Who stood out among those you worked with?) I have made some great friends on these trips and keep up with many of them. Some of us have traveled together on several trips.
  5. (What important things did you learn from this experience? Did you find or bring back any relics? Did others find anything?) It’s illegal to take any artifacts from a site. You can buy some in shops but be very wary of fakes, these fake relics are big business. We were mainly digging up architectural items like columns or structural stones. There were bins in the warehouse of things that hadn’t been worked through yet.
  6. (Did you visit any museums, churches, or ruins? Anything Bible related? What was the most beautiful/memorable site you saw? Did you return with a list of things you wanted to study further?) I was able to visit museums and ruins in Athens, Delphi, Santorini,  Knossos on Crete, and other islands. Ephesus has a wonderful museum. I explored Patmos and the cave where the Book of Revelation, written by John the Elder in about 96 AD. He was exiled from Ephesus after preaching there by the Roman Emperor Domitian and his anti-Christian rule. There was a beautiful monastery with loads of artifacts on display there too. I also visited Meryamana Evi, a shrine where legend says Mary Magdalene was cared for by St John after they fled the Crucifixion. It was amazing to walk where these people once walked. Very humbling. The most engaging and beautiful site I saw was the ruins of the Library of Celsus in Ephesus. I can just imagine all the stacks of scrolls. Cleopatra even studied there. I always leave a site with more questions when I leave. It makes for some great research and reading!
  1. (If someone would like to take a similar trip/tour/expedition, what advice would you give them? What should they expect? What is the estimated financial cost? How can they prepare for the hard work? What clothing should they pack?) If anyone is interested in educational trips abroad, I suggest they check out Explorica, Road Scholar or others on the web. These are safe convenient ways to travel and learn. Be prepared to do much walking and be ready for rough terrain and heat/cold. Overseas does not make everything accessible like we do in the US. There are stairs, hills, and rocks. I usually plan for $5-7,000 for my trips but there are ways to cut costs depending on lodging, dining, etc. It’s well worth the cost to me to explore our world and our past.

Political Fads Are a Slippery Slope

The definition of a slippery slope is an idea or course of action, that will lead to something unacceptable wrong, or disastrous. Politically, we have many possible examples of fads that have backfired. A fad is an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the object’s qualities; a craze.  For example, here are a few fads that have not turned out well, that have caused individuals, families, organizations, and our nation to tumble down slopes as we attempt to navigate our way on the difficult terrain of slippery ice. 

1. Transgender fad:

2. Ending the construction of the border wall. The open, porous border has allowed sex trafficking, floods of drugs (killing thousands of Americans), cartel activity, terrorist presence, and gangs.

3. Sanctuary cities: The idea sounded so noble, but living with the reality of providing sanctuary to the hordes who have invaded our land illegally has shown that the idea is unsustainable.

4. No cash bail, release of recidivist criminals. Defunding police.

5. Not prosecuting minor crimes, forbidding the pursuit of criminals.

6. Not dealing with mob violence, riots, and destruction of property, Black Lives Matter and Antifa were given a pass.

7. War on fossil fuel in America. That cost us energy independence.

8. Electric car fad: These cars are too expensive,  unreliable, and there is a power supply problem.

9. Hatred and persecution of President Trump. Blind support of Biden. There’s lots of buyer’s remorse for voting for Biden. Why was there so much hatred for Trump? I know why the rich, liberal elite hated and feared him: he exposed their corruption and threatened their power. The average Trump hater’s reasons?

10. Believing more or free money is the answer to all ills.

11. The hysterical fad of climate change.

12. The anti-Israel fad. I never thought I’d see Holocaust deniers in academia.

These fads have consequences. There is a cause and effect. It is obvious that many of our major cities–due to fleeing businesses, out-of-control crime, fleeing residents, massive homeless populations, and declining tourist trade–are becoming slum dystopias. While the idea of a slippery slope can be used as a fallacy, slippery slopes do exist and our nation is on one. Get ready for a rocky, roller coaster ride.