Book Sales – Bombing or Booming?

Since starting this blog (years ago), I’ve been bringing readers along on my author’s journey, all of which has been a total revelation, since I’m new at this game. I’ve shared the good (contract!), the bad (self-doubt/I stink at this stuff) and the depressing (rejection by oodles of literary professionals). Today’s installment of “Diana Learns the Publishing Business” has to do with book sales.

I can’t help but wonder how Evangelina Takes Flight is doing. Yeah, it’s only been on the market since June, so there’s a lot of time for it to pick up steam, but I still want to know how it’s faring. Today I got my first statement showing sales from June – August. And the total?

Drum Roll

4,200 copies, some paperback and some hardback. In researching what all this means, I found this article. Quite helpful indeed.

Everything You Wanted to Know about Book Sales (But Were Afraid to Ask)
An In-Depth Look at What/How/Why Books Sell

I am proud of Evangelina Takes Flight, and about those sales numbers? Not too shabby!

Onward!

PS: I conducted an interview with Houston’s Public Radio (NPR) station yesterday. It’ll be posted on their website soon. I’ll share it here as well.

 

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Texas Book Festival Author Lineup

Texas Book Festival Author Lineup

So honored to be included in this year’s Texas Book Festival. Click on the graphic above to see the amazing company I’ll be keeping.

My panel description:

SEEKING SANCTUARY

We hear many reports in the news of people who journey to the United States from Mexico, Central and South America. In their new novels, Diana J. Noble and Alexandra Diaz share stories of young characters traveling north across countries at different points in history in hopes of seeking sanctuary on the other side of the United States border.

author photos TBF 2017

 

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Early 20th Century Race Relations in the American Southwest

In preparation for the Texas Teen Book Festival next weekend, I am “studying up” on the Mexican Revolution and the plight of Mexican immigrants to the US during that time. I started writing Evangelina Takes Flight almost 7 years ago and did enormous amounts of research, but not all of it stuck with me.

I found this today as I was searching the internet. It captures the attitudes of many in the small Texas community where Evangelina and her family settled. My heart sped up and my breath got shallow when I read it. I am the descendant of immigrants (Mexican, Lebanese and English) who came here as DREAMERS. I honor them for their sacrifices, courage and many contributions to this country.

Simply put, if they hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t be here. Is that not the case with virtually every American? I am a citizen of this great nation and the descendant of DREAMERS, and most likely, so are you. We, through no special talents or actions or physical prowess or mental superiority were born in the United States, because of  those who bravely came here before us.

Excerpt from A Different Mirror, by historian Ronald Takaki 

A snippet from the longer piece here:

In the morning, Mexican parents sent their children to segregated schools. “There would be a revolution in the community if the Mexicans wanted to come to the white schools,” an educator said. “Sentiment is bitterly against it. It is based on racial inferiority. . . .” The wife of an Anglo ranch manager in Texas put it this way: “Let him [the Mexican] have as good an education but still let him know he is not as good as a white man. God did not intend him to be; He would have made them white if He had.” For many Anglos, Mexicans also represented a threat to their daughters. “Why don’t we let the Mexicans come to the white school?” an Anglo sharecropper angrily declared. “Because a damned greaser is not fit to sit side of a white girl.”
In the segregated schools, Mexican children were trained to become obedient workers. Like the sugar planters in Hawaii who wanted to keep the American-born generation of Japanese on the plantations, Anglo farmers in Texas wanted the schools to help reproduce the labor force. “If every [Mexican] child has a high school education,” sugar beet growers asked, “who will labor?” A farmer in Texas explained: “If I wanted a man I would want one of the more ignorant ones. . . . Educated Mexicans are the hardest to handle. . . . It is all right to educate them no higher than we educate them here in these little towns. I will be frank. They would make more desirable citizens if they would stop about the seventh grade.”

Mexican Children Sitting

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Leonard Pitts: Bullies Don’t Define You

EK_0128

My family and me when I was about 8 or 9 years old.

Loved this column by Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. enough to share it with you here.

http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/leonard-pitts-jr/article174920101.html

As someone who moved around a lot in my childhood, I endured plenty of bullying, so much so, that I too, (like Jackson Bezzant profiled in the column) thought of finding a way to end the pain, the embarrassment, the anxiety caused by kids with little or no internal compassion-compass. I let the bullies define me. I didn’t know it then, but success was and is not measured by some external barometer (societal messaging for example) or person or group of people. It was within me all along.

My adult definition of success is if my most deeply held values and every day behaviors match. All the time. Even when it’s challenging or time-consuming or inconvenient. Or there’s pressure to do otherwise.

No excuses.

Do my actions reflect the legacy I want to leave? Do the people I care about see and feel it? That’s what matters. I’m not perfect at it. I screw up all the time. But I know when I do, and I try to self-correct. That’s all I can ask of myself.

That’s it. I wish I knew that when bullies led me to question my self-worth, year after year, school after school.

My heart goes out to little Jackson, and I hope he finds and achieves his own definition of success.

GREAT SONG ON THIS SUBJECT BY INDIA ARIE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6P4jI8t-0I

 

 

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Excerpt from Call Girl – New Mommy Misery

harried mom

I am suffering from a case of author identity confusion. My first book is middle grade/young adult, set during the Mexican Revolution, and ripe with opportunity for learning and thoughtful discussion. It’s full of prose and carefully crafted imagery.

My second book, Call Girl, is about a sassy woman named Julia who runs a call center and struggles with post-partum depression, work/life imbalance and a womanizing boss. She also has a tawdry tale of greed, money and blackmail to uncover. It’s filled with humor, but I hope it provokes some thoughtful discussion about post-partum depression, misogyny and challenges for working women. Clearly, NOT a book for youngsters.

Despite Call Girl’s complete pivot from Evangelina Takes Flight, I want to share bits of it with you (as I’ve done in the past), and hope it resonates with some moms out there, or at least gives readers a chuckle.

I am actively sending queries to Literary Agents hoping to find representation. The segment below comes early on in the book, chapter 2.

EXCERPT:

Someone on the consulting nurse twenty-four-hour hotline told me colic usually lasts about six weeks. I marked the days on the calendar with an “X” until the six weeks were up.

Trey screamed the first day after his six-week birthday.

At 2:30 a.m., I woke up to his crying, picked him up, and walked to the kitchen, where we kept the calendar. I turned on the overhead stove light to see it. Yep, one day past six weeks, and he cried off and on that morning, afternoon, and night.

Gah! Was there such a thing as twenty-hour-a-day colic, and was there such a thing as a baby that cried until he left for college? Because his crying seemed like it was on a non-stop repeat cycle from hell.

My days included the following, or a combination thereof:

  • Pick crying Trey up out of his crib
  • Nurse Trey . . . twenty minutes of quiet—yay!
  • Hold Trey in the rocking chair
  • Wipe Trey’s spit-up off my shoulder
  • Smell eau de vomit every time I turn my head
  • Hold Trey on the sofa
  • Hold Trey at the kitchen table
  • Sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “You Are My Sunshine,” the ABCs, a few Barbara Streisand songs and Broadway tunes
  • Tell myself, “You can do this!”
  • Lay Trey on his back, atop my thighs, his tiny feet against my weirdly stretched-out stomach, head the opposite direction, and talk to him, smile at him, grab his little feet and move them around, stroke his hair, touch his cheek, kiss his nose, tell him I love him, but feel guilty, because part of my heart feels paralyzed and in desperate need of emergency care
  • Beg Trey to tell me why he’s crying, so I can fix it!
  • Walk around our itty-bitty house with Trey over my shoulder
  • Put Trey, who is crying, in his stroller, and take him for a walk, thinking the fresh air will do him good
  • Bring Trey home in stroller, because he won’t stop crying, and I’m embarrassed the neighbors will hear, or the dogs will start howling
  • Change Trey’s diaper
  • Burp Trey
  • Change Trey’s clothes
  • Bathe Trey
  • Tell myself, “I can’t do this!”
  • Read Doctor Spock book, again, hoping there’s information I missed that will tell me what I’m doing wrong
  • Repeat

I cried every day, too, but I usually got my act together before Charlie came home, lest he think I was the most un-motherly woman on the planet. He knew it was exactly that though, an act. There is no “off” button for new-mommy misery.

One awful day ran into the next awful day until it seemed like one enormously long awful life. I had waited anxiously for this child. Couldn’t wait until he came. Then he arrived, like a little alien being, a total stranger, fragile and scary. My son, unable to talk, hold his head up, or even keep his eyes from crossing, scared me ****less morning, noon, and night.

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Will You Post a Review?

Dearest readers of Evangelina Takes Flight,

Would you be so kind as to post a review on the site where you bought the book? Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target or elsewhere… I have a few GREAT reviews out there, but I’d like to see more. Be honest with it. No glowing review if the book does not deserve it (but a glowing review if it DOES deserve it). Just what you thought of it, and how the book made you feel. Thank you. I appreciate the tremendous support I’m getting for this book – such an important read, especially now in these uncertain times when lawful, contributing immigrants (much like my own family in Evangelina’s time) are vilified.

This is what Kirkus Reviews had to say about the story’s relevance to the world today:

In 1911 during the Mexican Revolution, a Mexican family seeking refuge from Pancho Villa, soldiers, and violence migrates to Texas. Debut novelist Noble introduces 13-year-old Evangelina de León—a self-aware, observant, caring daughter and sister—her six siblings, parents, and abuelo, who live on a ranch located outside of Mariposa, a small, northern (fictional) Mexican town. Days after her sister’s quinceañera and the news of imminent raids and violence, the family splits up and, in waves, arrive at a relative’s home in Texas. They have not left struggle behind, however. Signs that read “No Perros! No Negros! No Mexicanos!” tell them they are shunned at grocery stores. The political and racial tensions in their new home town are not subtle: the family is denied a burial for a stillborn son; foreign-born children must use the woods as a bathroom instead of the school’s outhouse; a black boy is shot; a Lebanese kid is harassed; a young Mexican boy is spat upon; and both white children and adults are cruel to the immigrants in the neighborhood. Using the first person with Spanish sprinkled throughout, Noble propels the novel with vivid imagery and lovely prose, successfully guiding readers behind an immigrant family’s lens. Loosely based on Noble’s own grandmother’s story, this debut hits awfully close to home in the current anti-immigrant political climate. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

 

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When You Need a Really Uplifting Song

So much going on in the world; so much sadness, so much division, so much fear and despair. Many are focused on casting aspersions, pointing fingers and judging others, filled with their own self-righteousness rather than trying to understand and find common ground. It can be overwhelming. But, I’ve heard many heartwarming stories of kindness, love, compassion and inclusiveness. Those stories are all around us, too. Just last night, our youngest child, on the cusp of adulthood, decided to volunteer in Houston for the next 10 days. Not knowing exactly what she’ll be doing when she gets there, and giving up time to be with friends before she heads off to college in 3 weeks, she’s going, because her heart is aching to help others who’ve lost so much.

In reflecting on the tragedy of Hurricane Harvey and the hope people need to get up every day and keep at it, I remembered this song – “I’m Going All the Way” by the Sounds of Blackness. I heard it decades ago when I was running a charity carwash at work. Executives were in their shorts and flip-flops, scrubbing and drying cars for donations. My buddy and co-worker, Craig, was spinning high energy tunes with his fancy disc jockey equipment and huge speakers. Another coworker, JJ, handed Craig a CD and said, “You’ve got to play this.” And, on that sunny day in Seattle, it made me smile – big and goofy, and swing my hips and otherwise, get my groove on, right there, in front of everyone. (The truth is, I like getting my groove on, and I don’t care who’s watching.) This is one of the most hopeful, uplifting songs I know. So worth the 5 minutes! Turn it up! You’re going to love it.

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