Lake Kivu sunset

A Brief but Necessary Update

Warning: This post may be insufficient for some readers.

Rwanda hills
Women on the road into western Rwanda

I’ve been back from Rwanda for a week now and “real life” is starting to feel normal again. However, I’m still, tragically, at a loss for words when it comes to letting my friends and readers know “how it went.” I guess we who go on service trips to places so astronomically different from our home countries expect that either A) people won’t care about or understand the things we cared about or found important, or B) they’ll reject our experiences outright and claim they didn’t happen or that they signified something other — and less — than what they did in our lives.

Clear as mud?

Admittedly, expectation B is probably fairly irrational and maybe a little bit unfair to our friends and family. As a writer though, I wonder if it’s even more difficult to embark and return from such a journey — some people might assume (and I’m fairly certain they do) that 10 days in a tiny African country must yield great creative work, or at least the inspiration for one that you will undoubtedly produce after a few days of “sittin’ time.”

But maybe I put too much pressure on myself.

In any case, life goes on, in many ways for the better. Red Sweater Press is finally getting off the ground, thanks to my angel investor (hi Dad), and soon you will be able to purchase copies of all my books under the imprint. ALSO (*drum roll* please), I will be releasing my latest book of poetry, “Stakes,” this coming week!

excited Minions
Feel free to be THIS excited

Most of these poems were written, once again, during Camp NaNoWriMo (April this time), and however quick a turnaround you may perceive this to be, I have to say — I’m pretty frickin’ proud of these poems.

And, as a matter of fact, there is at least one poem about Rwanda in this collection, which I wrote while reading this book. (If you don’t know about the Rwanda genocide that happened 25 years ago, go educate yo’self.)

Once all the books have been published or re-published and ordered, I will be scheduling signings and readings around town for late July/early August, so stay tuned for that.

Finally, I will also be working on edits for The Blame Game, which I would LOVE to publish next year, but we’ll see. It should be doable given the “extra” time I expect to have this fall (though when is “extra time” even a thing?)…

More on that later.




Book buying survey results

The results of my book buying survey (shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) are in, and:


…people don’t buy poetry.

Book Buying Survey Results

Of the 104 people who have participated in the survey so far (primarily my Facebook friends and friends of friends), 82% said they would buy a work of fiction because they knew and liked the previous work of the author. Seventy-six percent said they would buy a nonfiction book that a friend recommended, and 39% said they would never buy a book of poetry.

I can’t say I’m surprised by these results — as my husband said when I showed him, “you’ve never heard of a rich poet.” But it’s somewhat comforting to know how many people might give a book of poetry a shot if a friend recommended it.

I think this survey also would’ve turned out differently if I had asked on the basis of what a person might read instead of what they might buy — I’ve gotten the impression in my adult life that people would rather read something for free than pay for it (and I get that). The results might also be different if I had been able to cast a wider net in gathering data (even though I made the survey public, my network only reaches so far; if you would like to take the survey, click here).

One reason I created this survey was that the data I wanted didn’t seem to be readily available, but there are some other interesting factoids out there. According to Pew Research Center, 74% of U.S. adults surveyed in 2018 (2,002) said they read a book in the last year, and 24% said they did not read or listen to a single book in that same time frame. I’m not sure if this should be upsetting or not, but it’s curious to me that eBooks and audio books are maybe not the motivator for non-readers that one might expect; so why aren’t people reading? And how many of those people who do read actually buy the book(s)?

It’s also worth noting that, according to an article posted by Publisher’s Weekly in 2014, 65% of all online new-book sales — print and digital — came from Amazon. That seems like a pretty big deal, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that number has increased in the last five years.

That said, the American Booksellers Association also found that retail sales at U.S. bookstores were up in 2018.

So what does this mean for readers, writers, publishers and bookstore owners?

Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below 🙂