Monday Musings: My Bright Idea—Stocking Stuffers

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by Kathleen Valentine

Back in October I had this sudden realization that the holidays were fast approaching. This is nothing new for me—I tend to spend most holiday seasons in total denial and look forward with unbelievable longing for December 26th. It’s not really that I am terribly Scroogy, it’s just that, like many writers, I resent demands on my time when I’d rather be writing. We are selfish people.

2014 was not the best year I’ve ever had. I took on too many projects that turned into long, drawn-out, complex ones that ate up far too much of my time. I hope I learned from that and will know better in the future. So, as I contemplated the coming holiday season and idea came to me. Like every writer, what I longed to do was annoy the heck out of all my friends by continuously reminding them that books make excellent gifts—especially my books, but I know that is bad form. And then I had this bright idea—what would happen if I made a book specifically designed to be a “stocking stuffer” and priced it low enough that people would actually buy it? This would mean I wouldn’t make a profit on it, but it would be a good way to get my work out there in a cheery, holiday way.

I have a few series of books one of which is called Secrets of Marienstadt. All the tales in this series are loosely based in legends and folklore from the Pennsylvania Dutch community I grew up in. In 2011 I released the first Marienstadt story, The Reluctant Belsnickel of Opelt’s Wood, based on the custom of Belsnickel practiced in my hometown. In 2012, I published another Marienstadt story, a novel, called The Christmas Daughter, about a big, tough biker guy who suddenly finds himself the father of a shy, fragile, and vulnerable little girl. Recently I wrote another Marienstadt story called Treeing, which I was saving for a possible future collection. Since all three stories have a Christmas theme, I thought about combining them in one volume. I called it A Very Marienstadt Christmas and it would only be available in paperback—not digital, simply because the purpose is to encourage people to give it as a gift. Would it be a good idea? It was worth a try.

As I startedAVMCpromo2 the design of the book I had another brain-storm. Throughout the Marienstadt stories, much of the action takes place in Lola’s Strudel Shop and descriptions of the delicious pastries Lola serves are often remarked on by readers. What, I thought, would happen if I “spoke” to Lola and requeste that she write a chapter for the book telling about strudel and her recipes. It seemed like a good idea.

By the end of November the paperback was ready and I uploaded it to CreateSpace. Within days it had sold enough copies to make me feel encouraged that this was a worthwhile effort. Plus, I bought a couple cartons of them myself to give as my Christmas gifts.

I don’t know how long I will keep the book available but I think at some point I will withdraw it from distribution—it remains to be seen. And it also remains to be seen what, if anything might come of it. But one thing being an indie writer has taught me is that we can be as creative as we like and that is half the fun. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Belsnickel, etc. I’ll keep you posted.

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