Weather report, Dec. 22



For the first time since the end of May, we won’t be featuring any new books this week. That’s because I’m afraid that potential readers and book buyers will be so distracted by the final headlong dash to Christmas that they might not even think to check their e-mail.  At least, that grave danger does exist.

Darrell LaurantTherefore, rather than asking three authors to risk being upstaged by the Three Wise Men and that fat guy in red, I’d like use this space to take a look back on the first six months of the “Snowflakes in a Blizzard” project and where it may be going in 2016.

Since its inception, Snowflakes has featured 90 books — 64 novels, five memoirs, three collections of stories and 18 general works of non-fiction. Beyond that, we’re booked up almost into March.

While most of our authors have come from the U.S., we’ve also included work from Canada, France, Spain, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and Israel.

How successful has this been in terms of selling books? That’s hard to say. The point is, all of these authors have had the opportunity to make a one-on-one pitch to our blog followers and anyone else who might be drawn here through social media or word-of-mouse. These are baby steps, aimed at circumventing the current randomness of book marketing, but important ones.

On the flip side, Snowflakes also gives readers an opportunity to hear about books they may never have realized existed. Every week, I’ve tried to find fresh writing that goes beyond the latest fads.

Toward that end, our authors have varied widely, from self-published newbies to successful veterans trying to resuscitate one particular book out of many. I welcome books from outside the U.S., and those published long enough ago to have been pushed out of view, despite being still relevant.

Every once in awhile, I will include a piece of work with some rough edges, but one that I think shows promise or offers a new and compelling viewpoint. That, to me, is also part of our mission.

Publishers used to base their decisions on whether a submitted work was well-written and broke new ground. Now, all too often, it’s only about “Will it sell?” even if that means embracing copycats wrapped in a popular genre. This makes it especially hard for first-time authors who have yet to build a following.

I believe that the natural allies in our efforts are small publishers and independent bookstores, and next year I’m going to intensify our efforts at finding common ground and collaborative projects with them.

And now, since its the end of our first year, I’d like to list the books that we highlighted in 2015. All of them, in their own way, were special. The cast, in order of appearance:

“Island Dogs,” by Brian Simpson, May 26.
“Waiting for Westmoreland,” by John Maberry, May 29;  “Death of a Cabman,” by Nina Boyd, June 2.
“The River Caught Sunlight,” by Katie Andraski, June 5.
“What To Do About Mama?” by Barbara Trainin Blank, June 9.
“Turnstiles,”by Andrea Raine, June 12.
Betrayal,” by Sharon Brownlie, June 16.
How Not to Avoid Jet Lag,” by Joshua Brown, June 19.
 “Caught,” by Deirdre Thurston, June 23.
“Thirty Perfect Days” by Claudia Taller, June 26. 
Downfall,” by Deborah Teller Scott, June 30.
“Boiling Point,” by Karen Dionne, June 30.
Secret Corps,” by Peter Telep,  July 3.
“When Clouds Gather,” by Ryan Jo Summers, July 7.
“Did Ancient Chinese Discover America?”  by Charlotte Rees,  July 7.
Beneath the Stones,” by Susan Coryell, July 10.
 “Black Tide Rising,” by Kelvin Singleton, July 10.
“Collision Course,” by Joe Broadmeadow, July 14.
 “Consciously Connecting,” by Holland Haiis, July 14.
 “Things Unsaid,” by Diana V. Paul, July 17.
 “Think Like a Writer,” by Tom Bentley,  July 17.
 “The Skeleton Crew,” by Deborah Halber, July 21.
 “The Solarbus Legacy,’ by Nicki Brandon, July 21.
“Mercedes Wore Black,” by Andrea Brunais, July 24.
 “Homecoming,” by Kate Hasbrouck, July 24.
 “Clog!” by Dan Smith, July 28.
  “Refuge,” by Melinda Inman, July 28.
  “Hannah, Delivered,” by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, July 31.
 “The Last Best Thing,” by Kate Sebeny, July 31.
 “Showing Up,” by Eric West, August 7.
 “Mad Max: Uncharted Territory,” by Betsy Ashton, august 11.
“A Reaper Made,” by Liz Long, August 11.
“Gap Year Girl,” by Marianne Bohr, August 13.
“Road Gang,” by H.V. Traywick, August 14.
“Sophia’s Web,” by Burl Hall, August 18.
“Two Ways to Sunday,” by Tom Starita, August 18.
“Murder Across the Border,” by Richard Steinitz, August 21.
“Insights From Inside,” by Tom Gerdy, August 21.
“Booked,” by Karen Swallow Prior, AQug. 25.
“Scandal in the Secret City,” by Diane Fanning,” Aug. 25.
“Looking for Lydia, Looking for God,” by Patricia Dean Robertson, August 28.
“Tales From a Madman’s Wife,” by Marilyn Miller Skylar,  August 28.
Oklahoma Ghost Dance,” by Jeff Wilson, Sept. 4.
“Whispers in the Attic,” by Cheryl Alsippi, Sept. 4.
“The Burgundy Briefcase,” by Roberta Burton,  Sept. 8.
“Banana Sandwich,” by Steve Bargdill, Sept. 8.
“Echoes From the Other Land,” by Ava Homa, Sept. 11.
“Into Shadow,” by Tara Shields, Sept. 11
“Waving Backwards,” by V.L. Brunskill, Sept. 15.
Chase,” by Sydney Scrogham, Sept. 15.
The Rivergrass Legacy,” by John Chaplick, Sept. 18.
“Love, Loss & Longing in the Age of Reagan,” by Iris Dorbian, Sept. 18.
“The Other Side of the Blue Line,” by William Mark, Sept. 22.
“The Passion Thief,” by Anne McCarthy Strauss. Tuesday, Sept. 22.
“The Juno Letters,” by Larry Hewitt, Sept. 25.
“Heart, Soul and Rock and Roll,” by Janet Stafford, Sept. 25.
“Discernment,” by Lacy Sereduk, Sept. 29.
“Shari’s Shot,” by James Ross, Sept. 29.
“Patchwork Man,” by Debrah Martin, Oct. 2.
“The End of Men,” by C.B. Murphy,  Oct. 2
“The Big Wheel,” by Scott Archer Jones. Oct. 9.
 “The Other Side of Midnight,” by Karen Rivello. Oct. 9.
“Enchanting the Swan,” by John Schwartz, Oct. 13.
 “Rare Atmosphere,” by Rachelle Rogers, Oct. 13.
“The Shark Curtain,” by Chris Scofield, Oct. 16.
 “Tell Me a Story, Tell Me the Truth,” by Gina Roitman, Ocdt. 16.
“Your Boss Is Not Your Mother,” by Debra Mandel, Oct. 20.
“Sputnik Summer,” by Paul Castellani, Oct. 20.
“Embracing the Spirit of Nature,” by Linda Shaylor Cooper, Oct. 20.
“Fail,” by Rick Skwiot, Oct. 27.
“Convert This,” by D.W. Finton, Oct. 27.
Dead in a Ditch,” by Heather Osting, Oct. 27.
“The Hysterectomy Waltz,” by Merrill Joan Gerber, Nov. 3.
“Girl Without Borders,” by Katya Mills, Nov. 3.
“Ocean City Coverup,” by Kim Kash, Nov. 10.
“Lost Sister,” by Jean Ryan, Nov. 10.
“It Happened in a Lutheran Church,” by Rebecca Moatz,  Nov. 10.
“Rejection,” by Mark Davis, Nov. 17.
“Agnes Canon’s War,” by Deborah Lincoln, Nov. 17.
“Teamster,” by Quorena Sbrocca, Nov. 17.
“Someone Not Really Her Mother,” by Harriet Chessman, Nov. 24.
Colorado Mandala,” by Brian Heffron, Nov. 24.
“Fairy and Blood: Lilac,” by William Crisel, Nov. 24.
“Robin’s Blue,” by Pam Alster, Dec. 1.
Walking Over Egg Shells,” by Lucinda Clarke, Dec. 1.
“Paisley Memories,” by Zelle Andrews, Dec. 1.
The Festival of Earthly Delights,” by Matt Dojny, Dec. 8.
“The Truth and the Life,” by Elizabeth Moore, Dec. 8.
“Behold the Beauty,” by Monica Sharman. Dec. 8.
“Strays,” by Jennifer Caloyeras, Dec. 15.
“Faithfully Yours,” by Peggy Frezon, Dec. 15.
“Floyd the Dog,” by Donald Ford, Dec. 15.

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

3 thoughts on “Weather report, Dec. 22”

  1. Hi, Darrell, This is looking great and reminds me I had intended to be back in touch earlier about somehow linking Snowflakes and my blog book reviews so your writers can contact me if they’re interested in the kind of book reviews I’m doing. Having made the offer to a closed group on FB I am now backed up with books to review, but I am more than willing to take on more if people are willing to wait.

    And who knew people would want elaborate reviews of their books, free of charge, that would go out onto all the major social media? Gee.

    Right now I am unexpectedly enjoying a Civil War novel and waiting for the delivery—serendipitously—of a copy of a collection of actual Civil War letters. So, I’ll do those two books in the same review.

    Let me know if this is still something that interests you. Take a look at this first review I did so you’ll know what you’re signing on for. Then I’ll have to ask if you know how to set up the links. I also, of course, would put a link to Snowflakes on my home page and at the bottom of every book review with a short ‘sales’ bit.

    I hope you all yours have a glorious holiday. We’re overdue for a good jaw on the telephone. Dean



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