Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012


Indie booksellers design beautiful displays for books they believe in. They suggest books they love.  They help build a sense of community. Every month, indie booksellers pick their favorite books and vote on them, creating the Indie Next list. (The Orchard was number two on their list last September.) I can't imagine a world without independent bookstores.

 I came here planning to post information on an upcoming book event, but then my brain took off in the direction of indie love.

Indie booksellers have been a powerful force behind the success of The Orchard.  I know of independent booksellers who've hand sold hundreds of copies. They've LOANED the book to customers who said it sounded boring.  They've tied customers up and made them sit in chairs while reading the book to them. Wait. I think that last one was just a dream. But you know...

But anyway, back to my post.

I will be in Winona, Minnesota, September 25 to help celebrate the ten-year anniversary of The Book Shelf.  They have a lovely dinner planned.  Here is a bit from

The Book Shelf website:

09/25/2012 6:30 pm
In celebration of our ten year anniversary, we are having an author dinner with Theresa Weir on Tuesday, September 25 at 6:30pm. The Blue Heron Coffeehouse will be providing a multi-course fine dining experience, where Theresa Weir will be reading from her book, The Orchard. Dinner is $35.00, $50.00 with wine.

You can find more information about it on their Facebook page

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Most writers don't have savings or 401ks. Many can't afford heath care.  I've been thinking about this more lately because…well, I'm not getting any younger. Heck, I'm so old that when I was a kid I had to walk three miles through a foot of snow for a hit of acid. 

 Not really. I just wanted to say that, but I also wanted to give you a time frame on which to hang me.  I'm a child of the 60s.

 I've never been one to think much about the future, but I've been thinking about it more as the road in front of me becomes shorter than the road behind me. 

So as an artist with no savings and no 401k or anything like that… What is the future? What is retirement?  Not that I will ever deliberately quit writing, but you know what I mean. 

Lately I've been thinking that my books are my retirement fund. My 401k. And the thing is…once the rights to a book are signed away, that book is no longer part of your retirement package. It's gone. Goodbye.

Back when I started writing, the rights reversion clause was usually 7 years. And I watched that stuff. As soon as a book hit that 7-year mark, I began working to get the rights back. I now have the rights to 19 old titles. One I resold, and it will revert back next year. So The Orchard will be the only book I won't own unless I go with a new contract on a new book.  And since The Orchard was a later contract, I doubt I'll ever see the rights revert to me. But that's okay. I could never have gotten that book to so many readers. I may never make another dime on it, but that's okay too. I didn't write it to make money. I wrote it in order to document 70s and 80s farm culture. Anthropology.  Anthropology.

Some people don't understand why I'm not submitting some of my new books to publishers.  Retirement. I don't want to sign away the rights. 

Years ago, in a publishing world far, far away, the pie was very big. And the writer got 5 – 8 % of that pie. And the agent got 15% of that 5-8%.  It wasn't a bad gig. Now the pie is very small.  And the agent get's 15% of that tiny slice.  And the writer might get an advance, might sign away rights for the rest of her life, and will most likely never see another dime for the book if she got an advance.  (With no advance, the writer might see a few payments trickle in over a couple of years, then nothing.) In most cases, the book comes out, it's available for a few weeks, and then it's pretty much over.  Most sales occur within the first two – four weeks of release. If you're lucky, you might get a bit of this:

 And then it's over.
Move on.

So more and more I'm thinking it makes sense to retain rights to a large portion of my titles. Right now. if I count my short-story collections… I have 30 books available and published under my own imprint. Those books support me. Now I know that's partially because I've had success in the past and some people recognize my name. And it's also because of the number of books I have out there.  If you have a lot of titles available, then one single book doesn't really need to make that much.  And you don't give up your rights forever and forever.  And when I die, my kids will hopefully continue to benefit from the income generated by my books.  So I guess for somebody who never really looked that far ahead, I'm suddenly seeing my writing in a new light. My retirement fund. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012


A friend recently pointed out that September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. 
Not sure how this will impact my event at the Jon Hassler Theater in Plainview, Minnesota, where I will be reading short stories, along with an excerpt or two from The Orchard.

Rural America Writers' Center

Friday, September 14, 2012

Taking the day off

Last time I sat at this picnic table in this park, I was waiting to hear back from an agent I worked with for a very short time four years ago. He wanted me to add a murder to The Orchard so he could sell it as suspense. And I couldn't make him see how ridiculous that idea was. To take my life and add a murder to it.I understandably ended our association, but that was the darkest period of my writing career, my short association with him. Today I'm thinking about how writers have so many more choices than we had four years ago. I feel so much more in control of my future, my career, and my own writing than I did then. Back then I felt at the mercy of one person. Sending this from phone so we'll see if it posts!

Monday, September 10, 2012


I solemnly swear to never write another newsletter.
My newsletter went out this past week.
I don't like newsletters.
I don't like writing them.
I don't like sending them.
Newsletters feel too much like spam, and the writing itself isn't fun or creative.
So that's it. No more. I suspect most go unread or end up in the spam folder anyway.  So here is my newsletter. Dry, broad, and impersonal. Possibly containing some important information, but probably not. If we'd had no contact in ten years, then maybe this would have seemed...well...okay.


Hello to everybody who signed up for my newsletter. It's possible you signed up for this years ago, or maybe you signed up recently after seeing the link on my website. The sad truth is that I've sent out maybe one newsletter in the past ten years. Ha!  So anyway, I'm trying something different. This is called TinyLetter. 

 The past year has been kind of crazy with the release of The Orchard.  Combine that with the instability of traditional publishing… A strange year. A lot of writers are reluctant to sign away their book rights to companies that are on shaky ground, which is why I've been doing some experimenting with my own micro-publishing venture called Belfry Press. In the past year I've published another memoir (The Man Who Left) and a novella (The Girl with the Cat Tattoo), along with a lot of short stories. Right now all but The Man Who Left are exclusive to Amazon, but that will probably change at some point. If you're in the mood for Halloween tales, you might want to check out Deadly Treats. This is a fun anthology that was released last year through Nodin Press. It's available in both paperback and ebook. 

The Orchard is now available in trade paperback, and is the Target Book Club September pick.  I love the new cover. 

For people who wonder about my Anne Frasier titles… I'm really excited to say that I will be writing the sequel to Play Dead this coming year. I'm actually waiting for an offer on the proposal as I type this. Regardless of the outcome of that offer, I plan to write the book. It will feature all of the same characters from Play Dead, and of course it will be set in Savannah. Six months will have passed since we last saw the characters, so we won't have a large gap of time. There will be a bit more romance in this story, with David trying his luck at a love spell in hopes of making Elise fall for him. I'm SO looking forward to writing another Frasier crime-fiction book. Been way too long.

I have one or two events/appearances per week scheduled through November, most in Minnesota. The most up-to-date public appearance information can be found on The Orchard Facebook page even though all appearances aren't necessarily for The Orchard. I'm also visiting private book groups where I will shoot apples off readers' heads. Wait. That can't be right about the apples and the shooting.

I'm still blogging.

I use Twitter, but my personal Facebook page is the place I hang out the most. Too much.

 Have a lovely fall!

Theresa Weir/Anne Frasier

SEE??  BO-RING!!!  SPAM!!!!!!

So how about a picture of Lee Goldberg and the naked bookseller?

Thursday, September 6, 2012


About a year ago I was invited to contribute a verbal essay to a Wisconsin Public Radio program about writing spaces. I had zero desire to do it but hated to say no, so I wrote the essay. Polished it. Sent it off. That was followed by some back-and-forth with the director. The material had to be exactly three minutes on the dot. Then we had to record it. That took quite a bit of coordinating because Wisconsin Public Radio is in Madison, and I'm far from there. So it was arranged for me to go to Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul to record the piece.  But it was actually recorded in Madison, and MPR somehow patched me in.  There was a computer glitch that took about an hour to resolve, and then I was given the green light to read my essay.

  I'm feeling pretty damn cool with my mic and headphones.  The real deal. A star, baby! You're a star!

funny gifs

Fifteen seconds in, the director stops me.  There's a long, long pause. Then, through the headphones, I hear both her and the engineer laughing. I imagine them in a similar studio, staring at each other, mouths hanging open, hugging their stomachs as tears stream.

funny gifs

  Then the director finally says something about my poor delivery. I can't remember her exact words.

"That's how I talk," I say.
She says: "Try it again, and this time think WONDER. Put WONDER in your voice."

 I didn't want to do this in the first place, but now I'm thinking it's funny as hell. I'm in the middle of an SNL/public radio skit.  And the other thing that's just hit me is the realization that they make people talk like that.  Overly expressive. I always wondered how that happened.

I knew someone who decided to change her voice. One day she just started talking in a completely different voice.  Kind of high and from her mouth; a girly, breathless whisper. I laughed, thinking she was kidding. But she wasn't. And she kept doing it and never stopped. Today she still talks in what I think of as her new voice even though it's been thirty years.

 I've always been self-conscious of my accent, but I've never tried to change it. Nope. Not gonna do it.

Nobody asked what I sounded like when inviting me to write the essay. Nobody  said: "Hey, do you sound like a hillbilly? Because we don't like that."

People always want to know where I'm from because my accent is such a weird mix of different kinds of hillbilly. I grew up in southeast Iowa, almost Missouri, and I lived in southern New Mexico for those very spongy high-school years. I absorbed the twang and the drawl and the weird, slow/fast cadence. Combine that with my almost Missouri accent, and well…  It ain't purty, let me tell you.  But still, when I was asked to CHANGE HOW I TALK, I though, No. This is who I am.  I'm going to be myself. But I also understood that she and I had already put a lot of time into this project.  She asked for a cup of wonder, and I think I gave her a couple of spoonfuls because I could already hear myself sounding like some bad high-school play.  This time she didn't stop me, and I made it through the entire essay thinking I'd done an okay job.  She didn't ask for a second take. I imagined her mouthing OH, MY GOD to the engineer.  I left knowing the recording would never air. I felt like a silent-movie actress forced to do a talkie.  The audience howled with laughter. And it was a dramatic role.

 A year later, I'm still struck by the pomposity of the whole event. I was invited to do the essay because of my…well, I guess writing credentials, but because I didn't have a radio voice, I was hooked off the stage.  It was a creepy and disturbing experience, y'all.

I'm reminded of this again because I have a lot of speaking engagements taking place over the next three months, some in pretty prestigious places.  My friend, Bonnie, tells me I should sing instead of talk. Remember Gomer Pyle? Where he's as hillbilly as a guy can get, then he starts singing and the hillbilly falls away? I'm just like that.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


My editor just sent this phone photo.  The Orchard display at Target! 


The fall gigs are starting, and I have several events on my schedule through mid-November. 

On September 19 I'll be speaking at the Rural America Writers Center in Plainview, Minnesota. The main focus is writing, so I'll be able to talk about everything and anything. I plan to talk about my short stories, my thrillers, and my nonfiction.
 I will most likely read some short fiction, and maybe a few pages of The Orchard. 

Rural America Arts Partnership

On the business/writing front, I'm waiting on an offer for the Play Dead sequel. I really hope this works out, because I'm excited about writing this book. Regardless of whether or not I accept the offer, I will be writing the sequel this winter. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Target Promo Code for The Orchard

The trade paperback of The Orchard hits shelves tomorrow, September 4, and it's a September Target Book Club pick. :)  So cool!!  Anyway, Target is running a special promo for $2 off, which is supposed to be good through September. 


Save $2 on The Orchard: A Memoir by Theresa Weir with Promo Code TG98AZC9 Expires On 09/29/2012


And speaking of Target...

I have such a hard time resisting the clearance section. This crazy clock... The bird chirps twelve times every hour. This does not bode well for one of us.