Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Tale of Two Authors

Author Robin Janney and I have known each other since last summer. Not in the traditional sense, mind you, but in the twenty-first century sense. You know, we met on Facebook! We have a mutual friend, Deanna, who told us about each other and encouraged us to be “friends.” Taking Deanna’s advice has proven to be a great idea. Not only do we get each other like no other non-writing folks do, we were able to start this wonderful collaboration with Broads of a Feather. In just the short month since it came into fruition, our blog has seen some serious traffic. Visibility is golden when you are trying to promote your name and your books.

Robin Janney and C.P. Stringham travel to Spalding 
Memorial Library to seek out new readers and new books.
To boldly go... Eh. You get the Star Trek reference.
Two weeks ago, Robin, who is just as shy about meeting new people as I tend to be, suggested we meet at a central location. While we both call Bradford County home, she’s at one end and I’m at the other. What better place for book-loving ladies to meet than a library? I set it up with my friend, Janet Gigee, Director of Spalding Memorial Library who graciously accommodated us. Shortly after my second book came out (shameless plug: Her Father's Last Request,) she asked if I’d be interested in giving a presentation at the library to both introduce myself and to discuss being an independent author. At the time, I was more concerned with getting my third book out (another shameless plug: The Research Trip ,) but kept her offer in the back of my mind. Even though the summer would have been the perfect time to set up a date with Janet, my fear of public speaking reared its ugly head. But now, I have my Broads of a Feather cohort, Robin Janney, to co-present! Strength in numbers. Janet pulled out her planning calendar and now we have an official presentation date! Mark your calendars, people. On Saturday, March 22, 2014 Broads of a Feather will be presenting a talk at 1:00PM on being independent authors! I'll pause here and let Robin put in her take.

     Robin says: Wait...who are you and why am I here again?  Okay, okay, I'll be serious now!  (Probably not for long though...)

     Meeting Carol was an idea that had been rolling around in my head for a while, and after she presented her idea of Broads of a Feather, I decided to throw it out there.  I mean what was the worst that could happen?  She'd say no...or worse yet, say yes and we end up not liking each other!!  But of course those two things didn't happen.  Just the opposite actually!  Yaaay!!

     Hanging at the library with Carol and Janet was GREAT!  I loved the look and feel of the library!  Very bright and welcoming!  And Carol was sooo nice and pleasant, taking the lead while I'm just kinda twiddling my thumbs wondering what I had set in motion.  I don't like the idea of public speaking myself, but I know that once things get rolling, I'll relax and it'll be great!  Once you get me started talking about my books (my shameless plug: Farmer's Daughter), or reading in general, you can't really shut me up. 

     And did Carol mention she brought Star Trek stuff??  How cool is that??

Twyla and Keeley, of Mad Hatter's Cafe
and Co-Op, taking a moment to pose.

The ladies working "madly."
After the library, Robin and I moved on to the Mad Hatter's Cafe and Co-Op to enjoy coffee and some Weekend Whoopie—from Kurt's Making Whoopie. Mad Hatter's is located on Main Street in Athens, Pennsylvania. As the name implies, their decorating theme is “entirely bonkers.” Everyone knows all the best places are. It offers a cozy, colorful, and friendly atmosphere. They have daily specials with real food made on site and offer a co-op section of locally made goodies. They also offer gluten-free, vegetarian, and Paleo options for those with sensitive diets. Special thanks to Twyla and Keeley for making us feel at home during our visit. While there, we listened in as Lisa Belles of The Healthy Rainbow  gave a free presentation on stress-reducing activities and practices. It was a happy coincidence we were there the same day that such a talk was taking place. Everything Lisa said about healthier living struck a chord with me—Robin as well. I’ve already blogged about my eight-month journey to healthier living in Holidays, Damn Holidays.  We stayed for the entire presentation and brought home the helpful handouts Lisa provided to attendees.

Mad Hatter's fresh-brewed coffee and Death By Whoopie.
Kurt of Kurt's Making Whoopie. 

(Photo from his Facebook page)
I’m giving Kurt his own paragraph in order to brag him up a bit. Kurt and I went to school together and now he runs a successful gourmet whoopie pie business out of his house called Kurt’s Making Whoopie. Check out his Facebook Page. It’s his part-time gig because, by day, he’s a hardworking public school art teacher. Both of my children had him—and loved him because he’s, God forbid, FUN. My youngest now refers to him as Uncle Whoopie. (I love it!!) How ironic is it that we attended the same rural Pennsylvania high school and now, twenty-some years later, we’re both in the whoopie business? I write about whoopie and he makes whoopie—and so expertly might I add. He comes up with the best tongue-in-cheek names for his products: Whoopie In The City, Fall Fling, Better Than, Yo’ Mama and many more. His catch phrase? “How do you like your whoopie?” Bringing this back on track with our authors’ day, Mad Hatter's offers Weekend Whoopie by featuring Kurt’s Making Whoopie products. Kurt changes up flavors each weekend. The day Robin and I were there the feature flavors were Death By Whoopie and Irish Coffee. We decided to go all the way with Death By Whoopie—a truly foodgasmic experience. I know I was left basking in the afterglow. How about you, Robin? 

        Robin says:  I saw the wrapper around that whoopie pie and I thought, At last!!  I have "liked" Kurt's Making Whoopie on Facebook for a while without ever having tasted one of his creations!  I don't even remember how I found the page, just that he was a local business and I'm all into supporting local businesses.  But now, after having that delightful Death By Chocolate...I just want to like the Facebook page over and over and over again!  Yummy!!

This is why we're a great team....
......she photo bombed me!
         And the coffee was great too!  I really do need to get out more, because I'd never even heard of the Mad Hatter's Cafe!  Granted, I don't get up to the Valley much at all, but one thing this meeting really emphasized for me was that I need to get out more!  Not too much, cuz this girl needs to write her second novel and get it into the hands of her readers.  Because I just loved the Mad Hatter!  Bright yellow walls and Johnny Depp - okay, it was just a movie poster from Alice in Wonderland, but hey, it was good enough for me!

        The only thing I could think of while Lisa Belles was talking about stress reduction was: she's been reading my email!  This winter has been a rough one and I can't tell you how much this happy accident encouraged me! I'm not alone, and sometimes that's important to remember.

         And that was one of the best part of meeting Carol. I'm not alone in this madness that grips me...times when I have to find the nearest sheet of paper to write my thoughts out, times when I have to stay up 'just five more minutes' to type the scene in my head before it's lost, times when I have to leave myself voice memos on my phone because it's bedtime and the computer's off and I'm half asleep and 4 am is swiftly on its way.  She knows!

All in all, it was a great afternoon! Meeting Robin in person was the highlight for me. I know I’m looking forward to our collaborations at Broads of a Feather and a life-long friendship. As Robin coined it, we’re “two peas in a pod.” It sure feels that way. I can honestly say, being able to message someone and chat about books and current works-in-progress, even if it’s 12AM, is a godsend. Like I said, we get each other. Broads of a Feather gives us the perfect opportunity to reach more readers through both social media formats and local venue appearances conducting presentations. Hopefully, we can welcome more regional romance writers to Broads of a Feather. Can you imagine the possibilities, Robin?  

The beginning of a beautiful friendship!

 Robin shamelessly steals, uhm ...borrows!!! borrows!!!...Han Solo's line, "I can imagine pretty big!"  ;)


  1. I'm so glad you ladies were able to accidentally attend my workshop! Funny how things work out like that, isn't it? :)

  2. I know!! I love happy accidents/coincidences like that! :D