It's September. The temperatures are cooler, there’s a crisp bite of autumn in the air. The Labor Day bash is long gone. Kids are back at school and the beach towels are put away. Large racks of Halloween costumes are in every store and pumpkin spiced treats in every bakery and coffee shop. There's no denying it: autumn is here.
You may be sad about saying goodbye to summer with its sunshine and reading on beaches. But you shouldn’t worry about endings. This is just the beginning of a whole new, exciting season. And I’m here to help you plan your perfect autumn day. Leaves—Sweaters—Pumpkins—Cider! Who said anything about missing summer?
Find Your Foliage
When the leaves start turning, head out for a stroll in the woods. Kids will love crunching leaves underfoot. The colorful surroundings can be quite romantic with your significant other. Or just gather your friends and enjoy nature's best magic trick—autumn colors. Look for national forests or state parks that allow for meandering walks through the trees. Holding hands and drinking warm beverages from thermoses is optional, but encouraged.
Visit a Farm
On your way out into nature, visit a local farm. Often, local growers will have stores on the premises where you can buy delicious seasonal produce and local delicacies like apple cider donuts. Do not miss out on the donuts. Select your squashes, root vegetables, leafy greens and shiny apples and you'll be ready to start planning a seasonal menu. Bonus points if local cheese is offered, which may be available for sampling.
Instead of choosing a pumpkin at your local grocery store, look for a farm that has a pumpkin patch! Not just for kids, pumpkin patches can be a great way for all ages to enjoy the season. There’s something special about picking your very own jack-o-lantern from the vine where it was grown in the field. Pick a pumpkin with no soft spots or blemishes and it might just last until it's time to be carved for Halloween. Bring it home to add a wonderful seasonal flair to your kitchen counter or dining room table.
Nothing says fall like pumpkin pie, apple turnovers, cinnamon rolls and sugar cookies shaped like autumn leaves. Really get into the spirit by decorating your treats with powdered sugar sprinkled in fall shapes—stencils or cookie cutters will get you there. If you're not a baker you can even give store-bought desserts this treatment for a homemade touch.
Brainstorm Your Halloween Costume
No one ever really grows out of dressing up for the last day of October. Whether you want to display your wit, scare the pants off your friends, or don your slinkiest dress, make sure Halloween doesn't sneak up on you. Of course you can just put on some cat ears, but you're more creative than that! Really go all out. 'Tis the season.
Dress the Part
After months of tank tops and shorts, it's sweater weather. Grab something Fair Isle, pair it with some skinny jeans or corduroys and you're good to go. Or snuggle in a sweatshirt to show your school spirit. Don't forget seasonal socks to autumnify any outfit.
Bonus: Fall Drinks For Grown-Ups
Ever heard of a Stone Fence? It's whiskey or rum mixed with cider and some bitters, and it's delicious. What about some hot buttered rum, which, like all things is better because you added butter to it. Mulled wine is a classic that is simple to make—just simmer wine with whole spices wrapped in cheesecloth. You'll forget you ever needed an ice cube to enjoy your drink.
So, you've packed your tasty fall goodies and maybe a beverage. You headed out to your favorite pumpkin patch, farm or nature trail and enjoyed the crisper weather. You maybe even went apple picking. When the conversation lulled, you planned those Halloween costumes, so you're all set for October. And you did it all in your coziest autumn gear.
Congratulations. You've successfully autumned.
How many articles and blogs about the Jewish High Holidays have you seen? You probably know everything about the apple and the honey, the round challah bread and the fasting. The internet, media and newspapers are saturated with information about the Jewish High Holidays, in particular the New Year—Rosh Hashanah. I’m rarely satisfied with what I read on the subject. I often feel the information is inaccurate or missing the ethical and spiritual part of Judaism.
The Jewish High Holidays consist of two major holidays: the New Year—Rosh Hashanah and the Day of Atonement—Yom Kippur. It also includes the days that fall between these two holidays—all together 10 days that are called Days of Awe.
Judaism is a unique religion where confession is only given during the 10 days of the High Holidays, a time when a person can ask for forgiveness. It is a religion where sins between people are considered much more severe than sins between man and God. Yom Kippur, the main day of repentance, can absolve you of sins between man and God, but not for sins between man and his fellow man.
During Yom Kippur, Jews fast and pray for God's forgiveness for the transgressions they have made against God in the prior year. Sincere repentance is required, and once again, God can only forgive one for the sins one has committed against Him. This is why it is necessary for Jews to also seek the forgiveness of those people who they have wronged throughout the year. As you can imagine this is no small or easy task.
People often hurt others but rarely make the effort to make things right. Even though individuals want to become more righteous, they find it unbearably difficult to have to apologize to certain people.
According to Rabbi Shraga Simmons, Western society has a widespread aversion to apology. Whether somebody cuts another off in traffic, or destroys a marriage, admitting guilt is out of vogue. In fact, pop psychology has done all it can to remove the whole concept of guilt from our lexicon. It's much easier to rationalize our mistakes away. And it's unhealthy to feel guilt—suppress it, they say.
On one level, this suppression is unhealthy. Refusing to admit wrongs can be depressing and paralyzing. The regret stays inside and festers. On another level, this suppression is downright dangerous. Because when a man repeats an inappropriate act enough, he eventually comes to rationalize it as proper. The Nazi Himmler wrote that in his own personal experience with killing Jews, the turning point came when he was able to fall asleep at night without any guilt. He knew then that he'd crossed the point of no return.
It can be excruciatingly difficult for people to admit that they have done wrong. We excuse ourselves. We refuse to admit the truth. We shift blame. We deny the obvious. We excel at rationalizing. However, the person who wrenches from himself the unpleasant truth that he has sinned, has performed a great and meaningful act. In other words a person needs to feel remorse and make amends to those he harmed.
Whether you are Jewish or not, why not take this time, during the Days of Awe, to make things right between you and someone you’ve wronged. Bring peace, harmony and respect into your relationships.
And from me to you, I ask you again to forgive me for any mistakes I’ve made during the last year. Any of you who I might have hurt or harmed, please know that I never meant to do so and that I am sorry.
As you pray and atone may you be blessed with all the good things of life.
!גמר חתימה טובה
If you love reading but don’t have the funds to feed your book habit, there are a number of ways of acquiring books on the cheap. Here are a few tips and recommendations to help you on the way to book bargain heaven.
1. It’s an obvious one, perhaps, but local libraries are often overlooked when it comes to books these days. Libraries are great resources for studying, research and information, but of course you can also borrow books for free—just remember to return them on time! Remember your excitement as a child when your mom said you could go to the library and choose any book you wanted? Guess what—you still can!
2. Why not exchange books with friends and family? It’s a great way to socialize, as you have ready-made conversation starting point, discussing your thoughts and ideas about the book in question. Just remember to look after their books as if they were your own—and if you like to keep your own books in pristine condition this option might not be for you.
3. Bookshops and publishers often have advance copies of books for reviewing purposes. If you have your own book blog or a review column in local media, why not try asking for a proof copy of a new title in exchange for a review. If you don’t ask you don’t get. This works more often than you would expect. There are also websites where you can request reading copies of books, but you will usually need to prove you are an active reviewer.
4. Follow your favorite authors on social media. Some authors are very good at publicizing their own work, and will often give away copies of books in competitions or to reviewers. It’s certainly not a reliable way of acquiring books, but you might get lucky—and you may get exclusive news or information on the latest releases before the general public.
5. Specialized second-hand bookshops are a book lover’s dream, often housed in quirky old buildings and bursting with unusual titles waiting to be discovered. Spend an hour or two browsing the shelves in your local used bookstore and you are bound to come away with a handful of great books.
6. If you are looking for a particular book, the easiest way to buy it second-hand is via the Internet. Most of the big online retailers now have a marketplace section where traders can sell their used books, or you could try one of the major auction sites. There are also many used book retailers online, who will sometimes offer free delivery or other special deals to tempt readers away from the big boys, so it’s wise to shop around before you buy.
7. Charity shops are a valuable source of second-hand books—most have a huge number of titles to browse through, and the prices are usually very low. If you go in with no particular expectations, chances are you will find plenty of books to tempt you. Also, the knowledge that you are giving to charity at the same time makes this a win-win!
8. Finally, garage sales shouldn’t be underestimated when it comes to second hand books. You will often find them buried in a box—neglected and forgotten. But it definitely pays to rummage—fans of crime and thrillers, biographies and children’s books will have an abundance of choices. And you never know what other gems you will find—hunting them out is half the fun!
I hope you find this helpful.
The summer sun fought the bite of the autumn air throughout the day, challenging us with a few hot hours followed by a refreshing breeze and the sound of acorns falling. The excitement in the air created a buzz, making it feel like a fall bazaar. But this was better—it was all books.
I went to the Decatur Book Festival to meet other authors and to sell books, but what I found there were stories behind every person I met—readers, fans and authors alike. They all inspired me. My initial fears drained away as I met more and more people. Over 150 people signed up for my blog and newsletter, Pinnacle Insider.
On the first day of the festival, I stood outside of my booth when two young ladies approached me. They were interested in my book and wanted to buy a copy. When I found out they were only 16, I told them I wouldn’t sell it to them. They were very disappointed and rushed to tell me that they’d already read Fifty Shades of Grey. I told them it wasn’t about the sex scenes, that Pinnacle Lust was an intense, emotional novel with mature complexity, that it dealt with moral issues. I felt they were too young to read about. I gave them some bookmarks to bring home to their mothers. I turned down the sale, but was able to sleep that night.
The next day when I was setting up my booth, a woman stopped to buy a book. After purchasing a hardcover copy, she told me that her daughter had been here yesterday and had brought her the bookmark and recommended she stop by and have a look.
In the end I really didn’t miss out on a sale and I was still able to sleep at night.
Doing the right thing sometimes holds its own rewards I guess.
Though at the end of the day I packed away my booth and came home but the people and the stories still linger in my mind.
If you missed the festival, it’s not too late. You can still get your copy of Pinnacle Lust and sign up for my newsletter, Pinnacle Insider.
Thank you for your support—you are my inspiration.
Book festivals are everywhere, all year round and have something for everyone. Whether you are an avid reader or not, I believe that every book festival has a magnetic pull. As soon as I think about a book festival, I visualize a grand happening—magical books from every genre imaginable, banners, giveaways and food. God, who could resist that?
And with this comes the chance to speak with authors. As a reader, I have this belief that every author is a celebrity in their own right, and I wish to meet each one of them. As an author, I found that the best opportunity to meet other authors is by attending conferences or book festivals.
Book festivals can be one of the most effective ways to connect with new readers. It’s also a place where you sell your books. Attending book festivals can be extremely costly. It is important to do a little bit of homework first, and choose the festivals most appropriate for you and your readers.
Define your market
Book festivals come in all shapes and sizes. Some are genre specific, some have a little bit of everything. With some festivals you may be competing with dozens of other authors. With others you may have the opportunity to connect with every attendee in a variety of ways. The key is doing your research before you register. If a book festival has been around for years, look to see which authors attend every year. This gives you a good indication of what sells.
Smaller events will cost less money to rent booth space. The larger the event, the more costly it will be, but it will also expose you to a bigger audience. If you start with smaller, local festivals, you can test not only what festivals are the right fit for you, but also find the best way to market your book.
With simple searches, you can find festivals for your needs. The Library of Congress lists book festivals by state, festivals.com provides a directory for festivals of all kinds, or check out literaryfestivals for listings from around the world. Or if you’re looking for something in your local area, simply Google it.
Plan For The Future
As an author, you’ll connect with a variety of people at your booth. Some are already raving fans, owning every book you’ve written. They are simply happy to have you sign a book and be able to shake your hand. Others may not be ready to buy, but will take your bookmarks or business cards with the thought of looking you up online.
Never ignore future potential. If someone isn’t ready to buy, you can offer a chapter or two for free on your website and take their email address to send them a link once you return to your office. And once they are on your list, you can keep connecting with them over and over again. They may not be ready to buy today, but through the power of social media, they can learn more about you over time. This also gives you instant opportunity to sell future books you may produce as well.
If you are in the process of writing and marketing your own book, don’t forget the power of a book festival when you are creating your marketing plan. And if you have your own success stories about selling at a book festival, I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment below. Or you can tell me your story in person. I will be at the Decatur Book Festival in Georgia on September 5-6, 2015. You can find me in my booth, eager to meet new people.
Please stop by Booth 429 in Zone A and say hello.