Understanding the Book Publication Process

Books have provided mankind with a platform to learn, to entertain, and to inform. Since olden times, books have been regarded as a symbol for knowledge and organization. While books do reflect a certain level of cultural significance, their longevity is now being challenged by the seemingly expansive nature of the technology.

Hardbound books are being reproduced less and less these days because of the advent of the ebooks and readers. Knowledge is expanding much faster over the Internet, with every bit of information being transformed to a digital form. However, the good thing about it is that while technology has provided a new platform to read, books are still fighting for their lives in the physical realm. Besides, nothing beats a good book in hand on a rainy Tuesday – not an iPad or an Android Tablet. A book provides that venerated vibe that true readers would only understand.

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The question now is “How does one’s favorite book come to be?”

In order to truly appreciate a book, one must comprehend the stages  it undergoes before it lands on your fingertips. This article zeroes in on the book publication process, the intricacies behind it, and how it is still thriving in the market today.

The Manuscript

Before any book is published, the exists the person behind the words. An author would have to spend a considerable amount of time creating his or her piece of art before it even goes to the press. Utilizing various writing processes, a writer whips up a story specific to the genre he or she has selected. Authors are aware of the best works out there, and try to scan each and every resource they can to create something authentic that would satiate consumers all across the globe.

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An author’s manuscript can have varying lengths that require varying amounts of production time to finally be considered finished. Some authors finish their pieces of art in days such as John Boyne when writing the “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”. That was done in 2 and a half days. Anthony Burgess wrote “A Clockwork Orange” in 3 weeks. Then again, there are some authors who take their time in writing their great works. J.D Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” was a 10-year work, while Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” was a 12-year masterpiece. J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic fantasy trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” is a work of art that took 16-years to complete.

All in all, the manuscript a writer produces takes some time to complete. This is where the book publishing process starts.

Acquisition

When the manuscript is ready, it then undergoes the acquisition stage. This is where publishing houses look at an author’s work and decide whether it is publishable or not. Once an editor agrees to read a manuscript, it has passed a critical test. If the editors likes what they read  and think it’s a good fit for their list, they would then move forward with a proposal to acquire the book. However, this doesn’t mean it’s a done deal.

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Publishing begins with acquisition and highly depends on this step. Acquisition for a publisher is like planting seeds for a farmer, or creating new models for a car manufacturer. Without it, there would be no products to sell in the future, thus no income. This is why publishers are so careful about what they acquire, and take so much time deciding over it. Committing to publish one book means committing to spending or otherwise investing thousands, if not millions, of dollars in advances, staff time, plant costs, paper/printing/binding costs, and marketing expenses, with income from the book not expected for at least a year.

Once an author’s work is selected by the editor, it is time for both parties to sign a contract. When the author and the publishers have agreed to the acquisition, the writer loses all rights and control over how the book would be published.

Revisions

As soon as the manuscript is acquired by the publishing house, it undergoes a variety of edits and revisions. This is one of the most arduous stages in the process as everyone is trying to provide the best possible content. In fact, many writers often highlight editing as the hardest part there is in the writing process. Today’s book industry is so competitive that most acquired manuscripts don’t require significant editorial overhauls. Those needing lots of attention—whether they’re riddled with technical errors or in need of heavy restructuring—rarely make it past the agent.

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Today’s editors more often request minor rewrites or reworks on the manuscripts they acquire. When it is reviewed, it is then passed back to the author to revise under strict deadlines. When the author of the book returns on the set deadline, it undergoes review again. All in all, there are no specific numbers for editor revisions. It depends on how satisfied the editor is.

Production

As soon as the author and the editors of the book are satisfied with the work, it is passed onto the production line. In the moment when the title is ready, it is scheduled for publication together with its release month. Publishers recognize timeliness as a factor in their sales, so the release date is set on a month that they think is perfect timing.

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The release dates often depend on the number of contracts under the genre of the writer, as well as how timely the topic is. Say for example, a book regarding politics would be more effective if it were released during the months leading up to an election. Publishers often have a good idea when a book can have the greatest chance to sell.

Publishing houses then provide a set number of copies, which are developed during acquisition. The publishers have a legitimate claim on the number of copies they will produce in order to be profitable for both the author and the company. This is usually known as the “budget number” for each book. This number is the basis of how much attention to detail your title receives. With limited time and resources to produce thousands of titles, the budget number is one way for publishers to prioritize projects.

Another element in the production line is the development of the book cover. While it may be a relatively minor factor for readers, it is a huge deal for publisher because it provides the first impression of the contents of the book itself.

When the designs are ready and the number of copies has been achieved, publishers market the book through advertising activities, promotions, and publicity gigs. Bigger houses often provide authors a book conference where writers can discuss the contents of their books in a more personal way.

Sales and Distribution

Once the title has been marketed, sales representatives begin to present it to bookstores for selling. Titles are typically sold months in advance of publication, so most titles being presented usually come out months from the actual publication and release date. This gives the publisher plenty of time to assess all orders, make adjustments as needed, and print the right number of copies for distribution to the marketplace.

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Publishers utilize a variety of ways to distribute the copies. It all depends on the proximity, convenience, and costs of distribution. For example, many publishers in Canada acquire services from Toronto movers, who then deliver books in bulk orders to the nearest bookstores, and even to farther book hot spots as dictated by the distribution list.

9 Books to Help You Become a Better Insurance Agent

 

With the growing demand for insurance products, various books have become available to help you become a better insurance agent. Ranging from general life tips, specific guides for insurance agents, and books about the economy from a different perspective, these resources can be can make you stand out among the competition.

 

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The Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource

By Jeffrey Gitomer

Jeffrey Gitomer wouldn’t call it the Sales Bible for nothing. This book is quite the one-size-fits-all book that you need if you’re looking for a sales resource.

Almost anything and everything you want to know about the sales process can be found in this book. It also includes basic knowledge and advanced techniques that you may encounter in your business. From simple tips and tricks to complex sales and marketing strategies, Gitomer’s bestselling classic runs the gamut. Regardless of whether you are a novice agent or seasoned sales pro, this one is a must-read.

 

The World is Flat

By Thomas L. Friedman

 

Aside from insurance and sales guides, it is also important for you to understand the economic pressures and competition that different companies across different industries are now facing. This is why books like Thomas L. Friedman’s The World Is Flat is a definite good read for insurance agents.

 

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The World Is Flat is an essential update on globalization, its opportunities for individual empowerment, its achievements at lifting millions out of poverty and the environmental, social and political drawbacks. In a narrative punctuated by case studies, interviews and sometimes surprising statistics, Friedman tells his reader this: Be prepared, because a phenomenon waits for no one.

 

Without rhetoric or scare tactics, he paints a picture of a world moving faster than most can keep up. This book presents not only the problems that the corporate world faces, but also preventative measures and possible solutions.

 

New Sales. Simplified.

By Mike Weinberg

 

New customers are the lifeblood of any business. However, for the average salesperson, the process of acquiring new customers creates anxiety and confusion. In New Sales. Simplified, Mike Weinberg suggests that new sales success is not achieved through complicated strategies, but by executing the basics well. By drawing from his years of experience as a sales executive and coach, Weinberg provides salespeople of all experience levels with a well-structured framework to identify the best target accounts, leverage key sales tools and plan successful new sales strategies.

Especially relevant for new salespeople with small client bases, Weinberg’s volume is all about successful prospecting practices.

However, it doesn’t just stop there. You can learn how to interact with different types of clients more effectively to build stronger relationships and close more deals, which is ultimately what every good sales book should be striving to accomplish.

 

The Psychology of Selling

By Brian Tracy

 

In order to sell to someone, you need to know what they’re thinking — and why. With that said, it also helps to identify your own motivations at the most basic level. Brian Tracy’s The Psychology of Selling lays it all out, leading you to a greater understanding of sales in general and, as a result, a significant boost in your numbers.

 

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There’s a reason why firms like Big Lou still sell insurance even when they are up against the giants of the industry. They perform smart targeting. They have well-defined targets, and create a striking difference from the rest of the players in insurance.

By applying the psychology of selling, Tracey writes, you can sell insurance no matter what.

 

The Secrets of Closing the Sale

By Zig Ziglar

 

There’s a good chance you have already read this all-time great, or at least heard of it. If you haven’t, there’s no time like the present. If you already have, it probably couldn’t hurt to revisit its impactful lessons.

Zig Ziglar focuses on imbuing meaning within the relationships between you and your customers using his book The Secrets of Closing the Sale. It focuses on the strong relationships that can foster trust, and in turn, sales growth. Again, almost every successful agent has read this book, because it is very useful and easy to read.

 

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Ziglar emphasizes that you have to cover “all of the bases” in order to reach the close. You have to find a prospective customer. You have to make an appointment to meet the prospect. You have to build up initial rapport and trust. You have to tell the prospect a good story. You have to answer the prospect’s objections. Then you can close the sale. His motto to summarize this philosophy is, “You can get everything in life you want if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.”

 

The Best Damn Sales Book Ever

By Warren Greshes

 

Warren Greshes might sound a bit overconfident about his book, but he won’t give a book such a confident title without the content to back it up. The title is fitting, as The Best Damn Sales Book Ever emphasizes that confidence and positivity are integral components of sales success.

“The big secret to sales success? A simple truth: Motivated, positive, goal-oriented people are usually the ones who sell the most. Even if you don’t think you have these vital qualities, you can develop them in yourself — with the right help.”

This declaration in the book says it all. It can help you boost your confidence in selling, but it can also help you back up your confidence by making you a better agent in general.

 

You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar / The Sandler Submarine

By David Sandler

 

If you are having trouble getting people to buy what you are selling, this book could offer a different approach by teaching you the rough basics of selling something. Davin Sandler offers great insights for improving your sales presentations. His book revolves around five rules of sales success:

  1. Qualify your prospects.
  2. Extract your prospect’s “pain.”
  3. Verify that the prospect has money.
  4. Be sure the prospect is a decision maker.
  5. Match your service or product to the prospect’s “pain.”

 

To complement these rules, Sandler has created a book that defines a seven-step sales process he aptly calls The Sandler Submarine:

  1. Bonding and rapport
  2. Up-front contracts
  3. Pain
  4. Budget
  5. Decision
  6. Fulfillment
  7. Post-Sell

The name comes from this idea: As you finish each step, you close and lock a “water-tight door” so the prospect can’t return to it. Sandler presents techniques to do this and therefore put the salesperson in control of the sales process.

 

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High-Payoff Selling: Being Visible and Viable in the New Insurance Market

By Richard Coskren

 

While the other books on the list can help agents succeed via generalized sales advice, Richard Coskren’s High-Payoff Selling is directly focused on the insurance industry. It’s a full-on approach to integrating your life and work goals, customizing the services you offer and securing your status within the industry based on your merits, rather than the size of your business.

 

As its title suggests, it helps readers in being visible in the highly competitive world of insurance marketing. It can help you penetrate the market even when you’re just starting. More importantly, it makes you viable in the insurance market by helping you become an effective agent if you follow the tips it openly shares to you.

How to Self-publish a Book

At one point in your life, you may begin to consider the idea of self-publishing a book. It might be because of its many benefits, such as having a lot more authority with your content, having greater royalty rates, or attaining the satisfaction of putting into paper that core idea you have always had. There are various considerations when choosing whether you go to a publisher or have your book published on your own.

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However, self-publishing a book is not an easy task, even for those who have a publishing background. Then again, if you’re looking for a shortlist of how to self-publish a book, here are the most basic – yet most substantial – steps that you need to take:

Step 1. Write and Back-up Your Manuscript

Write your manuscript and transfer it into a word document. It is always best to look for a Word Processor (you’ll end up using Microsoft Word, most likely) and do everything digitally because of its many pros: you can easily edit, go back a few versions, track changes, upload everything in the cloud, etc. Also, what’s important is for you to have more than one back-up of your manuscript, be it through an external hard drive, the cloud, or even in your e-mail.

Step 2. Hire a Content Editor

Hire a professional editor to read or edit your content. Studies have shown how important it is to hire a professional when you’re aiming to write a book; they are masters of grammar, of course, but most importantly, their input on what can be improved with your novel is golden. Of course, as a publisher, you would want more control of your work. At the end of the day, it is always up to you if you want to follow what they say. However, their insights might just be good for your book.

Step 3. Look for a Print on Demand Company

Look for a Print on Demand Company, because it’s the perfect go-to for self-publishers. You don’t need to spend much (or any) money upfront – all you really do is publicize your book and the buyers can get one made when they want it.

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Step 4. Design your Book Cover

It’s best if you can hire a designer to select the size of your book, its shape, color or any other visual element of your masterpiece. At first sight, people have to judge your book by its cover, and it’s important if you can make its cover attractive enough for people to get into it.

Step 5. Design your interior and layout

Select photographs, images, type of fonts, and illustrations for the interior of your book. In terms of layout, it is also best to find someone who’s a design professional – unless you can do it on your own – because not only do they know how to use the proper software to make the designs, but also the theories to apply so it can be likened by readers or be marketable.

Design alone can make or break your book, so steps 4 and 5 are just as important. There are many professionals out there waiting for a job, and there are many nifty ways for you to look for them. You can use freelance websites such as Odesk.com where you can find even the cheapest deals for a designer.

Step 6. Submission of the Digital Files

Upload your files and forward them to your publisher. Make sure that you are very specific with what you want, like all the details from the cover of your book, to the layout design. Everything.

Step 7. Order a Hard Copy Proof and Proofread

You cannot see layout and formatting errors easily in the digital file. Prior to publishing, it is critical to do one last proofread on a hard copy of the book. By then, you’re almost ready to publish.

Red ink on paper.

It is important to take now, however, that at this stage you should only be making small typo corrections. If you make major corrections at this point, it can change the entire spacing and formatting. The time and money required to do so may not be worth it.

Step 8. Submit for Final Publication

Submit the corrected files to the publisher, and then look at their first print to see if all the changes have been applied. If you don’t have any more changes, you can finalize your self-published book!

6 Fiction Books Published in the 90s That Continue To Enchant Readers

hd34888As an ardent book lover, I’m always curious about how a book has been received over a period of time. It is an indication of the power of books and how they can withstand our changing society or propel change in one’s perspective.

The 1990s is my favorite decade. Not only because it was the time of “Barbie Girl” and “Spice Up Your Life,” but there were a plethora of books published that captured the attention of bookworms around the world. From a magical wizarding world to a former combat nurse turned outlander, authors created stories and characters that sucked us in from the very first page. And, they continue to enchant readers of today. Below are six books published in the 90s that are still well loved and continually growing in popularity.

1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

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First published in 1997 (UK) and 1998 (US).

I don’t think this book requires an explanation. If you believe it requires an explanation, then you’ve been living under a rock; and you should go to your local library or bookstore. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has changed everything.

2. The Giver – Lois Lowry

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First published in 1993.

The Giver has been hailed as one of the most influential novels of our time. Lowry’s imaginative story challenges the status quo and introduces readers to a world that is both real and unreal. It’s so much more than a YA novel. I think the novel continues to capture our attention because it hits close to home in an enlightening manner. It effectively comments on our world and how we see it, as well as how we see ourselves.

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky

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First published in 1999.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age story that explores teenage angst, friendship, sexuality, and the power of education. The protagonist, Charlie, is lovable and relatable. So, it’s no surprise that Chbosky’s novel continues to enchant readers in 2016.

4. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon

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First published in 1991.

Time-travel, love, and desire. What more could you ask for? Outlander encompasses everything you want in a novel.

5. A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin

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First published in 1996.

Epic fantasy novels never get old. And, it’s safe to say that A Game of Thrones has taken over the 2000s for its juicy plot filled with vengeance, power, and greed.

6. The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks

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First published in 1996.

Nicholas Sparks is a seasoned romance writer. One of his books that touched many is The Notebook. A story about true love, social hierarchy, and fate. Our world is full of romantics and I think that is what makes this book (and many of his books) so enchanting until this day.

What book published in the 90s enchants you?


Let’s block ads! (Why?)

hd34888As an ardent book lover, I’m always curious about how a book has been received over a period of time. It is an indication of the power of books and how they can withstand our changing society or propel change in one’s perspective. The 1990s is my favorite decade. Not only because it was the time of “Barbie Girl” and “Spice Up Your Life,” but there were a plethora of books published that captured the attention of bookworms around the world. From a magical wizarding world to a former combat nurse turned outlander, authors created stories and characters that sucked us in from the very first page. And, they continue to enchant readers of today. Below are six books published in the 90s that are still well loved and continually growing in popularity.   1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling harry_potter_and_the_philosophers_stone_book_cover First published in 1997 (UK) and 1998 (US). I don’t think this book requires an explanation. If you believe it requires an explanation, then you’ve been living under a rock; and you should go to your local library or bookstore. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has changed everything. 2. The Giver – Lois Lowry 81cjcheqjsl First published in 1993. The Giver has been hailed as one of the most influential novels of our time. Lowry’s imaginative story challenges the status quo and introduces readers to a world that is both real and unreal. It’s so much more than a YA novel. I think the novel continues to capture our attention because it hits close to home in an enlightening manner. It effectively comments on our world and how we see it, as well as how we see ourselves. 3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky perksofbeingwallflower1 First published in 1999. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age story that explores teenage angst, friendship, sexuality, and the power of education. The protagonist, Charlie, is lovable and relatable. So, it’s no surprise that Chbosky’s novel continues to enchant readers in 2016. 4. Outlander – Diana Gabaldon outlander-blue-cover-198x300 First published in 1991. Time-travel, love, and desire. What more could you ask for? Outlander encompasses everything you want in a novel. 5. A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin 13496 First published in 1996. Epic fantasy novels never get old. And, it’s safe to say that A Game of Thrones has taken over the 2000s for its juicy plot filled with vengeance, power, and greed. 6. The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks the_notebook_cover First published in 1996. Nicholas Sparks is a seasoned romance writer. One of his books that touched many is The Notebook. A story about true love, social hierarchy, and fate. Our world is full of romantics and I think that is what makes this book (and many of his books) so enchanting until this day.

What book published in the 90s enchants you?

The Other Widow By Susan Crawford | Book Review

hcc-first-look-the-other-widow-susan-crawfordEverybody’s luck runs out. This time it could be theirs…

Susan Crawford, author of the psychological thriller The Pocket Wife, does it again with her new novel, The Other Widow. With a complex cast of characters—featuring the perspectives of three strong women brought together by a tragic accident—Crawford captures the very essence of grief felt by a widow and the other woman, haunting love, and obsession.

I delight in all thrillers; whether they are fast-paced or slowly built up. The Other Widow falls into the latter unlike her debut novel, The Pocket Wife, which falls into the former. That being said, it’s just as absorbing as it steadily examines the psychological impacts of deception, vulnerability, and desire.

There are so many layers of deception that compel the reader to continually question every single character and detail therein contained. Crawford’s braintwisting plot will keep readers on the edge of their seats, yearning for the next page right until the very startling end. I guarantee that you won’t put it down because I wasn’t able to do so!

This is a marvelous book for enthusiastic fans of thrillers and mysteries. Moreover, readers of chick-lit and chick-noir will revel in the perspectives of Dorrie, Karen, and Maggie.

The Other Widow hits bookstores today! So, make sure to head there right now. Seriously, what are you still doing here? Go pick up the book!


A huge thank you to HarperCollins Canada for selecting me to be one of ten keen readers to be a part of the First Look program. They provided me with an uncorrected proof of The Other Widow by Susan Crawford in exchange for an honest review.


Book details: Fiction | April 2016 | William Morrow (An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers) | 978-0-06-236288-9 | $26.99 ($33.50 Can.) | 352 Pages |

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

hcc-first-look-the-other-widow-susan-crawfordEverybody’s luck runs out. This time it could be theirs… Susan Crawford, author of the psychological thriller The Pocket Wife, does it again with her new novel, The Other Widow. With a complex cast of characters—featuring the perspectives of three strong women brought together by a tragic accident—Crawford captures the very essence of grief felt by a widow and the other woman, haunting love, and obsession.   I delight in all thrillers; whether they are fast-paced or slowly built up. The Other Widow falls into the latter unlike her debut novel, The Pocket Wife, which falls into the former. That being said, it’s just as absorbing as it steadily examines the psychological impacts of deception, vulnerability, and desire. There are so many layers of deception that compel the reader to continually question every single character and detail therein contained. Crawford’s braintwisting plot will keep readers on the edge of their seats, yearning for the next page right until the very startling end. I guarantee that you won’t put it down because I wasn’t able to do so! This is a marvelous book for enthusiastic fans of thrillers and mysteries. Moreover, readers of chick-lit and chick-noir will revel in the perspectives of Dorrie, Karen, and Maggie. The Other Widow hits bookstores today! So, make sure to head there right now. Seriously, what are you still doing here? Go pick up the book!
A huge thank you to HarperCollins Canada for selecting me to be one of ten keen readers to be a part of the First Look program. They provided me with an uncorrected proof of The Other Widow by Susan Crawford in exchange for an honest review.

All Hallow’s Eve with the Bibliophiles

In my second book, Until My Soul Gets It Right, members of the bibliophiles book club take a field trip to All Hallow’s Eve at Naper Settlement, an outdoor living history museum. I thought it might be fun to share their experience here. Happy Halloween!

Excerpt from Until My Soul Gets It Right 

Copyright © 2012 by Karen Wojcik Berner

Maple trees blazed brilliant reds and oranges, while elms burst golden yellows. Leaves of all sizes rode through the sky on gentle breezes, while the sun presided over this glorious sixty-three-degree day. Pumpkins rested on doorsteps and house stairs, waiting to be carved. Ghouls hung from trees. Graveyards sprouted up on front lawns. Catherine had forgotten how much she enjoyed Halloween in the Midwest. The purples, rusts, and golds of the mums. The front bushes covered in fake spider webs. There was mischief in the air. “Sure you don’t want to come?” she asked Will while fluffing her hair.
“No, you go ahead. I’m exhausted.” Golfing eighteen holes, plus cutting and edging the lawn was plenty for one Saturday. “Besides, Michigan is playing Nebraska tonight.”
Never a big football fan, Catherine was grateful to be spared. “Dave and John from As You Like It are going to be doing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Should be great.”
Edwina Hipplewhite had decided on another bibliophile field trip. This time, it was All Hallow’s Eve at Naper Settlement, a nineteenth-century scare fest the highlight of which would be the Headless Horseman’s ride through the grounds.
Catherine bent over and kissed a spent, lounging-on-the-sofa Will.
“Have a great time, honey.” Will waved her off, grateful for some time alone. Work had been crazy lately. Not wanting to be accused of giving his son any special privileges, Benjamin was pushing Will twice as hard as any other employee.
He turned on the television and took a sip of his beer.

***

Usually, Naper Settlement was a tranquil place, an outdoor living history museum, featuring some thirty buildings, each with costumed villagers telling nineteenth-century tales of how the area had grown from a frontier outpost to a bustling, turn-of-the century community. But tonight, all was different.
The settlement was cloaked in the darkness of night, lit only by kerosene lamps and the orange glow of campfires. They were to meet at the firehouse entrance at seven o’clock. Miss Hipplewhite flounced in, encircled by a large red cape. “Glad to see you, my darlings. Is everyone dressed warmly enough? There is a bit of chill in the air tonight.” Looking directly at Spring, she continued, “especially you, my sweet little waif of a thing. Would you like to borrow my gloves?”
“Got ’em.” Spring tapped her right side. “In my pocket.” She made sure to wear her thickest jeans and winter coat this evening, knowing the temperatures would dip into the forties by the end of the night. Although born in the Chicago area, Spring still was not accustomed to the coolness of fall nor winter’s vile clutches. Come to think of it, she was cold during every season.
“All right then, let us commence with a quick tour of the torture dungeon in the Blacksmith’s Shop, then it is off to Dracula’s Lair.”
The bibliophiles walked past the ghost pirate ship. “Look! There is a séance in the chapel,” said Sarah.
“Ironic, isn’t it?” Larry worked his way in between Sarah and Annie.
“Anyone want to get their fortune told?” Rosemary pointed to three white tents.
“What a pile of crap! They’ll always say something like ‘You are in love with someone, but she doesn’t know it.’ What bullshit!”
“Scared, Larry?” Rosemary chided.
“Hello no.”
“Then, let’s do it.”
Edwina clapped her hands. “What fun this will be! Maybe she will predict what next month’s book will be. Come on, there is no line.”
Rosemary, Larry, and Edwina all entered the tents.
“Are you going to do this?” Annie asked Sarah.
“Why bother? I already know my future. Laundry, car pools, and nagging about homework.”
Larry emerged from the tent. “See, I told you. I’m in love with someone, and she doesn’t know it. I should be a fortune teller.”
“Is it true?” asked Thaddeus.
“Please,” Larry grumbled. “I’ll go get in line for the Dracula thing while the rest of you suckers finish up here.”
“Go ahead, Spring. You’re next.”
“No, thank you, Thaddeus. This stuff messes with my aura and personal vibe. I don’t want to know my future.”
“I’ll go,” Annie Jacobs piped up. “I’ve got nothing to lose.”
“I’ll wait for you out here,” Sarah called after her.
Rosemary came out of her tent, a small smirk decorating her mouth.
“What did she say?”
“Nothing I don’t already know, Sarah. Where are the rest?”
“Off to join Larry in line for Dracula’s Lair.”
Edwina Hipplewhite had not come out yet. Sarah wondered what that meant.
Inside one of the tents, Annie sat across from a woman dressed like the stereotypical gypsy everyone has seen in movies, complete with scarves and gold bangles. The woman moved the crystal ball aside. “Give me your hand. You have a powerful aura.” The pretend-gypsy studied Annie’s hand for several minutes.
“Okay, really, I need to get back to my friends. Can you speed this up a bit?”
“I see you with a little girl. A little girl with Winnie-the-Pooh sneakers and pigtails.”
“You can’t possibly,” she said, trying to free her hand.
The woman held Annie’s hand tightly. “No wait. This is very strong. You are playing at the park. Pushing her on a swing.”
“Okay, I’m done!” Annie pulled her hand away and ran out of the tent, trying to compose herself before Sarah walked over.
“Are you okay? You look a bit…”
“I’m fine. Same old crap about love and prosperous future. What a crock!”
Sarah and Annie walked to join the others, reaching them right before it was their time to enter the Lair. Edwina was right behind them.
How could some fake fortune teller have known about that dream? Annie had not had it for a while, probably since that time she had fallen asleep on the train last year. It was too weird. She shivered and pulled her coat up around her.

***

In line awaiting “Edgar Allan Poe,” Spring felt heavy breathing on her neck. She turned around right into the face of a demon in a black shroud, torrents of blood oozing from his mouth. She let out a high-pitched, eardrum-splitting scream. The demon went away satisfied, as the crowd around her laughed.
Thaddeus put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, Spring. He was quite hideous.”
Spring was not the only one. Throughout the night, screams broke out all around the settlement as a werewolf roamed the park, a ghostly bride wandered aimlessly in search of a husband, and zombies meandered through the lines, searching for brains.
The bibliophiles were shepherded into the dark schoolhouse. A man entered, agitated. “Silence! True!—Nervous—Very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses—not destroyed them—not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?”
Edwina smiled, whispering “‘The Tell Tale Heart,’ right, darlings?”
After the gentleman’s wonderful performance, she gathered the book club members near the Civil War surgeon’s area within the log walls of Fort Payne. “Okay, my dears, may I just say how much I love this? The best part is they are staying true to the nineteenth-century feel and the real stories these books told.”
All of a sudden, horse hooves clapped over the loudspeakers, first mildly, then becoming more deafening with each clomp.
“Move away! Move away! The horseman comes!” Dutch settlers yelled, clearing a path. The black horse grunted, blowing smoke from its nostrils. It reared up on its hind legs, then shot through the settlement. The horseman threw a lit jack o’lantern across the grassy knoll, then sped off to the cheers of the crowd.
“Oh, my soul, that was frightening.” Edwina fanned herself with her scarf. “Wonderful, really.”
“That was frickin’ awesome!”
“Language, Larry dear. This is the nineteenth century, and one does not speak that way around ladies.”
“Yes, ma’am. My apologies.”
By now, the bibliophiles were used to Edwina admonishing them like children and accepted it as part of her charm. “Let us head over to the Naper-Haight House. I think you will find what lies inside quite interesting.”
A man dressed in black with a white wig stuck his head out the side door. “Come, come now. We have much business which to attend.”
Three Puritan teenaged girls sat, wringing their hands, moaning. “It hurts. It hurts. They did this to us!” Their fingers pointed in the direction of a housewife and her slave. This was their trial.
“Innocent or guilty? You be the judge, but let me remind you, your very soul depends upon the answer.” The reverend paced before the audience.
Sarah, Annie, and Rosemary yelled “Innocent!” when asked whether the women should be burned at the stake. But many shouts of “Guilty!” were heard from the other side of the room, and that was all the reverend needed for his verdict.
One of the hysterical teenagers confronted Rosemary. “You are marked with the sign of the devil. I can see it on you. Burn her! Burn her!”
The housewife screamed “Save yourself! Get out now before it is too late!”
The audience was herded out before the reverend could take action on Rosemary.
“My God, Larry. I have never seen you laugh so hard in…well, ever,” said Sarah.
Larry wiped away the tears streaming down his face. “Oh, that was rich.” He turned to Rosemary. “A witch? Ha! That does not surprise me at all.”
“Very funny. You’d better watch it, or I’ll cast a spell on you. Oh wait, you already look like a toad.”
“Darlings, over here.” Edwina gathered the group next to a building where it was more quiet. “That, my dears, was the most frightening of all this evening because it really happened. Which puts me in the mood for next month’s selection, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Won’t that be fun? Well, it might put a bit of a damper on your Thanksgivings, come to think of it, once you read about those awful Puritans, but, oh well, you shall rise above it, I am sure. Besides, I guess it will give you something to be grateful for, that you are not Puritans and that alone will allow for a happy Thanksgiving, won’t it? Well, okay then. I will see you on the first Tuesday in December, after you have read The Crucible. Ta-ta, dear ones.”

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In my second book, Until My Soul Gets It Right, members of the bibliophiles book club take a field trip to All Hallow's Eve at Naper Settlement, an outdoor living history museum. I thought it might be fun to share their experience here. Happy Halloween!  
Excerpt from Until My Soul Gets It Right   
Copyright © 2012 by Karen Wojcik Berner
Maple trees blazed brilliant reds and oranges, while elms burst golden yellows. Leaves of all sizes rode through the sky on gentle breezes, while the sun presided over this glorious sixty-three-degree day. Pumpkins rested on doorsteps and house stairs, waiting to be carved. Ghouls hung from trees. Graveyards sprouted up on front lawns. Catherine had forgotten how much she enjoyed Halloween in the Midwest. The purples, rusts, and golds of the mums. The front bushes covered in fake spider webs. There was mischief in the air. “Sure you don’t want to come?” she asked Will while fluffing her hair. “No, you go ahead. I’m exhausted.” Golfing eighteen holes, plus cutting and edging the lawn was plenty for one Saturday. “Besides, Michigan is playing Nebraska tonight.” Never a big football fan, Catherine was grateful to be spared. “Dave and John from As You Like It are going to be doing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Should be great.” Edwina Hipplewhite had decided on another bibliophile field trip. This time, it was All Hallow’s Eve at Naper Settlement, a nineteenth-century scare fest the highlight of which would be the Headless Horseman’s ride through the grounds. Catherine bent over and kissed a spent, lounging-on-the-sofa Will. “Have a great time, honey.” Will waved her off, grateful for some time alone. Work had been crazy lately. Not wanting to be accused of giving his son any special privileges, Benjamin was pushing Will twice as hard as any other employee. He turned on the television and took a sip of his beer. *** Usually, Naper Settlement was a tranquil place, an outdoor living history museum, featuring some thirty buildings, each with costumed villagers telling nineteenth-century tales of how the area had grown from a frontier outpost to a bustling, turn-of-the century community. But tonight, all was different. The settlement was cloaked in the darkness of night, lit only by kerosene lamps and the orange glow of campfires. They were to meet at the firehouse entrance at seven o’clock. Miss Hipplewhite flounced in, encircled by a large red cape. “Glad to see you, my darlings. Is everyone dressed warmly enough? There is a bit of chill in the air tonight.” Looking directly at Spring, she continued, “especially you, my sweet little waif of a thing. Would you like to borrow my gloves?” “Got ’em.” Spring tapped her right side. “In my pocket.” She made sure to wear her thickest jeans and winter coat this evening, knowing the temperatures would dip into the forties by the end of the night. Although born in the Chicago area, Spring still was not accustomed to the coolness of fall nor winter’s vile clutches. Come to think of it, she was cold during every season. “All right then, let us commence with a quick tour of the torture dungeon in the Blacksmith’s Shop, then it is off to Dracula’s Lair.” The bibliophiles walked past the ghost pirate ship. “Look! There is a séance in the chapel,” said Sarah. “Ironic, isn’t it?” Larry worked his way in between Sarah and Annie. “Anyone want to get their fortune told?” Rosemary pointed to three white tents. “What a pile of crap! They’ll always say something like ‘You are in love with someone, but she doesn’t know it.’ What bullshit!” “Scared, Larry?” Rosemary chided. “Hello no.” “Then, let’s do it.” Edwina clapped her hands. “What fun this will be! Maybe she will predict what next month’s book will be. Come on, there is no line.” Rosemary, Larry, and Edwina all entered the tents. “Are you going to do this?” Annie asked Sarah. “Why bother? I already know my future. Laundry, car pools, and nagging about homework.” Larry emerged from the tent. “See, I told you. I’m in love with someone, and she doesn’t know it. I should be a fortune teller.” “Is it true?” asked Thaddeus. “Please,” Larry grumbled. “I’ll go get in line for the Dracula thing while the rest of you suckers finish up here.” “Go ahead, Spring. You’re next.” “No, thank you, Thaddeus. This stuff messes with my aura and personal vibe. I don’t want to know my future.” “I’ll go,” Annie Jacobs piped up. “I’ve got nothing to lose.” “I’ll wait for you out here,” Sarah called after her. Rosemary came out of her tent, a small smirk decorating her mouth. “What did she say?” “Nothing I don’t already know, Sarah. Where are the rest?” “Off to join Larry in line for Dracula’s Lair.” Edwina Hipplewhite had not come out yet. Sarah wondered what that meant. Inside one of the tents, Annie sat across from a woman dressed like the stereotypical gypsy everyone has seen in movies, complete with scarves and gold bangles. The woman moved the crystal ball aside. “Give me your hand. You have a powerful aura.” The pretend-gypsy studied Annie’s hand for several minutes. “Okay, really, I need to get back to my friends. Can you speed this up a bit?” “I see you with a little girl. A little girl with Winnie-the-Pooh sneakers and pigtails.” “You can’t possibly,” she said, trying to free her hand. The woman held Annie’s hand tightly. “No wait. This is very strong. You are playing at the park. Pushing her on a swing.” “Okay, I’m done!” Annie pulled her hand away and ran out of the tent, trying to compose herself before Sarah walked over. “Are you okay? You look a bit…” “I’m fine. Same old crap about love and prosperous future. What a crock!” Sarah and Annie walked to join the others, reaching them right before it was their time to enter the Lair. Edwina was right behind them. How could some fake fortune teller have known about that dream? Annie had not had it for a while, probably since that time she had fallen asleep on the train last year. It was too weird. She shivered and pulled her coat up around her. *** In line awaiting “Edgar Allan Poe,” Spring felt heavy breathing on her neck. She turned around right into the face of a demon in a black shroud, torrents of blood oozing from his mouth. She let out a high-pitched, eardrum-splitting scream. The demon went away satisfied, as the crowd around her laughed. Thaddeus put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay, Spring. He was quite hideous.” Spring was not the only one. Throughout the night, screams broke out all around the settlement as a werewolf roamed the park, a ghostly bride wandered aimlessly in search of a husband, and zombies meandered through the lines, searching for brains. The bibliophiles were shepherded into the dark schoolhouse. A man entered, agitated. “Silence! True!—Nervous—Very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses—not destroyed them—not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad?” Edwina smiled, whispering “‘The Tell Tale Heart,’ right, darlings?” After the gentleman’s wonderful performance, she gathered the book club members near the Civil War surgeon’s area within the log walls of Fort Payne. “Okay, my dears, may I just say how much I love this? The best part is they are staying true to the nineteenth-century feel and the real stories these books told.” All of a sudden, horse hooves clapped over the loudspeakers, first mildly, then becoming more deafening with each clomp. “Move away! Move away! The horseman comes!” Dutch settlers yelled, clearing a path. The black horse grunted, blowing smoke from its nostrils. It reared up on its hind legs, then shot through the settlement. The horseman threw a lit jack o’lantern across the grassy knoll, then sped off to the cheers of the crowd. “Oh, my soul, that was frightening.” Edwina fanned herself with her scarf. “Wonderful, really.” “That was frickin’ awesome!” “Language, Larry dear. This is the nineteenth century, and one does not speak that way around ladies.” “Yes, ma’am. My apologies.” By now, the bibliophiles were used to Edwina admonishing them like children and accepted it as part of her charm. “Let us head over to the Naper-Haight House. I think you will find what lies inside quite interesting.” A man dressed in black with a white wig stuck his head out the side door. “Come, come now. We have much business which to attend.” Three Puritan teenaged girls sat, wringing their hands, moaning. “It hurts. It hurts. They did this to us!” Their fingers pointed in the direction of a housewife and her slave. This was their trial. “Innocent or guilty? You be the judge, but let me remind you, your very soul depends upon the answer.” The reverend paced before the audience. Sarah, Annie, and Rosemary yelled “Innocent!” when asked whether the women should be burned at the stake. But many shouts of “Guilty!” were heard from the other side of the room, and that was all the reverend needed for his verdict. One of the hysterical teenagers confronted Rosemary. “You are marked with the sign of the devil. I can see it on you. Burn her! Burn her!” The housewife screamed “Save yourself! Get out now before it is too late!” The audience was herded out before the reverend could take action on Rosemary. “My God, Larry. I have never seen you laugh so hard in…well, ever,” said Sarah. Larry wiped away the tears streaming down his face. “Oh, that was rich.” He turned to Rosemary. “A witch? Ha! That does not surprise me at all.” “Very funny. You’d better watch it, or I’ll cast a spell on you. Oh wait, you already look like a toad.” “Darlings, over here.” Edwina gathered the group next to a building where it was more quiet. “That, my dears, was the most frightening of all this evening because it really happened. Which puts me in the mood for next month’s selection, The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Won’t that be fun? Well, it might put a bit of a damper on your Thanksgivings, come to think of it, once you read about those awful Puritans, but, oh well, you shall rise above it, I am sure. Besides, I guess it will give you something to be grateful for, that you are not Puritans and that alone will allow for a happy Thanksgiving, won’t it? Well, okay then. I will see you on the first Tuesday in December, after you have read The Crucible. Ta-ta, dear ones.”