Valley West Mall Book Signing!

Wow, what an incredible weekend! I spent June 29th and 30th over at Valley West Mall in Des Moines, IA for a two-day book signing event presented by Indie Author Book Expo. Organized by Jenn Thompson, this event brought around 40 authors/creators together to sell books, make connections, and meet the good people of Des Moines. Despite an art festival, and the abysmal heat rolling through Iowa, the expo still brought 1,100 shoppers. Between author tables, live music, interviews, and a poetry reading, people definitely had a lot to see.


This was my first time selling at a two-day event, and I was beyond nervous before I went. Author Alexandra Penn and I made the trip together, which sadly will be our last big show for sometime as she’s getting ready to move to school in Scotland. We made the most of it though, including hilarious road-trip conversations, dancing to the YMCA and other fun songs at the mall, and just sharing time being authors and friends rather than Directors. It was a nice reprieve.


One of the best parts of the event was getting to catch up with both familiar and new faces. Brian K Morris and I haven’t seen one another since I.O.W.A. last year, and I can’t tell you how great it was to get a big hug from him. He’s been a mentor to me practically since we met, and I’ve embodied his ideology of “rising tide” when it comes to working with other authors. If we all work together, we rise together. Frankly, I’m shocked and disappointed in myself that we didn’t get a picture together!

He brought with him Teresa Dunn who is building her writing career even as we speak! I have to say, the expo is a great place to learn the ins and outs of selling books and to meet amazing authors who can offer tips about anything from how to get published to how to set up your signing table. Ashley Lovell and I spent plenty of time discussing ideas for table displays and brainstorming what would catch someone’s eye. I can’t wait to see what her table looks like when her next book comes out! Cassandra DenHartog (come see her at I.O.W.A 2019!) decided to add a little friend to my table who is now fondly named #Skelebird. He and #Yorick the skull will be making appearances and shenanigans at future signings, I’m sure.


Other familiar faces included the incredible Kristine Plum, a fellow urban/paranormal fantasy writer (Alex and I weren’t the only ones bopping along to music).  Satish Jayaraj went around teaching authors how to create origami dragons, which are featured in his book. He’s actually hosting a book launch event on July 20th in Cedar Rapids, IA, so you should check him out and show your support! Tabetha Waite stopped by for a picture. She’s a great historical romance author I’ve featured in my website interviews.


As always, I made a lot of great connections with the authors, but I also met some incredible readers. Most of the people who stopped by my table were very generous and interested in The Purple Door District. My favorite experience, though, was meeting two lovely young women who just couldn’t hold back their love for reading. They not only got the book, they proudly displayed PDD art and Bianca’s necklace. Seeing their excitement is what encourages me to keep writing, because I see myself in them when I was younger, eagerly searching for my next favorite book. I truly hope they enjoy it and they use it to fuel their own creativity.


All-in-all, it was a great event, and I can’t thank Jenn Thompson enough for all the hard work she put into IABE. As someone who is currently trying to plan an author signing, I know just how much goes into preparing something like this. It’s no easy job, and it takes a very caring and hard-working soul to do what she does. Check out her blog to see more fun pictures from the event!

With that, this very tired writer will bid you ado. Keep your eye out for more pictures from future events, as well as what trouble Skelebird gets himself into.


As a reminder, The Purple Door District is in the running for a reader’s choice award. I still need 50 nominations by 7/13 to move on to the next round, so if you have a moment, please submit your vote here.

Happy reading!

Review: Mahogony: A Love Letter To Black


I’ve decided that I want to start writing reviews of local writers or books that I really enjoy. I’m going to kick off this series with the chapbook “Mahogany: A Love Letter To Black.” Written by Heather “Byrd” Roberts, a poet, performer, and teaching artist in Chicago, this chapbook tells a very deep, emotional story. It is a journey through her life, echoing both the tribulations and the joys she’s experienced.

Heather graduated from Cornell College and received a Bachelors in Special Studies in Performance Art. She also received a Masters in Organizational Leadership from St. Ambrose University and a Certificate in Spoken Word Pedagogy from Concordia University-Chicago. Currently, she is the Programs Associate at Young Chicago Authors (YCA). YCA is a literary non-profit in Chicago that focus on cultivating more than 10,000 young peoples’ voices through writing, publication, and performance education. She is also a member of the Poetic Forum Collective that has reoccurring shows at Stage 773 in Chicago.

I met Heather at Cornell College in Iowa, and I have always been impressed and amazed by her writing. After I helped found Wordsmiths, a creative writing group on campus, she founded Lyrically Inclined, a poetry/performance poetry group. She has carried on with her amazing talent to create “Mahogany: A Love Letter to Black.”

I absolutely adored this chapbook, and I had the honor and pleasure of being one of her editors. The poems are raw, honest, and powerful. I grew angry at the injustice that she described, and it made me understand more just what she has gone through over the course of her life. Her language is beautiful and tantalizing. It’s easy to hear the heartbeat in each line of poetry, her heart beating to the rhythm of her words.

I highly encourage you to pick up this amazing piece and check Heather “Byrd” out on her facebook page. You can also visit her website to learn more about her and her journey.

To purchase “Mahogany: A Love Letter To Black,” you can find it here on amazon.

Congratulations on your success, Heather “Byrd”!