Welcome to Book Marketing Buzz. Can we begin by having you tell us a little about your book?
The Avocadonine and Spring Stone is a somewhat absurd high school classic about a boy named Rey who, in the process of finding his first girlfriend, stumbles upon a conspiracy at his school that stretches back generations to a malicious woman and a girl named Spring Stone. There seems to be something the students are drinking that is enabling someone to control their minds. Rey has to figure out who is behind the plot, what they want to accomplish, and how to stop them.
What is the first thing you did to promote your book once your publisher accepted your manuscript?
I drafted flyers of the book cover with reviews on them. I got on Twitter. I utilized Facebook. I put my first chapter on Fiction Press. I went through several book covers until I felt I had found the right one. And I prayed my book would sell.
After that, what happened?
I sold some books. But not enough for it to even make a financial dent in my wallet.
What’s your opinion on blogging? Do you see that it is helping sell your book or is it not making much difference in terms of sales? If you blog, do you blog often?
I had a blog when I was getting my Masters in Library Science at the University of South Carolina. I posted information about my assignments, plans, and also my book. I found it difficult to garner enough followers to really make it worth my while.
I understand using the social networks to promote your books is also an effective marketing tool. What social networks do you use and do you find any of them effective?
My sister has thousands of friends on Facebook. I unfortunately do not. I’ve heard Facebook is a good way to get you book sold. However, I haven’t sold many books with Facebook.
Besides blogging and using the social networks to promote your books, what other ways are you promoting your book?
I’m using Pump Up Your Book. The team putting my tour together have been really diligent in finding good ways for me to promote.
If you had to pick just one book marketing tool that you’ve used to promote your book, which would you say has been the most effective?
Telling people to read it. I’ve found friends, family, co-workers etc. who are more than happy to read a book written by someone they know. Their feedback has been inspiring. So many of them say it’s one of the best YA fiction novels they’ve ever read. The feedback on Amazon.com from people who read the book echoes that sentiment.
Inside the Book:
Rey got Isabel to make the call to Jocelyn Stone. Her caretaker picked up. Isabel explained that they had some information about Jocelyn’s late daughter Spring, and Rey and Christy wanted to speak to Jocelyn. As it turned out, Jocelyn had had a stroke and was unable to speak. Her chances of recovery were small and the caretaker didn’t want anyone to say anything to her that might upset her. Isabel said that she understood and she’d tell Rey. Rey said they were going to make the trip to see her anyway. It was a forty-five minute drive.
The BMW 3 Series Compact had a sun roof open and it was freezing. Tristan had explained to them what happened yesterday with the three lemon trees. He told the two of them that he and Roach had brought garbage bags and a chainsaw to the trees. Holly North had been outside the school. She told them she planned on screaming to everyone coming out of the school that the Nadine’s Puppies article wasn’t true as they handed out Hochus Mochus and Mountain Springs. By the time she was through, only twenty-five people made the walk to the trees. They all ended up finding the trees cut down and the lemons missing.
Tristan had a lot of questions and Rey told him they would explain things to him on the ride down. It was 9:45 a.m. and Christy told Brianna that it might be a day-long excursion so Brianna decided not to accompany them. Brianna said she had something to do before work anyway. When Christy asked her “what,” Brianna said she had to visit a friend.
The expressway was smooth and after Tristan closed the sun roof the drive was enjoyable. When they arrived at Sea Eagle Watch they saw the high-end homes, all clad with porches and well-kept lawns. They turned into Jocelyn’s driveway thankful for Tristan’s Mom’s car’s GPS, and sat in the car nervously waiting, trying to think of how best to proceed. Tristan said they should just be honest and explain things to her. Rey had brought the article Aba Brule had sent, “Track Star Doesn’t Go to State Championships,” and the letter sent from Aba Brule as well. If worst came to worst, Rey said, they would just ask the caretaker if Jocelyn had any of Spring’s old possessions and look for clues.
They walked up the steps and rang the doorbell.
The door opened and Miss Shumana stood there frowning, as if the last person on earth she wanted to see right now was Brianna Lane. Brianna felt they were on a first name basis.
“Hello Evelyn. It’s been a long time.”
Evelyn Shumana looked from right to left as if someone was hidden in the shrubs. Then her eyes came to rest on her recently purchased Mercedes E Class Sedan in the driveway. She looked down for a few moments. Then said, “Come in.”
She closed the door and revealed her living room — a stark contrast with the run-down exterior of the green Cape Cod home. Brianna sat down on one of her top-of-the-line leather sofas.
“What do you want?” Evelyn said. “Don’t tell me you missed me.” She took out a box of cigarettes, and lit one up. Then she removed her red hair — it was a wig. She shook her blond hair free, then took off her black glasses, and sat across from Brianna.
“I have the non-prescription ones also,” Brianna said. “Although I think while I’m reading my diploma, you’re going to be driving up past the Canadian border in that practically stolen Mercedes.”
Evelyn breathed out a stream of smoke. “You’re not exactly an angel yourself, Brianna. I think I saw you more during your senior year than any other student. Only girl I ever caught having sex in the janitor’s closet. I take it you’re still a drug abusing slut. Or did Leander turn you into an Amish princess?”
“A Queen, really.”
“Oh. Still at Lots for Littles? Using Skywarriors to get students to rebel against authority figures? I sure know you don’t buy them. Could get you fired pretty easily.”
“Perhaps, we can reach an understanding.”
“We’ll be in school for another week.” Evelyn dropped some ashes into a tray. “Every parent of practically every student has been taken care of. We’re paying them a million dollars to help further the development towards the archetypes. If anything goes wrong, Alexa has a helicopter waiting for us to be taken away to wherever we want to go. The chemical has a psychic property. It’s Spring, but it’s also whatever you believe it is. So if the meaning changes for Pemota High, it changes for everyone. So now that we understand one another, what would it take for you to,” she took another drag off her cigarette, “help us with something that looks great on a college app.” She put the cigarette out and raised her eyebrows.
“Well, we think she needs to see us,” Rey said. “See, the entire ninth grade at Pemota High is going to want to know what happened between Jocelyn and Spring. Just give us five minutes and if she doesn’t want to talk to us, we’ll leave.”
The caretaker, Marie, looked back into the home wrestling with this. “She can’t talk. She has damage to the left side of her brain. Spring was a long time ago. Jocelyn has had three kids since. I think it would be best if you left.”
A thumping sound from down the hall caused Marie to run back inside. They stepped into the foyer and closed the door behind them. They stood on the oriental carpet listening to Marie’s hushed whispers from down the hall. Christy took her shoes off and gave Rey and Tristan a look. They both reluctantly removed their shoes and Rey placed his backpack beside his.
Marie returned. “Come with me.” Marie walked down the hallway and they followed. “This is her second stroke,” Marie said. “Jocelyn is lucky enough to have the means to afford in-home care. Her chances of recovering are better that way.” They stopped in front of a door. “She can’t talk. And she usually doesn’t understand language. But you can try.”
Jocelyn lay in bed, white sheets covering her, and surrounded by equipment. She had short blond hair, and dim blue eyes in an exorbitantly wrinkled face. She saw them and a fearful look came into her eyes.
“Hi, Miss Stone,” Christy said. “My name’s Christy. This is Rey and Tristan.”
Rey withdrew the article from his pocket and the letter from Aba Brule. He handed them to Jocelyn. “Miss Stone,” Rey said. “We need to talk to you about your daughter, Spring.”
Jocelyn looked at the article then tossed it aside. Then she looked at the letter from Aba Brule. She let it drop on the bed sheet.
“She can’t understand it,” Marie said. “She can’t read or write.”
“How faraway is she?” Rey asked.
“A part of her brain has been compromised. Sometimes people make full recoveries,” Marie said. “But I think all you’re doing is upsetting her.”
“I have the syringe in my backpack,” Rey said. “We could just put the chemical in some water. It’s worth a try.”
“If it kills her, it’s murder,” Tristan said.
“There’s a chemical,” Rey said. “It doesn’t kill anyone who ingests it. It’s just lemon juice and purple dye. But it has an effect on brain chemistry. I just want to give her a little of it.”
Then something extraordinary happened. Jocelyn turned to them and spoke. “I want you to do it.”
Marie was stunned. “Miss Stone?”
“Is it okay?” Rey asked.
“Miss Stone?” Marie said again, now at her bedside. They all stared at her. She was silent. “It’s okay,” Marie said to Rey.
Rey went and got the vile of purple fluid. Jocelyn had a glass of water by her bedside and Rey poured a small amount of the fluid into the glass. Jocelyn picked up the water glass and drank it. They waited for almost a full minute for a reaction. Then Jocelyn turned to them and her eyes seemed to come to life.
Marie brought in two more chairs and they all sat and stared at each other. “Tell her about what’s going on,” Christy said to Rey.
Rey told Jocelyn the whole story — everything that had happened, from Aba Brule to Inez Castel. “We want to know about Spring,” Rey said.
Jocelyn seemed to become aware that she was uncomfortable. She tried to lift her pillow up. Tristan stood up and helped her. She sat up. Then she spoke. She was clear, lucid even. “I knew this would happen. I always knew I’d hear about this again.”
“Tell us,” Christy said.
“I’ve read that article. Many times. The story starts the year Alexa became principal at Pemota Regional High School. In 1975.”
Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads
Meet the Author
Patrick Barnes lives in Charleston, South Carolina. The Avocadonine and Spring Stone is his second book. It has been awarded a five star review from Readers Favorite, and a four and a half star average among critics on Amazon.com. He has a Bachelors Degree in Film and Writing from the University of Massachusetts and a Masters in Library Science from the University of South Carolina. He has won first place in Arts and Entertainment Writing at the Yankee Penn Journalism Conference, and has worked as a Librarian at the Folly Beach Public Library. When he’s not writing, he likes to walk on the beach with his dog, and watch movies.