Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Game is afoot!

The characters and events in this post and all connected posts are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. 

Death of a Blogger

            Sagging into the chair, fingers tingle and palms itch as his heavy limbs reluctantly bend making him suddenly aware of the cement blocks at the end of his legs. Nerve deadened shoulders alarm even as the anesthesia creeps up the neck and refuse the brain's command to turn. His cornea sloshes sluggishly sideways and attempts to focus on the figure that reclines a few feet away.
            “Din think I dran tha mush. Strong stuff!” the words slur and stumble past an enlarged tongue just as the edges of his companion blur and enlarge. “Gla you came. ‘Appy we go to ace-to-ace after all ‘is—” a sob breaks off the incoherence. His ghostlike guest slips into the air next to him then suddenly explodes into jigsaw puzzle pieces as a murmured reply breaks through, “Your okay. Relax— Sleep— off. See—  tomorrow— John.” Then louder, insistent and closer “John? I’ll be back to see you tomorrow.”
            The shards of broken body filter out of view as the room silly putties into shapeless lumps of darkness. The heaviness on his eyelids drags them down and pulls him finally into darkness.


Local High School English Teacher found dead

Teacher found with both wrists slashed
By Stephen Johnson in Salina, Kansas
Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Local high school English teacher facing an ugly divorce has been found dead in his Salina home, his wrists slit and a bottle of sleeping pills by his side.

The apparent suicide of John Thebeauld was discovered early yesterday morning after the neighbors noticed his dog scratching wildly at his screen door. When they knocked to let him know the dog was loose, they realized the door was unlocked and investigated to make sure the neighbor was okay. What they found was chilling.

Sitting at his darkened computer, the teacher and failed writer had placed a waste paper basket partially filled with water, his hands dangling down into the buckets. A carving knife was on the floor beside him but no apparent suicide note was found. The police and emergency personnel were immediately called but it was too late. Investigators were not yet ready to give comment but they seemed to indicate this might be connected to the rancor of the divorce.

Thebeauld lived with his wife in Salina for the last fifteen years, was beloved by his students, known for his  involvement with the regularly held Shakespeare Festival in the area and his annual booth at the local craft fair where he sold wood carvings. The couple had no children.

The report crosses your desk. Just another writer committing suicide. A cliché really. If you weren’t so bored today you might have filed it away and never looked at it again. But you decide to google his name and came up with a single hit which led to a blog that left you with more questions than answers…


where do you go from here?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


So apparently there was a little glitch in the application process and I almost didn't get the interviews that I had assumed were a given. It was a weird glitch which I almost wish I could bore you with the emails with just to prove it was weird but I won't. (lucky you! or maybe lucky me for having the sense not to bore my readers!) At any rate, tomorrow I have my first interview! Okay now before we all get too excited this it not for the job I really want this is for a straight across move although a more interesting position because I might get to go on the book mobile which is kinda cool (looks kinda fun doesn't it?).
This job is really meant to get me out of the cluster of libraries I am in IF I don't get the other position that I really want. I am not giving up and STILL HOPING I will get the lead clerk position!!!! But there was some gossip today that the librarian that is interviewing me seemed a little hesitant to hire from within the branch (you know managing the people you have been a coworker of) so I guess I am going to have to convince her I can handle the change. Well, perhaps what I really need to do is convince her I have already been managing it and it won't change much. No word yet on that interview but I expect they will call by the end of the week. 

No word yet from the literary magazine so that is good news at this point... 4-6 few more weeks and no word will mean they aren't even going to send me the bad news but right now they are probably at least putting it in the "this just in" pile. Hopefully it will make the "to be considered" pile.    

One final thing: Tomorrow I will be posting a surprise written especially for my blogging friends and I hope you will enjoy it immensely as it unfolds! 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Whatever happened to Kansas?

So I am back from my little vacation! I could have used a few more days...okay, who am I kidding???? I could have used a few more weeks! But at this point I took what I could get. I didn't hear from the person downtown so I THINK all went well with the application process. I will get an interview as all inner office applicants will so I am not going to be too excited about that. The real tension comes After the interview is over. Thanks to all you who sent well wishes!
Soooo... I won't bore you with an interminable Slideshow of MY FAMILY VACATION but it was a beautiful little spot to go, as Talei Loto of Musings of an Aspiring Scribe would call it, "Glamping in a Tent". And though I am not much of a camper and might hesitate to give it such a name, I felt that once you take champagne with you, you are no longer just camping, you are indeed GLAMPING!!! 
We hit the road early and  made our way to Kansas. WHY KANSAS you ask???? 
I was asking the same question!
After all I grew up in Kansas and I know very well that Kansas looks like this:

  miles and miles of it! Not exactly the scenic vistas and lovely peaks we live within hours from. And when your driving on the plains the joke becomes "Didn't we just pass this farm?" because it feels as though you keep passing the same place over and over, never getting anywhere. At any rate, once we got there, it quickly became obviously that we had fallen in
 Down we went to find blue skies, a lingering sunset over a scenic lake and canyon walls to view the horizons from. All quite picturesque and most definitely unKansasie.
We pitched our tents..
Did some hiking, swimming (the water was a trifle cold for me, which surprised me as the water in Kansas is usually warm in the summer!!!) and the kids went out on a little canoeing adventure...
Mo's son Aubrey is in front, girlfriend Nisa in back steering and my son in the middle 
We sat out at night and drank champagne (as all cultured campers do) and watched the dragonflies put on a show and (thank god!) keep the biting gnats off their delighted audience (me!- who also played the part of gnat meal- yikes!).
Then later we watched as a Great Horned Owl swooped down so quick and low under a tree, I was convinced it was a fox. Then he flew up into a tree and down onto a table in an attempt to catch something we couldn't spot but the night hunter most definitely had his great eye on dinner! And when the sky was finally filled with a canopy of stars and the last droplets of liquid gold were gone, we went to our tents to listen to the whistling wind and the night calls of the coyote until at last we fell asleep. It was like living in an episode of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

Oh and by the way... I have a surprise coming up on my blog which I am hoping everyone will enjoy. Keep your eye out as I don't post on regular day (although I don't really think that matters. Would you remember if I said I was going to post certain days? It seems like it would be hard to keep track anyway so I've never bothered to try. Let me know if you think it would be helpful!)

So how was your weekend?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cross your fingers

and maybe your toes! I've applied for a new job at:
The library 
In our previous episode (which you might have missed):  I work for Denver Public Library-- A job I got two years ago (April 2009) after my boss at Denver Public Schools told me that my position at the Middle school would be cut (slashed, chopped, reduced- you get the picture) to a para position which would mean both a pay cut and loss of benefits and fewer hours per week to top all of that off as well. It was simply not a tenable situation. So, I had already begun checking into positions at DPL but began to apply with more urgency. In March I had an interview and by April I began my training in this building: 

It was quite intimidating at the time and the massive amount of marble and cool stone never felt warm or inviting and there is a great deal too much echo but the flashiness appeals to the hip and happening set in Denver. 

Nevertheless, I trained here for what wound up being 6 months before I moved on to Hampden as the sole full time circulation clerk. Hampden had begun an extensive remodel job in February and we were supposed to reopen in June. But as often happens with city jobs that are contracted out to private contracts, June turned to July turned to August wound up in September. 

Hampden is one of 22 branches (at least for the moment) and is the furthest south and east branch which means that when Aurora voted down funding for their libraries and closed all but three branches, we drastically increased our DVD circulation (and everybody thinks I exaggerate about that but I really don't- one day I am going to count the number of books to DVD just to prove it.) At any rate:This is the work room where we begin our day, sorting through crates of delivery. They are delivered by the library elves who work through the night sorting the books that belong to us but have been returned to other branches (a service we offer) and the holds that have been processed during the day. They put them in crates and then stack them up by our back door.
These are what the crates look like full from the top usually stacked four high. We generally get about 32 crates a day give or take 4 or 5... and it takes me an hour by myself to unpack them (which I do on Tuesday, Wednesday and every other Friday)
Not nearly as picturesqueness (nor as much fun) as a Christmas tree on Christmas morning but there it is.  We pile two trucks (carts such as you see pictured here are properly called trucks at DPL)- one full of holds to be processed immediately, the other with our returned items that are marked "in transit" and need to be returned so the computer shows them "On Shelf".  As you can see there are quite a lot of DVDs on the second shelf. The books are only on the top shelf and it can take 3-4 DVDs to make one book.
Just saying....

THEN they get sorted onto the trucks to get shelved by this lady (below) who is a shelver. This is also the mysterious back room where all the returns are dropped onto a bin. One of us, the same people who work the outside desks, picks them up out of the bins and checks them in. The same thing we do out on the desk, it's just that no one can see us back here!

After we get all the books that have been ordered by our customers processed, we shelve them. Hopefully we are done with this before opening. Otherwise we're multitasking, running holds, returning stuff (for people who just refuse to put it in the drop box because they think we have a personal vendetta against them and don't want to check their stuff in for them, checking out stuff, taking money for fines, etc) Meanwhile shelvers are looking for the stuff people have ordered during the night and if we have time we try to help by running them through to see which branch they are to be sent to, unless one of our customers wants them. Generally, however, we are multi-tasking all day anyway, because we have DVDs to shelve and holds to shelve. We are  often making new cards for the people who move into the neighborhood and the surrounding Aurora population who now find themselves without a neighborhood library. 
It can make for a very busy day! 

So NOW! The position of Lead which is a supervisory position at my branch is opening up. It's essentially doing everything I am doing now for more money- (YAY!!! Yipee!! WooHOO!!! ) And I applied today. It was a little stressful as I had some difficulty, for some reason, with the online application process (too long of a story to explain at the moment) so I leave for a long weekend vacation (a real vacation- not a blog vacation!!! pictures when I get back!) with my fingers crossed that the application process went well. 

In addition to that! I submitted the first chapter of 'Death and Politics at the End of the World' to Quiddity International Literary Journal. I have submitted it before and been rejected but for some reason I have high hopes for this one... 

SO!!! Keep your fingers crossed and hopefully good things will be happening! I'll keep you posted on the good (or not so good... boo! hiss!) news.

And in case your curious, my hopefully non-stressful weekend will be full of swimming, writing and reading and sunning while we are camping in the Sunflower state (that would be Kansas). 

What are your plans for the weekend??? 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Oranges are not the only Fruit

In the list of my all time favorite authors on the right side of my page, Jeanette Winterson, is an easy favorite and I recommend her to anyone and everyone who wants to be carried on the wings of of the wind and up into the clouds. (She also has a wonderful website On it she has articles she's written, short stories, poetry, and (obviously)a news board letting fans know what she has coming up (lectures, book releases, etc).

If you're interested in wetting your toes with a lovely bit of said author's work, I recommend Oranges are not the only Fruit. It's a semi-biographical or perhaps she might prefer it to be seen as "metabiographical" (See author's website) work that gives honesty a panache which is both painful and delightful. The main character was raised in a working-class evangelical home and she seems destined for christendom greatness as she prepares for missionary work and the pulpit.Unfortunately she finds herself on the other side of the church's right hand when it's discovered she's fallen in love with someone outside the faith-- well, in actuality it wouldn't matter if her amour had been in the faith... she fell in love with another she. Like the vane of a feather, the author skims over trauma and offers humanity with all it's craziness and dysfunctionality, while revealing the power and pain of being true to one's self.

While the gay community might try to label this piece of work as "gay" fiction, it transcends such categories and does what all great literature should do-- speaks of human truth.

Who is your all time favorite author?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Funeral Supper

The transforming of day to night is a balm to the spirit. 
It is here that my soul finds the serenity that I desire. 
What seemed, in the bright glare of the sunlight so incredibly glaring and pressing 
is suddenly distant and shadowed 
a faint memory left in the wake of the moon's shadows.  
It is here that I find clarity 
as I watch the clouds wing their way through the heaven, 
there is a great lifting of the weariness of the cares of the day 
and my soul takes flight among the clouds. 
Sunset on Green Mountain with Champagne!
And it is here, on my blog that I share my writing. And The Writing is without a doubt the most important thing. As I have said, that will be always be the case. I would like to thank all the commentors on my last few posts. I don't think any of the readers of any of these posts have necessarily been comfortable with what I am writing and the commentors have been very helpful as I have waded through some difficult topics. So I wade on in what I hope will be my final post on this topic because I (like you, no doubt!) am getting a bit weary of thinking about it. It is a bit overwhelming- even if does wind up being helpful!  
The clouds bandy about sunlight- like they're playing catch! 
   So as I wrote previously, I began thinking about this because of the New York Times Book Review Article called "Building the Brand" in which the author bemoaned the necessity for authors, even published authors of long standing to go on the game (my term) for the their books. He pointed to authors in history like Hemingway who reinvented himself and pulled publicity stunts in order to sell books and told a story about Grimod de la Reyniere who invited guests to a “Funeral Supper” who then "found themselves locked in a candlelit hall with a catafalque for a dining table, and were served an endless meal by black-robed waiters while Grimod insulted them as an audience watched from the balcony. When the diners were finally released at 7 a.m., they spread word that Grimod was mad — and his book quickly went through three ­printings." Geez! Talk about getting your reader's attention! At any rate, the article is interesting and the follow-up comments are also interesting. The entire article is posted below this one if you want to read it. 
Then shimmy off into golden paths

This was followed up by a fellow blogger, Conchscooter's of Key West Diary decision to try and make his blog a commercial enterprise. He did some research and found that one of the keys to successful blogging was posting FIVE times a day. As he did so, he found that his readership went up significantly. He gets around 1000 hits day on his site. He doesn't get as many comments as he used to but readership is up and he is happy with how things are going. He is not trying to build himself a reader base (like I am talking about) as he is not writing a book. He is a writer of a blog (and an interesting writer at that!) and posts pictures of Key West alongside his musings. He blogs on just about anything and everything that comes to mind. Sometimes his musings directly relate to the pictures and sometimes they are completely random. Readers from all over flock to his blog. His readers are not all bloggers- they may simply google Key West-  but the ones who are bloggers are not necessarily writers. Anyway, you should check it out! His pictures are lovely! And should he ever decided to write a book, I would bet that many of his readers will preorder his book.
During that time I found an article on google that talked about how blogs that had original content were boosted up in the food chain when topics were googled. In other words if you were merely copying and pasting someone else's article then you were likely to be low in the page numbers. But if, for example, you were one of the first to post a review on a book, you would be high on the rankings for a google search. You can read more here. And then of course if your own name is the only thing in the "label" then you are less likely to get a hit then say a topic that is more widely searched such as "Key West"! 

The other blog I mentioned: Why Evolution Is True in in a similar although much more successful vein. Jerry Coyne the owner of the blog already wrote a New York Bestselling book. His publisher or agent (or someone) has advised him to keep his name Out There. So he has his blog/website (he doesn't like to call it a blog) which he maintains himself. He posts at least five times a day. He has reader cat contests (which I could care less about since I have no cat) but his readers LOVE! and posts on a wide variety of topics, not just evolution. This week he posted a video each day from his favorite musical and said what he thought was so great about them. He posts about great food in the Chicago area and interesting news bits or even (AHHH!!!) POLITICS! He gets as many as 235 comments on some of his posts depending on how controversial they are!  They are READERS!!!! And they love that he posts the blogs himself of course (who wouldn't!) and adds to discussions. Granted his blog (oops!) website is helped that he already has a book published but he is certainly going to be ahead of the game when his next book is published and he is very generous to other bloggers with similar topical blogs by quoting them and linking to them (of course). Oh and I will add that when a newcomer (like me!) posted a comment, the response was quite nice. The other commentors respond and welcome you, it is not just the owner who notices the comments. 

Finally I will post the link to an article I found on Twitter the other day. It was called "More Sacred Cow-Tipping: Common Blogging Misconceptions" at Kirsten Lamb's Blog I generally don't check out these kind of blogs but here are a couple of her tips and I think there are more to come so it might be worth checking out for yourself. "Sacred Cow #1  Writers write, thus they must write writing blogs, right? Um….WRONG! Sacred Cow #2—You need multiple blog sites if you talk about more than one thing. Um, no. Multiple blog sites dilute your brand and erode your author platform. You need one place where alllll your precious nuggets of wisdom collect.Writers write, thus they must write writing blogs, right?"  Well I wouldn't use her terminology I think I would just say that having a blog where you have varied topics will keep readers interest and if your wondering about her reasoning- go check out the article- 
 I've made this post LONG ENOUGH! There is also a third Sacred Cow on Group blogging that I think is worth thinking about but I won't get into that either.

Ultimately the point is that even if our readers ARE only other writers we want to keep them reading because this is our window to who we are as writers (and maybe even commenting.) 

So! I am over and out on this topic. I know where this leaves me on the topic of my blog.  I think I know what I have to do. I don't think my blog guarantees me success (No! I do not think an agent is going to pop round looking for me!!!) nor do I think it is invisible to the external world -after all my most popular post remains my review on the "Civilization of Maxwell Bright". (Lots of people google "Patrick Warburton" and "naked" apparently!)  And I am going to attempt to put a better foot forward from here on out even if it is only once a week. And when the time comes perhaps I will have the content that I will need to draw in more readers- Whoever they/you are. 
And finally dissipate into the night 

New York Times Book Review Articles

How Writers Build the Brand

As every author knows, writing a book is the easy part these days. It’s when the publication date looms that we have to roll up our sleeves and tackle the real literary labor: rabid self-promotion. For weeks beforehand, we are compelled to bombard every friend, relative and vague acquaintance with creative e-mails and Facebook alerts, polish up our Web sites with suspiciously youthful author photos, and, in an orgy of blogs, tweets and YouTube trailers, attempt to inform an already inundated world of our every reading, signing, review, interview and (well, one can dream!) TV ­appearance.
Advertisement From P. Ballantine & Sons, Newark (1951)
Gold standard: Ernest Hemingway's 1951 magazine advertisement.
In this era when most writers are expected to do everything but run the printing presses, self-promotion is so accepted that we hardly give it a second thought. And yet, whenever I have a new book about to come out, I have to shake the unpleasant sensation that there is something unseemly about my own clamor for attention. Peddling my work like a Viagra salesman still feels at odds with the high calling of literature.
In such moments of doubt, I look to history for reassurance. It’s always comforting to be reminded that literary whoring — I mean, self-marketing — has been practiced by the greats.
The most revered of French novelists recognized the need for P.R. “For artists, the great problem to solve is how to get oneself noticed,” Balzac observed in “Lost Illusions,” his classic novel about literary life in early 19th-century Paris. As another master, Stendhal, remarked in his autobiography “Memoirs of an Egotist,” “Great success is not possible without a certain degree of shamelessness, and even of out-and-out charlatanism.” Those words should be on the Authors Guild coat of arms.
Hemingway set the modern gold standard for inventive self-branding, burnishing his image with photo ops from safaris, fishing trips and war zones. But he also posed for beer ads. In 1951, Hem endorsed Ballantine Ale in a double-page spread in Life magazine, complete with a shot of him looking manly in his Havana abode. As recounted in “Hemingway and the Mechanism of Fame,” edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli and Judith S. Baughman, he proudly appeared in ads for Pan Am and Parker pens, selling his name with the abandon permitted to Jennifer Lopez or LeBron James today. Other American writers were evidently inspired. In 1953, John Steinbeck also began shilling for Ballantine, recommending a chilled brew after a hard day’s labor in the fields. Even Vladimir Nabokov had an eye for self-marketing, subtly suggesting to photo editors that they feature him as a lepidopterist prancing about the forests in cap, shorts and long socks. (“Some fascinating photos might be also taken of me, a burly but agile man, stalking a rarity or sweeping it into my net from a flowerhead,” he enthused.) Across the pond, the Bloomsbury set regularly posed for fashion shoots in British Vogue in the 1920s. The frumpy Virginia Woolf even went on a “Pretty Woman”-style shopping expedition at French couture houses in London with the magazine’s fashion editor in 1925.
But the tradition of self-promotion predates the camera by millenniums. In 440 B.C. or so, a first-time Greek author named Herodotus paid for his own book tour around the Aegean. His big break came during the Olympic Games, when he stood up in the temple of Zeus and declaimed his “Histories” to the wealthy, influential crowd. In the 12th century, the clergyman Gerald of Wales organized his own book party in Oxford, hoping to appeal to college audiences. According to “The Oxford Book of Oxford,” edited by Jan Morris, he invited scholars to his lodgings, where he plied them with good food and ale for three days, along with long recitations of his golden prose. But they got off easy compared with those invited to the “Funeral Supper” of the 18th-century French bon vivant Grimod de la Reynière, held to promote his opus “Reflections on Pleasure.” The guests’ curiosity turned to horror when they found themselves locked in a candlelit hall with a catafalque for a dining table, and were served an endless meal by black-robed waiters while Grimod insulted them as an audience watched from the balcony. When the diners were finally released at 7 a.m., they spread word that Grimod was mad — and his book quickly went through three ­printings.
Such pioneering gestures pale, however, before the promotional stunts of the 19th century. In “Crescendo of the Virtuoso: Spectacle, Skill, and Self-Promotion in Paris During the Age of Revolution,” the historian Paul Metzner notes that new technology led to an explosion in the number of newspapers in Paris, creating an array of publicity options. In “Lost Illusions,” Balzac observes that it was standard practice in Paris to bribe editors and critics with cash and lavish dinners to secure review space, while the city was plastered with loud posters advertising new releases. In 1887, Guy de Maupassant sent up a hot-air balloon over the Seine with the name of his latest short story, “Le Horla,” painted on its side. In 1884, Maurice Barrès hired men to wear sandwich boards promoting his literary review, Les Taches d’Encre. In 1932, Colette created her own line of cosmetics sold through a Paris store. (This first venture into literary name-licensing was, tragically, a flop).
American authors did try to keep up. Walt Whitman notoriously wrote his own anonymous reviews, which would not be out of place today on Amazon. “An American bard at last!” he raved in 1855. “Large, proud, affectionate, eating, drinking and breeding, his costume manly and free, his face sunburnt and bearded.” But nobody could quite match the creativity of the Europeans. Perhaps the most astonishing P.R. stunt — one that must inspire awe among authors today — was plotted in Paris in 1927 by Georges Simenon, the Belgian-born author of the Inspector Maigret novels. For 100,000 francs, the wildly prolific Simenon agreed to write an entire novel while suspended in a glass cage outside the Moulin Rouge nightclub for 72 hours. Members of the public would be invited to choose the novel’s characters, subject matter and title, while Simenon hammered out the pages on a typewriter. A newspaper advertisement promised the result would be “a record novel: record speed, record endurance and, dare we add, record talent!” It was a marketing coup. As Pierre Assouline notes in “Simenon: A Biography,” journalists in Paris “talked of nothing else.”
As it happens, Simenon never went through with the glass-cage stunt, because the newspaper financing it went bankrupt. Still, he achieved huge publicity (and got to pocket 25,000 francs of the advance), and the idea took on a life of its own. It was simply too good a story for Parisians to drop. For decades, French journalists would describe the Moulin Rouge event in elaborate detail, as if they had actually attended it. (The British essayist Alain de Botton matched Simenon’s chutzpah, if not quite his glamour, a few years ago when he set up shop in Heathrow for a week and became the airport’s first “writer in residence.” But then he actually got a book out of it, along with prime placement in Heathrow’s bookshops.)
What lessons can we draw from all this? Probably none, except that even the most egregious act of self-­promotion will be forgiven in time. So writers today should take heart. We could dress like Lady Gaga and hang from a cage at a Yankees game — if any of us looked as good near-naked, that is.
On second thought, maybe there’s a reason we have agents to rein in our P.R. ideas.

Tony Perrottet’s latest book, “The Sinner’s Grand Tour: A Journey Through the Historical Underbelly of Europe,” will be published this month.


Building the Brand

To the Editor:


In his essay “Building the Brand” (May 1), Tony Perrottet provides informative and entertaining historical perspective on how authors have promoted their writings. Perhaps most intriguing among his examples is the early use, by the Belgian-born writer Georges Simenon, of what we now call crowdsourcing. Using input from the public and his readers, Simenon in 1927 created a framework for the type of direct-to-consumer marketing and public relations frequently used today.
In an age when many of the underpinnings of publishing have been thrown into a tailspin by technology, there are valuable lessons to be taken from the examples Perrottet cites, despite his assertion to the contrary. Among those: You can never be too proud to promote your own work. But more important, if you are going to engage in self-promotion, have a strategy in place.
It may seem antithetical to the spirit of being an author, but a focus on marketing has helped turn once nascent businesses into successful brands. It is critical, however, that this is done in a transparent and ethical manner. There is nothing wrong with self-promotion, so long as it does not distract from the overall quality and value of one’s work.
New York
The writer is chairwoman and chief executive officer of the Public Relations Society of America.
To the Editor:
Tony Perrottet laments the degree of authorial self-marketing necessary in today’s publishing climate. He finds himself reassured, however, by several examples of the lengths to which past literary greats have gone to promote themselves. I would add to his list Stephen Crane, whose friends rode the train while conspicuously reading his self-published novella, “Maggie, a Girl of the Streets,” in an effort to demonstrate to potential readers that New York was “Maggie mad.”
Palm Coast, Fla.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A little bubbly and sober thoughts

            As I've often shared with visitors to my blog that we go on frequent hikes in the not quite high country-- meaning we find great views and hikes in the foothills that are within a half hour drive from our home. One of our favs, but one that I have never posted any pictures of is Green Mountain. The name Green Mountain has always been a somewhat ironically named hill as most of the year it is brown- except this year! We had so much rain in May that the tabletop hill just to the west of the city is as green as the much hardier evergreens that color the mountains behind it.
My son and I once saw a baby rattler on the trail here! A little scary!
Walks are a nice time to reflect and this particular day I was reflecting on my writing and on the topic I've been blogging about for the past couple of weeks. 
            I take it from the response (or lack thereof?? Some of you responded! Thank you!!!! ) that some of you might been embarrassed that I was saying it out loud OR I was simply stating the "well duh" of blogging obviousness.But of course if your plan is to  use your blog for your platform building or your advertising base, then I think the question becomes a great big: HOW????  
Maybe you have a plan??? (care to share???)  
A flower's view from the top looking westward
 I mean, I think there are the things we all do which may feel like A Plan: blogfests, the Writer's Platform Building Crusades, etc. where we meet other writers and follow each other, build a support base. And that is fine!! It's good. I am not criticizing them. I believe that bloggers are a community and support for each other is a good thing! The only problem is that it doesn't necessarily reach readers- it reaches other writers (again, not a bad thing...!!!) And as Talie commented on my last post "Building a brand can be hard, I think social networking these days is definitely a good way to start but then to get readers buying - that is the question! ;-)"
      Which is exactly my point! As I have said to you I am a realist (or as close to being a realist as a writer can be-- haha!) and I would like to have readers one day (wouldn't you???). I mean, I will write whether I ever get published or whether I ever have any readers of my work or not, because I simply must.
But my hope is not to have boxes of unread manuscript for my loved ones to send off with my ashes when I die (I mean, how morbid to have all that time and effort  quietly floating in the air above Key West following the gulf stream for who knows how long then finally come to an end as fish food. Sounds fine for my worn out flesh... but my work??).
Our evening is capped off with a bottle of champagne!
 No! I hope for more. So I am looking out over the blogosphere and the World Wide Web-- I mean not EVERYWHERE (and while I am at it, if you want to be thoroughly depressed about your creative endeavors, you can hop over to Michael Offut's blog and read his post on what it's going to take to even get published, click here. It's a reminder too as to why we all keep blogging.) as it doesn't take a thorough search to begin to get some ideas of what may work and what may not. And, as I looked around I spoke to a few other book purchasing friends (in other words: potential customers!!!! Well, not mine, we have different tastes but you get the point. They buy books! They are some of the few!) I got their take on what they thought would draw them to a particular site for a book purchase.
Sunset over the Rocky Mountains
But in the meantime I wanted to analyze my own blogging preferences: I follow 258 blogspot bloggers. That does not include those lovely bloggers who have Wordpress or Tumblr blogs so if it were all totaled up I might follow close to 300 blogs. I do not follow you all as well as I would like. I'm not great at keeping up even with Google Reader's aid but I do try to pop in when I can and there are some I am better at than others because I have developed a connection with the blogger, so to be perfectly frank, I make more of an effort to check on those blogs more frequently (as do you, don't lie!)
              But then there are blogs I follow because I find them interesting whether or not I have a connection with the blogger and it is those blogs or websites that I am most interested in discussing, because they are also blogs or websites of authors. 
So Bear with! 
A partial view of Denver as we are coming down the hill after sunset. 
One of my very favorite authors is Jeanette Winterson. She is a British author and had a best selling book some years ago called Oranges are not the Only Fruit (loved this book and I highly recommend it to all and I often purchase if for a gift!) but has written MANY books since then which are featured on her site. She has a lovely website which I enjoy but I don't visit it very often. Click here and see what you think of her site. Tell me what you think about it. Would you visit it frequently if you loved her books? 

The second website I would have loved for you to see was for a book called Special Topics in Calamity Physics by New York Times best selling author Marisha Pessl. Unfortunately the website is down so I will just tell you the website is super cool but it is just for the book and tells you nothing about the author at all. There is nothing interactive for visitors at all- no updates on the author... (could this spell trouble for her???)  What do you think about her site being down and no word on a next book or a site for her? 

The third website/blog is maintained by best selling author Jerry Coyne who wrote "Why Evolution is True" (the site is named the same.) I think his site has the most to teach all of us (please don't let content get in your way!), but what do you think? 

Do you know of any blogs or websites that you follow because they are interesting and they simply draw you in? Tell me about them! 
I'd love to hear! 

I know this is a lot of work here but I do think it might just be worth it! 
More to come!!! 
PS If I am breaking my rule about long winded posts, I apologize! I don't know how to break these up anymore and still keep some continuity. I am trying not to be too rambly.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Building the Brand

Responses to my post concerning why bloggers blogged were pretty varied: Many like Chris at The Kelworth Files , Mary at Mainewords and Trisha at WORD + STUFF mentioned the friendships and the sense of community and Michael at In Time said, “First, I've learned so much about writing. This community is so helpful and bloggers/friends go out of there way to help... [meeting] so many wonderful people who I really do consider friends." Liz Fichera said “Blogging for me is a release, of sorts. It's a way to connect with people in an otherwise very solitary profession. I do it because it's fun” And Ann Best said, “Blogging is what I had to do, said my publisher, because I could promote my book otherwise.”  Ladyfi does it for herself as she writes for a living. Talei at Musings of an Aspiring Scribe spoke about blogging helping her to develop her "writing voice- which is one of the key reasons I took it up." While Conchscooter blogs in order to show how time passes on Key West with wonderful pictures of the island. All valid reasons to blog, I think!! 

However, I am a realist, I think. And I think that we all have to face that our blogs, while being fun and a way to meet friends and being a way to practice our craft are also a way to reach out into the world. A way to promote ourselves even when we aren't really intending to-- in the same way we unintentionally tell future bosses (or voters!!!) something about ourselves when we post unfortunate photographs of ourselves on Facebook or Twitter (what were you thinking Rep Weiner!?!?!?!) After all, all someone has to do if they want to see what we're REALLY like when we're not presenting our best foot forward is to google your name and wa-la your name will pop up with more than one link. And hopefully those links will show you in the most positive light. If not, then perhaps it's the light you want to be seen in and not the light that will make future readers run the other direction! 
Orchids given to me from my daughter for Mother's Day last year brighten up my bookshelf
Ann Best (who I might add has just published her memoir In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets) is in the throes of finding out how to get her work OUT THERE. She is experiencing first hand how difficult it is to promote her book which is essentially promoting herself. You might look at her experience and write it off as being the experience of a writer who is published for the first time or who is published by a small publishing house or who's agent simply didn't get her the best deal except that... author after author speaks of the same quandary. A few weeks ago, on a local radio program, radio host David Sirota bemoaned the difficulty he was having promoting his new book. He was thanking someone who had allowed him on their show to promo his book and saying how hard it was to get the word out about a newly published book and how much he appreciated their allowing him to come on their show. That from a man who has his own radio show! 
Aubrey and girlfriend Nisa gave me this orchid for Easter- a house full of color!  
Then I read an article in the New York Times Book Review section where essayist Tony Perrottet takes all writers into his confidence, "As every author knows, writing a book is the easy part these days. It’s when the publication date looms that we have to roll up our sleeves and tackle the real literary labor: rabid self-promotion. For weeks beforehand, we are compelled to bombard every friend, relative and vague acquaintance with creative e-mails and Facebook alerts, polish up our Web sites with suspiciously youthful author photos, and, in an orgy of blogs, tweets and YouTube trailers, attempt to inform an already inundated world of our every reading, signing, review, interview and (well, one can dream!) TV ­appearance...whenever I have a new book about to come out, I have to shake the unpleasant sensation that there is something unseemly about my own clamor for attention. Peddling my work like a Viagra salesman still feels at odds with the high calling of literature." He goes on to show how writers in history have engaged in what he calls "literary whoring." 

I was surprised to find him mention Balzac. But apparently the great writer was quoted to have said For artists, the great problem to solve is how to get oneself noticed.” And then he quotes Stendahl who said in his autobiography “Memoirs of an Egotist,” “Great success is not possible without a certain degree of shamelessness, and even of out-and-out charlatanism.” Hmmm... well, okay, perhaps it's not just a modern problem but surely writers were rewarded more for their skill then they are today where a name gets them ahead of the game???? (How is it that Patricia Cornwell seems to have a book out every other day? The woman can't even seem to spell!) He goes on to tell this story as recounted "in “Lost Illusions,” Balzac observes that it was standard practice in Paris to bribe editors and critics with cash and lavish dinners to secure review space, while the city was plastered with loud posters advertising new releases." And then this! "In 1887, Guy de Maupassant sent up a hot-air balloon over the Seine with the name of his latest short story, “Le Horla,” painted on its side."
Orchids from stepson Aubrey brighten up my kitchen window (also this spring

All right! I get it. Writers have had to promote themselves through pretty extreme measures for a long time already in order to sell books. And any illusions I have had that my book is going to leap into the hands of readers just because it is good is just naive. Because no matter how good it is it is still going to take a lot of promotion to get it into the hands of people so that they can find out it's good. SO the big question is: How do I promote my book? After all I don't even have a radio show from which to start? And I don't expect the New York Times Book Review Section is going to be asking me to write an essay on book publishing any time soon where I can add a blurb about my newly published book either. No, sadly, the only thing standing between me and the reading world at this moment is my blog. And for better or for worse, that is where it is all going to start or will start when I ready to start promoting it. The question is.... How is that gonna happen?????? 

Thus ends pt. 2... but stay tuned! More to come!!!

*Pictures taken and edited by me. Added to ease the message and add a moment of zen to your day! Hope you enjoy!  


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