Saturday, June 30, 2012

To Market, To Market...

I am on a high today because my book, Twelve Steps to Becoming an Author..., has had its final printing and is ready for sale.  There was no "official" release date, but it has been released nevertheless.  Ta daa!!  Let me hear a clink of glasses as we drink a toast to this new creation!  Fill my glass with Kahlua and cream, please.

I have been lining up the mini workshops I mentioned in my last post and (drum roll) I have my first confirmed event at a library in San Diego (Clairemont Library), scheduled for September 4th.

It was a bit of a disappointment to learn that it may take thirty days for me to get the books I ordered because I know a lot of you want a copy and I want to get one to you as soon as possible.  I should have the books the beginning of August, hopefully sooner.

Here, now, is a sneak peak at the beginning of the first chapter.

Step One: A Place to Begin.

Rhonda Gayetski pulled up to the Blue Dot Café and parked as close to the front door as the spaces allowed. She wanted to be sure of a fast exit if this meeting didn’t go at all well. 

Rhonda lives in Covington, a small town of twenty thousand, the suburb of a larger city called Crestwood. Although Covington can’t yet boast of having a movie theater, it does have a read and critique group for writers which Rhonda discovered one day in her local newspaper under Things To Do Around Town. She phoned the contact person, Judy, and now here she was, ready to go in and see what this group was all about.

To Rhonda, sitting at a computer playing with words is far more fun than playing video games. Writing is her passion. At least it was until she submitted a story to a magazine a few years ago and received a very impersonal rejection letter.  The short form letter opened with, “We are sorry to inform you that your submission does not meet our needs at this time.” So she began to question herself. Maybe I can’t write after all. Maybe that novel floating around in my head will never stand the world on its ears. Why even try if I’m going to get rejected?  I’m thirty-five and married and quite competent as a corporate accountant. So why am I now feeling like a five-year-old at my first day of kindergarten? 

She looked in the rearview mirror, fidgeted with her brown shoulder-length hair, checked to make sure there was no lipstick on her slightly crooked teeth, grabbed her purse and stepped out of her car. For the tenth time, she opened her purse and checked to make sure she had a pad and a pen and what she laughingly called her manuscript. She walked to the front door of the café.  She could smell the wonderful aroma of fresh coffee brewing.

A waitress, whose name tag read “Penny,” greeted her at the door. Rhonda said, “I’m here for the Covington Writers‘ Guild.”

Penny motioned with her hand. “It’s in a room right down here, Sweetie. Just follow me.”

Rhonda followed Penny past diners engaged in various stages of eating and talking, to a private room at the back of the restaurant and walked in to find three women and a man seated at a table, coffee cups in front of them. The older woman rose. “You must be Rhonda. I’m Judy, president of the group. We talked on the phone. I’m so happy you could make it.  While Penny is here, she’ll take your order for coffee if you’d like.” 

One by one, the others introduced themselves--Bill, middle aged with glasses and grey hair at the temples; Sharon, in her thirties, dimples galore; and Beverly, her corn rows accentuating her milk chocolate face.

The door opened and two more women came in and quickly sat down so as not to disrupt the meeting. Judy introduced Rhonda to Donna and Darlene, twins in their mid-twenties.

Rhonda relaxed, a little, realizing that these were people just like her, not Pulitzer prize winners, or whatever prize it was they gave for the best book of the year. 

Judy asked, “Now that we’re all here, is there any good news anyone wants to share?”

Bill raised his hand. “My first book, Unexpected Surprises, has just been accepted by a publisher!” The group gave him a rousing ovation and plenty of high fives. 

“Great news, Bill! Your perseverance certainly paid off. We’re all proud of you.”

Beverly asked, “Will you be getting an advance? I’ve heard of such a thing but I’m not sure how it works.”

“No,” said Bill, “I won’t be getting one. And how it works is like this; let’s say the publisher gives you an advance of, oh, five thousand dollars to finish your book and to pay your food bill so you don't starve while you write. When the book starts selling, your initial royalties go to pay off the five thousand dollars. When that sum is paid off, then you start receiving royalties, once or twice a year, depending on the publisher’s policy. For me, I‘d rather not receive an advance and start right in receiving royalties, but that‘s just my personal preference.  Small presses don‘t normally offer advances.” 

“Since you’re the Man of the Hour Bill,” said Judy, “let’s start with you today. Are you going to read from your new book, Heaven Scent?”

“Yes. I‘ll pick up with Chapter Five. If you remember, those who were here last month, Colleen had just run into Lilly and learned that David was missing.”

As Bill read his latest chapter, Rhonda felt her manuscript burning in her purse. She wanted to run out of the room and never come back. How can I compete with a writer of Bill’s caliber? 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

And Another Book is Born

My new book, Twelve Steps to Becoming an Author: A Writer's Story of Book Publishing Success, is about to make its grand entrance into the world.  My publisher is sending out Press Releases July 1, 2012 to notify the world of the book's availability. Giving birth to the book was the easy part.  Now comes the hard part--marketing it.  Unlimited Publishing wants me to start taking names of people who want to order the book.  The book sells for $12.99 plus shipping and, I suppose, tax.  I'm not quite up on that part of the process yet.

I recently learned from Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup For the Soul series, that I need to THINK BIG.  So I'm thinking BIG.  I'm thinking this book should be in every high school and college creative writing class.  It's already going to be used as a text book in a college class this fall!!!  I'm thinking computer manufacturers could give this book as a premium to anyone who buys a computer.  Why sell books one at a time if I could sell ten thousand at a time!  (I said I was thinking BIG.)

I made a web site just for this book.  It's at  From there, people can read about, and order, the book, just as soon as I learn how to add shipping and tax to the PayPal amount which should be any day now.

As I say on my website, Twelve Steps will make a great birthday gift, thank you gift, back-to-school gift, or Christmas gift.  It contains information helpful to both beginning and experienced writers.

As another way to market the book, I have prepared a one-hour free mini workshop to coincide with three of the chapters in the book.  My plan is to approach libraries, women's groups, senior centers, etc. and put on mini writing workshops.

I welcome any marketing ideas that any of you can come up with.  Just leave a comment or email me at  And if you want to pre-order one or more copies, please let me know that, too.

I gave birth, now it's time to start raising this child of mine.  :)

Today's quote:
Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can. Danny Kaye 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mark Twain

I recently finished reading Mark Twain's book, Roughing It. This was a long book (419 pages) with precious little "white space." There's not even a space between paragraphs and the font seems no bigger than 8 point. The book I have was printed between 1871 and 1913 which could have something to do with the formatting style. Perhaps a more recent edition of the book would be easier on the eyes.  To be fair, there are three or four pictures scattered throughout the book which help break up some of the monotony of the small print and lots of it.

My first reaction was not unlike a grade schooler who sees a grown-up's novel for the first time--no pictures, just all words. It looked daunting.

However, I was hooked by Mark Twain's (Mr. Samuel Clemens, if you will) Prefatory (his words, not mine). This is how he starts his book:

"This book is merely a personal narrative, and not a pretentious history or a philosophical dissertation. It is a record of several years of variegated vagabondizing, and its object help the resting reader while away an idle hour...." 

The book is a record of a trip Mark Twain took in the late 1800s from the "Missouri frontier" to Nevada and then on to San Francisco and Hawaii. He meant to be gone three months and ended up staying out west for six or seven years.

Reading the book, I could see the world through Mark Twain's eyes. He left St. Louis by steamboat.  It took him and his fellow travelers six days to get to St. Joseph, Missouri where they boarded the overland stage. Then, he says,

"We jumped into the stage, the driver cracked his whip, and we bowled away and left 'the States' behind us." 

He was off on an adventure and we go right along with him.  I never would have thought that to enter Kansas, we were leaving the United States behind. When, months later, he enters San Francisco, he has this to say.

"If it is winter, it will rain--and if it is summer, it won't rain, and you cannot help it...You would give anything to hear the old familiar thunder again and see the lightning strike somebody. the summer, when you have suffered about four months of lustrous, pitiless sunshine, you are ready to go down on your knees and plead for rain--hail--snow--thunder and lightning--anything to break the monotony--you will take an earthquake, if you cannot do any better. And the chances are that you'll get it, too." 

He has a magnificent way with words! Just listen to this:

"In one place in the island of Hawaii, we saw a laced and ruffled cataract of limpid water leaping from a sheer precipice fifteen hundred feet high." 

That is pure linguistic beauty. I want to be able to write like that.

I want to thank my son for sending me this book and suggesting I read it. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good story that is both a memoir and a travelogue with a few tall tales thrown in to liven things up a bit.

Quote of the week:
When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.
Mark Twain