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Archive for October, 2009

Fear

Hallowe’en is coming up in a couple of days and it got me thinking, besides wondering which kind of candy I should buy for my trick-or-treaters, about scaring kids and fear. What is so funny about being scared out of your mind, making your hair stand on end and your skin feel like it was crawling with ants? What I don’t understand is that the kids are not frightened by witches with blood-curdling laughs, owls in the night, or black cats that run across their paths. They know they won’t be hurt and they can laugh at the merriment with impunity. They are having fun!

It was not like that for me when I was growing up. A couple of days ago, I was invited to speak to a local book club about my memoir, Becoming Alice. Almost everyone had read my book and came to the meeting armed with questions. One of them asked, “Why was it that you had so many problems even though you were already safe in America?”

The answer is simple. The depth of fear and the duration of time that passed in which my family had to endure constant panic was so long, that none of us, including me, could bounce back to normal as if we’d just gotten over the flu. The seeds of fear that had taken root so deeply at such an early time in my life that it effected my entire childhood and adolescence. I reminded them of the parts in my book in which I described my difficulties in learning how to swim, to watch a Frankenstein movie, or go to Sunday School by myself.  I was terrified to go to elementary school and barely overcame that hurdle.

My father warned me about telling anyone anything about ourselves, lest that information would be used against us. So, I rarely spoke and made no friends. I thought I didn’t look like any of the other kids (I didn’t in those awful European-style clothes) and was sure my classmates were laughing at me behind my back. I remained isolated, fearing that some unknown danger would  happen to me.

I was in an unacceptable quagmire and knew that I had to do something. In late adolescent I decided to run away from it all by  leave Portland, Oregon and coming to California. I didn’t realize that I would be taking all my fears with me.

At another speaking engagement at a local library, a young girl perhaps sixteen or seventeen years old, asked me, “How did you change from being the anxious, insecure teenager that you were, to being the woman you are today? I ask because I have those same problems.” My answer to her was that I made some decisions for myself; they are described late in my book. Those decisions would be different for every person, depending on their circumstances, and their inner strengths. But those steps need to be taken in order to conquer your personal fear. Luckily the kind of fear that comes with Hallowe’en is a lot different; it is the fun kind of fear.

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I returned from a ten day trip a few days ago and had a chance to read a couple of books on the long five to six hour flights back and forth between Los Angeles and New York.  They were “People of the Book” by Geraldine Brooks which I found interesting mainly because it is based on a true story. I like true stories. The other is “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy which I picked at the airport mainly because it had a tag stating “Now  Major Motion Picture.” I know why it is/was being made into a movie; however I found myself skim-reading a great portion of the book. It did do something for me though: it provided the subject matter for this blog.

“The Road” is about a father and very young child who have survived a major catastrophe on earth that has destroyed life as we know it. In their travels they meet other survivors and the boy keeps asking his father, “Are they good guys or are they bad guys?”

Having come from my husband’s medical school class reunion, I had met a group of people that would most certainly have fit into the good guys category. They were people whose orientation was to give and not to take. They were people who contributed to the welfare of their fellow men. They were people who contributed to their communities. And the most gratifying lesson I learned was that the medical school was still teaching that approach to life  to the future doctors, nurses, and ancillary professionals.

I’m back at my computer now catching up on all my e-mails and connections with others as I market my memoir, Becoming Alice. I have become computer friends with fellow authors who are in cyberspace doing the exact same thing I am doing. And rather than competing with me in what you would think would be a dog-eat-dog situation, they have been completely supportive and helpful.  Almost daily, I receive congratulations for anything positive that may happen, like placing in a literary contest. I receive answers to any questions I may have how things work out here on the internet. Most amazing of all is that they make suggestions for actions I should take to help my marketing efforts along.

The father in that book, “The Road,” would say, ” Writers and authors are “good guys.”

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Latest Picture on Flickr

Check it out: http:www.flickr.com/photos/alicerene

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Becoming Alice wins Award

Announcement re Becoming Alice,A Memoir by Alice Rene:
Award-winning Finalist in the Young Adult Non-Fiction category of the National Best Books 2009 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. http://www.usabooknews.com/2009bestbooksawards.html

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I was at a buffet lunch at my husband’s medical school class reunion recently, attended by about forty of his classmates and their spouses. I was so impressed by how they all had cared about the well-being of their patients and had not chosen their profession on the basis of its financial rewards. Now mostly past retirement age, many were still teaching and mentoring a new generation of doctors or consulting in research programs.

My admiration for this group included the wives of these doctors, one of whom has her water color paintings displayed at a local gallery; another is an accomplished photographer who judges competitions; others chose to better their communities with fund raising and volunteerism.

Eventually someone asked me what I do. I skipped over my lesser interests, large though they may be to me, and answered, “I am a writer.” Of course, the next question led me to tell them about Becoming Alice, my memoir. The news spread through the group as if it was gossip flying through a party telephone line and before long I was doing a presentation about my book like I do to local groups in my community.

Why am I telling you all this? It is because I have not yet been able to digest a comment made in one of my social networking groups by a gentleman who claims that no one has the right to call themselves a writer, or an author, unless that person has been published by a “traditional” publishing house, most likely located in New York. He did receive a multitude of comments in response, mine among them.

At the luncheon I was asked what my book was about and why did I decide to write my memoir, Becoming Alice, how long have I been writing, how long did it take, where can they buy my book, and what will I write about next.

I told them I’d been writing for quite a number of years now, that I’d initially taken writing courses and joined writer workshops, that I’d attended writer conferences and lectures, and that I read everything on the art and craft of writing that I could get my hands on. It is what I did for so many waking hours of my life. I considered myself a writer, which has nothing to do with whether or not my stuff was any good. That was for my readers to decide.

I told them that I was encouraged by the response my work received in my writing workshops. The pages of Becoming Alice took the shape of a book. It was published a little over two years ago, available in several local bookstores and online at amazon.com, barnesand noble.com, iuniverse.com, etc. where next to the cover of my book my name appeared as the author.

I told them that since then, I have been marketing my book by speaking at book clubs, libraries, temples, community centers, book festivals, etc. and that I also have a presence online. They can google my name, check out my website www.alicerene.com, and read my blod https://alicerene.wordpress.com.  I think they consider me a writer, and an author.

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Marketing Mania

My two week vacation is not over yet. I’m writing this from Rochester, New York where I’ve checked into a hotel which has a computer available to me. I’ve just come from a hotel in New York City where my hotel also had computers, but they had a payment requirement. One dollar for five minutes time. O.K. I’ve already told you that I’m slightly computer addicted so I  inserted my dollar and started to try to pick up my AOL e-mail. Before I could do that, I of course needed to answer a dozen of so security questions which chewed up five minutes. I was still telling them where I was born and the name of my pet when the computer went dead on me. At that point I got mad, mumbled a four letter word under my breath and walked away. I’ve already told you I am only slightly addicted.

Now, I am in a lovely Marriott hotel where the computer is not only free but doesn’t require any more from me than a couple of user ID’s and Passwords. Luckily, my memory is not entirely gone yet and I am able to write this blog. And I am also able to pick up a few stats from some of my sites.

I was particularly interested in doing so because during my absence from the computer I was becoming a bit discouraged about the effectiveness of some of my marketing strategies for Becoming Alice and thought about giving it up altogether. It seemed to me I was spending a whole lot of time on the computer without much result. For example, I was so pleased to see that over two hundred people had chosen to put my book on their to-read shelves at my Goodreads account. But then I only garnered perhaps a half dozen reviews. Most of them were five star reviews, but only a half dozen or so?

Then, there was this WordPress blog that I was involved with. I’ve really enjoyed writing these seventy or so blogs, but on most days I haven’t seen more than two or three viewers. There are some exceptions, or course when I do get a few more. Now that I’ve gone away and checked in after almost a week, I noticed a whole bunch of people have read my blog. The message is clear. I must go away more often.

I checked my Goodreads account and … amazing!! More readers. More reviews. I checked my amazon account. My ranking has gone way up. It must mean more buyers. Amazing! It’s clear. I must not go home. I must turn myself into a Flying Dutchman and Becoming Alice will become a best seller.

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Two week vacation

Hi Everyone,

For those of you who’ve been reading my blog, I’m off to New York for this and that and won’t be posting blogs for a couple of weeks. But stayed tuned after that.

Cheers, Alice

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