Archive for December, 2009

This is a weird week , this week between X’Mas and New Years’ Day. I don’t know quite what to do with myself. Everytime I get an idea about something that must be done, like having the thermostat fixed in my house so that I can get the heat up above sixty-five degree, I am frustrated.  I called a repair man and got a message telling me he’ll be back on January 4th. And then I wonder if my cleaning service will show up on Thursday which actually is New Years’ Eve day. That is December 31st and nobody wants to drive their car fearing  some drunk driver, wanting to start celebrating early, would drive into their car. My phone call to the cleaning service confirmed my suspicions. I am stuck with having to clean my house myself. Doesn’t seem fair to me … although the excercise will do me good … but I really prefer to get my excercise on the tennis court.

I decided to catch up on all my old e-mails; there were twenty-seven of them. When I began to read all the comments posted I found out that a handful of the group members had identified a disgreement amoung themselves and became pretty nasty attacking each other personally. I don’t need that. Delete! Delete! Delete!

I’ve started my next work … my next writing project. I really got into it one day and was completely immersed in the time and place I was writing about. My characters even began to come into focus. I was going ninety miles an hour on my yellow writing pad when the phone rang. It was someone calling to wish me Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! That was nice … except it took me completely out of my zone. I put the writing pad down. No wonder they call this the “dead week between Christmas and New Years.’

I’ve decided to blog about my frustrating state of mind and so far I haven’t been interrupted. I’ll just close by wishing all you good people a very Happy and Healthy and Successful New Year!


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About Self-publishing

“Conventional book publishing …has marketing and distibution muscle that no self-publisher can match” quote from Maryanne Murray Buechner from Time article:http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1617545,00.html

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My new year’s resolution is to get back to writing. I mean the serious kind of writing I did when I threw myself into the project of creating Becoming Alice. I didn’t know when I started my memoir that it would take me three years to complete. I didn’t really have any idea about all the happenings I would include in the book, nor did I know when it would end. It just sort of took form as I put one word after another on paper. As soon as I completed one scene, the next one just came into focus and I wrote about it.

I’m not sure what all the so-called experts would think about this haphazard approach, but it worked for me. I think it even enhanced the work because I relived each happening emotionally as I spilled it onto the written page. Some scenes even caused a few drops to run down my cheeks before the last word became legible on my yellow writing pad. My own opinion is that it strengthened my book.

I am ready to get on with my next project. I have several ideas I want to develop but I’ve hit a snag. I have writer’s block. Luckily I think I know why. Spending as much time as I do on my computer still marketing Becoming Alice on the internet, I never have a sizeable chunk of time when I can separate myself from the rest of my life and concentrate on what is in my head. Also, I spend much time on a number of social networking sites.  Very often I contribute a comment or answer a comment with which I may or may not agree. And then there is this blog … which I do like. It is a place where I can share my thoughts and feelings, get feedback, and even connect with interesting, talented people. This takes time. I force myself to blog at least twice a week. That is a couple of hours that I could be writing my next work. And if I cut back on my computer social networking time, which I do daily, there are a few more hours to work with.

I won’t cut back on blogging. But,come New Year’s Eve, watch out. I’ll be back at work on my yellow writing pad.

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‘Tis the season when we all run around trying to get through the holiday season by doing the right thing. That ususally involves giving the “right” present to people who expect to get them. I have no problem giving presents to my young grandchildren.  I find out what is on their “wish list” either directly from them or from their parents. I also have no problem knowing I must give a monetary gift, or tip, to people who service my home, or who service me at my beauty parlor.

Beyond those two circles, I get into trouble. Every year someone will appear at the last minute out of the blue with a plant, or box of candy, or small gift, that I haven’t counted on. I feel that I should reciprocate in kind, but often there is no time to do so. I end up being embarrassed and uncomfortable, and very busy telling myself that X’Mas is all about giving … without expecting anything in return. Yeah!

To complicate matters, I had a converstion witha friend who told me that she does not give any presents to anyone at Christmas. “For us, Christmas is a religious holiday. We go to church and then maybe a movie afterwards.” How then did Christmas turn into the biggest shopping season of the year in which merchants make a third of their year’s profits and spend a zillion dollars in advertising to promote these sales?

I know I am not the only one of all the people I know who breathe a huge sigh of relief when “the holidays” are over and I don’t have to worry about doing it all wrong.

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One of my fellow members of one of my social networking groups has just brought to my attention an article which posted the “most popular twitter topics” of the year. I couldn’t wait to find out what they were. I had been trying to learn what the most popular blogs are in cyberspace and found out that they usually dealt with the latest political situation, movie star that announced a split, or some comments about a sports event.

Twitter was not off the mark. Just like blog topics, the main interest has been in … what a shock … politics, world events, movies, entertainers, and sports. There was one other category which I hadn’t seen before: it is called hashtags. Hashtags? What are hashtags? When I recognized a couple of topics, such as “swine flu” and “remember when” I realized that must have meant “miscellaneous.” It all lines up the same, just as I had discovered when I researched Technorati.

My dilemma is that I can’t find much interest in “books” or “most popular books” or “what readers are looking for” or “how to expose your book to readers in cyberspace.” I have been reading the experts recommendations for authors telling them to be active in appropriate social networking sites, their groups and their forums. I have been. And I’ve met a bunch of lovely, interesting people who are mostly authors like myself. We exchange bits and pieces of information and sometimes even buy and read each others books. We review each others books and help each other as much as possible.

But, the bottom line is: How many books does all this really sell? I haven’t heard of any best sellers arrising out of all this time spent on social networking. I wish I were wrong. If I am, please shoot me a comment. I am trying to figure out where I shall spend the bulk of my time in 2010. I am itching to get back to writing what has been wanting to sprout out of my head all these many past months.

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I met a charming young woman last week, a most unusual person. She is the forty-something daughter of a friend of mine who is the most open person I’ve ever met. Tall and thin with curly, not kinky, shoulder length hair, she dresses in jeans, peasant blouses, and cowboy boots. Her ear lobes will sport either chandelier earrings or large hoops. She is a writer of county songs which she performs wherever she can book a gig. I had the pleasure of being at one of her perfomances and thought she was a real talent.

What amazed me was the complete honesty and openness of her song’s lyrics. With one of her two guitars hooked up to an amplifying system, she hangs it from her neck and sings about her disfunctional family, her mother’s advice to have her eggs frozen before she would get too old to bear children, and the fact that her four year old daughter was conceived on a one-night-stand date. A stunned audience applauded her loudly.

Two weeks later, she was in my home at a dinner party where she continued to charm all my guests. I found her openness completely refreshing. I don’t know anyone quite like her … especially me. I must remind you that I, as a Jewish child in Vienna in World War II, was drilled into knowing that I must keep my mouth shut. I didn’t quite understand that a slip-up on my part might just land my whole family  in Auschwitz.

I’ve come a long ways since those early years of childhood and adolescence, but I think a little of that philosophy has remained with me. What I have learned as an adult is that most everyone I know has a more closed orientation than not. I’ve learned that it sometimes takes years before a friend will open up about something in their past that they think will make them look bad.

I love being a writer and a reader. It is the one place that some of us  will bare all. Books abound about drug addiction, rape, incest, crime, psychological abuse, etc., etc.  I was told I was brave to write about Herr Meyer in my book. My feeling was that if I was to write a memoir, I had to be honest about what happened. If I couldn’t do that, I’d be writing fiction.

Now my dilemma is knowing how to write all the stories that I have seen happen in a lifetime of experiences. I would be writing about people who might just recognize themselves. I’d risk losing their friendship. I’m not sure I want to do that. If only I could have a little more of the free-spirit-orientation of that charming country music performer, I could have such a good time as a writer.

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My Target Audience

Marketing Becoming Alice has become quite an adventure. I could have hired all kinds of companies to help me set up my website, do my press releases, synopses and bios, produce MGM-quality videos about me and my book, and handle all my PR, including getting exposure in cyberspace. This would have run into several thousands of dollars, even if I shopped and came up with the cheapest services available. These services come with a disclaimer, namely there is no guarantee of success.  I couldn’t go that route.

I have been doing almost all of the above on my own at a cost of innumerable hours of my time, which I would much rather have spent putting the thoughts  in my head for my next work down on paper. As to the measure of my success, I have no idea. The pundits tell me that it takes months, sometimes up to a year, to reap any benefit from social networking on the internet. I haven’t reached that milestone yet and have no clue as to whether or not all this effort is working. My publisher is two or three months behind in posting sales so that I can’t figure out what’s working and what’s not. So I soldier on, hoping that one day all this will make sense.

One of the stumbling blocks I have encountered is that I’ve been advised to aim my campaign at my target audience. I have a real problem finding this elusive audiance. My last review, which can be read at http://internetreviewofbooks.com/holiday09/contents.html makes the point of saying Becoming Alice is a good read for anyone, young or old. I’d hoped the reviewer would say for older Jewish women, or wwii history buffs, or teenagers having problems fitting in, or people having problems with identity, anxiety, self-esteem, etc. No help there.

I’ll continue to look for my target audience, although the thoughts I have in my head for my next writing project are about to pop out onto my writing tablet.

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