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Archive for April, 2010

I am active on a number of social networking sites, one of which is a group geared to writers. It amazes me to find out how many of them are hung up on how they should publish their book. Their concern is that any book that is self-published or published by what is known as a POD, standing for published on demand, is doomed to failure. I’ve read many comments calling this vanity publishing with all sorts of derogatory consequences. These include labeling such authors as being somehow inferior to traditionally published authors. These comments usually come from authors who have had their works published by one of the big New York publishing houses.

I am sure these authors are completely unaware of the fact that many of the authors, whom we consider masters of their craft, have at one time or another self-published their work. If you go to http://bookmarket.com/self-publish.html you will discover a long list of names of such authors, among them Margaret Atwood, Lord Byron, Willa Cather, Ernest Hemingway, Zane Grey, Edgar Allen Poe, Walt Whitman, Virginia Woolf, and the list goes on and on.

At a time in which we find ourselves today, getting published by a traditional publishing house is extremely difficult, considering the recession/depression we are experiencing at this time. These houses are suffering from the same economic downturn as the rest of the country. It is no wonder that they are turning down even more authors than ever. So my question is: what does an author do with his work at this point in time? Is he/she to wait an unknown amount of time for the world to set itself right?

 Another thing to consider is the fact that a greater and greater number of authors, being unable to get a traditional house to publish their work and who have self-published or gone POD, have been extremely successful. With all that in mind, and having not an unlimited amount of time ahead of me to play with, I decided to join that hallowed list of writing masters, and published Becoming Alice myself. It was one of the smartest decisions I’ve ever made.

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Why Write

My latest blog is a Guest Blog entitled “Why Write” to be found on http://friendlywriter.com/wordpress/

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New review for Becoming Alice on http://reviewthebook.com/index.php/book/view/90/Becoming-Alice-A-Memoir.html

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I get so many emails, I forget who sent me this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=NINOxRxze9k

I was fascinated! Imagine finding a clip of 35mm film that was taken in 1906 by a camera mounted on a cable car going down Market Street in San Francisco. It takes us back in time over a hundred years and it wasn’t a film that some hollywood producer put together. This is the real McCoy. You see the old streetcars, motor cars, horse drawn carriages, and people all criss-crossing the street every which way … and in costume. Men in black suits and hats. Women in long, pinch-waisted dresses and hats as round as platters. Children being dragged down the street by their dads.

It made me realize how much we are fascinated by the past. Just look how many movies taking place in times gone by that are such hits, like the BBC’s depiction of Jane Austin’s stories like Pride and Prejudice for example.  We love seeing those magnificent English country estates and even the modest workers cottages. We admire the men in their costumes and women in their finery. We marvel at the old rules of courting, marriage, and the roles men and women played within their society.

And how about movies that took place in World War II such as  Schindler’s List or Sophie’s Choice? Whether they are written by authors producing a fictional work, or one based on true facts, we are fascinated by what has happened before our time. It made me realize how much more meaningful these stories would be if they actually were lived by one of your ancestors. Imagine reading something your great, great grandfather’s had written. Imagine if you could have a peek at his village in the Austria-Hungary or the Ukraine or in Ireland. You could find out from a study of geneology when he was born, when he died, when he married, how many children he had, and even what he did for a living. But can you even imagine how much more exciting it would be if he told you  how he felt about his wife or his father-in-law or his boss … and why?  How exciting would it be if he wrote about how it was to be a Jew in a stetl, or a servant in Britain, or an indentured farmer in Ireland? I’d give anything to get my hands on something my great, great grandfather had written.

I think it is why so many of us write memoir. Perhaps these  words we memoirists put on paper today will make somebody very happy in days to come. I know my kids are already very excited about Becoming Alice. There is a whole lot of personal experience  in it that none of them ever knew before and couldn’t get out of a history book.

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I am doing a guest blog for a teenage audience soon which I will post when I know it is live on the internet. In deciding on a subject to write about, I remembered the young girl who came up to me after a presentation I did at a local library and asked, “What did you do to change from the shy, introverted girl with no self-esteem to being the woman you are today?”

Of course, that is a long story which is spelled out in Becoming Alice. But in simple terms, the secret lies in that person making the decision to change. I know many people who have problems that just stay in the same situation all their lives without making any attempt to change anything. They don’t try to change the family member who might be causing the trouble; they don’t change the situation, be it a workplace, a family problem, or a financial problem. And least of all, they make no attempt to change themselves in any way.

Perhaps they can let a family member, classmate, or fellow office worker know how their behavior causes problems. Perhaps they can get another job or move to another town to get away from problems that cannot be changed any other way. Or, perhaps they can identify something within themselves that causes them to have such dissatisfactory lives.

I know a very successful doctor who divorced his wife and had a series of girl friends, one after another. He was unable to establish a successful long-term relationship with any of them. He became quite depressed and sought out psychiatric help. He continued seeing his psychiatrist for several years without any results. He did not want to make any changes, using his psychiatrist only as a sounding board. Obviously, the problem was within his own behaviors and persononality that perpetuated the depression he suffered.

It seems to me that in order to solve any of the personal problems anyone has, he/she must first decide to make some changes somewhere. In my case, my decision to come to California was the beginning of my being able to change into the person I became.

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I’ll be signing “Becoming alice, A Memoir” at the LA times Festival of Books on Saturday, April 24th, at 11AM-12 Noon at the Authors Den Booth, #127, Section A. Please come. It’s fun!

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I’ve tried to post a new blog about twice a week. It is the way I work. If I don’t give myself deadlines, I just don’t get around to doing much of anything. I book my tennis dates every Tuesday and Thursday. I get out on the court no matter how I feel, or how much else, even more important things, that I have to do. It is not that I don’t like playing tennis; I do. But sometimes I operate on so much overload, that I feel a little guilty about doing something that I actually enjoy, something that I can postpone without anything terrible happening to me.

I have been trying to continue writing my next writing project, which I have actually started and worked out in my mind, but I can’t seem to get beyond the first dozen or so pages. Is it procrastination? Is it writer’s block? Or, perhaps it is overload on other things that I think are more important at the moment?  Actually, I think it is the latter.

Right now I am enjoying the company of my daughter and granddaughter who are visitng from their home in Connecticut. Of course, that is more important to me than saying to them, “Go ahead and watch some TV, or go on a walk, or go shopping … while I crank off a few pages on my writing or post another quick blog. Actually, they are in the shower right now while I do this blog.

The other more important thing in my life right now is that my house is on the market to be sold. It seems that as soon as I sit down to write anything, I get a call from my broker saying, “Can you be out of the house by nine this morning so that I can show your house?” Well, of course he can. Only that involves my flying around like the white tornado to clean it up and strip it of anything laying around junking it up. I have been told  it should look like the work of a developer having his house on display at an “open house.”

There are times when I have an hour ahead of me before anything more important happens in which I can hit the computer for a little writing. But then I look at the keyboard and think about all I have to do,  stressed to the max, having hit that state of affairs that is called  writer’s block. It is impossible to keep from postponing any serious writing … I think it is called procrastination.

As you can see, I am in a vicious cycle right now. My daughter is just out of the shower. I’ll have to talk to you later.

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