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Archive for September, 2010

I spent last Saturday at the Sonoma Book Festival in Santa Rosa, California, standing at table number 51 from nine in the morning until four o’clock in the afternoon. It was the first time I had been to that particular festival and I learned a great deal. It is information I will need should I decide to do it all again next year.

First, is is very important to know where your table will be located. I had no idea about that until I arrived. The gods must have been kind to me because I was smack in the middle of the long line of tables. I was not one of the unfortunates not at the end of the line close to the caterer’s truck on one side or the Andy Gumps on the other. Should you ever register for a festival be sure you specify your choice of location.

Secondly, do ask if the sponsers of the festival include a tablecloth and two chairs along with the wooden fold up table itself. I did not. Luckily, they did provide two chairs so that I didn’t need to stand all day long. But no cloths. Again the gods must have been looking out for me because as an afterthought, I grabbed a comforter off my couch and threw it into my car, not even thinking about how I might need it. It was the only thing I had to use as a substitute tablecloth. It didn’t fit at all but it was better than nothing. I placed it over as much of the wood table as possible and placed my copies of Becoming Alice on its fringes so as to cover the line between cloth and bare wood. I hoped my visitors wouldn’t notice.

Lastly and most important of all, ask for a table in the shade! This festival in Santa Rosa took place when the temperature was about ninety degress. The sponsors were wise enough to provide an overhead cover for the exhibitors and their tables, but not for the walkway between the two rows of exhibitors. Visitors needed to walk in the open, with only a narrow part of the walkway in shade. Again I was in luck. The sun was located behind my table in such a fashion that my visitors were comfortable in the shade the entire day.

My sympathy went out to my neighbors across the walkway who had, all day long, the space in front if their set-up in full sun. Their space itself happened to be magnificent: a square space which looked like a living room, covered by a campers tent. Inside was a couch, end table and lamp, area rug, and bar displaying at least a dozen books by numerous authors. A handful of visitors stopped in the cool hours of the morning but the large number of choices on the bar confused them. That issue plus the blazing sun made it a very long day for them. They, like me, will have learned a lot from this particukar festival.

As for me, with a table covered only half way by a comforter with fringes and the display of only one book, I am happy to say Becoming Alice did very well for herself.

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My neighbor’s son was a nerd. I watched him grow up and could almost feel his pain. He had no idea that he was good-looking. He was a bright boy who got almost all A’s in his classes, yet he didn’t think that was much of anything to be proud of. Being tall, he played basketball and, maybe he wasn’t the star on the team, but he was a darn good player.

When he got into high school, the girls used to buzz around him, coquetish, flirting, giving him every clue possible that they woukd love to jump into a relationship. He had no clue. No response. Watching all of this as the years went by, I wondered if perhaps he was gay. But there was no indication of any of that either. He was simply a nerd … a social misfit.

I identified with him. I empathized with him. I knew exactly how he must have felt. You see, if you had read Becoming Alice, you would have known that I was that kind of a kid. I was not bad looking. I got good grades. I had no friends. I never went with boys in high school like other girls did. I was a social misfit.

Let’s fast forward a bit. My neighbor’s son is now about to graduate from college … with an A+ grade point average, of course. And, believe it or not, he is in a serious relationship with the cutest, most bubbly and fun girl one could imagine.

Recently I read that there have been studies done that showed the most poplular kids in high school didn’t end up being very successful adults in their professions, or in their inter-personal relationships. Imagine that! It seems that there is some sort of reversal of roles once someone passes from adolescence to adulthood.

Let’s look at the case of Bill Gates, who is now one of the wealthiest men in the world. It has been documented that he was a master nerd as a kid. And then there is the case of me. I am happy to tell you, I’m very much okay with myself now.

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Some time ago when Becoming Alice was first posted on http://www.amazon.com and after a number of people read the book, many of them added tags to my site. These tags are to give other browsers on Amazon, esp. people looking for a specific kind of book, an idea what your book is about. Of course these readers could leave a comment or review, but many choose not to do that. A comment or review should be at least a paragraph long and, I guess, that would take up too much of their time. The best solution for them was to post a tag.

Tags can be one or two words and in my case, Becoming Alice has gotten the following tags from its readers: wwii, memoir, young adult, jews, self-esteem, etc. etc.

These tags all fit my memoir, except there is a glitch in one of them that puzzles me. It is the tag. In my mind relationships can be of all types, between lovers, married couples, siblings, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, etc., etc. But when I go to the list of books under relationship books, they seem to be about men and women, women looking for men, looking for love, looking for dates, or books that switch the sexes around with the same needs. Some books are about problems in marriage and divorce. You get the point. They are about relationships between men and women.

So, I was to find out that my little granddaughter, age 12, now has a boy friend. I think that is great because she might as well start early to figure out how to deal with this terrible man-woman. I find out she saw this boy in a rowing class and liked what she saw. Great! I am happy with her orientation. I find out she likes him because of the way he looks. Okay. We’ll have to expand on that one in time. Does he like her? “Oh, yes,” is her answer. How does she know he likes her? “He came and sat down next to me,” she smiles, happy as can be.

I sigh and wonder if there is a tag for her kind of relationship.

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I’ll be signing Becoming Alice on September 25th at the Sonoma County Book Festival in Santa Rosa, California, 10 AM-4 PM. Book festivals and wine tastings make a great combination.

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Perhaps it is because I’ve just had a dear friend die unexpectedly that I’ve been wondering about life expectancy … of anyone or anything. I know that experts are always talking about this subject as it pertains to plants, some animals, people of certain ethnicities, or those who have cancer or some other disease which may cause their life expectancy to be shortened. I know orange trees are excpected to live aboout thirty-five years. My dog, a Golden Retiever, I belive would do well to survive over ten or twelve years while a Chihuahua should live to about eighteen years. People who have pancreatic cancer are often given less than five years to live.

So I began to wonder what is the life expectancy of a book? I know that a newly published book by a traditional book publisher is marketed and advertised agressively for a year or two and if the sales don’t please the publishing house, it soon loses their interest. Without that backing, I believe many books simply die. In time falling out of print is a books’ natural fate.

What about self-published books, POD books, and books published by small presses? A major difference is that authors who do so much to get their books into print in the first place seem to me to be much more aggressive in marketing their books. They certainly don’t stick to the year or two time line which traditional published adhere to.

Another enormous difference is that they can’t really fall out of print. POD technology is such that they are printable far into the future. I am so happy about Becoming Alice. I know that she will oulive me and then … who knows what can happen?

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I don’t know who it was who said “know thyself” but I’ve always tried to apply that philosophy to myself. At this stage in my life I know what kind of person I am. I’ve made peace with my stengths and weaknesses, my likes and dislikes, and I know what interests me and what bores me.

Therefore I know that in regard to my book, Becoming Alice, I can call myself a bonafide writer. That label carries with it a number of responsibilities. I must be a marketer, a salesperson, a speaker, and promoter. That is not all. I must also be an expert on the computer.

I’m not doing so badly so far. I’ve been pretty successful as a marketer, salesperson, speaker, and promoter. I didn’t know I could do that until I was actually doing it. I’ve even gotten the hang of working the computer. I’ve mastered the Word program pretty well; I do email okay; I’ve gotten myself on a bunch of social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more.

Then I hit a brick wall. My friends on these sites have encouraged me to “link up” to other blogs, to optimize for SEO, to use FBML, to install RSS everywhere,
get YouTube apps. etc. etc. It’s all Greek to me. One article I read was full of advice geared to “non-techies.” That’s me! I was excited to read that article and get going on the next level of the internet world. However, I came to the conclusion that I am not even at the level of “non-techie,” I am an out and out “internet nerd.”

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