Book Promotion or Monument to Self-Indulgence? You Decide.

The Light Never Lies at Jerry Sulla Park

The photo challenge this week is Monument. All kinds of word pairings popped into my head – Monument to Stupidity, Monument to Arrogance, Monument to Self-Indulgence. Let me linger for a moment on that last one. (Leave aside the fact that I can’t link the word monument with anything positive.)

Lately, I sense my blog tipping towards the above title. Blogging is definitely supposed to be about more than me tooting the one note song – look, look, my new book is out, look, look, my new book is out . . . the whole thing does have a nice ring to it but, of course, that’s not the point.

When I first started blogging I followed someone who was on the verge of self-publishing a first novel. I valued this blog because the blogger wrote not only about the process of getting a book out, but also about writing related activities. A life was shared on that blog. Then the book came out. Bang – the whole tone of the blog changed. It was all about buy my book. Every single post – no relief in sight. I gave the benefit of the doubt and hung around for about three months but the blog never returned to the interesting pre-self-published status. So, I quietly unfollowed and drifted away.

I understand that blogger’s dilemma better now, for sure. With two books out, reviews coming in and a blog tour wending its way through cyberspace there are lots of things for me to go on about when it comes to my new book. But I’m getting bored of it myself so can only imagine how others might feel.

DSC_0446Last night I did my last scheduled public appearance to promote the launch of The Light Never Lies. A lively book reading, meet and greet at the Port Alice Library. It was wonderful and at the same time, I’m so relieved to put that part of promotion behind me for the upcoming future.

I can’t promise that I won’t still be shouting out links to great posts about my book or re-blogging posts from the tour. I owe it to my hosts to give something back and if that means generating more traffic for their blogs via this site, I’ll just have to toot away on the horn a few more times. The beauty of putting this tour together myself was being able to appear on blogs I really love. Of course, I want to share those stops.

While that vein is open – pop over and take a look at the great way Gaele Hince at I Am Indeed puts together a book review. A whole promotion package all tied up with a bow. She’s a pro and well deserves her status as a top Amazon reviewer.

On other fronts, watch out for more posts on the location, location, location series – I’ve got a few great ones lined up. I’ve also got a post on the go to promote a book review blog I’ve been following. You can expect more reflection on the self-publishing journey as the dust of launching and promotion settles. And of course, grandmother updates, garden talks and wine out on the cliff deck.

Pete the Cat

As Pete the Cat would say – Groovy Man. It’s all good. Credit  to playrific.com for this image. If my granddaughter Emma were here she could have drawn Pete for me. We’re all crazy about Pete the Cat.

 

Pete the Cat by Emma

Weekly Photo Challenge. Layer on the Praise

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The photo challenge this week is, the sign says. When we travel, I am the one who takes pictures of signs. Here is one of my all-time favourites, applicable to so many situations in life.

As I look at this sign, I find myself thinking that writing is a lonely endeavour. I have spent months on my first draft, which by its very nature is something personal, between me and the story I’m trying to tell. It is not ready for public consumption. Even though I’m well aware of that fact, it’s hard to keep quiet. I get to a point where I am dying to talk about the characters and the story. The compulsion is even stronger now as I work on the second draft. It’s still not even ready for beta readers, but I’m more eager than ever to talk. Herein lies the danger that the sign eludes to.

Where do you find someone who understands what this early stage of the process is like for a writer? It is unlikely that we will find ourselves married or partnered with other writers, and that’s probably for the best. But I need someone who knows that if I break down and yammer on about the storyline, or the characters, or go into a complete tailspin and actually read something aloud, the only response acceptable is unqualified praise.

I need to be built up. I’m running a marathon, and I’m getting tired. Where are the supporters on the side-lines handing out fruit and energy drinks?

The last thing I want is critique. Believe me, there will be more than enough time for that down the road, and I’m well aware of that fact.

Heed the sign above. If a writer shares something with you at this early stage, plaster a gigantic smile and your face and layer on the praise. Otherwise you might find yourself at the mercy of the danger this sign describes.

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E-Books or Real Books – Which do you prefer?

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( I love a library full of real books)

This week, the Word Press weekly writing challenge asked that I vote for my preference: e-books or paperbacks. Then I could  write a blog post about why I voted as I did.

I found it hard to vote because the poll wouldn’t let me choose both options. I imagine I am not unlike many readers of today – I love the convenience of my Kindle but I wouldn’t give up books I can hold in my hands without a fight. In the end I chose the paperback option because if I were forced to give up one or the other, I know which one it would be.

I have found that some situations lend themselves to the convenience of my Kindle. I grab it whenever I leave the house. It’s great for those inevitable waiting times because it allows access to a wide variety of reading options. A forty-five-minute wait at the doctor’s office is different from a five-minute wait at the bus stop – or say an overnight wait to get your soon-to-be five-year old signed up for Kindergarten in your catchment area (I kid you not – my daughter and son-in-law just went through this – it’s a crazy world).

I have read books on my Kindle that were every bit as engaging and gripping as books I held in my hands to read. I have forgotten I was using an e-reader and have actually reached forward with one hand to try to turn a page rather than just click the page turn button.

My Kindle has expanded my book reading choices. In the past I wouldn’t have put out the cash to take a chance on certain books. For 99 cents to maybe $2.99 and the instant gratification of whisper-net technology, I’m quite willing to try out something new. And that’s a good thing, especially for a writer. I’m all for broadening horizons.

Why do I still believe that when I settle into the recliner with a fresh cup of coffee or a glass of wine, I need to hold a real book in my hands? Or that cuddling into bed at night to read would not work with my Kindle?

It may be an old fashion idea related to value. Many traditionally published novels are expensive when purchased for an e-reader ( expensive compared to so much that is available in e-format, but still not as expensive as buying a hardcover.) Why would I go out and spend $20.00 to $35.00 for a hardcover and feel that has more value than spending $18.00 for the Kindle version? It’s a good question and the only answer I can come up with is that with a hardcover, I hold something tangible in my hands. It has weight and it takes up space, ultimately gathering dust on a shelf somewhere in my home. I could pass it on to my husband to read or lend it to a friend. The former would not touch the Kindle to save his soul, but in the case of lending a book to a friend, I would so rarely do this voluntarily that it makes a thin argument.

It might have to do with being a book hoarder. (Which, by the way, might explain my reluctance to lend.) Seeing all the books on the shelf is a visible sign of successful hoarding and gives me a guilty ping of pleasure.

Maybe it is the inherent distrust that a fifty-plus-year old has about electronic gadgetry. What if the Kindle breaks down? I do know that all my purchases are safe with Amazon. It’s just too bad that knowing with the rational brain and believing are two radically different things.

And then there is the issue of upgrading. I’ve never felt the urge to upgrade a book. I am now on my fifth laptop in less than ten years and I have to admit, all the old ones still work. I didn’t upgrade due to system failure – I wanted the new and improved model. I purchased my Kindle two years ago. There are much nicer ones on the market now. Thus is the nature of electronic wizardry.

I suppose I should acknowledge all the trees that could be saved if everyone read e-books instead of the paper and ink kind. It’s a valid issue, but what about the amount of energy that is needed to supply the mainframes and servers of the worldwide web so that e-books can exist and fly through cyberspace to our readers? Surely we should consider that as well. But, like many issues, nothing is black or white. With online purchasing there is no need to build and maintain large stores that consume energy resources, while of course employing real people. I’m starting to make my own head spin by going back and forth so many times.

When all is said and done – here I sit – spanning two worlds of the written word – one foot firmly planted in the old world of print media and the other tip-toeing through the new world of electronic books. And the truth is this – I don’t want to move either foot.

The House is on Fire – What do I Grab?

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The daily post challenge – The house is on fire – all the people and animals are safe – I have a chance to grab five items before I run for it – what would I grab?

First and foremost, my laptop – a no-brainer. I never adequately back-up my work – not even to devices in this house, which wouldn’t help in the event of a fire. I know lots of people who consistently save their work up to internet platforms (i.e. send it to yourself at g-mail and things like that.) I do not take this wise advice – so, I need to grab that laptop!

My two passport drives (but I’m going to count this as one choice.) They’re close to the laptop and if I get them, I’ll have all my documents and all the photos.

My Nike of Samothrace statue – it’s also in the writing area (handy all this stuff is right in the kitchen and close to a door.) She’s only about a foot tall so I can tuck her under my arm.

My wallet (which is in my purse, so I might as well take the whole thing and then at least I’ll have the car keys if I need to drive away in a rush.)  It would be good to have my ID since I’m in the process of losing my home and everything in it. Maybe I should have thought of this item before a small statue or a couple of passport drives.

I suppose it would also be good to grab our actual passports – you know those things that let Canadians get across the border to the USA or for the more adventuresome, travel the world.

Well – that’s five things (with a bit of cheating on the two passport drives and a whole purse full of mostly useless items.) I’m now thinking it would have been good to take one of the walkie-talkies – I could have called out for some help. (For people who live in less isolated spots, this would translate to their cell phone. There is no point in grabbing the cell phone here since there isn’t any service for miles.)

I’ll miss some of the little bits of inexpensive jewellery I’ve collected over time. And all the books, it will be hard to lose all the books. I hope I’m wearing a few layers of clothes, because I didn’t think of grabbing any extras.  I didn’t look for a single thing that Bruce might have wanted. In the event of a fire – is one allowed to be selfish?

In my life I have had a connection with two building fires. One was at a place where I worked and I was required to assist the insurance people in determining what had been lost, what could be salvaged, and what would need to be replaced. It was a huge job and I often felt overwhelmed with the volume of things that were stuffed into a small space. At that time, I mourned the loss of some of the personal objects I had kept in my office.

The second fire burnt our generator shed to the ground. I wasn’t here for this fire and I’m glad. (Remember my post on freezing in crisis situations – I suspect I would have been more trouble than help.) The generator shed sat in close proximity to one edge of the cabin and Bruce had a terrifying time ensuring the whole place didn’t go up in flames. That event happened over three years ago, but there are times that he still bemoans the loss of  something from that shed – a tool, a nut, a bolt, or a plumbing part – the type of things the building was stuffed with. For my part, I miss the beautiful, blue hydrangea that grew right by the door and bloomed in wild disarray every summer. And I miss the actual building – it was such a cute little thing.

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Contemplating a house fire is scary – especially for those who have been through such a trauma. It can be a good exercise, though. Anything that makes us examine our priorities is good.

 

Crisis Situations – Are You Happy With the Way You Respond?

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Today’s DP Challenge – Honestly evaluate the way you respond to a crisis situation. Are you happy with the way you react?  This challenge really got me thinking!

The answer, in a word is – no!

Let me tell you a little story – because that’s what I do.

A few years ago my husband Bruce and I were visiting my dad and stepmom at their lovely home in Osoyoos, BC. It was the Canada Day long weekend.

Canada Day dawned as warm and beautiful as you would expect a July day in Osoyoos to be. We decided to walk down to the community park by the lake to enjoy the festivities – open stalls of people selling this and that, live music, brave souls being tugged up into the air clutching to the ropes of large, colourful, kite-like sails to paraglide over the lake – the motor boats used to get them airborne zooming loudly away from the shore, local colour in the form of a huge, yellow, floating banana, loaded down with screaming swimmers as it whipped around out in the waves of Osoyoos Lake, and of course – the massive Canada Day cake to be shared out amongst the crowd.

Chairs were set up in front of the band shell and the cake was clearly visible on a table nearby. Bruce and I had been milling around enjoying ourselves – we sat down for a couple of minutes to listen to the opening number from a local band. As the song was winding down, I could see the mayor and an assortment of local dignitaries getting ready to start cutting the cake. I stood up and gestured for Bruce to follow me – I wanted to position us a bit closer to the front for when they started handing out slices.

We had just left our chairs and were moving forward when pandemonium broke out. A very large motor home came down the small hill from the parking lot above, out of control, pushing a motorcycle and car in front of it. This mad train of vehicles whammed through the stalls and the crowd, passing right by us and crashing over the chairs we had just moments before been sitting in.

I froze where I was standing. It was only later when I replayed the scene that had unfolded before my eyes that I realized other people reacted quite differently. Bruce moved so quickly that he was able to catch a woman who had been sent flying – blood pouring down her face from where her shattered glasses had embedded themselves in her skin – before she even hit the ground. I stood completely frozen while the motor home continued its path of destruction, knocking several more people over like match sticks and pulling down a few stalls. It ground to a halt quite suddenly against a tree at the edge of the slope of grass that led down to the lake. I was still frozen in place when Bruce returned to my side – other more qualified first aiders had rushed to assist the woman he had caught.

I wonder to this day – would I have stood that frozen in place if the motor home had been bearing right down on me?

We never found out what caused the motor home to crash through the crowd. Several people were injured, a couple of people seriously so – but no one died.

So – there you have it – in the event of a crisis people have a few choices – fight, flight or freeze. Given the nature of the crisis, any one of these three options could have their own merits. The problem is being locked into one response regardless of circumstances.

The whole experience certainly left me wondering about my value (or lack of) in a crisis situation. This daily post has given me an opportunity to revisit these wonderings and I am no closer to any answers. But I certainly enjoyed perusing the photos we have of Osoyoos and remembering the fun visits we had there with my dad and stepmom, Ann.

(The photo above is a beautiful sculptured fountain that sits on the waterfront of Osoyoos Lake.)

Starting Over – The DP Weekly Writing Challenge

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This is my short story offering for the DP weekly writing challenge.

Starting Over

 

Sometimes there is no starting over. There’s no pulling yourself up by your boot straps, whatever that might mean. There’s no dusting yourself off and getting back on the horse that threw you. Sometimes you come around a curve in life and the road simply falls off into the abyss and you go right over the edge. After that, there is no starting over – all you can ever say is that there was a time before the life you knew came to an end and then there was now.

 

She sat through each and every day of the trial. She listened carefully as the witnesses gave their testimony. She concentrated with all her might on the prosecution’s case against her son and the defence lawyer’s attempts to lessen the damage made each time the prosecutor drummed the word rape into the minds of the jurors sitting in the box to her left.

 

She felt it was her duty to listen. She knew that everyone who looked at her, thought – how did you screw up? She’d always had mother guilt – a cavity, a bad grade, not baking enough cupcakes for the school fundraiser – you name it – she had the guilt. Of course her son had a father, and friends, and a whole culture that shaped who he had become – but she knew she was the one who had failed him. When the final accounting was made – it was her head on the chopping block.

 

At night she lay awake and the past rose up before her closed eyes in endless images. She remembered the little boy he had been. The way his golden streaked hair fell around his chubby toddler face, his dancing eyes reaching out to her as he raised his flailing arms to be picked up. She saw him setting out for his first day of school – his Spiderman pack strapped proudly to his back. The years of parent teacher interviews and early morning hockey practices flooded her memory. If she closed her eyes, she could see his bedroom in crystal clarity. Always a litter of dirty plates holding dried pizza crusts, empty Coke cans on dresser tops, clothes strewn everywhere and her nostrils flinching at the smell – a teenage boy’s sweat mixed with the odor of running shoes and sports gear.

 

She had watched him change from the open, sweet kid he had been in elementary school and she had done nothing. She saw the way an attitude of taking whatever he wanted started to edge its way into his being – cut him some slack, her husband had said, he’s like a God out there on the ice. He was a talented athlete and he had a charming smile and he got away with the attitude. She worried about him spending so much time with the guys from the team. She didn’t know any of those young men’s families. The coach said they were all good kids and it was normal for the team to hang out together – that’s the way it was in a small town – you had to find the pack you needed to run with. She let that go, too. The parties, the drinking and God knows what else – she stopped fighting all of it in the face of endless litanies of boys will be boys – leave him be.

 

Then in his senior year he had been invited to board out in a nearby city and play Junior A hockey – a big break everyone said. She spoke up then – she said she didn’t think he was ready to leave home. Everyone said she had empty nest syndrome, she shouldn’t stand in his way – this was his big break. She just needed to cut those old apron strings. But when he came home to visit he wasn’t the same kid. She had looked into her son’s eyes and she had seen it – seen the darkness there that he shook off as he quickly moved away from her.

 

The lawyer had been blunt – there was no question that her son was guilty – all they could do was try to mitigate the damage, maybe create some doubt by shedding suspicion on the girl or emphasizing the group dynamics of the event. When she talked to her son, he had given a multitude of excuses – he was drunk, the other guys egged him on, she was asking for it – all the girls that hung out around the team were asking for it. Even he could hear the way his words sounded in her ears but it only made him defensive and then angry. She had left the room and found a bathroom where she could vomit her system clean in endless spasms of wrenching pain that made her feel empty and drained and somehow, lost – as if she wouldn’t be able to find her way out of the bathroom and back to the lawyer’s office.

 

She saw her son stand up beside the lawyer to receive the verdict, looking like a young executive in his expensive suit. On the count of rape – guilty.  He turned at that moment to search out his mother’s face. She saw something shining at the corner of his eye, a look that flitted over his face for the briefest moment. She was reminded of the little boy he had been. Maybe a tear – she hoped with all her heart it might be a tear of regret, not one of self-pity. She watched the bailiff lead him away through a door at the side of the courtroom.

 

Now, there was only the time after she knew all the details of the crime her son was guilty of – and her conviction that she was the one who had let him down. There was no starting over from that.

(Image credit – Google images)

 

 

 

Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge – Resolved

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Be it resolved that freedom of expression matters.

This is my contribution to the daily post weekly photo challenge – resolved.

We took the above photo of an Albuquerque mural, entitled – New Mexico Heroes.  The city is absolutely chock a block full of public art – all due to one of the oldest public art programs in the US, which began in 1978 with the passage of the Art in Municipal Places Ordinance.  One percent of city construction funds are set aside for the commissioning of or purchase of public art.

If you ever have a chance to visit Albuquerque you will see just how successful this program has been.

The mural banner, obscured in our photo by a beautiful tree, reads: Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, and of the Press; the right to assemble and to petition the government.

Witter Bynner is one of the three people depicted in this mural. He was an early, openly gay writer, scholar and poet. A long-time resident of Santa Fe, he lived in what is now the Inn of the Turquoise Bear.

The following is a poem by Witter Bynner. (1881 – 1968)

Sands

I lay on a dune and slept,

Sharp grasses by my head:

While armies far-off warred and wept,

I joined the earth instead . . .

Until I moved my hand

And was awake again

And shook myself out of the sand

To the cold wind of men.