I'm late with this (and nearly everything else in my life at the moment) so I'll keep this edition brief.
What I'm Reading: I finished Life As We Knew It, and have the other two in the series on hold at the library (along with half the catalog). Still reading After Perfect by Christina McDowell, and also started Safekeeping by Karen Hesse, which is yet another in my current string of apocalyptic YA novels. Main character Radley returns home from volunteering in Haiti to find an America transformed by the recent election of the American Political Party and the assassination of the president. It is written in a very spare manner and is quite absorbing. Also, two books on Tiny Houses that my son gave me as a belated birthday present. I'm determined to build one!
What I'm in Awe Of: The #ShellNo protestors who dangled from a Portland bridge for 40 hours earlier this week, in order to stop the passage of the Fennica out of dock to Alaska. I'm also amazed at the courage of a hardy band of kayakers who paddled right in front of the ship to try to stop it. And I'm proud to live in a city where such protests are considered important, no matter how much traffic they disrupt.
What I'm Complaining About: The heat. Again. It was 103 yesterday, and is forecast to be 102 today. This is our second intense heat wave this summer and I'm tired of it.
What I'm Shopping For: A new computer. Maybe this one. Mine is six years old and freezes all the time. Plus it gets slow and balky as I'm working. I'm going smaller and less complicated. And, I'm also switching back from a Mac to a PC. I know, gasp. But I just can't see that spending good money on a Mac was worth it.
What I'm Doing This Weekend: Moving my office downstairs. I have a lovely new desk and rug and curtains and I'm excited. If I remember, I'll post photos when its done. And no, I'm not adding a sandbox, as in the photo above, but I am going to the beach next week so I thought it appropriate. And kinda cute.
That's whats up with me this week. What's going on with you?
Images from commondreams.org, ronnieb, bitrebels.com, and some random computer shopping site.
I am one of the worst marketers in the world. There's something about shouting my name out from the rooftops that makes me cringe. And I know that I am not alone in this. But last week I had an experience that gave me some new perspective on the topic. And from that I learned something that I hope to figure out how to apply going forward.
I've heard that one way to succeed is to quit worrying about promoting yourself and put others first. But how, exactly, are you supposed to do this? Beats me. Don't have a clue. In the past, I'd read this sage wisdom, nod my head, think for a minute how this might work, come up blank, and quit thinking about it. Then go back to my usual marketing ploys. In other words, doing nothing.
Maybe a Different Way?
But here's what happened last week that put this into perspective and showed me how it might work:
#1 I had a reading at a local bookstore that I like a lot. I like the owner a lot, too. She supports local authors like crazy and is doing her best to create a nice community around her store. More than anything, I really wanted to introduce people to her store.
#2 I was reading with my Twitter friend Kayla Dawn Thomas, who was coming down from Washington. She didn't know many people in the area, and this was her first reading. So I wanted to make sure she had an audience, too.
Are you sensing a theme here? I had two people I wanted to make happy. And because of that, I pulled out the stops, sending out emails and promoting on Twitter like crazy. In the emails, I wrote about how great the bookstore was, and asked people to stop in some time even if they couldn't make it to the reading.
In other words, I had a mission larger than myself.
And the Winner Is...
The ultimate result was a reading that about 25 people attended, which is not bad at all for a Thursday night in summer. And I've cemented a wonderful relationship with Elisa, the bookstore owner. She's offered to do my launch for The Bonne Chance, about which I am very excited, and Debbie and I will likely do our workshops there in the future. (Local writers--we are planning one in October about all aspects of publishing, including how to get an agent, book contracts, and indie publishing.)
The thing is, I felt so much more comfortable doing the marketing when I was talking about the bookstore and Kayla. How to expand this into larger marketing efforts? I don't have a clue. But recently on the Women's Fiction Writer's Association mailing, there was a link to Kristin Lamb's blog, which I hadn't read for awhile. In wandering through its pages, I found the link to her most recent book, Rise of the Machine, Human Authors in a Digital World, which I gather from the reviews has a somewhat similar theme. (From a review: "Well, here's the big deal. It's not about promoting yourself. It's about caring for your neighbor.")
So, I'm onto something here, even if I am late to the party. And I'm going to figure out how it works.
Do you have ideas about how to put this in motion? Ideas about marketing in general? Please do share in the comments. This is a topic all writers need to know more about, I'd wager! Your ideas may help someone else--which is the whole point.
Here we go again. It's still summer, still hot, but rain is forecast tomorrow. Yay!
What I'm grateful for: Friends and family who turned out en masse last night to hear me read from The Bonne Chance Bakery manuscript, and to also hear Kayla Dawn Thomas read from her latest novel, Tackling Summer. She and I are Twitter friends and since she lives in Washington and I live in Oregon we'd never met until last night. So fun. She's awesome! The bookstore where we read, Another Read Through, is awesome, too, and owner Elisa offers readings every Thursday night. She's a huge supporter of local writers and a really cool person, too.
What I'm reading: The last two weeks I've been struggling through Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. She's a NYT bestselling author, but frankly, I was not overly impressed with her writing. It was certainly serviceable enough, but the characters never grabbed or charmed me. I looked up the reviews on Amazon, and while many were over-the-top glowing, several agreed with me. I also learned that she is known for her twists at the end, so I skimmed and skipped to find out what this one was. And can I just say that if I'd bothered to read the whole thing I would have been furious? Like, throw-the-book-across-the-room, rip-it-into-shreds-even-though-it-was-a-library-book furious. The twist was as hackneyed and stupid as the old it was all a dream schtick.
Now I'm reading, sort of, Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I say sort of, because it's sort of depressing. Not giving anything away here to tell you the premise, which is that the moon gets whacked out of orbit by an asteroid and terrible things happen on earth. It's all written from a teenager's perspective. It is compelling, but sometimes I just can't take apocalyptic fiction. Although, in looking for a link I've just discovered this book launched a whole series, so that's hopeful. I also discovered that Pfeffer retired from writing books last year, which I just don't get. I want to write books until they shovel me into the ground, many years into the future.
I'm also reading After Perfect, a memoir by Christina McDowell, the story of a wealthy family losing everything. Another cheery one. But its good.
Where I've Been: Seattle, last weekend. More to the point, the suburbs south of Seattle, near the Sea-Tac airport. My cousin (and fifty million other cousins) lives up there in a house a few feet from Puget Sound. Nice spot, to put it mildly. We were celebrating the wedding of her youngest daughter, and even though I nearly got arrested (I'm exaggerating the tiniest bit) by an overly zealous traffic-type person who didn't want to let us cross a street where a parade was congregating, it was a lot of fun. After all, few things are better in life than watching your three-year-old grandson entertain a roomful of people by dancing to Shut Up and Dance.
What I Need: A housecleaner. Every time I gaze (in a writerly manner) in any direction in this house I see cobwebs. Sigh. At least I'm making progress on sorting through files and books in my office, in advance of moving it back downstairs. I WILL get this project done before I leave for Europe in September.
What I'm Reading Online: I read a lot of blogs and newsletters, but surprisingly, not a lot on writing. Oh well, my tastes have always been eclectic. For writing blogs, I recommend Writer Unboxed (I love Barbara O'Neal's posts there), Janice Hardy's Fiction University, and Shawn Coyne's work on Story Grid. Oh, also Steven Pressfield.
And now, here's my compendium of non-writing blogs and newsletters I follow: thekitchensgarden, where New Zealand transplant Cecilia writes every day about her "farmy" and also dispenses all manner of practical wisdom; Dispatch From La and Kelly Rae Roberts for visual inspiration, emails from Steve Chandler and Brian Johnson for kick-ass motivation, and Leonie Dawson for a combination of visual, crazy, and down-to-earth inspiration. I know there are more, but these are enough for now.
And that's enough from me for now! What's going on with you as we cruise toward the end of July? I think we should all take a cue from Henry and get some dancing in this weekend!