Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back yard rose

As I sat in the chaise supposedly intent on reading Bless Me, Ultima, my eyes wandered out the window, past the doves and finches scrabbling for seed around the feeder, and settled on this fine blossom. I read a few more pages and then tucked a bookmark inside the book. On went my shoes, out came my camera, out I trotted. Tonight, Anaya's fine novel waits patiently on the chaise.

The framing effect is thanks to Paint Shop Pro version 8.

Tonight I learned that I didn't win the author of the year award I'd hoped for. That's disappointing, but I'll just have to get on with another project.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A radio interview and more

This week I interviewed on the telephone with Toni Child for The World of Publishing. Toni was subbing for Jeannette Cezanne, aka Dr. J., and we had quite a good time, with the hour of live broadcast just zipping by. Sometime next week the link to the recording will be available, and I will post it. Our conversation ranged over various aspects of the self-publishing process, with some emphasis on my own book.

I'm under consideration for the Doña Ana County Author of the Year award for my novel. This week I received a letter telling me that the committee has decided, but they apparently announce that decision at a September 16 luncheon. This area has some excellent writers, but maybe there is a chance for me. Wouldn't it be sweet irony to win with a novel that a comparable organization (Friends of the Library) in Alamogordo thought unsuitable for a public reading?

There's also a contest sponsored by the El Paso Writer's League for members only, and I am entering 20 pages of an old mystery that I'd slaved over but didn't publish.

Lately I haven't done much new writing. Today we headed up to the mountains of Cloudcroft where the temperature was 72 vs. 96 at home. The first photo shows that we're no longer in the desert!

Couldn't resist this one:

And this is in downtown Cloudcroft:

Saturday, August 18, 2007

"Don't let anyone stop you from writing."

One of the nicer venues for selling books in Las Cruces is Coas Books in the downtown pedestrian mall, particularly on a Saturday morning when shoppers wander in from the twice-weekly Farmer's Market. They sell a mix of used and new books, and are hospitable to local authors. The owner, Mike Beckett, sets up a table by the entrance to maximize the author's exposure.

Today I set up shop there for the third time and had a good day chatting with dozens of folks and selling a half dozen copies of When Pigs Fly. Early on, a stranger stopped by to say she'd already read the book, loved it, and planned to read it again. No sale for me this time, but the compliment was satisfying. It took nearly an hour to get my first sale of the day, but business improved. Some people picked up the book, asked about the price, and said they couldn't afford it. Many folks come into Coas looking for bargains and finding them. There were plenty of people saying they'd "think about it," and I'd send them away with a bookmark to remember me by. Maybe I'll meet them again; sometimes, the people who buy from me have heard about the book a few times before.

Plenty of people just walked on by the table, giving me the chance to just watch them. A very large number of folks down here, men and women alike, have tattoos. Young men in shorts with purple art on their calves, arms, necks -- young women with flowers decorating their shoulders or just below their collarbones, sometimes well below. The weather gets warm down here -- mid-90s today -- and maybe the resultant bare skin encourages the body art that seems so common here. It seems generational, though; tats and wrinkles don't go together often.

Getting people's attention required me to be active, though some folks walked right up to my table. Others would look at my display and walk on by. Whether they stopped or not, I'd always try to make eye contact and say hello. If they showed the slightest interest, I'd say, "It's a humorous crime caper." (Pause.) "It's gotten great reviews everywhere except in Alamogordo." That typically raised an eyebrow or two. They'd look at the book and then at me, then ask "Why?" Then we had the makings of a conversation. "Well, I sent chapter one to the Friends of the Library," I'd say, "and it starts out with the villain. They objected that the villain has bad moral character and uses bad language, and that readers in Alamogordo wouldn't like it."

At this point, much eye rolling ensued. Many folks knew about Alamogordo's reputation (though I'm still not sure how to characterize the city myself). Yes, that's Alamogordo, they'd say. One gentleman who bought my book shook my hand and said on his way out the door, "Don't let anyone stop you from writing."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Speaking at SouthWest Writers

Nancy and I drove the 225 miles to Albuquerque Friday in anticipation of my Saturday talk at SouthWest Writers. We treated ourselves to a nice room at the Marriott and took an enjoyable tram ride to the summit of Sandia Peak. This photo from the back of the tram shows the city below:

And here is the tram, which travels 2.7 miles and climbs about 4,000 feet:

The talk the next day seems to have been a success. SouthWest Writers is a large and congenial group with over 600 members, of whom over 100 were there to listen to me. The title of my presentation was "Publishing Your Pride and Joy," which focused on self-publishing and subsidy publishing. Earlier in the week I'd prepared a six-page handout and run off 110 copies, which turned out to be not quite enough. I'd practiced my talk over and over again, and it never came out the same way twice, but the practice got me through the real thing nicely.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


A while back, I contacted the Friends of the Library in Alamogordo about doing a reading of When Pigs Fly. My initial query was greeted with interest, but then their program chair read the first chapter of the novel on my website. Afterward, I received the following email:

Bob, After reading the first chapter of your book, I do not think the Friends of the Library would be a good sponsor of a reading of your book. Because of Diet Cola's language and lack of moral character, members of the group would not be interested in his "adventures" or "misadventures". I cannot think of any other group who might sponsor a reading and I regret that your book does not fit the criteria for our group. ______, Program Chairman

This is from the city where in 2001 a minister held a public burning of Harry Potter books. Maybe since I missed that event, I can arrange for the good reverend to purchase a couple hundred copies of my book for a special burning. Why should only big-name authors get all the attention? I would happily pay for the gasoline.

I am honored to join the ranks of authors who have written unacceptable works.