Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Only for the hardy

International travel can be grueling at times. To make sure that you are up for it, you have to pass the "get your child a passport" test. It doesn't matter that your child is in fact renewing an old passport, you still have to show up at the passport office with: both parents or one parent and an oath sworn in blood in front of some stranger with a stamp from the government; the child's old passport; the child; proof of parenthood (some umbilical cord will do); identification of your own; and a completed application. Oh, and don't forget the money. Lots of it. Especially if you are traveling any time in the following two years and therefore need expedited service. The last thing that you need is time (and the ability to hang on for dear life to the number you ripped off the dispenser because without it you're toast). However long they tell you the wait might be, triple it. We're talking hours here, dear. Just try to find a time when both parents can be off work, the child can be out of school or not in one of too many scheduled activities, and you are flush at the bank. Good luck, I bid you. Today, my family triumphed and in January we are going to France. We just have to count on the post office making delivery as promised. Right at Christmas. Good Lord, we're doomed.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Friday, November 25, 2005

And I've tried to get on Oprah...

More on the book promotion front. Everybody tells me to send a copy of my book to Oprah. Nice thought but really, they must receive millions of unsolicited texts from around the world since Oprah started making authors famous. Even if I could hand deliver a copy of my novel to Oprah herself, I think it's unlikely that she would "pick" it for her show. It's not that my novel isn't fabulous, it's that it's not gloomy enough. But there are other ways to skin a cat. I found at a suggestion box of sorts to get your story on Oprah. I've been waiting 36 years for this moment. 36 years ago, when I was six, my girlfriend across the street moved to California. She's been my pen pal ever since. We haven't spoken on the phone (except for once in fifth grade) or seen each other or even exchanged email addresses. But twice a year, more or less, we correspond the old fashioned way via snail mail. Pen pals for 36 years! Are there others out there like us? I would love to see my friend again after all this time but don't you think moment like that should be captured on Oprah? I hope her producers do. And then I might just have to mention a certain little novel...

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Jennifer? Can you hear me?

This is what authors do. They write loads and loads of emails to famous authors hoping that one of them will take a look at their book and supply them with what's called a "blurb." I don't mean a big time review. I just mean one of those little quotes that you can then slap on your book cover and other promotional materials. I just wrote to Jennifer Weiner. But I've written to lots of authors in my genre and some who are not. The most helpful author so far has been one who writes thrillers. She's right when she says that a blurb from her doesn't make much sense for my book but she's been really, really awesome with advice. Incidentally, I had an email conversation with Jennifer Weiner a couple of years ago before my book was published. I hope she remembers me now that it is published! Stay tuned. When I'm not emailing famous people, I'm stalking local celebrities. Okay, not really, but I'm sure that's what Nancy Alexander thought when I caught up with her in Sam's Club and handed her a book. Luckily, I've got some good press coming out soon so maybe I can use that to my advantage when contacting other authors for blurbs. I'll let you know.

What I'm thankful for this year...

Little girlies that like to fish. My hubba hubba hubby. Pets, extended family, et al. Fabulous friends. Good health. Good books. And about a gazillion other things. Life is good.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Happy Tuesday

I'm almost done reading The Historian (it's thick). On December 1, I'll be posting my remarks about the book at Tampa Book Buzz. I have resisted reading any other reviews or comments about the book. I'll say this much so far: it is hard to put down (and not just because it's heavy). Lisa Ciurro (of Tampa Book Buzz) has a book club for anyone to join. Check out the details at her site. The Historian was this month's pick.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Aurora Aravena -- You're a Star!

This post is all about my niece, Aurora. She felt slighted that I didn't give her an acknowledgment in the front of my novel where it appears I acknowledge pretty much most of Tampa. So I would just like everybody to take a moment and think about how great my niece Aurora is. Thanks. As you were.

One hot dish

No, not me. That's what I asked a bunch of people to bring to my daughter's school's Thanksgiving Feast. Truthfully, I asked for a few cold dishes too. The Feast was last Friday and I just want to say thanks to everybody who participated. Planning a pot luck for 150 people is no picnic but it came off very well and we all left with full tummies. What we didn't eat went to a great charity. So thanks again, everybody!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Best Job in the World is . . .

A cop. That was the most popular answer from the six classes of second-graders I got to visit for the Great American Teach-in today. Next most popular was dentist because I kept following the visits by somebody in that profession. Finally, a few bright brown-nosers offered up author as the best job in the world. That's what I was there to talk about. I'm just glad I didn't follow the veterinarian who brought dogs -- that would be a tough act to follow. I brought dictionaries. I told them that the best job in the world is one that you love. I do love writing but after looking at all those adorable faces, even the little guy who decided to give his hair a trim during my talk, I can see why teachers love their job. I can't wait for next year's Teach-in.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Where's the love?

Re: publishing Did you get a newsletter from "The Independent Bookstore" today? I did too. I love independent bookstores and I try to support independent businesses. I have one! Their newsletter was all about supporting independent business in the area, especially this Saturday. Great! Then they listed their November book picks. Nine out of twelve were published by large publishing houses - not independents. Call it sour grapes, because that's what it is, but why didn't they use this newsletter to support independently published novels, such as ... mine of course? I'm getting lots of support from my local Borders and Barnes & Noble (thanks guys). Borders even has a stack of Parvenue Throws A Party on their New Paperbacks table. I'm having my third signing with Borders next month in Sarasota and I'll be at South Tampa Barnes & Noble in January. "The Independent Bookstore" carries my book on consignment, two at a time on a shelf in fiction. I appreciate them carrying the title but it's funny that major chains have done much more for me than the only independent bookstore in town. Go figure.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Not my pajamas, but...

Tommy over at Sticks got recognized while shopping at a yard sale in his pajamas. Hah! Or so I would laugh if I hadn't been recognized while purchasing dictionaries at the local Barnes & Noble this morning. Old jeans, even older faded pink tee, and a full array of drips and spills from my morning making Chicken Marbella and Pumpkin Curry Soup for tomorrow night's book club meeting at my house. Orange curry stains look bad on light pink and it was all I could think about while talking to the brand new Community Relations Manager at the Barnes & Noble branch where I shop. "Tell me about yourself," she said. "I was making curry soup," I wanted to say. Then I felt dumb for fretting about my looks but now I feel okay because ultra-cool Mr. Sticks fretted about his pajamas. Hah.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Certificates of Achievement

I'm so proud of my Girlie. She tried going Exorcist on us. She tried the sympathy cry. She tried everything to get out of participating in the activities at her school's three day retreat run by the awesome Pathfinder organization. But in the end, she tried. And then she tried again. And by the end of the three days, her objections before each activity lasted only a few minutes or even seconds. Throughout the three days, kids earned certificates of achievement for doing the right thing, be it helping others, picking up trash, spotting wildlife, etc. Girlie got hers for "Not Afraid to Try." And along the way, at least five other kids got theirs for helping Girlie during a melt-down. So she was a facilitator as well. Way to go!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Re: Publishing

I placed an ad. Against all advice from people who have reason to know, I placed an ad. The wisdom in the self-publishing world seems to be that an ad just won't create many sales. Granted they were probably talking about print ads. But I'm hoping that this will be different. I placed an ad on The Mommy Blog for a month. It's the kind that you can click on and get directed to my author site, where you can then purchase an autographed copy or click on over to Amazon if you prefer. Furthermore, The Mommy Blog posted a very nice discussion of my book recently (along with a picture of the cover) so there should be some familiarity with the viewers. I'm watching my website traffic carefully to see if there's a bump. I'll let you know.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Adopt a Greyhound

These adorable dogs, and other retired racers, are available for adoption from Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions, Inc. Check out their website!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Tampa Writer's Alliance

Re: Writing Last night I attended another meeting of the Tampa Writer's Alliance. I've been a member for about half a year and it's been very satisfying. Last night our speaker was science fiction author, Dr. Rick Wilbur. He's a prof at USF in mass communications. I don't write science fiction. I don't even read much science fiction (some fantasy and the occasional horror bit), but he gives a good talk that is relevant to beginners in any category. His most important message? If you're going to write, you need to read. And then read some more. And then read a whole lot more. He was preaching to the choir. I'm a book junkie. Now log off and go pick up a book. How about The Cold Road, Wilbur's latest? And consider dropping by a meeting of TWA on the first Wednesday of every month at the something something Germany library in downtown Tampa. See you there!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Only in Florida -- where python meets gator.