Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Don't just shop local...Read local

For those around here looking to give something a bit more unique for the holidays, how about a personally autographed book?  Next week, I'll be part of the "Del Norte Authors' Holiday Book Signing and Sales" at the county library in Crescent City.  It's put on by many of the fine folks who bring you the annual North Coast Redwoods Writers' Conference (including yours truly), and will include some author readings and free food and drink (likely coffee, tea, cookies--that sort of thing).

It goes down on Thursday, December 3, the same night as the Business Improvement District's annual Miracle on Third Street, in which  downtown shops stay open late, offering free goodies, and Santa hangs around for the kids.  The Miracle on Third is from 4-7pm, and the book reading/signing/sales will be from 6-8pm (to catch some of the foot traffic from the Miracle). In between readings, we're planning on having some light music and time for people to chat with the authors.

I believe I'm on deck to go second in the book reading.  I'll read some from my children's book for adults, The Little Veal Cutlet That Couldn't about the happy cow that ends up at the slaughterhouse. Or I might surprise and read from something more festive (though I'm pretty sure I will not read from "Blitzenkrieg," my Santa Claus vs. The Cockroaches apocalypse story--I don't think it will be the right crowd)

If you're in the area, stop by, say hi, and support local authors.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Book recycling

I just registered yesterday for my final semester in Humboldt State's Teaching Writing program (graduation is May 15!).  And it reminded me to start looking for books.  For a few years, I've been using this useful website,  The concept is simple: you send people the books you no longer want, you receive new books that you do want.

Basically you post a list of what you have.  If someone else sees something they like, they request it.  You pay for postage to ship to them (generally around $2.50 or so via media mail) and then you get a credit.  You can use the credit to request any of the millions of books other people have listed.  And they ship it to you for free (well, free to you).

One of the best features is that you can create a Wish List for books that aren't posted as of yet.  Then at the moment someone does list the book, they send you an email asking if you want it (provided you're at the top of the waitlist).  You have 48 hours to claim it, or they ask the next person on the list.

I've found it a great place to get the books for my classes. Of course, it works best for literature classes, as every fifth person has a Charles Dickens or George Eliot novel they want to part with.  But I've been able to get a few textbooks for other classes out of it too.  So right about now is when I should email the professor to ask for a reading list (because if I wait until I get the syllabus on the first day, it may be too late to get a book in time for the first assigned reading).

Check it out at

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Miss Snark (and Dick Cheney)

Doing the ol' Google of myself (I know you do it too), I discovered something I wrote at Miss Snark's blog.  Miss Snark is a literary agent who disbursed wisdom for writers wanting to get their foot in the door with agents and publishers (she has since stopped writing the blog).  She would hold an occasional (annual?) Crap-O-Meter extravaganza in which writers could submit their "hooks" for a book proposal.  She would then comment on whether it was any good from a literary agent point of view.  For the few she liked, the writer could then send the first 750 words or so.  And she would comment on those.

For kicks, I submitted a synopsis/hook type thing for one of my National Novel Writing Month novels, Dick Cheney Saves Paris.  It's definitely not your father's literary fiction, but I'm happy to report she liked the the hook. And that meant I got to send the first chapter or two for a response.

Interesting side note about Dick Cheney Saves Paris: I used to work for an on-demand publishing company (they make DVDs and books when there is an order for them, so there is no need for struggling artists to buy a huge inventory that might take a garage to store and forever to sell).  In doing a beta-test of their book service, I ordered a copy of my Dick Cheney book as well as two other books.  I wasn't planning on self-publishing these books, but since it was really just a one-time printing for myself, and since I was told it could not go live, I figured what the heck.  I mean, it's not like printing one book for myself could stop me from finding a publisher some day, right?  And plus, I was getting paid to test the system.  So I tried it out.

But did I mention that had bought the company?  And that when I tested out the book process, there was a bug that allowed my books to be listed on  I let the tech people know and they fixed the bug (good thing we were doing that testing).  The books were never actually for sale--I hadn't yet approved the proofs for them--and I was told they would no longer show up on Amazon.  But lo and behold, one of the three was still there when next I checked.

I thought of complaining again, but I kind of like the idea that people doing a search for "Dick Cheney" on may stumble across this.  So maybe this will stop a publishing company from picking this up--the fact that it looks like it has been self-published.  Sure, it says "Out of Print--Limited Availability"--I have the only copy, after all--but if any publishing company wants to see the book regarding which Miss Snark said "I"d read this" (and yes, she also said "I doubt I could sell it"), let me know.  I swear it hasn't been self-published.