Monday, March 05, 2007

Adventures in Marketing

This entry incorporates excerpts from "Stages" (Chronicles from Hurricane Country on Blogger) and "Spoken Word" (Still Dancing on LiveJournal).

"So," Mary asked me, "how does it feel to be an author?"

I answered, "To be honest, I'm a little shell-shocked."

But I am having fun. I'm just getting used to taking the skills I used when I worked in PR and applying them to myself. Actual publication is still months away, but I've been doing my version of screaming off the rooftops ever since I signed my contract back in November. Recently, I've been doing it through performance....

This past Friday night I read Chapter 1 of Covenant at the Woodview Coffeehouse in Lecanto. That performance, posted here, includes my extemporaneous a cappella singing prior to the chapter and my complete poem "Solstice" after it. An excerpt of "Solstice" had appeared in the 2004 We'Moon calendar. My digital recorder sat in the audience, so there is some ambient noise. Unfortunately, there is also some static, particularly during the singing, which I don't yet have the software to clean up. My reading of the chapter begins about 3-1/2 minutes into the recording.

Woodview's featured performer was the terrific Celtic folk duo Castlebay (Julia Lane and Fred Gosbee), down from Maine. (I've been playing their CD Tapestry VI - Sea & Skye as I've been typing this.) One couple in the audience had flown from Fort Lauderdale to Tampa, then rented a car and driven up to Lecanto to hear them perform. It was a surprise gift from a gentleman to his wife -- both of whom received a loud round of applause from the rest of us, and front-row seats.

A week earlier I'd taken the stage at Performers Circle, also in Lecanto. I've got that reading posted here. After reciting a Covenant excerpt the month before, I deviated from Deviations and read a real-life journal entry, edited slightly for performance purposes, about my encounter with a moose. (This entry contains the original journal text.)

Even before I had something to sell, I'd been on the lookout for open mics. I'd frequented them in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, where I was lucky enough to have featured a few times. My father had been a musician and my mother had acted in Greenwich Village before she'd taken to a different stage as a high school English teacher. Performing comes naturally to me, though this is the first time I'm using it as a pre-publication marketing tool.

My reading at Woodview capped off a quite ego-massaging week.

Koboca Publishing is headquartered between Tampa and home. Before Mary and I took in the musical Wicked (extraordinary show) at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, I arranged to stop by on our way back and say hi to publisher Bo Savino, editor/musician Ellie Daulton, and a terrific creative community. A Fed Ex truck pulled up in the midst of our combined socializing and shop talk, and I got to see an advance copy of Meg Files' poetry collection The Love Hunter. Beautifully-crafted poems, enough for me to pick up a copy literally hot off the press.

Before our trip down, my photo "Swamp Lily" had been selected for a juried, 21-piece live auction, part of a fund-raiser for the Art Center of Citrus County. That got my name and bio (with mention of Koboca) into the Savor the Art of Citrus County program. I gave a copy of the program to Bo, and we started planning convention appearances for promoting Covenant, beginning this fall.

Red-Shouldered Hawk, Pale Florida Subspecies 1
Large view

Mary spotted this hawk not far from Koboca. Buteo lineatus, Family Accipitridae. This pale version is one of five subspecies of the red-shouldered hawk, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Red-Shouldered Hawk, Pale Florida Subspecies 2

When Mary and I got home, one of the messages on my answering machine was from Robert James, editor-in-chief of Reed Magazine out in California, who'd called to let me know my creative nonfiction submission has been accepted. Published annually out of San Jose State University and dating back to 1948, Reed is one of the oldest student publications west of the Mississippi.

Thursday's mail brought more goodies. First, I had written to Sanford a while back to tell them how pleased I was with their colored Sharpies. I had never bought a Sharpie before I'd splurged on their set of 24. It also turns out that Sanford produces two other products I love, the Onyx Uni-ball pens that are my journaling mainstays, and the Waterman Phileas fountain pens I use when I want to write in luxury. Along with my letter I had sent them a print of my second Sharpie Doodle shot.

Sanford sent me a thank-you letter and some of their latest colors, which I look forward to using in my next (fourth) doodle installment. And the interim doodle I sent is being passed around the offices there. (Grin)


Then, Marge Simon over at Star*Line sent me a copy of the handwritten newsletter that Steve Sneyd produces over in the UK. His latest issue mentions my article, "Using Metaphor to Terrify."

Data Dump #106

What's not to love? At times like these I feel like a little kid making mudpies that people clap at. That vacillates with the oh-so-serious ache to get my visions out, first struggling to articulate them in some coherent way and then shopping them around in search of the right niche. One day I'm living in a cave in this world, while slogging through the world in my head. The next day I'm the toddler who, on hearing Aram Khachaturian's Saber Dance for the very first time, kicked up her heels in a state of pure joy in the middle of her Brooklyn living room.

I'll ignore for the moment that I twirled directly into the piano that day, setting off a hue and cry blown completely out of proportion and that squelched my dancing for 20 years. My inner kid is back, and I'm letting her twirl.


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