A new journey, and I ain’t talkin’ a supergroup reunion

OK, the night is done and I’m home, listening to everyone from Poco to Carly Simon to Joe Cocker. I’m relaxed as the excitement and giddiness start to wear off. A bowl of nectarines satiates me.

This is the night that was. The true beginning to a nascent writing career. Tonight was the first of two book launches. This launch was held at Cypress restaurant in Oregon City. First, I have to speak on behalf of the owner of the restaurant and his staff who went out of their way to accommodate me and my guests. The facility was wonderful and the food outstanding and reasonably priced.

In preparation for this event, I had printed two large posters with the book cover and my photo on it. They were placed on easels at the entrance to the restaurant and the entrance to the great room. Two large boxes of books were brought in order to make sure there were enough books for everyone. My MC, Deb, brought a dais from Canby Union High School where she teaches. I had my iPod and docking station for background music. My good friend’s daughter handled sales; I had purchased a Square–a device that plugs into my iPhone allowing one to accept credit card purchases.

All I had to do was wait for the adoring masses–and they arrived. I saw people I haven’t seen in years; some brought family members. It was touching, heartwarming.

At 7:15 Deb, my MC, gave her introduction. She discussed our history from our adolescence and touched upon the vagaries of life–how you can know someone in adolescence, but life gets in the way and you later find out this person has had a life that is indescribable. She touched on my book and some of the themes. And then, she introduced me.

And I suddenly got nervous. In front of all these people I’d known for years, I felt a trickle of sweat down my back. I felt myself stumble on some words. But I made it through. I read three excerpts. And emotion once again hit–but in the weirdest spots. There was a catch in my voice, I hesitated, but I didn’t break down. I read my words about my life to these people and risked judgment and embarrassment. Even though I knew I wouldn’t get it, baring your soul to those you love can be frightening and emotionally exhausting.

I have to admit that the room was silent as I read. Occasionally I would look up and see Ruth watching intently, Liz watching intently, Barry watching intently. All listening and hanging on every word. And I felt self-conscious so I looked back down at the book. At the end, enthusiastic applause. I was done–and it wasn’t that bad. I enjoyed it. This barrier is now scaled and I can continue onward.

I cannot express the gratitude I have to everyone who showed up. This night will be remembered for the rest of my life. A new experience awaits me. I have no idea where this path will lead me, but all these lovely people were there to see me off. I feel like I’m following the yellow brick road as they wave at me. Whatever type of road I’m on, I’m jazzed to start this journey.

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Blah, blah, blah, BOOK LAUNCH!, blah, blah, blah

I was going to post this on Facebook, but sometimes I fear people are ready to barf up their dinner with another Lemonade posting. Although, come to think of it, this will show up on Facebook! Who am I kidding?

Anyway, I’ve got a four day weekend to get this launch going. Today I met with my good friend, Deb, for insight and to discuss her duties as MC. I also asked another friend’s daughter to handle book sales that night. And I went to Cypress restaurant in Oregon City to finalize things with the owner–and give him a copy of the book, gratis. He’s been phenomenal during this whole thing and is bending over backward to accommodate me. I feel very confident things will go well.

Nevertheless (there’s that alternative attitude I always have), there’s always things that hit my mind. This time, not really negative. I just find myself dealing with something I’ve never had to really face–outwardly complimenting myself. I am having to understand and learn that I need to start looking at myself in a different light. I need to start looking at myself in a positive light.

For decades I have stayed in the shadows, unwilling to promote myself or step forward to claim the life that God has for me. I’ve been convinced there is nothing more out there, nothing better for me, nothing greater that I can accomplish. Now, the scales are slowly falling from my eyes and I’m seeing the potential.

I think that this realization speaks volumes about the ramifications of abuse. For decades I was abused mercilessly by my biological father. Yet I kept going back in pathetic attempts to curry his favor, to get his acceptance. I never got it. And what I have is 30+ years of memories, grief and pain to show for it. Yet, I also have strength that comes from the knowledge that I did my best. I grew up; I helped take care of him when he was sick and I was there for him and my brother. I keep asking God when it’s my “turn”. I think I’m experiencing it now.

Technology is a wonderful thing/New book in town

I have been fiddling with Google Analytics for my website. It’s amazing what you can find out with technology. Tonight I checked the analytics for my site and found out where all my hits hail from. Don’t freak; I don’t know anyone’s address or location or identity. But it’s interesting to see where people are from. Some cities, like Salem, Tualatin, Eugene and Portland are rather obvious to me. Even Moscow is obvious–the only person I know there is my ex sister-in-law. Kuwait is most likely my brother on one of his travels. Many of the others fascinate me. Some are from Missouri, Texas, Montana. It’s great to know that my site is finding an audience, however small, beyond those I know.

I don’t really know what I can do with any of this information. After all, I’m just one man who wrote a little book and who happens to be blessed with lots of friends. If I were Apple or Intel, I could mine this information because there’d me millions of hits. As it is, it’s just fun to see the reach I can have. Can I sustain it? Perhaps I should encourage my brother to hit my site when he’s in Papua, New Guinea, Algiers, London or Rio. It would be cool to have those locations under my belt!!

I should mention that the books I ordered arrived today. I’ve got enough for the book signing. I also got my posters for the Oregon City book signing, and boy were they expensive! They’re pretty impressive but I have to admit that it’s a bit uncomfortable seeing myself “up in lights” or a reasonable facsimile thereof. I know, everyone thinks I’m so assertive, friendly and “out there”. But when it comes to promoting myself, well, that’s a new animal. I suppose I should get used to this. You don’t write a book and just allow it to lie there like a lump. Otherwise, what was the point of ever writing it? No, you must step out of your comfort zone and force yourself to promote yourself. I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

Success begets success, no matter how minor

Success will beget success. I truly believe that. My book went live, available for purchase, late Friday, June 7. Virtually immediately, the number of hits to my website increased over fifty percent. I was surprised. Sales are not keeping pace with this apparent increase in interest. However, I fully believe sales are coming. Within a couple of days already sixteen people had signed up for the Oregon City book launch. And I know more than that are coming.

I have my publicity ready for local newspapers. Now I have to order more books to give out as freebies to the media. I’ve already ordered a hundred books for the first book launch. I know that will be too many but better safe than sorry, right? My posters are created and ready to be distributed to bulletin boards/classified boards at city halls, community colleges, libraries, etc. There’s so much work! I know, I’ve said that before, but it seems like there’s always something else.

Yet I truly don’t mind. This whole experience will be fascinating as I learn what I need to do to make this book a success. I will continually find roadblocks–and it will be up to me to find my way around those roadblocks. I’m fascinated by the learning curve for something so different from anything I’ve ever experienced.

Yet some of the old insecurities keep popping up. I keep thinking about some of the ugliness that I discuss in Lemonade. Will it hurt my career? Will it cause people to look at me askance? Sometimes we get judged by the behavior of those we know. Will I be seen as a pariah?

It’s a chance I chose to take. I could not in good conscience write this book and make it all peaches and cream when it wasn’t. How could I look myself in the face if I didn’t acknowledge some of the ugliness? Yet I’m self-conscious about being open with my own insecurities. These are feelings from decades ago but reading them brings them back to the front of my mind as though they never left. I find my face getting red and trickles of sweat dripping down my back.

But I shouldn’t get worked up. Those issues are long gone. Yet it begs the question, “Do we ever truly overcome our insecurities?” If they can still conjure up in us such discomfort, are they really gone? Or is it a reaction, much like a pleasing scent that brings up a warm fuzzy childhood memory? I prefer to think the latter.

Can’t believe this day has come

Well, after a 3 year gestation period, my book is done and available online. A number of people have been following my journey as I worked to get to this point. And everything I’ve predicted is coming true.

The first thing that’s coming true is the WORK! I’ve reserved a restaurant for the first book launch in Oregon City, Oregon. I’ve put an Event Invite on Facebook and people are already signing up! This blesses my heart more than I can say. Second, I’ve got an M.C. for the event and someone to handle book sales (I’ve also had to order books at a substantial cost). I will need a podium and easel. I also need enlarged photos to advertise the event. I still have to sit down with my buddy, Mike to work up the verbiage for publicity.

And this is just the beginning! I have a second launch planned for Salem, Oregon. Virtually everything will be duplicated there. There’s more work on the website, visiting radio stations and newspapers, just so much. And with my demanding job, it will mean little free time for awhile.

Yet I am so motivated and so excited. I feel so blessed. I don’t think I’ve ever been so committed to something, something I’ve done, I’ve created, with my own hands. My own abilities. It’s exciting.

I have to admit that when I initially clicked “Publish” and the book went live that it was a bit of a letdown. It’s so stupid. I guess I was expecting thunder and lightning or fireworks. At the very least a celestial choir. I mean, come on! This is ME we’re talking about!

No, really, I think I had built the whole thing up in my mind to something so big that it was just somewhat discouraging. I truthfully didn’t expect a thousand sales immediately. It’s just that, when you anticipate something so much for so long, you build it into something unsustainable. Now, of course, I’ve come down to earth and I’m excited in a more realistic way.

It’s funny, I wish I had something more substantial to say. Something deep, meaningful. But I don’t. I have a feeling I’m going to feel scattered for the next few weeks.

I haven’t said anything about the book to my brother. He knows it’s coming. I think he’s going to be okay with it, relatively. I no longer demonize my biological father and I’ve taken out some of the more salacious things that didn’t really add anything to the book. I don’t know if he will ever really understand the book since it focuses on human relationships. He’s more into books by Lee Iacocca or Bill Gates or books about Steve Jobs–books that discuss success and how to achieve it. The relational aspects of existence are kinda lost on him.

Anyway, I’m going to have to write more on this blog, too, since things are going to accelerate. If anything, this blog will help me to vent and understand!

FINALLY!!!! IT’S READY!!!!

Attention World! My book is ready! This is not a joke! You can go to http://www.thisismylemonade.com, click “Order Your Copy” and buy THOUSANDS of copies! 🙂

Finally, after months of frustrating roadblocks, my first book is available to the world. I can’t believe it. Now the work really starts!

Please note that it is not yet available on Kindle. However, it is coming.

Potpourri

It’s been several weeks since I’ve written. I suppose I should have written sooner, but I don’t want to bore anyone with useless blatherings. Yet, all these marketing gurus tell me that I need to keep “blathering” to maintain interest in my book. Perhaps that’s true; I don’t know. I have no way of knowing how many people read my blog. And I have no way of knowing how many of the readers are strangers.

I do know that my website is getting lots of hits. I’m at 630 so far and it’s only been out 7-8 weeks. I’m very gratified for that. I know those numbers will spike once the book is finally ready and I start planning events.

About the book…yes, I know you’re waiting to hear. Well, the final proof should be arriving VERY soon. Once it does, I’m dropping EVERYTHING to go over it. If it is okay, then I will go into my account in the CreateSpace website and click “Publish” and it will be available for people to purchase immediately. I will then put the web link on my website. Within three days, Amazon.com will have a page for me for people to purchase through them.

Sometimes it feels like it won’t happen. I know there is a time to every purpose under heaven. That’s not just a Byrds lyric, that’s scriptural. I do know that I’m more ready now for the book to be ready and to be released. It’s amazing how much more prepared you can be for something in just a few weeks. And I think there’s a reason for that. I do look forward to utilizing my abilities, intellect and talents to market this book and see how far I can take it on my own. A good friend of mine just finished a book and he’s looking for an agent. I’m not there yet; and I won’t totally discount it. Right now I’m excited at the prospect of taking something I gave laborious birth to, and watching it flourish.