Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Small Signs of Success

I think I have mentioned a few times here that I am brand new to the book industry.  It's a real learning curve to dive into something so different from what I am accustomed to.  Fortunately for me, the only part that I'm really diving into is the marketing of my book, which can, at times, be a rather humbling experience.  I love this story for a number of reasons, but that doesn't mean everyone will.  In many ways, the internet makes marketing easier, but I have also found it to be a rather overwhelming and impersonal place to try to put out a story so close to my heart.

So, given my feeling of being slightly overwhelmed by trying to "get the word out" about The Trail of the Gypsy Wagon, you can only imagine how happy I was to see this photo on Facebook recently:

This is, as you can see, a picture of the dogs of one of my high school friends.  Cute dogs, right?  That's what all the comments below said.  Except for my comment, which said something like "nice book!" .  I'd sent him a copy of the book a.couple of months ago, and it turns out that he really enjoyed it, and keeps it out on his coffee table.

When I saw this photo, a light came on in my head - this is what it means to get my story out - passing it along to friends who enjoy it, and will hopefully pass the word along to other friends.   There is no better marketing than having an old friend showing off your work!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Winging It!

Today I was taking a look at some maps on the internet, and as I was doing that I began to wonder exactly how the "daughters courageous" navigated their way across America in 1939.  I found this map in the scrapbook, but I'm pretty certain this is not the only navigational tool they used, as it only covers the top half of the country!  There must have been something more detailed than this to guide them along their way. . . . Yet another question I should have asked my grandmother.

From what I can tell by reading the journal, it does not seem that they had any reservations made anywhere along the way at any type of hotel or motel.  Actually, they stayed mostly at "tourist camps", which no longer really exist today, save for some that have been converted into what we call motels.  Think of the little one room cabins you see in some areas (I've seen many in the northern parts of New York State), and that's a tourist camp.  From the sounds of it, they just drove until they found a suitable camp and stayed there.  I was particularly surprised to learn that once they got to San Francisco they had no place arranged to stay and actually had to inquire at a YMCA to find a room.

In today's world, not many people have the ability to just "wing it" like these girls did.  We're such a connected society and have become so accustomed to just googling the nearest restaurant or hotel on our smartphones wherever we may be.  I know I could stand to "wing it" a bit more than I do.  It must have been an incredibly liberating experience for these girls to just hit the road with very few plans and take in the sites across our country as they came upon them.  We all could learn a little something from them.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Gyspy Wagon hits the road

Now that my kickoff event in Albion is complete, I've moved on to the task of getting The Trail of the Gypsy Wagon into bookstores outside of my hometown.  My idea for this book is to follow the "trail", and hopefully have the book available in stores along the route that the Jolly Dutchmen followed.

This might be the time to mention that there is a substantial learning curve involved for me - I'm a lawyer by day, and the book selling industry is completely new to me.  I am, however, enjoying learning about what exactly bookstores look for and how the industry works.

And, I'm really happy to be able to say that, after only a week of trying, The Trail of the Gypsy Wagon will now be available at Eight Cousins Bookstore in Falmouth, Mass.  You can find a link to their site to the right, and stop in the next time you travel to Cape Cod.  Hopefully there will be many, many more announcements just like this one to come in the near future!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Trail that led me home . . . .

Today was my first solo book signing in my hometown of Albion, NY, at Bindings Bookstore.  It was a very small event, part of a downtown shopping day, but I was happy with turnout and my sales.  Anybody who missed it - the book is available at Bindings Bookstore, and, for all my friends who used to live in Albion but no longer do,I would encourage you to order it through their website to support a great local business in our hometown.

Today really made me think about how this project has led me back home.  I spent a good long time trying to stay away from my little hometown, and, though I don't live very far away, I would sometimes go a year or so at a time without visiting.  The people who came to my signing today were not family members, but nonetheless, have known me since birth.  Birth.  That's a long time.  There is not a single person in the city I live in now that I can say that about.  This book has brought me back and helped me to remember the importance of connections like that.

It has also helped me see what a vibrant little town I came from.  There really is a lot going on there and a lot of people working very hard to make it a better place to live, and they really are on the right path.

After going over a year without being there at all, because of this book, I have been there twice in two months.  And I can't help thinking that there's a message from my Grandma in that.  She would tell me something like "you should no forget where you came from".

It was good to go home.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lessons we could learn

The recent government shutdown has infuriated me, on a number of levels. But, since I am not a political pundit, I'll not go into all of that.  While listening to the radio recently, I heard a story about a man and his son who had planned an epic, once in a lifetime trip down the Colorado River, which they were unable to take because of the shutdown of the National Parks.  He had spent countless hours planning this trip, tens of thousands of dollars in rental fees and permit fees, and taken his son out of school for the length of the trip.  Unfortunately for them, their point of access to the river was inside Grand Canyon National Park, so when they arrived, they were told by the rangers that they had to turn around.  This story made me think of how this same scenario might have played out 74 years ago when the Daughter Courageous made their epic trip.

I wondered about the logistics of their trip.  They didn't get to any of the national parks until at least two weeks into their trip, and, at the age of 23,none of them were likely glued to any type of news media, such as it was in 1939.  So, had these same events occurred then, it seems to me entirely likely that these young women could have driven up to the gates of the  Grand Canyon to find a sign that said, "sorry! we're closed", without any advance warning.

So, what then?  The Grand Canyon is remote now, with really nothing around it for miles outside the park, and I'm sure it was even more so then.  So, in an era of no cell phones, really no pay phones hardly, no internet to find the next hotel, gas station or roadside attraction, they would have had no choice but to press on, and make still the best of their trip, without the epic visit to the Grand Canyon, and later Yellowstone.  And, being nicknamed the Daughters Courageous, I have no doubt that they would have found another epic adventure to make up for their loss.

I tend to think that they would have pressed on and really not have been too crushed by a hiccup such as this, because that is what I knew of my Grandma.  She did always press on, and whatever it was, it was always ok.  Her generation of Americans had that resilience, and our country could do well to remember that now.  We need to remember how to make the best of what we have, instead of wanting for more.

Hopefully the man in the interview I heard was courageous enough to press on and find another epic adventure.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

On My Own Trail . . . .

Now that The Trail of the Gypsy Wagon has made it's way into paperback form, I have begun the task of spreading the word about this wonderful tale.  For an introduction into the world of book promotion, I was lucky enough to piggyback with my aunt, Marilyn Smith Neilans, at a recent signing at Bindings Bookstore in my hometown.  The book is currently available to for sale there, and you can find a link to their website to the right of where you are reading now.

The first event was a great tribute to my Grandma, full of old friends, teachers and family.  The memories of her were wonderful to share, and it was nice to hear fond recollections of her.  My favorite was from one gentleman with whom I was discussing how the Grandma that I knew growing up sounded so different from the "Peaches" in the story.  He was not surprised by the stories of her dancing with cowboys - he said "she always had a twinkle in her eye" that let you know there was more to the quiet woman we all knew.

October 19 marks my first "solo" signing, again at Bindings Bookstore in Albion.  October 19 is Albion Shopping Day, a day chosen by the local Chamber of Commerce to promote local businesses. I'm excited to be able to be a part of that day in my hometown, where my family was very much a part of the local business scene for many years.  I'll be there from 11:00 am - 1:00 pm.

My plan after that date is to begin to promote the book along the Trail that the "Jolly Dutchmen" took on their trips, hopefully placing the book in small, independent bookstores along the way.  As it becomes available in other stores, new links will be posted here.

This is an exciting journey for me so far, into an industry that is completely unknown to me.  I am looking forward to the learning experience this will bring, and to sharing this book with people near and far.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

It's done!

It appears that I last made a post here about a year ago . . . Can that really be?  Well, this will be a short one . . . Thanks to my incredibly creative Aunt Marilyn, this book is finally finding it's way to book form.  It will be available this very week from her website,  This is almost like magic to me, and is the realization of something that I had hoped to do many years ago, before we lost my grandmother.  Though I am certain she would have dismissed any attention she may have received over this, I am proud to be able to pay a tribute to her in this way, and am still eternally amazed at the adventurous spirit these four must have had to make this trip as they did.  Thank you, Grandma, for giving me this story to tell.