Monthly Archives: January 2015

What Shall I Do at Book Signings?

Though I have been writing since I tried my own hand at a monster movie at the age of seven, illustrated in crayon, it is only this year that I have had the opportunity to do book events as a real Novelist. I have been doing festivals and children’s parties for decades as a mime and balloon delivery guy, but I’m looking for activities in my skillset that would be appropriate for my reputation as an author and my book.

BOOK SIGNING

Well, duh… This is obviously the main component of any book signing event, but WHAT should I sign? I have in the past personalized signatures for the customer, like the woman who showed at the Post Mortem Press table adorned with a brooch made of a bat’s skeleton torso. I signed her book: To the lady with the lovely ribcage. I would like to have a catchphrase appropriate to Camp Arcanum like “Beware the undead, skinless bunnies.” or “Wishing you sex, magick, and chainsaws.”, but even I have trouble signing that with confidence.

READINGS

I have learned to do public readings from my book, I just have to be careful with selection. If there is any chance of children over-hearing, I don’t pick the chapter with the bi-sexual sex magick ritual or the unfortunate spatter demise of a raccoon. I also try to put the excerpt close enough to the front of the book to give away too many spoilers.

JUGGLING

In my mime and renaissance faire days, I did a fair amount of juggling, and that is reflected in my ren faire performer Eleazar in Camp Arcanum. While I am not as proficient in manipulating assorted objects as my Eleazar-consultant Stuart Sisk, I can keep three lacrosse balls in the air. One just needs to check ahead of time that the venue owner doesn’t mind my playing with my balls in their location (Com on, you all were thinking that!)

BALLOON ANIMALS

Who doesn’t love balloon animals. I can do the simpler ones, but to accurately depict undead, skinless bunnies I would have to smear them with KY jelly to give them the proper feel of slimy decomposition.

FACEPAINTING

As a mime and a make-up artist, I’ve done a TON of facepainting. Kids love getting bright intricate colorful designs put on their bright, little faces. I’m just not sure how Mom and Dad will feel about pentacles and inverted Kabbalistic Tree of Life designs.

CHAINSAWS

I learned to use a chainsaw to cut down trees while growing up in Tennessee. There aren’t many trees to harvest in bookstores and the authorities don’t like it when you take down trees from parks. I could apply my sculpting skills to carving crude wooden bears or even cruder self-portraits from telephone poles.  The sound, smell, and sawdust might be a little off-putting, but come on. There’s a chainsaw on the cover of my book, we need to do SOMETHING. Maybe chainsaw juggling?

I am sure there are plenty of creative activities I missed, so if you have any suggestions, let me know.

 

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At a New Age Bookstore…

This was very popular on one of the Facebook pagan groups, so I thought I’d share it with you all:

True story: I once was in a New Age book store and it had an old Timex Watch display near the counter. The rotating Lucite case was just filled with pentacles and crystals and such. I looked it over carefully, sidled up to the owner and asked: “So, does this mean it takes a Wiccan and keeps on tickin’?”

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Come See the Invisible Rabbit

When I was a tween, I was a weird kid in suburban Sacramento. Among the many things that set me apart from all that was good and normal, I was heavily involved in the 4H rabbit project. It was not only that we had a few bunnies in the backyard. Hobbit Haven Farms, as my father named our one and a half acre spread, had up to a hundred pedigreed rabbits at any time. These were not only the prosaic Californians and New Zealand Whites raised for fur and meat, but also the fifteen to twenty pound Flemish Giants which outweighed most people’s cats. I bred and raised these fluffy creatures, and showed them at official American Rabbit Breeders Association events. I even taught one Giant named Mickey to play dead.

As you might have guessed, I did not get a proper date with girl until I was almost out of high school.

Each summer, 4H would have livestock exhibits for a few weeks at the State Fair. Lucky and responsible child that I was, I got to be one of the three or four kids that watched everyone else’s rabbits for the time of the exhibit. This involved water and feeding all the animals and watching to be sure that no-one walked by a carried off a rabbit that was not their own. It was not very stimulating work; during the average day, there might have been two to three dozen visitors.

The rabbit exhibit was housed in an old wooden barn where a multitude of pigeons nested in the rafters. One year, a baby pigeon got pushed from its nest and wound up in our rabittry. We put the bald, quivering thing into one of the empty cages and came up with a bizarre plan to alleviate our boredom.

Starting well outside the rabbit exhibit’s barn, we posted hand-made signs which read:

COME SEE THE INISIBLE RABBIT!

Arrows on the signs pointed passers-by into the barn. At the entrances, more signs pointed visitors into the center of the exhibit. Along the cages, more hand made signs egged people on to their goal. That was the cage which housed the  foundling squab. A very large hand-made sign proclaimed:

BEHOLD THE INVISIBLE RABBIT!

AND ITS COMPANION, THE INFANT VULTURE “GRONK”!

It was ridiculous, but it pulled in two or three times the normal number of visitors that day. As they came, my friends and I would regale them with stories of the rabbit’s activities and his more visible avian roommate, who was promoted from pigeon to a far more exciting bird. Of course, no-one expected to see an invisible rabbit, but our sincerity and industry encouraged strangers to take a look and engage for a moment.  It was in some ways a kind of lunatic magick that gave everyone a smile.

That’s what I want to remember about book promotion.

My first novel Camp Arcanum came out last March. With a minimal budget, I set out the equivalent of gaudy hand-made signs to pull readers into my world, regaling them with the stories of the characters only I could see. Six months in, though, I began to let up. I was afraid I was annoying people. I didn’t entirely believe the rabbit was there.

I pushed on past that, connecting through social media and live events. Feedback came in on the book, some times strangers saying that they didn’t normally like “that kind of book” but they enjoyed mine. Other authors, ones that didn’t owe me money or favors, praised my work.  As “Gronk” the foundling vulture napped in its nest, I began to catch the outline of our invisible rabbit.

 

 

 

 

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Wherein I Learn to Argue on the Internet

I have for the longest time, I’ve engaged in the time-honored sport of Arguing on the Internet, pitting my Left-Middle views against the Rightest views of longtime friends and curmudgeon strangers. I parried with well-reasoned retorts and riposted with cut-and-paste sections from Snopes. The engagements were no more glorious than shrieking slap-battles in the dressing room of a strip club, but I knew no better.

Recently, a friend posted on Facebook a remark about the recent normalization of relations with Cuba. I posted that I thought it was a good thing, because it was only through Coca Cola, blue jeans and MTV that we defeated the Soviet Union. I was expecting rabid anti-Castro replies. The argument came from an entirely different quarter.

A friend of my friend (which does not make him MY friend) stated that we did not beat the Soviet Union through relentless Pop Culture, but their attempts to keep up with our Space Program. He gave a dissertation which lasted five to eight paragraphs.

I could have given any number of replies, but I had an epiphany. Anything more than the absolute minimal was a total waste of time and typing.

“You’re wrong,” I posted.

The friend of the friend seemed irked and gifted me with multiple paragraphs which pretty much said the same thing as the first eight. I stuck true to my enlightened course.

“You took three more paragraphs to say the same thing,” I posted. “You are both inefficient and wrong.”

He didn’t immediately succumb to my brilliance but I still consider it a win.

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