Marketing Demon

A couple weeks ago, a marketing person who also happens to be a friend, told me I should have a book launch for the new book. My response included the words ‘No thanks’, ‘nope’, ‘no way’, ‘not going to happen’ and every other version of ‘no’ you can think of.

Which of course made me pause and wonder why that huge wall immediately reared up.

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Arthur on the Morningstar route of the Wall

The first thing to pop into my head was the scene I’m sure we’ve all been in. That moment when you walk into the book store looking forward to a relaxing leisurely browse with the reward of something new to read at the end. But instead, parked across the entryway is a starving author sitting behind a folding table, peering up desperately over the a pile of books. Everything screams of selling, of ‘BUY MY BOOK!!!’ and also whispers faintly of desperation.

So you squeeze by the table, nodding politely, immediately swamped with guilt.

I remember one time a man started talking about his book before I was even fully through the door. And it wasn’t even a polite introductory question along the lines of ‘do you like romance?’ which gives you the opening to say ‘no’ and sidle sideways. It was all about how wonderful his book was. I remember muttering something about not reading that genre, and realizing my mistake when he then went off on how his book just happened to cross all genres.

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Rowan starting up

You get my point. That incident was pushy and all it did was make me take his business card so I’d remember in the future whose book not to buy.

I explained that to my friend and told her about the big wall I felt when she said ‘launch’. She said what she had in mind was a get-together with friends to celebrate the accomplishment of finally finishing the book.

Well…okay…maybe…I don’t know…

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Getting there…

She talked about spending an hour or two with friends at the meadows that are a location in the book. Of how we could invite the fire department to do a demonstration on earthquake preparedness. About how the espresso stand at the meadows could do a special drink with the book theme…

And suddenly, without me being fully aware of it, we’re having a party.

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Almost…

Will there be books to sell? I suppose. A few, maybe, in the background. Or maybe I’ll just bring one to show what I managed to accomplish after four years of work. But the main thing is it’s going to be a fun afternoon with good friends and good coffee and music.

No starving authors will be allowed admittance.

And best of all, I can avoid the demon of Marketing, also known as the demon of pushing your book on people.  I know there are ways to sell without being pushy, but I’m just not comfortable with the whole marketing aspect of writing. So instead, I’m going to sit in the meadows, with the lovely view of mountains and waterfalls, and enjoy a day telling stories with friends.

That I can do.

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And done

Dog Stories

I recently met a big dog while at a craft fair when he broke loose from his home to come join the party. He roamed freely through people and booths, happily slobbering and shedding on everyone. When he reached us, he leaned heavily onto my lap, tongue hanging, full of dog joy in all its no-manners-no-shame-no-guilt glory. He obviously cared nothing for the fact that he wasn’t obeying leash laws.

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Luke, the worrier of the family

When the owners found him, he didn’t want to leave the party. He flopped, boneless, to the ground, refusing to move. They tugged, they pleaded, they lifted portions. Nothing worked. He was a limp rag. Until someone came with treats. Then he agreed to go home. Since I wasn’t the dog owner, I found it hilarious. I hope to meet him again.

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Canine soul-mate aka Strider

He reminded me of an old dog named Jack who freely roamed the town. If someone was walking their dog on a leash, he went along. If kids were out on recess, he joined them in the playground. If there was something interesting going on at the town hall, he’d show up to watch. And if there was traffic, he’d lay in the middle of the road to keep an eye on who was going where. He was also the dog who sat in the woods and rain with me when our own dog was lost; a story some of you have heard.

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Jack and his kids

This past weekend I watched an older lady making her way down the road with a daschund mix draped over her shoulders. She struggled with balancing him and as I watched, he began to slide. I caught him just as he was hanging, suspended by his collar and leash, down her back. Once on the ground he was full of energy, dancing around and getting attention.

She told me he’d been exhausted moments earlier and she’d had to carry him in order to make it home. As she walked away I heard her say ‘If you’re so full of piss and vinegar, you can just walk, mister.’

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Escaped the fence and then didn’t know what to do

That reminded me of two very old, fat dogs my parents had. I would take Jello and Moose for walks and they did fine going, but as soon as I turned around and they realized the walk was over, they would collapse. I’d end up walking home with one sausage under each arm. They never did lose weight.

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Jello before he grew up and got fat

There was the terrified dog in the woods that several of us spent weeks hiking food to before it trusted us enough to follow us out.

There were the two Border Collies sitting on the side of the road in the pouring rain, next to a fifty-pound bag of dog food, patiently waiting for someone, anyone, to explain why their person had just dumped them in the middle of the woods. We found a home for them.

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Sorka – who broke the rescue agency’s record for how long a dog needed a behavioral therapist

There was the terrified dog hiding under our cabin. When we showed up, she charged out with full body wiggles, and you could almost hear her shouting ‘Hello! I’m yours!’. She joyfully lived with friends for many years.

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The puppy, Maggie, sitting on Sorka. Yes, a puppy. Maybe 6 months.

I remember an ancient, fossilized Yorkie with no teeth and collapsed joints so it walked on its elbows rather than paws. His owner was an elderly woman who had been in a car accident. We were on the fire department and the old thing was under the car when we arrived. He went home with us until the family came to get him, and in spite of being old and smelly and decrepit, he was happy and sweet. He was so well-preserved he’s probably still around.

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Goofy Vaila with her big ears

So many, many dogs have been in our lives. Some staying, some just passing through. I could easily continue on with these stories. Dogs uncouth, misbehaving, disobedient, peeing on stuff, shedding on everything, barking, pulling on leashes, rolling in dead salmon, eating nasty stuff, farting with blissful disregard, scratching, licking themselves in private areas in public places…I keep saying ‘no more!’.

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Strider again, not quite a year old

But…life would be so dull without them.

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Luke and Arthur…photo chewed by Luke

Universal Sadness

It’s funny how the universe tosses things to you in lumps, almost as if somewhere, someone is saying ‘the theme for this week is going to be…’.

Sometimes it’s things like dishwashers. You know – you make the mistake of pricing a dishwasher online and suddenly all your feeds are filled with ads for dishwashers. And every delivery truck you pass on the road is carrying boxes of dishwashers. You see them everywhere for a week or so and then they’re gone, as if people quit buying dishwashers.

It’s like that when you’ve lost someone, too. There are universe themes where, for several days, you seem to see them everywhere you look.

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This week has been like that. I went to the local grocery store and there was Sam, standing in the produce aisle.

Except it wasn’t Sam.

Then I saw him walking down the street in shorts and flip-flops, earbuds in.

Except it wasn’t Sam.

Then I got online and in a grief resource page I belong to, a person I don’t know posted about how lately they saw their child everywhere.

And then Sam’s mom said she’d seen Sam in a young firefighter she passed, and how emotionally hard that had been for her.

Obviously there’s been a lot of sadness this week. But at the same time, it’s strange how this comes in waves. Why now?

What happens in the world around us that we are all having the same sort of grieving week? Not just those of us connected to Sam, but others, too. Is it that odd sense of days shortening, seasons changing? Even though it’s only July and too early, there have been days this week that felt like fall. Is it the melancholy moment of change, of the earth turning toward sleep, of darker mornings?

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Or is it simply how grief works? That some days are good and some days are hard and some weeks there are reminders surrounding you that are bittersweet?

Or maybe it’s just our loved ones giving us a gentle nudge, reminding us that they are still with us. To not forget them.

Whatever the reason, I’m not alone this week. There are people around me seeing their loved ones, suffering through that brief second of joy when we recognize the one who is gone, before reality smacks us in the heart.

I’m with you, wherever you are. And I understand.

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The husband on the river Sam loved to kayak.