Safety, Common Sense, and Selling Books

So, you already know I was on a mini-vacay last week. I needed that. The stress of stress would have eaten me alive, if I hadn’t gotten out. Nothing quite like grabbing a friend, ditching real life, and hitting a neighboring state.

And, as it turns out, there was another writer in the motel.

It wasn’t me that ran into her.

“There’s one of your people in the elevator.”

My people, by the way, can mean anything from my close friends to whole groups of people I happen to belong to. And, let’s be honest, my mind shot straight to dancers, because they’re easier to pick out of a crowd, and because I actually do know dancers in KC.

My friend was a little wigged out, though, so my mind skipped from dancers to band members, and maybe a few specific individuals she might be able to recognize as “my” people. Mutual acquaintance type “my” people.

I asked.

“One of your book people.”

Okay. So, I’m lost. How could she possibly know that someone she met on an elevator was a book person? I mean, we’re pretty mellow, compared to some of my acquaintances.

Turns out the woman had gone all Bookseller of Prey on her.

She was pretty shaken, after an elevator pitch that had gone from small talk, to buy my book, to let’s-trade-room-numbers-you’re-my-new-bestie all in the course of three floors. I don’t blame her. My head was spinning, just thinking about it.

But, I was also thinking about the other woman. Was she someone I do know? Someone I will know in the future?

I’m not sure freaking out strangers on an elevator (in a motel!) is the best way of selling books. The thing about an elevator pitch is… well, at the other end of the elevator, your target winds up in an office, full of his or her trusted co-workers. You aren’t necessarily alone in the elevator, either.

And I’m pretty sure that inviting strangers back to your hotel room to get the books that you don’t have with you isn’t the safest idea, either. Remember that old joke your granny used to tell? The one where she slapped a guy because he invited her up to his room to see his etchings? (And it turned out there really were etchings?)

I don’t really care what risks you choose to take in bookselling… but make sure they are a choice. Make sure they’re a sensible choice, and make sure they’re an effective choice.

This one happens to be an unnecessary and ineffective risk. You’re taking all the risks your mother warned you about in luring strangers back to your motel room–I won’t get into those–and you’re also scaring off your risk conscious customers.

Most women–and probably most men, too– are NOT going to go knocking on motel room doors to buy a book.

Get a tote bag and carry a couple of books with you. That way, you aren’t taking a risk, and you’re not asking your customers to take that risk, either.

A-to-Z Challenge: M&Ms

Here I am, crawling out of bed on three or four hours worth of sleep to bring you this life-altering post on M&M’s candy pieces.  It just seemed natural to do a double M for the day, and that’s what I came up with first.

M&Ms had the chance to star in the ET movie, but they weren’t willing to pay for the product placement, so now all the little green men eat Reese’s Pieces.

I happen to be all about the peanut butter M&Ms. (In a nostalgic, non-diet busting kind of way.)  Aside from the fact that they’re peanuty without that slightly over-roasted flavor that less discerning people might call “burnt” you can also–if you’re very, very careful– bite the chocolate shell off of the peanut butter core and walk away with a perfect, UFO shaped clump of peanut butter.

What? Everybody deserves a sense of accomplishment.

And then, you eat that lump of peanut butter, too.

Nope. That’s about as zen as I get.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

 

A-to-Z Challenge: Lise Meitner

Lise Meitner was a physicist who laid some of the groundwork for the atomic bomb. She studied independently, since the university of the time did not accept female students, and ultimately took an exam to prove she understood the material. I happen to think skipping the hassle of university classes sounds like a swell idea, personally.

She worked with Max Planck and Otto Hahn (sometimes for free), served as a nurse in World War I, before returning to her research in Berlin.

She lost her job as acting head of the chemistry department at the Kaiser Wilhelm institute after the rise of Hitler, and his race laws, and escaped to the Netherlands.

The fact that she did not share the Nobel Prize with Otto Hahn for work on Nuclear Fission is contributed largely to her gender.

A-to-Z Challenge: Kansas City, Missouri

Let’s be honest, I’m on vacation–or at least, a couple days off, and I’m getting lazy. So, let’s stay in Missouri another day, and talk about Kansas City.

Look, I have a picture. One without my thumb in it:

img_20170413_111614.jpg

I climbed up the side of a mountain to get that for you. Well, a very large hill. Okay, well, maybe it was a war monument. There was a lot of up involved.

As you can see, Kansas City is an actual city-type city with buildings which are tall enough to blot out the sun and make everything a little claustrophobic. It is not, however, city-like enough that you have to worry about wandering into a dangerous neighborhood.

(Not that I actually have the sense to worry about wandering into dangerous neighborhoods.)

So, Kansas City… I’m dodging tall buildings and memories of an old flame (who gets a glowing recommendation, btw.)

There’s a jazz museum here, and also a Negro League Baseball museum. Once upon a time, a friend asked me about things to do in KC, and I started with jazz, and worked my way (quite a few “options” down the road) to baseball. So, my list is more or less in exactly the reverse order to hers, and there you have it–the number one thing from each list.

I could see myself living here. I mean, there’s a giant bookshelf downtown (and a library to go with it.) And there are things to do. (Do my thing, first, though. Jenny doesn’t need any encouragement.)

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: St. Joseph, Missouri

In another two cups of coffee,  St. Joe will be a beautiful old railroad town. Right now, however, it is a foolhardy city that allows two 5:00s to exist within the same day. I’m recovering from a night in a cheap motel, and the recent loss of my (nearly-finished) draft of my A-to-Z post for the day.

Let’s just say that if WordPress gives you a button that says “Save Draft” you should probably push that button. I’ve gotten spoiled by the automatic saving on the real post-edit page.

I am in a concept McDonalds–the McDonalds of the future, boys and girls… it told me so—using the wifi and drinking a cup of coffee. I had to send my first cup back, because apparently, in the McDonalds of the future, cream clots, and you don’t pay enough attention to fix it before someone’s drinking it. Very seriously, the only things I need out of a restaurant are wifi and coffee.

So, St. Joe… which was one of my most favorite-est places in the world when I was a kid–was where Jesse James lived (there’s a museum.) and where the Pony Express began. (Start of the route, not start of the concept.)(there’s a museum.) It’s also home to the Gloor Psychiatric museum, which highlights historical treatments for psychiatric disorders. (Many of which are now used in S&M clubs around the world.) I’ll point out that even I know Gloor is probably not appropriate for young children.

There actually are a lot of good restaurants. (Not at 5am, though.) For people who want to look for them.

Right now–as an adult who has already seen the place Jesse James was shot, and the Pony Express barns–I’d have to say the highlight of the town is the big, beautiful old buildings. Some really nice architecture.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

An Intercontinental Ballistic Missile is pretty much exactly what it claims to be. It’s a missile that is capable of bombing the shit out of one continent after having been launched from another continent. The Internet says a minimum range of 3,400 miles, and since most of them use arc-line navigation, that’s pretty impressive. It also mentions that they are typically intended to deliver a thermonuclear warhead. (I say typically, because the optimists among us might want to hold out for chocolate. It’s happened before.)

The good news is, we have lots of them.

The bad news is that taking an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile to an interplanetary war is like taking a knife to a gunfight. Worse. More like taking a spork to a gunfight.

Thermonuclear warhead or not, experts say an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile has less than a 0.ooooooooooooooo72% chance of ever leaving our solar system. And that’s with a good prevailing wind.

The aliens will be back in bed watching I Love Lucy before we ever get a missile past Mars.

It’s just a fact.

What it boils down to is this: We have two options in the upcoming war with the spiral galaxy.

We can go out in our yards, and think about chocolate while we wait to be vaporized, or we can lure them into range by pretending to be an interplanetary sex tourism hot spot.

The Planet Earth needs every patriotic human male to confront this threat head on. Flap those gills a little harder for Mother Earth. Don’t be ashamed to show off those pneumatic bladders. Be generous with that pancreatic cologne. Don’t look at her scolex, and just think of Earth.

Humanity depends on you.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: Harmonices Mundi

I’d like to point out, for the record, that the WordPress spellchecker hates both Harmonices and Mundi. Someone should get on fixing that.

Harmonices Mundi is a book written by Johannes Kepler back in the day, when the dear, educated Elite were all Roman centurions. It took him twenty-one years (or thereabouts) to write the book, following which he immediately took it out and bought it a beer to celebrate.

I should try harder to take this one seriously.

Nope. Not working.

He assigned roles in a choir to planets, based on the shape of their orbits and their velocity. The Earth–for those of us who are musically inclined–is a miserable alto, who can only sing two notes. (He attributes this to the social conditions on Earth.) (And I’m going to blame today’s pop music on the fact. After all, if the Earth can only sing two notes, why should we expect more out of our rockstars?)(Correction, Kepler said that too. Possibly with less cynicism.)

So, clearly I’m spelunking in Wikipedia to find this particular H-M.

My thought is that this sounds a lot like synesthesia, and I’m vaguely reminded of the first synesthete I ever knew–or the first who talked about it–who would sit in church, and listen to the stained glass windows.

Singing planets or not, the math in the book turned out to be very, very close to what actually exists. He did leave out the line of dancing girls that is the asteroid belt, but you know.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

Oh, Wait. Today is Sunday.

I just finished my H entry for the a-to-z challenge. It didn’t occur to me that today is Sunday, until I went to look for my H badge, and it wasn’t there.

I’m working my way through the remaining scenes in my novel–in an orderly and premeditated way–and due to the fact that I write them longhand, first, I’m currently drowning in a sea of tiny yellow legal pad pages. At some point, I will have to type.

I found a Twitter tag (I’m sure most people knew before I did.) dedicated to the women who typed up famous male authors’ books, and made other contributions (up to and including writing the damn thing for him.) So, I’ll pass that on before I get out of here for the day: Thanks for Typing

A-to-Z Challenge: General Motors

The last car my grandfather ever bought my grandmother was made by General Motors. I remember this because the seat belts–which I was required to wear to protect the windshield from my head–were imprinted with the letters GM. I can’t remember the specific model, but it was a deep maroon with red fabric upholstery. Not-quite velvet.

It wasn’t just a grown-up people’s car.

It was a real live, genuine old people’s car.

Old people do not have children. They do not have plastic seats, and their feet go all the way to the ground.

What old people have instead of children is cars, and specifically, this car. Don’t let the fact that it seats six fool you. That extra space is for other old people, and possibly groceries, but certainly not children.

In the event that children are allowed in the Car:

  1. They go in the middle, over the hump… where they will be sitting between two supervising adults, or… where the driver can at least see them. (Rear view mirror adjusted accordingly)
  2. They go to the bathroom before they get in the Car.
  3. They keep their feet off the upholstery.
  4. And they always, always, remember that the Car is very, very important to Grandma. It is the last Car Grandpa ever gave her. There are no other Cars available on this side of Heaven.

Most of my memories of that car involve holding something so that it cannot spill and never, ever eating anything.

Anyway, one day I was sitting in the back seat. On the hump. In the middle, where the driver could see me. Both feet firmly off the upholstery. And holding a bag of Kentucky Fried Chicken. (Because fun grandmothers do drive-throughs, and my grandmother was a fun grandmother.)

As soon as that bag was on my lap–and it was summer, so I was wearing shorts–it began to leak. Hot, viscous gravy slowly burning its way through paper and oozing onto my bare legs.

You know.

Near the Car.

So, I clamp my legs together in hopes that no gravy will escape onto the upholstery. And it burns all the way to the house.

And then… I’m really not sure how you get out of a Car with a lap full of gravy without spilling. Maybe it’s possible, but I didn’t manage. And the gravy hit the upholstery.

After a good scrubbing, there wasn’t a stain, exactly… but there as a texture. A rough patch in the not-quite velvet–that stayed there forever.

This year, my inspired Alphabetical Challenge theme is “The Letter M”. I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M word, M, person, or M place at a time. No, I don’t have any idea what my Muse was thinking on this one.

If you want to learn more about the A-to-Z Challenge, or join in, the website is here.

A-to-Z Challenge: Freeborn, Minnesota

I’m working my way through the alphabet, one M-word at a time, and for F, we have the small town of Freeborn, Minnesota. I like small towns, and I like Minnesota, so it’s more or less a no-brainer. Also, the Freeborn bar, TB3’s apparently mixes up some strong drinks, which I’m probably going to need after an entire alphabet of M words.

The town has a population of 297, and rests between 645th Avenue and 656th Avenue on 285th Street. We have a lot in common. The postal service has been assigning nearest large-city based addresses all over the countryside. You know that corner where 655th Avenue suddenly turns into 4th Avenue? Oh, yes. I’m so there.

Reminds me of that time I spent half the night in (Name of Town) Tavern waiting for a tow-truck that was wandering around nearest big city looking for the Name of Town Tavern. Well, the official address was….

Anyway, Freeborn is in southern Minnesota, and there’s a lake, so what am I still doing here? Oh, yes. That’s right. Day job.