Thursday, December 15, 2011

Life after Ponzi

As most of you who have followed this blog know, two years ago last month we were "Madoff'd" by a New Hampshire Bernie-wannabe. We lost our entire retirement savings - including the money from the sale of my company, No Pudge!. My husband who had been working part-time and was about to retire completely, had to go back to work full-time. We were immensely lucky - he was able to find a job quickly, but the job he found was based in New York City. "Great!," we told each other, "An adventure is just what we need." I hunkered down in NH to finish the book I was sure would become a bestseller and to sell the four year-old dream house we were certain would sell quickly while he headed off to slay dragons (a.k.a. selling software) in Gotham City. 


Fast forward two years. On the not-so-great side of our life-ledger, the economy tanked, the house hasn't sold and, despite some rave reviews (Reviews!) The Pig & Me languishes.  On the pretty-great side, Paul's job enabled us to get an apartment in Brooklyn so he's no longer living in a hotel and commuting each week, and I'm not spending the winter alone in NH. Our two sons, one almost-son-except-he's-a-nephew, and their respective two girlfriends and one wife live in New York and we see them regularly. After twenty-five years of residing full-time in NH, living in The Big Apple is an adventure on steroids. I am learning to love our new life-style and Paul is actually beginning not to hate it. To say that we are blessed and have a great life would be no exaggeration. Oh yeah, except for one little thing... At 60 & 61, we have no financial cushion and retirement is a pipe-dream (guess that's two little things). 


I want/need to make a contribution to our financial well-being and since being a best-selling author doesn't appear to be in my immediate future, it's time to start a new journey. 


My first step on this new journey was to sign up for Steve Harrison's one-year Quantum Leap program.  Steve had been recommended as a marketing guru who helps people sell books, garner great PR and get speaking engagements. The recommendation was from someone whose opinion I trust completely, so I jumped online to check him out. There I discovered a description of his year-long program of education and support called "Quantum Leap". It's a program designed to help people fine-tune their message (message??) and then get that message out to their niche audience (if I don't have a message, how can I have a niche?). Turns out the day I checked it out was the day before applications for entrance into this twice a year program closed. Damn. My options were to wait six months or to apply on the spot. Being the patient, think-everything-through-before-jumping-in kind of person I am, I closed my eyes and took yet another huge leap of faith: I filled out and submitted the application. And got in.


I don't have a road map for this journey yet, but I have a starting point and that's something. I'm hoping you'll tag along, offer your thoughts and suggestions and maybe even shout-out a cheer now and then (not of the Bronx variety, please).


Message????

Sunday, November 27, 2011

'Nuff Said...

On our walk this morning, Zoe and I passed a church. Outside the door was this:


Amen.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Shamelessly self-serving, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...

Okay, this is a first for me. I am re-posting - word-for-word - a blog post I found on a site while I was researching book review and book marketing sites. I have been researching, reading and reaching out to these sites for the last week and my eyes are getting blurry from too much computer time (excuse for no blog post this week - did you catch that?). I just came across this one and thought "What the Hell!" - a quick and hopefully effect post for my friends and followers. 

So, without further ado...

If You Love a Book Author and Want to Help Her ...

36 Ways to Help a Book Author You Love

Eileen Flanagan, author of The Wisdom to Know the Difference, wrote a blog post about a year ago telling friends of book authors how they could help the author sell more books. You can read her blog post here: http://bit.ly/9v5TgA.
I thought I'd include some of the highlights of her help list, add my own comments, and provide many more ways that friends can help book authors to sell more books.
If you have a friend who is a book author, please use these suggestions to help them out. If you are a book author, please share this page with your friends (so they can help you out).
1. Buy your friend's book. Encourage other friends to buy the book. Go to your local library or bookstore and encourage them to buy the book. Buy books as gifts.
2. Don't put off buying the book. Don't wait for the holidays to buy the book as a gift. First, the sooner you buy, the more confidence you'll inspire in your friend. Second, media and other decision makers pick up on a book based on the momentum the book inspires. The more sales at the beginning of the book's life, the more attention it will get from key decision makers, the media, and consumers.
3. Where should you buy the book? First choice: the indie bookstore nearest you (that will help your friend get her book into that store on a regular basis). Second choice: a chain bookstore like Borders or Barnes & Noble (if they start selling the book locally, they might buy books for more stores in the chain). Third choice: the author's website (the author makes the most money when selling direct). Fourth choice: buy direct from the author. Fifth choice: Buy from Amazon.com (preferably from the link on the author's website).
4. Recommend your friend's book. If you like the book, recommend it to friends. Blog about it. Tweet a review or mention. Share a note on Facebook. Recommend the book to your book group. Review her book on Amazon.com, BN.com, GoodReads, Library Thing, and other reader social networks.
5. Tell your friend what you like about the book. Provide your friend with support by telling him something you like about his book. Was it a good read? Did it move you to tears or laughter? Did you learn something new?
6. Help your friend get speaking engagements. If your friend is comfortable speaking, recommend your friend to your Rotary Club, Jaycees, church, Friends of the Library, bookseller, garden club, school, etc.
7. Recommend your friend's website. Link to it from your website, blog, Facebook page, etc. Tweet about it. When your friend writes a blog post, link to it. If your friend tweets something great, retweet it. Feature a quote from your friend's book on your website. Or tweet the quote.
8. Create a Wikipedia page for your friend. While authors can't create their own Wikipedia page, other people can. Every book author deserves a Wikipedia page, since a published book grants the author at least a modicum of fame. On the Wikipedia page, feature a short bio, a bibliography, a link to the author's website.
9. Help your friend with the media. If you know of any newspaper editors or reporters, magazine editors, radio producers or hosts, TV show hosts or producers, columnists, bloggers, etc., send them a copy of the book or a note about the author. Or tell your friend about your connection, and introduce her to your contacts.
10. Pray. Prayer always helps. Pray for your friend and his book. If you're not into prayer, ask your favorite tree to help.
11. Ask. Ask your friend how you can help her. You may have some talent, connection, specialized knowledge, etc. that might be just the thing she needs. Or they might just need some of your time to help pack and ship some books or make a few phone calls.
12. Do a video review of the book and post it on YouTube and other video sharing websites.
13. Help your friend make some videos for the book. Every author needs a cameraperson, a scriptwriter, a producer. Again, share on YouTube and other video sharing websites.
14. Look for specialty retailers. As you drive around your own hometown or a nearby larger city, keep on the lookout for specialty retailers that might be interested in selling your friend's books. Cookbooks in gourmet shows, do-it-yourself books in hardware stores, children's books in toy stores, art or history books at museum shops. Make the contacts yourself or pass them on to your friend to follow up.
15. Look for other sales venues. If your friend's book is about retirement, check out accountants, tax lawyers, etc. who might be interested in buying copies to give to their clients. Health books, children's books, and cookbooks might interest doctor and dentist offices. Health clubs might be interested in exercise or diet books. Again, make the contacts yourself or pass them on to your friend to follow up.
16. Suggest catalogs, associations, and other special sales opportunities. If you receive mail order catalogs that feature books like your friend's book, tell her abour the catalog. The same with associations, groups, corporations, etc. that might be interested in buying bulk copies of your friend's book.
17. Help them sell rights. If your friend's novel would make a great movie and you have a connection to an A-list actor or producer who might be interested in making the movie, introduce your friend to your connection. The same with TV producers, audio publishers, agents, etc.
18. Be a mentor. Provide feedback on your friend's marketing ideas, book proposals, news releases, book covers, etc. Share your experience, if you have any, on marketing, writing, publishing, printing, design, etc.
19. Form a mastermind group. Create a group of five or so knowledgeable people who can help your friend with the writing, publishing, or marketing of his or her book. You can meet regularly (at least once a month) live, via phone calls, or via online webinars.
20. Write a testimonial. Or write an introduction to the book. Blurb it (give a great selling quote that can go on the back cover of the book).
21. Social network for your friend. Tweet about your friend's book. Retweet his tweets. Engage in a conversation with her on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Write comments on your friend's blog. Interaction and activity increase any person's visibility on the Internet and the search engines.
22. Champion your friend's book. When you visit bookstores, make sure they have your friend's book in stock. If they do, then put the book face out on the bookshelf.
23. Seed your friend's book. If you can afford to buy a few extra copies, start leaving them around town. Leave a copy on the bus. Donate a copy to the library. Leave a copy in a waiting room. Every additional book out in the world helps to generate exposure for your friend's book while also increasing the word-of-mouth about the book.
24. Host your friend. If your friend wants to do a book tour and you live in a city he wants to visit, offer to put him up at your home. Drive her around town to her media appearances and book events. Pick him up at the airport. Take him back afterwards. Do whatever you can to make their book tour in your town the best ever. You can, of course, also help her set up a tour in your town, with media interviews and author events.
25. Recommend your friend's book to your reading group. If you belong to a reading group, suggest your friend's book as part of your reading program. Or at least tell your reading group about the book.
26. Sell their books at your events. If you speak, do seminars, or display at trade shows or fairs, offer to sell your friend's book along with your book, crafts, tapes, or whatever you sell.
27. Reciprocal link. Set up links from your websites to your friend's book or author website. Better yet, create a special page recommending your friend's book or speeches and then link to his or her website.
28. Interview them. If you host an Internet radio show, podcast, or teleseminar series, interview your friend.
29. Create other products. Help your author friend generate other products to sell. Interview them for a CD or DVD product. Create a joint webinar. Compile a collection of articles written by your friend and other friends.
30. Add their blog to your blogroll. If you write a blog, add your friend's blog to your blogroll. It's a simple thing to do, but another link is added notice to the search engines that the writer's blog is important.
31. Blog about your friend or her book. Post an article about the book, a review of the book, etc.
32. Interview your friend on your blog. An author interview is one of the best ways to introduce a new book author to a wider audience - even if your blog has a small audience. Every added audience provides impetus to growing awareness of the author's website, book, and brand.
33. Host a blog tour visit from your friend. Volunteer to me one of the host blogs on your friend's Mega Blog Tour.
34. Share their book in the literary social media such as Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing.
35. Help out on Amazon.com. Amazon is the big kahuna of book sellers, especially when it comes to ebooks, so helping an author get found on there can give them a big boost.
You can certainly do these things on other bookstore sites as well (nothing against copying and pasting a review, for example), but Amazon tends to have more cool features to help an author get found.
Here's the list (any one of these things can help):
  • Write a review on Amazon, even if the book already has quite a few and/or you've reviewed it elsewhere. There's evidence that ratings and reviews factor into the Amazon algorithms that decide which books are promoted on the site (i.e. certain books are recommended to customers who bought books in similar genres). If reviewing isn't your bag, don't worry about writing paragraphs-long in-depth studies of the book; maybe you could just pen a few sentences with a couple of specifics about why you liked the book.
  • Tag the book with genre-appropriate labels (i.e. thriller, steampunk, paranormal romance). You don't have to leave a review to do this; you just need an account at Amazon. A combination of the right tags and a good sales ranking can make a book come up when customers search for that type of story on Amazon.
  • Give the book a thumbs up. This takes less than a second and probably doesn't do much, but it may play into Amazon's algorithms to a lesser extent than reviews/ratings.
  • Make a Listmania List and add your favorite authors’ books to it. This creates another avenue for new readers to find books. It's better to create lists around similar types of books (i.e. genres or sub-genres) than to do a smorgasbord, and consider titling it something description so folks will be more inclined to check it out, ie. “Fun heroic fantasy ebooks for $5 or less.”
  • If you have a Kindle, highlight and share some wise or fun quotations from the boo. If enough people share their highlights, they’ll show up at the bottom of a book’s page.
The above Amazon.com suggestions are excerpted from an original blog post byLindsay Buroker.
36. Buy your friend a copy of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. Okay, this is a little selfish on my part, but your friend will love the gift and gain incredible value from reading the book and acting on all the ideas in the book.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Journey

I'm never been a huge fan of poetry. Most likely for two reasons - I've not read enough of it and, there's a lot about the genre I simply don't understand. But the first time I read The Journey by Mary Oliver, it took my breath away. It was as if she knew me and my life. It was as if she had written the poem just for me. I wonder if she wrote this for you too...




The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice---
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations---
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do---
determined to save
the only life you could save.

--Mary Oliver

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Five Days in Brooklyn

Yes, I know I've been gone a long time and I apologize. I'd love to tell you it's because I've been marketing the book with so much fervor that I've not had time to write. Alas, that's not the case. The New Hampshire summer was spectacular and we were lucky enough to be graced with friends rolling in and out of the house all summer long. Since I love to have company, it was wonderful, but also time consuming. 

So what of the last couple of months, you ask? Busted! I've been dragging my heels for no good reason on both the blog and the book. But all that has changed. We're back in Brooklyn and I am settling down with my computer on my lap to start tapping keys and stringing words together. 

I'm also starting a strong push to get the book out there. The response so far has been amazing and I am grateful to all who have read and shared it. Word of mouth is a powerful thing and I am thrilled to know that the "buzz network" has begun! I will do my best to keep the buzz going!

Okay - so much for the excuses... This first blog is a group of photos that I took when we were here in NY for a few days in September. These shots really tell the New York story - there is something interesting to see around every corner. 

Driving into the city we hit horrendous traffic and had to reroute onto the dreaded BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway). We were moving slowly enough that I ventured a shot out the window with my phone camera and, lo and behold! Look what I got! The tallest building is the Empire State Building and the Chrysler building is to it's right. I don't know what the one between them is. Met Life maybe? Anyone??


On our first day here, I met AJ at his office in Nolita and we walked through Soho on our way to lunch. These boys were sitting outside a hairdresser - the brown one staring intently through the window. When we walked back, almost an hour later, they were STILL THERE. The brown one still staring just as intently through the window. Lucky lady who gets to walk these boys at night - she can clearly be fearless since their devotion to her obviously matches their size.


The next day it rained and as I headed out the front door of our building, I realized I smelled smoke and that the cross street was full of fire engines.



It's supposed to be an empty building but apparently someone was inside


Bringing him out. The crowd cheered loudly! 
I heard someone behind me thank a firefighter for "what you do".  
Nice. Who says New Yorkers are cold?


Sunday was spectacular! We had friends in for the weekend and we took a long walk. These pictures are all from Brooklyn Bridge Park which runs from Brooklyn Heights, past the Brooklyn Bridge  to the Manhattan Bridge.

Not a clue...

Brooklyn Bridge. Great ice cream place right behind me.
Manhattan Bridge and the park

Manhattan Bridge
They have restored a magnificent carousel and placed it right along the East River as part of the park. It's in a closable plexiglass box to protect it from the elements and the salt from the brackish water in this part of the river. Next time I go down there, I'll get some close-ups of the horses. 


Only $2.00 a ride.  :-)

The next day, Zoe and I went for a long walk (another gorgeous day) and as we walked along the Brooklyn Promenade, I noticed these crocus-like flowers in a garden. Since it was September, I was stumped. Anyone??




We walked back through the park at Cadman Plaza and it was recess for one of the local schools. A hearty kick sent a soccer ball flying and these two guys, deep in conversation, walked over to retrieve it.


We passed through the Farmer's Market where I bought a couple of  gorgeous heirloom tomatoes for lunch (Salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a quick shave of aged parmesan. Amazing!). Zoe and I climbed the steps of Borough Hall to get the bigger picture.
You can just make out the spires of the Manhattan Bridge in the background.

Just before sundown, Paul and I went up on the roof for a glass of wine. This was our view...

East River. Manhattan Bridge on the left. Midtown Manhattan.

This is the financial district. 
The tall building with the cranes on top is the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero


As we got ready to head back to our apartment, Cunard's Queen Elizabeth was just cruising out of the harbor. The photo doesn't do it justice. It is HUGE (compare it to Liberty Island behind it). That little thing between it and Governor's Island is the Staten Island Ferry.



Five short days. Cool, huh?















Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ta Da & WOO HOO!!!

After I announced last fall that I was planning on self-publishing, I was frequently asked, "So what's going on with the book?"  I would immediately launch into a more-than-you-ever-wanted-to-know commentary on editing, rereading, copy-editing, rereading, photos, cover design, rereading, yada, yada, yada, yawn. Slowly but surely the question stopped being asked. My little book appeared to be rapidly morphing into "The Never Ending Story, Part Deux".


Well folks, the story has ended and... Wait for it... THE BOOK IS DONE!!!!




Funny, now that it's finally done, I'm feeling a bit awkward about putting it "out there".  While I pushed and promoted the brownies at every conceivable opportunity, doing the same with the book leaves me feeling a little vulnerable. After all, this is/was my life, laid bare for all to see. But with a monumental milestone looming (the BIG 6-0 is next week...), I am pushing down the fear to take the leap one more time. 


So....... 


Now available on Amazon!! The PIG & ME, written by Lindsay Frucci, cover and logo design by the graphic artist who has been there from the very beginning: Lee Morrill, and amazingly good photo of yours truly by my talented nephew Christopher Loren Ewers.
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_14?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=the+pig+and+me&sprefix=the+pig+and+me

One final thought... Word of mouth is the only way anyone is ever going to know this story of mine exists. If you should buy the book and like it, would you please tell family and friends? Thanks.  :-)


WOO HOO!!!!!



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Street Queen

There is a homeless woman who lives on a park bench in Cadman Plaza. She is normally clothed in a long, black, down coat reinforced with black garbage bags.


One morning last week, Zoe and I were heading home from our morning walk, and, as we often do, passed by her bench. The image stopped me in my tracks and I had to share.




I had not seen her robed in this spectacular blanket before. Nor have I since.


Someone I showed this to, thought that I was wrong to have taken this picture. I couldn't NOT take it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A sure sign...

Spring has Sprung!! And I have the picture to prove it.



Zoe and Lindsay's excellent early morning Easter walk

Yesterday morning - Easter morning - dawned beautifully clear and warm. When Zoe and I set out, the sidewalks were still wet from the rain the night before. By the time we returned, the clouds had too, but we set out on a fresh, clean Easter morning. Just exactly as it should be.


Our destination was Fort Greene Park for Zoe's daily morning romp.




This is a case where a photo can't begin to share the true experience. If I knew how to work the video on my camera (or in this case, my phone...), you'd have been in for a real treat. There was a smile-inducing symphony of people talking and dogs barking and kids yelling that still photos simply can't reproduce.


When we finally headed home, the clouds had rolled back in, but no rain, so our walk was leisurely. These photos are all from within a block of our apartment and on our daily route home.


This is a small Catholic church where the first service of the morning was just beginning. What I couldn't capture was the family (complete with stroller) that had just run up the stairs, the ringing bells or the beautiful spray of full-bloom forsythia right inside the front door. On the railings are sprays of pussy willows tied with rafia.


This is the main entrance to MetroTech Park where our apartment building resides. 


This is the tiny park that is at the end of our street - MetroTech Common. Around the park are office buildings that house (among others) JP Morgan Chase, Empire Blue Cross, the FDNY headquarters and the buildings of NYU Polytech.


 I think these weird signs served as both protection for the trees from the snow plows and artwork. 






I think she's saying: "Enough with the camera already! Can we please go home now?"


Hope you all had a wonderful Easter or Passover.  :-)