Left Coast Voices

"I would hurl words into the darkness and wait for an echo. If an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight." Richard Wright, American Hunger

Archive for the month “February, 2010”

Speaking on Sunday – Two Worlds Connect

Tomorrow I will be speaking at the Books & Bagels event at the Jewish Community Center (1414 Walnut Street, Berkeley). The event is free and features – well me and the carbs!

It’s always interesting speaking at a Jewish venue. As the director of San Francisco Hillel I speak at various Jewish venues around the Bay Area. Part of my job description is networking and reaching out to students, donors and potential stakeholders.

When I promoted my book at the Jewish community’s annual Bookfest, I felt very aware that my two worlds are intermingling. I met many who knew me as the Hillel director and presented another side of myself.

Prior to that event, I had felt uncomfortable mixing the two worlds. But as I spoke with more people, a mental bridge began to connect them. As a Hillel director, I am deeply invested in prioritizing social justice in the Jewish campus agenda (taking students to help rebuild the Gulf Coast, volunteering at Project Homeless Connect and the San Francisco Food Bank). As an author, I write to promote a better world, to highlight social injustices, and help create Tikkun Olam – a better world.

I don’t know if I will mention my Jewish world when I address the group tomorrow at the Jewish Community Center, but if I do, I will feel increasingly comfortable with the developing interconnection.

If you are around Berkeley tomorrow morning (10.30), I’d be happy to see some familiar faces.

Good Writing,

Exciting News!

Just announced online – my new novel Unwanted Heroes has made the 2nd round of the Amazon.com Breakthrough Novel Award. A long 2 weeks for the next round! There were 10,000 entries in the first round.


Cute 3 minute movie

Love this insight into the world of publishing:

Good Writing,


Valentines Day

An old lover, a flame from the past, memories. A touch so familiar, a well of emotion long forgotten. Yeah, I know my wife is going to read this, don’t worry.

Today has been quite a day. My youngest had his birthday party and 10 seven-year-olds were initiated as Pokemon trainers on a concrete parking lot in West Berkeley. My wife and I got to spend some quality time together, and a chick-flick and wine await us as the kids settle down.

But something else happened. Somewhere between cleaning the dishes from supper and putting the boys to bed. Something special, something vibrant and exhilarating.

I finished writing Unwanted Heroes last April, ten months ago. Since then, Oilspill dotcom was published and promoted, and Heroes is going through endless editing. Ten months…

Ten months since I sat opposite a blank page (well word document to be precise) and let the story flow. I have been worried that I might not be able to get back in the groove. I’m told it’s like that for every writer. Full-time authors split their day between promotion of what is published, editing what is completed, and writing something new. They never want to run the risk of not having that unchecked creative flow.

But for the vast majority of us, writers who hold down a full-time job, support their partners and families, and who consider themselves lucky to carve out an hour or two a day, there is no way we can fulfill all three of these tasks.

Especially writing something new. When I wrote Heroes, I wrote 80,000 words in three months. I wrote every day, didn’t go to the gym, didn’t watch my favorite TV shows. Oilspill dotcom was at the publishers and I just had to respond to questions and decisions. I did nothing but focus on writing Heroes and it was EXHILARATING!

I never wavered. The book just wrote itself, spewed out of me (excuse the artistic verb, but it’s accurate), in less than a hundred days.

This evening, Valentines Day, in less than an hour, I wrote my prologue and first chapter. First draft, extremely rough, but I am feeling that high again. Tomorrow is Presidents Day. I am home with my boys, but I’ll get 90 minutes before my wife goes to work to slink off to a café and write. Hopefully Chapter Two.

Happy Valentines Day to those of you with a loved one, a soon-to-be loved one, or a story waiting to be told.

Good Writing,

Updates – An Exciting Month!

January was an important month for me. I entered Unwanted Heroes into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and Oilspill dotcom into the IPPY contest. I have already written about the importance of contests in a previous blog entry (January 8th – In Search of Golden Nuggets). In addition, I listed Oilspill dotcom with a company that markets books for a commission.

My goals for February are focused on a number of specific social networking forums. I have been active in LinkedIn groups that, while I learned a lot from the other contributors, have not produced any sales (as far as I can work out).

These are the forums that I plan to work on this month.

1) CreateSpace community
With the merger of Booksurge and CreateSpace, I want to explore the CreateSpace community. This is an active forum of authors and I want to expand my online platform with a group of authors from the same publishing house.

2) Goodread community
This is a community of readers. I have already seen how authors use it to promote their books (harnessing reviews) and there is a very different group of people assembled here.

3) Smashwords Marketing Document: Read Through & Implement
I am very proud to have my ebook published with both Smashwords and iScribd, but I have not put an effort into promoting my ebook outside of this blog. The emerging ebook market fascinates me, and I need to focus on developing my presence in the e-reader world.

4) Amazon – I have purchased the book ‘Sell Your Book on Amazon’ by Brent Sampson. I plan to read through the book this month and implement his ideas. Amazon remains the most effective platform to sell my book. While I experience success (sales) when meeting people face-to-face, the options available in Northern California are steadily shrinking, and I am not succeeding in creating marketing opportunities further afield. If I am to invest time in Social Networking Media, then I need to fully exploit my Amazon store.

5) Amazon community – Amazon do a very good job creating an online community for its customers. In the same way that bookstores use different ploys to get/keep you in their store, Amazon have created a number of communities to achieve a similar goal. This is, therefore, another network where I need to develop a presence.

One of the common threads is to spread my blog throughout these networks. If I am writing my blog, I should try to promote it at each of these forums. This thought has brought me to scrutinize how I am utilizing my blog and what I want to write in it.

A friend of mine recently attended a seminar facilitated by a very successful blogger. The blogger made a number of statements including the need to blog a few times a day (everyday) and also to write passionately about whatever platform is the subject of my blog.

Countdown to a Novel Published began over a year ago as a countdown to the launch of Oilspill dotcom. After the book was published, it became a diary sharing my experiences in marketing and promoting Oilspill. I hope I have honestly portrayed my successes, frustrations and challenges.

I have purposefully avoided sharing inane descriptions about standing in line at the post office and what new protein smoothie I am drinking to increase word production. There are plenty of narcissist blogs and the airwaves are a-twitter (pun intended) with such descriptions. They are read essentially, one would assume, by loved ones, friends and helicopter parents.

Truth is, I am struggling more and more to find topics that I believe are interesting to those beyond my immediate support circle, and I think that this struggle is reflected in the lack of growth in readership over the past 2-3 months. Blogging is a time-consuming component in the little time I have to market my books. I say this while acknowledging the significance of such an investment. But if I am to be truly productive with the time I have, my blog needs to grow, in subject matter and readership.

So I am adding another goal to those listed above: to decide where to take my blog from March onwards. And I would like to solicit your honest thoughts about the direction I should take. So please, drop me a line (comment on the blog, my website, email, or over a beer – yes people still meet face-to-face). I appreciate your input.

Good Writing,

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