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 tag “Bread Workshop”

Small Business Saturday

I’ve just returned from my Black Friday Shopping foray. Mrs. Blog and I rose at 4am (Friday at the time of writing) and made some new friends outside the Office Max in Oxnard. Having secured our new treasure – a laptop for the lady – I came home and saw an email sent to remind me that Saturday (today) is Small Business Saturday. In a recent post, I wrote about the challenges of the endangered species – the small, independent business.

Today’s initiative is a great response to Black Friday. It is interesting that the day is being sponsored by American Express Credit Card Company – yes you read that correctly I went online to check it when I was told. Here is the Facebook page so it must be true!

Though I am 300 miles away, here are a few of my favorite local businesses in Berkeley.

1. Manhattan Bagels is over on 4th Street. There isn’t a lot to say – they have the best bagels in town, a great variety (check out the Cranberry Orange), and the service and parking is smooth.

2. East Bay Vivarium – when you’ve finished your bagel, why not pop over to the East Bay Vivarium. Okay, this is for reptile lovers, but I want to point them out because they care about their pets, even after you have purchased and taken the little critters home. As nervous new parents, my sons and I have often returned for advice from the staff, and they have always been happy to dispense from their wealth of experience. I am particularly impressed when someone says: “I’m not sure. Let me check with the others.”

Meet the beautiful, latest addition to our family – Nanchuk, a Crested Gecko.

3. The Bread Workshop – I realize I’m pushing the carbs here, but this a great place to eat, to hang out for coffee, and to feel good with a vendor using a fair amount of local products and organic ingredients.  I might be biased since they hosted the book launch of my previous incarnation of The Accidental Activist, but this really is an excellent example of a business that aims to be sustainable. You can find The Bread Workshop at 1398 University Avenue.

4. Out of the Closet – This is a thrift store (there are a few around the Bay Area) on University. The thing about this place is that there always seems to be something to surprise you and this probably explains why it is a favorite venue in the run up to Halloween. It also helps to know that Out of the Closet supports AIDS projects and was set up by one of the all-time basketball greats – Magic Johnson.

5. Rasputin Music – is an icon up on Telegraph Avenue. They have a great stock of discs at affordable prices. I’ve also picked up several movies here.

So while you plan your day, here is the latest offering from my favorite musician, Lloyd Cole. I can’t think of any reason to link the song to the article, I’m just excited that he has a new disc out!

And while you are here, why not list below in the comments your favorite local, small business, and give them a plug.

Happy Small Business Saturday.

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Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com

Vacation – A Time to Chill

My first month since Oilspill dotcom was published has been a rollercoaster. The highs of seeing the book move up the Amazon.com rankings and the excitement of the book launch party at The Bread Workshop in Berkeley. Both were very successful.

Since then it has become more challenging. I have spent the last few weeks trying to garner interviews, author meetups and generally networking beyond the Bay Area bubble.

Perhaps it is the slowing pace of the summer months, the call of vacation, but everything seems slower and more difficult. And, in truth, I am feeling it too. I thought it was the anti-climax after the excitement of the first month, but perhaps there is an accumulating exhaustion, trying to juggle a new commitment amidst the general chaos of a challenging full time job, a young family, and the desire to keep writing.

I need to find a way of incorporating the marketing of Oilspill dotcom, into an already packed everyday routine, without it taking the fun out of writing and being an author.

I am going on vacation and when I return, I will create a more realistic marketing plan, one that is sustainable and compatible to my everyday life. I do not intend to blog over the next few weeks, but take a break both physically and mentally. On my family vacation I plan to write, just get back to being creative, and getting the energy back.

After all, this is what a vacation is about. And marketing Oilspill dotcom can wait two weeks. In order not to burn out, I need to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

See ya’ all in a few weeks.
Alon

http://www.alonshalev.com/

And They’re Off…

I really feel, in many ways, like a racehorse, fresh out of the paddocks and charging around the racetrack. Last Friday was the beginning. In the preceding days I sent emails to everyone I know and asked them to consider buying Oilspill dotcom on Friday, which happened to be my birthday.

My Amazon.com ranking improved from around #1,200,000 to #4,500, so it couldn’t have just been my mother! I promised myself that I would not go into Amazon to check more than once an hour – a logical decision given that Amazon only updates their numbers once an hour – and, well, I rarely went in more than 2 or 3 times an hour.

Along with the messages from friends telling me that they’d bought the book, were numerous emails congratulating me and offering many words of encouragement. I feel blessed with a large group of people who care about me and are excited for my progress.

Now I need to move on and focus on my book launch party, this coming Saturday night at 7.30pm. As already mentioned in past postings, the venue is the Bread Workshop, on University Avenue, Berkeley.

The Bread Workshop (1398 University Avenue, Berkeley) is a small community-orientated café and bakery that tries to use only sustainable products and produce. It is a favorite haunt of mine and I am proud that we are holding the launch at such a venue. There is a poster of me in the window staring out as you drive past (trust me and keep your eyes on the road) and I get a thrill every time I pass by.

I plan to have friends reading passages from the book and I am excited at the prospect of sharing the book face-to-face with people who are not in my writer’s group or family.

So if you are around on Saturday, please drop by and be a part of the experience.

It’s beginning to feel real!

Good Writing,
Alon

A Pit in the Stomach

It’s June and Oilspill dotcom has just been released! Everyday this week I have gone into Amazon.com, just to …well… make sure it is still there. In the next few days I will send out emails and blasts to all my family, friends and colleagues. I will post on the various social networking sites where I maintain a profile and on Internet forums in which I participate.

My birthday is next Friday (06/12) and I am hoping for an Amazon ranking on that day. As a gift for my birthday, I am asking friends to buy a copy of Oilspill dotcom for themselves, or as a gift for someone else on June 12th. If people buy from amazon.com, I might break into the top 1,000, which will be a feat and hopefully help attract some exposure. A few people have already purchased the book and, for a while, I broke into the top 250,000 – Oprah here I come! Currently, I think I am languishing around the 1 million mark, deep in what publishers call Amazon’s ‘long tail’.

I will continue to promote my book launch on June 20th at The Bread Workshop in Berkeley. I have posters printed and have sent press releases to local newspapers and magazines.

Everything is going according to plan, but…

There seems to be a small pit of fear that’s taken up residence in my stomach. I am not doing enough to promote…I will make a fool of myself…people won’t like the book…won’t take me seriously…won’t come to the book launch…won’t…

It’s cloudy here in San Francisco. It’s June – the sun should be shining.

Update on Launch: Oilspill dotcom

Friends and colleagues who are following this blog and the approaching launch of my novel Oilspill dotcom have asked for an update. This is, after all, the point of the blog.

The book is ready and out there. With my birthday approaching (June 12th) I have decided to make the announcement in the week leading up and will ask friends and colleagues to consider purchasing the book on amazon.com on June 12th. The idea is that I will be able to secure an amazon.com ranking as a birthday present.

My book launch will be the following week on Saturday, June 20th at 7.30pm. It will be hosted at The Bread Workshop (1398 University Avenue), a typical local Berkeley creation. In their own words:

The Bread Workshop creates sustainable food in a context that is community oriented. The community includes customers, neighborhood, schools, workers, vendors and producers. We are also dedicated to understanding sustainability; environmentally; socially; and economically. In doing this we are developing a cohesive logic in deciding what is sustainable or not so that we can maintain a truly sustainable production and integrate it into society.

I have a plan to avoid forcing my guests to listen to me and I am on the lookout for people with English accents (actually a Northerner, a Scotsman and some Londoners), if you fancy your acting talents. No Oscar nominations, but the appreciation of a struggling writer.

I would like to hold a launch party the following week in San Francisco and am looking for a venue. Any ideas?

For now, my time is being spent on press releases and designing promotional items (?), social networking, promoting my website (www.alonshalev.com) and, of course, my blog. I find this all to be exhilarating. It is where I have wanted to be.

But I am also itching to return to writing. There is another novel completed which, while I am very proud of it, is in dire need of some severe editing. And then there is a firm idea for the next novel and a desire to lose myself at the keyboard.

Good Writing,
Alon

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