This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Slow down, world.

On Facebook, a writer I know, Jennifer Haupt, asked how you quiet your mind. She's getting some really good responses...thoughts such as shut off the power (electricity, lighting, etc.) at home, turn off the radio when in the car (I do this a lot!), and some obvious thoughts (yoga, meditation). You can probably guess my response. I get on my bike, of course. That's exactly what I do to quiet my mind when the quiet doesn't want to come.

Her question inspired me to think about this a little longer.

Bike riding relieves stress

The repetitive motion of riding my bike not only helps relieve any stress I might be feeling but really does help slow things down. It allows me to think about a challenge that's getting to me or to not think at all. If I ride long enough, time won't even be an issue. I'll get so lost in thought or motion that an hour will have passed before I realize the time. If you're the type who thinks you can't spare that half-hour to exercise, you'll be surprised by how quickly time flies when on the seat of your bike. That might be a good enough reason to ride, if you're looking for one.

And when I need to slow down my entire world, meaning there's just too much to do and I'm feeling way off balance, my bike is a godsend. It allows me to connect with what exactly the challenge is that I may be facing and focus on listening for the answer. We all have them inside of ourselves. We just need to listen for them. That does mean we need to quiet the mind. A really long walk alone can be equally as helpful.

Hiking is a form of meditation

And I love to hike. Hikes through Arizona's wilderness really help me find focus, peace and quiet. That's why I love hiking with my boyfriend. We just returned from a long weekend in Greer, Ariz., where we spent two days hiking near Mt. Baldy (home of Sunrise Ski Resort). The wilderness is one of the few places where I don't mind not engaging in conversation. And he likes that, too! In fact, I want it to be as peaceful out there as possible. Words come only when necessary. Thoughts don't have to be shared. And the sounds of nature finally get to have their say. I like that.

Asking for help slows down your world

Another thing that helps slow down my world is asking for help when I need it. I've been doing that a lot lately. Promoting my book has taken up so much of my time that I finally realized I needed to slow down. The ideas are running so rampant, and I want to do them all, and I was trying to do it all--by myself. But it became too much. And I had to admit I'm unable to get it all done. So I ushered in some help--a marketing pro, a public relations pro. They're helping me with my brand, with publicizing my book.

Yesterday, after a long chat with the public relations gal I hired about what I needed to accomplish--and she told me what she needs from me in order to do that--I hung up the phone and immediately sent her all the information I could. And then I felt such relief.

"Whew!" moments create room for growth

It was one big "whew!" moment that opened up room for a renewed energy. And that, in turn, allowed me to do other work I need to focus my attention on as well. Slowing down in one area of life means you can speed things up in others--wherever it counts most at the moment. And my PR pro has already sent out one PR notification. That's amazing to me, as I wouldn't have been able to get that done today. Overwhelm just wouldn't let me.

Have you found this ever to be true in your own life? Is there an area of your life right now where you could use an extra hand? Are you asking for that help? According to BIKE, that's using your Expressive voice. As the holiday season begins to approach us, I bet there will be plenty of tasks you could use help with. Do yourself a favor and don't forget to ask for it.

Next on my agenda? Get a housekeeper. I definitely need help with that. How about you?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I hate adultery

I'm not one to use strong language, such as the word "hate." I'm not a fan of it. I like to be middle-of-the-road, not so judgmental. But there are things in life you can't help but judge. For me, adultery is one of them. I absolutely hate it.

I'm sure it's because I was married to a man who committed the act. Perhaps if I hadn't experienced it first-hand, I wouldn't feel so strongly. But I did, and I do.

I think adultery is one of mankind's worst excuses for bad behavior. People like to tell you men will commit it because man is not able to live the monogamous life. They'll point to research that says this. I think that's hogwash. Stupid, really. If man is not able to live the monogamous life here on earth, then man should find somewhere else to live.

I mean, you have to question comments and research such as this. You have to, because it's so one-sided.

If man can't live the monogamous life, then why get married at all? Why have children with the woman you know intends to spend the rest of her life with you--and expects to be honored and cherished, as the vows might go? If you promise to love this woman through the good and the bad, till death do you part, in front of all of your friends and family, your witnesses expect you to keep those vows, as well as your new bride. And if you don't? If you know it right then and there, then say something, for goodness sakes. Don't just stand there with that "deer in the headlights" look. Say something. If you don't intend to keep this vow, why lie to yourself? There's no harm in changing your mind. Or, if you feel coerced, there's no harm in standing up for yourself. You need to live life differently than what you think society expects? Do it. Just don't drag other people with you if they don't know what you're thinking.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with living an uncommitted life. There isn't as long as the women you're living it with understand your position, and they're okay with it. Otherwise, it's only fair to spare the woman in your life you'll hurt. There's just no good reason to purposefully hurt another human being--in any way.

If you think adultery occurs because of something your partner did or did not do, you're lying to yourself. If you think adultery occurs because the two of you grew apart, you're kidding yourself. If you think a man cheats on his wife or his partner because he can't help it, that it just happened, wasn't planned? That's a lie. Adultery occurs for one reason; the person let it happen. Maybe there was no orchestrated plan, no outline drawn on lined paper. But there was a plan. You had to plan it in order not to be caught. So any excuse you come up with is just that--an excuse. It's a reason to be selfish.

If you think otherwise, then you're saying man has no free will. And we know that's not true because free will is exactly what sets the human being apart from the animal in this kingdom we've been given. Man has free will. We get to decide. We get to choose. We get to make up our own minds.

When we cheat, we've decided to do it. Plain and simple. And that's pretty much why I hate it. It can be avoided with a simple decision not to. You can save a person's pain by making a simple decision.

Should you ever come across a person who claims otherwise, that person is trying to trick you into believing a myth. If you fall for it, you just perpetuate the myth.

That's why I hate adultery. It's an excuse for bad behavior, and far too many people buy into it. If I could have anything in the world, anything at all, it would be for man to admit responsbility for this kind of behavior and begin to change it. From my perspective, it would salvage relationships and families. It would stop the hurts that serve no good purpose. It would save kids' lives. It would give meaning to marriage and family again.

When I hear people say they've been married for so many years, more than 10, more than 20, and so on, I'm so jealous of them. And then, at the same time, I wonder how they survived that long. Did either spouse cheat on them? Did either spouse know? I am skeptical about long-term marriages. I question their validity. And I hate that adultery did that to me.

Would it be better not to know, if cheating occurred? I wonder...

I hate adultery because it changed my way of thinking. It made me question the sanctity of marriage. It made me not able to trust in the union of two people. It made me wonder if long-term love is real.

But why can't it be real? Why can't two people fall in love in the beginning, build a family and last. Why can't that happen? I want to believe that it can. I really want to believe that we can choose to love one person and one person only. We can choose to work through the challenges in a marriage--just as we can choose to overcome the challenges in life, in general. We have the ability to commit ourselves to many things: our lives, our careers, our marriages, our families, our health. We have the ability to do that.

And that's why I hate adultery. It threatens all of my beliefs. It's like a boil on our skin about to burst. It threatens to burst. It threatens to break through the skin. It threatens to spread it's poison and create more boils. But there's a cure. There's an ointment you can use. You can do something to stop it. You can make a choice. You can turn the trouble around so that you have to face it.

That's what I hope happens. I want to see people live a more conscious life, a life that matters, a life that depends on decisions rather than on "it just happened" moments.

"It just happened" is an excuse I'd like to see disappear. "It just happened" is a lie. "It just happened" means you didn't think about the consequences. "It just happened" hurts someone. And there's no good reason for that. None.

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I'd hate to be James Arthur Ray

"He didn't do anything, he didn't participate in helping. He did nothing. He just stood there."
~Beverley Bunn, participant
I've become obsessed by the sweat lodge tragedy that occurred here in Arizona a few weeks ago. I've been reading every article that gets posted on the Web. I've heard audio and watched videos. And, still, I can't understand how this so-called guru, James Arthur Ray, could take a group of his followers, teach them all these wonderful things about how to live a spiritual life, and then lead them to their spiritual deaths.

Of course, Ray can claim success to one thing; he promised his people they'd be transformed, and surely they have been, though, hopefully not in the way he intended. From the quote above, about what he did after the now infamous sweat ended, it's hard to tell what he intended. One cannot wish to believe he expected any of his idol worshippers to fall to their deaths inside this primitive and poorly planned sweat lodge. But some of them did.

In addition to the AP story source quoted above, an article in today's Arizona Republic also included an interview from one of the participants at the ill-fated sweat lodge ceremony, which took place near Sedona in early October. In it, the article exposes how Ray urged the 50-60 participants crowded inside this small, dark airtight space for several hours, heated by hot rocks that filled the room with steam, to push past their pain. It must have been extremely uncomfortable pain if some lost consciousness, and the people farthest away from the door fought the most for oxygen. If they weren't baking to death, they were certainly suffocating.

How could Ray have not noticed this? He sat next to the door, had light to see, and had the most air of all to breathe. People even cried out for help. What did he do? He chided them. He told them to push themselves harder.

I understand the importance of pushing past your limits, which is the purpose behind his "Spiritual Warrior" retreat. I've done that on my bike. I've done that at work. I've gone the extra mile when I felt I couldn't. I've climbed up a hill when my legs didn't want to pedal any longer. I've made a dozen more calls when I felt all talked out. I've squeezed in another assignment when I knew it would be overkill on my schedule. I did it to push myself. Just to say that I could. To build confidence. Whatever you want to call it, I've done it.

And once I even put my life in danger. I remember riding my bike a few years ago during the mid-afternoon heat of a summer day, 110 degrees or more outside here in Phoenix. I missed my early morning ride, and so I rode in the afternoon--even though I knew it was too hot. I drank water before I left, and I drank water during the ride. But the heat proved to be too much for my body to handle. I listened to what it was telling me, and I had to turn back. This wasn't because I am weak or can't hack it. It's because I knew I'd pushed myself too far. It would have been stupid of me to continue the ride.

That became very clear on my way back home, I had to stop and find shade. Fast. Or I might have passed out. It wasn't easy getting off my bike. I nearly fell, my legs were shaking so much. But I managed to sit down on a neighbor's wall and put my head between my legs. I felt nauseous. Was this heat stroke? An older woman in my neighborhood had just been found underneath a mesquite tree that same week, dead from heat exhaustion. She'd hiked up the nearby mountain, never making it home, even though she, too, stopped to rest. She died sitting right there underneath the tree. I was thinking of her when I got home and walked inside my air conditioned home, my legs still shaking. I still felt nauseous and now had a headache. I sipped more water and sat down on the couch to rest until I felt okay about an hour later. I didn't do anything. I just sat there. That was stupid of me to ride in the mid-day sun. And I've never done it since. I learned my lesson.

But this guy didn't learn his. He'd taken his followers into such a sweat lodge before, and people passed out. I'm not sure if anyone died, but they passed out. Isn't that too close enough? I'd say so. I'd say it wasn't worth the risk to try something like that again. But Ray did.

Regardless of what he was thinking as he carried out his plan for his "Spiritual Warriors," there's no growth to be gained in pushing yourself so hard you can't walk or think, or in going so far past your limits that you die.

Who would encourage that but a fanatic!

It's scary to me to think that even after the Mansons and the Hitlers of the world, we can still be lured by a fanatic. That's what I think of when I hear Ray's name. And I wonder, why can we still be so gullible? How can one man hold that much power over us? Is it because we pay him to? These people forked over $9,000 or more to attend this retreat. Prior to that, they'd paid thousands more to attend his other workshops in the classroom. They'd bought his books, his CDs, and even paid extra for food and lodging--even though some of the time they spent there at the retreat was spent out in the wilderness, fasting. He's raked in a lot of dough to teach his beliefs. The fact that he's appeared on Oprah even gives him a credibility that not many of us have. These people must have believed Ray knew what he was doing and where he was leading them. Ray must have believed that.

So then what happened?

As Ray sat at the entrance to this makeshift sweat lodge, as he breathed in the fresh air coming in from the door and called for more rocks to be brought in, and as he poured the water over those hot rocks, he must have sensed anxiety. As minutes turned into an hour, and as more time passed and he heard the cries from people in back asking to be let out so they could breath fresh air, too, he must have heard the sounds of people slouching forward or sideways as they passed out from the heat. As he encouraged them to fight through the pain, what was he thinking? Why wasn't he concerned that the limits he was asking these people to go beyond was not to their benefit? It's not like he was suffering the same as they. It's not like he was stronger. It's not like that at all because he was sitting near the entrance; he had fresh air to breathe.

It seems to me that he just might be so caught up in his own words that he's incapable of seeing reality. The reality is that he let people die that day. He let them die. And he didn't do anything to stop it. He didn't even do anything to help, it now appears.

People who weren't there have suggested that since the participants went in of their own free will, they could have left of their own free will. Yet, people who were there said it wasn't that simple. Ray wanted these people to push themselves, to push past their pain. He wanted them all to stay in the dome for the entire two hours. Was this his ego trip? So he could sell his next group of gullibles on his success rate? It makes me wonder. It seems as though this guy exerted a scary kind of control over these people. They believed in his words. They believed they could push beyond their own limits because he was telling them they could. He was encouraging it. By doing so, he disregarded lives. And lives were lost. Needlessly.

If I were one of the people signed up for his upcoming classes, it would be hard for me to look to him for advice now.

We can often deny the truth because we believe what someone we know and admire tells us. We ignore warning signs or things that may not seem quite right. It's easy to do. We hang onto the words. We trust them. And we trust the person from which they come. But the real truth is that words don't necessarily mean a thing unless you can back them up with action. It matters not what you say; it matters what you do. You can be the most powerful speaker in the world. Your words can touch the hearts of many. But if you don't live up to the words you speak, if you don't act on them in the same way, the meaning is lost. And all the hearts of the people you touched will be hurt--lives will be ruined. Lives, in fact, have been ruined. The dead are being buried.

And to think that he could only stand there and watch.

I want to know what this man is now thinking. If he knew then what he's experiencing now, would he have done things differently? He's not said much on the matter. He's acknowledged very little, and instead of helping the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office with the investigation, he says he's organizing his own. Why? Since he gladly accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the people he surrounded himself with that week, it seems to me he owes them something. He owes them the willingness to take responsibility for his culpability, whatever that might be.

I find it telling that he hasn't exhibited the strength he expected of his "warriors." When the heat got too hot for him, he left. To his "warriors," he preached toughing it out. Yet, the guru did not do that at all. Not only did he deny his victims help, but he also didn't even bother to step in to help them when they needed him most. Instead, he abandoned them. He left them all behind in Sedona--his pockets filled with their cold, hard cash. I even heard he's not once offered a refund.

Some of his followers who've attended his retreats in the past believe he will step up, but I'm not so sure. His actions thus far have suggested otherwise, though I realize, by now, he's certainly been advised not to say much at all--for his own good.

But what about the good of his followers. It really, really saddens me that people had to die because they believed in what this man said. This tragedy points to what can happen when we put our faith and trust in the words of one man without researching further on our own, without paying attention to one's actions. If these people had done their own research, maybe they would have been skeptical about stepping inside a sweat lodge covered in plastic. Maybe they would have understood it's a place of peace and calm, not chaos. When the Native Americans say the sweat lodge ceremony is about rebirth, they do not mean that anyone will die. They mean you will exit the sweat with a renewed spirit. That is a beautiful thing. Death by suffocation or dehydration (or organ failure caused by either) is anything but beautiful.

Whatever happened inside that sweat box two weeks ago, it left three people dead, others injured or sick, and all of them spiritually wounded. And if there's anything I know right now about this whole ordeal it's this: I'd really hate to be James Arthur Ray.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Switching gears

Enough about the travel guide. Enough about the Good Mood blogger contest. I have no idea where I'm at on that. We'll see.

At any rate, I've been cleaning clutter in my office and ran across my BIKE book proposal. The four-year-old copy was stuffed in a file turned around the other way so I couldn't see it--not until I pulled the file out. Pleased to discover it at this time, I thought I'd share a bit of the sample chapter with you and see what you thought. It never hurts to get input from your readers to see if the writing needs some oomph. So what do you think?

Tentative book title: LESSONS FROM THE SEAT OF MY BIKE

Sample Chapter

My mind was racing in the early morning hours of November 6, 2002, and I did what I always did when the thoughts wouldn't stop. I wrote them down.

Pulling a yellow legal pad of paper out from underneath the coffee table in front of me, I sat down with it in my usual spot--on the left end of our green crushed velvet sectional. Any other time, I would have been sitting there because it was the perfect spot to view both the fireplace and the big screen TV. It would have kept my thoughts away from the pile of dirty dishes in the kitchen sink behind me. And it faced a window where, if the beige blinds were open, I could watch the hummingbirds flit around my next door neighbor's palo verde tree.

In the spring, when that tree bloomed, I'd let my mind absorb the mass of yellow flowers against the contrasting blue sky. I wouldn't think about the carpet of yellow the flowers would leave on my gravel yard. Instead, that tree inspired me to write poetry or compile my to-do lists. I would sit there, looking out the open window, listening to music, and daydream.

But on this day, the blinds were closed; I hadn't opened them since my husband's confession five days earlier. And I didn't have any dirty dishes in the sink; my thoughts were going a million different places, but not anywhere near anything that would have created them. I was surviving on coffee, if I could stomach it.

Seconds after I sat down, my dog Clooney, a black, gray and white schnauzer, jumped up on the couch beside me and stared into my face. It took me a few seconds to notice her increasingly loud growl. She was like a child. If you didn't pay attention to her, she'd whine until you did. Pulling her up onto my lap, she climbed over to the arm of the couch--her favorite spot--and plopped down. She snorted as I adjusted a pillow on my lap. I set the pad on top of it, and with a black Bic pen in my left hand wrote in all-capital letters at the top of the first lined page:

WAR LOG--2002

And then I did what I never do...left the rest of the page blank.

Something else I never did? Write my personal thoughts down on a legal pad. I always used those black and white Mead composition books. But on this day, things were not the same. I didn't even date my journal entry correctly. I flipped the page over and deliberately backdated the second page. My mind was racing--backwards--as I wrote:

October 29, 2002--I am at war with my husband, only I don't know it yet. In a few days, my life is going to take a fall, and I won't even be able to imagine how to get back up. In a few days, I'll discover that he walked into a jewelry store on October 28 and purchased a $150 ring--a gift for a woman who is not me. But I don't know any of this yet. Today, I only know that we went to see my therapist--separately.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tips to overcome boredom with yourself

I'm thinking I've been overdoing it or going overboard with the publicity surrounding my book. It's been day in, day out of announcing this about the book, or that about the book, and me, me, me, I, I, I, my book, my book, my book.

To top it off, I've entered a contest to be the new NatureMade Sam-e Complete Good Mood Blogger. To make it through this first round, I have to--it looks like now--pick up another 500+ votes just to make it to round two. It's been a lot of work to get the 200 or so votes I've already solicited and received. Message after personal message, I've been asking friends, family and colleagues to vote for me. It's been a constant stream for almost two weeks of me, me, me, more, more, more about me, me, me. Vote for me. Would you vote for me? Hey, do you think you could vote for me and RT my message on Twitter.

I finally reached my threshold of being able to talk about myself today, because I finally got, well, bored of hearing myself talk about my stuff.

I mean, I know I'm not done. The books still need to sell. The first round of the contest doesn't end till the end of October. There's still much more work to do. But, sheesh! I needed to take a break and put some emphasis on other people not myself.

If you're ever in such a bind--and anyone who isn't fearful of shameless self-promotion knows what I mean--here are a few tips for you. The next time you find yourself overindulging in talk about yourself, here's what you can do to put a halt to the self-aggrandizement:

_Just stop it. Go cold turkey and lay off the kudos. Like any addiction, it's best if you can avoid the "thing" altogether. Of course, you can't avoid yourself, but you can just stop talking about yourself and how great it is that you're doing this great thing, yada, yada, yada.

_Remember not to take yourself too seriously. Find the humor in what you've accomplished. Because, after all, you're not the first, nor will you be the last, to achieve this remarkable, or not so remarkable, success. Whatever it may be. Ultimately, it's just another notch on the belt. You'll have more to do when that's over, right?

_Immediately put your focus on someone else. If we're talking social media, start searching for other people's posts, blogs, and content and comment on it. If we're talking live interaction with others, refrain from telling your stories. Just listen to them for a change. Focus only on responding to their stories, without use of the word "I." Hey, I didn't say this was going to be easy.

_Read a book. As long as it's not your own, reading will get your mind off of you for a while. It'll transport your thought process elsewhere, and you'll forget for a bit that you're all that. In fact, if the book is a really good one, you might even start feeling a bit humbled. Go with that; it's a good thing.

_Or watch TV.

If worse comes to worse, and you still find yourself pitching your greatness...

_Avoid human contact.

Got any tips to add to this list? Write them down in the comment space below.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Road tripping

I'm having the time of my life right now promoting my book. The sky is the limit in terms of thinking up ideas on how to do this successfully. I have book signings, travel talks, and a launch party in the works. I'm looking at buying tabletop displays, banners and postcards. I'm all over this on the Social Media Networks.

It certainly takes an open mind to embark on a project that seems overwhelming at first, not to mention never-ending. But I learned a long time ago--especially during the final few weeks of writing this book, when more tears than words spilled onto the page--to take big projects one little bit at a time. If you can do that, it makes a gargantuan task seem so much smaller, thus do-able.

Along that same line of thought, I'm hoping to get together with a few other Arizona guidebook authors to promote our books as a package. A gift basket, perhaps? A group signing? Share a table at a book festival? I'm not sure yet--maybe all of the above--but these are some ideas I'm hoping to discuss more seriously with the writers very soon.

We met last week and touched on these thoughts during that meeting. Now that I've had time to consider this more fully, I think whatever we do together could be a very worthwhile project for all of us. As you may already know, I'm all about working together for the good of all. That's why I'm road tripping--getting excited about the path ahead. It's been a great ride; it's only going to get better!

So tell me, what are you "tripping" on these days?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Backroads & Byways of Arizona--a success story

For weeks now, I'd been wondering what will the day be like when I see my book on a bookstore shelf. Well, that day arrived yesterday. But I didn't have my camera on hand. So no photo was taken to capture the big moment. Instead, I've posted a photo of what happened when my hairdresser, Hilda Villaverde (pictured above), saw my book when I brought it in to her studio last week.

I arrived for my regular hair appointment, and what did Hilda do? She reached for my book and started flipping through the pages. Then, she had this great idea to pose for a picture while she pretended to get her hair done. And there she is, in the chair, holding my book up. Hilda knows the value of a good photo opportunity, as she's an author herself. In fact, while I was in her Scottsdale shop, Pluma Designs, she suggested I keep my book there, where she can display it for all to see and talk about it with her customers. She's been in business long enough to know word of mouth is priceless. And talk she did! While I was there, she talked non-stop about my new book to several of her customers who came in after me. Because of Hilda, I may have discovered a few new fans.

My experience with Hilda is a good example of why it's so much more fun to promote your products with friends, family and colleagues.

Aside from yourself, there's no one better to tout your great qualities than the people who know you, the people you work with, the people you surround yourself with and communicate with on a regular basis. These are the people who you want on your team giving you the high-fives.

Today, I have an exercise for you. Make a list of the people you know you can count on to sing your praises. They've already done it before, so it shouldn't be too difficult. These are the people you find yourself thanking all the time. They've stepped up before. You know who they are. But just in case you need a reminder, write their names down. What this does is give you something concrete to use when you're looking for support on your next big deal.

And there should always be a next big deal. What's yours?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Countryman Press authors meet

Promoting your new book is easy amongst friends. That's what I'm reminded of as the big release day for mine approaches. I'm on the final countdown now--three days to go--and here I am with Kim Grant, acquisitions editor for Countryman Press (on the far left), my publisher.

She arrived in town yesterday on assignment at the Royal Palms and scheduled a meeting between the four of us pictured here--all Countryman Press authors. Sitting next to Grant is Christine Bailey (Phoenix, Scottsdale, Sedona and Central Arizona Great Destinations: A Complete Guide), then me (Backroads & Byways of Arizona) and Teresa Bitler (Great Escapes: Arizona). Grant answered so many questions for me about the promotional process, what we can do on our own, what we can do together, how we can cross-promote (Arizona gift baskets, anyone?)...

I wish we had several hours more to chat about the process, but since I'm the newest author in the group, I didn't have as many questions (aside from a few basics) as Christine did; she's on her second edition. It's been two or three years since her book came out. I was told when my second edition time rolls around, I'll need to add several more chapters to the guide. The first one includes 12 trips. I'll need to add six more to the next edition. That's fine with me. I've already got a few ideas for that, based on what early viewers have requested. But I think I'll focus on this first one for now. It's got to sell.

Grant shared with us the bad news: books aren't really selling in this market. But she also had good news: Countryman Press is still looking for pitches. Great! I have a few of those as well.

The road ahead? It's going to be a long one. But I'm definitely on it!

What big road lies ahead for you? Are you prepared to ride it all the way through? Share the steps you're taking here.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

BOOK SALES 101--Lessons from a bittersweet moment

The day I received my advanced copy of BACKROADS & BYWAYS OF ARIZONA was the day I returned home from my granddaughter's baptism in Lake Tahoe; it was a week after my brother died. To tell you this was a bittersweet moment is an understatement.

I showed it to my boyfriend who had just picked me up from the airport and was busy talking to his sister on the phone. While he listened to her and smiled at me, I wondered, "How am I ever going to get motivated to sell this book?" It wasn't the ooh-la-la moment I envisioned it would be. I opened the manilla envelope, pulled out the book, and after showing it to my boyfriend, placed it on the kitchen table. I didn't look at it again for a few days.

I spent those days--and then a few more--in a daze, sometimes crying, not eating much, driving around my neighborhood, just grieving. I knew my brother would never see my book.

But I soon found myself picking the book up off the table and looking at it, flipping through the pages. Then I sat down with it one afternoon and started to read some of the pages I'd written months ago and thought about what I'd written...

Did you know the actress Lynda Carter, who played TV's "Wonder Woman," went to high school in Globe, an old mining town about an hour's drive east of Mesa? If you visit the mining town next door, Miami, you can climb up the same concrete steps--150 or more--the miners used to use to climb the hills to go work. The town uses them now in a stair climbing contest...

I started reminiscing about the trips I'd taken to write those pages and take those photographs. Some of them I took alone, some were taken with friends or my boyfriend, and others involved groups of other writers. I began to immerse myself in what had been good times.

I'd enjoyed the trips, every single one of them. The reason I'd written the book in the first place was because there were places in Arizona I'd never seen but wanted to. So I'd pitched a book that would force me to go, to get out on the road and see the Arizona I had only before dreamed about or read about in other people's books.

And see I did.

I drove past long, long stretches of high and low desert, out in the middle of what looked like nowhere, to arrive at the hidden gems I wrote about--Cascabel, Taylor, Young. In them, people and events the armchair tourist will have fun reading about (hippie artist communities, Mormon pioneer families, Wild West ambushes), and the soft adventurer might like to explore. The trails take you to wine country, country diners, historic sites, and places that help take your mind off your troubles. You'll find lakes to hike around, hilltops with breathtaking views, engaging people.

When I began to immerse my thoughts on the book, to let myself experience the fun of being a first-time author, I began to change my mindset. And that's when I began to realize the truth: Well, I do have to sell this book.

So back to my original question: How to get motivated to do that?

In the few short weeks I've lived with the actual book, I've learned a few lessons; you can take them with you to the bank, no matter what product you might be peddling:

_Lesson #1: Talk about the book. Tell everyone you come across that your book is out, or will be soon. People will ask you about it.

_Lesson #2: Carry it with you wherever you go. Place it face up on the lunch counters, bar tops, dinner tables, and on your dash board. Make sure it's visible. People will ask you about it.

_Lesson #3: Offer it as a raffle item. This is a good way to collect contact information for your mailing list (e-mail or otherwise) so you can let them know about upcoming signings. Because they'll want to know what they might win, people will ask you about it.

_Lesson #4: Let people ask you about it. This is where true motivation will kick in. When people start asking you about your book project, and you get to share your stories of how it came to be, your passion that got you through the original pitch, the research, the writing--and the editing--will begin to resurface.

_Lesson #5: Let that passion carry you forward. With it comes the creative ideas that will help you find the venues you need to sell your book, and your colleagues will chime in to help you come up with others.

At least that's what I've learned so far. It doesn't take much to turn a bittersweet moment back to sweet. But first, you have to reconnect with the passion of the moment. To do that, you might need to speak up...Hey, isn't that a lesson I learned from the seat of my bike?

What about you? What bittersweet moments have you been able to overcome lately?

(Photo by Rebecca Allen, used on BIKE WITH JACKIE with her permission. Copyright Notice: Content on this page that appears anywhere beside this page is being used without consent.)