Read Local (A proposal)

Dear writers of Santa Barbara County (and thereabouts),
YOU’RE INVITED!
Meeting to start a Read Local movement in our area.
11a Monday Nov 12 (Veteran’s Day)
Lucky Llama Coffee Shop
5100 Carpinteria Ave, Carp 93013

 

What’s this all about?

Last year I moved to Carpinteria and discovered that my neighbors include a great variety of interesting and talented writers. Too few people know this. I’d like to change that.

Many of you feel similarly and quite a few have already organized your own groups to build community among local writers. Let’s get your efforts more widely known, then grow them by developing a Read Local movement.

Purpose: To increase the visibility and value of local writers by sharing our art and entertainment within our communities.

Important: This group does not exist to promote or sell individual writers, but instead to connect writers with their neighbors; to make people aware of, proud of all our local talent. (Indirectly, of course, this can help individuals…)

Mantra(s): Whatever we wind up doing, it needs to be open and friendly, supportive and fun, honest and transparent, sustainable and consistent. Also, we share the workload or we don’t do it.

Models: We wouldn’t be the first such group. For example…

Next Steps:  At the meeting on Nov 12, we’ll discuss which activities attendees would like to pursue, and how to fold ourselves in with existing efforts (especially Out Loud Santa Barbara).  Everything about this proposal is on the table, open to change. Attending the meeting commits you to nothing.

If you want to stay informed about our Read Local, make sure I have your email. (Message me on Facebook or leave a comment on this blog.)

Possible Activities: There are so many ways to take Read Local. Below is a starter set of ideas with simplest at top. (If you have other ideas, we want to hear them!) As you go down the list, the ideas take more resources (people, time, money). (I’ve included my guesstimates on resources.)

To make Read Local sustainable, we need to start small then grow only when enough people commit to tackling new efforts.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Finalize name, regional scope, and purpose/mission for this group. 

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One time, revisit every couple years.

How many people to be sustainable?: I volunteer to lead the effort but welcome help, input and buy-in from as many as possible.

Set-up efforts and costs: 1-3 meetings, 90 minutes each.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Find out what writers’ groups and kindred efforts already exist. List them. Over time, help to network them and broadcast them.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing curation of the information.

How many people to be sustainable?: 1-3

Set-up efforts and costs: Canvas local groups.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Maintain a Mailchimp database of emails to stay in contact with local writers and those interested in us. Write and send emails sometimes. Update emails as needed.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-3

Set-up efforts and costs: Learn Mailchimp. Input existing emails. Put emails in groups according to interests (ex, writer? reader? wants to hear about author promotions?)

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Live readings modeled after Out Loud Santa Barbara. Solicit then select submissions to feature 10 varied writers per reading, arrange venue and publicity.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Occasional. Every 2 months, opposite Out Loud schedule?

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-3

Set-up efforts and costs: Purchase (then store and schlep) sound system, advertise for submissions, read and select (fairly! transparently!) submissions, publicize event.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Add bells and whistles to the live readings. Record the readings then post them? Let the performers sell books for cash-only? … Eventually add credit-card sales?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Occasional.

How many people to be sustainable?: 3-5 + treasurer

Set-up efforts and costs: Depends. For recording: equipment? For sales: bookkeeping, bank account, credit card reader and app.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Write and email a newsletter. Include free excerpts of local writing. (Can recycle this content for web page or columns, see below…) Solicit contributions, monitor them to uphold group purpose.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: occasional — monthly? quarterly? annually?

 How many people to be sustainable?: 2-3 with contributions from many

Set-up efforts and costs: time to do writing and maintain consistent, engaging presence

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Provide free excerpts or short pieces of our writing. On a website/blog? In a newsletter? Maybe in a column in the Coast News?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: regular, on-going, once a week or once a month.

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-4 with contributions from many

Set-up efforts and costs: time to gather writing and distribute it.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Publish an anthology of our writing. In print and as an ebook.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One time or very occasional.

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-4 with contributions from many

Set-up efforts and costs: time to gather writing, format, edit. Cost of publishing (depending on length, about $5/paperback via Amazon’s print on demand services.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Create and maintain internet presence web page/blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Plus? This would include upcoming events, author info, free excerpts. Would likely have one set of content then link or copy to the other social media. Would have to monitor to uphold group purpose.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-4

Set-up efforts and costs: time to do writing and maintain consistent, engaging presence

 ===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Build, steward, and contribute to Little Free Library stands.  There are about 2 dozen stands in south SB County. If we want to add our books we should be good custodians of the system. Investigate coordinating with the littlefreelibrary organization, or copy it? Maybe Carp Arts Center would fund and host a stand that features local authors?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-4 with book donations from many authors.

Set-up efforts and costs: $… $$??

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Fun freebie events such as geocache treasure hunts with giveaway books as prizes; special themed events (ex a family reunion contest plus a showcase of local memoirs).

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One-time.

How many people to be sustainable?: Each event needs 2 people.

Set-up efforts and costs: Wildly varied. Will always need publicity and freebies and venues.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Annual Writers’ Fair like the spring 2017 event in Carpinteria. Add credit-card sales (which requires bookkeeping and bank account).

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Once a year but takes effort for at least half the year.

How many people to be sustainable?: 4-6 + treasurer

Set-up efforts and costs: venue, publicity (digital and hard copy), tables and chairs, sound system, planning, schlepping, credit card sales?

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Become a non-profit or not-for-profit. Set up a leadership group? Appoint a treasurer? Open a bank account? Go after grants and other funding opportunities for our events and their marketing?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing.

How many people to be sustainable?: 3-5?

Set-up efforts and costs: Considerable? Lengthy?

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Have a table at local farmers’ markets. Sell books of local authors. Provide handouts that include excerpts, newsletter copies, links. Transparent bookkeeping. Establish a rule: If you want us to sell your books at a table, you need to volunteer to man the table and for every X hours that you volunteer, you get to sell your books Y days…

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One or more days per week?!

How many people to be sustainable?: 6-8 + treasurer.

Set-up efforts and costs: Schlep and store table, books, signs, printed materials. Handle money. Requires bookkeeping and bank account.

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Free Ebook: WAS IT A RAT I SAW

Cover art by Lars Huston.

Cover art by Lars Huston.

Until the end of October, 2013, get a free e-copy of WAS IT A RAT I SAWmy psychological thriller involving split brain research, animal rights, and a love quadrangle.

I’ve recently distributed some copies for readers’ reviews and I am thrilled to report that so far the ratings have been great!

Here’s how to get your free copy:

* Go to RAT’s page on Smashwords,
* Click the blue “Add to Cart” button.
* Proceed to checkout, but instead of paying, use coupon code KX86E.
* Let me know (via a comment on this page) if you encounter problems.

After you read it, please write a review! (Readers’ reviews are incredibly important to indie authors.)

To Read or To Re-Read? (Musings and mini-reviews)

My To Read list is decades long, so I rarely stop to re-read a book, no matter how much I love it. Lately I’ve made exceptions, though, for books that mattered to me long ago. With some, I’ve been curious about whether they would hold up. With others, I’ve simply wanted to reunite with old friends.

Thus, over the last year, I have discovered that these books hold up well:

Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner, a 1960s skew on a dystopian future, many details of which are now Life As We Know It. Brunner writes this in a style that was unusual in the ’60s and remains distinctive today. Some people lose patience with it. Give it 50 pages to settle in.

In Deep by Patricia Cooper, a brooding character study of a smart, troubled woman with tangled, suspect relationships. Cooper’s writing is edgy yet smooth and insightful. I wish she had continued to write novels.

After Leaving Mr. MacKenzie and Good Morning Midnight by Jean Rhys, portraits of independent, sensual women, damaged by life in a society where women were supposed to be neither.

If chick lit had books like the above, I would seek it out.

Double Indemnity by James M. Cain, a perfect slice of noir. Here, every word counts, making it an excellent training for any aspiring writer. Reading it reminded me I need to watch the movie again, with a brilliant script by Raymond Chandler.

Which brings me to Chandler.  I have been happy to (again) reconnect with all seven of Raymond Chandler’s novels.  He remains my favorite author. If you have never read him, start with Farewell My Lovely.

As you may have guessed, I recommend all of these books.

Book Review: “Andrew’s Brain” by E. L. Doctorow

4 Stars

Andrew is a cognitive scientist and academic with a lifelong history of unintentional destruction. The narrative is a conversation between Andrew and — someone. He is — somewhere. At a time that is at —- some point in the future, after the events he relates. He talks about the death of his first child, the courtship then death of his second wife, and other milestones of his life.

I like this book. I’ve vacillated between 3 stars or 4 stars, and am opting higher because I can feel that this book will settle well over time. It took me a long time to care about Andrew, the main character. Caring about the characters is essential for me, and the whole first half of the book I didn’t. Yet I kept going along for the ride because Doctorow’s writing is such a pleasure. Every page has subtly wonderful insights, perspective, turns of phrase, without ever getting flashy for its own sake.

About the time I developed sympathy for Andrew (and not coincidentally) the story takes a sharp left turn. WTF!?! What the hell is this book really about? Hmmm… Okay. You’ve still got my attention…

This book managed to get me to care about events and people I had sworn to think about, nevermore. It’s not perfect and it’s probably not Doctorow’s best work (this is my first time reading him so I can’t say for sure). But it is worth a read.

Note: I read an advance copy from Librarything in exchange for an honest review. Random House will publish this in Jan 2014.

An Attitude to Aspire To

Recently, through the book-lovers’ site LibraryThing, I have gotten to know a woman who is plagued by two spinal conditions, each of which can be impossibly painful. When I expressed my regret about this, she replied that she always likes to look for a positive and at least her condition gives her plenty of time with some things she loves, books and reading.

Whenever I think about this it helps me to stop with the petty bitching about trivialities, for at least a brief stretch of time.