Friday, October 15, 2010

And So It Begins

Today, The Accidental Activist is officially launched at the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association. The tree-book is up on Amazon and the e-book will soon follow. Oilspill dotcom is being withdrawn from all outlets. Hold on to yours - it is about to become a collectors' item!

The Accidental Activist is essentially the same story. New title, new cover and the text has been raked over by Three Clover Press editors and the language tightened.

Countdown to a Novel Published, sadly neglected over the past couple of months will stay dormant. As part of the terms with Three Clover Press, my publisher, I am committed to posting every day at Left Coast Voices.

The focus on blogging as a way to bring traffic to my website and selling pages for my books is intriguing. For those authors who stay the course, the results are clear and, best of all, encouraging. You can't argue with statistics and sales. I certainly won't.

Over the past year, I have jumped from one marketing option to another. I have read in bookstores and community centers but these have been very time consuming with little return. The consignment game played with small independent bookstores is depressing. It's not their fault, but there are serious cracks in the system.

So it is an ending of sorts, a parting of ways from Oilspill dotcom and Countdown to a Novel Published. It's been a great journey, a learning experience and now both the book and my resolve as an author are more focused and more optimistic.

Hope to see you at Left Coast Voices. Leave me a comment - it's not quite a conversation over cappuccino, but let's keep in touch.

Good Writing,

Monday, September 20, 2010

New Book, New Cover!

Oilspill dotcom will be withdrawn on October 15th and reissued by Three Clover Press with the new title: The Accidental Activist.

The Accidental Activist will be launched at the Northern Californian Independent Booksellers Association's trade show on that date.

More details will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. Please click here to see the new cover. Thanks Lily for all your hard work and a great job.

Good Writing,

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day of Love

It's been a crazy ride. On Labor Day, after writing 10-15 hours a week, I wrote the magical line:

The Alliance Trilogy: End of Book One.

Eighty thousand words later, a rough draft that my eleven-year-old and I began under flashlight in the Humboldt Redwood National Park has been completed.

Of course it is still rough – I haven't even read through it fully once myself and we already found one part where a character miraculously is riding his horse, when he had left his noble steed miles behind in the previous chapter – but it has been a wonderful ride for me sharing the journey of writing with my son.

The best moment came after I wrote the final chapters alone. When he read them, I was enjoying a rare Labor Day afternoon nap, and he burst into our bedroom full of excitement.

Two thumbs up never looked so good.

In trying to write a fantasy novel, I thought I would read behind the scenes from one of the masters. Terry Brooks, as well as 19 bestselling fantasy novels, wrote a book called: Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life.

I don't know yet if the magic worked within the pages of our novel, but it certainly happened in the process. Now for the next lesson in a writing life: some serious editing!

Good Writing,

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Tribute to Professor Paul Longmore RIP

I like to think I share many connections with Professor Paul Longmore, who passed away on August 9th in his home in San Francisco. He taught at San Francisco State University for 20 years where I focus a lot of my work hours. He was a writer and a political activist. He campaigned for the physically challenged and fought the hurdles and discrimination that confronted them.

Professor Longmore contracted polio at the age of seven. He wrote his first book - "The Invention of George Washington" - over a period of 10 years. Why so long? Professor Longmore wrote by holding a pen in his mouth and using it to strike the keyboards.

Let me say that again: Professor Longmore wrote by holding a pen in his mouth and using it to strike the keyboards.

Incredibly, Professor Longmore burned a copy of the book on the steps of a Federal building, as a protest against policies that discriminated against people with physical disabilities.

The Social Security Administration went on to revise its rules and one of the amendments that allowed physically challenged authors to count publishing royalties as earned income, became known as the Longmore Amendment.

Trevor Getz, associate professor of history at San Francisco State University paid this tribute in the SF Chronicle. "He wasn't just about disability - he was an incredibly renowned George Washington scholar. It all came together when he burned his book. It was a statement about a particular view of the history of this country as one where people made equality and liberty happen."

For more on Professor Longmore's accomplishments, please refer to the Chronicle's article.

As a writer, Professor Longmore serves as an inspiration for his drive to write and overcome any obstacle, and for his tenacity for social activism. Professor Longmore passed away, but his legacy and example will live on.

Good Writing,
Alon Shalev

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Author Interview on Audio

I just heard a great interview with Terry Brooks (yes, I'm sinking into the world of fantasy) and then looked up other authors who had previously been interviewed.

Check out Meet The Authors for short and informative interviews that serve both the readers and those interested in writing.

Thank you Barnes & Noble. Your struggle to break out of the books 'n mortar mentality and take B&N into the 21st Century is tough, but I admire your courage.

So here is a plug: Oilspill dotcom is available on Nook for $3.19 (same price or lower than their competitors).

Good Writing Everyone,

Alon Shalev

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Summer's Over!

It went so fast. Five weeks on the road: vacation, family visits, book promotion, and work. Now it is all over and we are back into the routine of life. It has been an eventful time, but it is also a watershed. Here is an overview:

1. Oilspill dotcom will be withdrawn by the end of September. After just over a year in print, it has been picked up by Three Clover Press. They will publish the novel under the title: The Accidental Activist. It has a wonderful new cover and has gone through numerous rounds of editing, both human and computer editing programs.
The Accidental Activist will be launched at the NCIBA trade show (Northern California Independent Bookstore Association, I think!) in mid October.

Oilspill dotcom is about to become a collector's item: Hold on to your copies!

2. Blog: While this blog will remain to share my triumphs and…well triumphs, I will focus my marketing through a new blog on Word Press. Left Coast Voices will focus on politics and activism here on the West Coast. While writing entries for the group identified as potential readers, I hope to expose them to my novels and they won't be able to stop themselves from flocking to the bookstores, and e-book sources.

This is an interesting approach. Other authors at Three Clover Press are doing this with encouraging success. However, it is a lot of work. Blogs succeed with a certain formula: multiple daily entries, links, and social media promotion. It feels daunting given that I manage to carve maybe an hour slot each day to write my new novel, edit the one being read at the Berkeley Writers Group, and market the books published.

3. Social Networking: I have been focusing my social networking efforts on various author e-groups around the 'net. The idea is to offer constructive responses and leave a signature that will encourage people to check out your website and possibly to buy your books.
I will continue with this, but focus on groups that reflect my writings such as political activist groups. This is going to take a while to research and find the right groups. With the growing success that I am seeing for fellow authors myself and with Kindle, I will begin with groups on Amazon.

4. Website: It has been a few months since I updated With the new book being launched, it high time that I work on this. Please take a moment over the next month to check it out and feel free to offer any suggestions to help improve it.

5. Alliance: This is where it gets complicated. Why didn't I do all these aforementioned tasks over the summer when things slowed down? Actually they didn't really slow much, but this is not the issue. I wrote in an earlier blog entry that my son Pele and I started writing a fantasy novel together.

The reality is that I have really got sucked into this and, as with my last novel - Lost Heroes - the story is pouring out. We have written over 45,000 words in the past few weeks and there is no sign of slowing down. It is constantly on my mind and I am having a hard time focusing on anything else in my writer's world.

So, summer is over. At Hillel the next few months are intensive and I need to be totally on board for my students, staff and our stakeholders.

I've always thought sleep to be severely overrated!

Good Writing,


Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Seismic Upheavals We All Knew Would Happen (the Book Industry)

One needs to be careful writing headlines with seismic in the Bay Area -- hence the clarification at the end. We all know that the book business is suffering and that brick-and-mortar shops are closing. I am sure that most of us mourn for an independent bookstore that has nostalgic memories.

So I am not sure why I am so surprised to hear the latest news out about Borders and Barnes & Noble. I prefer to walk into an independent bookstore when given the choice, but I need to admit, I also enjoy the inevitable comforts of a parking lot, a big bargain bin of hard covers that I could never afford otherwise, the bathrooms, and the occasional amazing deal. My local Barnes & Noble even has a fake fireplace that I enjoy sitting near in winter as I write.

But Barnes & Noble has now been put up for sale. I cannot help but wonder who would want to invest in such an industry. You can only assume that they would have quite a strategic business plan in place.

Borders have already closed all their stores in the UK and apparently came close to bankruptcy in the US. Both companies have entered the digital market with the Nook and Kobo respectively, so even a change of strategy suggests a move away from brick-and-mortar.

As an author, I have not had many opportunities to read at a bookstore. I find more interest at community centers, writer's meetings and political groups. I rarely sell a book through a bookstore. So I am not sure why I mourn the possible extinction of the bookstore.

There are/were two legendary bookstores in the Bay Area. Cody's was an untouchable institution and when I first came to live in Berkeley, I was surprised how when going out for a coffee with a friend, we would often spend a part of that evening talking while browsing through the shelves. Cody's was mourned by the enlightened peoples of Berkeley when it closed its' doors a few years ago, but apparently not enough to keep it open.

City Lights survives in San Francisco. It hit the headlines as a beacon for the beatnik writers who used the shop and publishing arm, and sat next door writing their works at Vesuvio. I love the store and seek an excuse to go in when I am in the vicinity. I almost always buy a book – even on my limited budget – because I don't want to see it fall. There is something immensely valuable in the history and energy amassed there. I'm sure it was like that at Cody's, but energy and nostalgia doesn't pay the bills.

Not that I understand the stock market, but I believe that one of the few companies whose stock has steadily risen over the last two years is

Is the writing on wall, the screen, and in the stock portfolio?

Good Writing,