First off, I would have a cafe!
(Pic courtesy of www.storiebookcafe.com)
Don't you just want to go there RIGHT NOW?

Next, I would address this issue raised at today's Digital Book World conference as quoted in today's Publisher's Lunch:

(Jane) Friedman scored emotional points in noting that "what we're talking about today is community" and independent booksellers "been practicing social media since the begin of time, we just weren't calling it that." She thinks the world has come "full circle" and indies "have an opportunity." Those stores are "going to be a very small portion of sales," Napack replied, "but their role in bringing books to market is essential." He added, "the challenge they face is being the showroom for online" purchases.

HOW would I tackle this problem? By having a few of these in my store. The wondrous, amazing, incredible ESPRESSO BOOK MACHINE. (Only I'd hire Datamancer to redecorate them.) In my store folks could browse, choose, meander over to the Espresso and order their book, and while it's printing they can order a drinkable espresso in the cafe. And MAGIC! A few minutes later they can sip and read. Convenience AND community!!!! 

At the 2009 Pacific Northwest Writer's Association Conference I stood up and asked a panel of New York editors what they thought of the Espresso Book Machine. Many in the audience tittered, and only one editor had even heard of it. I hope that's changing. A world without book stores is a poor world.

So, am I horribly naive? Ahead of my time? A hopeless dreamer? Let me know. And I'd love to know what YOUR book store would be like!

I never know what will set me off on a thinking tear, a trek through bumpy, uncharted mental territory. This time it was a tidbit written by Amanda McCabe on the Risky Regencies blog in her post, REAL LIFE LOVE.

“I recently read two books about just such couples. Couples who really had almost nothing in common with each other, except that both wives were unusually strong women and both couples were very much in Love.”

Since I consider my marriage to George Carlin’s Clone to be one for the history books, I immediately wondered, Am I an unusually strong woman? Abigail Adams strong?

The answer? I don’t know. What makes a strong woman?

This got me to pondering the meaning of strength, as opposed to, say, endurance. We all know women who put up with absolute hell. They keep going, often for the sake of their children. That’s endurance.

Real strength is the determination to change your situation. For the better. According to your own definition of better.

And then, BAM, my brain applied this truth to my books. My still unpublished books. After a decade of working like a love-starved fiend I remain undesired by the wizards in the Emerald City. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a writer scorned. I love the Emerald City. But like many writers, I’ve endured a level of 'absolute hell,' torments of my own making and many I had no control over, such as the man in green at the gate telling me to go home and come back tomorrow with another manuscript. (Which I am doing.) But I am NOT giving up on my young adult circus story. It is good. And publishable.

And now I don’t have to stick that manuscript in the proverbial drawer. Judging from Internet buzz, 2010 was the year self-publishing lost its stigma.  Kindle, Nook, iPad, Kobo, Sony reader, Createspace, I have Options. I can take control over the whole thing.

I have skills. I’ve worked for printers, large and small. I took a handset typography class in art school where I majored in illustration. I’ve designed book covers. Photoshop and I are on speaking terms. I love social media and interacting with people. Lots of small things have brought me to this moment, which is good, because self-publishing is a whole lot of work. Just like the Emerald City, Flying Monkeys show up in self-publishing too.

The piece. Made for a local playhouse.
But do I have the strength? Really? To put my work out there without a legitimate New York stamp of approval? This is where I ask myself what’s important? Ten years ago I had a piece accepted by the Society of Illustrators in New York. This was huge. I flew out to NYC and attended the fete. When the president asked me which piece was mine, he said, “Oh yeah, that one. We had the hardest time figuring out where to hang it.”  My work, written or painted, has always been a wee bit different. I’m used to it. I’m not changing that part because it’s my best part. The biggest lesson I learned from the whole experience was that getting a piece into that holy of holies garnered me not ONE paying job. So, critical acceptance and kudos are nice, but what’s important? What do I really, really want? READERS.

I remember reading an old interview with my creative idol, Terry Gilliam, where he said he missed those days when he was on the floor working, papers strewn all over. After my first agent left the business, after the publishers she’d submitted to passed, after my second agent dropped me, I thought of Terry Gilliam. All the paralysis of rejection lifted. I got a rush of excitement. 

I can make my own cover! I can use MY illustrations! I can choose the title! I can make cool book trailers! I can publish my book MYSELF!

Am I an unusually strong woman?

I have no idea.

But I’m doing it anyway.

Stay tuned for updates on my progress, mistakes, triumphs, Flying Monkey attacks, and most importantly, my launch date for THE MUMBO JUMBO CIRCUS!

Leave a comment, it'll make your nails grow stronger and your hair shiny.