A Halloween Vistor

Whenever the doorbell rang, Yalu always thought the visitor(s )had come to see her. Why else would anyone come her puppy palace other than to see her? From a dog’s point of view, nothing else made sense. Halloween always brought a lot of visitors and a win-win situation. Costumed kids got candy and Yalu got petted.

One little boy, probably five, arrived with his parents. The lad had dressed in a homemade brown dinosaur costume complete with a spiked tail. When the child arrived, Yalu did not know what to make of him. Her first instinct was to sniff and the dinosaur smelled like a little boy. Then, she romped around to check out his tail. A little boy with a tail made no sense to her so Yalu romped back to the front of the brown dinosaur and sniffed. He still smelled like a little boy. Again, she romped back and stared at his tail that wagged back and forth. What stood before her could not get any more confusing for a little brown dog.

Yalu gave me a strange look as if to say, “He has a tail, but he smells like a little boy. I’ve never seen a two legged doggie with boy scent.”

My only suggestion was for her continued investigating into the strange visitor. Why didn’t I have a camera handy? This would have been a neat video to see Yalu running around her guest trying to figure what stood before her.

The little boy loved the attention and decided he needed to step inside the puppy palace so Yalu could better inspect her new guest—there was more running and sniffing from a little brown dog who shall remain cute, and very confused. The moment ended when the parents decided their dinosaur son needed to continue trick or treating and stop confusing the Golden Retriever. As for Yalu, at least she got some petties and some exercise from her curious visitor.



Getting Their Attention

If only life were simple. I have a product, in my case, a book about a dog looking for a forever home. You, the group, the school, the organization, wish to raise funds for your cause. I’m willing to donate 40% of my sales to your organization. I want to sell books, you want to raise funds.

For the past few days, I’ve been trying to get my foot in the door with people who run charities for that all important, face-to-face meeting. For one organization, the receptionist loved the book, as did people on the staff—so far, so good. The problem is that the decision maker seems to be forever busy—she went out to lunch and apparently the food was pretty good because she didn’t come back and return one of my calls.

Another group had a Friday 7:30 am meeting at a public restaurant that the group touted on their website. Hey, I think, why not attend one of their meetings and make a good impression. I show up at the restaurant at the appointed time and nobody’s there. Curiouser and curiouser thought the author.

At times, it seems I’m working with people who want money to fall into their hands, but I have to stand atop a thirty foot ladder, drop the money through a wind tunnel, and hope it lands in their open palm. Heaven forbid if the organization moves their hand to left or right to catch the money and I’m downright crazy if I think the organization will move their hand forward or backward to catch the money.

Like all good people in sales, I will try and try again, keep that eternal optimism flowing, and keep pestering these groups until I hear yes, or a definite no which means, not now.


Good writing can’t be done in one draft. For the past week, I’ve been reviewing the edits to my novel Joey’s War—The Path to Power. It’s a crime novel about a young man who is going to take over La Costa Nostra in New York City. The person who edited it, a Jami Carpender of Red Pen Girl in Bend, Oregon, did a fine job. She found those pesky little mistakes I have missed over the years and touched up the book to where it’s ready to send out to literary agents and smaller publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts.

When I speak at schools, I ask students how many times they think I edited Yalu and the Puppy Room. I ask for a show of hands when I say once.

All the hands go up.

I say five times.

Some hands go down, most stay up.

Ten times.

Most hands are down.

I tell the kids that I edited the book thirty-five times and it only comes out to six pages when it’s in Word. If the truth be told, I could probably edit it more. That makes me the hero of every teacher I meet.

The editing process can sometimes make me shake my head and wonder how I could have missed the trivial mistake in front of me. I would type the following line: “The dog jumped over the fence over the fence” and not see the second over the fence for a few edits. Thankfully, I have a program called NaturallySpeaking that had a read back feature where I follow along as it reads. This helps find most of the mistakes and improves my writing as a whole.

Puppy Prison

DiMamma insisted upon a puppy prison for Yalu—something about teething and needing a place to send a naughty puppy for a time out. I wondered if another dog had shown up because Yalu is the last word to discribe Yalu. Anyway, the cage was supposed to be in the garage, but if the cage was in the garage, there wouldn’t be a place to park the CRV, so the cage found a home in the den.

In theory, a little brown dog, who shall remain cute, was supposed to sleep within the confines of this cage. Well she couldn’t sleep on a hard plastic floor so her bed had to go in there. There were some newspapers spread across the floor so she could catch up on her reading and a bowl of water. There was talk of putting a harmonica in there, but Yalu might do late night renditions of Nobody Knows The Troubles I’ve Seen and that’s not easy for a dog to do.

This was the place where Yalu was supposed to sleep, behind a close door, where she couldn’t get out because she didn’t have thumbs to open the cage. When everyone went to bed, it got dark. Puppy was alone and she didn’t like being alone. She was a people pup and there had to be some way of busting out of puppy prison. Oh the horror, the horror of having to spend the night alone on a comfortable doggie bed with a bowl of water at her side and newspaper to read in case she got bored. But wait! Its dark, how could she read in the dark? As a matter of fact, how could a little brown dog read at all?

There had to be a way out of the dreaded Château d’If. After some thought, Yalu, trapped within the confines of a metal mesh cage, came up with an idea. She whimpered. She cried for help. But who would help her? Who would risk the wrath of the Dimamma and rescue her from a night of loneliness? Some intrepid soul had to step forward. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy answered the call.

He heard the cries of a puppy in distress and opened her cage. Instead of making her sleep on the couch, or gasp…the garage, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy brought Yalu to the master bedroom and found a spot on the bed with him and DiMamma.

Marketing Might Really Work

This entry will be short. I honestly don’t know what to put in for a picture without “borrowing” something from the Internet and I prefer not to borrow. Today’s news comes from Atlas Books.

There are sixty-two people interested in a Publisher’s Weekly Children’s Bookshelf Banner that ran on September 25th of this year. Those are sixty-two people I would not have found and some of them are with schools so that mean potential visits. Others are book store owners and librarians. I have names and e-mails and right now, hard copies will be sent and soon enough, I will contact the people on this list and see if they are interested in doing a few fundraisers. This could lead to something interesting.

9th Annual Orange County Book Fair

The 9th annual Orange County Children’s Book Festival occurred on Sunday September 30th at the Orange Coast College campus. The weather was good, high eighties, the skies clear. Plenty of venders attended. Kareen Abdul-Jabbar promoted his book: What Color Is My World. Robin Priess Glasser, the illustrator of the Fancy Nancy series, also attended.

I shared booth 111 with Erik Hertwig, author of Are You My Friend, a story about how to choose your friends in life. I had met Erik at the Tucson Book Festival earlier this year. We both had separate booths and decided we should pool our marketing resources.

One immediate problem was that there was no Internet access. Sure, the campus had wireless Internet, just no username and passwords that worked. That hindered Erik’s iPad from making credit card sales. However, my iPhone worked just fine and we kept track of sales. Erik and I also took a dollar each off our books if we each made a sale to the same person. Both of us autographed our books and we pitched the other’s story when we had crowds.

More than enough families attended and it was nice getting in front of people to give out bookmarks along with black and white pictures for kids to color later. The problem was that the event was more of something to do on a Sunday. It didn’t have the feel of the Tucson Book Fair. By the end of the day, Erik and I sold eight books together and I had a total of ten sales. The booth cost $475.

I’m at the point of this blog where it would be time to head off on a rant. Rather than stewing about the event, I went out looking for opportunities.

More than book venders attended the book fair. I walked around and met with the local Girls Inc. and Kiwanis organizations, asked them what they did for fundraisers, and hopefully created a spark when I explained how I didn’t mind donating 40% of my net sales. I’m pretty sure I got everyone’s jaw quivering at the Jazzer booth when I left them with the second edition of Yalu and the Puppy Room.

Erik went exploring and came back with information about a group that attended California book fairs and they could use live authors at some events. There is opportunity out there, the tough part is finding it.