Sold a “Schiz” and a “Fully Armed” to an old friend/retired psychologist in Philadelphia. Sold a “Cheesesteak” to a stranger (contractor) in the café. Sent a “Schiz” and a “Cheesesteak” to a recently resurfaced fellow who’d helped me a lot on my Air Pirates book. (He send me a pdf of his new book on Darwin.) Sent a “Cheesesteak” to a rock guitarist who’d given me a copy of his CD when I visited him in the hospital on my Mended Hearts rounds.
In other news, a woman with whom I attended 4th through 12th grade has offered to pitch “Best Ride” and “Cheesesteak” to bookstores in Manhattan, where she lives, Brooklyn, and Philly. (She expressed discomfort with “The Schiz” but is willing to look at it.) Her other activities include playing the harp at and singing in the chorus of her church (Episcopalian)and being an on-again, off-again booking agent for a chamber music group so this endeavor sounds adventurous and amusing to us both.
And the Berkeley indie author/publisher said he would do “Heart,” except he wasn’t publishing anything for the time being. But maybe when he secured his next grant… So pitches to agents and publishers continue there.
[Bob’s books remain available from this very web site.]
A couple months ago, I joined Facebook to increase the market for my books. My “real” friends I already kept in touch with phone, email or letters. For FB “friends,” my tech guy, the invaluable Milo, provided a starter kit of dozens of his own, heavily weighted toward the cartoon world, where I already had a foothold, to which I added a few folks of my own.
I soon became fascinated by how FB suggested other “friends” for me. Other cartoonists poured in. I was quickly connected to people from my former workers’ compensation world. But otherwise FB worked in mysterious ways.
Through a cousin, it led me to a nephew but only weeks later, his father, my brother. While it knew all my schools and years of graduation, I have only found or been found by four members of my high school class (of 71) and no one from college (340) or law school (170)
Weirdly, out of a few thousand former clients, even before finding my brother, it offered me one who now lives in the Central Valley. Her face brought back to mind her injury and husband, whom I’d also represented. She was a nice woman and it was nice to see her, but I had not thought of her in decades and can think of nothing that connects me to her now.
The other day the first suggested “You May Also Know” was Jimmy, the disabled, homeless panhandler about whom, in 1998, I wrote “Fully Armed.” (Out of print but available from www.theboblevin.com.) How did FB know about him? Has it been reading my book?
The missing four cartons (see last week’s report) arrived.
Sold seven copies of “The Schiz.” One went, via www.theboblevin.com, to a stranger. Two went to couples at Berkeley Espresso. Two went to friends from high school (and two more announced an intent to buy one). Two went to fellows at the health club, one a lifelong friend and one a newer acquaintance. (I also sold, breaking my cherry at Amazon, a “Cheesesteak” to a woman I had gone to Hebrew and law school, but with whom I’d had no contact in a decade; and I swapped one to a poet I’d originally met playing pick-up basketball for a recent collection of his work.)
I also had my first reader response to “The Schiz.” (Believe me, given its history, I’d been anxiously waiting — and wasn’t sure I’d hear any.) It came from a woman at the club — and no sure thing at that. (I still carry, like a burr in my fur, her comment, in an otherwise favorable newspaper review 20 years ago of “Fully Armed,” that it was “annoyingly self-referential.”) She told Adele, before leaving the locker room for a swim, she was really enjoying the book. She loved the characters’ names, and — BINGO!!! — it reminded her of Nathanael West.
For those of you who weren’t followers of my blog, explanation may be in order. Some months ago, when I self-published semi-memoir “Cheesesteak,” I began issuing this account of my journey toward media-baronhood. Hence…
Just when I seemed destined for a second consecutive “Zero copies sold…,” my announcement of the looming (next week) availability of my black comedy “The Schiz” resulted in a burst of activity(three “Schiz” sales within six hours, plus an accompanying order of “Fully Armed,” my 1995 bio-fic about Jimmy Don Polk.) (The buyers were a cousin and two comics world pals.)
I’ve also finalized plans for “The Schiz”‘s launch party, securing the services of a preferred barista, photocopying the Milo George-designed flyer for distribution, cost-comparing the price for paper plates, cups, plastic forks, and napkins (Did Lord Beaverbrook really start like this?), and extending invitations. I didn’t ask for RSVPs, but polling data extrapolated from those who replied indicates the turnout will be good.
SENS Bistro. 1538 Shattuck. Berkeley.
Nov. 10. 7 – 9:00 p.m.
Cheesesteak $20; The Schiz $30 from Spruce Hill Press, POB 9492 Berkeley 94709
OR, via Pay Pal at www.theboblevin.com