Living the Dream - On the Road #18

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Hey y'all,

I am so glad I listened to the wisdom of my inner voice, the same inner voice that told me to go back to Seward for the Music and Arts Festival, even though my first tableside storytelling adventure was not immediately profitable.

In fact, my first day I told stories with my whole heart and soul into it because I wanted to sell my book, dammit! 

This was only my second stop on the trip. I had had a couple of things in Homer. I was in full-throttle eager novice mode and people could smell blood...I could sense them smacking their chops as I concluded my story without closing the sale. I sold nothing!

And that really sucked.

And frankly, so does Anchorage.

I did my last storytelling tonight at the Organic Oasis, and it is impossible to do what I'm doing and not do it often in Anchorage. But I just do not resonate with the vibe of this town, it reminds me of the Orlando of my teenage years.... AAIIGGHH!!! 

So let's get back to the good stuff, Seward.

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 After that discouraging first day, however, it got better. I sold two books on my second day, and on my third and final, four. So, the word was getting out there. 

Also, on the third day is when deliverance in the form of Joe Alaniz came along and saved my demoralized ass by selling fourteen books by the next day.

Remember Joe? 

So that was my Seward experience in early August, but they had just put up all these flyers for this festival and since the booths were cheap, I marked my space.

I woke up to beautiful weather in Seward with the colors in full blast and knew it would be slow at the festival. 

And I was right, but I learned a few things since my last time in town. I set up my space with blankets, pillows, and although I left the candles in the Beast, I laid out my purple sari over the table with the book displays, and a sign under an orange patterned fake-silk poly scarf that read:

FREE!!!

Hear a story...

Buy a book...

Get Tarot reading...

FREE!!!

I figured if everybody was going to confuse me for a fortuneteller, I might as well give them what they wanted. And golly gee! It worked! 

To make it even better, people were into the storytelling and into buying the book. But about a quarter of my sales happened because somebody really wanted their cards read and the book was only ten bucks. 

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I sold twenty-two books at full price. And the experience was effortless, at a festival held indoors at the Cruise Ship Terminal, which looked more like a hangar.

The turn out was low due to sunny weather. Got to get that hiking in! Because the darkness, rain, and snow are just around the corner. 

I also sold ten books to the lady who had an all-purpose gift shop coffeehouse in town, so now the book is being carried in Seward. I traded a book for a bracelet. 

So in one weekend I sold over thirty books. 

This, of course, feeds the soul...not to mention the validation that I'm on the right track.

But the best part of this week-end was not the sales - not that I minded those! It was really connecting with people when they sat down to hear a story.

The way I see it, I'm laying the foundation for my base of readers for the future, and it is such an intimate way of connecting with them. It worked well at Borders as well. 

One woman said that I was living the dream, and she was right. Right now, I feel like I am.  

The weekend was so great that I didn't mind coming back to the tepid atmosphere at the Organic Oasis. I sold a couple of books and it is happening...one book at a time. One person sold on my work at a time. 

I'm getting better at this, but the tarot cards were a nice touch.

I must admit being a fortune-teller was fun too.

Anyway, Keep in touch...

Peace, 

Montgomery

PS God I was naive!!! This was from the DIY booktour roadtrip I made in 2005-2006. Things have changed a lot since then.    

Who is the Critical Mass? On the Road #12

OnTheRoad

Hey y'all,

Although it was a stroke of luck to get any space at the Alaska State Fair since I didn't get on it until the very last minute - and I am grateful to Denise of Non Essentials (homemade natural skincare) for giving me that space - I am nonetheless exceedingly relieved that I wasn't at the State Fair every day, much less paid exorbitant rates for a booth there.

There was something about the fair that made me think of the Celestine Prophecy and the Critical Mass, those select individuals awake to the spiritual journey of their lives, and will thus raise the human race to a higher level of existence.   

Even if this is an act of love for all of humanity, one could still argue the concept of a Critical Mass as another form of elitism - sugar-coated and with the new age stamp of approval - but still a statement that some people matter and most people don't.

Although I found the message to be inspiring, hopeful, and way groovy, The Celestine Prophecy is also one of the most badly written books I've ever read, so I couldn't take it completely seriously. Yet, some of the most intelligent people I know have eaten it up, and I don't know what to make of that.   

For those heartfelt idealists who really want to believe in the potential of all humanity, but feel the pull to...get in touch with their tendencies towards elitism…I suggest you go hang out at the State Fair. Even better, try to pursue your dream at the State Fair, and you'll get in touch real fast with your inner snob. Anybody who has ever spent any time in any customer service job knows just how awful, stupid, and downright annoying people can be.  

And at the Alaska State Fair, as I was commiserating with Denise, the lovely woman who let me set up a table on her "porch" free of charge, about the oblivious rudeness of those who come into her booth, I was struck by all the people. Swarms of people streaming by me with their hair spray-painted in rainbow colors, outlandish designs that will take the better part of the night and next day to wash out, designs painted on their faces, in tight hip-slung jeans in varying stages of fat and thin, with quite a few Mabelline cosmetics covering teenage faces that don't need make-up, and the scruffy teenage boys in their shapeless clothes. Not to mention tourists with their sparkling white, comfortable, "walking shoes" and their name tags. This sea of humanity walking back and forth was striking in their ordinariness, and there were so many of them. It occurred to me how few of these people really seemed interesting or vivid. Denise agreed and remarked that she was shocked that so many young women looked tired to her, and even more haggard than she was in her early fifties. 

"When I was young, I was young," she said. "These girls I know are young, but they already seem old."

On a positive note, a beautiful mother/daughter duo got my attention as they approached Denise's booth. I noticed them immediately because they had the same eyes - large and almond shaped, slightly Asian, and bright green. The mother was in her mid forties with her hair short and her clothes practical; she wasn't trying to impress anybody. Her daughter had her long hair in a ponytail, no make-up. She was about fifteen and absolutely beautiful in an effortless, natural way and her manners matched her looks. They spent quite a bit of time in Denise's shop and made her day, not only because they spent some money, but because they looked over her products with appreciation.  They stopped at my table for a minute. They didn’t buy anything but I didn’t care. They were not only pleasant and respectful, they were very present.

If I had to pick shoo-ins to the Critical Mass of those who are truly alive, I’d definitely choose these two. 

These ladies were a vast improvement over the stout dowager clad in a pink sweat suit with a goofy cartoon character on the front. She announced that she didn't read fiction, only the Bible; and she certainly didn't read fairy tales since she was a Christian.

"But I have many friends who do and I don't hold it against them," she puffed up.  "And I don't hold it against you for writing them."

I'm sure she felt the greatness of her spirit as she told me that and reveled in the righteousness of the narrow world of those who do not think. Perhaps she's an eager participant in book burning parties. 

Shortly after that exchange, I found myself thinking of the Critical Mass and wondering if maybe there wasn't something to it.

I'm sure this lady was certain that she was part of the Critical Mass of those who had been saved by Jesus. She certainly believes she's right and maybe she is...Who am I to say otherwise? Maybe we all are supposed to be mindless dogma junkies who live by a checklist of good behavior and see the Devil in fairy tales. Perhaps they really are the saved. Who knows?

If they are though, I will gladly go to Hell. Who wants to hang out with people like that for all eternity? 

So, who are those who make up the Critical Mass?

Call me selfish, call me vain…but in my world, the Critical Mass are those people who say:  

"Oh!  I would love to buy your book because I believe in supporting local artists."

Peace,

Montgomery

This is from a journal I took of a DIY booktour/roadtrip I did in 2005/2006. You can find the previous entry here.