Living the Dream - On the Road #18


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.


 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:


Hear a story...

Buy a book...

Get Tarot reading...


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. 


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 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...



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

Picking Up Strays - On the Road # 10


Hey y’all,

Again, this is a letter written 14 years after the DIYBTRT in Alaska, the summer and fall of 2005. So Joe and I decided to go to Valdez first before heading to McCarthy for the Blackburn Festival. We were curious to follow the pipeline all the way to Valdez. But Joe slept on that drive, which I couldn’t believe. Maybe he has since experienced the incredible beauty I did. But the drive between the Wrangell/St Elias range and the Chugach range is known for a low cloud cover ALL THE TIME. On that day, the cloud cover lifted and what I saw was all kinds of jaw-dropping-stunning-gorgeous! The jagged peaks, glaciers that stretched almost to the road (or so it seemed) and the deep, rich, emerald green that was both vivid and surreal, I felt like I was driving through a mythical land. Where I lived was plenty beautiful, but this was the most exquisite part of Alaska that I ever saw. And that was only from the road. That was not the backcountry.

Joe decided to stay on in Valdez in the hopes of getting another fishing job. He didn’t and joined me at Blackburn, where we stayed in my half collapsed tent. Shannon, the friend from the peanut oil bus, saw Joe entering my tent and was about to deck him, when I showed up and reassured her that he was a friend of mine. The Festival happened, and the blogs about it are here and here for anybody who’d like to read about it.

Another friend joked that I picked up strays along the way and took them for a ride of a brief spell in my road trip, and that was true after this Girdwood party in Kennicott. I don’t remember how this happened, but after the Festival was over, there were a handful of us who stayed in the parking lot for another night. A photographer from Girdwood who had a passing resemblance to one of the Bee Gees in their prime, he had long hair and a beard, and a similar mindset to somebody who came of age in the Disco era – and no he was not of that age. I think Girdwood’s random lesbian, a cute girl with a pixie blonde haircut and large heart shaped sunglasses, a responsible looking woman and her husband, and me and Joe. Anyway, the Bee Gees photographer dude caught a ride with me and my Beast filled with books, and Joe in the backseat. The drive was several hours to Anchorage and then around Turnagain Arm to Girdwood. The photographer lectured Joe about his attitude about something or other, which pissed Joe off to no end. We still had a place to crash, and Bee Gees Photographer Dude showed us the pictures he had taken of all the belly dancers gyrating near the rusting ruins of a defunct copper mine – because of course, he took a lot pictures of the belly dancers. He didn’t get ANY shots of the magical moment when they danced spontaneously. I doubt the essence of that dance could have been captured in a snapshot though.

Anyway, that catches up the gaps in that particular squeeze of time that I neglected to write home about.