Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Taking Matters Into My Own Hands

I really don't want to sound like a whiney jerk, so I'll limit my commentary.  I'm fed up with the online mega stores making more money from the sale of my hard work than me.  If that makes me sound like an ass, then print me a label and stick it to my forehead.  Those rat bastards make a shit ton of money for doing nothing more than providing a link and an online payment system.

Two ( or three or four ) can play that game.  I've waited too long to take matters into my own hands, but at least I've done it.  Brace yourselves.

Those who wish to purchase my book may do so directly from my website.

Ta Da!!

Let me just say, for the record, I'm not a web designer and that will be abundantly clear if you visit my page.  Be patient.  I'm learning and it will become more professional as we move forward.

SO...my book can be purchased directly from pattilavell.com!  For $12.00, I'll send a you a personalized, signed copy with free shipping.  Crazy?  Probably, but I'd rather attempt to sell through my own website and deal with shipping than give money to big corporations who've done nothing to help me edit, market or promote my work.  (If any Amazon reps read this blog, I'll no doubt be booted off. )

Thank you for listening and I hope you'll share my website with those in need of a laugh.  Or a confession.  Or a good cry.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Was It Something I Said?

1,500 miles from my hometown, "Confessions of a Catholic School Dropout" sits in another small town bookstore.  This other town is actually much smaller than Brockport, and the population of readers is proportionately less.

When the owner of the store first agreed to a consignment arrangement, the book was prominently displayed on a large table, just inside the door.  There it sat with works of other authors from the area.  I was quite pleased with the situation.

I recently stopped by to check in and see if more copies were needed.  Unlike the staff from the Liftbridge in Brockport, the owner of this store doesn't email regularly or maintain contact.  Anyway, in I went... happy to have my book in another "real" bookstore - not just in Amazon's and Barnes & Nobles' virtual ones.  Before going to the counter, I glanced at the table where the book had been, but didn't see it.

I greeted the owner and felt waves of unfriendliness spill over the counter.  Hmmm.  All attempts at happy-happy and friendly-friendly were met with one-word, icy replies.

After several minutes of awkward conversation, I asked her where my book was being displayed.  She pointed toward the back of the store.  Eventually, I found it on the back wall on a shelf so high only an NBA player on stilts might notice it - maybe.  They wouldn't be able to reach it, but they might notice it.

I kindly asked if perhaps it could be moved to a location where it might be more noticeable.  Her response?

"I don't want that filth where children can see it."

Filth?  Turns out, she's a practicing Catholic and didn't appreciate my book one little bit.  She admitted she didn't actually read it, she just skimmed it.  "But that was enough."

Do we have a Book Banner in the making?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Don't Look Up!

Still basking in the glow of last weekend's book signing, I received an email from the caretakers of a website dedicated to independent authors, INDIETRIBE.  A few weeks ago, my book snuck into the top ten most popular books on the site (based on viewer clicks) and that was a huge honor for me.  A week later, it jumped to number five and I almost wet my pants.  On Monday, I received an email that blew my mind.  "Confessions of a Catholic School Dropout" was last week's most popular book.  I didn't know how to respond.  I'm still not really sure.

Things are going so well, I'm afraid to look up.  Everything that goes up, must come down.

However, I'm the eternal optimist and while I continue to try wrapping my head around this most recent honor, I'm well into the next project.  Book Number Two!!

Yep, you heard it here first, folks.  A new adventure is well underway and, no, that's not the title.  No idea when it will be done because I don't plan these things; I just let them happen.  I really don't even know how it ends.  It'll be just as much of a surprise for me as it will be for you!

Monday, April 15, 2013

What a Day!

Let me try to describe how bloody flipping awesome last weekend was.  Bear with me while I gush.

What began as a hellish trip from my idyllic island world to BrockVegas, NY, via beautiful downtown Newark Liberty International Airport, eventually turned into something wonderful.  Seventeen hours later - many of them spent in an overcrowded Newark terminal packed full of tired, irritated travelers experiencing the same delays and cancellations that held me hostage - I finally touched down in Rochester.  By the way, no one should have to endure more than thirty minutes in Newark.  In spite of the late hour of my arrival, my best friend was waiting for me as promised and off we went to enjoy a glass of wine and laugh like a couple of crazy old ladies.

On Saturday - book signing day - the wind had an icy bite that made me long for my pool-side lounge chair in the sun.  What the hell?!  It was mid-April, right?  Dressed in full habit, carrying bags of cheese and crackers, bottles of wine and homemade brownies, my Mom and I pressed against the wind trying to reach the front doors of the Liftbridge Bookstore.  I was having a bitch of a time with my veil in that wind.  How the hell nuns manage in Chicago is a mystery to me.  

Mom introduced me as the Mother Superior and herself as the Superior Mother.  She thinks she's pretty funny and laughs at her own jokes.

The guys at the store couldn't have been more welcoming.  They'd set up a table near the entrance with a sign about a local author/booksigning/controversial expose...it was pretty damn exciting, let me assure you.  Well, I was totally unprepared for what followed.  I was thrilled to see people I went to High School with - some of whom I'd not seen since graduation 27 years ago - a couple of beloved cousins, my oldest brother and his very generous girlfriend, a couple of my Mom's friends, parents of former Nativity classmates, friends of the family, parents of High School classmates, people with whom I'd only communicated via Facebook and never met in person, an old crush turned good friend, my best friend of 42 years (who also wore a habit) and two treasured friends who are more like family.

The wine flowed freely, we laughed and talked WAY too loudly while munching on brie, port wine and cheddar cheeses.  I frequently heard myself say something like this:

"No shit?"  (in response to a great story) "Fuck, I just swore.  Shit.  Oops."

Habits are hard to break.  No pun intended.

I could go on for hours about all of the old stories we dragged out, the teasing that went on, the yearbooks that were passed around and the red wine that was almost spilled on a table of best sellers.  There was discussion about various characters in the book....who they "really" were and which ones were fictional.  I didn't offer much information - I prefer to let the reader make their own judgments - but everyone was a good sport, even those who thought they may have played an embarrassing part in the story.  I wish I had pictures of the unsuspecting customers who stopped in to casually browse the shelves but instead found a group of loud people - including two nuns - drinking wine and laughing like loons.  They were priceless.

I was particularly touched by the parent of a HS classmate who told me she'd read the book and was "proud" of me for putting it out there.  She said she could relate to a lot of it and something about the way she held my gaze warmed my heart.  She bought a copy for each of her children.  I happily signed them all, grateful to have had the opportunity to talk with her.  So happy, in fact, I followed her to the door and hugged her.  We'd never met but I felt like I knew her.  I wish her endless peace and much laughter.

It was the most successful book signing to date - not because of the sales - but because of the reunion-like atmosphere of the whole thing.  I'm eternally grateful to everyone who stopped by to offer their support. Let's do it again - in warmer weather - and everyone should wear a habit and bring a bottle of wine!!!

As usual, I burned the candle at both ends during my short visit.  I was there for about 36 hours and laughed for about 30 of them.  I stayed up into the early hours of the morning laughing with Leslie and Karen and got up after about five hours of sleep to pack in as much fun as possible before heading back to the airport.  I'll sleep when I'm dead.

My only regret is that the Book Banning Bimbo and her sidekick didn't make an appearance.  I wanted to give them an autographed copy of their favorite book.

I'll post pix as soon as I can get my hands on them!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Never Too Old

It's been quiet since I discovered the Book Banning Bimbo and sidekick are two Lavell cousins.  I still don't understand why their granny panties are in a bunch but I've decided to leave it alone.  You know how I know there's something wrong with me?  I mean, other than all of the obvious, outward signs?  I actually miss the drama of getting called by the bookstore about a sighting and trying to figure out who it is!  It was exciting and now that I know who was behind it, it's no longer interesting.  Sheesh.

I fly off my island the day after tomorrow, back to my hometown of Brockport, NY.  I'm getting the habit ironed and ready for battle, just in case the crazies show up at Saturday's book signing.  I'm looking forward to some time with my BFF, drinking wine and watching her blow snot in her hair.  It never gets old.

Get this: she's gonna show up at the book signing in her habit, too.  See what happens to kids if you leave them in Catholic school too long?

So just when I think I have my Mom figured out, she throws me a curve ball.  She asked me to wear my habit to church because she thinks "it'll be funny".  What?  Did she stop taking her medications?  That's not the woman I know.  Some have suggested it's a trick, a ploy to get me into God's house pretending to be a nun so he'll strike me down.  I'm not worried because I've done far worse in that habit and I'm alive to tell the tale - although I'm keeping most of it between me and Dougie.

Still, it's pretty amazing that after 45 years, she can surprise me.  She hasn't read the book yet, because I asked her not to.  Those of you who've read it know why.  She asked me to sign a copy for her this weekend and plans to start reading it while I'm there.  She wants to know why her nieces want the book removed from Liftbridge's shelves.

I'm rethinking my lodging plans for the weekend.  Perhaps staying at Mom's, on the farm, in the middle of nowhere is not a good idea.

I promise to keep you updated on the book signing (don't forget, I'll have wine and cheese and baked goods to share with whomever drops in) and whatever drama unfolds at the Lavell Farm, aka Nut House.

See you at the Liftbridge at 2pm on Saturday!!  Get into the habit!!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Take That!

Now that the identities of the Book Banning Bimbo and her sidekick have been revealed, I need to figure out how to deal with them.  They are both first cousins - their Dads were brothers with my Dad - we're not super close but out of all of my Lavell cousins, they're some of the ones I know the best/have spent the most time with.

What's weird is that neither of their fathers makes an appearance in the book, not really.  One of the characters has the same first name as one of my cousin's dad, but that's where the similarity ends.  The other one....well, I really can't understand that one at all.  She doesn't have a dog in this fight.  Maybe she doesn't like to laugh.  I mean, after all, she is a Lavell.  They aren't funny people.

I thought about calling each of them to find out what's bothering them.  I first considered email but was wisely  counseled by another Lavell cousin not to put anything in writing to either of them because they obviously have a couple of screws loose and might try to use an email against me.  I've pretty much decided to ignore them.  Or perhaps send them an autographed copy.  I'm still on the fence.

On a more positive note....my book is again in the top ten most popular books on INDIETRIBE, a website for readers to find/authors to share self-published books.  Guess what?  This week, it's number FIVE!  Check it out:


Shameless bragging?  I guess that's exactly what it is but after the lack of love from the Book Banners, it feels great to know there are those who seem to like my book.  Take that, you bitter old book banners!  Why don't you pull whatever is stuck up your butt out and laugh a little.  I promise it won't kill you.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Book Banner Unmasked!

The Book Banning Bimbo (BBB) made another appearance at the Liftbridge Bookstore earlier this week.  She's a persistent hater, I've gotta give her that.  She doesn't give up quietly and slink away into the night.  Not her.

This time she wasn't alone.  She came with an accomplice claiming to be her sister and they told my very reliable source they want the book removed because it's full of lies about "their father".  Hmm....  that narrows the pool considerably, doesn't it?

This is just one reason why I think this book is so well-suited for book clubs....members can discuss (among other things) who they each think the BBB and her sister could be and how best to deal with them.  I mean, what's next, are they gonna start handing out pamphlets outside the bookstore?  Are they gonna tell the pastor at Nativity?  What's their motive?

I'm waiting to hear news of a lawsuit, but so far it's quiet on the western front.  Or northern front, I guess, considering where I live.  All the crazy book banners are far to the north.  No one on this palm tree studded island bans books.  Everyone here is laid back and seems to realize a book is just that.  It's a book.  Pour a margarita, kick back in the sand and read something else, Ms. BBB and sister!

Where's me flask?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Major Breakthrough!

It happened!  My book has finally made it into the hands of a book club!  I don't know anything about the club, like how many members belong or how often they meet or whether they drink wine while they discuss books, but I do know a book club is reading it!  That is a major breakthrough and I'm so damn excited I'm dancing in my chair.  (My dogs are suspicious, by the way.)

How did I find out?  I was about to tell you that but I was bustin' a move.

I saw that my friend Chrisa "liked" a book review of "Confessions of a Catholic School Dropout" on Goodreads.com, which if you're not familiar with it, is the world's largest site for book readers and their recommendations.  Clicking on the link, I read the review of a lovely person named Dawn, who said she couldn't wait to discuss my book "at book club with the ladies".  That's when the chair dancing began.  Get your mind out of the gutter.  I didn't say lap dance or table dance, I said chair dance.  It's perfectly innocent.

This really is a huge thing for me.  I wish I could explain it but I can't so you'll have to trust me.  It's a huge thing for me.

My sincere thanks to the ladies of the book club, whoever you are.  Thank you for choosing my book.  I hope it makes you laugh and feel good.  I welcome your brutally honest feedback and if you like it, I hope you'll tell everyone you know about it.  My readers are my most valued (and appreciated) marketers.

Back to the chair dancing everyone!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ups and Downs

Wow, we humans sure do love controversy and drama, am I right?!?  Hell, I know I do.  I'm betting you do, too, whether you'll admit it or not.

The day I posted about the crazed woman storming into the Liftbridge who demanded they remove my book and threatened a lawsuit, was the biggest day for this blog.  I see normally 5-15 hits/day but that day...wow!  You guys hit up this blog more often than a recently released convict hits up a hooker.  It made me proud.

But it quickly fizzled out and I'm wondering how to keep that level of interest going.  I'm trying to think of new ways to stir the proverbial plot.  Who shall I piss off next?

We still don't have confirmation about who the "Book Banning Bimbo" is, but we've ruled out my Mom.  Sorry, Mom, but I thought it might be you.  Triple B claimed to be "Jane Lavell" and my Mom is "Joan Lavell", so you can see why I thought perhaps it was my Mom, but after talking with her and my oldest brother, I'm convinced it's not.  (Quite a relief, actually.)  So that mystery continues, although we have another suspect.... my spies are hot her trail and I promise to keep you current on their reconnaissance.

I've been trying to reach out to book clubs because I'm confident this book is perfect for the book club scene.  It would be a great way to get it in the hands of several people who will hopefully then tell friends/family about it and well, you get the idea.  I've contacted so many Brockport/Rochester area clubs, as well as several in FL, with no response whatsoever.  Not even a, "no thank you".  Sheesh.

My attempts to connect with several African American book clubs were also unsuccessful.  I'm trying not to feel unworthy because of my fair skin and freckles.

Today I found some Catholic book clubs.  Hmmmm....perhaps my next goal will be to get "Confessions" into the hands of one of these groups.  Imagine how much fun that could be!  They might need therapy afterwards, but then again, maybe it'll give them that "Aha" moment that Oprah is so famous for talking about.  Speaking of Oprah, if anybody out there knows her and can convince her to ready my book (and admit to it!), there's something in it for you.  I'm not saying it'll be anything great, but it'll be something.