Author photos taken by Robert Abrams in Paris, France.



THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY - Rebecca Buckley's Blog
Welcome to my blog. Here I'll talk about almost anything. Depends on the mood of the day. I'll also talk about publishing, writing techniques, and editing ... subjects close to my heart. So today, anytime you feel like it, feel free to jump in ... click on the COMMENTS link at the end of a post and give your opinion. If you sign in "anonymous" to comment, it's easier, just be sure you say who you are in the content of your comment.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

ON THIS SECOND TO LAST DAY OF 2009

What does one say to sum up a total of 365 days from the start to end of a year?  How does one sum up one's self and one's behavior during that year?  Is it done through accomplishments?  Is it done through family's perceptions?  Is it done through friends' perceptions?  I would be inclined to say it's done through our own perception of ourselves and what we've learned in that 365 days that we didn't know the previous year. 

I can only use my own experience since that's all I know.

So, as for me ... what have I learned this year?  I've learned that although family is dear and relationships are rewarding, you have to be true to yourself.  You must decide what it is you want, and lead the kind of life you want and where you want.  Now this isn't something new I've learned, it's just something that has surfaced again ... it had slipped through the cracks a bit, for awhile.  I lost myself in my family, only to be reminded this year that there's a reason distance makes the heart grow fonder.

As a mother, I have been reminded this year that my offspring are independent, have their own partners to love and care for and vice versa. And although they are my "children", they need to be distanced from parents while forging ahead and finding their own way on the paths through life.  It isn't time yet to be living near their mother.  I had forgotten that and had expected too much, too soon.  I remember how it was with my own parents when I was my children's ages, in my 40s.  My parents were definitely not my focus, I was living life to the fullest.  I'd visit them on most holidays and sometimes a time or two or three in between.  But that was it.  And no one loves their parents more than I do.

So, this past year I've learned that I might need someone else in my life. Before 2010 is over, I truly believe I will meet that someone, or perhaps I already know him.  I'm open to it and admit it, finally, so it will happen. Seventy is not too old to fall in love again.

I have learned this past year that I don't have to stay in Arizona.  It all depends on what happens over the next six months with business and personal relationships.  It depends on what becomes available to me. My friend Linda is moving in with me next month, so things may develop from there.  She's mobile, too.  We may head west.

Which reminds me ... this past year I reconnected with two of my best friends - Linda (Lindstrom) Hainline and Barbara McKee.  We've known each other since the late '70s: Linda when we met working at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo CA, and Babs when we met working at the county courthouse in SLO.   We've been in and out of each others' lives ever since.  Love them both.  They both came here this year, and I took a trip to Austin TX to also visit Linda.

As for my spiritual being, I feel I'm progressing ... I am forever seeking and reading, learning more and more about myself and understanding others.  That last part is the hardest - understanding others.  Boy is it ever!  I struggle with that one all the time.  So, focus should be in that department this coming year.

I've learned this past year that I still have critical changes to make with my finances.  That is a major concern.  The old saying ... insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  So, change is necessary! 

All in all ... the past year has been a happy one for me.  I  published my fifth book (third novel) this year.  In addition I  published five other books for authors.  I've increased the Internet presence and distribution for my business (R. J. Buckley Publishing) and myself, have marketed more.  I spent New Year's Eve in Brussels, Belgium, then in April attended the IBPA (publishers) unniversity in New York City (my friend Babs went with me, I met her cousins over a New York dinner - fabulous!).

So, now is the time to reflect more and then move forward beginning the first day of 2010. 

Another decade gone by the wayside, guys!

Here's a toast to you and yours!  May you have a glorious 2010!

 

2009 NEW YEAR'S EVE IN BRUSSELS

JANUARY 1:


Well, finally! I’ve been here two days and it has taken me forever to figure out how to get on the Internet using my laptop in this hotel – Brussels Metropole. I mean to tell you, this has been the most difficult to access ever!

So, people, I’m here! Got here the morning of December 30, and I’m just now starting to acclimate to the time change. My body sure has taken its time to do that this time. Harder as one gets older, I suppose.

Today I woke up at 1 p.m., yesterday (New Year’s Eve) at 5 p.m. just in time for the festivities. However, I came back from the Grand Place (square) early (10 p.m.) after having a nice supper at the Roy (Roi de Espagne), and went back to bed. There wasn’t much going on in the Grand Place, and not many people milling around. I was surprised. But then I found out later that the festivities were in another square, Mont des Artes, near the Place de Royal and palace. However, it was an enteresting evening, I enjoyed it. It just wasn’t what I had envisioned. I had imagined meeting my Belgian prince charming while sipping my champagne … I’m such a dreamer! I know I am. Must be why I write romance novels. All I saw were couples out for the evening, groups of wild students, and the occasional overweight, paunchy loner who was either a traveling salesman or a government type – since the EU headquarters are in Brussels and the Metropole Hotel and area is a favorite among them. I was hit upon by a stray Frenchman, however, at the Metropole Cafe. Short-lived, but still a complimentary, curious conversation over Brandy, although no prince charming.

The fireworks woke me up at midnight and the night sky was ablaze with the most exotic combinations of pyrotechnics. I could see it from my multi-paned hotel room window. No one could have slept through the celebration noises, and much of it was going on in the streets below. I definitely returned to my room too early.

Right now it’s New Year’s Day and I’m getting ready to go out and buy a new coat. I find I am not a cape person, brought along my new Irish wool, black cape with a built-in scarf/hood, but it’s way too cumbersome. I keep getting tangled up in it … not good … makes me look and feel like a Klutz. And I’m not happy with the damn plastic coat I brought with me, either. Plastic? What the hell is that all about? It might have been a light pack, but it’s atrocious looking! I need a tailored wool pea coat like the one I left on the train that broke down and we had to change trains in the UK on my last trip there. Darn, I miss that coat!

It is colder than the North Pole could ever think of being here in Brussels. I even bought a sock cap and am wearing it. Can you imagine me in a hat, much less a sock cap? Not a pleasant sight. My full length white mink would have been perfect for this weather, so many women are wearing furs here. But I would have felt conspicuous, so that wouldn’t have worked either. Damn! When am I ever going to get to wear that fur coat? Haven’t yet.

I couldn’t resist a beautiful lace tablecloth on my walk through the shopping lanes my first day here, have wanted one since last time I was in Belgium. It is gorgeous. Handmade in Bruges, Belgium. I’ll be serving some nice quaint dinners on it when I get home, you can bet on that. Can’t wait.


I suspect I’ll have to purchase another suitcase for the stuff I’m accumulating, and will check the largest of the two on the airline, maybe both, I don’t know. I don’t like carrying around a bunch of stuff in the airports, and I still haven’t learned. One carryon bag and one large purse – still too much. I couldn’t lift the leather bag to the overhead, had to have help with it. So I’ll just go ahead and check it all when I return to the U.S., will only carry my purse, the larger one OR A NEW ONE! You never know.

Not going to Paris this time as planned (planned to take the train down for a night). I’ll just stay put here in Brussels. At present I’m not in the mood to venture out to other towns in Belgium either (Ghent, Lueven, Antwerp, Bruges), etc. Maybe tomorrow (Jan 2) I’ll start doing the day trips. I spent a week in Bruges last time, so I could skip that one if I have to.

It’s 4 p.m. in Brussels right now on New Year’s Day. Now I’m going for a walk and shop for a coat while I formulate and deepen my Amanda character in my mind.

JANUARY 3:

January 3, Saturday, 10 p.m. in Brussels. Well, I’m still on U.S. time. Can’t for the life of me acclimate to the time. I’m awake all night, go to sleep around 6 a.m., wake up again around 4 or 5 p.m. Craziness! But I’m certainly having some creative, farout dreams during the daytime sleeping hours. Am using two of the dreams for part of the “Midnight in Brussels” plot. Works for me. There’s inspiration all around, even while I’m sleeping. Hooray!

Today I found a restaurant across the street from the Metropole that has food I recognize and has fruit and veggies. Thank God! I’ve missed them from my diet. It’s been mostly cheese, cheese, and more cheese since I’ve been here. And of course ice cream. Great diet. They have the best ice cream at the Metropole … homemade. Yum yum. And of course the hot melted chocolate goes well over it. Oboy … cheese and ice cream and chocolate. Fabulous eating. But I’m walking, so maybe that’ll offset the fats. So far, all I’ve been doing are sleeping, eating fats, walking, and shopping.

Also today I was scheduled to take a day trip to Ghent and Bruges but just couldn’t wake up long enough to catch the tour bus. I could do it tomorrow at 8 a.m. I suppose I could just stay up 2 hours longer (6 to 8 a.m.) and make myself stay awake for the tour. That’s a possibility. But you know what? I thoroughly investigated Bruges when I was there for a week on my previous trip, and Ghent isn’t really reaching out to me. But Antwerpt is. So I’m going to Antwerpt on Monday, a five-hour excursion. Antwerpt is the diamond capital of Europe – raw diamonds as well as polished, so that works to my benefit, will use that information and send two of my main characters there to buy a diamond ring … perfect. YES! I’m interested in diamonds anyway. Love rocks. Any kind of rocks. I’m a latent rock-hound, collect rocks. So that’s on Monday.

Then on Tuesday I’ll finish up Brussels – take some photos, finish my shopping – ’cause I’m leaving Wednesday morning for home. So tomorrow (Sunday) I’ll just take it easy when I finally wake up, and do some more writing. Been writing up a storm, people! Very inspiring here. You’ll have to read my book when it’s finished to get all the local color and see what plot I came up with this time.

JANUARY 4:

Didn’t take the tour today (Sunday) either. Woke up at 4 p.m. this afternoon, didn’t go to sleep till 6:00 a.m. this morning. It’s alright, I’m okay with it. I have all the info I need of Bruges for my book in my previous notes and embedded in my memory.

But tomorrow I’m getting up at 9 a.m, no matter what time I go to sleep this time, to take the train to Antwerp … not taking a tour, am going by myself on the train. Found out it’s even better that way. Quicker. That way I can go at my leisure. Perfect. Much easier and on my own schedule. Antwerp is important to my book, so I must go there. And then on Tuesday I’ll do the churches here near Old Town, need to pick one for a wedding site, for Amanda possibly? I’m not telling. There’s a neat church in Antwerp, too – the largest gothic church in Europe. I’ll decide which one is best after I see them all.

So the trip is winding down, just two more days. Antwerp tomorrow (Monday), tying up loose ends in Brussels on Tuesday, home on Wednesday. I’m ready. Time to go home. It’s been great, though, just being free from the phone and the usual daily goings on at home and office … it’s been a fabulous vacation as well as a productive research trip. Loved it.

I also have new boots, coat, gloves, 4 hats, lace tablecloth, and a Brussels plate for my plate collection wall. So there. I’m all set for cold winters, dinners, and travel stories. And I purchased a few gifts. Yes, yes, I do have to buy a travel bag for it all to transport home. No doubt about it. I’ll be checking all my luggage this time.

You know, Brussels would be the perfect spot to make and sell hats. I mean everyone wears hats to cover their ears in winter. All sorts of them. And the people shop in droves. I’m not the only shopaholic. Today, Sunday, it was like Black Friday in the U.S., amazing. You couldn’t walk a straight line down the shopping lanes and corridors, had to weave your way through. Everyone wears black, of course. I fit right in. Hardly anyone wears color, no one. So it looked like a black river of people flooding the meandering streets and alleys. I was glad the shops were open, in Switzerland they’re closed on Sundays … when I was in Zurich I didn’t know what to do with myself on Sunday. Nothing. I was bored that day.

January 5

Went to sleep around 3 or 4 a.m. this morning, woke up at 8:30 a.m. The first early wake up I’ve had since I’ve been here. For some reason, I woke up thinking I ought to look for my passport because yesterday it wasn’t in the purse that I usually carry, where I thought I had put it. I noticed its absence while I was shopping. So, I looked and looked and looked and looked. I searched everywhere. No passport. Not in any of my bags, not in any of the drawers, nowhere. Not in any pockets: coats, pants, purses, suitcases. It was missing – lost or stolen.

Oh boy! What to do? I called the front desk and asked what the procedure was to get a replacement passport, that mine was missing and I would be leaving tomorrow morning. They said go to the American Embassy. Great!

So by the time I quickly dressed and went downstairs it was 10 a.m. They showed me on the map how to get to the Embassy. I’d have to take a cab, which was fine, no problem. I went outside where the cabs were waiting on the street … saw the line of them, went to the first one in line, opened his front passenger door and started to get in (I like sitting in front with cabbies). It wasn’t a cab. It was a regular person waiting to pick up someone. Jeez! I was halfway in his car getting ready to sit. How embarrassing. I apologized and went to the next car which was a real taxi.

It was about a 10-minute ride to the embassy.

Oh, by the way, it’s been snowing here for 2 days. Hard to walk, sidewalks and streets covered with snow.

So the taxi stopped about a block from the embassy and pointed to where I was to go in, the third American flag up the street. Said he couldn’t go any further because of security and he couldn’t stop in front of it. I paid him and got out in the snow. Wearing my new coat and my sock cap and gloves, with a bit of care walking on the slippery ice and snow, I made it to the embassy without mishap. They did the usual airline security check plus a test to see if I’d handled explosives recently. That was different. They wouldn’t let me take my purse in, but let me take what I needed out of the purse – drivers’ license w/pic, wallet, reading glasses. Police all over the place.

I waited about 20 minutes inside till I was called to the window. The gal asked for the police report stating that my passport was either lost or stolen. I said, “What police report?” She said, “You need to report it and bring the signed report to us, before we can do anything.” She told me where the nearest police station was – about a half mile away, around the park.

Okay, there are no cabs outside the embassy or anywhere in that area. I trekked through the lovely snow and ice a half mile to the police station. Once inside, I waited 15 minutes. Then the policeman said, “Where’s the form from the embassy? We need the form.” I didn’t have a form. YIKES!

So, I had to walk back to the embassy and get a form. And while I was there this time, the gal went ahead and had me fill out everything and she took my photo sans my cap (I look like death warmed over after wearing a cap for several days, never fixing my hair, Lordy!). Then she told me to take the form, go back to the police station and bring back another signed form from them.

Off I went like a good little girl to the police station again. Another walk in the freezing cold, the snow and the ice. Now mind you, I hadn’t eaten, hadn’t had a cup of coffee, no water, nothing. I didn’t think about any of that because I wanted to hurry and get the passport since I’m leaving in the morning. So I saw a water receptacle at the PD and drank a cup while I was there this time. After about 30 minutes with the police, I had the form and off I went again. (I’ll never again forget to take a photocopy of my passport with me when I travel.)

The security guards must have thought I was nuts going back and forth through the gates and alleyways. I got pretty good on following that route, retracing my footsteps. I’ll never forget how to get from the embassy to the police station, you can bet on that. Oh, by the way, I was walking in my new Italian boots with high heels, definitely not made for walking in the snow, made for riding in taxis and sitting in cafe lounges.

When I arrived back at the embassy this time, it was closed for the day. I pounded on the door, a guard answered. I told him my dilemma and gave him a card they’d given me to show when I returned. He let me in. I went through the security check again, etc etc., then waited in the reception room alone for about 30 minutes, finally the gal came out and called me over to sign my new temporary passport which is good for one year. Success!

But wait! There still weren’t any taxis around the place when I left. The guard told me to walk to Central Square across the park, there would be taxis there. Nope, he lied. No taxies there, either. That square had to have been at least a mile’s walk from the embassy. Then I saw a sign that pointed to Place De Brockere … which was near the Metropole Hotel. So, I decided to walk to the hotel. And even though I wound ’round and ’round the crooked streets, I couldn’t find Brockere. I did finally end up on a street I recognized near the Grand Place where I walk every day. So I got back at the hotel at 5:30 p.m. What a long, long day! 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. What a walk! How to spend a day in Brussels! Exasperating!

Anyway, it was an adventure, I took it as it came as always, it didn’t upset me, I was cool, laughed at myself, and I saw a lovely snow-covered park I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, had to walk through it to get to Central Place. The frightening part was I was afraid I’d slip and break a leg or an arm or hip … that would’ve been the end, wouldn’t it? But, I’m a lucky soul, we all know that.

So when I got back to the hotel, I changed my soggy, thin-soled boots (ruined) and went back out for something to eat, I was starving. Then I did my final shopping. Bought a second suitcase to cart all the loot home. Needless to say, I was so tired when I got back to the room at 7 p.m.

Now I’ve had my hot bath and am in bed watching the news and writing this last email of the trip. Heading home in the morning! Bye bye, Brussels! Thanks for all the neat information for my book!

ADDITIONAL NOTE: By the way, I found my lost passport two months later (March 2009), it was in a hidden pocket in my purse. DAMN!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

GETTING YOUR BOOK OUT THERE

I read an interesting article in the IBPA Independent, a monthly publication from the Independent Book Publishers Association of which I (RJBP) am a member.

It's all about getting your book to as many selling formats and venues as possible. In his article, Gordon Burgett calls it ancillary publishing.  And this is not only for independent publishers, but authors as well. 

First of all for bound books, listing through Ingram's Lightning Source division, which is a wholesaler/digital printer that is available to individuals as well as independent publishers, is imperative.  It also provides fulfillment and distribution services at whatever level you wish - distribution channels are Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Baker and Taylor, and others.  They are my primary wholesaler/printer at the moment until RJBP qualifies for an additional with a broader base.   $$ are received on book sales after costs of printing and the discount percentage you offer to booksellers has been deducted.   If you are a self-publisher, it would be to your advantage to sign on with LSI.  Title setup costs vary, and it is $30 for a proof.  You must have your own ISBN.

Next comes Createspace.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, or is it the other way around?   It's smart to use them as a secondary wholesaler/printer for bound books and e-books because they will immediately put the book up on Amazon.com and will handle distribution/fulfillment/printing for you.  You will also have the direct line to Kindle through Createspace.  The cost is $50 per title setup on Createspace - that's for the better break on printing costs, zero otherwise. A proof usually costs around $12 including shipping.  You don't need your own ISBN on Createspace, but of course if you list with LSI you'll have your own.

(Just want to add here that ebooks account for a very small percentage of the bound book sales. So getting the bound book out there is imperative.)

The article also suggests using LuLu.com for additional exposure to the extensive Lulu Marketplace that you wouldn't have otherwise.   I don't use Lulu at present, but I believe I'll look into that for my clients.  So, if that option is available, it's a given that I'll add them to my list of wholesalers/printers.

At this point, you'll have three companies printing your books to order and you'll have broad distribution on the Internet and books will be available to booksellers.  Just by using these three sources, you need do nothing else, for they will fulfill the orders by you or by the public using their facilities.

If you are an independent publisher, it's also good to have a full-run printer as your major source of books-on-hand to sell directly to booksellers and libraries, such as McNaughton and Gunn, or Patterson Printing, or Rose Printing, or your choice of many other short/full run printers, maybe even one in your own geographical location.

So that's it for the most expedient ways to get your book out there ... more on ebooks later.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

LISTENING TO JIM CHAPPELL - FROM MY HEART - PIANO

Nice easy music lulling me to sleep at 1:05 a.m., almost that is.  If I were in bed I might be snoozing.  But I'm sitting at the computer instead finishing some late night "stuff," winding up the day, checked on a few more things.   This is the last, however.  After this posting I AM going to bed. 

Had a tele call tonite from a good friend, Don Dominguez., my partner on "Cafe Dustyefsky" - our stageplay with music.  I wrote the story/book, he wrote music and lyrics.  It was produced at community theatre level twice ... ran 8 weeks each time.  People seemed to love it.  My plans were to take it farther, move it up to regional theatre after trying a small theatre in L.A. and then maybe another city, but ... as my old pal June Cain Miller used to say ... life got in the way.   And then I took a different route.   I sometimes think about pulling it out, though, and producing it here in Scottsdale/Phoenix area.  Possibility.

But right now I've more than enough on my plate.  Tons of stuff planned and books to publish, places to go, people to see.  Always up to my eyeballs, I am.

LH from Texas is arriving in January, staying indefinitely.  I'm looking forward to that.  She's always been a terrific helpmate and friend, and boy could I ever use some help with RJBP (publishing company).  Could also use the conversation and camaraderie.

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ... "Midnight in Brussels" has been released!  Am I ever glad about that.   Third novel in the "Midnight" series.  Hallelujah!  I think this one is my favorite one.  Yep, it is.  I can't wait to read it again in about a couple of months, like I do with all my books, read them after they're published.  It's like reading them for the first time, in an entertainment way instead of having to edit them.

Next novel is "Midnight in Moscow."  I've been toying around with writing a murder mystery next (serial killer), but I don't think I'll do that just yet - it doesn't feel natural, although I have the premise and beginning of the story written.  I'll keep playing with it, but no, I'll do my Moscow first.  Have already started it.  So, sometime in January I'll buy some index cards, and tape them to the back of my door. Three columns of them: 15 for Part One, 30 for Part Two, 15 for Part Three.  I usually end up shifting them around, into not so equal columns before I'm done.  I write one-line descriptions of the chapters on them, usually have 60 chapters in a novel, give or take.  Same as 60 scenes in a film script ... carry over from my screen-writing days.  Works for me.

Okay, I'm more relaxed now, so I think I'll try to get some sleep.   I think I had had too many "Nutter Butters" today. 

Nite nite ...