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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
MAY
21

Eat Drink Read

When I showed up at the Eat Drink Read fundraiser for the San Diego Council on Literacy, it didn't end up being quite what I expected. A pretty literary person, when I'd heard that chefs would be creating food and drink based on their favorite books, I guess I'd been picturing book books. The classics. You know, Frankenstein or something. But right away I could tell the approach from pretty much all the chefs was something much lighter.

They'd picked children's books, see. And the night was much more delightful for it. Eclairs for Pinocchio's nose. Scattered bean sprout topping for the hungry caterpillar. Mountains of chocolate frosting for Wonka's factory. By the time I finally got to a chef who had tried be somewhat adult in his presentation (The Little Prince had been his book of choice), the chef's thickly-accented description of his ravioli covered in a sauce made from a special kind of cheese I had never heard of was so boring that it was all I could do not to literally RUN over to the Alice in Wonderland table as fast as possible where they had bubbles of hibiscus tea that popped when you oyster-style poured them in your mouth and liquid-nitrogen-soaked cheese cubes that were still smoking as you swallowed. Now that's what I'm talking about. Ravioli? Psssshhh.

The event was a fundraiser, so I was happy to pay the overpriced ticket. Because literacy is such a crucial need, and I think about that not just as a writer and a businesswoman, but as a person with a curious and functioning mind. Learning to read is such a given for so many of us. But that's not the case for everyone. And even when I think about learning to read myself, it's something that's always been easy for me. I read well and I read fast. Again, this is not the case for everyone. And the overall prioritization of literacy, of resources, and of reading-rich communities is something near and dear to my heart.

So read on, San Diego. And I'll be there again next year, front and center, looking for the Frankenstein table as usual.

MAR
05

Warwick's Book Signing

Last weekend may have been my best book signing ever. And it wasn't just because of the turnout...which was amazingly good. It's also because it's the one that felt the most party like, the most celebratory, the one with the most smiles, the most hugs. I just felt so damn supported. Surrounded by people who were genuinely happy for my achievement...and also anxious to read the new book.

I was remarking to someone afterward about the relative letdown of an event like this being over. Because that's all I get. Those two hours of being the focus of a party held in the city where I live is all an author like me gets. An encouraging boost in both confidence and royalties, the first month after a book is released is pretty much the best. "It's all downhill from here," I remarked to someone a couple of days ago. Which when it comes to book sales, barring some fortuitous intervention of luck, it is. Besides, there can only be one launch party. And once it's over, you won't be able to rally a crowd in the same way until your next book comes out.

And so that probably explains why I savored every moment at Warwick's last weekend. Because the day was mine. Completely. And surrounded by a helpful staff, customers as loyal to Warwick's as any bookstore I've ever seen, family, and friends, it's more than enough to keep me going.

One thing to note about this signing in particular was that it got a lot of the "strangers" involved. Meaning customers who just happened to be at the bookstore that day and were not there specifically to see me. Because the party was such a force (champagne! a candy bar! tons of people! a photographer!), people wanted in. Or, at the very least, they wanted to see what the hell was going on. And in many cases, these customers participated in the festivities. They bought books and had me sign them. They told me stories about gems they loved, or about hearts that had been broken. There's a picture in the smattering you'll see below that shows me wearing a pained expression, hands over my heart. It's because one of these customers, a complete stranger to me, had just told me about her daughter's recent heartbreak. And who can't relate to that? Which is why I love this book so much. "Can you give her some words of advice?" the mother asked as she handed me a newly-purchased copy to sign. "Here's to love," I wrote. And just underneath, I added, "Because, eventually. Right?"

One can only hope.

FEB
14

Happy Launch Day!!!

I know it won't eclipse Valentine's Day for anyone else but me, but Happy Launch Day for my new book!! Welcome to the world, Fooled. May it be as loved and inspiring as it's been to me over the past couple of years. And may my exes not hate me for writing about them.

Here's to love.

You, dear readers, certainly have mine.

Today and always.

DEC
15

Early Christmas Present

And there she is, folks. The first copy.

Isn't it pretty??

Still two months before release, but, boy oh boy, it's an amazing thing to see this project you've spent years of your life working on in the form of an actual book.

I'll definitely curl up over my Christmas vacation, read a few chapters, and pretend I don't know how it ends.

DEC
11

Still Holding Out

I've just gone through the part of the book process that involves approving the Kindle files for the ebook. Something made more difficult given that I still do not own a Kindle. Sure, they have programs that allow you to see a "Kindle view" on your laptop, but as I flip from page to page, I can't help but wonder if this is really how things will look to those who end up reading the book on a Kindle.

I'm probably as close to getting one as I have ever been, what with this whole checking my own ebooks prior to launching thing. Not to mention a couple of coast to coast redeye flights last month where my use of the overhead light was seriously pissing off my neighbor. I know, I know, tough shiz, right? We each buy a ticket, and if your neighbor wants her light on, THEN YOU'RE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT. But I'm a bleeding heart. I feel too much. Plus I don't want people wishing me ill while we're all 35,000 feet in the air. So a Kindle appeals to me more these days. As in bye-bye overhead light.

Yet I still can't pull the trigger on making the purchase. And why? On one hand, it's like Lasik. I could get it, but wearing contacts really isn't that bad. Yet I remember going through the same holdout on an iPod years ago, and after getting one, I've never looked back. The difference, however, is that a world without discmans and walkmans is one I can live with. A world without physical books, however? Not so sure. Which is why I just purchased a portable mini book light for my next night flight. And why if you see anything wonky on the Kindle version of my upcoming book, you can rest assured that everything looked *great* on my laptop Kindle viewer.

OCT
23

Subtlety

They do though.

This was part of my display at Friday night's ArtNight Pasadena, an event I've now attended for the second straight year. Part of me wonders why I went back. Not that it isn't a GREAT event, but it's just such a big event. And all the authors get stuffed into various nooks and crannies in the castle-like (charming yet simultaneously stinky) library. Even for the few people who manage to find you in the back corner of this dimly-lit building, most of them aren't really prepared to pay for something inside a library. Not that they couldn't. But that, on principle, they believe libraries should exclusively provide free stuff.

I do kind of get it. An event inside a bookstore will sell exponentially more books.

Not that it was a total loss. I met some great authors, sold a few books, and the best moment was when a woman saw the cover of Jeweled and loudly exclaimed, "I've read that!" She proceeded to ooze to the woman who was with her about what a fascinating and well-done book it is, and you'd think this other woman would have bought a copy. Indeed, before I got into this whole book thing, I was sure all I needed was a small core group of people who read and liked my books, and that The Snowball Effect would take care of the rest. That your book sales largely stop with this core group of people who read and like your books has been one of the most surprising lessons of bookselling.

"I may be back," the woman's friend said after looking at the front and back of Jeweled, an obligatory response to her companion's glowing endorsement.

She never came back, but then again, I knew she wouldn't.

No matter.

I'll continue to do these events because, in spite of everything, I enjoy them. And because you never know who'll come by, like you, read your stuff, and start the snowball that will eventually lead to your big break. Or at least lead to someone loudly exclaiming in front of a room full of book lovers that yours is particularly fine.

OCT
12

Back At It

So's my cat, clearly (some help she is), but the truth of the matter is that I've begun writing again. After I finish a book I take a nice long break. This one has been especially long, but it's not as if there isn't still booky work going on. Typesetting decisions, cover options, etc. Most of this post-writing work falls on others, but still, it feels a bit hasty to the part of myself that can't even be reading more than one book at the same time to begin writing a new book when the last one hasn't even come out yet. But I've begun dabbling and think I may have what may or may not be the first few pieces of what may or may not end up being book #4.

Gotta say. It feels good to be back.

And if you're wondering when book #3 will be dropping, let me just say that if you find yourself in the mood for a collection of tragically relatable love stories (that are mostly not about love) around, say, Valentine's Day, then you just may be in luck.

Until then, I'm just going to keep writing. And (mostly not) loving.

 

 

APR
02

Celebrating the Handoff

I gave my new manuscript to the editor this morning. She might hate it. She might tell me it doesn't work. In which case I'll be pretty discouraged. But that's always the risk you take when you put a piece of yourself down on paper. Particularly when that self is so very ordinary.

But no matter. Because whichever way this goes, tonight I'm celebrating that I've written a new book. It's such an accomplishment. And while as a woman--and a relatively worry-warty one at that--I've become an expert at feeling like I'm not enough, like I'm disappointing others, like I'm not living up to my potential, and like everyone in the office finds me kind of annoying (even though I threw the most amazing chili cookoff last month), tonight I am nothing but proud.

 

FEB
25

Final(ish) Touches

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A friend recently commented that I blog much less now that I’m a working girl again. This is true. So is the fact that I am way behind on getting my new manuscript to my editor, and much for the same reason. I do pine for my days in New York City, most of them employer-free once I quit my job to focus on gemology, nothing really on my to-do list other than a freelance writing gig and a magnificent city to discover. Those were the days.

It’s now been three months since announcing here (And....Done.) that I had finished the new manuscript, so I should probably tell you that what’s happened is I felt like there was something missing. I wanted to add in a more universal component to weave throughout the stories from my own life that fill the book, and so I sent out the survey I mentioned here (Survey Says), and then wrote 8,000 more words to incorporate some of the survey themes and data into the manuscript.

It’s not perfect, and I still have some work to do before I hand it off, but I like it better now. And I like that it’s something new I’m experimenting with. Don’t get me wrong…I’m still filled with that sickening sense of panic that always fills me before the release of a book (“No one will like this.”), but that will probably be there every time. All I can do is take my time, try to get it right on my end, and enjoy every bit of the process.

FEB
03

Survey Says

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For anyone interested in helping me with my new book (or anyone that likes being given a reason to confess their true feelings about love or dish on a bastardly ex), I invite you to take this less-than-five-minute survey. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/W2SWGHZ

If I use any of your quotes, I'll send you a free copy of the book once it's out. But that does mean you'd have to own up to which one is yours, since the survey is anonymous. In any case, I'm trying to get as many perspectives as possible, so the more the merrier.

Happy surveying.

p$Sch07dkL
NOV
22

And....Done.

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"Call it crazy. It certainly would have been apropos."

This is the line that officially completed my third manuscript, a manuscript I wrote the last 3000 words of this weekend. To be clear, these are not the last 3000 words of the book...just as the line above is not how the book ends...it's simply the conclusion of the last chapter I had left to write up. The one, I hate to say it, I've been avoiding because remembering it sort of sucked.

There's actually a lot in this book that sucks, which means that I have more work to do on this manuscript than on any other. (Not to mention, it's 150% longer than my previous two.) Editing, re-writing, deleting, and--ultimately--making sure this is still a book that I feel good about putting out there. But for now I'm happy. Thrilled, even. I forgot how good it feels just to get the first draft all written out. It feels AMAZING. It propels me forward into the next phase, a phase that revolves around organization and detail and chronology. It's a phase I like so very much. It's a phase that gets me one step closer to holding the finished product in my hands.

Watch out, world. Here come all the love stories.

OCT
25

The Boys in the Boat

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If you haven't read this, you must find yourself a copy pronto. It is everything a good book should be. And it really happened.

That's all.

PS - Why didn't I ever become a rower? My arms would be so toned.

OCT
17

ArtNight Pasadena

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For those waiting on the results of my candy experiment, having a big bowl of chocolate at my table did draw in a record number of visitors. Indeed many other authors at last weekend's Pasadena ArtNight commented to me on how popular my candy was. Not that it really sold me any more books. People just wanted some candy. Jerks.

It was a great event though, the ArtNight. And hats off to Pasadena for arranging such a complete and hassle-free experience. I found myself wishing I could ride the free shuttles around town to the different buildings housing various artists and musicians for the evening. What a great way for a city to see and experience a wide mix of genres and talents. And such a great reminder, for those of us at the library, of just how many people out there write books. Of course, it's also a reminder of how there really is something out there for everyone...and about a billion things not for everyone, which is why indie book selling is and always will be so challenging. There's a relatively (read: extremely) small number of people out there who are interested in reading your books. As opposed to all the other books they could be reading/buying. But I suppose that's what makes the world go round. And keeps the traffic at a book fair moving. As for that traffic, however, there might have been more of it had the library's $1 books room not been right next to the author area. Made our prices a tough sell...even with candy.

 

SEP
23

Choose my Table

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I'm getting ready for an author fair next week. I love author fairs. Book events of any kind, really. It's nice to be reminded you're an author, especially when just a lowly one like me. Because sometimes I forget. Sometimes I feel discouraged and wonder why I do it. But an author event can bring me back to myself...my writerly self.

The question at any author fair is, of course, how to get people to buy your books. Selling books is hard. People can't just look at a book like they can jewelry or artwork and know they will like it. And people aren't as free with their money as they used to be. An author fair attendee peruses everything and oftentimes buys only one book. One book. So how do you make sure yours is the book they buy? Just make sure yours is the most interesting book. Right? Possibly out of your control, but even if it weren't, before a person can even think your book is interesting, you've got to get them to approach your table. And there are *a lot* of tables at an author fair. Most of the time all lined up in a row or arranged in some other closely-spaced configuration.

I don't know what the magic formula is--something tells me it probably involves a low-cut top, a celebrity guest, and an expensive giveaway--but I may try out a few new things at next week's fair. (Much to my sister's disappointment, I will not, as she suggested, be hiring friends to hang around my table and act very interested, thus creating the illusion of mass intrigue and popularity. But that's really only because I can't afford it. And also because I don't have many friends yet...new in town, remember?) In any case, if you find yourself in Pasadena next weekend, I hope you'll choose my table. There will be candy. Which, come to think of it, is probably almost as good as a low-cut top.

SEP
09

Spinster

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I know I've been overwhelming you with books posts lately, but wouldn't you know it that just after posting my top ten books (Top Ten Books that I Love), I've read a new one that just might bump something else out. And at the risk of subjecting you to a book reviewy post (isn't that what Goodreads is for?), I simply have to say that if you are a single girl--or anyone who thinks reading about significant female writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who bucked tradition by staying (or at least preferring to be) single--you simply must read this book.

Let me be clear. I'm not one of those women who loves to hate on marriage or shout about how I don't need a man. It's true, I don't need a man and have most of the time found being single preferable to being in a relationship (the exception being the one time I was in love), but I am still a person who wants to be married. In that if I could choose for this, my life, to go any way, I would choose to someday have the opportunity to be married. So in that regard I don't relate as much to the author and her "awakeners'" single-or-bust mentality.

That said, our society could use a crash course on the single woman, and this book was consequently a fascinating and refreshing read. Because spinster didn't used to have such a negative connotation. Interesting then that it--spinsterhood--has over the course of time transformed into the one thing every girl hopes will never happen to her. And why exactly is that? How is it that we've come to believe that ending up alone is the worst possible thing that can ever happen to you? A question made even more blatantly ridiculous after reading about these remarkable, interesting, and fascinating women who not only achieved success and acclaim without a man by their sides, but also didn't spend decades of their lives drowning in the sea of societal pressure surrounding marriage. (Sister ain't got time for that, and, quite frankly, neither do you.) And that's what our society--or, at the very least, the minds of female singletons--could use less of; this constant drone of marriage and when it will happen and where it will happen and with whom it will happen and if it will happen and how many eggs I'll have left when it happens and what if there are no eggs left at all when it happens and maybe I should freeze some just in case it happens and on and on for the rest of the days of your bag lady, multi-cat owning unfortunateness. If you ask me, that is what sister ain't got time for. So get on with it. Life. Yours.

SEP
01

Game-changing Books

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We've all read them. Books that literally seem to change the game of the way books are usually written. Or what they're written about. The Hunger Games comes to mind, only because I don't know if I've ever been more unable to put a book down. On a plane (where, granted, it's easy not to put a book down), I stayed in my seat with my nose deep into my gifted hardcover copy as the rest of the passengers deplaned. Just. One. More. Chapter. Kids freaking killing kids. It was disturbing. It was sickening. It was mesmerizing.

The one I've been thinking about this week was a book I read in junior high. I've probably mentioned it on here a time or two, but this book completely rocked my world when I read it. I was a teenager and a lot of things rocked my world--Birkenstocks, The X-Files, Devon Sawa--but this book positively made me pay attention because of its difference. Its felt significant to me, even then. And when I finally got around to watching the movie this past weekend, I couldn't help but feel disappointed. Because I remember how I pictured everything, especially that last scene--how epic is that last scene, the snow, the hill, the what-is-really-happening conjectures--and of course I pictured it as nothing like the movie. Now isn't that always the way?

Yet, I digress. If any of you readers have a book that felt like a game-changer to you when you first read it, please share! If what you want to say is longer than a comment's worth, submit it on the website and I may post some of them!

 

AUG
15

Top Ten Books that I Love

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In honor of National Book Lovers Day, which went largely unnoticed again this past week, I thought I'd put together some thoughts about some of the books I truly love. It goes without saying that as a writer and avid reader, books mean a lot to me. I know how hard they can be to compose, to arrange, to get out there, to publish, to market. That there are still so many people out there who have thought to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and gone through the whole endeavor just to make their words available for people like you and me is something I am grateful for every day. The escape, the adventure, the creativity, the honesty, and the wisdom we absorb through the written words of others, well, it's what I consider one of the great blessings of our time.

*These are in no particular order, except the order in which they came to my mind. Make of that what you will.

1. Peace Like a River. This one gets me every time, and I've read it plenty. Combining the innocence and humor of a young narrator with the unbreakable bond of family, you'll find yourself torn between justice and mercy...although justice never really has a chance when love and family are in the mix, now, does it? You'll be rooting for Davy and the RV-towing family who's trying to track him down.

2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Honestly one of the greatest regrets of my life is that it took me until THIS SUMMER to finally read this book. How much time I wasted not being acquainted with the Nolan family. Young Francie and her mother Katie are some of the most memorable characters I've ever known, and something about the degree to which you become immersed in this world of old-school Brooklyn is simply captivating. A true treasure.

3. The Year of Magical Thinking. My favorite of Joan Didion's books, it explores grief in a way that feels both practical and sentimental.

4. The End of Your Life Book Club. I'm such a sucker for memoirs anyway, and this one was both literary (you'll get lots of great ideas for reading material!) and heartbreaking (from the very beginning, you know how it has to end). For anyone who has ever loved their mother.

5. Fifth Avenue, 5 A.M.. I'd never really thought of the film Breakfast at Tiffany's ushering in a whole new era of female sexuality (and not really sure that I entirely buy it), but as a huge fan of the novella, of the jewelry store, and of Audrey Hepburn, this book has plenty of all three. From the writing to the casting to the filming, this is a fascinating look at a movie that, if not quite sexually redefining, was undoubtedly iconic. An absolute treat.

6. The Secret Life of Cowboys. An honest and messily beautiful account of a writer turned cowboy who takes his chances on ranch life. And Tom Groneberg actually reached out to thank me when I complimented his books in a previous post. We've corresponded a bit, and you've got to love authors who aren't above reaching out to their fans.

7. Tis. Out of Frank McCourt's trilogy of memoirs, Angela's Ashes gets the most press. But I find Tis to be the best of the bunch. His childhood years behind him, Tis tells of McCourt's first years in America.

8. The Alchemist. A beautiful story packed to the brim with symbolism and parallels that will have you thinking lost past the last page. A book ultimately about following your dreams and finding out what exactly it is that the universe has in store for you, it's what ultimately inspired me to go get my gemologist diploma.

9. Quiet. Fascinating (and, oh, so true) nonfiction read about the power of introverts in a society that lopsidedly praises (and goes to great lengths to matriculate) extroverts. Every introvert will rejoice...and for every boss, manager, dean, and CEO, it should be required reading.

10. Frankenstein. This one made such an impression on me when I first read it because it's not at all the book you think it's going to be. We hear so much about the story of Frankenstein, but, believe me, you should read the real thing. Not unlike characters such as Elphaba and the Phantom, you'll be left musing over these tragic characters who, initially so full of goodness, were ultimately changed and cracked by the way others treated them.

APR
02

Let's Talk About Writing

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I'm ashamed of how seldom I actually talk about writing on this blog. Further, I am ashamed about how little writing I've done since moving to NY period. You could say it's because I've been spending so much time studying gemology (true) and exploring the city (true), which is why I'm happy to report that since moving to my new apartment, I've gotten back into a bit of a writing groove. You could say it's because I'm ahead of schedule on my gemology studies (true) and that since Levain Bakery is now 5 minutes away from me, I really should probably never leave my apartment (true).

In any case, for my handful of fans out there who may be interested, I'm probably about 70% done with the writing for my next book. Still feels like a long way to go, but there is an end in sight. Now, before I convince myself that I need to walk down the street and get a cookie for being 70% done, I'm going to begin the next chapter. (Let's say cookie at 75%. That seems fair.)

FEB
03

Harper Lee

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In case you've missed the big literary news of the day (and this is positively epic), Harper Lee is publishing a new book this summer. If you hadn't yet heard, I'll excuse you, as I myself was on Fifth Avenue looking at a couple pieces of estate jewelry (#ihaveaproblem) and had to hear via phone from someone else. But if you don't know who Harper Lee is, then you should be ashamed of both yourself and your high school English teacher.

Harper only ever published one book, and it won a Pulitzer Prize. (Now that's the way to do it, am I right??) To Kill a Mockingbird can only be described as a classic, and while there may be a few people out there who are a little anxious about the story of the adult Scout being disappointing or not living up to its hype (although keep in mind that Go Set a Watchman was written before Mockingbird...it was the original book), I have a feeling the 2 Million copy first run won't be nearly enough.

 

JAN
19

Book Group

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Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a book group discussion. I don’t belong to any book groups, and never really have (other than this one time, but I only went once, when that month’s book was something I had already read, but the host’s house smelled like fish and it was hard to hear over the yappy dog being kept in a bedroom), but a book group over on the west coast invited me to participate in the discussion of their January book, which just so happened to be one that I wrote.

It’s a weird thing, listening in when a group of readers are discussing your book. It’s even weirder when they’ve got you up on the big screen TV while you’re talking. But technology is pretty cool when you think about it. And it got me thinking about how nice it would be if, after finishing a book I’d enjoyed, I could have a conversation with the author, ask her any questions, tell her I particularly liked this aspect or that.

And that’s what these ladies did. They asked questions about jewelry, questions about writing Jeweled and if it was harder or easier than writing Schooled. They asked if I visited my jeweler when I was home for Christmas, asked about conflict diamonds, giggled about my musings on old-lady veins, shared how powerful the opening scene was with the whale. They even answered a few questions for me which might help me shape the structure of my next book, which I’ve recently begun to rethink.

How grateful I am for readers, for books, for kind words, for camaraderie. I’m also grateful for the times that make me feel like a real author. I will not say that they happen a lot, but when they do, it's enough to keep me going.

latest tweets

TaliNayBooks Well, I guess now I don't have to be the only #SoCal girl rooting for the #indians in the #WorldSeries. #SilverLining #dodgerterritory
TaliNayBooks Because what's better than 3 days of art, food, ideas and music? Besides maybe stretchy pants. #LifeIsBeautifulFest https://t.co/6aviUYGA4Y
TaliNayBooks I'm sure they'll reach out for the "Authors You've Never Heard Of" edition. #authors #style #joandidion https://t.co/gQE9hPO7r3