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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
NOV
09

An Afternoon at King's English Bookshop

Last weekend's book signing at King's English Bookshop was significant for a few reasons. First, Utah is cold, so the weekend was memorable in and of itself and left me (and my coat) wondering how we ever used to handle cold weather on the regular. Second, unlike signings in my own backyard, coming back to Salt Lake City after not living there for almost a dozen years meant that so many of the people who came out to the bookstore were people I hadn't seen in a very long time. Some close to 20 years. And isn't that just a little crazy? So are worlds colliding, which is what happens when you have a very crowded bookstore full of family, friends, former roommates, former classmates, people from your hometown, and former church colleagues. It's a melting pot of your own life history. 

The third reason that last weekend's signing was significant is that it marked the first time I've ever done a reading. I've always shied away from them in the past, I suppose in part because I get nervous reading my own books, but mostly because a reading seems a little silly when you're someone who's not actually famous. I mean, I'm not exactly JK Rowling. I'm not even known much beyond my own friends and family. So what would really compel people to hear my own measly thoughts about my own measly book, the details of how it came to be, snippets of my favorite passages? Yet there I was, reading and talking to a group of people in a slightly overheated room of children's books and totally loving it. Did I turn bright red and wish that sort of thing didn't happen to me when on the spot? Yes. Did several show up late or miss the reading entirely? Yes. Do I wish I didn't talk so fast? Of course. But I loved having the chance to tell readers a bit about the book, what it means to me, and what I hope they'll like about it. I loved reading a few passages and seeing when people laughed and when they didn't. I loved feeling like an author.

Here's to Salt Lake. Here's to King's English Bookshop. And here's to (hopefully) more readings in the future.

OCT
26

Afternoon at Warwick's

I suppose the only negative thing about having a book signing at Warwick's is that you don't get to spend the time you're there perusing the store. And believe me, once you've been to Warwick's, you'll for sure want to peruse the store. Every corner of it. Yet I was otherwise engaged on Sunday afternoon, signing copies of my new book, and for that I couldn't have been happier. 

The first signing of a book is usually a bit telling. You learn things. About the book. About yourself. This signing marked the most books I've ever sold to strangers in any given setting. And to an author, while selling books to the friends and family who have come to a signing to support you is immensely satisfying, there's an additional satisfaction (and sense of confidence about the book) that comes when people who don't even know you buy your book. When "regular customers" in a bookstore on a random Sunday afternoon ask what your book is about and smile when they hear the answer and then take a copy with them to the counter to purchase. 

Last weekend's signing made clear to me that there is something about dreams, about going after them, that resonates with people. There's something about forging new paths, about trying new things, about recalling that time you did that thing you always wanted to do that makes people remember times in their lives when they did the same. That's why I write books, and it's all I can hope for as an author.

Thank you, San Diego, for such a wonderful day. Salt Lake City, I'm coming for you next.

SEP
29

And....it's Out!!!

At long last, my new book is officially out! I've said this before, that it's strange to think that this thing that has taken years of effort and preparation can be read in a matter of a few hours. But I suppose that's the point, and I hope for anyone who reads it that those few hours provide opportunity for you to look back on your own life adventures, be it moving to a big city, changing career paths, or going after that long-held dream.

Dreams are why I like this book so much, because it reminds me that I did it. I went "all in" for a dream. Not because it was a guarantee or because I had any idea if it would work. In fact, having given up so much to try and make it happen, I spent a fair amount of my New York City time worrying over whether I'd made a terrible and irreversible mistake. But that's what dreams require of us. And how often can we say that we've done it? We've gone after them? We've made sacrifices for them, taken risks for them, worried over them, bettered ourselves for the chance of them?

I used to live in Cleveland, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of my favorite things in that city. It's so full of dreams, the evidence of dreams achieved, as well as those gone wrong or cut short. Amidst all the things inside, my favorite was a wall with a picture of Billy Joel at the piano. Below the picture was a quote from Billy that has never let me go: "If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time." I wrestled somewhat with the quote, because, come on Billy, we can't all be rockstars. But on the other hand, I can honestly say that this quote is one of the things that most inspired me to quit my job and pursue gemology. Because maybe we can be rockstars. Maybe we can each get at least a little closer to actually paying the bills with those things we are most passionate about. That is why I like this book so much. And I hope you will too.

SEP
08

Newbie in New York

My new book launch is next month, and after all the years of work that go into writing a book, it's hard to believe it's so close now. It's also hard to believe, and sometimes a bit frustrating, that this thing that took multiple years of effort can be read in a matter of hours. It's sort of like why I hate cooking. All that time and effort for something that is eaten in a matter of minutes. But that's the way of it. The goal, in fact. To provide a few hours of entertainment, escape, retability for my readers. 

This picture was taken in Central Park, where I got a chance to do a final read-through of the proof copy of Newbie. It was wonderful to be in New York City while reading it, because the book is about my time living in New York, and so many of the places I love and remember featured into the trip. I'd pause and smile when passing the International Gem Tower where I studied gemology, or think back while at a particular restaurant or park to the last time I had been there. It's a phase of life I'm so glad I got to have, and it's a book about doing something I'd always wanted to do in a place where I'd always wanted to live, and I can't wait to share it with you.

JUN
23

If It Looks Like a Book

I considered taking the printed versions of interior layout options for my new book elsewhere before spreading them out and making desicions. My cat always makes a mess of it, assuming the freshly stacked piles of paper have been put there for her to run around on, which she does, making it impossible for me to make any progress. The same thing happens when I make the bed, by the way. But the thought occurred to me that it's tradition, really, the book's christening by cat footprints, and so I couldn't quite bring myself to do it without her.

The cover for this new book was finalized earlier this month, always an exciting day, but there's something even more special about moving on to the book's interior layout, in that you're actually seeing how the book will look and feel to readers. Doing this in such a small-scale, grass roots way means I have a lot of say in these decisions, and that's incredibly satisfying. What would be even more satisfying is selling books, which I don't do much of, so there are definite cons to not being backed by a large publishing house.

But it is what it is. I write books that I think are fun to read, and this one's getting closer and closer to completion. You can bet my cat will be on hand to celebrate every step of the process. Especially those that involve things that can be stepped on.

MAR
22

Changes

It’s a strange thing, getting your manuscript back from the editor. On one hand, she’s paid to help you make it better. On the other hand, she gone done marked up this precious thing you’ve spent years working on. And you’d really rather she just find it perfect as is. I realize this latter scenario isn’t realistic. And if she’d told me it was perfect, she probably wouldn’t be a very good editor. But this does mean that I’ll be spending the weekend sifting through a sea of red marks, trying to sort out how to now make the book better based on her edits, feedback, and suggestions.

The editing process in general requires a lot of restraint on the part of a writer. You have to actively stop yourself from being too attached to any one part of the book, from getting a bit defensive at the constructive criticism aimed at this thing you’ve put so much heart and soul into. Because this is the way you want it. This is the way you like it. This is the way you wrote it. It hits me fresh with each new book, the manuscript returned to me peppered with suggested changes. It initially feels quite icky. Oh, hell no am I cutting that part. Or turning that complex sentence into three short and simple ones. Psssshhhh. But it helps to remember that readers won’t necessarily interpret things the way I believe I’m putting them across. They won’t necessarily know what I’m referencing by mentioning, say, a John Cusack movie while inside of Serendipity (doesn’t that one seem obvious, though?), or, perhaps, a poem about what happens to a dream deferred (Langston Hughes, anyone?).

The important thing about this manuscript--and all other manuscripts my editor has handed back to me over the near decade I’ve been working with her—is that there were no major problems that needed fixing. From timing to organization to structure, this one was given a pass. Which is really what I’m looking for with a manuscript, hoping I’ve gotten it to a point where any changes that need to be made are of a small, grammatical variety. Sentences shortened, typos removed, awkward wording replaced. Having achieved this once again is what I’ll be striving to focus on as I go through the marked-up pages this weekend. Cake, right? Let’s hope.

FEB
18

The Hand-Off

This picture is really just because my cat feels like she doesn't get mentioned enough on this blog. Also because I was out of town and we are happy to be reunited. But mostly because the activity in this picture (reading) is significant. Having turned in manuscript #4 to my editor, it means I once again have time for books and the reading of them. 

My editor is the only one who reads my books before they're typeset. This is probably stupid. But it's what I'm most comfortable with. I figure people have different opinions, and the more hands I have in the pot (in the form of people who have read the manuscript), the more feedback I'll get--most likely differing feedback--and at the end of the day, it should come down to my own opinions of how I want this book to be. Not anyone else's.

Needless to say, what my editor thinks of the books is incredibly important to me. Not just because she catches typos and things that could probably be worded better, but also because she's my only test reader. The only one I can ask if a certain thing is offensive or if the timeline is confusing. And so I wait in what I would describe equal parts excitement and anxiety for her to send her edits and overall feedback, hoping beyond hope that she thinks it works, and that she enjoys reading it. 

That's what I hope for all readers, of course. That they settle in for a few hours of escape, feeling upon the book's end that they've truly been somewhere, even if that somewhere is simply somewhere other than where they usually are. 

DEC
02

Manuscript #4: Done

Every weekend I put "write" on my to-do list, which is why this weekend is significant. It's the first time in a couple of years that "write" has been replaced with "edit." Because my fourth manuscript is officially done. There's a lot of work still to do, but I cannot emphasize what a big deal it is to get the writing all down. To finish the last few paragraphs and know that you've come to the natural stopping place. That it all feels done. 

Of course, for me, when I say the manuscript is done, this doesn't mean that it's ready to hand over. I have months of editing to do, not to mention organization and chronology, since I'm the odd memoir writer who does not write in anything resembling chronological order. I just pick a piece or scene or topic and write it up, then pick another one the next time I get a chance to write. So right now it's not in the order I want it to be for you readers. 

Like I said, there's more work to do, but my goal was to have the first draft, to have all the book's innards, written by the end of the year. It feels like a Christmas present to myself that I was able to follow through. Bring on the editing. And also that beach walk.