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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
APR
29

The Party Dress

"There is one day even the most cynical New York woman dreams of all her life," Carrie Bradshaw narrates in a classic SATC episode. "It's her book-release party." Of course, unlike Carrie, I'm not a New Yorker, neither do I have a big publishing house to throw me the bash of the century, but I admit I'd been looking forward to my little party for quite some time. It's always nice to be honored at a party, but usually the reasons for the soirees in my life have been things that I accomplished (like turning 1 year older) without really doing anything special. But this party marked the end of something I've been working on for years, something truly worth celebrating, and I couldn't help but think all throughout the party that I was so glad to be on the other side.

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I'm not into designers and labels the way Carrie is, but that said, I did put some thought into my party dress. While in New York last month, I purchased a rather expensive dress on Fifth Avenue, thinking I could wear it to the party. But shortly after I returned home, I received in the mail what I wait anxiously all year for: my birthday coupon from Anthropologie. My style is much more Anthro than Lord & Taylor, so I decided to buy a second dress option and choose between the two. They were both good options, which is why I can't really explain how I ended up going with neither dress and instead found myself digging out the vintage-esque red number that I bought second-hand. I bought this dress ages ago while visiting my sister. I think she was surprised to see it in my hands, not that I could blame her. Because it's the kind of crapshoot purchase you know is either the cutest thing you've ever worn or the ugliest. And last time this happened (the purchase was a pair of capri overalls), I guessed wrong. They were hideous. But I had a feeling about this red dress. All it needed was a hem job (I'll never understand the mid-calf length) and voila:

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Did I look like a Grandma? Possibly. But did I feel totally at ease and comfortable and completely like myself? Absolutely. And for a party that's all about you, it's important to feel good in your own skin. The only thing I really should have worked out beforehand was my signature. I didn't think it would be that hard to come up with lovely little personalized messages on the spot, but let me just tell you, the mind goes blank people. About the best I could come up with was, "Happy Reading!" Seriously? Happy Reading?? I've got to come up with something better than that. I'm a writer, for crying out loud.

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APR
14

Let the Wild Rumpus Start

I'm happy to report that Schooled is officially buy-able! I've included the links just below the cover picture on the right, but you can find the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace. I'm still working on getting it up on iTunes, so stay tuned on that one.

As the first few readers have gotten back to me with feedback, it feels sort of like an out of body experience. Or maybe that's not the right way to put it. It just feels like this shouldn't really be happening. The concept of having readers was always so abstract, and now it's almost like, "Wait, what? You're reading my book?" People have told me the book makes them laugh, makes them cry, and makes them remember back to their own memories in school. Which was exactly what I was hoping it would do. One reader told me this week that he stayed up until 2:00 AM reading because he didn't want to put the book down. As an author, that's probably the best thing I could possibly hear. Except maybe, "We'd like to pay you a million dollars to publish your book."

Remember, take this book for what it is...ie. not the Great American Novel. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, and that's fine. But if you do like the book, the best thing I could ask you to do would be to please tell your friends and families about it. Remember, this is grassroots. Or maybe the best thing I could ask would be for you to put a review up on Amazon. Or maybe it's to contact me offline if you'd be interested in giving away any of my darling marketing postcards. However you choose to proceed after reading the book, I do hope you choose to tell someone else about it. And I hope it inspires you to get out your yearbooks, look up that old crush, and send a note to your favorite elementary school teacher. Unless he/she's dead, in which case you sort of missed your chance. Hey, you could always write a book.

MAR
26

Background on the First Book

I was barely 21 when I graduated from college, and one of my first tasks after graduation (other than finding a job) was to update my personal history (aka journals) with everything I hadn't had time to pen down during those years. Which was pretty much everything. When I finished, I was struck by two things. First, I realized that the majority of my life up to that point had taken place in a classroom. And second, after looking at everything I'd recorded over the course of my life, I was surprised by how little my school musings actually had to do with education. What I remembered and recorded were the teachers (both good and bad), the classmates (both friend and foe), and the emotions associated with growing up (both triumph and failure).

I realized right then and there that much of what I had written could be turned into a book, a collection of vignette-style lessons that we can probably all relate to. Although as a student I was more concerned than most with the concept of popularity, something that never ceased to elude me. In fact, it still does. No matter. The point of all this was simply to introduce the topic of the first book, which from kindergarten through graduate school will tell of the lessons I learned in school that had nothing to do with textbooks.

Of course the interesting thing about memoirs is that you spend a fair amount of time talking about people. And mine will be no exception. While my books are not even slightly vindictive, it's true that not everyone is painted in the best light. It's not that I have it out for anyone, it's that I'm trying to be as honest as I can about how I felt at the time. But seeing as how I'm a nice person, I do sometimes panic at the thought of hurting a few people's feelings. Case in point: I was in New York City this past weekend and had dinner with a guy I went to business school with. Back then he and I got into a tiff one day, and it so affected me at the time that it made it into this book. Over dinner I assured him that the anger reflected in the book was how I felt then, not now. I'm not sure he believes me, but I suppose this is the risk you run when you start publishing your life. What an interesting spring it will be.

MAR
17

Dear Diary

March 14, 2012: The day the proof copy arrived from the printer. It's a pretty amazing feeling to finally see your book in print. But on the other hand, it's tough to not be critical (read: a perfectionist) when it comes to something you've put so much work into. So while it was indeed a triumphant moment to open the package and behold my little book, a part of me went, "That's it? That's it?"

In actuality, the book looks great. A bit larger than your typical paperback, I was able to pick out everything from cover options to fonts to page numbers to spacing. Underlines or no underlines, caps or no caps, acknowledgements in the front or back, the decisions were endless, and my dining room table (almost never used for food) has been covered with pages from various layout options. To give you a frame of reference, it took me over 2 months of back and forth with my book designer to even finalize the layout of chapter 1.

About the only thing that I find noticeably distracting in my printed book is my author picture. I'll be the first to admit that the quality of the photo is not great. But once you see it, you'll understand what I mean when I say that it's a picture that was low quality from the start, and not exactly one that could be re-shot to get better lighting. In any case, if you find yourself doubting whether it's really me, you're just going to have to take my word for it. Or maybe my kindergarten teacher's. She could probably vouch for me too.