Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Book Finished, Flapping My Wings

I did it.  I finally wrote my book!  After 8 years of talking about it, I wrote the whole thing in just 7 weeks.  This is not bragging, but an example of focus, discipline, and following through.  Three things I struggle with daily.  Like a lot of people, I always try to do too much and as a result, I rarely move forward on any of them.  It took quitting a job, turning down several other opportunities, and isolating myself from the world to finally do it.  

It wasn't easy at first.  The voices in my head would say, Nobody cares about this.  You are wasting your time.  Leave this stuff in the past.  The eight storage crates full of reminders of the many places I have been and numerous times I failed or faced challenges that tested my strength and determination.  I would open journals and read my thoughts from 2008, knowing how naive I was, or in the case of 2011, how sad and scared I was when nothing seemed to go right no matter how hard I tried.  But regardless of what time I was reliving, I would force myself to put on the same blue sweatpants and t-shirt that said 'Dream more, complain less' and sit in my desk chair in front of my computer with a cup of coffee by 7 a.m. and write.  Most of the time till 5 p.m. or if I was on a roll, till 8 p.m.  Every single day.  This time, I would see it through.  No matter what.  

And I did it.  Thanks to determination and the birds outside my window.  

The birds.  The parents had built a nest in a bush outside my window and the babies were born in the first week I started writing.  I would take breaks to sit outside and watch the parents go back and forth feeding them bugs and worms.  Then the babies realized it was time to leave the nest and flew off.  I would watch one bird struggle, unable to fly so easily like his brother and sister.  He made it out of the nest, but now would sit on a low branch and chirp loudly for his mom to come feed him.  For weeks.  Until one day I saw him hop off the branch, flap his wings, and hop across the street.  There he would grow lean and strong.  One day he was gone.  The following week I heard his chirp and ran across the street and he was at the highest point of the tallest tree.  He had finally done it.  It had taken him a while, maybe longer than everybody else, but in his own time, he had found the strength.  After just a few moments for me to get a photo, he spread his wings and flew away from me forever.
We are all capable of anything as long as we are patient with ourselves.  Not everybody can get out of that nest on the first try.  Like that bird, it has taken me a long time to finally be ready to write this book.  I've struggled for years writing a few stories here and there, but not really wanting to dig deep or do the real work that was necessary.  In choosing to stay on that low branch, I was safe.  Technically, I was out of the nest so nobody could judge me or reject me, but I was also holding myself back from truly soaring.

My dream was never to be a comedian or a librarian.  It was to be a "Solid Gold" dancer.  And when that show was canceled, I focused on being a writer instead.  Writing for the school paper, yearbook, skits, plays, and later press releases, jokes and parody songs.  But the one thing I wanted more than anything was to be an author.  I wrote a book in 2004 and that completed manuscript sits next to me unpublished.  I gave up when a few people didn't want it.  I would sit on that low branch for the next 10 years until 7 weeks ago, I decided to hop off of it.

Of course, there is still a lot of work ahead, including revising the 537 pages down to 300, finding an agent again, then a publisher, and whatever comes after that.  But thanks to my little bird, I know that tall tree is absolutely within my reach as long as I continue to flap my wings and try. 



Saturday, July 19, 2014

My Summer of Writing

I hope everybody is having a wonderful summer!

I have been sitting at my desk as I take some time to finally finish writing my memoir.  While I love performing, planning literary events, and sewing new products for Stand-Up Librarian Designs, it is completing this book that has been at the top of my To Do List for most of the past last three years. Thanks to solitude - and this incredibly hot weather that nobody in their right mind would want to be in - I am making writing a priority this summer.

While I take this time away from here, my social media accounts, (and even my friends and family), I encourage you to do the same.  There is something about summer that allows us to slow down a bit to look back at what we have accomplished, where we went wrong, how we tried to make it right, and where we want to go from here.  I am so grateful that each time I relive a painful moment in my past through my writing, I get to remind myself that I made it through okay (not to mention laugh at all of those times when I thought something was important when in fact it really wasn't.)

Thanks to everybody who has made my life interesting and exciting - especially the ones who were idiots (and yes, I include myself in that group.)  Being perfect does not make interesting reading, but being a complete jackass?  Absolutely.



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Harry Potter & the Opening of Diagon Alley

My birthday is not until October but it obviously came early this year when I was invited to attend the Media Preview Week of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley and cover it for Creative Loafing Tampa.  
 
As a huge Harry Potter fan, I had a hard time taking it all in at times - the attention to detail was just so amazing on so many levels!  But as a journalist, I tried my best to cover it as a professional...at least until Neville HOTbottom came down the red carpet.  Have you seen that dude lately?  Wow.  Thanks also to Getty Images for including me in their red carpet photos - I felt like an honorary Weasley! Below are the links to my stories, photos, and videos.  The park opens July 8th so check it out, muggles!  

CREATIVE LOAFING TAMPA:

June 17, 2014

July 3, 2014

DIAGON ALLEY VIDEOS (Click the title for link):





PHOTOS:
***For photos, follow me on Facebook and Instagram.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Bloomsday-BYOBook Event a Success!

Bloomsday St. Petersburg - we did it!
Two weeks ago was our BLOOMSDAY - BYOBook event at Wilson's Book World and we had a great turnout to celebrate James Joyce and Ulysses.  I want to thank Jeff Morris at Wilson's Book World and Tiffany Razzano from Wordier Than Thou for partnering with me on this event and helping me promote it.  A huge thanks to our sponsor J.J. Taylor and Guinness for providing refreshments for everyone.  I also want to thank Chuck Vosburgh for the photos, Joe Deal for filming the event, and my brother Randy Myers for assisting with everything else.
With Wilson's owner and
my co-host Jeff Morris.
I've planned many events over the years, but this was one was probably one of the hardest due to my juggling so many aspects of it.  In addition to reading all 786 pages of Ulysses in just three weeks (and tweeting about it daily), I also divided up the 18 episodes into five minute sections and assembled a list of 18 readers, several who dropped out at the last minute due to illness and had to be replaced.  Let me tell you something, getting people to read from Ulysses is not easy!  Finding 18 was near impossible.
John Fleming kicks off the
readings with Episode One.
It was an event I had been wanting to do for a while and it was nice to finally do it surrounded by so many of my friends.  My favorite part of the event was probably our "Best Molly Bloom" contest where the winner received a bottle of burgundy wine and a block of Gorgonzola cheese (in honor of Leopold Bloom!)  The women (and man) who competed offered up a variety of hilarious readings that made the judging that much harder on John Fleming (former performing arts critic for the Tampa Bay Times and my special guest reader.)
"Best Molly Bloom" contestants
Our winner was Jude!
I've edited a video with some of the highlights, which was almost as hard as planning the event as there was over two hours of footage!  Plus there were so many fun moments to share but I couldn't possibly include them all.  Thanks again to everybody that participated or attended the event, and who knows, maybe we will do it again next year!
I had every library copy of
Ulysses in Pinellas County.
Guests enjoying cans of Guinness.
Explaining the purpose of Bloomsday.
Stan Myers introduces us
to Leopold Bloom.
Richard Dipietra reads
Episode Nine. 
Corinne Broskette & Davina Reid
act out Episode 15.
Jeff Morris whipping out his
Finnegans Wake.
And of course, me performing
"JOYCE Around"
Thanks to my fabulous readers that included: John Fleming, Mary Ellen Dipietra, Paul Wilborn, Jude (from the audience), Stan Myers, Allan Smith, Eddie Nunez, Meredith Myers, Christine Page, Richard Dipietra, Jeff Morris, Justin Grant, Cole Bellamy, Lynn Waddell, Davina Reid, Corinne Broskette, Chuck Vosburgh and Pat Vosburgh.

For more photos, please visit my FB page here.

For a direct link to the Bloomsday video, click here.

"I came to get down.  I came to get down.  So get out your books and JOYCE Around..."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Diagon Alley

Two words.

Diagon Alley.

Harry Potter.

Wizarding World.

Universal Orlando.

Media Preview.

Butterbeer.

I'M GOING!!!!!

The Harry Potter section of my home library.
Two fisting butterbeer & pumpkin juice in Hogsmeade
February 14, 2014.
Check out my piece in Creative Loafing Tampa about being invited to attend Universal Orlando Resort Diagon Alley Media Preview this week! 

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram to join me...


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Creative Loafing Tampa

Right when I think I am going to take a break, I am busier than ever!  So happy to share that my very first articles as a contributing writer for Creative Loafing Tampa appeared this week.  Thanks to my Editor In Chief David Warner and A&E Editor Julie Garisto for their support, and for giving me this wonderful opportunity to work as a writer!
I've been wearing this exact art on my belt buckle for three years!
First, was a literary food story I wrote for CL's Food Issue June 12 - 18 called Read, eat, ask for seconds where I discussed my love for butterbeer from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, cheese sandwiches & burgundy wine from James Joyce's Ulysses, high tea from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, apple pie from Jack Kerouac's On the Road, and yucatan shrimp from Randy Wayne White's Doc Ford novels and his restaurant down in Sanibel Island.  I also referenced Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol, Herman Melville's Moby Dick, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.
Here's all of the books used in the story.
The second and third pieces were in connection with my James Joyce Bloomsday event on June 16th at Wilson's Book World.  I had been reading Ulysses and tweeting about it with a variety of other James Joyce fans on Twitter, and it made sense for me to just write the stories.  The first was a simple 'Do This' promoting the event, and the second was on online piece basically consisting of a funny interview and discussion with Jeff Morris, owner of Wilson's Book World (and my co-host for the event) called Speaking of Bloomsday: an informal chat about James Joyce.
My Do This Bloomday listing where I incorporated
my two favorite lines from Ulysses.
Like most reporters, there were so many things that Jeff and I talked about that just didn't make it into the piece.  Below is the rest of the interview where we talk about the ethics of book buying, what booksellers look for, and why my 1st editions of Ulysses and Harry Potter books are worthless to him.  For more information about our Bloomsday event, click here.
Me with Wilson's owner Jeff Morris.
MM: I’m showing you my copy of Ulysses where someone has written in pencil on the inside cover $300, then crossed out and put $125.  Do you think this 3rd edition, 1st American edition is worth that much?

JM: No.  It’s the 3rd edition of the 1st printing is eh and your dust jacket is absolutely horrendous but at least it is present, but it is in horrendous condition.  If you want I can put that dust jacket…is it complete?  I can put that in a Mylar jacket, you could use it as a dust jacket. 

MM: As a librarian, I’ve seen lots of books being donated to the library and sometimes they smell like urine, so you don’t always want those.  So if someone brought this in to you, how much would you offer him or her for it?

JM: A couple of bucks.

MM: That’s it?

JM: Yeah, I would put it out with like twelve bucks on it.  You didn’t pay $125 for it, did you?

MM: No, it was a gift.  Apparently a crappy one.  But I’ve noticed people come in here and bringing you books and we are under this assumption that these are worth something, and they are but it is the words in the books that is worth the most, not the books themselves.  I was so excited to get this mostly because it was from a friend I care about that’s why t is priceless to me but in this condition as a book buyer…

JM: That would be good stock for the shelves.  In order to sell that, you would have to put the dust jacket together in a Mylar sleeve, and then you got to post it online with all of the other James Joyce stuff that is out there and hopefully it will sell.  Value is a very fleeting thing.

MM: What are you looking for?

JM: The better the condition, absolutely, and the dust jacket is like 70% of the value.

MM: Wait.  That’s important for people to know.  Explain that.

JM: It would be incomplete without it.  And it has to be the dust jacket from the edition.  For example, I had a copy of Ian Fleming’s Diamonds Are Forever, a first edition.  Without the dust jacket?  50 bucks?  With the dust jacket, even slightly beat up?  350.  There is a lot of difference in price.  You have to have the dust jacket.  Most of the time if something comes in, I won’t even look at it.  It’s just one of those things.

MM: What about the editions?  From First to Second to Third?

JM: First edition, first printing is what you want to strive for. 

MM: See, I’ve always looked for First Editions but now I know to look for First Editions, First Printings.

JM: Yeah and for something like Ulysses, you might as well go ahead and spend the $12,000 to get the really true First Edition. 

MM: What about signatures?

JM: Depends.  Is it signed or inscribed?  If it signed “Best Wishes, James Joyce.” Major bucks because he didn’t inscribe it to anybody.  “To Meredith, Thanks for being a great friend, James Joyce.”  Yeah it has his signature, but as a bookseller, unless I am selling it to someone named Meredith, or Meredith is a really famous person…

MM: She’s not.

JM: Because that adds profit.

MM: Well if James Joyce is writing it to me that means he is still alive so it is going to be worth a lot!

JM: Or it is a ghost.  As long as someone is living, don’t expect much.  But if you get a J.K. Rowling English First Edition of the Harry Potters and it is signed by her – she doesn’t do a whole lot.  Stephen King has backed off a whole lot.  The main thing you want to look for is dead guys.

MM: Great.  I have a First Edition Harry Potter but is an American Edition so now that’s not as cool.

JM: Nope.

MM: What if it is signed by the whole Harry Potter cast?

JM: Then it becomes more of a novelty item. 

MM: So if it is signed by Daniel Radcliffe…

JM: I’m not a movie guy so if you bring in a copy signed by Harry Radcliffe, I wouldn’t really care.

MM: It's Daniel Radcliffe who plays Harry Potter…well I guess we aren’t doing a Harry Potter event anytime soon!  So for anybody out there that wants to sell you books, what are you looking for?

JM: I have a list on my website of the topics we are searching for and I am usually here from 11 – 4 and I prefer for them to just pull up out front.  It’s a lot easier than having them carry boxes back and forth.  Another thing I just don’t understand that 80% of people all do, is when I open the box, they proceed to tell me what they have.  “I’ve got biographies over here, and this over here.”  It’s like opening up the hood to your car and telling your mechanic where the carburetor is.  When I go out to a car and open the box, I know within seconds what you have and pretty much what I wanted.

There are two types of people.  There are the ones that just want to get books out there so they can find a good home.  Then there are the people that think “everything I have is gold” and they don’t believe you.  I am a member of the Florida Antiquarian Book Seller Organization, we subscribe to a code of ethics, I’m not going to blow any smoke up your skirt and the worst thing people can do is tell me “you know I looked these books up on the internet.”  I don’t care if I want those books so bad that I will then have to wait, I’m probably going to pass just because I know that person has got an unreasonable expectation in their mind of what these things are worth and I’m not the guy that is going to talk them out of it.  I haven’t got the time.

MM: There you have it, folks.  Our books are pretty much worthless – unless we are READING them!!!!
Jeff repaired my edition of Ulysses
so I can use it at our Bloomsday event!