Friday, November 1, 2013


So, I did all those things my To Do list told me to do and I’ve ended up with three book club presentations/readings, three readings in pubs (handy for enticing friends to show up), two workshops in retirement residences, and a possible multiple-meeting workshop booking with the local library. Amazing what a starred review can do, energy-wise.

I presented my first workshop this week at a fine retirement residence, attracted five folks much my age, who have either written in the past or who may now write with the encouragement of a writing group. It took me a while to understand that those folks didn’t give a hoot about Graffiti Grandma; they were there to begin writing.  Several weren’t sure what they’d write, several knew but were stuck at the first sentence.  I shut up and listened, finally, and I may now belong to a writing once again.  I hope so.

I quit my other writing group a few weeks ago when I realized that I was too old to hand out twenty pages of my novel each month. I would be senile before we ever got through it. My writing partners seemed to agree. So, for the first time, I have hired an editor who will take a look at Edith, line-wise and arc-wise, and tell me (for a fee, of course) what she thinks I should do with this story––a new experiment backed by my latest idea of trying new things as long as my PERs check will stretch cover them.

Then, just as I was deciding how many pairs of pants, tops, jackets I should take to my trip to India, a trip planned eleven months ago (thanks to PERS), I get another email.  Graffiti Grandma has gotten another starred review, this time from Publishers’ Weekly.

Shit.  Just when I thought I was finished with her, Graffiti Grandma rises again.   I get an email from a New York publicist, anxious to help me use this great news to sell my book. I respond, intrigued, and learn that they charge about $6,000 a week for their services, which they reveal that when I explain that I’m a retired school teacher with only PERS to back me.

But then Publishers’ Weekly checks in. They carry advertisements, all shapes, all sizes, all prices, for their starred books. A starred review is really important, I’m told, an important selling point. An advertisement might be okay, I say, since PW sells to libraries and big buyers like Hudson airport stores.  Maybe?  I have a few days to decide if GRGR will be in the Best Books section in November. 

I also have three days to decide how many pairs of pants, which shoes, do I wear a fleece or my quilted jacket, and how does all this fit in a small bag that can’t weigh over thirty-three pounds.  And is a skirt really necessary even if many of our toilets will be the squat variety?

Too many decisions.  I tell my PW guy that I love to write, don’t expect fame or fortune from the activity, that I think I need to develop some sort of marketing plan besides going to retirement residences, and besides, I won’t be here for a month.

My new editor says five pants, five tops.  I’m listening to her--and dreaming of the Taj Mahal in moonlight.. 

Jo Barney Writes