June 11, 2005
High School Web Site is up. REALLY.
MAJOR progress in the past two weeks. It feels like every minute I was conscious was spent working on the new Web site for High School’s Not Forever. (Tomorrow is my book group meeting and this is the first time in months I haven’t read the book. A good book, actually, from what I could tell in the first 12 pages, which I’ve read about 6 times…)
I’ve concentrated on getting some sample stories up in each of the 11 topical categories which represent the 11 chapters in the book. I also have resources for each of the 11 sections.
I started working on the “Tips & Advice” section and got about halfway through it before I got a little distracted by the addition of a “Media” section so we could refer potential interviewers to our bios (click on “About Eric Katz” and “About Jane Bluestein” for some very interesting “then” and “now” photos!)
We’ve had a few people look over the Web site and when Eric and I were in California last week, we had a chance to share the actual manuscript with a few people who seemed excited and impressed from their first scans. Very cool seeing people actually looking at this thing, even in its uncorrected-page-proof state. (It looks good.)
The scope is enormous and we’ve got an impressive range of kids—diverse experiences, attitudes, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, grade levels, interests, you name it. And we cover a really wide range of topics.
Most of the feedback is positive so far. One person thought the stories were too negative, but she may have only been looking at the sample pages, which were prepared only to show us what the book would look like and do not convey quite the range of “voices” in the overall book.
I also know that a lot of adults we’ve spoken to in the past year or so would really rather kids only talk about high school as a positive experience and indeed, for some kids it really is. But even kids who really like high school struggle with the demands of just being a teen. And this book is for them as well.
I think we’re gonna take some heat for some of the colorful language (and issues) we decided to keep in the kid-to-kid pieces. We had one person object, though others seemed to think it all fit within the context and intention. If you’ve visited this page in the past year, you know that we wrestled with this decision for months and have come to a place where we are all (editors included) standing firmly behind the voices we’ve honored, even if, professionally, we do not use those voices (or words) ourselves.
At some point I will post these comments on the now-still-under-construction feedback pages, but for now, my priority is getting the other content up on the site.
Clearing the clutter. Sort of.
I have some pretty unassuming goals right now. Despite the pressures of getting the Web site for the new book a lot more done than it is, and pulling together everything we need for the marketing plan, PLUS starting in on the 21st Century Discipline revision, there are certain realities to running a business (or just having a life) that are starting to encroach.
I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the bottom of what’s on my desk (or the table behind it where I pile everything up that doesn’t fit on the desk, much less the boxes and baskets of paper all over the floor) but I really can’t live or work in a chaotic environment, and over the past year things have gotten more and more out of control. The papers always piled up faster than I could go through them on my brief “visits” at home. Times that by 8 or 9 months—and this on top of what I hadn’t gotten to before then—and we’re talking a lot of mess.
I HATE not being able to find things, from the energy-crystal necklace that’s supposed to support me amid all the low-frequency electromagnetic crap I’m sure I’m getting from all my various electronic “toys,” to the markers I bought at Office Depot a few weeks ago.
I’m finding that physical clutter around me creates mental clutter and fuzziness. Like earlier today, I found a purchase order for an undated upcoming workshop I’m doing and I swear, I had to get on my own Web site to see when this job was happening. (I got it on the site schedule, but for some reason, neglected to put it on my calendar and couldn’t remember which date I had committed.) That’s just sad.
So I spent the day going through some stuff. Unfortunately, I got distracted by the stuff—do I respond to this stuff or just sort it??—and in responding to the papers, as far as the piles are concerned, I barely made a dent! Sigh…
And on a personal note…
I’ve been going through this weird mid-life hair trauma… After years of not being able to find anyone who could really give me a haircut I liked (or worse, not being able to give me a good haircut twice in a row), I’ve decided to let it grow out. Maybe long eventually, but just going for a straighter, softer look for now.
If anyone out there has ever had the pleasure of growing out layers and bangs (and a bad haircut months ago), I don’t really need to say more. I sort of look like a cross between my grandmother in her flapper days and pictures of me when I was about 8, especially with that butterfly clip trying to keep my bangs out of my eyes right now.
Don’t know if I’m gonna be able to hold out but I’ve sort of been stuck in some variation of the same style since I had my down-to-my-waist hair cut and permed back in 1978. Even though the perm’s been gone for about 15 years, I couldn’t quite figure out how to transition out of the shag thing. It’s time.
Oh, one more cool thing: I have actually been sleeping for the past two weeks or so! My hormones are still pretty wacko but I’m seeing a new clinician and she adjusted the prescription (bio-identical, natural stuff) and something seems to be working.
I’m just so grateful to be home. I was up earlier than I would have liked this morning, and out walking well before sunrise. I have to tell you, being up in open space, the cholla cactus in bloom, clouds drifting behind the mountains just before the sun, the western sky, at one point, dotted by ten hot-air balloons, almost brought me to tears. A spectacular way to start a day, and a great opportunity for me to, once again, count my many blessings.
Thanks for checking in…
June 17, 2005
Good news about High School’s Not Forever
Some BIG developments this week. First of all, we found out that because of a big order from a certain account (I believe it’s K-Mart), the production schedule was pushed up to get the book out a few weeks early. This almost never happens, or at least has never happened that I’m aware of with any of my books in the past. VERY exciting.
We should be receiving a few author copies next week, which means I’ll be able to take a copy or two on the cruise with me. (We’re leaving on the 28th.)
The other side of this is the push to get the web site a little more complete and the pressure to announce the site (LOTS of emails out) and even more pressure to get a few more pieces together for marketing. (They need things like local media and bookstores, a complete breakdown of our schedules, including dates and times we’ll be available for book signings, a pitch for the talk shows, and answers to the media interview questions we developed when we were in California 2 weeks ago. Lots of work to do in the next few days.)
But I’ve had this remarkably productive past 24 hours which resulted in the design of a business card to promote the book (I’ve been writing the title and web site out on the backs of my business cards, or on scraps of paper for people I meet and tell about this project, so this will be far more professional!!), which I uploaded to an online printing company which promises it can turn it around in 24 hours. (I just checked. It’s already been picked up by UPS and scheduled for a Monday, 6/20 delivery. Is that cool or what?)
And here’s the coolest thing: My friend Laura Gutman and I sat down last night and created a shopping cart for the high school Web site so visitors can actually order that book online (with credit cards or using PayPal).
This is something I’ve been wanting to do for about as long as I’ve had a Web site (and I guess that’s been for about the last 8 or 9 years or so!) It wasn’t too bad once we got started but I never couldv’e done it without Laura’s help.
Although I might actually remember enough to be able to get one up for this site, this task promises to be as bit more complex. The high school site only has the one product; this site offers about four dozen books, articles, audio and video tapes, and stationery items, and promises to have a few more in the coming months! And I’m antsy to get this started before I forget how we did it! When I get around to this, I will post the availability on my home page, so stay tuned.
June 26, 2005
Getting Ready for Copenhagen
I’ve spent a fairly leisurely day packing two weeks’s worth of clothing and getting ready for this trip. So many details…
I also decided to install Tiger, Apple’s latest operating system, hoping I wouldn’t end up, as I often do any time I start mucking around with system software, spending the next 48 hours reinstalling everything I’ve got on this computer. So far, so good.
I figure as long as I’m going on a MacMania cruise, I may as well have the latest system and software (I also bought iLife yesterday), since that’s what most of the classes will be addressing. It’s just easier for me to learn things I’ve actually seen and used (or at least have access to). Plus, anything I can’t figure out, this will certainly be the place to be with my questions!!
Meanwhile, the business cards came in and they look GREAT! I can already envision reordering well before the end of summer. (Very cool company, if anyone needs business cards or postcards printed up: Overnight prints! NOTE added 9/11/05: I was far LESS impressed with the cards they printed when I reordered a few weeks later. The color was different, washed out looking, and I found them less than cooperative and very difficult to get ahold of by phone. I have since removed the link, as well as my recommendation to use their services.)
AND, our editor assured us that the books will be on the bindery at 6:00 a.m. Eastern time, Monday, tomorrow morning. They promise to overnight a copy to me and depending on FedEx’s ability to get it here before I have to leave for the airport at around 10:30, I might actually have a copy to take with me. Hold a good thought.
OK. Gotta go finish putting stuff in my carry-on bag so stay tuned for more news (and pictures) from the Baltic!
June 28, 2005
I’ve decided to post a separate page detailing my journey for anyone (hi, Mom!) who might want to see where I am these two weeks, and what I’m doing on this trip! Click here for my trip log.
High School’s Not Forever
…has shipped! I was just about to put my stuff in the car to go to the airport this morning when the FedEx guy showed up with two copies of the book. It’s awesome. They’re both going to Europe with me, but I should have about 800 copies waiting for me when I get home in 2 weeks.
July 13, 2005
Up at 3:00 a.m.
This is classic: I walk in the door after a 24-hour trip home, pushing myself to stay up as late as I possibly can so maybe I can sleep through the night and wake up on local time. Hahahahaha… I’ve been up for an hour, since 10 a.m. Copenhagen time, and of course I’m hungry!
I’m in the guest room, where I often retreat when I can’t sleep, sane (or afraid) enough to not venture downstairs and see what’s on my desk. I’ve been answering emails and really enjoying having a speedy Internet connection again.
I had a fantastic time. Period. I’m already starting to make my list of things I need to do now that I’m back, and after this very healthy and very badly-needed break (and some sorely-missed Mexican food), I’m ready to dig back in.
I understand we’ve got boxes and boxes with copies of the new book ready to welcome me home and I’ve got a good 150-200 copies to send out to contributors and associates. Not a bad place to start.
July 18, 2005
It was a nice way to spend the weekend: Jerry brought a bunch of boxes of High School’s Not Forever into the living room, along with a couple hundred padded envelopes, rolls of tape, shipping labels and the like. He had already processed about half the pre-orders that had been coming in over the last few months, but there was still a stack from people who had requested autographs.
I had spent a day running off the 200+ address labels (in the box to the right) for the complimentary copies to contributors and had prepared a number of inserts to include with each mailing. Armed with an assortment of colored pens, lists of contributors to cross-check, and a big glass of iced tea, we put on a DVD of The Who in concert (last photo, below), and we went to work.
It was quite the assembly line! I signed books and added the inserts, checked the name off on the list and stacked the books to hand off to Jerry for packing who had been preparing the padded envelopes for packing. Once I had a stack of books ready to ship, he packed them, and then labeled, sealed and taped the packages.
It took me two days to finish signing the books as my hand started to cramp, but once I finished all the autographs and insert-stuffing, I moved over to Jerry’s “station” and pitched in with the packing and sealing. Easy, mindless, repetitive stuff, but done with a lot of gratitude and love. (I was still so jet-lagged all weekend, I don’t think I could have done anything much more challenging intellectually. It was perfect timing for this kind of task!)
This morning, we took 13 boxes filled with packages to the Post Office. It took about an hour to process them all, but oh did it feel good to get back to a now-empty car, walk back into a living room that was no longer cluttered with boxes of books! And although this is probably about 10 times more than anybody wants to know about how we live or work, or how these books went from our garage to the postal pipeline, it feels so good just knowing they’re on their way—a thank you to all the help we received, and to the people who had enough faith to put in their orders back when we were still wrestling with the manuscript.
We’re asking for help…
One of the inserts is a list of ways people (like you) can help us get this book into the hands of the kids and adults who can benefit from what the book has to say. Even things like asking for the book in a bookstore or at your library, saying that you’ve been hearing about this neat book called High School’s Not Forever can help bring this title to the attention of people who deal with millions of titles in their work.
Just telling a friend, referring someone to the Web site, writing a review on Amazon (or on our Web site), for example, can really make a difference, too. If you like it, tell someone—and let us know, too!
Jet-lagged a bit, still!
I’m still not up to my usual energy, though I’m happy to report finally sleeping past 4 a.m. for the first time in the 6 days I’ve been home!