Monday, February 28, 2011

How to Build a Boat

The boat began life upside down. "Why?" we asked our father. "Because that's how you build a boat!" When he gave us cryptic answers to simple questions, with his crooked smile, we balked. But this time we weren't sure how to proceed, baffled as we were by the boat. Fortunately, our father's love of teaching rescued us from his love of teasing, and he continued: "First you put these ribs up, then you build the hull over them. This is easier to do upside down. Then when you finish, you cut the ribs away from the struts and turn it right-side up. "-- phenomenon we were not to see until some years later when we moved.

Moral of the story: sometimes the solution is to look at thing upside down.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Scent of Poplars

That's brother Al up on the boat, which served also as our backyard tent, jungle jim and parlor for tea parties.

Notice those poplars to the right in the picture? They, or rather their scent, have brought me right into the heart of many a poem. I'm sure they didn't know it at the time, but many years later, while walking alongside a row of poplars in a cemetery in France, I caught that familiar scent, and was transported back in time to the five poplars standing in a row in our backyard, along a white fence, like folded umbrellas ...

The poplars were foreigners in a neighborhood filled with maples and pines. No one else had poplars in their backyard. The neighbors said they came from Italy. I wondered how it came to be that poplars from Italy stood in our backyard.

The poplars stood like sentinels, guarding the other anomaly: my father building the boat. No one else's father was building a boat in their backyard. Should we be worried or proud? We decided to be proud, although our mother had her doubts, and I was a bit worried.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Last night I had a 'moment.'

You know when you're talking with someone, and they say something that drops into some deep pool of your heart, sending reverberations through your soul? I’m sure there will be some poems to mine from this conversation. Here’s how it went:

I was answering some questions, explaining a bit about the background of Poems from the Boatyard--backstory, in creative lingo. What does the ‘boatyard’ refer to? What's this book about? How long did it take you to write it?

The simple answer is that Poems from the Boatyard is about growing up. But the real story, which I didn't realize until I had to write a short bio (no more than 50 words), was that it was about my father. Oh, he doesn’t appear in too many of the poems, but he’s there—that is to say, his influence, his imprint, his impact on my life.

And as I shared it all with the person asking me about the book, I told her how my father sold the boat to provide for our education. We talked for a while about that quintessential fatherly function: provider. Whether or not a father provides well for his family, which is usually taken to mean financially, remains a benchmark for good or bad fathering in our culture.

We then went on to discuss the marketing of the book, and how it worked, and how pleased I was that I could honor my uncle by using his artwork on the cover.

This dear person commented that I got to honor both my father and his brother with this chapbook, and could earn some much-needed shekels in the process. And then she dropped the stone into the well of my heart: "Your father's still providing, isn't he?"

As I mine my heart to explore that for the poems I'm sure it will bring, let me end with one poem that was written while driving in the car with my father, many years ago. The memory is still sweet, and captures three of my favorite aspects of time with Dad: art, a boat, and the sea. The blogger has erased the formatting, but you can get that in the chapbook...picture a sunset...


We sink
quietly into each
other’s company, watch
the sunset pour into the sea
a pink the sky cannot contain,
the artist cannot paint. Instead,
she paints the boats, kissing her
baby profusely between strokes.
Gulls squat on the stone bench
where we sip coffee. In the
salt marsh, a light blinks,
summoning infinite
summer bugs.
We ride home in silence, sweating, past all the swans.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Hyperbusy Social Media Party

Interesting to manage marketing from the road, while engaged in a conference …can you spell HYPERBUSY?! Yikes.

But it’s still fun. Like getting my first week’s sales figures (10 copies) and realizing I know of about another 20 orders, bringing me halfway to the first goal . I have such good friends…

And some of you dear ones are starting to spontaneously share the link on your Facebook sites – thanks for random acts of literary compassion! If you haven’t done so already, please consider joining the social media party, and throwing the link out to your network.

I have to admit, social media has made this a much richer experience than mere snail mail could ever have done. I think that’s what I like best so far—realizing how wide and far and wide and deep the whole experience has gone, in ways I never imagined when I first dreamed of writing a book.

And for the next two months I will be on the road visiting many of you, and face-to-face fun will add to the virtual fun. I’m very much looking forward to it all.

Thanks so much for your solidarity and enjoyment of this process with me--y'all are great!!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Well, I’ve barely had time to create buzz, but since 'going live' last weekend, it's been quite the buzz...a fast, fun week of marketing and media releases, with the learning curve taking on new meaning, and a whole new world opening up. Lots more Facebook friends for starters :)

I’ve been a marketing maniac these past two weekends, visiting art centers, libraries, coffee shops and bookstores. And after monkeying around with Mail Chimp all month (not sure the boatyard prepared me for Mail Chimp…although it sure required perseverance!), I got my first media release out before heading to Florida for a few days.

A flurry of phone calls to brother Pete, coordinating the northern media blitz on LI and New England filled in any gaps I might have found during the week. He is poring over family lore and photos, scanning in all sorts of goodies, and in his own learning curve on social media marketing. Thanks Pete!

Many thanks to all of you who wrote, bought, and/or encouraged this week. It has just added to the fun and I really appreciate celebrating with you.

In case you missed this in Mail Chimp, I have some answers for the FAQs coming my way; if you’ve already read it, you can stop here, and enjoy the rest of your day. See you next time!

1. The book is not published yet. This is an advance sales period, during which the publisher is testing the marketability of the book. Based on sales during this period, they will or will not publish. They need a minimum of 55 orders.
2. I am ‘paid’ in copies; the more copies that are sold during this period, the more ‘free’ copies I receive, which I can then sell at retail. My goal is to sell 205 copies during this advance sales period, which will net me the highest quantity of free copies the publisher will send me: 100.
3. Assuming all goes well, and I sell the 55 minimum, this is a limited edition press run. The maximum number that Finishing Line Press will print is 1000. So you may want to get in on the action early!
4. Shipping costs are reduced to $1.50 just for the advanced sales period; costs will go up once the book is published.
5. I do not have any copies of the book to give you when I see you in person, because it is not published yet! I will take orders, however, if you don’t mind waiting until you see me to receive them! (I don’t want to incur shipping costs for myself.)
6. During the advance sales period, if you use Pay Pal, you can also use the ‘bill me later’ option, and get a $10 rebate.
7. Because you want to amaze Finishing Line Press with how vital ‘Poems from the Boatyard’ is to your life, the poetry world, and culture in general!
8. You want to encourage me ? (shameless, I know…).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Start Your Engines!!!

We’re live folks!!!

That's right--Finishing Line Press is ready to roll, a little ahead of schedule, which is fine with me, as I benefit from an extra 10 days of marketing. So here’s the nitty-gritty, from the press release:

"Finishing Line Press is proud to announce the publication of Poems from the Boatyard, a collection of poems by Pat Butler.

“In Poems from the Boatyard, Pat Butler…is our tour guide, leading us via stark, concise images through a past as vivid as right now. Butler weaves her narrative in verse, honestly, like one whose life depends on it. These poems hit hard, get straight to the point and you’ll want to experience them again and again. Just listen to this as Butler writes in “Riptides,”

“they go straight through you, and hold you down that one second longer
than lungs can hold air. The sand scrapes your knees, sears the skin
off knuckles and nose, and fills your bathing suit, teeth and ears.
You get pounded up the beach, legs over head, to surface with sand
in your mouth and salt in your eyes.”

—Travis Wayne Denton, The Burden of Speech

Poems from the Boatyard can be ordered through Finishing Line Press, during an advance sales period ending March 30, at Click on “New Releases and forthcoming title” link, or go directly to:

This is an advance sales period. Books will ship May 27 (just in time for Memorial Day laziness!).

The books are listed in order of author’s last name, so you will need to scroll down to find my title—on the third row down. Please note that Poems from the Boatyard will not be available on until after it is published (May 27).

Why buy during advance sales?

. shipping costs are reduced;
. if you buy before Feb. 28 using Pay Pal, you can get a $10 rebate—so the book would only cost $3.50.
. the press run is determined by advance sales; the more sold, the higher the press run, and the more I am 'paid' (in free copies, which I can then sell for retail);
. this is a limited edition press run, and I know a LOT of people!!! Only 1000 copies will be printed max.

Unless they go to a second edition. Which they almost never do.

Of course, we could blow the socks off their whole routine, and exceed all expectations, couldn't we?! My brother thinks so...

Go for it, dear friends, and many thanks!!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

P minus 14 days….

For those of you trying the link to order the book, and discovering it’s not active yet, that’s because it’s not active yet!

Feb. 15 is P for publishing day, and I will let you know, so do your finger exercises until then, and get ready to click on “order” at my signal!

In the meantime, after monkeying around with Mail Chimp for a couple of weeks, I have officially won and am now moving on to tinker with the postcard. The version Finishing Line Press sent me does not meet my finicky standards, so--time to create another! May I please be pre-forgiven by any of you who receive a graphically overloaded if informationally correct postcard until I get my own version out?!

And brother Pete is on the 'scouring every library on Long Island' to market the book. Go Pete! He is also on his way to my mother's house, to pore over Uncle Jack lore, in anticipation of blogging about Uncle Jack's part in this venture. (That blog is here if you want something to do while waiting for Feb. 15, but there's not much yet--only one blog post so far!)

So many projects, so little time...but all things come to those who wait.