Archive for September, 2009

Hartford Courant needs to give Americans a reason to smile

September 30, 2009

I was told by a freelance writer to line up a book signing so the Hartford Courant could do a feature story on me in the Sunday Arts & Entertainment section. Once I lined up the book signing, I contacted the freelance reporter, who then contacted the editor who had assigned him. The editor decided not to do the story because the travel takes place in 1993. I asked the freelancer to check with other editors, which he did, but just left a message saying that the budget is so tight right now that there is no room for great travel stories that eventually translate into a book by a local author. Okay, perhaps that was not his EXACT wording, but I was told that writers have a liscense to stretch truth. I’ll use that liscense again now to say that I am very pleased with the Hartford Courant right now. God forbid they do a positive story. That might tarnish their image. Bring on the fatal car crashes and the house fires. Where are the tsunamis and the drownings. Give me yet more of the foreclosure news, and how about the hopeless economy. I think the Hartford Courant should be “Strapped Into An American Dream” so they can give Americans hope; a reason to smile. I will not stop UNTIL the Hartford Courant gets “Strapped Into An American Dream.” I will harass them about my book and my story until the economy turns around. Stay tuned…

New Authors Take Note

September 24, 2009

Nobody is more interested in the promotion of a book than the book’s author. I sort of knew this going in, but I was unaware of the extent to which this is true. The fight is constant, and can go on for years if you let it.  The dream will die without anyone attending the wake if you remain idle.  If you don’t keep the book alive, even if it’s merely on life support, then you might as well pull the plug.  Publishers do not care.  They have thousands of other books out there that are deserving of attention, so it’s not a problem if one slips away to the obits page.  Authors have to constantly be out there kicking and screaming from the mountaintops that their book is worthy of reader’s attention. 

Keep it relevant.  Keep plugging away with emails, phone calls, personal visits to venues to sell it, buy it, hold a book signing.  I have found that television appearances do not seem to happen for new authors.  Newspaper articles do happen for local or state news/features.  I did have an on air radio interview with WTIC 1080 AM, so I continue pounding on those doors for another.  The newspapers that did stories about me and my book,
“Strapped Into An American Dream” include The Glastonbury Citizen, Bristol Press, Wethersfield Life, Wethersfield Post, Rocky Hill Life, Enfield Press and upcoming articles to appear in Glastonbury Life and The Hartford Courant.  In addition to the newspaper articles, numerous websites that I contacted have taken my press release and put in right on their website, which is more free advertising. An Artist I met at a book signing put my press release on her website along with a blog entry about our meeting. I received a phone call from the Enfield Friends of the Library who saw the Enfield Press article, and I booked a speaking engagement at the Library in May of 2010.

All this muscle has not reflected in book sales, so I keep plugging along.  My publisher offered a PR person and I had to jump at the offer, even though it set me back 600 clams.  She will get reviews with her connections and get my book in the big chain stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders.  I need that.  I need all of this.  Maybe all these little pieces and little actions will be a snowball gathering girth as it rolls down the hill.  I made a promise to myself that I would not stop until my story gets published.  Now that it’s published, I made another promise to myself that “Strapped Into An American Dream” will not go unnoticed. 

While on a phone interview with Julie from the Journal Inquirer, she asked me a question about my persistence.  She asked me if my persistence, which finally got her newspaper to agree to do my story, could be credited with making the trip around the country happen and making the book happen.  I didn’t really have to think about that one much.  If I hear a “no” and then hear the creak of the door slamming shut in my face, I stick my foot in the door and slowly work it open again.  That’s life, I guess, but I think it’s the only way to get noticed in the sea of people in this world.

Hartford Courant feature and Booksigning

September 11, 2009

In order for the Hartford Courant Arts & Entertainment section to do their feature story on me, they needed to tie it to a book signing.  Instead of waiting on possibilities for what could be a long time, I went back to my previous booksigning venue.  After fumbling around for several weeks, I finally went back to The Book Rack in Vernon, CT and Cathy agreed to have me back for another booksigning event.  I hung up the phone and then dialed Ron at the Hartford Courant.  His editor had told him that they could do a story as long as I had a signing lined up.  I told him that I now had a signing lined up, and he told me that he would contact his editor about  the story.  This is a big deal to me.  It’s the biggest paper thus far.  The booksigning is scheduled for Saturday, October 10th. The Courant article would come out on Sunday, October 4th.

Wethersfield Life Article

September 10, 2009
Neighbors

“An American Dream” lived on the road

Glenn Maynard’s new memoir recounts the funny and not-so-funny things that happened on a yearlong cross-country journey

by Doug Maine

 

Glenn Maynard’s newly published memoir, “Strapped into the American Dream,” recounts the yearlong, 35,000-mile trek he and his wife took as newlyweds across the continent in a rebuilt 14-year-old recreational vehicle.

“We paid off all our bills… We took the wedding money, quit our jobs and sold our cars,” Mr. Maynard said. “Everyone we told about it always wanted to do that; it’s an American dream and that’s what it was, our American dream.”

It was 1992 and they paid $5,800 for a 1978 Dodge Rockwood RV with a new engine (which they sold after the trip for $4,300). They hit the road a week after their wedding, on May 3, departing from his parents’ home in Glastonbury, and returned on their first anniversary, April 24, 1993.

Mr. Maynard, who has a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Connecticut, a communications degree and a nine-year-old son named Andrew, described his book as “a memoir of people we met, places we stopped, funny things that happened, not so funny things.”

Except for two trips on airplanes, he hadn’t been outside the Northeast. Growing up in Glastonbury, “because I was the youngest of six kids, we packed up and went to Misquamicut every summer – no need to go anyplace else,” Mr. Maynard said.

It was while he and his then-girlfriend Tracy were in Florida one winter, sitting in her cousin’s whirlpool in 70-degree weather, that they decided that there had to be a better way. They brainstormed and eventually came up with the idea for the great American road trip.

As they traveled, Mr. Maynard wrote about their experiences for two newspapers, the Glastonbury Citizen, in his hometown, and the Bristol Press, where his wife had lived and he had moved in for a time. From the beginning, he planned to write a book about the journey. “I filled out 10 legal pads while I was on the trip. That’s what’s in (the book), the best of,” he said. He did most of his writing in the morning, “because we never knew where we were spending the night.”

Living the dream, on a budget

 

Every mile was new. “It was just a dream to hit the state line signs,” he said. His wife took a picture of him as the fifth head on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

“People in North Dakota, everybody waves to you; Texas, too,” he said.

Along the way, they met gypsies in Sedona, Ariz., and people who had spotted Bigfoot in the hills of Idaho, and survived tornadoes in Florida and an earthquake in Colorado.

A total of 50 tornadoes struck one night in Florida while they were staying in his wife’s cousin’s mobile home. They hunkered down inside, watching the roof move.

“We found people very friendly to us because of what we were doing, people helping us out if we needed help,” Mr. Maynard said. “A guy on Mackinac Island (in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula) was so excited about what we were doing he gave us free passes on the jet ferry.”

In Jackson Hole, Wyo., they couldn’t find a place to stay. There was a sign along the side of the road warning that overnight camping was prohibited. “We said, ‘let’s just see,’” he said.

They awoke the next morning to find themselves close to a shear drop, above a narrow valley across from another shear rock wall. Never bothered by local authorities, they stayed a second night before traveling on.

Another night they parked by the Yellowstone River and fell asleep to the sound of the river rushing by.

They did these things to save money and because they had the sense that they would never be able to do it again once they returned home and to their regular work lives.

Highlights included seeing the ruins of Native American cave dwellings at Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, which were “like little apartment buildings in stone.”

Also in Colorado, they spent half a day climbing to the top of a sand dune. “You’d climb just five steps and you’d be totally winded,” he said. Once they reached the top, they heard the sounds of an approaching thunderstorm. “It took us like five minutes to get to the bottom, like slide steps all the way down.”

The place that impressed them the most was Bryce Canyon National Park in Southern Utah. “That was just the greatest, followed by Zion (National Park) … just massive rock formations, different colors of redstone and sandstone, big mushroom-shaped rocks,” Mr. Maynard said.

“Montana’s Glacier National Park was another notable one. You just drive up into the snow no matter what time (of year) it is and you get dizzy just looking down,” he said.

“We did 23 national parks. That was the main thing, hitting all the national parks,” he said. “In Wyoming, we went through towns with, like, six people. I mean cities like Casper are really low-key.”

Plans and the unplanned

 

“We had a map of the US, so we would tackle the northern states in spring and summer and the southern states in fall and winter,” Mr. Maynard said. “We thought we’d be warm the whole year, but it didn’t work out that way.”

Over the course of a year, they drove 35,000 miles and visited each of the 48 contiguous states. Gas was a major expense, given that the RV got just eight miles to the gallon.

“We had our first breakdown three days into the trip. We went to Rhode Island and it stalled three times in the middle of the road and we had to have it towed to a service center,” he said.

The RV also had thermostat and radiator problems high in the mountains out west. “A lot of nice people tried to help us out,” he said.

“We would research the states to see where we wanted to go and see if there were any free campgrounds … A lot of times it didn’t work out,” he said. “It wasn’t pretty at times, but it was an adventure.”

Despite the hardships and running out of money at times, they never thought about quitting.

In Las Vegas, they stayed in the parking lot of the Excalibur Hotel. “It was a huge lot; they had shuttle service to places… As long as you’re in their casino dropping your money, which we weren’t, they’re happy and you can stay as long as you want,”

They had to leave when they discovered their holding tanks were empty, which became apparent when they turned on their shower and got only a drip, drip. From then on they boiled fresh water or used tap water wherever it was available. Washing their hair meant sticking their heads in a sink or bucket and then shampooing.

When they came upon a campground with showers, “that was like the best hotel around,” Mr. Maynard said.

They stopped in Arizona for two months and got jobs because they needed the money. “We got down to a couple of hundred dollars when we were in Arizona and there was flooding and it kept raining, if you can believe, in Phoenix,” he said.

They jumped to accept job offers from a law firm, but then learned they would have to wear a suit or other proper business attire, which they had not brought along and could not afford to buy.

As a result, they ended up taking $5-an-hour jobs on a production line, bottling and capping lotions.

“We were damn glad to have that job,” he said, but after about three weeks they decided to quit and flew through a number of states, making it to New Orleans just in time for Mardi Gras.

“We knew people, a friend of a friend who let us stay in their driveway for a day or two, and they took us into the city for our first parade and from there we branched out,” staying in the Big Easy for a week, often using the bicycles they had brought along.

After the trip

 

The wild beauty of the West got Mr. Maynard and his wife wondering whether they could live in such a beautiful place and get work. They ended up moving to the Denver, Colo., area, where the economy was booming at the time.

“I was working in restaurants and I was working nights so I would write during the day,” he said. He finished the book about the trip and a fictional book.

“When I first finished, it was a honeymoon/travel book,” and was close to being published in Colorado, he said.

Unfortunately, the honeymoon proved short-lived and the book had to be changed when he and his wife divorced.

“We did our travels, we came back, six months in Colorado, then the wheels came off the marriage,” he said. “But it had nothing to do with the close quarters for the year. It was a great trip.”

After four years in Denver, he returned home to Connecticut, having missed the beaches, fall colors and his family.

He spent a year rewriting the book and then blasted out letters to agents. None expressed interest and another year went by.

Finally, one agent said he couldn’t help but did know of a small publisher that might be interested. The book came out earlier this year, published by Strategic Book Publishing.

“So, when I finally held it in my hands… To actually see those words inside a hard cover was unbelievable,” Mr. Maynard said.

While the publisher was working to get the book mentioned on social media sites, “my job is to jump in and keep it going. I’m learning on the fly,” he said.

He dedicated his book to the Oprah Winfrey Book of the Month Club. “I figured I’d get it in there. You never know; what the hell? The worst that can happen is she doesn’t see it,” he said.

In the meantime, he’s living on Middletown Avenue and working as a business analyst for United Healthcare. He still has the fictional book he wrote in Colorado, but needs to give it a good going over. “I’ve just got to make sure everything is fine-tuned before I get it out there,” he said.

WLGlenn Maynard is the author of “Strapped into an American Dream,” the story of his yearlong trek in a rebuilt RV.

 

As seen in

LIFE

Wethersfield

Aug. 09

 

Link listing my Enfield Friends of the Library Author presentation

September 8, 2009

http://www.enfield-ct.gov/content/91/109/5446/8594/default.aspx

Persistence means still a chance

September 5, 2009

The Events coordinator at Cabela’s responded to my email with a phone call, and spoke to me at length about alternatives for my book signing.  She pushed for me to stay small and give up my large thoughts for now.  I told her that I have been small with nearly 10 local newspaper stories, 2 book signings and a radio interview.  I told her that I plan to stay small, but not give up stretching for more.  I will do both.  I asked her for the owner’s phone number or email.  She didn’t have it.  She also only had one corporate contact, but that contact was driven strictly by policy.  I did not want policy.  I wanted an exception.  I wanted to have my book signing within all the Cabela’s foot traffic in exchange for a free plug in the Hartford Courant which would mention that I will be signing copies of my book there.  Getting my book in their stores was apparently a big undertaking.  I got a break when the manager emailed me back with a corporate phone number, even after telling me she had no contacts and I was pretty much wasting my time.   Time is not wasted if there is a chance.  I called and ended up speaking with Lydia in corporate.  She was as nice and understanding as Diane in East Hartford.  Lydia began explaining the policy and I stopped her at the beginning.  I told her that I was not looking for the norm, but rather the exception.  I hung up the phone with her after receiving the email of one of the Cabelas brothers who owned the stores.  She is also sending an email to the marketing team to check out “Strapped Into An American Dream” on Amazon.  Maybe nothing will come of this, but my chances are better with persistence.  Besides, that’s how I got this book deal in the first place.

The Obama plan for Strapped Into An American Dream

September 4, 2009

I spoke with the Manager of Cabela’s today about getting my book
in their stores and having a book signing.  Apparently getting a
book into their store takes an act of congress, so perhaps a note
to President Obama is in order. Perhaps I could get Oprah to ask
about them selling my book in their store.  Would they still
need a formal written request to Corporate?  Hmmm…methinks not.
As for the book signing at their store, I was told that they would
need another written request for that, and if they do approve, then
they would need to take a piece of the profits.  Ok, let’s see…if
I pay roughly $26-$27 per book at my author discount on the $32 cover price, and I sell the book at signings for $28…and they want a piece of the action…hmmmm once again.  I’m no math major, but sumpin’ doesn’t quite add up.  I need a venue for my booksigning so the Hartford Courant can do a feature story about me and my book in the Sunday Arts & Entertainment section.  I went into Cabelas thinking if they would just host this book signing then they would get free advertising.  Well, it’s not that easy.  It’s never that easy.  Life would be simpler if things were that easy.  Maybe we wouldn’t appreciate the things that we have as much. I guess I need to scrap Plan A.  I have thoughts of contacting Mr. & Mrs. Cabela personally and asking them directly.  I met the Cabelas and got their autographs during the Grand Opening.  Had I only devised Plan A then.  Although I haven’t abandoned the two ideas associated with Plan A, I need to realistically begin construction of Plan B.

WTIC 1080 A.M. Radio Interview

September 2, 2009

Here is a radio interview of Glenn Maynard’s travel book Strapped Into an American Dream which was aired on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 and decribes how he was able to travel through 48 states, Canada and Mexico in an RV for one year. Diane Smith was the interviewer filling in for Ray Dunaway from the Ray Show which is a morning radio show in Hartford, CT. You can buy Strapped Into An American Dream at:
http://www.amazon.com/Strapped-American-Dream-Glenn-Mayna…

The book is also available at bn.com , borders.com , and many other online retailers.