hit tracker Dave Shields Author Blog: May 2005

A journal detailing my efforts to launch my career as a novelist. The goals are to share info about succeeding in this field with other aspiring authors, to provide updates to the many supporters who have asked me for them, and ultimately to build the momentum necessary to assure success in this venture.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Real Race

Earlier tonight I signed books at the inaugural Tour of Utah. The crowds for this first stage weren’t too big, but I’m glad I went because I had a very cool conversation. I can’t sleep until I put it on paper.

A guy approached saying he’d bought my book last Saturday when I signed at the Cycle Salt Lake Century ride. He said, "That's not a good novel you wrote."

I tried not to look too disappointed.

"It's a great self help manual.”

I wiped my brow. “I’m glad you liked it.”

It was obvious something weighed heavily on his mind. “I haven't had a very positive outlook lately. My son used to love cycling, and he showed great potential. We used to like to climb mountains together. But the other day he was arrested for possession of meth."

It felt like I'd been slammed in the gut with a hammer. "That’s terrible news." I recently saw a television show illustrating the dangers of methamphetamines. It's an incredibly addictive substance that does massive and permanent damage to the brain.

"Your book lifted my spirits," he said. "It contains good messages. I've asked my boy to read it, and he said he would. It's a story he'll be able to relate to if he's willing to pay attention. I believe it can help him."

How I hope this kid will listen to his dad. How I pray that my book can somehow be the rope that gets him out of this hole. Many, many readers have told me what "The Race" means to them, but never anything like this. From time to time I hear comments that my book contains corny messages or that the outlook is too sunny, but I don’t agree with that criticism. There are things about it I might change, but not that. I think some people get jaded. For whatever reason, they look down upon simple truths and triumphs. That’s fine. No book can be all things to all readers.

But what greater thing could my book be than the first small step in turning a young life around. I feel a huge responsibility, though there's nothing I can do but wait to hear the outcome. C’mon Ben Barnes, this is the biggest task you’ll ever be asked to perform. Help this kid! I know you can do it, and I know he can, too.

Be Careful What You Lick

Last weekend I rode the short loop at Cycle Salt Lake Century. It's a well established recreational ride with over 1500 participants this year. The vast majority of them rode the full 100 miles because it was a picture perfect day. I had to get back early in order to sign books at the finish line so I went only 35. I'd spend the rest of the day sitting next to a cooler full of popsicles, touting my novel. I've long ago learned, I can't afford to be reserved about telling people why they need my book, and seeing this constant stream of eager faces headed my way was the stuff of dreams.

But they weren't approaching me for the reasons I wished they were. Instead, they assumed I controlled access to the popsicle vault. These people were hammered. The thought of buying a book was too much to process for many of them. Some of the confused looks, as I tried to explain what I was up to, were almost comical. They had just spent five or more hours pedaling, and they wanted a popsycle, not a sales pitch.

The funniest moment of the day was when a woman grabbed my arm. She had a terrified look in her eyes, and a green popsicle clinging to her tongue. She must have selected one that had been leaning against the dry ice. I can't tell for certain what she was saying, put it was pretty obvious what she needed. A squirt of the ole' water bottle and she was as good as new. There's a sad ending to the story, at least from my perspective, though. She walked away both traumatized and without a copy of "The Race." Darn.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Opportunity Explosion

It's been an exciting and overwhelming time. As recognition for The Race increases, opportunities are springing up everywhere. I'm in the midst of designing an essay contest for readers of the book with prizes that you are not going to believe! In addition I've got four signings in the next two weeks at bicycling events here in Utah. Following that I have a whirlwind trip to the northeast where, for seven consecutive days, I'll be going back and forth between Wachovia Series bicycle races and Book Expo America events.

Before the week is through, if I'm fortunate, I will win a major book industry award. I also hope to further solidify the books standing in the cycling industry. I'm so thankful for all of the readers who are recommending my book to friends, and I know from experience that attending events like these aids that process. But my ultimate dream is to prove to mainstream readers that this book is a great read which people of all backgrounds will enjoy. I couldn't feel more confident in the books ability to electrify readers. In addition to the many traditional reviews I've received I get lots of e-mail from readers, including messages from non-cyclists and publishing industry experts. All of them praise the book. The reaction has exceeded my wildest expectation, and my expectations were wild.

With a new baby in the house (our third girl), a marketing consulting business to run, a 150,000 word book that I'm in the midst of critiquing for an associate, a sequel to The Race that is still going to require a pair of rewrites including a quick trip to France, ongoing publicity opportunities and efforts, a long list of publishing requirements for the new book (cover design, pdf interior charts, typesetting, etc.), freelance articles, and many more obligations I feel like an elephant juggler. It's hard work keeping all these babies airborne, but it sure is satisfying.

I can't thank my many supporters enough, and I hope you'll continue checking back here to see how things are progressing during this exciting time. I'll update as often as I can.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Second Shot!

I've just been notified that "The Race" is one of three finalists for a second Ben Franklin Award. This time it's "Book of the Year for Excellence and Innovation in Marketing (Budgets under $10,000)." It is a huge honor to even become a finalist, and it is energizing to know that others have noticed what we have accomplished on a shoe-string budget.

Though at one level Three Story Press is a one man show, I say "we" because there is such an incredible group of people who are supporting my efforts in one way or another. They number in the hundreds, at least. It will never be possible to properly thank them all. They include people like Jamie Lankford of NovelPros in Houston who has shared advice and experiences as well as typesetting expertise, Ginger Roberts of E-Corporate Solutions in Atlanta who has welcomed me into the Tour de Georgia and given my book a fighting chance, and Vaughn Trevisanut of DailyPeloton.com in Los Angeles who has spread the word about my book tirelessly and driven thousands of people to my Web site. I could go on and on, and I'd barely be scratching the surface. The Morris family in Salt Lake City have been wonderful in so many ways, and my own family has been spectacular. Thank you all so much. If I win, I will dedicate the honor to all of you.

The Ben Franklin Awards will be presented June 1 in New York City. That event and Book Expo America are sandwiched perfectly among the Wachovia Series of cycling races in Pennsylvania and Jersey. I'll be traveling back and forth between the two over the course of seven days. It's going to be an exciting week! I'd cross my fingers, but I've got too much work to do at the moment, so I'll just cross my "t's" instead.
Rubber Side Down!
Dave Shields