hit tracker Dave Shields Author Blog: June 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, June 30, 2005

My Own Yellow Jersey?

I've just learned that The Race is currently Amazon's #1 Bestselling Sports Novel! Though rankings are always subject to change, you can check out the current list here. I wonder if taking the yellow jersey so early is a good strategy, though. This means I'll have to defend it all the way to Paris. There's a dude named John Grisham right behind me. I hear that he's pretty good.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

The 2005 Tour de France is shaping up to be an epic battle. There is no shortage of men who would like to go down as the cyclist who knocked Lance Armstrong of the podium's top step, and this is their last opportunity to do it. T-Mobile has assembled a particularly strong team with Jan Ulrich (when he exploded onto the Tour de France scene eight years ago I doubted we'd see anybody other than him win the Tour de France for the next five years at least), Andrei Vinikurov (one of the most explosively and tactically savvy cyclists ever), and Andreas Kloden (second place in last year's Tour). Their strategy is going to be fascinating to watch.

Other contenders will include Ivan Basso (the only man who could stick with Lance in the mountains last year), Roberto Herras (a former teammate of Armstrong's), Floyd Landis (a Lance protogee who he no longer gets along with), and Levi Leipheimer (another strong American who once rode for US Postal).

There are a lot more guys who are going to be to be fun to watch including Santiago Boterro, Chris Horner, Iban Mayo, and Vladimir Karpets. I can't wait for the racing to begin and for things to start sorting themselves out.

Even with all these contenders, it's tough to bet against Armstrong. Some say his motivation is suspect, but he sounds awfully intense to me. I'd be more concerned about his early season results. He's raced very little this year, and hasn't yet won anything (a first for him since his TdF run began six years ago). Still, anybody who has watched Armstrong for long knows that he wouldn't take the start if his preparation hadn't been meticulious and his fitness where he wants it to be. Armstrong is, in my opinion, the mentally strongest athlete in history. I can't even think of anybody who comes close. I expect to see him prove that yet again in his final tour. He'll have to endure a boat load of abuse if he's going to win this race, but those are the conditions that Lance Armstrong thrives in. If you bet against the guy, you'd better make certain it's money you can afford to lose.

Tour de France time also means that I'll get numerous opportunities to provide analysis on radio and TV. If you're interested, please take a look at the July dates on my Author Tour page.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Rewards of Awards

Today I signed books today at the Park City Cycling Festival. With the Ben Franklin Award on my table, I can't tell you how much easier it is to convince readers to give my book a shot. It lends legitimacy to my work. That's good for me and good for readers, because I know they are going to like it. As usual, people came by all day long saying how much they have enjoyed the book, and how many people have read their copy. That makes me happy, because I need to get this tale into a lot of people's hands in order to find somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who has the power to make it into a big budget movie, or who has connections with an influential media. Readers contact me daily saying that this story needs to hit the big screen, and I couldn't agree more.

The Ben Franklin Award also played a role in landing an interview on Park City Television. It's the coolest little resort town network. Watching it makes me feel homesick for the days I used to live in a tiny little Park City miner's shack while working in the Park City Ski Area Marketing Department.

I've got to give Host/Producer Ori Hoffer big props. He found out about my novel, booked me on the show, read the story and became informed, and then conducted a great interview-- all in the span of less than two days. The station is sending me a CD so once I figure out how to convert it to a wav file I'll post it on my Web site so that you can take a look.

Thanks for all of the support, and I'll keep you updated on developments. The next thirty days are going to be big. I guarantee it.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Getting Connected

I'd heard of Blogs before, but Todd Storch is the guy who convinced me to take the plunge. He's a guru of sorts in this world. I just stumbled upon his site one day when he mentioned my book in a post. I now know that blogging is a great way to stay in touch with people, and even to re-connect with people you've lost touch with. Todd recently featured me in his Blog (I still don't know if that word is supposed to be capitalized or not.) You can read the interview here.

I'm signing books this afternoon at the Park City Cycling Festival. I've got to run!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Fan Mail from Tibet!

Does this mean I've arrived? I just got an e-mail from Tibet praising my book. It makes me feel great that they know about my novel on the other side of the world... even though the message was from my mom.

I hope your travels are wonderful, mom. Take lots of pictures, and stay safe!

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Paradoxymoron

Intriguing opportunities streamed in after winning the Ben Franklin Award. I guess I can't be surprised that some of them have turned out to be little more than illusions. I'm just one breakthrough away from turning my writing passion into a legitimate, bill-paying career. I've gotten here with a lot of optimism and hard work, but as in any business there are tough realities to face. In publishing, the numbers are intimidating. There were 195,000 books published last year. Obviously, even the most avid reader will only experience a tiny fraction of them. People who find a book they enjoy often buy one copy and share it among friends, or they get it from the library. The math is simple. Most of these thousands of books, no matter their quality, have little chance of selling enough copies to make their authors a living.

But still, like so many other aspiring authors, I run down every lead I can. Each time, I'm giving up time doing the most important things in life, whether it be to earn a secure living for my family, to go on a bike ride, or to hang out with my little girls. I'm not doing any of these things as much as I should. Those closest to me say that I've given up too much in pursuit of this dream. So, it's for them that I reitterate my time limit. If I'm not hitting our goals by the end of August, I'll choose a new career.

Between now and then I have two major book oriented goals. First, I'll work as hard as I can to get publicity for and spread the word about The Race. Second, I'll finish my sequel and insure that it is on shelves by next spring. After that, if I get a big break, it will have to be because my existing work is good enough that someone decides it merits attention. I'd cross my fingers, but it makes typing too difficult.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

An Incredible and Unexpected Honor

Moments ago I received a package in the mail. It contained a carefully folded American flag along with a certificate from Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Camp Taji, Iraq. It explains that this flag was flown over Baghdad on May 24, 2005 from an AH-64D Apache Longbow Attack Helicopter in my honor. A few months ago I had donated some books to the troops. I was proud to receive e-mails from them saying how much they enjoyed the story, and a little bit curious when they asked for my address. Now I know why, and their gesture totally floors me. Thanks guys!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Salt Lake City Here I Come!

I can't wait to get home to my wife and daughters. It's been an incredibly productive trip, selling books at three races, winning the Ben Franklin, and having amazing meetings and experiences in two days at Book Expo America. One of the parts I love the most is when readers stop by to tell me what they thought of my novels. Maybe I wouldn't be so crazy about that if they weren't enjoying it so much. It's a cool experience, though, to see how messages from my book have been translated in different people's lives. I'd like to thank all of you who have read my book, and especially those who have recommended it to others. By that process, I'll eventually break through into this crazy business.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

What a Day!

All my days are becoming one. I've slept less than six hours in the last seventy-two. I'm at Book Expo America and opportunities abound. This conference is enormous. I'd love to tell some of the stories but I don't want to jinx myself until I figure out which of the possibilities for my book are real. Am I dreaming?

Tomorrow I head to Philly for the USPRO Championship. What a race that's going to be!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I WON!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm now holding the Benjamin Franklin Award for Best New Voice in Fiction! Wow! What an honor!

When I walked on stage I forgot everything I'd planned to say. I threw my arms in the air and said, "I feel like I just won the Tour de France!" For reasons that I can't explain, my eyes filled with tears. What a journey it's been. In my euphoria, any semblance of a prepared speech went out the window. I forgot to thank many of the people I'd meant to, but I'm going to do it here. My publishing operation, Three Story Press, may be a one man show, but it's success is the result of the contributions of more people than I could ever possibly thank.

My wife has been so incredibly supportive, even though I've dragged her into this crazy business against her will. There's not a member of my family who hasn't made an amazing contribution of one kind or another. How will I ever repay them? The members of my critique group at NovelPros also deserve credit, especially Jamie Lankford who both founded the group and typeset my book. Bob Swingle at LightBourne designed a cover that gets noticed. Two-time Tour de France finisher and 1999 US National Cycling Champion Marty Jemison gave me hours of his time, relating amazing experiences as a pro cyclist. Thousands of readers have contacted me and spread the word about the book in various ways. Pro cyclists and others in the bicycle industry have encouraged me. Cynthia Murphy at Independent Publishers Group, my distributor, helped me immeasureably. Jan Nathan of The Independent Book Publishers Association helped guide me through the challenges of creating a book. That only scratches the surface, but you get the idea. It seems that every person I know has become involved in this project in one way or another. Thank you all very much!

Against all odds, we've created a book about the niche sport of bicycle racing, and it's getting rave mainstream reviews. I love introducing people to this incredible world, and I hope that if you haven't already, you'll take the time to find out what all the fuss is about.

Ready, Set ... Wait

Yesterday I signed books at a great bicycle race in Lancaster, PA. I wish I'd had time to visit one of the nearby Amish farms. It must be an incredible challenge to live such a lifestyle these days. Unfathomable technology is assaulting all of us from every angle. Nowadays I'm particularly intrigued because one of the best bicycle racers in the world today, Floyd Landis, grew up Mennonite. He's totally altered my image of that culture. I met Floyd's family while at the Tour de Georgia. What a wonderful group of people.

I'm full of nervous energy at the moment because tonight is the Ben Franlin Awards Banquet. I'm in NYC awaiting the ceremonies. The Race is a finalist in two categories. I'll let you know how things went at my first opportunity.