Family news

Hale’s Ales, the Grand Illusion, Full Tilt Ice Cream, Cafe Paloma, the Tractor Travern, and T.S. McHugh’s are hosting events to benefit Northwest Folklife.

Sometimes it takes a sad event to bring you home to your family.

Last month, Northwest folk arts organizer and guru Warren Argo died unexpectedly. The contributions to the community Warren had spearheaded and supported during his life have filled articles, blog posts and memorials in the past few weeks. He was a community organizer in the truest sense of the phrase — and a real mensch.

Fifteen years ago, I had the honor of serving on the board of Northwest Folklife with Warren, who was among the festival founders and perennial organizers. Tuesday night, I was elected to fill the remainder of Warren’s term on the board. I’m honored to have been asked. And I’m jazzed to be back.

It’s a great board, a great staff, and applications for performers for the Memorial Day festival are already pouring in — hundreds of musicians volunteering to play for free. This spring they’ll be joined by thousands of volunteers who’ll emcee, stage manage, greet, guide, and otherwise supplement Northwest Folklife’s small core staff to make the four-day free festival happen — for a quarter of a million visitors.

It’s going to be a tremendous year. Please join us at some of the Night for Folklife events being held in the next month at Hale’s Ales, Lucid Jazz Club, the Grand Illusion, Full Tilt Ice Cream, Cafe Paloma, Laughing Lady Cafe, the Tractor Travern, Eddie’s Trackside Bar and Grill in Monroe, and T.S. McHugh’s. There’ll also be  dances throughout the region. Details here.

Change, part 2

Seth Godin explains why change is so easily sandbagged by small groups of nay-sayers.

The last time I blogged about change, it triggered an avalanche of change and challenges that kept me busy for weeks, even months, after.

So I wouldn’t be blogging about change again without very good reason. That good reason is a recent blog post by Seth Godin, provocatively if inelegantly titled “Change and its constituents (there are two, and both are a problem).”

It’s a brilliant insight that explains why change is so easily sandbagged by small groups of complainers. Apply this to elections (know of any coming up?), family discussions, or your favorite board or committee:

People who fear they will be hurt by a change speak up immediately, loudly and without regard for the odds or reality.

People who will benefit from a change don’t believe it (until it happens), so they sit quietly.

The result, of course, is what appears to be overwhelming opposition against change. This often leads people to withdraw their proposals for change — even though, if they pushed through, they’d win the (belated) thanks of the people who’d benefit from it.

My original post about change proposes a corollary to Seth’s insight: That because the dissenters’ protests are often without basis in fact, the dissenters’ commitment to their fears can be fickle. They often turn out to be the people who are happiest with the change when it is implemented — to the point that they’ll often deny they ever opposed the change.

My conclusions: Get tough. Take the long view. Recruit those who will benefit to speak up on behalf of change.

Ballard authors event Oct. 19

More than 30 Ballard-area authors gather for an event about writing and publishing Oct. 19, 7-9 p.m., at the Sunset Hill Community Center.

More than 30 Ballard-area authors gather for an event about writing and publishing Oct. 19, 7-9 p.m., at the Sunset Hill Community Center. The event includes a panel on building an audience, “Author Bingo,” and book signings.

Authors include:

  • Nicole Aloni, food writer
  • Karen G. Anderson (that would be me), technology book author
  • Erica Bauermeister, novelist
  • Rita Bresnahan, essayist
  • Sandra J. Coffman, author of children’s books and books on mental health topics
  • Jay Craig, author of the Scottish Buddhist Cookbook
  • Lowen Clausen, crime fiction author
  • Laura Cooper, author of Fishes and Dishes
  • Carl Deuker, author of fiction for young adults
  • Janna Cawrse Esarey, author of The Motion of the Ocean
  • Kevin Emerson, author of the Oliver Nocturne books
  • Phil & Kaja Foglio, authors of comics including Girl Genius
  • Liz Gallagher, author of The Opposite of Invisible
  • Carol Hiltner, author of The Altai Chronicles
  • Donald Kentop, poet
  • Nina Laden, children’s book author
  • Kristine Leander, author of Norwegian Seattle
  • Carol Levin, poet
  • Corbin Lewars, nominee for a 2011 PNBA award for her memoir
  • Christy McDanold, owner of Secret Garden Books
  • Scott McCredie, journalist
  • Paul Michel, fiction writer
  • Julie Pheasant-Albright, author of historical non-fiction
  • Ingrid Ricks, journalist and memoir author
  • Julie Reinhardt, author of  She-Smoke: A Backyard Barbecue Book
  • Michael Schein, novelist, poet & playwright
  • Peggy Sturdivant, co-author of the new non-fiction title Out of Nowhere
  • Darrell Toland, producer of the web comic Stix and Bones
  • Marjorie Young, novelist
  • Allan Wenzel, historian and non-fiction author

I wrote it! Wait, now you want me to talk about it?

This MacVoices radio interview was a delightful, if unexpected, part of promoting my new ebook.


The new ebook Take Control of iPhone Basics, iOS 4 Edition


This summer I wrote a 138-page book for new and intermediate iPhone users. Take Control of iPhone Basics, iOS 4 Edition, is part of the Take Control series of ebooks (also available in print editions) published by Adam and Tonya Engst at TidBITS Publishing. I’d edited two books for them, and was thrilled when Tonya asked me to take on a writing project myself.

The writing process is iterative: You outline, you research topics, you write sections, you get technical and editorial reviews, and you rewrite. At the end it was tweak, tweak, tweak — plus another round of research and writing to cover the updated operating system for the iPhone.

Maybe you’re not supposed to say this, but I totally enjoyed writing the book.

I also enjoyed, as the writing gave way to editing, developing a modest marketing plan for the book. I didn’t want to find myself in the place where I’ve seen so many authors land: The book goes live, but there’s no support material. Fortunately, Take Control does a fabulous job of creating a book/author page and sending out targeted press releases. But I knew I needed to do much, much more.

A Blog

In July, as I was researching the book, I started the iPhone 4 Tips blog. I used it to write about iPhone accessories, apps, news, and research that didn’t quite fit into the book. Now it includes some information about the book itself — plus the updates to the ebook that Take Control will be issuing. (A huge “thank you” to the makers of the magical DoubleTake software I used to stitch together multiple screenshots to create the graphic for the blog’s header.)

Business Cards

I ordered business cards for the ebook. The problem with using my own business cards is that most prospective customers for the book don’t want to reach me — they want to buy the book. Making them email me, or go to this website — or even to the iPhone 4 Tips website — and hunt around for a link to the ebook is obviously not the way to make sales. The card has the URL for the Take Control sales page. I’ve since met several fiction authors who use book business cards, complete with graphics from the book’s cover.

Social Media

My marketing plan included a list of my existing social media identities: Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and some specialized professional lists. I drafted little blurbs for each that I used, with a bit of modification, when the book came out earlier this week. I’m still working my way through that list, crafting blurbs that are appropriate for each list. It’s difficult not to feel that I’m spamming people, so I’ve carefully studied the way that each community handles this type of announcement.

My partner, Tom, is an established member of two major web communities; his postings about the book on those sites, using short budURLs I created, have been more effective than mine in generating click-throughs.

The Unexpected

Now we get to the interesting part: What went, not wrong, but not at all the way I’d expected?

First, I sprained my ankle the day before the book went live, which meant that I was implementing the PR plan while alternately in severe pain or pretty thoroughly drugged. I used a proofreader.

Second, there were radio interviews. I’d been lining up some speaking engagements, but somehow overlooked the radio and podcast world. I found out that Take Control authors get invited to be on some of the major technology shows. The irony here, of course, is that my book is less for geeks than it is for the people who pester geeks when they can’t find their email.

Chuck Joiner, of MacVoices, made my first radio interview a delightful experience. You can stream or download the interview.

Audio interviews require earphones and a microphone, I discovered. Fortunately, I have top-of-the-line noise-canceling earphones. I was not as well prepared on the microphone front — deep in my closet I found a box labeled “audio” that contained an ancient, cheap USB mic with a flimsy plastic mic stand. Fortunately, it worked (taped firmly to the desk), even when the cat leaped on the desk in the middle of the taping and began gnawing on it.

As for the content of the radio interviews, I’m realizing that I need more preparation. More on that, later.

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