Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Post-Moxie musings

Back in January, when I began working on what I thought was a book about growing up in a small Maine town, I never knew I'd get detoured by Moxie, and how much fun that rabbit trail would end up being. Moxie is one of America's unique consumer products, and one I'm proud to have been able to have a hand in updating its story.

At the start, my intention was to have a full-length book out in time for the fall. Once I began working on the Moxie angle, and discovering a new chapter to add every couple of weeks, it became obvious that I had a stand along book, based on the bitter soft drink with a devoted following. The challenge then became, can I get it out in time for the Moxie Festival? We know now that the train made it to the station on time.

Small press publishing isn't glamorous. It's long hours working in obscurity to craft books that sell 500, 1,000, and like my first one, close to 2,000, which is true success in the world that RiverVision Press inhabits.

Moxietown came out like it was shot from a cannon. Before the book was released, I had pre-sold nearly 100 copies. The past week, we've moved close to 300 units.

It's been a crazy couple of weeks since I picked up my books at Walch Printing, part of Walch Education, a Maine company with a big reputation in educational products. I'm pleased that I found a Maine-based printer to do business with. They were recommended by friend and fellow publisher, Ari Meil. Ari's tip was a godsend as the price was great and the service outstanding.

Friday night, signing books at Frank's, and then, after a turkey supper at the Masonic Lodge, being greeted like a returning hero at the Lisbon Historical Society was gratifying.

Saturday, bright skies, and large crowds had our small RiverVision team hopping all day, selling books from about 8:30 am, to after 3:00 pm. At times, the line in front of our table was 10-12 deep. For one day, I got to experience what it might be like to be a semi-famous B-Movie star. You don't write the kind of books I write for fame and adulation, but when people clamor for your autograph, and want to take you picture to add to their stable of photos of famous authors, you're more than happy to oblige, even if you're lacking the qualifications for fame.

Heartfelt thanks to the great people of my hometown of Lisbon Falls. You provided a place where I could firmly put down roots, and you helped implant a love for people's stories, and the special qualities that characterize small communities. People and place is what I write about, and the place it originates from is Lisbon Falls, and the people I keep close to my heart are the people I grew up with. The town has some issues with outsiders, and people that are from town, but prefer to exploit the people of the town, rather than work towards benefiting them. That's troubling to me.

Still, I'm optimistic that things will turn out ok. Good people find a way to have good things prevail. While I don't live inside the borders of Lisbon any longer, I'm just across the river, watching, willing to lend a hand, and thankful for that special place where I was born.

In closing, I want to recognize the work that Sue Conroy did once again, along with her son Toby, making the festival happen again, for the 25th (or 26th)time. If Frank Anicetti is the Mayor of Moxietown, then Sue is the First Lieutenant, or as I prefer, the Moxie Queen. She's become a friend, and someone I respect for what she gives back to her community. Some of the scoundrels, looking to pad their own pockets, or practice old-fashioned cronyism could learn a thing or two from Sue and Toby.

It's been a fun ride, and Moxietown was just a preview. The full-length will provide a better picture of Lisbon, and the qualities that I think are important for the future success of small communities everywhere.

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