Tag Archives: Chaucer’s Bookstore

Postponement

8 Apr

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Two weeks from today, Jessica Winters Mireles’ novel, Lost in Oaxaca will be released. This is a pretty big deal for Mireles, a middle-aged piano teacher who dreamed of being a published writer from a very young age.

Lost in Oaxaca was born over seven years ago, when Mireles sat down to write a paragraph about a young woman who finds herself stuck on a bus in the mountains of Oaxaca. During this time, Mireles experienced some fictitious bliss, but, like most writers and artists, faced her demons of insecurity on a daily basis. Ultimately, she was gratified that not only did she actually finish Lost in Oaxaca, but that it evolved into an uplifting story of love, adventure, and cross-cultural identity.

Mireles’ long labor of literary love was going to be celebrated with a book signing/launch at Chaucer’s, the beloved Indy bookstore cherished by Santa Barbara locals on Wednesday, April 20, 2020. No doubt the event would’ve been a huge gathering of friends and family, and Mireles would have been the reigning queen from approximately 7:00-9:00 p.m. A great lover of attention, Mireles would have certainly been in her element.

Unfortunately, an unexpected and devastating pandemic has caused Mireles’ big day to be postponed to a later date. While disappointed, Mireles realizes that her problems are nowhere near as dire as what others are facing at this current time, so she will gracefully accept her fate. She trusts that her friends will support Chaucer’s Bookstore by ordering a copy of Lost in Oaxaca for themselves, and maybe an additional copy for a friend or relative. She promises to sign each and every book should someone request it.

Mireles, a piano teacher for over thirty years, also knows that the best way to keep a business growing is by word of mouth. She is hoping that if you enjoy her book, you will spread the word by suggesting to your friends that they order a copy from Chaucer’s, who will even ship it to your house! Mireles is crossing her fingers that you will consider helping her with her publicity by posting on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram about how much you loved the book. Share away! And if you’re feeling really generous, a five-star review on Amazon or Goodreads would be greatly appreciated.

Mireles certainly understands that her book may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Some may even dislike it intensely. If this happens, she requests that the dissatisfied reader please keep their displeasure to themselves, and attempt to refrain from reviewing it in any way, shape or form.

Mireles also wants her readers to know how very much she loves and appreciates them. It’s been a long road, and while she may have hit a temporary road block, she’s bound to be on her way again shortly. In the meantime, there’s plenty of time to read these days!

You can absolutely count on Jessica Winters Mireles to keep you posted on the date of her rescheduled book signing!

https://www.chaucersbooks.com/

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Change of Plans

19 Mar

 

img_0633With all that’s going on in the world today, my problems are insignificant. I have comfortable shelter, enough food, and I can try to keep my piano teaching business going by working remotely. My husband, who is a school teacher, will still be paid even though he can’t go to work. We have medical insurance. So far, no one in our household is sick. For all of this, I’m extremely grateful.

But I’m still a bit sad. I’m disappointed that after so many years of hard work, all the exciting hoopla planned in my community for the release of Lost in Oaxaca probably isn’t going to happen. At least not in the near future. The novel will still be released and available on April 21, but unless a miracle happens, my book signing at Chaucer’s Bookstore in Santa Barbara on April 29 will most likely be postponed.

I’m not the only author with this predicament. Many of my fellow debut authors are facing the same challenge: How to drum up excitement for your book when you can’t gather in large crowds—or even in small crowds? Let’s just say no crowds.

I must now come up with new ways to promote my book online. Trust me, this is not easy for a middle-aged boomer such as myself. I’m learning as I go, but it’s pretty daunting.

I’m not giving up, though. I’ve worked too hard and for too long. And it’s really not about the celebration, it’s about reading the book. And all I really want is for you to read my book and connect to my story. That’s pretty much it.

I also want to support Chaucer’s, our local Indy bookstore. If you’re so inclined, visit their website: https://www.chaucersbooks.com/ and preorder a copy of Lost in Oaxaca. They are still open! Or you can preorder a copy on Amazon if you prefer.

Maybe this isolation will get us reading again. I mean, your brain is eventually going to need a break from binge-watching all that Netflix, right?

Be safe, be well, and take care of each other. I’m sending out virtual hugs to all of my friends, family and to you, dear readers. We will get through this.

Below is the beautiful postcard designed by my daughter, Leah, and son-in-law, Jeff. Even if it doesn’t happen, I may still send them out, just to support the post office by buying postage!

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Nesting

3 Jan

img_0264During the past three decades, I’ve been fortunate to have given birth four times. Each time, right around a month before each birth, I would find myself knee-deep in a frenzy of cleaning that would put Marie Kondo to shame. Nothing would escape my attention. The contents of drawers would be dumped out and  rearranged with categorical precision. Closets would be cleared out, baseboards scrubbed, and lampshades vacuumed. Bags of discarded items would be carted away to Goodwill. By the end of the day, my muscles would ache from climbing up and down the step ladder to swat at the lace cobwebs hanging from the crown molding—cobwebs that I hadn’t noticed since before the birth of the previous child.

The term for this behavior is called nesting. Usually, it’s the expectant mothers who do the nesting as a preparation for the coming baby, but I’m sure some expectant fathers do it too. It’s a chance to put the house in order before the chaos of a newborn turns everything upside down.

Well, the odds are that a fifty-eight year-old, post-menopausal woman isn’t pregnant, so why is it I’ve spent the last five days manically cleaning and organizing my entire house from top to bottom? I believe it’s because I’m about to give birth again, but this time, to a different kind of baby. And I’m as terrified and excited as I was thirty years ago when I had my first human child.

The due date for my new baby, Lost in Oaxaca, is April 21, 2020. And after a seven year confinement, I am so ready to relieve myself of this heavy load and launch her out into the world. (Okay, Jess—enough with the pregnancy metaphors.)

And I’m sorry to admit that like most new mothers, I’m going to start talking about my baby a lot. You’re going to see many photos of me and my baby on Instagram and Facebook. I’ll be writing so many blog posts about Lost in Oaxaca that you’ll start wishing that I’d just get lost in Oaxaca.

Here’s the dilemma: in this current era of publishing, it’s really up to the author to be responsible for promoting their book, which means I’m going to be doing some plugging. I’ll try my best to do it well and not too often. Luckily, I have three Millennials and a fifteen year-old Gen Z to help me navigate the complexity of posting on social media, so I’m hoping that my incessant promotion will turn out to be stylish and tasteful. In any case, my youngest will grudgingly help me. She’ll roll her eyes and call me “Boomer,” but since I gave actual birth to her when I was at the ripe old age of forty-two, she kinda owes me a favor.

Oh—and by the way—you’re all invited to the christening for Lost in Oaxaca at Chaucer’s Bookstore in Santa Barbara! Book signing is Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 7:00 p.m.

And don’t worry about forgetting the date—you’ll be getting a birth announcement in the mail.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me—I’ve got to go scrub the inside of the water heater.

 

I’d love it if you’d stop by and visit!

www.jessicawintersmireles.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessicawintersmireles/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessicawintersmirelesauthor/

Terror

15 Jul

img_0494Over five years ago, when I first began writing my novel, “Lost in Oaxaca,” I never allowed myself to believe it would be published someday. Actually, that’s a lie. I did think about it—occasionally. Um, that’s another whopper. The truth is, I fantasized about it for hours on end; imagining what it would feel like to hold a book in my hands that had my name on it. To open it and see the words that I created spilling off the pages. The joy I’d feel upon seeing it on the shelf at the library, or prominently displayed in the bookstore. I could even see the line snaking around the building during my book signing at the famous Chaucer’s Book Store in Santa Barbara http://www.chaucersbooks.com/. I thought about the elation I’d experience knowing that people would be reading my story—taking a journey through a narrative that I created all on my own—connecting with my story (and ultimately me) in some intimate way.

So now that it’s happening, have I felt any joy? Nope. Elation? Not even close.

Try TERROR.

But before I get to terror, I’m going to touch a bit on vulnerability. Now, I get that most people’s literature preferences are subjective, and undoubtedly there are those who will read my book and absolutely hate it. Either because Contemporary Romance (dealing with current issues such as white privilege, racism, and illegal immigration) is not their cup of tea, or it’s because they don’t like the way I write. Or maybe they think my novel is too commercial, and not “literary” enough. Maybe they’ve already previewed the novel and disliked it, but were afraid to tell me because they love me and didn’t want to hurt my feelings.

On the flip side, there are those who’ve read it and raved about it. And I choose to believe them. The first friend I shared it with read it within two days. After she finished it, she sent me a text at midnight bubbling over with enthusiasm about how much she loved it. I don’t think she’ll ever know how life-changing that was for me (Thanks, Zip!) In any case, love it or hate it, putting my work out there for everyone to judge is definitely not easy. That pervasive voice in my head that’s been telling me my entire life that I’m not good enough is practically screaming at this point.

The terror part comes into play because I had no idea that when my book was finally done, the real work would begin. Initially, it was over three years of writing the damn manuscript. Then, almost two years of sending out query letters to agents, which were usually followed by a terse “it’s not what I’m looking for right now,” or worse, receiving no reply at all. After close to 100 outright rejections, I finally queried an Indie hybrid publishing company called She Writes Press who publish only women authors (read about them here: https://shewritespress.com/about-swp/) Thank goodness, they were willing to take a chance on a middle aged, unknown author like me.

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She Writes Press just won the 2019 Indie Publisher of the Year award by the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group!

Unlike a traditional publisher, who I assume pretty much does everything for the author, I have to take on most of the workload myself. This is indeed frightening—although I’ve got to say that the incredible powerhouse women at She Writes Press are wonderful in holding my hand as I navigate the process. The exciting thing about publishing with a hybrid company is that I invest in my own publication for a greater share of the profits. It means hiring and working with a copy editor (truly an amazing experience), choosing a book cover design, creating an author tip sheet, website and specific social media accounts, and finally, hiring a publicist. All of this can get quite expensive on a piano teacher’s salary, but if the book sells reasonably well, maybe I can recoup some of my investment. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter; my objective was to write and publish a novel, and that’s what I’m doing. And no matter what it costs, I’m worth it.

April 21, 2020 is my “pub date” as they say in the business (and no, it doesn’t mean grabbing a beer with a friend.) As I get closer to the big day, I guarantee I’ll be posting about it—a lot. In fact, so much so that you may become quite sick of me. I apologize for this in advance.

Thank you, my dear readers, for your continued support. I hope you’ll enjoy coming along with me on this incredible ride!

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Off we go!

 

A Dalmatian and a Broken Heart

18 Feb

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This is not a story about a Dalmatian or a Super Bowl commercial, although they both played a part in what caused my mother to end up in the hospital with a broken heart.

My mother, Eleanor Green Winters has worn many hats throughout her 82 years of life: wife, mother of three, manufacturing company president, piano teacher and grandmother. Her most recent hat—or more fittingly—crown, is on her head now because she is the Dalmatian Queen of the West Coast.

My mother got her first Dalmatian when she was ten years old. She adored the spotted breed and had been begging her parents to get her one for months, but was always given a resounding “no.” Then her five-year-old brother, Johnny ran out in the street between two parked cars and was struck by a delivery truck. He and my mother had just had a fight during which she had yelled at him, “You’re a little brat! Why don’t you just go away and leave me alone?” She still remembers hearing the screech of the brakes. She can still see Johnny’s eyes rolling back into his head as he lay on the parkway.

She didn’t go to his funeral. Her parents believed it best that she not witness such a somber and traumatic event. They didn’t understand that she already had. My mother stayed home, her child’s mind hatching a plan to get that Dalmatian. She also simultaneously buried into her subconscious the idea that her brother’s death was somehow her fault. A few days after the funeral she cried to my grief-stricken grandparents, “Now that I don’t have a baby brother anymore, couldn’t I at least have a Dalmatian?” She got her first “Pepper” shortly thereafter.

My mother carried on the “Pepper” tradition into our immediate family. If something terrible happened, a Dalmatian always made things better. When I was seven, my three year brother, Tony was severely burned in an explosion after a neighbor boy made a homemade rocket with his father’s gun powder. After he recovered, Pepper Number 1 came into our lives. Next was Pepper Number 2, who was a bit of a terror breaking out of the backyard to roam the streets looking for garbage treats. Ironically, she was hit by a car during one of her nighttime forays and was killed. My father, not a fan of big dogs that shed great amounts of white hair, was done. A third Dalmatian was out of the question.

During my senior year of college, our family was devastated after my father suddenly died of complications from the flu. My mother was only forty-eight. She drowned her grief in gin martinis and once again hatched a plan. She found an ad in the paper offering Dalmatian puppies and two weeks later I went with her to pick up Pepper Number 3, a blue-eyed beauty with a sweet disposition. We would later discover this Pepper was completely deaf. She understood sign language and was the best watchdog we ever had.

After graduation, I married. My husband and I moved in with my mother while he attended college. We began having children and my mother began having Dalmatian litters. To date, she’s had seventeen litters and 133 Dalmatian puppies. I’ve only had four. Children, that is.

My mother’s Dalmatians are national champions and are bred for their friendly temperament. Her well-bred litters have helped change the bad reputation that Dalmatians have had for many years—that they are unfriendly and not good family dogs. Even if you are a believer in rescuing dogs and not breeding them, dogs still get pregnant and puppies still need to get placed in loving homes. My mother is an expert on the birthing process, so much so that she’s recently written a book called So Your Bitch is Pregnant: Raising your First Litter of Puppies from Pregnancy to Placement.

Mom’s got connections in the Dalmatian world, as well. Last summer she was contacted by a company that trains animals for television commercials. Previously, one of her pups had been in an H&M print ad, so they knew she was the one to call. The company ended up taking my mother’s Dalmatian, Phoebe, and Phoebe’s daughter, Fancy, who was owned by a friend. The company took Phoebe and Fancy away for ten days for training and to film the commercial. My mother knew it was for a Budweiser commercial. What she didn’t know at the time was that it was for the Budweiser Super Bowl commercial. My mother also didn’t know which dog would end up being chosen for the spot. She was told not to say anything about the commercial until it aired. And she didn’t.

Budweiser published their commercial, entitled Wind Never Felt Better on YouTube on January 23, 2019. In the world of advertising, it’s a masterpiece. Phoebe opens the spot with her ears flapping in the wind set to Bob Dylan’s classic song. Mom was over the moon to see that it was indeed Phoebe who had made the cut. The identifying spot on Phoebe’s head was unmistakable. We began to share the commercial on Facebook. Our girl was a star! Two days later a local Santa Barbara newscaster came out to the house to interview mom about the “Dalmatian from Goleta.” It aired on our local network that evening. I’d never seen my mother so happy.

The next morning, the heartbreak began.

Mom received a call from the company that hired Phoebe for the shoot. They were freaking out that our dog was on the news and that we were calling her Phoebe. On their own social media, Budweiser had referred to the dog in the commercial as “April” which is the name of the dog they own. The dog-training company was saying that Budweiser was concerned about the attention Phoebe was getting as the Dalmatian in the Super Bowl commercial. The animal training company wanted us to remove all of our social media posts. We took down everything from our own pages, but there was no way we could stop all the sharing that had been occurring on Facebook.

I’ve never seen my mother so upset. Her hands were shaking and she could barely speak. She thought that it was all her fault; that she was responsible for causing problems for the animal training company, not to mention, Budweiser. No one ever told her that she shouldn’t talk about the commercial after it aired, or that she couldn’t say Phoebe was in the commercial. She figured that since it was on YouTube, it was considered aired.

That day was a nightmare. My mother’s blood pressure skyrocketed. She had a major anxiety attack. She finally got word that Budweiser saw the news spot and were fine with it. They asked only that my mother wait until after the Super Bowl commercial aired before she talk any more about it. Even though several news organizations had already contacted her for interviews, she agreed to wait until after the Super Bowl to talk about Phoebe and the commercial.

The following morning, my mother was chatting with a friend on the phone when she started slurring her words. She had trouble forming complete sentences. We thought she was having a stroke. We rushed her to the hospital where they informed us she was experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack. We explained to the doctors about what had transpired the day before and they said it might be something called Takotsubo syndrome, also known as “Broken Heart Syndrome,” which mimics an actual heart attack. This syndrome is only temporary; it’s caused by a sudden stressful situation—often by the death of a loved one. That evening Mom had an angiogram to rule out any coronary blockages. We were relieved to learn there were no blockages and no sign of an actual heart attack.

I can honestly say that my mother was the most popular patient in the hospital that night. The doctors and nurses adored her because she has such a wonderful sense of humor (translation: potty mouth.) And she couldn’t stop bubbling about Phoebe and the Budweiser Super Bowl commercial, as well as the recent publication of her book. The cardiologist told me she was a “breath of fresh air after a very long day of surgeries.”

My mother has now completely recovered, although she still has moments of panic, thinking she’s done something terrible that she can’t fix. She’s been thinking a lot about the connection between what happened to her 75 years ago and her obsession with Dalmatians. How it’s so difficult for her handle any kind of adversity without thinking it’s her fault. Through this experience, she’s realized that she still hasn’t dealt with the deep emotional scars regarding her little brother’s death.

Broken heart or not, my mother is a strong, charismatic woman who still has much to share with the world. Her love of dogs knows no bounds, and her knowledge of the Dalmatian breed is unparalleled. She deserves all the accolades she has received.

Wear that black and white crown with pride, Mom. You are the Dalmatian Queen, and Phoebe is your Super Bowl princess.

Mom will have her book signing at Chaucer’s Bookstore in Santa Barbara this coming Thursday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m.