Monday, January 31, 2011

How Room 6 Got a Flatscreen TV

Some of our rooms have televisions in them; some of them don’t. How this happened is a long, organic tale.


In days of yore (November, 2000) when we became innkeepers, television was a topic that we didn’t want to talk about. The rooms at the Auberge came equipped with small black & white portable televisions that pulled in the analog signal beamed from the top of Mt. Mansfield. When we learned the cost of wiring the inn for cable television, we decided not to upgrade. Instead we decided position ourselves as a non-television oriented inn. Our focus would be on service, hospitality, and simplicity. Our low rates would reflect that. In a town where the race toward luxury was in full swing, we comfortably settled into the spot that would become our logline: “Stowe’s most affordable B&B.”


That didn’t mean that we would turn our backs on television; we just wouldn’t make it a cornerstone of our business model. People could watch all the television they wanted at home, we reasoned. In Stowe, the attractions were outside the door. There was a television in the common room, and when a fellow innkeeper sold some televisions to us, we added them to the downstairs rooms. These were nice color sets, but the big attraction for us was that they had built-in VHS players. Guests could borrow tapes from our modest VHS library and watch a movie if they wished.


This left the two upstairs rooms without televisions at all. Even though those rooms were more expensive than the downstairs rooms, nobody seemed to mind the lack of an idiot box. When digital television arrived, we bought some converters for the downstairs sets, but still we didn’t add television to the two upstairs rooms without them. At this point, ten years into our innkeeping lives, the decision was driven more by apathy than anything else.


This December, a couple stayed with us, and they were disappointed that there wasn’t a television in their room, one of the upstairs queen rooms. It’s happened before; usually we’re able to mollify them with a shrug and an explanation of our innkeeping philosophy. But that week the hot tub--which has been in the infirmary several times already this winter--conked out. Our guests were crushed; the outdoor hot tub was one of the reasons they stayed with us. No TV, no hot tub...what good were we?


That Saturday, after returning from shopping, Chantal plunked down a box on the dining room table. “It’s a TV,” she said. “A digital, flat-screen TV.” She’d bought it at one of the discount stores on sale. That afternoon I installed it in Room 6, in hopes that the couple staying there would at least accept the TV as a gesture on our part to make their stay a positive one. They never mentioned the television that bloomed from the wall in their bedroom that day, and we didn’t ask. And though we’re still not planning to wire the inn with satellite or cable and outfit the rooms with HD flatscreens, we’re one set closer to having every room equipped with a television.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Intested Applicants Apply Within

Wanted:

Lover of good books; interested in publishing industry. Must be a wealthy individual, preferably in mid-fifties, divorced once and unhappy or bored in second marriage. Looking for a way to indulge a long dormant passion, namely writing, as a benefactor. Must be looking for a place to lose some money in exchange for name on imprint. Dependence on whiskey a plus. Opportunity to meet hot literary chicks. Interested parties should reply to thewritersway@gmail.com.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Publishing Game

I was telling a friend some time ago about The Innkeeper's Husband, and he said, "Bad time to try and publish a book. Economy has ruined the publishing biz. All is lost." Or something like that. Anyway, the message was that the poor economy was not conducive to trying to land a book publishing deal. That doesn't mean that I can't try, or that I won't succeed.

The Innkeeper's Husband is a genre-defying memoir, and I think it will have a broad audience. It's selling on Kindle, and I'm currently pursuing a deal with White River Press, whose titles I've admired, especially The Lamoille Stories, by Bill Schubart. If you'd like to see the book in print, then let White River Press know by emailing them!

In the meantime, I'm still looking at other publishers if White River doesn't work out.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Visit Amazon's Kindle site and check out my book, The Innkeeper's Husband.

I just logged onto this blog and discovered that I haven't been here since February. Can that be true? I guess that's a sign that there was very little activity surrounding the publishing of The Innkeeper's Husband. All that's changed.

The Innkeeper's Husband
is now available exclusively on Amazon as a download for their Kindle reader. It retails for $6.99.

I know this is an odd way to approach publishing, but I'm of a mind to go at things a little differently. I'm not sure how this will play out, or if it will lead to a traditional publishing deal. The way I'm looking at it, any publishing opportunity is a good opportunity.

So if you have a Kindle, go download The Innkeeper's Husband. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Writing, Waiting, Maddening

You write. It's what you do. If you're smart, you don't talk to much about it. Blatherskites sap energy. But you, you're a writer, dammit. You're going to buckle down, churn out another thousand words, another short story, another novel by the end of the year, whenever your year ends. If you're lucky. If the phone doesn't ring. If you don't have to go to work. If your S.O. doesn't leave you. If the stars line up. If you can figure how to get your main character moving again, dodging bullets, suffering cuckoldry, or the slings and arrows of some other outrageous fortune. Through it all, you write.

Or so I tell myself. As I find myself in the middle of writing a new novel, I try to tell myself all these things, to cast myself as Clint Eastwood's character in all those spaghetti westerns, steely glint in my eye, putrid cheroot making the rounds of my parched lips.

But my pleasant fantasies are always interrupted by realities and imperatives that transcend my precious imagination. There's a new semester to lure me away from my writing, new students to shepherd and inspire, new reading to slog my way through. There's my family and their needs, my sons in middle school, needing dad, asking questions. There's the inn, the duties there, the frozen pipes, the dirty floors, the constant tinkering with an old house. There's my beautiful wife, who needs me so much, just to be there, not imploding, not losing my mind, not drifting through my fiction. There's skiing, skiing, skiing.

All of this is to say that the new novel--which isn't a novel at all, but three novellas--is moving along, if only at a snail's pace. And while I write, I wait, I wait to hear from Quintessential Press, where The Innkeeper's Husband is spending its days in consideration. It's maddening, it's all so maddening.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Publish, Perish, or Self-Publish

I remember, back in the olden days, when the thought of self-publication was a smear against the quality of a writer's work. Vanity publishers were seen as predators, swooping in on misguided, deep-pocketed wordsmith-wannabees. The prevailing wisdom went like this: if your book deserved to be published, there were people sitting in cubicles in New York City high rises that were bred to decide that. And then the Internet came along.

The term "vanity press" has been replaced with "print-on-demand," and the ease of availability of merchandise online--including books--has made it almost impossible for the consumer to distinguish between traditional and--what shall we call this new approach to publishing? Progressive?--methods of publication. The primary argument against businesses such as Infinity and Lulu is that without trained pros separating the literary wheat from the chaff, who's to know what's good and what's not? The answer to that is, of course, the people. It's hard to hide online, and if you're successful in publishing your volume of crap, and you manage to sell a bunch of copies by duping people, you won't last long. Of course, the obverse is true, too: it's easy to hide online, to morph your image, to continue peddling sub-par writing.

The annals of publishing are filled with stories of boneheaded "pros" who failed to recognize a good thing--either commercially or literally--when they saw it. John Grisham's A Time To Kill was rejected by scores of publishers. Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance earned 122 rejection slips before finding a home. And it's worth being reminded that Ernest Hemingway privately published his first volume, called Three Stories and Ten Poems.

What does this have to do with The Innkeeper's Husband? Sure I've thought about self-publishing it. But I believe it can withstand the scrutiny of the publishing world, I think it has the chops, so I'll keep sending it out. This got back into my consciousness recently when a book I worked on as a content editor made it to press. Called Beautiful Brown Eyes by Cliff Wilkerson, it's a short story collection. When I was working on it, Cliff told me he just wanted to see his name in print. And now that he's got his book out through Infinity Publishing, I think he's realized he's done more. He worked very hard on this book, and if he'd been involved in an MFA program, he'd have a master's degree in writing as well as a book.

The point I'm making is this: Self-publishing is no longer the domain of deep-pocketed hacks--if it ever was. I've been involved with several projects where the writing was excellent and deserving. Ultimately, it will be up to the market to decide. Or maybe the publishing industry will demonstrate what aloof wisdom they possess and fall on their faces like the automobile industry, the airlines, the banks, and all the rest of the world we've been taught to place our trust in. And then we the people will own them, too, and we'll all be self-publishing.

Check out Cliff's book by clicking on the cover: