Archive | August, 2012

Upon a Blue Moon

31 Aug

Tonight will be the second full moon of the month of August.   When that happens it’s called a Blue Moon, not because of color but because it’s a bit rare to have multiple full moons in the same month.  In fact, it won’t happen again until July 2015.  Hence the phrase “once in a blue moon,” which refers to something special.

Ironically, I received today a note from author Rita Mae Brown telling me she found my book “delightful, funny, and a touch sly.” Kudos indeed from a humorist of her reputation!   I met her earlier in the month when she was in Rehoboth promoting her new book Sneaky Pie for President, and I had the opportunity to present her with a copy of The Discreet Charms of a Bourgeois Beach Town.  It had been more than two decades since she was last in Rehoboth.

So what does this have to do with a Blue Moon?  Well, in her note she references the Blue Moon bar and tonight’s Blue Moon.  How rare that her note arrived today, “upon a blue moon.”

Judging a Book by its Cover

27 Aug

A lot of people keep telling me they like the cover of this book.  Are they surprised when I tell them it  was the most difficult part of this whole project.  Google “what makes a good book cover” and you’ll get 184 million people telling you it must be unique and clever and that it has to catch your eye, convey a message, and entice you to read it.  Layer the online market on top and all the concerns about book covers as shrunken images the size of postage stamps, and Ay yi yi you’ll see why this is such an anxiety-producing topic for writers.

I settled on the title for this collection of stories very early on, but I must admit to being stumped about how to illustrate the concept?  How could I show the highbrow and the lowbrow, the homo and the hetero, the urban and the rural — all of which makes Rehoboth so unique and charming – in a simple image?

This was a tough challenge.  For a hilarious look at how the real professionals think about creating book covers, check out this TED Talk by Chip Kidd, the man who “spawned a revolution in the art of American book design and packaging.”  David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, two of my favorite contemporary writers, have worked with Chip.

Yours truly, however, didn’t have the budget to hire Chip, so I had to find my own unique solution.  I decided to start by asking friends in Rehoboth what they didn’t want to see on a book about Rehoboth.  No boardwalk images.  No orange Dolle’s sign.  No dolphins. No seagulls.  No French fries. No lifeguard stands.  No beach umbrellas.  What I heard was that the typical, iconic images often associated with Rehoboth Beach might be appropriate for some things, but not for my book.  I was on to something.

A discarded cover concept

It clicked one night when my partner Michael and I were enjoying some wine on the screened porch.  Why not put the porch on the cover?  Rehoboth, after all, is known for its screened porches. Better yet, why not put a picture of our cottage on the front, complete with a set of interesting characters loitering about having drinks?  It’s a scene not too uncommon at my home. And, it would certainly jive with the content and my objective of presenting a “different view” of Rehoboth.

The next thing you know, I’m chatting with Louisa Marcq, an artist in England specializing in wacky house drawings, and, voila, a cover was born.

I’m not sure what Chip Kidd would think about the cover.  It is a tad busy, but on the other hand, it certainly catches your eye and draws you in.  It makes you wonder what’s inside.  And as far as I can tell, that’s what you want in a cover.

Final cover design.

A Little Whipped Cream Vodka to Start Off The Day

23 Aug

Thanks to Bruce Elliott, host of WILM 1450 AM News/Talk Radio for recommending  The Discreet Charms of a Bourgeois Beach Town to his listeners and for giving me the opportunity to talk about beauty pageants, whipped cream vodka, and drag queens on his popular morning drive show.  Readers will know what stories I’m referring to…Here’s the Interview with Rich Barnett

The NY Times and The Irish Times Talk Self Publishing

21 Aug

Two recent interesting articles about self-publishing:

  1. The Joys and Hazards of Self Publishing on the Web, NY Times
  2. How Self Publishing Can Work For You, The Irish Times


19 Aug

Michael Phelps and the boys celebrate the gold medal in the 800 meter relay in London. I’m celebrating the 800th sale of The Discreet Charms of a Bourgeois Beach Town. I know its not the same, but I needed a good-looking photo for this otherwise dull blog post which nobody but me cares about.  I set a goal of selling 1,000 books this year and wasn’t sure if that was attainable or not.  Looks like I might beat a goal too…

The Uptown Girl

17 Aug

Life imitates art. Miss April, the one and only”Uptown Girl” from the first story in the book, poses in her Upper East Side apartment.

The Bourgeois Beach Book Now Available Upstate

14 Aug

On my way to New York the other day, I stopped off in Wilmington where I met Jack and Gemma Buckley, owners of the Ninth Street Book Shop.  Interestingly, the shop is actually on Eighth Street where it crosses Market Street.  The shop moved in June to its current location and kept its name because that’s what the customers wanted.  I’m pleased the Buckleys are carrying the book in their shop, which I think is the second oldest independent bookstore in Delaware (1977), after Browseabout Books in Rehoboth (1975).  Here’s a link to a recent News Journal story about the Buckleys and their independent store.

The Vulgarity of an Ocean Front Cottage

11 Aug

One of my favorite houses in Rehoboth is right around the corner from me at the corner of Park Avenue and First Street.  It’s called Mon Plaisir and it was the home of social maven Mrs. H.B. Thompson.  Those of you who have read my book will recognize her as the force behind mosquito eradication in Rehoboth in the 1920s.

Mrs. H.B. was an opinionated woman.  She didn’t believe in the vote for women and she detested red lipstick.  She also considered a cottage right on the ocean to be “vulgar.”  Huh?

Here’s an excerpt from her memoirs that appeared in the late 70’s in Delaware History, the only scholarly journal devoted to the history of Delaware

Some of my friends thought I should have built my house on the beach, but I didn’t for several reasons:  the glare of the sun; the incessant noise of the waves; the dampness, the mists and the wind constantly blowing from the ocean, so that it is an impossibility to enjoy sitting on the porch.  My home is thoroughly screened, and the air blows from every direction through French doors.  Enormous porches on all sides with plenty of chairs, chaise lounge and hammock make an ideal resting place.  Returning from the beach, where you can enjoy sun as well as sea baths, and entering my garden, a sense of peace and shadowy coolness pervades all, and the tall pines cast their perfume in the air.  The ground is covered with pine needles and the blue fence surrounding the property is overgrown with roses in continual bloom.

 Wouldn’t you know, I had an opportunity to attend a political event in the house, and while everyone else was sipping wine, yours truly was snapping a few photos.

One of several drawings and paintings of the house.

Living Room

The fireplace is built with bricks from the old Cape Henlopen lighthouse, which toppled into the Atlantic in during a storm in 1926. The lighthouse was the sixth one built in the American colonies in 1767. The painting over the mantle is of the lighthouse on the Great Dune.

The screened porch, where Mrs. H.B. Thompson liked to sit after a hot day on the beach or tending to her roses.

How to tell who was ringing and where.

Another Box of Books to Browseabout

11 Aug

The Red House

5 Aug

Looking out the second floor bathroom window — the best view in The Red House, according to owners Weeder and Andy Olbrecht.

I’ve always wanted to see inside The Red House, a classic oceanfront home built in 1890.  So imagine how delighted I was when its owners Weeder and Andy Olbrecht invited me over for drinks.  I had mentioned The Red House in the book in a story about Jim Thompson, the Thai Silk King, who had spent some time in The Red House. It’s a great house and this link to an article and photos in Style Magazine does it more justice than I ever could with my iPhone camera.  Check it out.