JANUARY 20TH, SATURDAY, in Nice. 2018.

On my patio sits a old bug-eaten, weather-worn, gnarled geranium. No telling how long it has been there, or who planted it. It sits in a small flower box against the back fence. I vow to replace it every time I look at it. This morning, I took a walk around the patio, making a list in my head of the things I want to do when the weather gets better. And, I saw it!!!  Lo and behold, the geranium plant has a bud ready to bloom. What??? That’s me! Weather-worn, gnarled, – maybe not bug-eaten, ready to bloom.  Haha. Well, what can I say? 2017 was a rough year of “recalculating” (as the Garmin would say) – working on “what’s next.” And, while I have been reevaluating these “golden years”, I have continued attending most monthly events of the American Club of the Riviera (ACR), trying to link and connect with expats in town. That’s just about everyone. Kinda like Los Angeles, most people here are from somewhere else. 

There is not a lot “American” about the Club. It is international in scope. But, it celebrates Thanksgiving on a Thursday – the middle of a workday for the French, so that counts. Who cares? It’s fun. The people are interesting. Let me be clear, it is not a place one is going to make a lifelong friend, but who cares? At least, I now know a few first names and a couple of last names. Maybe I will make a more concerted effort in the future, but who knows. 

These are the things I do know – Steve is not coming back. I like living in France. I speak “some” French.  I am 80 (going on 81).  I have immediate family in California, Colorado, and Georgia. I know how to teach, act, write, and litigate.  I have knee-problems.  There are other things I know, but for now, this list will do.  As far as decisions go, the jury is still out.  Meanwhile, I made a plan – sign up for ACR’s January Event. And, on Saturday, January 20th, I went. 

The Event was being held at the Manoir de l’Etang, in Mougins, France.  Since Mougins is about a 45-minute drive from my house, I decided to go. Time to explore other communities (and “Manoir Houses”) close by. I’m not that familiar with Mougins, but I know that it  is a community located on the heights of Cannes, in the district of Grasse.  I had read where Mougins has been frequented and inhabited by many artists and celebrities, including Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Winston Churchill, Catherine Deneuve, Édith Piaf and Jacques Brel, to name but a few.  Picasso spent the last 12 years of his life living in Mougins (1961–1973), where he died. He lived in a ‘mas’ (farmhouse) at Notre-Dame-de-Vie, which is a small hilltop just beside the old village of Mougins and next to the 12th-century chapel of the same name.  Picasso’s studio was in the old village in a building that is now the tourist office. More to explore on another day. 

I read where the Manoir house, built in the 19th century, is set in four hectares of land , behind gates, and overlooks a small lake. No problem finding the place. I used Waze. Ever since my granddaughter Jamie told me to use it (I got lost going to meet her in Antibes), I have used Waze. Before that, I used Google maps. Ugh. It slaughters French pronunciations. Waze doesn’t even try. Just gives me orders – turn or prepare to turn. Works like a charm. I seldom get lost. (Knock on wood). Plus, the location was just a few minutes from Exit 42 on the A8. Piece of cake. Drive-through gates at the entrance.

Each time I go to one of these events, I have fun. (Maybe it is because I’m glad to have somewhere to go. Hmmm…., no) As I said before, the attendees come from all over the world. This was a reception, lunch and Assemblée Générale. The weather was gorgeous, allowing us to enjoy our aperitif on the outside terrace – champagne and hors d’oeuvres. I even checked my coat at the door!! 

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The Reception was followed by the Club’s Annual General Meeting, including the election of 2018 Officers and Governors, on the side porch, overlooking the pool. 

We then went inside for a 3-course lunch with wines, waters and coffee. This was the menu:
Starter:
Beetroot ravioli with goat cheese and ham, vinaigrette with balsamic and honey
Or
Velouté of Jerusalem artichokes with poached egg
**
Main course:
Ballotin of poultry with mushroom duxelles and stuffed vegetables
Or
Hake, Arborio risotto with saffron shellfish cream
**
Dessert:
Apple tart with vanilla ice cream
Or
Ice-cream Parfait with citrus fruits

I had ravioli, poultry, and apple tart. Yum.  I apologize, I did not take pictures of my food. I started having fun and forgot to take pictures. Everything was outstanding. The food was outstanding. The ambience was perfect. The people were just what the doctor ordered for me – Cynthia, Marie-France, Jeanette, Steven, Alain.  Trust me.

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On the way home, a woman at the luncheon needed a ride back to Nice. Meet Margaret Keith.

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Of course, I said yes to the company. Turns out, she is from Selma, Alabama, lives in Paris, and owns property in Nice. What fun! 

We gabbed the whole way back to town and vowed to get together for lunch upon her return. She has lived in Paris for 45 years!! Amazing story.   

I talked to the owner of the Manoir House – Camilla.  She has 20 rooms and calls it a “hotel”.  I love the pool. I plan to investigate the rates. Explore the town and read by the pool in a beautiful, quiet setting with good food. That works.

SIGNING OFF……   Jay

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JANUARY 13TH, SATURDAY, in Nice. 2018.

Patience is not my strong suit. I have spent most of my life trying to conquer my need for instant gratification. Do it now; figure out how to deal with the consequences later. Another way to say that is, stick my hand into the fire; then figure out if it is hot. Or, out of the frying pan, into the fire. Haha. Right now, I must have the patience to tell you about my Saturday morning. It has been a fun one.

I woke up this morning, raring to go for a walk. Some days, I have more energy than others. Today, I felt great! Time to get outside. What was the temperature? (I am trying to memorize the local units of measurement – Celsius, Kilometers, Kilograms, etc.). My weather map said 4 degrees. Cold. Very cold. So, I put on my warmest tights, a turtleneck, my down jacket, scarf, gloves, headphones, my phone, a stocking cap, and took off.  My mission was to take photographs. I am constantly trying to find interesting shots. (I miss my Encino roses). Something must motivate me to take its picture other than a rose.  The Sea works. Close ups, long shots.

I walked out of the front door and turned right. Right away, I saw a local baker’s croissants – fresh-baked – in an open-air window. That would be a good shot. Too cold. The baker was standing in the front door, having a cigarette. The butcher across the street was coming to ask her a question. Neither had on jackets. Damn! Didn’t they know it was freezing outside? Good shot, though. Nope! Too cold.

I kept walking, knowing I had underestimated how COLD 4 degrees was. What else could I have put on to be warmer? Nothing. I had to relax – to keep moving – briskly. Ugh. Had to be careful. Couldn’t push the knee. Where was the sun? Still coming up? The Port. Get to the Port. There, maybe I could find a coffee – somewhere, maybe. Explanation, buildings in my neighborhood block the rising sun. Cafes don’t open until 8:00 am, 9:00 am, 10:00 am on Saturday.  If it is too early, there is no sun, and cafes are closed. The French operate on their own schedules, especially on weekends and holidays. I call it “French Time”.  Welcome to France. 

Once I hit Garibaldi Square, I had sun. Blinding sun, coming up over the Sea. YES! I looked around for an open cafe. Nothing. I kept walking. Never mind. Stay warm, take pictures. Try close-ups. Interesting close-ups.

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Uhhh, maybe not.

By the time I got to the French Resistance Memorial, I was warm enough to take off my gloves to get a picture. Gorgeous shot! Even includes my shadow – making it more interesting.  

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After that, I went to my favorite spot, overlooking the Sea and facing the rising Sun. I faced the Sun, said my meditation prayers, filled my body with healing yellow, and took off. Selfie by the Sea – 

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people walking dogs,

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local police on a break,

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“#I Love Nice” sign backwards, haha,

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Rocks and waves, a fisherman, the Coastline – taking photos.

 

I crossed the Boulevard d’anglaise and cut-through to the Flower Market. That is where I saw open cafes and vendors. Nobody looked cold. Au contraire. Bustling activity, giving the Market energy. Shoppers with carts, buying fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, tourists. Always tourists. Get close-ups, Jay!

I had to get clever with my camera. I have learned to wait until a vendor is busy with a customer – then, shoot. Most vendors don’t want people taking pictures, especially close-ups. ????  Not sure why. One painter had a sign, “no photos, merci”. OK.  No problem. 

 

I passed on to the flowers,

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OK. Job done. On to Lou Pastrouil for breakfast! YES! Time to thaw out. Interesting to note, most people have coffee and reading the Nice-Matin newspaper are sitting outside by open air burners. Not me. I was too cold. I wanted inside. Plus, my favorite table was open. Life was good. 

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Back through Place Massena, wondering when the Ferris wheel and the silver Christmas tree will come down.

 

Into Galleries Lafayette to “look” since the January sales are in full swing. Interested in finding a black crew neck sweater. I managed to find the perfect cashmere black sweater – one of the ONLY items in the entire store NOT on sale. Ugh. Can’t buy that. Too expensive. But, I did find one I liked OK downstairs in the Designer section – on sale and a “The Kooples”.  Not familiar with that designer, but I liked the sweater and it was on sale. 40% off.

Then, time for the “lighting ceremony”. It was time to light my January 2018 immediate family candles at Basilique Notre-Dame de l’Assomption.  Besides, my son Craig is racing, today. 

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A special candle for Craig’s safety.

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A final stop at Le Comptoir Irlandais for that light blue wool sweater from Ireland that I have had my eye on. NOT on sale (darn), and an Irish fruit cake, for good luck. Fun!

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On to home. I had been gone for four hours and walked 9707 steps, or 6,3 kilometers. The goal is 10,000 steps. I almost made it. I used 262 calories, but I ate more than that back with the two pieces of Irish Fruit Cake that I had for lunch. It was 12 degrees. Warming up! Sort of…..  I spent too much money. Oh, well, I will worry about that tomorrow. (Thank you, Scarlett!)  And, there you have it – Saturday, In Nice!! January 13, 2018. 

 

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A Gentle Reminder

“This life will go by fast.
– Don’t fight with people, don’t criticize your body so much, don’t complain so much. 
– Don’t lose sleep over your bills. Look for the person that makes you happy. If you make a mistake, let it go and keep seeking your happiness.
– Never stop being a good parent. Don’t worry so much about buying luxuries and comforts for your home, and don’t kill yourself trying to leave an inheritance for your family. Those benefits should be earned by each person, so don’t dedicate yourself to accumulating money.
– Enjoy, travel, enjoy your journeys, see new places, give yourself the pleasures you deserve. Allow dogs to get closer. Don’t put away the fine glassware. Utilize the new dinnerware; don’t save your favorite perfume, use it to go out with yourself; wear out your favorite sport shoes; repeat your favorite clothes.
– So what? That’s not bad. Why not now? Why not pray now instead of waiting until before you sleep? Why not call now? Why not forgive now? We wait so long for Christmas; for Friday; for Reunions; for another year; for when I have money; for love to come; when everything is perfect…look…
– Everything perfect doesn’t exist. Human beings can’t accomplish this because it simply was not intended to be completed here. Here is an opportunity to learn.
– So take this challenge that is life and do it now…love more, forgive more, embrace more, love more intensely and leave the rest in God’s hands.”  – from Pope Francis

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Food for thought…..   A client of mine, Len Indianer, sent me these interesting predictions in an email, yesterday.  It was an email sent to several people.  I am passing it along.  More about Len Indianer in a minute.

“INTERESTING PREDICTIONS….  In a recent interview, the Head of Daimler Benz (Mercedes Benz) said their competitors are no longer other car companies, but Tesla (obviously), and now, Google, Apple, Amazon ‘et al’ are……  

Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.  Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world.  Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Goplayer in the world, 10 years earlier than expected.

In the U.S., young lawyers already can’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans.  So, if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain.

Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 times more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and you can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car.

It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% less cars for that. We can transform former parking spaces into parks.

1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 60,000 miles (100,000 km), with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 6 million miles (10 million km). That will save a million lives each year.

Most car companies will probably go bankrupt. Traditional car companies will try the traditional approach and try to build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will take the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels.  Many engineers from Volkswagen and Audi are completely terrified of Tesla….  

Auto Insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, car insurance will become much cheaper. Their car insurance business model will slowly disappear.

Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.

Electric cars will become mainstream about 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all new cars will run on electricity. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, and now you can now see the burgeoning impact.

 Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. Energy companies are desperately trying to limit access to the grid to prevent competition from home solar installations, but that can’t last. Technology will take care of that strategy.

Health innovations: The Tricorder-X price will be announced this year. There are companies who will build a medical device (called the”Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample, and you can breathe into it.   Are you ready for all this?”

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MORE about Len Indianer and his work….    Len Indianer is a retired optometric physician. He grew up in Miami Beach, Florida and attended the University of Alabama and Southern College of Optometry. He served as an Air Force Bio-Medical Services Officer for three years, before opening his practice in Daytona Beach, Florida. A long time lecturer on eye-related subjects, he has also lectured on International Terrorism over the years. He has written two plays and several novels.  He and I worked together to get one of his novels, A Bridge to Elne, before the film community. It is a novel of a French family’s struggle against the Nazi Occupation.  I am pitching this book because I believe it is a film that needs to be made.  More relevant today than ever.  It has yet to be purchased. 

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Here is the book’s description as outlined by Indianer on the cover:

“A BRIDGE TO ELNE is based on a true story of a courageous family who endured the German occupation of France during WWII.  Marcel Pointer is a successful dentist in Marseille until Nazi brutality leads him to join the Maquis, the militant branch of the French Resistance. He conducts several successful raids against the Vichy and the Germans, and is arrested by the Gestapo. After beating and interrogating him without obtaining evidence of his guilt, they finally release him. Aware of the increased danger, he decides to move his wife Angelina and their four children to Elne, a small village at the foot of the Pyrenees near the Mediterranean Sea. He returns to fight, leaving them with Paul and Elizabeth Courty, Angelina’s parents, and her sister Paulette. 

In November 1942, the Germans move their troops into the southern, unoccupied zone of France. Captain Johann Weller is sent to Elne with his German engineering battalion to build fortifications along the Mediterranean coast. Each family in the village is ordered to house a German officer. Johann is assigned to the Courty home. At first, there is much tension, but with time, Johann earns a degree of respect from the Courty’s and Pontier’s. He is not the evil monster they has expected. That doesn’t alter the fact that by participating in the occupation, he is helping to further the Nazi cause with all its evil. Paulette comes to know him well, and over time, they develop a close relationship. Only the taboos created by the war and occupation keep her from responding to his overtures. Paulette works for the mayor of Elne, where the Germans now make their headquarters. Speaking fluent German, she makes good use of her office next to the commandant’s to access their conversations and plans, and is able to help the Resistance by funneling this information to Marcel. This is complicated by Johann’s interest in her, and she is unsure how much he can be trusted. When the German commandant begins to suspect she’s a spy, the entire family faces the prospect of execution. What happens next is something no one would have anticipated.”

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Best,  Jay

 

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HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!

LET’S DO IT! HERE’S TO 2018!!

 

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“SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS…..”

“So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Lets hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
For weak and for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The road is so long
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let’s stop all the fight

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
And so this is Christmas
And what have we done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
War is over
If you want it
War is over
Now”

By John Lennon

 

 

“THE WISDOM CAFE”

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The Wisdom Café is a made-up name for a group of women – all ages, all nationalities – who meet twice a month at a restaurant, Les Pierres Rouges, in Valbonne, France.  Wise-wannabe’s attempting to solve life’s problems. (Haha. We wish.)

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It is fun!  Twenty or thirty women from the South of France talk, laugh, eat, and listen to some sort of program – usually a talk by Sara Randall, the “organizer”.

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I have been going since October. Sara invited me at the American Club‘s July 4th event at Castelplage.  My assigned seat was between her and her husband Roger.

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Sara’s great! She is from Houston, Texas, with a great personality. I don’t know how she got all of these interesting women together, but she did – with the help of Cynthia “Cy” Todd.  Cy is the organizer’s dream-come-true.  She also is a singer, singing at different venues all over the South of France.  Sara lives in Valbonne; Cy lives in Nice. Together, they get women to come to the luncheon from all over the South of France. I am still learning names, faces, and countries. Only three or four are expats from the U.S.

Last Thursday, December 14th, was The Wisdom Cafe’s annual “Christmas Luncheon”.

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My new friend from Los Angeles – Joyce Marshall – and I drove to Valbonne for the party. This is Joyce.

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Everyone had an assignment – bring a dessert from your home country. Yum! I took an apricot tart, saying we have “tarts” in the U.S.  OK, so they are French.  I should have made an apple pie or Mother’s boiled custard. A lemon-cheese cake or a caramel cake would have worked.

I sat between Betty (from the Netherlands, living outside of Antibes) and Val (Valerie, from the U.K., living in Cannes, spending years in Australia, traveling around the Mediterranean for three years with her husband and son on a boat).

Also, at my table at the other end was an actress who studied with Lee Strasberg. I did, too. Her professional name is Anita Strindberg. I don’t know what country she is from, but I will find out.  She now lives in Valbonne.  See what I mean? This is Anita.

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In the photos, I have tried to capture the fun of the event.  Usually, I am not one for luncheons with a bunch of women. This one is different. Probably because most of us are expats from somewhere in this crazy-mixed-up world.  Fate has brought us together at this point in time in a small restaurant, run by Annie and her husband (I think), in the South of France.  Here we are, laughing and having fun with each other for a couple of hours, twice a month.  It’s a special moment in time, now recorded on JAYSPEAK.  Enjoy.

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Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur

European Opera Houses have always had a special place in my heart!  Handsome men with top hats and tuxedos. Women in long gowns, wearing furs, jewels, and long gloves. Arriving in carriages.  OK, I saw lots of movies and read Dickens.  That said, I was one of the first to sign up for the American Club of the Riviera’s December Event – GERSHWIN at the OPERA Nice Cote d’Azur, on December 9th.
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On Saturday, December 9th, ACR members-only filled the ‘library’ room at Le Grand Balcon for a delicious “before concert” luncheon.  Member and orchestra conductor Cindy Egolf gave the group an interesting talk about “listening” during lunch. I took it to heart because she questioned whether an instrument is valuable if it remains locked in a vault? Like a Stradivarius violin? Doesn’t an instrument’s value come from the beauty of the sound?  If no one hears it, is it valuable?  One hand clapping?  I thought of my Steinway piano, made by Steinway in 1946, sitting in my living room. Is it valuable?  

After lunch, we all went next door to the 4:00 PM  matinee of the Nice Philharmonic  Orchestra, playing George Gershwin’s Cuban Overture, Concerto in F,  Rhapsody in Blue, and An American in Paris, at l’Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur. The conductor, György G. Ráth, is relatively new.  He has been with the Nice Philharmonic since September 2017.  He was excellent.  And, I cannot say enough about the pianist, József Balog.  His touch was magic for me.  The combination of the atmosphere with the beautiful music was healing, inside and out.  As his brother Ira wrote, “Who could ask for anything more”

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On my way home, I used what was left of the battery in my phone to shoot some closing, fun shots of Nice at Night.  Enjoy!

#SmartAuthor “Journal of Janet Tallulah, Volume 2”

“Journal of Janet Tallulah, Volume 2 was published this week. (amazon.com and smashwords.com)  These Journals, Volume 1 and Volume 2, are the realization of my lifelong dream to publish my journals. Both are intensely personal. I think of them in the following way:  Journal 1 is the hatching of a baby chicken – rough around the edges.  Journal 2 is a bright yellow, baby chicken, beginning to experience life.* (*go to end of blog)

This brings me to Mark Coker’s “Indie Author Manifesto”.  I particularly like #9.  

THE INDIE AUTHOR MANIFESTO

By Mark Coker, originally published 2014 at the Smashwords Blog

We indie authors believe all writers are created equal, that all writers are endowed with natural creative potential, and that writers have an unalienable right to exercise, explore, and realize their potential through the freedom of publication.

  1. I hold these truths to be self-evident.
  2. I am an indie author. I have experienced the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from self-publishing.
  3. I have a right to publish.
  4. My creative control is important to me. I decide when, where, and how my writing graduates to become a published book.
  5. Indie does not mean alone. I choose my partners.
  6. I shall not bow beholden or subservient to any publisher. In my business relationships, I will seek partnership, fairness, equity, and mutually aligned interests.
  7. We indie authors comprise diverse writers, unified by a common purpose to advance, empower, and celebrate writers everywhere.
  8. I am a professional. I take pride in my work and I strive to improve my craft to better serve my readers, myself, my fellow indie authors, and the culture of books.
  9. My writing is valuable and important. This value and importance cannot be measured by commercial sales alone.
  10. I celebrate the success of my fellow indie authors, for their success is mine and mine theirs. Together, we are pioneering a better future for books, marked by greater quality, creativity, diversity, choice, availability, affordability, and accessibility.”

Okay, there you have it. Now let’s dissect it.

In the first sentence I wrote, “We indie authors believe all writers are created equal, that all writers are endowed with natural creative potential, and that writers have an unalienable right to exercise, explore, and realize their potential through the freedom of publication,” here I found a lot of inspiration from the preamble of the US Declaration of Independence, which states that all men are created equal and all men deserve the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. 

My critics said, “What do you mean all authors are created equal and all authors have a right to publish?” Yes, I believe that. Now I don’t believe that all writers are of equal talent, but I do believe that all writers have something valuable to share with the world. Then they should have the right to publish it for the judgment of readers. I believe it’s not anyone’s place to put one writer over another, or to decide what readers can read. Censorship and restraint of publication is almost always a bad thing.

In the spirit of the US Declaration of Independence, if it makes a writer happy to publish, then, gosh, darn it, let them pursue their happiness and publish it.

Now on to the next part, the part the begins with, “I hold these truths to be self-evident.” I used the word “I” and not “we” here because I wanted to allow writers to make the manifesto their personal declaration of publishing independence. Then following that line, “I hold these truths to be self-evident,” I list the 10 points. 

Item number one: “I am an indie author.” I viewed these simple five words as the ultimate affirmation of independence. Considering where the world stood a mere five years earlier, back when self-published authors were subjected to ridicule and shamed, today’s writers are wearing the indie author label as a badge of honor. A new generation of writers view self-publishing as their option of first choice rather than as their option of last resort. 

Now to item number two: “I have experienced the pleasure and satisfaction that comes from self-publishing.” If you’re already self-published, you’ve experienced this. But even if you’re preparing to publish your first book, I’m sure you can relate to it. Number two speaks to the pleasure of creative expression and the opportunity to control your own destiny. It also speaks to the heart of the human experience. 

We are social animals. If you lock a person in solitary confinement long enough, they will die. We humans thrive on social connection and communication. As any writer can attest, there’s a joy in creative expression and there’s no deeper or more intricately complex or capable form of human expression than this amazing magical vehicle we call the book.

Now to item number three: “I have a right to publish.” I touched on this in the preamble of the manifesto, but I thought it deserved its own affirmative statement in the body as well. This was a radical idea when I started Smashwords in 2008, and it was a radical idea when I wrote the manifesto. Even today, it’s not a universally acceptable or accepted idea, this idea that every writer has a right to publish, but you know and I know that you deserve the right and the freedom to publish. 

Now to number four: “My creative control is important to me. I decide when, where, and how my writing graduates to become a published book.” When I talk with indie authors and ask what they love most about self-publishing, creative control is almost always at the top of their list. They can publish their book their way. They control how they write what they write, how they price, how they distribute, how they engage with readers, how they do everything. 

On the flip side of this, if you’re a writer who wants to focus all of your attention on writing and delegate the rest of your publishing business to someone else, then maybe self-publishing isn’t for you. That’s okay, too. Self-publishing is not for everyone.

I love self-publishing, and I think every writer should consider it, but I also want to be completely straight with you and remind you that although publishing is easy, reaching readers will always be difficult. Self-publishing requires a lot of work. The great news is that it’s your choice. You’re in control. You can choose to pursue self-publishing or pursue traditional publishing or you can pursue both. 

For number five, I wanted to get across the idea that independence does not mean all alone. Most indie authors realize it takes a village to professionally produce, package, and market a book. Sure, an indie author can do everything alone if they choose, but the most successful indie authors partner with others to help their book reach its full potential. These partners can be an editor, a book doctor, a professional cover designer, a distributor, a retailer, a publicist, or even a traditional publisher. To a great degree, much of your success will be determined by your skill at selecting the right partners. 

Now to number six: “I shall not bow beholden or subservient to any publisher. In my business relationships, I seek partnership, fairness, equity, and mutually aligned interests. Number six is where I caught flack for coming across as anti-publisher. If “bow beholden and subservient” sounds a little like a master-slave relationship, that’s because that’s what it was. Sure, in the old days, you could publish without a publisher, but if you want to reach readers, you have no choice. You played by the publisher’s rules or you didn’t play at all. 

If you listened to the prior episodes of this podcast or if you’ve read any of my other writings over the last 10 years, you know I’m not anti-publisher. I love publishers. A great publisher is one that can do things for you that you cannot do or don’t want to do for yourself, yet we can appreciate publishers and still call them out for past transgressions and current inadequacies. 

For example, most traditional publishers pay ebook authors only 12% to 17% of the list price, whereas indie ebook authors typically earn 60% to 80% of the list price. It’s completely fair for authors to believe that they deserve greater compensation for their traditionally published ebooks and it’s fair for them to believe that they deserve greater control over how publishers price and promote their books, or that they deserve more equitable rights revision clauses in their contracts if the publisher doesn’t meet certain sales threshold. It’s also fair for the publishers to pushback, to disagree and argue their case for why their terms are fair and equitable given their value add. 

My main point of number six is that authors and publishers can have great relationships and great partnerships, but to achieve this greatness, both the author and the publisher must work together to achieve mutually aligned interests. My biggest criticism of traditional publishing is that due to their business model and absolute domination over print production and distribution they’ve developed long ingrained attitudes that aren’t always as pro-author as they should be. 

Publishers have long practiced a culture of no. Their business model requires them to say no to most authors and to view most writers as unworthy. It’s in their business model that you serve them and they serve themselves. It’s in their business model to judge books based on perceived commercial merit. 

Now you’re the author. How do these long ingrained attitudes and business model limitations make you feel? What author wants to be treated as a powerless lackey by their business partner? The power dynamic isn’t balanced. 

In my view, the key to publishers’ future success is to change their attitude and recognize that publishers are service providers to authors, and not the other way around. The best publishers will treat you like a partner. Although publishers have had the power to say no in the past, today’s authors can say no to publishers. Many authors now turned down publishing contracts in favor of self-publishing. In the show notes, I’ll share a link to an interview I did with New York Times bestselling author Jamie McGuire on this very topic. 

Now to number seven: “We indie authors comprise diverse writers, unified by a common purpose to advance, empower, and celebrate writers everywhere.” For number seven, I wanted to underscore that the indie author movement has brought together a diverse universe of writers, all with different backgrounds and experience levels but united by a shared purpose: to advance and support their fellow community of writers. It’s always heartwarming to witness indie authors giving back to the community and standing by their community. There’s power in unity. 

Now to number eight: “I am a professional. I take pride in my work. I strive to improve my craft to better serve my readers, myself, my fellow indie authors, and the culture of books.” I know number eight resonated with a lot of indie authors because these authors know how much sweat and sacrifice they’ve devoted to pursue this crazy dream of authorship.

In number eight, I wanted to draw an important distinction between amateur and professional. For writers who adopt the Indie Author Manifesto as their own, the mere act of speaking these words out loud, of feeling these words, “I am a professional,” serves as a personal declaration of professionalism. You’re making a commitment to strive for professionalism. 

Many people out there still consider self-published authors as amateurs. Most people don’t believe in you. Anyone can be an indie author amateur. These are the lazy self-published authors who don’t bother to learn best practices or who don’t bother to professionally produce a product that will make their readers proud, or who remain willfully ignorant to the reasons behind their inability to reach readers.

Indie author professionals, by contrast, approach self-publishing with pride and professionalism. Professionals honor their readers with the best possible product. They know it takes a lot of work to create that product. Professionals understand that success requires equal parts skill, perseverance, and luck.

Now to number nine: “My writing is valuable and important. This value and importance cannot be measured by commercial sales alone.” For number nine, I state a point that I’ve repeated multiple times here on the Smart Author Podcast. Indie authors and traditional publishers have widely divergent views on how books should be valued. I wanted to remind authors that the value of their writing transcends monetary measures. If your book has the potential to bring a smile to a single reader, your book is important. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, your book has the potential to change lives and maybe even save lives. What can be more important than that? 

Just because your sales suck doesn’t mean that you’re not worthy. Most writers’ sales suck, whether they’re traditionally published or self-published. Most writers will have good months and bad months, good years and bad years. If you only measure your success by money, you’ll probably burn out and quit, but if you develop other measures of success, like finding joy in the creative process or making your next book better than the last or finding joy in pressing the publish button when you’re finally ready to share your soul with the world, then you’re more likely to continue writing and publishing. Therefore, you’re more likely to eventually emerge from your obscurity to achieve the greatest commercial success. 

Now to the final item in the manifesto, number 10: “I celebrate the success of my fellow indie authors, for their success is mine and mine theirs. Together, we are pioneering a better future for books, marked by greater quality, creativity, diversity, choice, availability, affordability and accessibility.” Boy, that’s a lot of abilities. 

This final item is packed. This idea of shared success, which I touched on in the last episode (E8:  ART OF DELUSION), is a common characteristic that I observed in the most successful indie authors. They work hard, they fight to earn and deserve every reader, but they recognize that their gain is not someone else’s loss and someone else’s gain is not their loss. Every time an indie author pleases a reader, it benefits all fellow authors and it benefits all of book culture. It becomes yet another reason to celebrate indie authorship. 

Number 10 also gets across the idea that, as a movement, we indie authors care about something greater than our own selfish interests. In fact, we realize that our selfish interests are inextricably linked to the fate of the greater movement. We care about books and we care about the culture of reading. We care about diversity of thought and expression. We abhor censorship in all its forms. We care about serving readers and making books accessible to all. We will all sink or swim together. 

That concludes Episode Nine on the Indie Author Manifesto. I trust now you have a greater appreciation for the pivotal role you play within the indie author movement and how your contribution fits within the greater context of the centuries-old struggle for free expression. If the Indie Author Manifesto resonates with you, make it your own. Visit the show notes at smashwords.com/podcast for links to where you can read it, download it, print it, and share it. I’ll also put links in the show notes if you want to further explore the history of book publishing. 

Looking ahead, for the next six episodes I have a special treat for you. Earlier in the podcast I mentioned I’ve got an updated edition of the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide coming out. It provides an expanded checklist of over 60 book marketing ideas that will help take your book marketing to the next level. 

I’ve decided to serialize the new marketing guide here on the podcast first. It’ll be like a podcasted audiobook. I’ll present it in six logical chunks of approximately 30 minutes each.

After you hear the final installment, I’ll release the complete ebook everywhere for free. 

If you’re enjoying the Smart Author Podcast, please share it with your friends.

Working together, we can change the world one indie ebook at a time.

Until next time, keep writing. I’m Mark Coker.  

https://www.smashwords.com/podcast/9

*Advertisement, page 125, Gainesville High School 1955 “Radiator” – GHS yearbook.

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ALLEZ-HOPS! cave à bière

This is a Christmas shout-out for Allez-HOPS! What is Allez-HOPS, you ask? It is cave à bière (beer cellar) in the heart of Nice, France.  Now, those of you who know me or have seen my pictures KNOW that I am a wine drinker. White at lunch; red at night. That wasn’t always the case. Here is the back story:

Back in the day, when I was a student at the University of Wisconsin, it was beer all the way.  In the ‘80’s, I started having reactions to malt (along with basil, cilantro, herb teas, and other things).  I quit drinking beer and eating Mars bars (just kidding about the Mars bars. Yuk.)

Last Christmas, I went to an American Club of the Riviera event – A Christmas Local Beer Tasting and Lunch. http://americanclubriviera.com/  I wasn’t sure what would happen if I tried to experience a “tutored beer tasting by Daniel Deganutti”, one of the governors.  https://allez-hops.com/  I was willing to try. This was my first Christmas after Steve’s death.  I needed to get out of the condo. 

The Tasting started at 11:00 a.m.  Beer, IN THE MORNING???  No matter. I could call Uber if I needed help home. Plus, the French 3-course lunch “by an accomplished chef at the nearby Pastry Plaisirs” sounded delicious. http://pastryplaisirs.com/en/ 

What a fun day!  I enjoyed every minute of it. Met interesting people, sipped a lot of beers, learned the type I like (forgot what he said), ate delicious food, and discovered I can handle malt.

Pastry Plaisirs only opens for lunch Monday through Friday, and dinner on Friday and Saturday.  Plus, it caters to private events, birthday parties, and such. It is small, intimate, and delicious, starting when the chef, Louis Dubois, born at Poitiers, decided to open his restaurant, tea room and pastry shop with his girl friend Aurore Parrant. He cooks; she serves. Yum. 

As for Allez-HOPS, I am not certain how it started.  I asked, got the Readers Digest version, and quickly forgot what he said. Well, he was preparing for a tasting while I wanted to know where he and his family lived in the Mid-West. Haha. I will get the facts and get back to you. What I do remember, a guy, Daniel, from the Mid-West moved with his family and his life savings to Nice in 2015, to open a craft beer shop in Nice.  What???? In the middle of wine country?  It was inaugurated in July 2016, and has a selection of more that 400 local and international references, and contains a micro-brewery, making on the spot the beers of their mark called “Brasserie Bluee”.  And, he is doing quite well!! 

Since then, I have walked by Allez-HOPS many times, going to and from my physical  therapist.

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I have not stopped in because, as I said, I am a wine drinker. But, last week, I was having a couple of friends in for cocktails, and one drinks Duvel beer. So, I went to Allez-HOPS, bought 4 Duvel beers, 4 Duvel-type beer glasses, and got “delivered” home by Daniel because the package was heavy and I was walking.

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What a nice guy. He and his family live in Grasse, and he commutes every day. I am pulling for him and his shop.  

https://www.facebook.com/allezhops/