Saturday, February 22, 2014

I Better Not Get Tongue-Tied in Tucson

            In the late 1970’s I had the incredible opportunity to hear Spanish author Camilo Jose Cela (1989 Nobel Prize in Literature) speak at Cornell University. I knew he would be signing copies of his books following the presentation and was prepared to tell him how much I had enjoyed his intense descriptions of the human condition. The line was long but I waited and waited with my copy of La Familia de Pascual Duarte in hand.

            Finally, when I met him face-to-face, I was tongue-tied. In Spanish and in English. And any other language for that matter. Completely and totally tongue-tied. All I could utter was Estimado Senor (esteemed gentleman…). He graciously signed my book and thanked me for my interest in his writing. I stumbled out of there feeling like a complete idiot. 

            It’s been a long time since the seventies but the Tucson Festival of Books is fast approaching and there are a number of award winning, highly renowned authors who will be conducting workshops and presentations. In between greeting visitors at my publisher’s booth (Two Cats Press) and hopefully signing the YA novels that I’ve written, I intend to meet C.J. Box, R.L. Stine, Lois Lowry,  Scott Turow, Jenn McKinlay and many others too numerous to mention. Unfortunately, the memory of my experience with Camilo Jose Cela has come back to haunt me. 

            I have nightmares of staring into the faces of these amazing authors and being unable to utter a sound. I envision myself wide-eyed and open mouthed yet unable to have actual words emanate from my tongue, lips and jaw. 

            “Don’t worry about it,” my husband said. “They’ll probably appreciate the fact that they won’t have to listen to you ramble on about something.”

            At first I was insulted, but then I gave it some serious thought and had to agree that he was right. After all, this Tucson book festival gets 100,000 visitors. Given the fact that these authors are really famous, they probably get an ear-full from readers. 

            “Think of it this way,” my husband went on, “now they have more time to hear about someone’s aunt who always wanted to be a writer or how the family dog chewed up one of their novels. You’ve just cleared the way for everyone else!”    

            I nodded. At least the pressure was off. I could simply smile and wait for my signed copy. Then again, I might actually be able to clear my throat and utter something deeply profound, sensitive and/or endearing. Who knows? The festival is a few weeks away and I’ve got lots of time to practice...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What's Up With These Technological Snafus and Don't They Know It's Making Me Lose Sleep?

            I keep telling myself that I managed to live quite decently before technology took over but that was before my world became computer driven. As a result, when something goes wrong, I go berserk. Why? Because I have no clue how to fix it and must rely on someone else’s expertise. This is a veritable nightmare for a control freak like me. No wonder I lost sleep this past week – everything went wrong!

            First, it started with my home alarm monitoring system. The battery in my key fob lost power. Not a big deal, one would think, but a MAJOR deal for the stupid computer voice on my touch screen that kept calling out “Zone Trouble! Zone Trouble!” I tried everything I could do to silence that voice. It was unbearable. I even tried reading the manual! That’s how desperate I was! No luck. I was forced to call the company and beg them to shut off the voice only to learn that I couldn’t do it without shutting off the system. Leave yourself wide open to burglars and killers or be driven insane by a repetitive computer robot. 

            “All you need to do is to replace the battery in the key fob, Mrs. Goldfarb.”

            Yeah, real easy. The batteries are special ones that are only sold in specific stores and the one nearest me was closed on Sunday when the system started its “Zone Trouble” chant. I did the next best thing. I turned up the volume on the TV. 

            The next day I raced to the store and had the battery replaced. I could finally relax over a cup of coffee with my web designer. Ha! That was just the beginning of technological torture. As soon as I walked into the coffee shop I was greeted with, “Do you know your website is down?” And . . . not just down – GONE! VANISHED! DEAD! 

            Someone had deleted my files and GO DADDY, who handles the domain, didn’t have a clue. I tried to remain calm when hearing, “There are worse things than having your website down.” I responded with “I can’t think of a one!”

            A few hours later, the website was restored but I wasn’t. I had just received word that the company handling the review for one of my novels had lost track of the data. Yep, lost. Gone. They would have to start all over again. 

            Cyberspace and clouds may be wonderful but if data evaporates like water in Arizona, forget it. Someone told me that astrologers believe it is because Mercury is in retrograde. I’m not sure what this is, but I’ll buy it! Anything to forget about technology for a while.