Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Chinese years and me

Readers of my blog send all manner of interesting things my way. Recently I learned that 2007 is the year of the Fire Pig. What does that mean for me? Here is what one site says . . .

In 2007 your energy levels rise. Roosters spend less time at work, yet remain very productive. If you have been considering a change of career or company, this year will be favorable to make the move. Remember to balance your words and frank observations with diplomacy and tact to avoid hurt feelings. Changes will take place in your life during 2007 that will set the stage for future progress. Free yourself of anything that slows your progress or hinders your joy. "Remember to forget" - your happiness is before you, not behind you. A favorable year for reunions, family matters, surprise gatherings and even some intercontinental travel.

It does fit. I am spending less time at work because I'm spending time on my book, and that's productive. And the success of the book may certainly portend a change of career. Or maybe it's already changed, and I just don't know it.

Balancing my words . . . . I am always careful of that, and issues like the vaccine/autism controversy make me more sensitive to that than before.

Changes setting the stage for future progress . . . is this more books, or does it just mean I will vanquish the tree roots in the ditch digging efforts in my garden?

I do wonder about stuff like this. Those Chinese have been around a long time. A lot longer than us Americans.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Is New York Friendlier, or is it me?

Prior to writing Look Me in the Eye, I hardly ever went to New York. Now, as I move through the processes leading to release of my book, I find myself going there regularly. And one of the things I’ve noticed is that the New York I see today is very different from the New York I saw in years past.

Has the city changed, or is it me?

My first encounter with New York came in the mid 1970s when I worked for a local Western Massachusetts band. The guys in the band were doing a session at Studio Instrument Rentals, and we stayed – if my memory is correct - at the old Taft Hotel. It's either that, or we wanted to stay at the Taft, but it cost too much, and we stayed at a less expensive place down the street. Anyway, prior to that visit, I’d read about New York, and New Yorkers, as something to be wary of, and that visit confirmed my suspicions.

When we arrived at the hotel, Peter was surprised to find the rooms cost more than he expected. None of us had a credit card, and we didn’t have much cash, so we made our best deal and packed twelve of us into three rooms.

“Make sure you have your shit out of the room by eleven,” the clerk said as he handed over the keys. “And towels are available over there for twenty five cents each.” Fuck that, I thought. No towels for me.

We split up the rooms. In my room, two of us got the box spring, and two got the mattress on the floor. The rooms were sort of seedy, and the toilets in the men’s room were coin operated. It was clear from the smell that a dime was too much for some patrons, though. There was a brownish scum surrounding the drain in the cracked tile floor.

“Hey! There’s good money in pay toilets.” Never before had the shithouse appeared as a business opportunity.

Bare bulbs hung from the ceiling in spots, and as I got ready for bed, I heard a guy moving slowly down the hall, singing, “Acid. Reds. Speed. Get your acid here. Good Jamacian shit! Anything you want!. Anything at all!”

Well, I thought, he didn’t have anything I wanted. And what he didn’t have, the pimps in the lobby probably did. But I didn’t want that either. What I really wanted, at that moment, was to be back home.

I was sharing the box spring with Captain Vornado, a friend of the band. The mattress looked more comfortable, but there were roaches on the floor. I figured I was safer from critters, a foot off the ground.

The Captain was a short swarthy fellow, with a black motorcycle jacket and leather boots. As we got ready for bed, which for me consisted of taking off my shoes, the Captain withdrew a small pistol from his coat pocket. Placing the gun under his pillow and tossing his jacket on the floor, he said, “Shit, you never know what’ll come through the doorway in a place like this. Don’t make any sudden moves when I’m asleep.” And with that, he was out.

Somewhat worried, I drifted off to sleep. Wishing I had a gun, too, but having to content myself with a four-inch switchblade knife. I made sure the safety was on, so it wouldn’t snap and stab me in the leg. I nodded off to the intermittent sound of screams and thuds down the hall and the occasional siren, and the night passed uneventfully.

The next morning, I checked out the shower, but decided I was already cleaner than the shower stall. I let it slide and went downstairs in search of food. Across the street, the trash was still heaped from the night before. I walked across to check it out, but the smell kept me back.

I noticed one thing right away. The rats had no fear. Back home, rats – if you saw them at all – scattered as soon as a human moved into sight. Not here. These rats stood their ground, staring back at me with bared teeth. Son of a bitch, I thought. They’re all nasty here.

Seeing me and the rats, one of the guys offered some sage advice. “Just make sure everything you eat is cooked good,” he said. “And stay clear of dead ones. They have diseases.”

“Yeah. Thanks,” I said.

The fried eggs cost as much as a steak dinner back home. And then we walked across town to work. They say dogs can sense your fear. Well, people sense other things. That morning, I watched the panhandlers shake down passerby. “Hey buddy! Got some spare change for an old man?”

When the Captain and me walked by, they didn’t say anything. I guess they sensed our frugality. We reached our destination with no loss of funds.

And that’s what it was like for me, in the Big City thirty years ago.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Meet Cubby. I acquired him for $4,400 in hatchery fees way back in 1990, and just look at him now!!

This is Cubby.

You'll learn more about him when you read Look Me in the Eye.

He's in 11th grade, a good kid. A solid D student.

Doesn't drink or do drugs, as far as I know.

Doesn't do any useful work, either, though.

In this photo you can see him lined up with his friends, waiting for the limo they hired to take them to the Senior Prom. He's not a senior, but his friends are.

The more observant of you will note that there are eight girls and two guys. I looked at the other photos to see if there were some other guys hiding, but there were not.

I never went to a prom when I was young, because I dropped out of school and joined a band, and those of us in the band hung out in barrooms and sneered at high school kids.

Today, as an owner of such a kid, I'd rather he be here than in a bar like I was. I was a feral child though, and he is not.

The female next to him is Masha, his girlfriend. Masha's mother teaches Russian at Amherst College, and they live with Vikka, who is old.

Vikka and her husband were refugees from Stalin's gulags. They came here and he found work at Amherst College. Back home, he'd been a professor. Here, he was a college janitor.

Vikka went to school here, and became my friend Aaron's Russian teacher when he went to college, 30 years ago. She's retired now, but she brought Masha's mom here when the Soviet Union fell apart.

My friend Aaron subsequently went to work for the government, and then Radio Liberty, and helped bring about the fall of communist rule.

Anyway, one result of mom's arrival in the states was the later appearance of the girl who would become Cubby's date for this evening's prom.

As nice as he looks in these photos, you have just seen the good side. He is also vulgar, rude, and cannot clean his room. He seldom mows the lawn, and it's a fight to get him to take out the trash.


More of those dragonflies

Holly and Pat have this thing about dragonflies. They believe having them around brings them luck. I'm always dubious of claims like that because there is no logical basis for them, and there's no way to prove a vague concept like "additional luck."

They both have ideas. . . . they'd be dead, or enslaved in a harem in Yukistan, or plagued with disease and black flies. If it weren't for the dragonflies, they say, something terrible would already have happened.

I just don't know.

Knowing I am a skeptic, but wanting to work a dragonfly into my house anyway, they gave one to my mate. Those of you who have read my book know her as Martha, or Unit 2. Those of you who have not read my book should go to your favorite online retailer and order it, and in doing so, you will become a personal manifestation of the luck Pat and Holly allege the dragonfly will bring me.

I know a few of you readers may have doubts about the value of dragonflies. Recognizing that, you should be relieved to see that I also maintain access to a tame fortune teller - an authentic gypsy princess - and she alerts me in time to avoid the worst hazards.

There is a demon in the purple globe, also, if needed.

Another trip to New York

Thursday afternoon, I travelled to New York for a series of meetings. One of the meetings was with Crown's Director of Publicity, Christine Aronson. Christine and I are finalizing the plans for the appearances and readings when Look Me in the Eye goes on sale (September 25th.) I will be adding a calendart section to the blog and as soon as she confirms the dates from our meeting.

I've got a lot going on now, so I can't write too much, but I've got a few photos of the highlights of my trip.

Here is a view of my hotel, the Park Lane, seen from Central Park, which is right across the street. It's quite pretty in there, and in spots you could almost forget that it's all man made.

Indigenous fauna is visible most everywhere in the park. In my short visit, I saw several types of bird, a fish, two kinds of squirrel, and three species of rat.

There are many native trees, and ornamental flowers and bushes are everywhere. One noteworthy difference between the park and the woods back home is the almost total absence of hiding places among the vegetation. Presumably that is done to control predators.

This is a photo of me with three other authors after I lured them into the park. From the left are Kim Stagliano, Holly Kennedy, Pat Wood, and me.

Some of the apparent size difference between me and them is an optical illusion.

After expressing the belief that she was about to win at least twenty-four million dollars in the Powerball lottery, Holly bought all of us lunch at Mickey Mantle's, a famous restaurant across the street, on Central Park South.

I ate a small but tasty meat snack, garnished with mushroom bits.

My hotel is in a qiuet part of town, but Holly and Pat stayed at the Double Tree at Times Square, where it rocks all night long.

Here is the view on the ground outside their hotel at midnight.
Unlike the cars in my home town, the cars in New York do not stop for pedestrians, unless they lodge underneath and disable the vehicle. Great caution is required to take pictures in the street in the big city.

Many of New York's tall buildings are faced with reflective glass to prevent solar heat gain from overcoming the air conditioning systems.

One side effect of glass facing is that you can often see buildings reflected in other buildings, as shown in this photo.

Builders in New York have mastered the art of securing huge, heavy sheets of glass with glue and pins. Those of you who have struggled to hang a sheet of mirror glass in your bathroom should be able to appreciate the magnitude of this accomplishment. Many of these sheets weigh several hundred pounds, and they must remain affixed to the buildings through extremes of hot and cold, and wind, snow, and rain.

I will have more to say, and it will be backed up with pictorial evidence.

Check back shortly.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Scenes from a Father's Day weekend

What did you do this Father's Day weekend?

Where did you go?

Here are a few things I saw . . . .

An old Ford street rod at the Newport Auto Show

Here's a stone wall and a meadow in the Berkshires

Here's a Corvette, a winner at Newport

As families everywhere get ready to celebrate, it's just another day for this Canadian Pacific train crew, pulling sixty-some cars up the Berkshire grade.

Dromedaries, with little desire to celebrate a foolish human holiday, watch quietly.

And the fishing boats ride at anchor for the weekend

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Words weren't enough. Some of you wanted pictures

Here's a link to a collection of my photos of carnivals and musicians and other things.

This particular photo is a friend's kid in the ball room at the Eastern States Exposition, 2001

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I am Tagged

I have been tagged by Drama Mama. I think that means I have to come up with obscure tidbits about myself in answer to her own tidbits. So here they are.

1 I too was in a play, back in Junior High School - West Side Story. I ran the lights. The lights were operated from a panel that was bigger than me, with huge levers the you swung up to brighten each bank of lights. This was before the age of solid state light dimmers. This was also before the age of intercoms, so the kid running the follow spot was just out there, on his own, with a script.

2 Unlike some of my fellow students, I never got drunk and wrestled girls. I did wrestle some guys in Mr. Crowley's gym class, but I was never very good at it. We called Mr. Crowley "Old One Ball," but I never knew if it was in fact true that the other one had been shot off in the Korean War, or if it was just a kid legend.

3 I was always thin as a child, and I was not put on a diet until I got hooked up with this wise-ass trainer who continues to criticize my penchant for cake and treats.

4 I have played at a few reputable and famous theatres. The Schubert in Chicago. The Palladium in New York. The Orpheum in Boston. I'll tell you a secret . . . these glamorous theatres are just grey, dank, places in the hard light of day. That's why the windows are all blacked out, to conceal the truth. It is very hard to admit sunlight into any of those facilities. When the performance is on, it can be hard to move around, too, because the management hires thugs to restrict access to certain areas. In one of the theatres, back in 1978, it proved necessary for me to handcuff an overly excited member of a local motorcycle club to a pipe in order to go through a door he was blocking, and in the confusion of the show, I forgot and left him there. He became very angry, but the Smith and Wesson cuffs were strong, and so was the pipe. I gave the key to one of my associates, who released him uneventfully later that night.

5 I am six feet four, and I have always felt tall. I have, on occasion, associated myself with very short people, and the contrast may have struck passerby as funny or even ridiculous. However, my large size and serious demeanor always dissuaded people from making disparaging comments, and nothing ever came of it.

6 Unlike Drama Mama, I do not have a fish phobia. However, I do not eat snake, snails, slugs, or chocolate dipped insects. In the past, I have known other people with fish phobias, and they ate some pretty strange things.

I do not have the skills to cook food in an attractive manner, but I am a very talented EATER. A person like me, with a gift for eating, will do very well to align himself with another person whose particular skill is cooking. I wish I could say that I've accomplished that, but sadly, I have not. My mate has many skills but world class cooking is not among them. She is a talented graphic artist, and you can see evidence of her work in my websites, but you can't eat them.

7 I do not own any lipstick. In fact, I do not own any makeup of any kind. Reading Drama Mama's post, it is clear that some people treat the exterior of their bodies with a staggering variety of chemical compounds. I do not. I apply sparing quantities of soap, shampoo, and underarm deodorant. That's pretty much it.

I do wash daily, to prevent the accumulation of filth. I also wash to deter the growth of pests and parasites. For the most part, I am successful.

8 I do not kickbox at all, nor do I fence. I try - and usually succeed - in avoiding physical combat. When I do have to fight, though, I believe my safety is enhanced by bringing the battle to my opponents when they are at a distance. To that end, when I was a teenager, my friend Jim and I made a catapult that could throw a brick or an old starter (scavenged from the junkyard) for a full quarter-mile.

A Ford starter had enough momentum to penetrate the roof of a home, and shell an opponent within. Imagine Young Thugwald's surprise when a greasy car part smashed though his ceiling and collapsed his dining table as he sat with his parents, eating dinner. A strong deterrent, indeed.

And we will not even speak of Better Living Through Chemistry, or Experiments With Electricity.

As if that wasn't enough . . . I will offer two entirely new tidbits, neither of which is in response to Drama Mama's list:

9 I have a garden around my house, with over 500 perennial plants and shrubs that I have personally planted and maintained. In addition to shrubs, I have also planted a number of trees. I also grow several acres of grass, some of which is lawn and some of which is meadow. I grow all my plants organically, without the use of chemical poisons. All my wood chips are made right here, by grinding up branches and dead trees. And I use bio diesel fuel in my tractor.

10 You may be surprised to read that I have a secret life as a photographer, and in a locked closet of my home, I keep some cameras.

OK, now I will tag some people:




Friday, June 8, 2007

Last night's appearance at Lifespire in New York

Last night I appeared at Lifespire’s Writers on Autism event at the Empire State Building in New York. Barbara Fischkin, a writer with an autistic son, organized the event and invited us. I read from the prologue to Look Me in the Eye, and answered questions. Other authors included:

* Kim Stagliano, who has written a novel based upon her hopes and dreams, and real life with three autistic girls. I expect her book will be published late in 2008. She read her essay "Crapisode," which gives autistic people who are less impaired – like me – pause for thought.

* Sheila Kohler, a New York City novelist, read a real-life tale about being the parent of a disabled young woman. Sheila Kohler's latest novel is Bluebird, The Invention of Happiness.

* Landon J. Napoleon read from his novel ZigZag.

* Michele Pierce Burns, a writer who is possessed of an almost unnatural level of joy at her child’s existence, read from her forthcoming book, I Love Everything About You. The best way for me to describe her condition is to say it’s the extreme opposite of depression, and it provided a welcome relief.

* Michele Iallonardi, a mother of three boys with autism and a journalist who has written for The Autism Perspective (TAP) magazine, Autism Spectrum Quarterly and Exceptional Parent. She was also in Autism Every Day.

* Rachel Kaplan appeared with her mother, a teacher. Rachel is a student at Hofstra University, who has autism and is traditionally nonverbal. As a graduate of Locust Valley High School on Long Island she won a coveted writing award and, as an acknowledged pioneer in the practice of facilitated communication, she now types independently

* Barbara read a passage about her son, Dan in the World: One of the First Victims of the Autism Epidemic Grows Up, Moves On and Moves Out.

After the readings, we had questions from the audience, many of which were directed at me. As I meet more autistic people and their families I realize what a remarkable thing it is that I am affected enough by Asperger’s to feel, exhibit, and understand many classic behaviors but I am “normal” enough that I can express those feelings through my writing and speech.

I hope the insights into my own thoughts and feelings prove relevant and useful to those in attendance, dealing with autism in their own families and lives. For me, the high point of the event came at the end, when Barbara’s autistic son Dan came over and shook my hand.

I’m writing this from my hotel room in New York. In a few minutes, we’ll start driving home to Massachusetts, back to my world of machines. We are travelling today in a BMW 540 that we rebuilt in my shop after it was abandoned by a former owner who experienced three transmission failures in a row. When I got the car, I discovered the reason the transmission had failed repeatedly: whomever replaced it the first time installed the wrong one, and the subsequent replacement was wrong too.

Now that the correct parts are back in the car, and its other issues have been addressed, it drives like new.

There is a parallel between the world of autism and the world of car repair. The biggest problems for both come from lack of knowledge, or well-meaning actions based upon wrong “knowledge.” I hope that further study of highly functional autistic minds like Daniel Tammet’s, Temple Grandin’s, and mine will provide insight and a basis for better decisions in the future. As more HF autistics come forward, such a result seems inevitable and it can’t come soon enough for all the affected families out there.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

We will pause for a brief commercial break

Those of you who’ve read advance copies of Look Me in the Eye have met my friend, TR Rosenberg. TR is the therapist who introduced me to Asperger’s ten years ago, and started me on the journey that led to where I am today, speaking (this morning, via Internet) with all of you.

In response to my insistent jabbing, and fortified by the limoncellos we drank last night, he has joined the blog community. However, he’s never done anything like this before, and he’s a little anxious. If you have a moment, visit his blog at

Encourage him, if you want. He’s basically nice.

He’s remarkably insightful, and has a great gift for working with teenagers and young adults.

The search for the blurb

One of the things writers seek are BLURBS.

A blurb is a one-paragraph comment about your book, usually from another writer. My editor sent copies of my book to a number of well-known authors, several of whom are prominent in the autism community.

The responses have started trickling back in.

Haven Kimmel - author of the Girl Named Zippy books - loved Look Me in the Eye. She sent a wonderful blurb. You can see it - and even read it, if you want - with the description of my book on Amazon.

Some of Haven’s best-known books are about growing up in a small town in Indiana. There’s quite a contrast between her stories and mine. But we have one thing in common. We both love farm machinery. And we can both operate tractors.

Pat Wood – author of Lottery, a book that’s going to be big this summer – also loved my book, and she too sent a blurb. Pat and I actually exchanged blurbs in an authorial exchange ceremony, much as tribal chiefs exchanged pigs and cattle in years past.

Prior to her asking, it had not occurred that people might want blurbs from me, but I guess that’s what happens when you write a book.

Yesterday, Temple Grandin – author of Thinking in Pictures and Animals in Translation – sent me a blurb for my book. She liked the book a lot, and we actually talked about our lives, our books, autism, and our non-writing careers for several hours last night.

All three of those writers have written remarkable books themselves. Each saw something different in my story. The experience has given me a glimpse of the incredibly wide range of things people can extract from a single simple story.

It’s sort of like looking at the list of all the products that chemists can get from coal, I suppose. Just more environmentally friendly. And if a kid eats my book, it’s surely less harmful to him than eating a similar quantity of coal would be.

As a child, I never ate coal. But I did eat lead paint, and I also sniffed bus exhaust. Despite my mother’s warnings, I liked both, and I suppose that’s one of the reasons I’m like I am today.

Speaking of “like I am” . . . . I have become more sensitized to the way I am by the process of writing my book, and people’s reactions to it. One of the things I recently learned is that I speak a little differently than “normal” people. I pause in unexpected places, and I emphasize strange words. Last night, listening to Temple, I realized . . . she speaks just like me! The differences people pointed out in my speech were all apparent to me, in hers. Do we Aspergians have a characteristic pattern of speech? Perhaps we do . . .

That’s an example of what the recent books by autistic and Aspergian people are helping us to discover . . .

Other people – most of whom are unknown to me – are reading and reviewing my book right now. In the past two days, I’ve gotten calls from several book store owners who loved Look Me in the Eye. They called to tell me they are sending reviews of my book to BookSense, a trade group for independent booksellers.

It’s all a remarkable experience.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

How the process of writing a book changed this Aspergian

I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear me say that writing Look Me in the Eye increased my self-awareness. I’d like to tell you how some of that came about.

First, the process of book editing has given me many valuable insights into myself and Aspergian thinking. When we edited the book, Rachel Klayman, my editor – who is not Aspergian - read every word and sent me careful notes about every little detail.

Rachel’s notes covered a wide range of things:

“I don’t think a person would actually say that” . . . and yet, I did and do say it that way. The fact that she picked it up, though, gave me pause to think . . . what do other people make of me when I say things like that in the course of conversation?

“Why do you say this” . . . To me, the answer was obvious. Once again, I realized that she had pointed out a conversational “error of omission” that I make all the time, without even noticing. And she pointed out MANY such examples.

In many cases, she changed the order of whole paragraphs, and I saw that the revised order seemed more correct, and yet, the original order seemed right when I wrote it. Do I think in a different order from her? Maybe so. Her detailed comments showed me how different my mind is in some ways, and how very much alike it is in others.

She also picked up countless repetitions, and I feel sure I do the same thing when speaking, without even knowing.

She’d circle lines with little notes . . . “this is really funny” . . . “this is poignant” . . . “I like this a lot.” I would look at those little comments and think, Hmmmmmmmm . . . it is?

You see, I never knew exactly what was what with my stories. I’ve always known people like to hear me tell stories, but I never got a word-by-word explanation of why. When I read my words, they are flat to me. I don’t read something in my book and say, that’s funny! But now that I know what she sees as funny – and she’s a professional with years of evaluating such things for the public eye – I can analyze her comments and make my new writing funnier, sad, or whatever I want.

Of course, I’m still Aspergian, so we’re talking subtle adjustment here . . . maybe 11-14% funnier, not “rolling in the aisles laughing and kicking the guy next to you” kind of funny. Same for sadder or more poignant.

Prior to writing and then editing Look Me in the Eye, all my interaction with people (like 99.9% of society) was through normal conversation or letters. Like everyone, I made many mistakes when choosing and forming my words. Listeners and readers thought I was rude, a jerk, inconsiderate, and a whole host of other nasty things. And I never really knew why. Once I knew about Asperger’s, I knew WHY in a general sense, but I still made mistakes. The process of book editing has been like a concentrated course in how to talk and write so that won’t happen.

Rachel’s back and forth notes and word by word highlighting of my writing has given me a unique window into my thought process, one that's written and I can now refer back to.

Temple Grandin has written about becoming normal, and I can see why. If it write five more books, you might not even recognize me as an Aspergian at all. And if I can “normalize and train” myself at this age, what about the possibilities for younger people?

I do not know exactly how I will use that newfound knowledge but I am sure it will appear in some form in a next book. Is there a process like book editing that a young Aspergian could be exposed to for purpose of self discovery? I don't know . . . perhaps the idea leads to a new concept in special ed teaching.

I learned something else from my performance signing books at the BEA. Overall, I thought that went well. I signed box after box of books. There was quite a considerable demand for them, and most folks I signed books for had something to say connecting themselves to the story. I felt really good about that.

When I went back to the motel and looked at photos of myself signing books, though, I was surprised. To me, I looked mad. But I knew I wasn’t mad. I was excited and happy. Well, I sure didn’t look that way! I do not seem to display any expression at all in most of the photos. My ex-wife says, "you never moved the muscles in your face." Perhaps she's right – how do “normal” kids learn that?.

Just as I have taught myself to look at other people, I need to teach myself to show expressions that are appropriate to how I feel. It's an obvious thing, now that I type it. I do it sometimes – I do smile, but people often say it’s rare.

Now that I see this, I think of what people say about me. I often hear comments like, “Nothing bothers you! You’re always the same!” And now I wonder . . . is that really true, or is it just that they can’t see it? Perhaps it’s both . . . I think more logically than most people, and I don’t show what I’m feeling most of the time.

Should I work to change that? Can I? I don’t know.

I think the lack of expression in my book signing photos may be related to what I wrote about looking people in the eye in my book. Maybe I can smile and nod as standalone tasks, but talking, looking at faces, listening to folks, and writing all at the same time are too much. That may be, but I am sure it's a limitation I can quickly overcome now that I see it in the record of the show.

All in all, I'm very proud of what Rachel and I accomplished. I know my family is impressed, too. It's a shame my father and grandparents are not here to see us, too.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Vote for my book!!

Publisher's Marketplace has a page where people vote for their favorite new books among the galleys being given out at BEA. Vote for mine!!

You have to sign up with the Squidoo voting site but it's fast and easy and all right there.

Today, at the BEA

Here are the Crown and Random House Audio booths. Random House has a large ares right in the middle of the show floor. The different RH publishers are arrayed on the sides.

This is Amy Metsch, Edirorial director of Random House Audio. She's the one who acquired my book for audio production.
Look down two posts to meet Orli, who's producing Lookk Me in the Eye on audio.
Here I am signing books in the book this afternoon. I signed box after box of books. The turnout was amazing. It seemed like everyone who came up had something to say, and was looking forward to reading the book.
I was thrilled at the reaction.

Here's Pat Wood's book, Lottery. It's being modeled by three Putnam sales folks. I recommend this book - if you have not preordered it yet, do so now!

Meet my brother's publicist, Tanya Farrell. This is another book you should order - Possible Side Effects. It's available online and in bookstores now.
Tanya and Christine Aronson (my publicist) are setting up joint readings for this fall. We've got one festival lined up now, for November 2. We'll announce a schedule soon.

Lunch at Crown

This first shot shows what it's like in downtown Manhattan, 24 hours a day. Constant action.

Here is Christopher Schelling - my literary agent - and me in front of the wall of books in the Random House lobby.

As a child, I read the old Random House books - I can still remember the chill I felt reading The Willows in Bennet Cerf's Ghost Stories. I never dreamed I'd be a Random House author myself one day.

This Rachel Klayman, one of Crown's top editors and the person who did the most (besides me) to make my book what it is today.

I had invited the editorial team to lunch, but they actually took me to lunch, in one of the Random House corporate dining rooms.
There are whole floors in that building devoted to food. Remarkable. It's like a fine restaurant, menus, waiters, and even fresh ice tea.

Here we all are lined up. Steve Ross, Crown's publisher, is holding my book. I gave everyone Free Range Aspergian caps. I had been reserving those caps for the first folks who pre-ordered signed copies of my book, but I made an exception for them.

Now, this is just beyond words. They baked a cake with the cover of my book on the frosting.
And we ate it.

A visit to Random House Audio

This is Orli Moscowitz, who's the Executive Producer for the audio versions of Look Me in the Eye.
For those of you that are interested in publishing, here are a few things I learned on my visit:
Random House as a whole publishes several thousand print book titles every year. Most are not made into audio books. The audio book market as a whole is small; it's said to be 8-10% of the print market, so many good print books just are not commercially viable as audio.
The acquiring editor (not pictured) for Random House Audio looks at the catalogs for all the in-house imprints, and also new books from outside publishers. They then choose their targets and acquire audio rights from the print publisher.
Once RH Audio has a book, their Executive Producers choose the books they'd like to do, and Orli chose mine. A Google search on her name will reveal a long list of big titles she's produced. She's won wide acclaim for Harry Potter; I'll leave it to the rest of you to search out her other books and puzzle out why she would choose my story.
Orli will oversee the whole audio process, building upon the work of Rachel Klayman, my print editor. Her first job is making an audio book script from the book. We have a time target to hit - six hours, I think - which will require some cutting and trimming. Orli and I go over that together. Then, she'll assign an in-studio producer who will be my audience-of-one and coach in the studio. I'll actually record the audio at a studio on 9th Avenue here in New York, at the end of June or early in July.
In addition, a professional reader will go into a California studio and record an unabridged book for the library market. So two versions of my audio book will exist, with the one I read being the one sold to the public.
And actually,there may be even more versions. Ebury - my British publisher - could decide to use the RH Audio version, or they could decide to make their own, in which case I might well repeat this whole process in a London studio next year.
After the recording is done, they edit it and make masters. The book will go on sale in CD, cassette, and audio download forms all at once this September.
In addition to audio production, RH Audio does the large print versions of books. If the market calls for a large print edition of Look me in the Eye, they will undertake a whole new editing and production process to create that.
So every version of the book differs in subtle ways. Before embarking on this journey, I never knew that.
And that's today's story on audio books. Thank you for stopping by.