Monthly Archives: January 2009

Randy Ford Author-Get set for a good hard luck story

Wien (Vienna)

July, 1971

      Get set for a good hard luck story.   “Hard luck story” was an understatement.   By then a number of things compounded our problems: a gibbon, no money, and a telegraph strike back home.   It didn’t help that we were in a big city.   German which we didn’t know, studying it would later save us.

      But the city of Vienna, which was to become our home, had to be taken on foot.   We didn’t have enough money to ride the tram; we could’ve easily ended up without a place to stay.   Physically, we had to carry our suitcases between places; I would go ahead scouting for something, leaving Peg, gibbon, and our things in a park for hours at a time.   There was nothing else we could do, so to speak, after being evicted.

       We thought we were set in a hotel room until Peg started a job she had lined up.   The contacts she had made in her German class had paid off.   There had been more than luck involved in our job search and taking German was where we started.   We had not counted on the hotel manger suddenly telling us we had to move because “a tour group had the whole place booked up.”   Pleading our case, explaining we were on a tight budget, did no good, so we were forced to take the next cheapest thing available at about $1.20 more per night.   The increase was barely acceptable when we were quickly running out of money.   The value of the money we had increased accordingly, and I still planned to pay for my German lessons from the money we had left.   Then before we could unpack, an employee of our new hotel came up and told us they didn’t allow pets in their “house.”   We felt this was unfair.   Our problem with it was that they had seen the gibbon when we checked in and moving again would involve another long walk.

      The next place was more expensive ($4.80 per night) and an hour’s walk from our German lessons.   It really shot our budget.   We tried to move again, after a week, back to the cheaper hotel.  We checked out, walking all that way with our heavy bags.   (“You wouldn’t believe the distances we walk these days.   This ain’t no small town!”)   We should’ve known.   We didn’t see a problem coming: that they had a problem with the gibbon from the get-go.   We were desperate and didn’t see it.   We were desperate without enough food.   We had money back in the states, but we were desperate because we hadn’t counted on there being a damn telegraph strike.   With desperation came random folly.

Randy Ford

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Abingdon Theatre-Readings of new plays

UPCOMING READINGS
FIRST READINGS
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2 AT 7:00   The Lake Effect
by Jen Camp
Coordinated Nancy Opel,
OBIE Award-winner for her role in Abingdon’s My Deah

       The disappearance of a local teenage girl in suburban Cleveland has a profound affect on her community, particularly on a family who each struggle to understand their connection to her as well as to each other.   The Lake Effect is a play about family, friendship, Midwestern weather patterns and the places we’ll go to remain true to ourselves.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9
AT 7:00  

Italy
by Michele Fagin

       Garden benches and butcher knives meet budding lust and severed love in this sanguine romantic comedy.   Angela, a widowed movie producer, sees past William’s Bottom to the psychotic killer within.   As they find love on benches from L.A. to Florence, Angela’s daughter, Diana, misses her chance for romantic chemistry on the benches of Central Park.   All is saved by George, Angela’s brilliant, well-armed, and thoroughly intoxicated director.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12 AT 2:00  

Acting Out
by Charles Borkhuis

      In “Acting Out,” memories of what never happened start to eclipse what did as two middle-aged actors, Joseph and Alice, dredge up Joseph’s past infidelities and their teenage daughter Amy’s suicide.   When their son Jamie and his girlfriend Ali arrive unexpectedly, all four try to act as a normal, functioning family, but Joseph and Alice can’t stop acting out their unresolved sexual conflicts with the kids.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23 AT 7:00  

Engaging Shaw
by John Morogiello

     Engaging Shaw: He considered himself the superman.   She allowed him to believe it!   Wealthy heiress Charlotte Payne-Townshend sets her sights on confirmed bachelor and philanderer George Bernard Shaw in a comic battle of wits.   Can she romance an unromantic man?

FREE.  No reservations required.

All readings are held at the
Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex
312 W. 36th Street, 1st Floor
(Between 8th/9th Avenues)

 

NOT FREE, but a deal!

The York mega-hit returns.Limited engagement
January 21-March 8, 2009!!

Abingdon Theatre Patrons get $54.00 tickets (20% off the normal $67.50 tickets) using code ABING!

      Hailed by The New York Times as “FLAT-OUT HILARIOUS”, called “AN HONEST-TO-GOD MUSICAL COMEDY” by New York Magazine and declared “THE FUNNIEST TUNER TO HIT TOWN SINCE THE PRODUCERS” by the New York Post–ENTER LAUGHING is not to be missed!

       Based on the early life of comedian Carl Reiner and the hit play by Broadway master Joseph Stein, ENTER LAUGHING tells the hilarious story of a stage-struck, woman-struck teenager who blunders his way into manhood via showbiz.   With a delightful score by Stan Daniels (TAXI), book by Joseph Stein (FIDDLER ON THE ROOF), and a stellar cast and creative team headed by director Stuart Ross (FOREVER PLAID), ENTER LAUGHING is musical comedy at its best: a heartfelt, side-splitting laugh fest!

The York Theatre
in Saint Peters Church,
54th St. just East of
Lexington Ave

Tickets at 212.935.5820
or on line at
www.yorktheatre.org

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Randy Ford Author-on our earthy Peace Corps mentor

      He clearly did things to shock us, since he was supposed to have been our mentor and teacher.  Indeed, he brought himself down to our level by doing what he did.   He didn’t have to impress us; he was, at the time, someone who had gone to the Philippines before we did.   He had had a successful two-year stint there, precisely because he knew how communicate.   And he could relax and never worry about what people thought of him.   Instead, he went to the opposite extreme.   An observer had to hope he would show some restraint and wouldn’t totally destroy decorum.   And he didn’t really ever cross that line.   He would come close but never actually stick his finger up his nose.   Instead, he would place his finger beside his nose and, without saying a word, dare someone to make something of it.   It would be his way of humbling poor souls who fell for his act.

      Let’s call him Roger.   Someone very recognizable in his baseball cap.   All show, no!   Yes, he knew what he was doing, with convictions that matched, a particular passion for service, and an example of the very best that America had/has to offer.   And throughout the Peace Corps, there were/are many like him.

      The single-minded purpose of the veteran volunteer had been to teach.   Roger would never flinch when faced with something impossible.   (I wanted to use the word disgusting.)   A science teacher, he was always experimenting, in the same way he tinkered with our minds.   In a more subtle manner, he would listen to us and could anticipate our impulses, those when acted on shrinks were watching for.   The possibility of being deselected during those early days of Peace Corp training was always hanging over everyone’s head: one bad rating from a peer would do it.   Roger knew this better than we did; so it was good to have him around, doing things had we been him that would’ve led to our deselection.   How disheartening the long flight home from Hawaii would’ve been.

Randy Ford

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Arizona Daily Star-What the future holds for publishing

What the future holds

      Publishers Weekly Editor Sara Nelson said traditional publishing houses are taking self-publishing’s lead and are creating a new publishing model that fuses both.

      “At least one of the traditional houses, Harper Collins, is starting a (publishing) studio, which will work on a model somewhere between the traditional and the self-publisher: lower advances, higher royalties but with major help on promotion and distribution,” Nelson said in an e-mail interview.  “It sounds like kind of a hybrid and we may see other houses following suit.  Perseus (Books) already has something like this (Constellation).”

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Randy Ford-a writer and an adventurer matching his imagination with naivete

      As a writer, I have known a sense of insecurity: it was to know I would have to do something else to survive.   And inside me I held onto the belief that one-day I would be able to earn a living writing, when in the world and throughout history there were those who did that.   But I don’t think I believed enough in myself to do it.   New media, the development of the Internet for one, offer new opportunities, as well as my belief in practice.  Practice at least means improvement, and writing a blog has given me an opportunity to improve.   So the prospect of someday earning money from my writing lives on.   This, however, is not something that preoccupies me.

      Not someone who was focused on making money, I was a man satisfied, as a writer, with improving.   As long as there was something meaningful to do or some adventure, I could pursue writing without making money.   But writing was as close to being a necessity for me as anything else.   An excuse perhaps, but said with sincerity: fulfilling even without the attachment of money.

      To understand me, then, you would have to match my imagination with naivete.  It is also important to recognize that I have never been afraid to risk everything for an adrenaline high (it’s a good thing that I never took up alcohol or drugs).   So when I heard a British acquaintance in the Sulus (he later stayed with us in Manila) say he walked through Khyber Pass not once but twice, I visualized myself walking through it backwards.   To later drive through the pass was thrilling.   But bicycling through the jungle of Sumatra, with the tigers and the related experience of primitive fear, was my attempt at following my acquaintance’s footsteps (he hiked across Borneo)…though I couldn’t duplicate his adventures (you never can).   And, in spite of making very little money from my writing, I have few regrets about how I’ve lived my life.   And I’m still writing.

Randy Ford

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Arizona Daily Star-Self-publishing How do I sort out the rip-offs from the opportunities?

      How do I sort out the rip-offs from the opportunities?

      Do your research including checking with state, federal and local agencies to find out if the company has any bad business practice complaints.

      Contact authors who have published with the company.

      Comparison shop.

      Make sure you know all of the hidden fees in the fine print.  Sometimes a good deal is simply too good to be true once you add in all the extras for editing and layout services, the price per book, download fees and the royalituy split between you and the publisher. 

      Don’t sign away your rights.  “If you don’t sign away the rights, you always have the option to go with a major publishing house later.  It’s your book and you can do whatever you want with it,” advises Tucson native Trevor Umbreit, author of “THEY SHOULDA TOLD ME EARLIER,” which he self-published with Amazon.com affilate BookSurge Publishing in late 2007.

      Understand that in most cases, all the self-publisher will do for you is print/create your book.  Marketing and sales are on you.  “To reach major, large, general markets…you need to know how to promote the books, make sure it lands in the right place, in the right book stores, and elsewhere,” says Publishers Weekly Sara Nelson.

      Mark Levine’s “THE FINE ART OF SELF-PUBLISHING” (Bridgeway Books)- The author is lawyer specializing in contracts.  He also writes fiction.  His book examines 45 self-publishing companies, rating them as outstanding.  OK, and publishers to avoid.  Levine first published the book in 2006.  Last year he came out with the third edition.

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Poets & Writers, Inc.-Readings/Workshops program offers small grants

      Poets & Writers, Inc.’s Readings/Workshops program offers small grants for literary events in Tucson .   Applications are due a minimum of eight weeks in advance, so now is the perfect time to apply for spring events.   Organizations must apply for the grants on behalf of the writer(s) they are hosting.   However, many writers initiate events and the application process.   Guidelines and application forms can be downloaded from our website at www.pw.org/funding.

 

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