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Writer indignities and local comforts

This year as with every season, I aim my wallet and fire the Christmas budget in the direction of local businesses. Ho, ho, ho, did I just use the word, “budget?” Well, ‘tis the season to be jolly. We in the Rogue Valley have so many fine, local choices, it’s not hard to find your heart’s desire right here.

It’s early December and already I’ve enjoyed two delightful plays, C.S. Lewis’ “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” at Collaborative Theater Project in Medford, and Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Links” at Oregon Cabaret Theater in Ashland. Add to that a string of memorable meals at Jacksonville Inn in Jacksonville, Talon Grille in Eagle Point, Lark’s in Ashland, Tap and Vine in Medford, Gather in Talent, and Sugar Pine Café in Butte Falls. Where do I procure the payola to provide this parade of palatoglossal pleasure? That is an excellent question, which brings me ‘round to sharing a recent attempt at marketing my novel (insert “Stone Revival” plug here) using Facebook advertising in an attempt to earn funds. It left a sour taste in my mouth.

First off, let’s just be honest for once and say that I loathe and despise foisting myself on an unsuspecting public. Never mind that I make a habit of it here weekly. This is different.

I cobbled together a post, which took the better part of my morning, describing the book and inserting a photo of the cover and one of myself. Perhaps the latter was where I erred. I decided to “boost” it, expecting the investment to cause vast quantities of eyeballs to notice a fun, though quirky author, discover a fabulous gift idea, and foster an irrepressible urge to fork over dough. It didn’t take long to realize not everyone out there is my friend.

I had left the warm pool of my precious supporters and found myself in a quagmire of hate-powered orcs. I mean, some “people” are vicious, like wild boars. I wondered why. Ninety-plus strangers “liked” my post, but did I notice them? I counted 11 mad faces and had to know why.

I messaged Cindy, “Hi, I’m trying to advertise my new novel, and I noticed you and a few others put mad faces on my post. Can you tell me why?” I was sincere as all get out. No reply from Cindy. She probably had her hands full burning copies of “A Christmas Carol.”

A few took time to comment. One said, “Get a real job!” Of course, this was a sentiment I’d considered without her help. Another woman (they were all women) launched into a sermon about my going to hell if I sold the Gospel, especially on her page. Apparently, I’d entered the sanctity of her FB stream with a loaded weapon — literature.

I asked her whether she’d read what my book was about and assured her I was not trying to sell something that’s free for the asking. It’s bad enough receiving verbal and emoji-fied anger, but paying for the privilege was insufferable. I can get that for free, too.

One woman, limited in vocabulary and time, simply told me to @#%$ off, when a simple “Bah, humbug” would have sufficed. My head teemed with responses, none of which were likely to sell her a book. To delete and hold my head up.

Maybe I wasn’t focused enough with scattershot FB recipients. I learned how to select a more discerning group of book types and began reaping the harvest of non-negotiable “likes” and “loves,” if not sales.

I escaped to another time and enjoyed a local favorite from the Jacksonville Historical Society — the Beekman House in Jacksonville. Inside those 1870s hallways, Victorian Christmastide reigns. From the hanging mistletoe ball to the pickle ornament hiding in the tree branches. Christmas celebrations were different then. A few small gifts were placed amid the tree branches. Christmas Eve gatherings involved performances from the guests.

The worst I could be called would be disgraceful hornswoggler, which I could handle. Then I would take one of Mrs. Beekman’s sugar cookies as a sweet finale.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.