Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas shopping in Cuba

It is our last morning in Cuba and thought I would write a quick blog before the reality of regular life strikes back like a Star Wars sequel.

Though Christmas Eve is a mere two weeks away, it is the last thing on my mind; we have been completely sheltered from any sort of holiday spirit here at the Memories Flamenco resort in Cayo Coco. Our thoughts have been more focused on finding the best beach chairs, keeping the plastic beer cups full, avoiding sunburn and being sure to sample everything on the ample buffet spreads. As far as all-inclusive resorts go, this is probably the best one we have ever been to. The mathematics of how the tour operator and resort can be making any money eludes me. I just cannot understand how a family of four can be flown to the Caribbean, fed delicious food and unlimited drinks, and be catered on by armies of personal assistants for less than $2,500 for an entire week.

Saying all that, after a week of this routine I am always ready to go. It is nice to spoil yourself for a short time, but after a while the whole thing gets a little ridiculous. I have certainly caught up on my sleep – made it to 11:30 one night, but the rest of the evenings I was sleeping by 9:30 or earlier. Of course, I was then awake by 5:30 most days, which allowed me to sneak out of the room with a laptop, grab a coffee and do some early morning writing.

I brought a copy of my book along, and have been tempted several times to open it up and start looking for errors, but every time I tried, Ana slapped my hand.  And I am very thankful for that as I needed a break from it. The next phase of the project is to start selling the damn things instead of trying to perfect it! So far I have only really “released it” online and through Amazon and have not yet done any local marketing. There will be a couple boxes of printed books ready for me when I get home so will start my marketing efforts then and see where that takes me.

This is the time of the year when I start preparing for the annual Olson family review. It sounds dorky, but each year during the Christmas holidays I do a full set of financial statements, put a Powerpoint slide presentation together and we have a family meeting to review what we accomplished during the year, and then set goals for the following year.  We each set personal goals for areas such as health, fitness, education, and work, then together set family goals for travel and finances. I try to track every dollar we spend during the year so it’s always enlightening (and sometimes shocking) to see where all that money actually went. I may be accused of being a planning fanatic, but hey, if you don’t know where you are trying to get to, then how the hell can you even know if you are traveling in the right direction?

Ouch, just got a mosquito bite. Won’t be getting any of those in Ontario for the next few months!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

I've got a what?

I announced the release of The Found Vagabond last week.  Since then I've been simply trying to keep away from the thousands of reporters asking for interviews, the daytime talk show producers leaving dozens of voicemails, politicians and political leaders from around the world calling to congratulate me, and so on.  It is all really so tiring.

So, to escape all this embarrassing attention, we are headed for Cuba today for a week of sunshine, overeating, and probably a whole lot of scheming of what exactly to do with this book.

Primarily, I wrote the book because I think I have a pretty good story to tell and wanted to share my experiences with others in the hopes that they can benefit in some way.  But I also wrote it for myself...maybe just to see if I could do it.  I've always enjoyed writing, but I know that it is very tough for a writing career to pay the bills.  That is why writing is not my job.  At least not at the moment.  But that may change someday, when I move onto the next phase of my life, whatever that may be.

So for now, I just need to figure out how to promote my book, get a few people to buy it, start getting some feedback on what they think, then adjust my techniques for the next project.  I'm looking to my sister-in-law Carrie for some inspiration here - she has been an independent singer/songwriter for many years, and I'm sure has many tricks up her sleeve.  A book is very similar to a musical projects in many way - it is a creative endeavor, you put your whole heart and soul into it, some will like it, others will not, and your main job is to try and find an audience who will appreciate your creation and offer support.

So that's what I'm going to for the next week.  With a drink in one hand, a book in the other, sand on my feet, and a clear mind.  Like I write in the book, being away from your everyday routine allows you to step back, see things differently and think better.  So we will see what happens.

In the meantime...since internet is hard to come by in Cuba, I will be completely off line.  If you do contact me for any reason about the book, have no fear - you are not being ignored and I will respond to you as soon as I am home.