Vestiges of a Mad Venture

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Michael Mayhew
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Vestiges of a Mad Venture

Postby Michael Mayhew » Thu May 14, 2009 9:47 pm

So. When I was in college I used to throw this party every Halloween. We would have a giant potluck - sort of like an early Thanksgiving - and then we would have another potluck - of stories.

The stories could be any genre and any topic. Only rules were that they had to be relatively short, and they had to relate to Halloween in some way, however tangential.

The first year we got three stories. By the sixth year we were getting fifteen or more and we actually had to make it by-invitation-only for the stories or we'd have been reading till dawn. But anyone could come and eat and listen.

A lot of the folks who came to these parties were working on creative careers in film and music and theatre. After a while, as they honed their skills in their own craft, they also got pretty good at writing Halloween stories.

After ten years I felt like I'd done what I set out to do with the parties, so we had one huge climactic gathering and then put the project to bed.

But we had all these stories. And some of them were actually scary, or funny, or sad, or just odd but in an interesting way.

So we started a small-press publishing company and made a book out of the very best stories.

We printed up a thousand hardbacks and another five-thousand trade paperbacks and we started hand-selling books all over the country. We got written up (pretty big feature articles) in a whole bunch of newspapers. We did radio performances in San Diego, San Francisco, a couple places in Oregon and a few phone interviews, too.

We won a couple awards for independent publishing. We got a lovely Charles deLint review in F&SF. We got spiffy blurbs from Larry Niven and Piers Anthony and Richard Matheson.

(we did not get a blurb from Harlan, who is very vocal about not giving them, but we tried anyway, and I got an incredibly sweet phone call from him, just a few minutes of kindness, wherin he praised the book's design and suggested that next time we should use colored endpapers as they cost about the same and can set the stage for the rest of the layout - you can bet that if I ever am in a position to design another book from the bottom up I will pay very close attention to the endpapers!)

(and I will never forget that small kindness - it meant the world)

We sold about 3,500 books. We kinda sorta mostly broke even.

We published a second book the next year. A science fiction novel by one of the authors from our Halloween collection. We got some good reviews for that one as well. We actually went to a second printing.

But we were slowly, steadily losing money. Sales just weren't big enough to cover expenses. Which was just awful because I'd accidentally discovered that I absolutely loved being a publisher. To this day it's the best job I ever had. Except for the money leak, I mean.

So we folded the company.

And we remaindered our inventory.

And that would be the end of my story.

Except... that two weeks ago my sister moved, and buried in her garage were several big boxes of returned paperbacks - books that had circled through a store, hadn't sold, and been sent back to us. What to do with them?

Giving them away seemed a good idea. I cruised by several libraries in the San Fernando Valley, Glendale and Pasadena and gave each a box of fifteen or twenty copies for their friends of the library store. I gave some to a used bookstore as well. And the funny thing is that those old hand-selling habits kicked right in. I couldn't resist pointing out to the library volunteers the book's many fine qualities, the awards, blah blah blah.

Which brings me, at long last, to the point. If any of you would like a fun little book of Halloween stories, only very mildly scuffed from its visit to the bookstore and back, you may have one for free. Near as I can figure the cost of postage and a padded envelope would come out to $3.50. If you're interested give me a shout and we'll work out the details.

MM

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Fri May 15, 2009 10:15 am

Hold still Mayhew, need to give you your forum tattoo: an elephant being jacked off by a donkey.

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Postby Moderator » Fri May 15, 2009 10:30 am

Put me down for one o them, if you please.

I've got the address...check's in the mail tomorrow

:wink:
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Fri May 15, 2009 10:37 am

Barber's tattoo is on his butt. haha.

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Postby Moderator » Fri May 15, 2009 10:44 am

FrankChurch wrote:Barber's tattoo is on his butt. haha.


Well.

You should know.



(Ooo, *snap*)
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

Michael Mayhew
Posts: 52
Joined: Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:39 pm
Location: Los Angeles

Postby Michael Mayhew » Fri May 15, 2009 2:28 pm

FrankChurch wrote:Hold still Mayhew, need to give you your forum tattoo: an elephant being jacked off by a donkey.


Frank, you're a class act. Always finding little ways to raise the level of discourse. I like that about you.

debbie
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Location: Columbia, SC

Book

Postby debbie » Fri May 15, 2009 2:30 pm

Michael, may I have one too, please?

Michael Mayhew
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Location: Los Angeles

Re: Book

Postby Michael Mayhew » Fri May 15, 2009 3:04 pm

debbie wrote:Michael, may I have one too, please?


Oh course! Anyone can have one. All I need is your address, and - if you live in the US - $3.50 to cover the padded envelope and postage.

If you have a Paypal account, that's the easiest way to get both to me. If not, let me know and we shall figure out other ways.

My Paypal account is mamjunk(at)ca.rr.com.

MM

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swp
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Re: Book

Postby swp » Fri May 15, 2009 3:21 pm

Michael Mayhew wrote:
debbie wrote:Michael, may I have one too, please?


Oh course! Anyone can have one. All I need is your address, and - if you live in the US - $3.50 to cover the padded envelope and postage.

If you have a Paypal account, that's the easiest way to get both to me. If not, let me know and we shall figure out other ways.

My Paypal account is mamjunk(at)ca.rr.com.

MM

Thanks for posting that. Money sent. Use the confirmed address.

swp

debbie
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Location: Columbia, SC

Book

Postby debbie » Mon May 18, 2009 2:59 pm

Michael,
You should have received my payment and my address by now. If not, please let me know. Thanks again!
Debbie

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Mon May 18, 2009 4:02 pm

Mayhew, aww shucks.

Michael Mayhew
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BOOKS AWAY!

Postby Michael Mayhew » Tue May 19, 2009 1:17 am

Stephen Perry and Douglas Harrison, your books are plodding towards you.

Debbie, yours is packed up and will go out tomorrow.

Steve B, yours will go out pretty darned soon as well.

MM

reddragon70
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Postby reddragon70 » Tue May 19, 2009 5:18 am

For some reason my house has become a halloween party site every year for about the last 5 years. Usually its a damned goog laugh. Lots of interesting costumes etc.

Last year was a bit of a wash out at the end. I fell down the stairs on my ass and broke my coxics (orwhatever it is.... that little tail bone that creationsts say isnt proof we're descended from apes). Now normally I'd go to the hospital but I elected not to, partly because I was very drunk on Jack Daniels and mostly because I was dressed up as Dr Zoidberg from Futurama. Head shaved, pink face paint all over my head and face and four fingers of a pink rubber glove stuck to my upper lip. Maybe I should have gone, it would have given me a most amusing story to tell instead of a very painful one ;)

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FinderDoug
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Re: Vestiges of a Mad Venture

Postby FinderDoug » Thu May 21, 2009 8:08 pm

Michael - I'd like one; PM with details of where to drop ducats? Danke!

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swp
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Re: Vestiges of a Mad Venture

Postby swp » Fri May 22, 2009 4:32 pm

Book received. One bent corner, doesn't smell like smoke, all pages crisp and legible. WELL WORTH THE COST!

Thanks MM.

swp
swp


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