Two years ago, I had just completed writing the manuscript for Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges. At that time, I had no idea what would be involved with marketing. I had no idea the book would be so successful. I had no idea that I would be asked to speak here, there, and everywhere. I had no idea that because of the book, I would be considered somewhat of an authority on the coastal bridges. Writing Crossings has changed my life.
Because of the book, I’ve been asked to be a part of the celebration of the historic Arch bridge’s reopening celebration this weekend in Oregon City. This is the bridge that continues Hwy 43 across the Willamette River between Oregon City and West Linn. It’s a McCullough bridge built in 1922 and was one of the first to show his genius in bridge design. It has been closed since January 2011 and undergone a major renovation to the tune of $15.1 million.
I’m the lead-off speaker among a roster of speakers who are true experts about Oregon bridges—Chris Leedham has worked as a bridge designer for ODOT for the past 30 years and Robert W. Hadlow, the acknowledged expert on McCullough and his bridges, whom I quoted often in my book. This is the farthest away I’ve gone to give my PowerPoint presentation and to an audience that may be thinking of me more as an expert and where I won’t see familiar faces. I’ll be definitely stepping out of my comfort zone.
Speaking before a group with a PowerPoint presentation was itself a new experience just a year and a half ago. Those first few times, I was a nervous wreck. Now, because I’ve done it about 35 times since the first one at Port Hole Books in April 2011, I no longer fear speaking in front of a group or being interviewed on radio or TV.
Part of the reason is that I tend to over prepare. For every presentation, I hook everything up and practice with a timer and make small changes to fit individual audiences. For interviews, I try to anticipate questions and put important points on cards. So I’m usually super ready, and that helps give me confidence and allows me to enjoy the experience.
On another front, I’ve been out of my comfort zone since last May when I stepped into the role of chair person on the Florence Festival of Books. First of all, I wouldn’t be involved in the book fair if I wasn’t an author. So I blame this on Crossings too.
I was very comfortable last year as the co-chair with Connie Bradley providing the leadership and contacts and much of the decision making. I simply wrote the minutes, the press releases, the follow-up letters, and other communication and discussed every agenda item. We were a team. But when her husband became ill in May, I had to go it alone, I was glad I had her as a role model to follow and a terrific committee to work with. I kept thinking she would be back soon, that it was a temporary situation. Not so. Finally, she was able to attend the actual event, and she attended the evaluation meeting afterwards to fill us in on what has been happening since May. Her husband in on the mend. Much better!
Nowadays when I run errands around town, many more people know me. That’s because they have either seen or bought Crossings, been at one of my presentations, or were involved with or attended the Florence Festival of Books.
And now I’ve been able to turn much of what I learned in writing Crossings into a second book––both in the content and the how-to of putting a book together. In the first book, each step was a learning experience. It’s easier the second time around for both the publisher and me. It was publisher Bob Serra’s first book to publish besides the telephone book that he does each year.
This past week, I had a chance to reflect on just how much Crossings has changed my life, while I was staining my decks and painting my garage doors . . . . Quite a chain of events was begun when Dick Smith asked me to take his research and put it into a book back in 2007. Who knew!
TO BUY JUDY’S FIRST BOOK
Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges can be yours for $24.95 plus $4.99 shipping. Order from Pacific Publishing at http://www.connectflorence.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. It is also available on the coast in bookstores, museums, and gift shops; in Eugene at the airport, the historical museum, and several bookstores; in Portland at Powell’s and the Oregon Historical Society; in Made in Oregon stores throughout the state; and more and more bookstores, libraries, and museums in western Oregon. This book makes a good coffee-table book. With the holidays coming up, it would be an excellent gift.
JUDY’S SECOND BOOK DUE EARLY DECEMBER
The second book The CROSSINGS Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans––will cover 15 bridges and have at least one color and one historic photo for each one. The cost will be $10 + $3 shipping. This book will also be published through Pacific Publishing. This guide with its sturdy cover and spiral binding will travel well. When heading for the coast, don’t leave home without it.
The half-hour interview with Dr. Veronica Esagui for the “Author’s Forum” program on public access TV in the Portland Metro area ended it’s two-week run June 1-14, 2012, but can be seen on YouTube in two parts: Google Judy Fleagle YouTube.
October 13, 11 a.m., Historic Arch Bridge Reopening, Oregon City––The historic Arch Bridge designed by McCullough reopens in Oregon City on the weekend of October 13–14. I have been asked to be part of the festivities and will be giving my PowerPoint presentation at the Museum of the Oregon Territory on Saturday. The actual bridge reopening celebration will be on Sunday, and I’ll be there.
November 6, 5:30 p.m., PEO Meeting, private home––Twenty-minute talk on the book and the part it played in the 75th anniversary celebrations of 2011. Only open to PEO members.