Alphie’s Choice

Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul’s Weight Watchers training comes in handy on book tour when he has to make Alphie’s Choice.

My Weight Watchers training helps me look svelte, and make smart choices! Photo by Jamie Beck

Weight Watchers was excellent training for book tour—and not just shedding pounds to make me look svelte in photos.  The program trained my brain to think in “points”—assigning numeric values to things.  And even though I haven’t actively been on Weight Watchers in a few years, I find my mind evaluating all of my choices when on tour in terms of a number.  One specific number: 15—the cost of an Alphabet City book.  Just like on Weight Watchers when I would ask myself if a food choice was, “Worth the points?”—every time I lay out cash on tour, I think, “Is it worth the book points?”

As a writer-preneur, it all comes down to how many units of Alphabet City I can move in order to cover costs.  A recent dilemma: $75/5 book points car transfer to JFK airport from home vs. $10/less than 1 book point Subway/Long Island RR/Airtrain.  Choice: Extra time on subway worth the 4 book points savings!

The point system has forced me to be strategic.  Take my current trip to Lubbock, Texas.  Rather than an easy connection through Dallas at cost of over 25 book points, I utilized JetBlue’s generous support of the Alphabet City Book Tour, flew to Austin, endured a long layover, and connected to cheaper Southwest Airlines flight for 10 book points round-trip.  To be fair, that decision was made easier by JetBlue’s non-stop service to Austin—one of my favorite routes from the airline—it definitely encourages me to visit the Lone Star capital more.  Getting to catch-up on all my trashy Bravo TV on board is an added bonus.  But saving all those points, made me feel okay about spending 2 book points on the upgrade to an exit row seat—for a 4 hour flight it’s worth the added stretch room for my ailing back (and unlike Continental, they keep folks from moving into the row without paying)!

Rental car in Lubbock: 5 book points per day for 2 days = total of 10 book points!  Yikes!  Priceline.com to the rescue—my accepted bid brought the price down to 4.6 book points for 2 days!  I had never used Priceline.com before and am now a convert.  My bid was even accepted by my preferred company National, and although I wasn’t in the system as an Emerald Member when I went to the counter, as soon as they punched in my i.d. it came up on the screen—scoring me an upgrade!  A good use of book points.

Just like Weight Watchers, I even bank points for future use.  On layover in Austin, I had lunch with my friend Valerie and the host of one of my book parties Tammy, who sweetly paid for my lunch.  Nice!  I saved 2 book points that I cashed in later when my flight to Lubbock was delayed and I needed to buy dinner.  The great thing about the Austin airport is that local choices abound—Salt Lick BBQ or Mexican Food?  Hey, I banked book points at lunch—I can have both!  I’ve started calling those excruciating false choices on the Alphabet City Book Tour—not Sophie’s—but Alphie’s Choice.

As of yet, no real Alphie’s Choices in Lubbock.  The Overton Hotel—a Westin-like hotel infused with Texas charm—is definitely worth the book points.  Especially since they hand out free copies of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal which has a terrific feature on me and the book tour today!  Hand down, it’s one of the best stories of the tour.   The writer William Kerns did a terrific interview, read the book, had great questions—a tremendous interview.  It gives me hope for American newspaper publishing!  Check it out here—the only thing you’ll miss from the online version is the subhead, “Straight women biggest buyers of the book, rather than gay men.”  Which is true—and I just love seeing it in big bold print.

In fact, I like the story so much, I think I’ll splurge a book point and bring home some extra copies.  At 75 cents each, I can get 20!  Totally worth the points.

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