Monday, November 10, 2008

Featured Author and Book

Photo credit: Perry Hagopian

About Christopher Paolini

Christopher Paolini was born on November 17, 1983 in Southern California. He has lived most of his life in Paradise Valley, Montana with his parents and younger sister, Angela. The tall, jagged Beartooth Mountains rise on one side of Paradise Valley. Snowcapped most of the year, they inspired the fantastic scenery in Eragon.

Christopher was homeschooled by his parents. As a child, he often wrote short stories and poems, made frequent trips to the library, and read widely. Some of his favorite books were Bruce Coville's Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, Frank Herbert's Dune, and Raymond E. Feist's Magician, as well as books by Anne McCaffrey, Jane Yolen, Brian Jacques, E.R. Eddison, David Eddings, and Ursula K. Le Guin.

The idea of Eragon began as the daydreams of a teen. Christopher’s love for the magic of stories led him to craft a novel that he would enjoy reading. The project began as a hobby, a personal challenge; he never intended it to be published. All the characters in Eragon are from Christopher's imagination except Angela the herbalist, who is loosely based on his sister.

Christopher was fifteen when he wrote the first draft of Eragon. He took a second year to revise the book and then gave it to his parents to read. The family decided to self-publish the book and spent a third year preparing the manuscript for publication: copyediting, proofreading, designing a cover, typesetting the manuscript, and creating marketing materials. During this time Christopher drew the map for Eragon, as well as the dragon eye for the book cover (that now appears inside the Knopf hardcover edition). The manuscript was sent to press and the first books arrived in November 2001. The Paolini family spent the next year promoting the book at libraries, bookstores, and schools in 2002 and early 2003.

In summer 2002, author Carl Hiaasen, whose stepson read a copy of the self-published book while on vacation in Montana, brought Eragon to the attention of his publisher, Alfred A. Knopf Books For Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. Michelle Frey, executive editor at Knopf, contacted Christopher and his family to ask if they might be interested in having Knopf publish Eragon. The answer was yes, and after another round of editing, Knopf published Eragon in August 2003.

After an extensive United States and United Kingdom tour for Eragon that lasted into 2004, Christopher began writing his second book, Eldest, which continues the adventures of Eragon and the dragon Saphira. Upon publication of Eldest in August 2005, Christopher toured extensively throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, France, and Italy.

In December 2006, Fox 2000 released the movie adaptation of Eragon in theaters around the world.

Early in 2007, as Christopher was writing Book Three, he realized that the plot and characters demanded more space than could fit in one volume and that a fourth book would be necessary to give each story element the attention it deserved. What began as the Inheritance trilogy became the Inheritance cycle. Book Three, Brisingr, will be published on September 20, 2008, and Book Four will complete the story that Christopher envisioned years ago when he first outlined the adventure.

Christopher is grateful to all his readers. He is especially heartened to hear that his books have inspired young people to read and to write stories of their own.

Once the Inheritance cycle is finished, Christopher plans to take a long vacation and ponder which of his many story ideas he will write next.

What is an auction?

There's something about that word that gets people's attention. You can almost see the raised eyebrows and the dollar signs in their eyes. It means they have an opportunity to buy quality products at fair and reasonable prices. It makes them anxious and excited.

What about when you hear the word "auction" – what do you think of? Does it conjure up the same images for you? Do you think "opportunity?" Do you think "rare and unusual items?"

Well, we are here to tell you that an auction is all of the above and more. In fact, an auction is not only the best and most exciting kind of "sale" it is also the most advantageous type of sale for both buyers and sellers. And through the years, it has become the sale of "choice" by many, many people throughout the country.

Auction Myths
How many of you have been to an auction? Well, for those of you who haven't, we want to dispel a couple of myths. Auctions are a CHOICE for today's buyers and sellers. They are not a "last option." Many people think that auctions are only held when someone has died or has had their property, such as their home or car, repossessed. The reasons for auctions are as varied as the materials and possessions sold there.

Another myth is that you have to be an "experienced" auction goer to buy and sell. Everyone is welcome and the staff are great about helping first timers to understand how auctions work, how to make a bid, etc. Understanding the chant is what some people find the most intimidating. Here's a tip: listen carefully to the caller for a while and get used to his chant method. If you stick around, at the end of the talk I will give you a sample of my chant and explain to you how it works.

Auction Method of Marketing
We refer to our method of selling as "The Auction Method of Marketing."This means much more than just making a sale. It means orchestrating a business transaction and entering into a commitment to meet the needs of both our client and our buyers. We take responsibility for the entire auction. We dedicate many long hours to prepare for and orchestrate the sale so that when that auction gavel falls, the outcome is positive for both the buyer and seller. Some of our responsibilities include:

  • Rendering appraisals on merchandise.
    We get to know your property. We use our expertise to look at all the items up for bid and assess their value.
  • Advertising the sale.
    It is part of our responsibility to ensure that people know about the auction, so we work hard to reach as many of them as possible through ads in the newspaper, fliers and posters and web site postings.
  • Repairing and cleaning up items for display.
    We want your goods to look the best they can so we spend time fixing them, polishing them up and displaying them so they will be appealing to bidders.
  • Keeping a financial record of items sold.
    We keep a log of items sold and their sale prices.
  • Cleaning up the site after the sale.
    When the sale is over, we help tidy up the auction location, picking up bidder numbers, debris and other items. We want to leave it as we found it before the sale.

Background on Auction Industry
I want to give a little background on the auction industry. It has a vast history that some say dates as far back at 500 B.C.

  • The term "auction" is derived from the Latin word "auctus," which means "increasing or gradual increase." Today the word as we have come to know it means a public sale of property to the highest bidder.
  • Rome is said to have been the first country to license auctioneers.
  • American auctions date back to the Pilgrims' arrival on America's Eastern Shores in the 1600s.
  • George Washington liked to attend auctions and is said to have selected all of the furnishings for Mt. Vernon through auctions.

The history of auctions is solid and substantial. Most everything has been sold by the auction method of marketing, including livestock, antiques, real estate, household items, business equipment, artwork, collector cars, electronics – I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

The Auctioneer
Auctioneering is a solid and reputable career. Today there are an estimated 30,000 auctioneers throughout the country.

Auctioneers are educated marketing professionals versed in their field. They are detail-oriented, technology savvy and leaders in their community. They just keep getting better at their trade and that's a plus for consumers.

Many auctioneers attend auction school to learn their trade, then become licensed in their profession.

Continuing education classes are another part of the auction business. Auctioneers attend classes to keep up on current trends and to learn new methods such as video auctioneering and live internet auctioneering. Some auctioneers take classes to earn specialized designations in fields such as real estate, personal property, agri-business, legal and more.

Referrals is a great way to find a good auctioneer, but a tried and true method is to look for auctioneers who are members of the National Auctioneers Association. NAA members are bound by a code of ethics that protects consumers against unfair auction practices, and they are privy to a wide range of educational materials and programming that help me to stay abreast of the latest developments in the industry. Just look for the NAA logo when looking for a trustworthy and professional auctioneer.

Benefits of Auctions
Now that we have given you some background on the auction industry, we want to talk with you about the advantages of using the auction method of marketing to buy and sell goods.

The best way for us to do this is to compare the auction method to other sales methods. How many of you have ever been to a garage sale or yard sale? How about a swap meet or open market sale? We're sure all of you have been to a community event or fair where there are a number of booths featuring items for sale. All of these sales are approaches people use to market and dispose of their property, and make some money.

When compared with auctions, these types of sales are not in the same ballpark. I'm not knocking these types of sales; they serve a purpose and are quite popular. But if you're looking for the best and most efficient way to sell your property, nothing compares to an auction.

Garage sales, swap meets and these other types of sales are very time-consuming for the seller (including the prep time, the time spent sitting and waiting for customers to come, etc.). Most of their marketing comes in the form of a cardboard sign stuck in the ground, and sometimes through a general ad that publicizes the event, but not always their particular items or booth. And when the sale is over, there are always a large number of items left. This is true, isn't it? How many of you have had a garage sale or yard sale, only to end up with half the items you had for sale back in your house? Or, you spend time and energy loading it all up in your car or truck and taking it down to the Goodwill store or local thrift store?

With an auction, the auctioneer and his or her staff take care of preparing items and estimating their fair market value. They professionally market the sale so that people from throughout the county, state, or even country will know about it. And they make it their job to create a competitive and entertaining atmosphere that attracts consumers to the sale. Their hand gestures, eye contact with the crowd and their rhythmic "chant" stirs buyers and brings the sale to life. Through auctions, sellers can obtain the highest possible price, dispose of all their property and receive money for their goods all in one day.

And buyers have the opportunity to "shop" for unique merchandise and pay the price they want in the spirit of competition. All of these things separate auctions from other types of sales.

If you have never been to an auction or sold goods through the auction method of marketing, you're missing out on expertise, value, excitement and fun. It's one of the oldest and most popular sales methods today.