19th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards

February 20, 2012

Last week was the perfect week to receive a nice Certificate and a long letter from Writer’s Digest to whom I sent my book for the Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Award around 8 month ago.  Why I am saying it was the perfect week is because I volunteered at the San Francisco Writers Conference http://www.sfwriters.org/ over the weekend from Feb.16 to Feb 19 2012 which is the event to visit in the quest to be a (successful) author. This was the first time I have participated in such a conference and it was impressive from the first to the last minute. The amount of useful information and endless Network opportunities every participant took home is nothing short but overwhelming. It will take weeks to digest every detail learned in the panel discussions or classroom sessions, but I guess this is the name of the game to grow into a shining star within the endless galaxy of unique talent and aspiring authors. The whole weekend was a great experience and I will do it again next year if I get the opportunity. Of course the Hotel already was an experience in itself with its glamour and comfort – inside as well as outside.

Back to the Writer’s Digest Annual Self-Published Book Award. Needless to say I didn’t receive the first price but I got a review and that itself made me already happy.

Judge’s commentary:

To Drink the Wild Air is purely and simply, a good read. The author has led a full and rich life, one that in many respects is out of the common path. In this book, she writes of it with “the final goal of entertaining and enlightening the reader,” a goal that she achieves. Her story progresses from her childhood in Germany to the present and is interspersed at key points with brief chapters titled “ Alaskan Journal”, written years later, at a time when she was reflecting on the experiences she has just chronicled or is about to cover.  A strong quality of this book is that you don’t have to be someone who especially likes motorcycle racing or who shares her other enthusiasms to enjoy it and to develop a good degree of respect and admiration for the writer. It’s also a pleasure to read so generous an autobiography, one that is not in a hurry to get from point to point but that explores in depth the writer’s experiences. Ms. Soyka writes candidly and she is also a person who reflects deeply about her life. All these qualities make To Drink the Wild Air a book that can be recommended to anyone who enjoys losing themselves in a good story. 


Press release – To Drink the Wild Air at Moto Shop

February 12, 2012

One of the First Female Motorcycle Racers Reads from Her Memoir April 14 in South San Francisco at Moto Shop

Motorcycles, Race DVD’s, Book Reading, Book signing, music, party 

On April 14, 2012, the author of the memoir To Drink the Wild Air:  One Woman’s Quest to Touch the Horizon and one of the first female motorcycle racers in her time, Birgit Soyka, will read from her book at Moto Shop in South San Francisco. From Female Road Warrior to Spreadsheet Jockey, To Drink the Wild Air chronicles one woman’s journey of adventure, freedom, and motorcycle racing to becoming a survivor of a subsequent corporate career burn out. The program is from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. with a social hour starting at 5pm. Moto Shop address: 325 South Maple Avenue #20 in South San Francisco.

San Francisco, CA, United States, February 13, 2012 – (PressReleasePoint) On April 14, 2012, the author of the memoir To Drink the Wild Air:  One Woman’s Quest to Touch the Horizon and one of the first female motorcycle racers in her time, Birgit Soyka, will read from her book at Moto Shop in South San Francisco.  From Female Road Warrior to Spreadsheet Jockey, To Drink the Wild Air chronicles one woman’s journey of adventure, freedom, and motorcycle racing to becoming a survivor of a subsequent corporate career burn out.

Few people live life on the edge the way Birgit has. She seizes life with both hands and eagerly anticipates the next big adventure. From sleeping on the hood of her car watching the stars twinkle across the desert night sky in Arizona to the shocking experience of being kidnapped and robbed in Mexico City, Birgit’s adventures gives readers a glimpse of her life racing along the twisting roads of untamed dreams. Audacious and honest with a healthy dose of humor, Birgit’s story is a reminder to live life to the fullest, to persevere no matter what the obstacles, and to always remain true to yourself.

Inspirational and entertaining, Birgit’s memoir recounts the journey from her wild motorcycle days in her homeland of Germany to the narrowing noose of career burnout in the United States, which left her with the question: Is this all life has to offer? It was also a wakeup call to reclaim the fearless spirit of her youth and to combine it with her sophisticated adult wisdom.

Birgit was the only female breaking into the male dominated sport of motorcycle racing in southern California, showing courage and determination to win a championship against all odds and encountering injuries, destitution, homelessness, and the threat of deportation along the way.

In 2011, 26 years later, Birgit rekindled her love affair with motorcycles when she bought a Honda CBR 600 and now feels the thrill, fascination and passion at a different age. She will compare the ‘then’ and ‘now’ of a female road racer’s psyche. The Moto Shop program is from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. with a social hour starting at 5p. m. at 325 South Maple Avenue #20 in South San Francisco, CA 94080.

http://BayAreaMotoShop.com.


Party, Cops and a Locksmith

February 5, 2012

Last week a Facebook message has worked its way to my absorbing eyeballs.

It read “To Drink the Wild Air Chapter 5, Page 90I was enjoying my life to the fullest, and I never, ever rejected an invitation to a good party.  Someone was reading my book and was challenging me.  Hey – it still is a valid statement – and so I spent my Saturday night at a happening, lively, gone viral party which was planned for around 25 people and 100 showed up. I don’t have to elaborate about a roof top party down town San Francisco on a warm winter night,  having drinks in front of an outdoor bonfire and cooling off with a swim in the swimming pool. For me the drinks yes – but swimming –  not my thing anymore.  Techno was blasting, a dance floor was created, free flow of chicken wings, good talks, cool people, the evening was splendid.

As a responsible citizen I decided to go home before 1 AM. The whole city was pumping with Techno music, one party after another, heavy down town traffic jams had to be conquered, especially on Mission Street.  Finally traffic was flowing, it was dark – I saw three dark creatures stepping in front of my car. Cops with a guy in hand cuffs. I slammed my breaks feeling a bright flashlight beam in my face. They had other problems I guessed and kept on going. Already half through the city it hit me like a ton of bricks   “Where is my damn phone “???? Well- it was not with me. I stopped the car- looked for the phone. Fancy people have two phones. Called myself – no ring tone. Phone was gone. Back to the party crossing down town again! Traffic jam, Cops, people in handcuffs and Techno music.

I re-traced all my steps and ended up at  our party again- it was 1. 30 AM. Found the phone under a chair where it slipped out of my pocket. Relieved I left the party a second time. Crossed the city a fourth time, arrived at my house at 2.15 AM. Now it became chili. Too cold for my short sleeves and light jacket. It was a good night  and satisfied with the evening I  put my key into the front door lock– key got stuck , didn’t move and broke !!! The door was closed.  Hmmmm- and now what?

I was sitting on my front steps thinking about Mexico when I forgot my keys one night in the office and had to spend the entire night in my car in front of my apartment building. That was summer in Mexico City and Juan brought some blankets – this is San Francisco in the winter and nobody brought any blankets.

Thank God I found my phone earlier because otherwise my perspectives for that night would have been more than bleak. A Hotel would have been the ultimate solution but preferably I really was interested to get into my own house.  Thanks to Blackberry and the Internet I found a 24 hour locksmith. I was sitting on the front steps for 30 minutes waiting for that guy and freezing my butt off. The moon was shining and the ocean breeze was palpable. 

At  2 AM the sleepy locksmith finally arrived. He put himself to work with a critical look on his face. Only solution was to drill out the lock and put in a new one. This took another 40 minutes. The bill and night service was stiff but it was the inevitable at that moment.  Another lesson for San Francisco. Never leave home  without a sweater !!!!!

Finally at 3 AM I crawled into bed. More than 2 hours after leaving a party only seven  miles from my house…..  So much to another eventful Saturday. It was a great night.


True friendship

January 30, 2012

Last Friday I received a phone call from an old friend I haven’t seen for 27 years!!   All I heard through the cell phone lines was:  “ I will be in  San Francisco !!!!!”

TWENTY  SEVEN (27) YEARS!! This is a damn long time, and hard to grasp that it was even possible to lose touch of each other for such a long time.  Just go to Chapter 9 of “To Drink the Wild Air” and read the story of The wingspan of a free spirit. The story contains adventure, compassion, friendship and an unforgettable road trip with my run down bike. Bernie, selflessly spent a night at the General County hospital in Los Angeles with me while some doctors butchered my highly damaged foot which only hours before was mangled in a motorcycle accident. There was no one else around. I was alone in a city without mercy. But one human, I hardly knew to that time, helped out and carried a big weight in the final outcome of this miserable situation and subsequently of the course of my whole life.

Now, 27 years later on a Saturday afternoon Bernie knocked on my door, I opened the door and we started  talking like it just was yesterday. We spent a beautiful weekend roaming the beautiful Bay Area and reminiscing from the first to the last minute of his stay. Luckily this trip included his 65th birthday.

Such instances make us very aware what real friendships are all about in oppose to our many Facebook friends we painstakingly maintain to be informed and to stay “cyber technically” connected. Fortunately an old organically grown and maintained friendship delivers proof enough that it is more worth throughout a life time to know a few people in depth than knowing thousands of people superficially.

The ultimate truth is that time is relative. Those 27 years seemed like they were compressed into 48 hours but once talking about the happenings of 27 years- time revealed its true nature and intention. Twenty seven years can also be a very very long time.  Our youthful faces have made room for the lines of the infrastructure of life experience, wisdom has conquered recklessness, we all need reading glasses, our thoughts are utterly structured and we are forced to listen to the requirement of our physical bodies. 27 years leave undeniable tracks on our psyche, physical bodies and our mind. This is the human condition. Everyone will experience the same sooner or later.

Bernie, my friend, I am glad we had the opportunity to celebrate your 65th birthday together. It was an honor, great pleasure and a lots of fun.


Books, Volunteers and Moto Shop

January 23, 2012

Last week I still had time to dream about Alaska when I came across a blog of two adventurous girls traveling the most northern state on their BMW motorcycles.  But more about Alaska later – right now let’s stick around the Bay Area were things are happening.

Yesterday was a wet and busy day. I took the bike to pro-actively attack the perpetual parking grid log in San Francisco and then continued down to South San Francisco to visit the open house event of the new Bay Area Moto Shop. Needless to say I arrived there pretty wet.

My first appointment was the volunteer meeting for the famous San Francisco Writers Conference  http://www.sfwriters.org/ scheduled for February 16 -19, 2012. I am privileged that I was accepted as a volunteer for those three days of discussing writing, publishing and Marketing. Over 100 industry speakers will share their experiences and offer services important for everyone interested to sharpen their trade. The place where Writers, agents and publishers celebrating Craft, Commerce and Community. Those four days of volunteering will be stressful but well worth my time. I am looking forward to create new connections, meet likeminded people and to get new ideas for 2012.   It took two hours to be informed about the duties of the 85 volunteers gathered in the California Room of the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. The meeting was followed by a Hotel tour which revealed nothing short of old San Franciscan style and beauty.

After that meeting I saddled my bike and went down south to the open door event of the Bay Area Moto Shop. http://www.bayareamotoshop.com/ . The place where every rider, biker or two wheel enthusiast can work on their bike or scooter and take classes to learn how to do it yourself.

I think this is a grand idea and I will take some classes to wipe away those cobwebs I have accumulated over the years to re-acquaint myself with ancient technology like carburetors, oil changes and other important maintenance issues. Well yes- carburetors are a thing of the past before fuel injection took over the bike world but we still deal with them in the older models. My bike is old!

I will be involved with the Moto Shop and we are planning to schedule a “To Drink the wild Air” event in April of 2012. It is still too early to talk about it but it will be posted plenty in advance.

Looks like I will be busy over the next months. Tomorrow we will be out on the road again. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and the sun can come out to play.


Dreaming of….

January 16, 2012

I went to wine country yesterday to savor the beauty of the lush landscapes cradling the many vineyards of northern California and its mild climate. I was sitting in the sun with a glass of wine and started to dream about the glaciers in Alaska. It was relaxing and soothing.  I still see the glaciers in my mind like it was just yesterday when I was up north to find peace for myself and I love to read the part in “To Drink the Wild Air” where I can re-live my experiences with pictures and sounds.

Its shape and blue-white color was of incomprehensible size and beauty, and only the privileged bald eagles with their enormous wings were able to land on the remote heights of the peaks, on top of the world between raw ice and the Universe. This mountain of ice seemed to soar endlessly into the air before my eyes, marrying the colors of the white-tipped crystals with the most beautiful and intense marine blue of this mighty sky, and continuing into the distance until it was stopped by the horizon. Each huge slab of ice breaking off the glacier created a rolling, crashing tidal wave that rocked any boat passing the glacier shore even within the safe distance of a quarter mile; and the bigger the piece of falling ice, the bigger the wave. 

It was absolutely stunning to watch nature at work like this. There was no silence in the presence of a glacier. The air was filled with sounds, sounds I had never heard before, quickly turning my initial awe into a deep reverence for nature while I listened to the symphony of the glacier’s orchestra playing its own creation of a masterpiece. Moving ice plates pushing against each other with raw force caused loud crackling noises interlaced with screeches and squeaks. The incredibly loud plop when one of the huge pieces slid gracefully into the water was followed seconds later by an immense echo that reverberated many times within the glacier’s core, the sound bouncing off the rocks on which the glacier had settled with the deafening volume of a thunderstorm. The glacier spoke to me and reflected, in its perfection, the sound of my own thoughts with the echo of many!


The call of the open road

January 10, 2012

Happy New Year!

The New Year has been creeping up on us. It is already January 10th of 2012 and we enjoy an extraordinary winter here in San Francisco. The last six weeks of warm weather definitely made up for the miserable summer we had in 2011.

Actually this is a very positive way to start the New Year and it will continue like that. After a very hectic Holiday season I finally can come to my senses again to see what’s on the itinerary for this year. To be honest I have not made any plans. No New Year’s resolutions or any firm goals. Things will happen when they are supposed to happen.

My life transition will continue full steam ahead, new people will come into my life and interesting opportunities will be presented. There will be some surprise events in 2012 I cannot talk about just yet and there will be new developments I never would have dreamed of. It is just a matter of going with the flow and to follow the music of my heart. Isn’t it great to just know that? Isn’t this what it means to live life to the fullest or experience every day like it would be your last?  With that in mind I closed shop yesterday and went on a beautiful Monday motorcycle ride. I followed the call of the open road and it was the most rewarding thing I could have done on any Monday.

The “To Drink the Wild Air “tour seems boring at times but great things need tedious preparation before they are come to blossom.

A successful transition is about the combination of a joyful and successful work life with a rich and rewarding personal life.  And once again I didn’t choose the easy route with self employment and the daily battle of survival. The art of being is to combine duty with peaceful existence!