Those Passionate Self-Publishers

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Books in the wild!

I always have a great time at the writer workshops I co-sponsor. (Well, not me personally. The Southern Breeze region of SCBWI technically is the sponsor. I’m just the smiling face up there, introducing the talented writers and illustrators and agents who come to share their wisdom. The awesome Gwinnett Public Library System is the other generous sponsor.) But the last workshop was especially fun because it was on self-publishing, and writers who go that route are especially passionate.

They have to be, if they hope to find success along that road.

In traditional publishing, you have publicity people behind you, getting your books out there to the public. Some houses do a lot; others do considerably less. Still, they get your book off to the right start so it can land in bookstores and libraries.

But those who go the indie route must start at the beginning of publishing and work very hard to get a book…well, anywhere. So self-publisher types tend to be real go-getters, and I love their enthusiasm. Heck, before the workshop was over, I was seriously considering that route for one of my books that hasn’t been picked up by a traditional publisher yet.

Anyway, during the workshop, talk eventually came around to promotion and getting your book out there. Maybe that’s what inspired me for today’s post at the Muffin, Paying It Forward the Write Way.

I think it’s pretty good advice whether you’re self-published or traditionally published. What do you think? Maybe I’ll have another workshop on your suggestions. (Well, not me personally. Ugh. You know what I mean.)

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The “If” Moments

horse-shoe-lucky-western-hoof-70085I came across an article in my paper this morning that brought to mind an old nursery rhyme, a favorite of mine:

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The earliest known written version of this rhyme appeared in 1390. 1390! So we’ve understood for a long, long time that our actions have consequences!

If the military had followed through and filed paperwork, if a sheriff had pursued charges of sexual assault, if information had gone to the proper authorities, then a man in Texas might never have been able to purchase weapons and twenty-six people might still be with us today. For want of a paper, a form, a charge…

We often think about that nursery rhyme in terms of how bad things can happen if we’re not careful, not attentive to taking care of the little things. But the smallest of our actions can just as readily have a positive impact.

If a teacher offers to stay after school to help a struggling student, if a cashier spends a few extra minutes to talk to the elderly widower shopping on Senior Discount Day, if you or I take a moment to write an encouraging note to a friend whose work has been rejected once again, then maybe a life will be changed for the better.

For want of a smile, a kind word, a listen…

Yep, our lives are filled with those “if” moments. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could make ’em good ones?

 

 

 

All Souls’ Day

Everyone knows about Halloween. But All Souls’ Day that follows two days later on the heels of Halloween? NoIMG_20170826_115208 (1)t so much.

You might be thinking, “Oh, yeah. I know that celebration. It’s the Day of the Dead. The sugar skulls, the picnics at the cemetery, the music, the painted faces.” It’s right there on Google today, for cryin’ out loud.

Nope, not the same thing.

Though there are connections in the dates celebrated, All Souls’ Day is primarily a Catholic feast day that’s about praying for the dead. In the Catholic tradition, souls must be in a perfect state, free from all sin, in order to enter heaven. And so most of us must go through a purification process, and it’s the prayers of the faithful here on earth who can help. We pray, and the souls wait in Purgatory in the hope to one day be with God.

When I was in Savannah this summer, I walked all around Bonaventure Cemetery one Saturday afternoon. Though my parents are buried there, and the Beneficent Mr. Hall right next to them, I don’t often spend time to visit other areas of the cemetery. But oh my goodness, it’s a beautiful cemetery!

I like to visit old cemeteries. Every tombstone tells a story, I think, and I like to stop and read those stories. The tombstone in the picture above is one of the oldest graves in the cemetery and I was struck by the inscription: Wait and Hope.

That’s just about the most perfect thought for All Souls’ Day.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen

If you’d like to read more about what Catholics believe (and the very interesting legend surrounding this feast day) you can go here.

And here’s a great article from National Geographic called Top 10 Things To Know About the Day of the Dead.

And if you want to take a little tour around Bonaventure Cemetery, here’s a great story from CBS News Sunday Morning. It’s not the same as walking among the tombstones dripping with Spanish moss, the salty breezes blowing at you from the bluff, but it’ll do.

 

 

 

Critique Group Nostalgia

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Yeah, I was looking for my Inklets pic, but Libs in her Howl O Weenie shirt is much cuter.

I’m sprinting into the finish line on my latest middle grade masterpiece and so I’m thinking of critique groups.

Specifically, I’m thinking of my once wonderful critique group, The Inklets. We met regularly and we wrote and we critiqued and…well, you never appreciate what you have until you don’t have it, right? When several members moved on, both literally and figuratively, we didn’t have a group anymore.

I tried another group, eventually, but it was such a trek to get to the meetings. And they met on Sunday afternoons which, if I’m being honest, conflicted horribly with my football watching. So I had to give them up. (I know. Football, right? But all work and no play makes Cathy a dull writer.)

Now, I have a group of writers I reach out to online when I have something that needs a look-see. And they’re great, but I miss that human contact of the critique group that meets in person: the bickering, the defensiveness, the sulking! But mostly, I miss the laughter and fun, so when I have an opportunity to meet up with writers, at a workshop, a conference, a book-signing, I try to go. I need that writer camaraderie, don’t you?

Anyway, that’s a long introduction to let you know about my post over at The Muffin today: On Taking Advice From Your Critique Group. I hope you find something of value there, and if you have something to share about your experience, I’d love to hear it!

Why Didn’t I Think of That?

pexels-photo-355952So I went to a writer’s workshop last night to hear Ruth Spiro’s journey–and oh my goodness, what an interesting story AND what fascinating board books she’s written for babies!–and she mentioned the Maker Movement.

Yeah, there’s a movement afoot for people who make things. They have Maker Faires and everything. And it’s not just for inventors. Nope, these faires are for artisans and tinkerers, designers and engineers. Pretty much if you make something, you’re a maker.

Call me crazy, but haven’t we always had makers? You know, people who come up with ideas and then make those ideas happen? We used to call them entrepreneurs or inventors. How is this a new trend? With their own magazine (cleverly titled, MAKE)?

Not a day goes by that I don’t make something, even if it’s just a sandwich. I mean, making is part of the human condition. We make our beds, we make plans, we make cookies, we make babies. And I’ve been pretty darn innovative in all of those activities at one time or another. I call it “making do” but if I’d thought to call it a movement, I might be rich by now.

And then I read in my morning paper about a new book on de-cluttering. It’s called The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, and it’s by Margareta Magnusson. It’s about the kind of cleaning one does late in life (or after a family member dies).

Basically, it’s the kind of cleaning I’ve been doing for the last year and a half. Except I just call it “cleaning up Mom and Dad’s stuff now that they’re gone.” I guess the bottom line here is that one should clean up one’s stuff before dying and save our kids the trouble later.

The problem with that is we’re still using our stuff. Or we do downsize and we try to get our kids to take the stuff we’re not using, like the silver or the china, but they either a. don’t have room for it because they prefer to live in super-expensive, urban, tiny spaces or b. they just don’t want it.

Anyway, that’s not really the point here. The point is, this slim book is apparently so popular it’s about to be published in America. And it’s a book about taking the time to basically throw away most of one’s stuff before one dies so one’s kids don’t have to do it.

Excuse me, but that’s been a time-honored and expected child’s and/or spouse’s job since…well, I guarantee that Cain and Abel argued about what to do with all their daddy’s loincloths. How is that a book now?

First the Maker Movement and now a book about the common sense practice of throwing away stuff. I don’t know whether I’m more annoyed about the craziness of it all–or that I didn’t think of it first.