Doing less, being more

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Barbara downstairs

The pandemic taught us that we’re all caregivers, for ourselves and each other. However, I was thrust into the role several years ago, when my mother-in-law’s descent into dementia accelerated.

Today as we celebrate her 95th birthday, it seems like a good time to reflect on the lessons this retired school teacher has imparted to our family. I learned that care giving is an act which nurtures our best traits while healing our worst. She has taught me that communication involves more listening than speaking.

At its best, care giving is not a fight. It’s a practice…that never ends. It is not political and it transcends skin color, nationality, wealth, gender, and age. Care giving should not destroy, since discarding the flawed would mean discarding all of us. Finally, caring for someone often means doing less, but being more.

I realize that many of the kindest gestures we’ll ever make, and the most important things we’ll ever do, won’t come easy and will never be seen publicly.

Let’s do them anyway.

 

 

 

 

Award-winning author Renee Garrison has completed her second novel, “Anchored Together,” which will be released in the fall.

Renee interviews author Diane Harper

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Author Diane

 Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.

I was born and raised in the small historic town of Lockport, New York. I lived and worked in the area for twenty-three years until I began my career as a flight attendant for a major airline. Flying is where I met my husband, Ron, who is a pilot. We married and moved to Jacksonville, Florida. After seventeen years of flying, I retired from the airlines in 2000 to stay at home with my two young children. I became a devoted PTA volunteer at my children’s elementary school. While my kids were in school during the day, I obtained a part-time job as a Beverage Cart Administrator at a semi-private country club. I worked for the golf course for ten years. During that time, I also took up painting. I’ve painted about thirty murals, selling several. I also have an online Etsy account, DWRockDesigns, where I sell an assortment of natural and painted rocks. I continue promoting and marketing my books, as well.

What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?

I began writing eight years ago. I was going through a very troubling situation with my oldest sister, and the stress was making me physically ill. A professional advised me to write down my thoughts and feelings instead of keeping it all bottled up inside. So, I began writing in a journal that I carried with me everywhere. It helped, I found myself writing all the time. Gradually, I turned the devastating situation into a story. I began my story in the early 1900s when my grandparents met, and their exciting story started. I added some of my childhood experiences and brought the saga into the present day. I wrote the book as a semi-autobiographical fiction mystery. (You don’t see that category very often.) I changed the names to protect the innocent and wrote the book to expose the guilty.

What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?

The biggest challenge for me was getting my first completed manuscript published. I had no idea what to do with my book, but I was determined to get it published. I wasn’t a writer, and I had no idea what the industry entailed. I saw an ad in the paper about a book seminar called Get Book Savvy at the Beach. Two local authors, Jane Wood and Frances Keiser, were holding an all-day session to teach aspiring authors about writing, publishing, and marketing. So, I signed up. That session motivated me to start my own Independent Publishing Company, HayMarBooks, LLC and publish my book. I knew it would be a big undertaking, but I was ready to move forward. I want to thank Jane R. Wood for all the advice and experience she’s extended to me these past eight years. Jane helped me become the award-winning author I am today. She’s been an incredible mentor.

What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?

My three sisters and their families still live in the Lockport area, so every year, I visit Western NY in June. While I’m there, I coordinate book signings, school visits, and set up a booth at The Lockport Arts and Craft Festival. My visit this particular year was coming to an end. I was out to dinner with my family at one of my favorite restaurants. We noticed a lot of commotion going on at a few tables. The people kept looking at our table. A woman got up from her seat and came over to our table. She introduced herself and said, “You were the author that spoke at my sons’ school the other day. He bought all your books and is looking forward to reading them.” I thanked her. By that time, most of the room was listening, (It’s a small dining room, there’s not much social distancing at this restaurant.) Another woman held up her hand from across the room and shouted, “you should read her wonderful mystery novels. They’re set right here in Lockport.” I was shocked. I blushed and I thanked them again. My nephew nudged me and said, “look at you… you’re famous.”

What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

Growing up, I read many of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Mystery Stories. I’ve also read a lot of famous authors, John Grisham, Danielle Steele, Steven King, and many more. Several years ago, I read a book by an author named Kate White. White has written fourteen suspense novels. I would say her writing has influenced the most. I like the simplicity in the way she writes her mystery stories. I like to read Independent author’s books. Authors I’ve met through FAPA (Florida Authors & Publishers Association.)

Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?

I do not write every day. I haven’t written in a while. For me, it takes a lot of time and concentration when I write. With everything going on right now, it’s been hard for me to focus. I have written five award-winning books, two Mystery Novels, and three children’s chapter books (I draw the simple black and white illustrations for my Jace Adventure series.) My last children’s book, published in 2019, is the most recent publication. Eventually, I will get back to writing. I will have to finish my third novel. It’s the final sequel to my first two books, Love, Greed and Lie$, and The Lost Twin.

What are your interests outside of writing?

I like to garden, travel, and I enjoy painting rocks. I make and sell portable tic-tac-toe games online. I have an online account at Etsy, where I sell my rock art under the name DWRockDesigns. This November, I’m selling my rock art at The Christmas Made in the South here in Jacksonville. I have diligently been painting and designing my rock art to have enough inventory for the three-day weekend event. I will also be able to sell my books. I was clever enough to have coordinated rock designs to go with my kid’s books.

Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.

I honestly wouldn’t do a whole lot different. I attended many conferences to learn. This industry changes rapidly. I’m glad I started my own independent publishing company and didn’t use a traditional publisher.  I like that I have full control in every aspect of designing and publishing my books. One tip I’ve learned and recommend the purchasing of my ISBNs. If you go with a publisher or someone that assists with your publication, I recommend purchasing your own. I also recommend attending conferences. I always learn something new.

Under Cover

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AT_ 1

The ideal book cover gives away just enough to persuade the reader and capture the story inside – without revealing too much. It’s the reason you pick up a book from the shelf (or order it online.)

During the pandemic, I’ve been working with a terrific artist at Babski Creative Studios, who also designed the cover of my award-winning first book, The Anchor Clankers. (Some of the first idea boards for the new book appear above.)

I know it’s important to make a good first impression on potential readers, who often assume that a poorly-designed cover indicates a poorly-written book. The design is one of the most important aspects of marketing, because we’re all drawn to items that are attractive. Wish me luck!

The art of writing

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Hemingway quote

I’ve always believed that no writer knows precisely what he or she is doing. We test a thought, write it down, read it again and think. I sit down at a desktop computer, surrounded by pictures, notebooks, mementos and a few quotes. I stare at a blank screen, review my notes and go. I agree with the Hemmingway’s philosophy. (See above.)

You may have heard the term, “The words flow,” but that rarely happens to me. In my work, they lurch out and usually are corrected. Sometimes I listen to music – always instrumental – with occasional new-age ocean sounds included. (Lyrics urge me to sing along, which doesn’t help my writing.) Long before earbuds became popular, I inserted ear plugs to obliterate noise in The Tampa Tribune newsroom whenever I filed a story on deadline.

Sometimes I’m asked the difference between writing for a newspaper and writing a book. The quickest answer is space limitations. You have a limited number of words in a newspaper story (unless you’re writing a series of articles) but books provide hundreds of pages to express your ideas.

In either case, when you get it right, when you educate or entertain your reader, the job is satisfying in a way that is hard to explain. You try to make a difference and, when you do, it’s wonderful.

 

Renee Garrison is currently writing the sequel to her award-winning book, The Anchor Clankers.

Renee Interviews Author Mary Flynn

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Mary Flynn

Mary Flynn is the author of “Disney’s Secret Sauce–the little known factor behind the business world’s most legendary leadership, which took honors in the 2019 Royal Palm Literary Awards. Her recent book, Wishbones and Other Short Stories, is an eclectic and imaginative mix of humor, pathos and irony that explores the human experience -usually with a surprising twist.

Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about. 

Born and raised in Brooklyn. Irish, Italian Catholic. Those values, cultural aspects and neighborhood settings show up in my novels, which take place in the fifties. I like to write about times before technology when people could not easily or quickly reach each other. I believe it offers more opportunity for tension and suspense. Did you even notice in many dramas or comedies how the lead character somehow manages to lose or destroy their cell phone – out the window, down the toilet. They know something. They know that tension really heightens when there are no bars.

I traveled extensively and lived in Turkey years back as an Air Force officer’s wife. Great and wonderful experience, which dribbles into my writing. In one of our locales, Kansas City, I managed to land a full-time job at Hallmark writing greeting cards, a gratifying and extremely useful experience that has stayed with me. A great training ground living the creative life day in and day out.

Many years later, I believe that experience made me a better writer and speaker in my role as an international conference speaker for Disney Institute, where I presented Disney’s approach to leadership and service excellence. I now do speaking engagements on the business side, as well as my humorous “Confessions of a Hallmark Greeting Card Writer,” both of which have proven to be excellent ways to promote my writing.

It’s been an interesting life journey straddling the fence between business and creative positions. I was on editorial staff of the leading publisher of guided reading materials used in the U.S. public school system; became a senior staff consultant with the two largest companies, respectively, who conducted downsizing and career transition programs for more than sixty industries; became certified in Neuro-linguistic Programming by that methodologies creator, Richard Bandler, who was Tony Robbins instructor; became a certified phobia counseling aide.. I now do a live radio show for Salem.

I believe this eclectic mix shows up in my writing, a hop, skip and jump across genres – children’s rhymed and illustrated, middle grade novella, novels, non-fiction business, poetry and just recently the release of my book of short stories. I love to write and to coach newer writers…and I really enjoy my associations with others in our vibrant writing organizations and culture.

What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story? 

Unlike longer forms, short stories satisfy in me those “little” ideas that tickle around in the imagination. Unlike the driving force behind a novel, short stories typically come from what I call the little dodgy thoughts that can be so easily overlooked.

That early Hallmark experience taught me on a daily basis not to overlook any idea…but to drill into it. So, it becomes truly a what if game—what if a thug finds a new way to settle an old score? What if the harried looking shopper whom the good-hearted woman gives a ride to is not what she seems? And, like O’Henry’s delicious tales, what if there’s a twist at the end? Ha.

What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle? 

My biggest obstacle over the years was trying to do serious writing while maintaining a full-time job. Unlike J.K. Rowling, I am not the kind of person who can sit in a coffee shop with, let’s say, a child in a stroller and write an epic novel. Then, of course, husband and kids must come first. So, before long, years go by.

One of the very first stories that I wrote then I retired from Disney seven years ago was “Jeremiah’s Orchard.” I had told that story to my father…the idea, that is. He died in 1978. So, that whole time, this story-to-be sat in a folder on a shelf. I’m so gratified to say that story, which is in my latest release of short stories, first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post’s 2014 Anthology of Great Fiction.

What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?

A little hard to say. Definitely, having “Jeremiah’s Orchard” selected for that Saturday Evening Post anthology. I mean – that’s where Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald were published. But then, I recall how dazzled I was when an observational humor essay I submitted to The New York Times appeared on their Sunday Lifestyle cover page. Yikes. Then again, I truly was blown away when my debut novel Margaret Ferry took home the gold medal in Fiction, the silver medal in Christian Writing, and the silver medal in Religious writing…even though it’s mainstream fiction. Hard to pick one.

What people or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing? 

I credit my mother, first and foremost, who read to me every single night when I was a child. Then…I’m Irish, after all…my Aunt Katie would hold me spellbound with the oddest, most delightful story-telling. She was quirky and funny, and I know I carry that inspiration with me to this day. Also, importantly, I attended Catholic School where, by God (literally, I think), the nuns wouldn’t have it any other way but that every child would speak and write well. When I entered public high school at the age of thirteen, I didn’t know what an atom was, but I could write for The New York Times.

Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals? 

Yes, every single day. But “writing” for me doesn’t mean necessarily sitting at the computer or with a pad in my lap. I abide John Hersey approach: he liked to go fishing to do his back-of-the-head work. I don’t go fishing, but I definitely do a lot of back-of-the-head work. I wouldn’t dream of sitting down to a blank page to “create.” I believe this is where the concept of writer’s block comes from. People sit down to that blank sheet of paper and get frustrated trying to make something up. I make it up elsewhere…until I actually get into the writing of it.

What are your interests outside of writing? 

People, friends, faith, food, going out, staying in—I have no trouble spending time alone—a true blessing from God. I favor the woods over the ocean, small gatherings over large groups (imagine a Disney retiree not liking crowds. Ha.). I’m a big movie buff. I learn from movies—how much or little a character uses to express an idea or emotion teaches me something about writing and about character. My all-time favorite movie is the original King Kong—the special effects for that time are astounding. I think silent films are brilliant.

Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this. 

Allow me, please, a little list:

  1. Stop letting the idea that you’re not good enough keep you from writing.  Nobody is quite good enough in the beginning. By the way, that’s what good editors are for. Without Max Perkins, Hemingway and Fitzgerald might not have gotten into print.
  2. Find the industry. May sound odd, but writing is a complex industry with vast resources, and there is much to learn. Join a critique group. If it doesn’t nourish you with respect and encouragement, find another that does. Take the feedback; it’s a gift.
  3. Pay attention to the tiniest of ideas, drill down, ask what if. If it’s a common, everyday kind of thought, look at it from every angle. Imagine if you could think one brand new thought every day.
  4. Please don’t follow the advice of writers who think self-publishing or indie publishing means you don’t need outside professional help. To be perfectly candid, if you’re planning to publish, it’s going to cost money. It doesn’t matter that you taught English, you cannot edit or proof your own work. And the tragedy is that a reader who catches your mistakes in those first pages or chapters will never buy another one of your books.
  5. Don’t buy into the idea that you should only write what you know. It’s all about what you can know. That’s what research is for. Otherwise, how could Shelley have created Frankenstein’s monster? How would Moby Dick have come about? Get comfortable making stuff up…but do it the smartly.
  6. Get used to research…even for things you assume to be true. Authenticity is paramount. I was writing a story in which a grove had to catch fire. I called a grower to ask a question and was shocked when he said the grove would not burn—the trees are fresh. “Burn something else,” was his advice. I’m glad I did.
  7. Get in the habit of entering contests. They are a great proving ground. Plus, if you happen to win, place or show, it will be a good way of beginning to build your platform. Agents, editors and publishers…even festival coordinators…want to see what you’ve done. First chance you have to brag on paper, do it.
  8. Skip the long descriptive openings. Get your reader right into the action.
  9. Skip the long passages of backstory. It slows the pace and bores people.
  10. Don’t be afraid to say, he said or she said, instead of silly things like, he cajoled, she bemoaned.

 

In praise of business cards

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Business cards

Call me old-fashioned, but I love business cards.

I asked my son for his business card recently, and it was as if I’d asked him for the Holy Grail. Today, it appears that digitally-minded young executives don’t use them (sales and business development officers seem to be the exception.)

Yet, the Vistaprint company reportedly prints nearly six billion business cards each year.

I have hundreds of them, collected from acquaintances or representing jobs I’ve left behind. I view them as sentimental: Mementos of my career path representing a little slice of time or career milestones.

(Full disclosure: I pitched the ones that were so old they didn’t include email addresses or websites. What could I do with them? Origami?)

Thanks to the rise of smartphones and LinkedIn, business cards are becoming extinct. Like the dinosaur or the dodo bird, they may disappear one day. Until then, I’ll carry mine – just in case.

 

 

Renee Garrison is currently writing the sequel to her award-winning book, The Anchor Clankers.

 

 

Renee interviews author Ashley Brown

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Ashley Ellington Brown jacket photo

Ashley Ellington Brown is the author of  the award-winning guide, A Beautiful Morning: How a Morning Ritual Can Feed Your Soul and Transform Your Life.

Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.
I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, and I ALWAYS had my nose in a book when I was younger (and often do today, as well!). Some of my childhood favorites were A Wrinkle in Time, the Narnia books, and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.
I graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Foreign Affairs, which I never used! But I’d always enjoyed writing and I wrote a lot of papers in those courses, so it was helpful in that way. Learning about other cultures (I focused on China and Japan) was also fascinating.

I’d had a summer job as assistant to a marketing director during college and found that field very interesting, so I went to work at a small ad agency after graduation. I started as a receptionist and worked my way up to copywriter and account executive. I also worked as a book editor and an internal communications manager for a multinational corporation that owned and operated funeral homes and cemeteries! I went freelance in 2000, when my husband and I moved to Pensacola, Florida.

What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?
I was sitting outside with my coffee one morning, which was part of the morning ritual I had begun a few months earlier in an effort to start my days more cheerfully and peacefully. I had just started an online writing class led by Martha Beck, and I was wondering what she did each morning. Then I thought of other women who inspire me, and wondered if they had some sort of practice they did each day that helped them live their best lives. It occurred to me that that would be a very interesting book, and I decided to try to write it.

What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?
Believing in myself. I didn’t get a lot of support for being a writer when I was younger, and was encouraged to go into a field that would make money (which is why I chose advertising, and didn’t even consider full-time writing as a career). When I got the idea for the book, I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to do a good job. While I had more than 25 years of experience as a professional writer, it was always for clients or bosses. This was the first time I’d done something for me, and the first time I’d written a book. But being a published author had been a childhood dream (I wrote multiple “books” when I was little), and I didn’t want to let doubt keep me from accomplishing it. Plus, every time I interviewed someone and learned how vital their morning practice was to them, it reaffirmed my initial idea that this book could help others, and that spurred me on.

What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?
Publishing my book, and then having it get positive reviews and win multiple awards, was certainly my biggest professional success. I poured a lot of my heart and soul into creating it, and worked very hard to make it as good as I could. Especially since I self-published, it was extremely fulfilling to have external validation that the book was well done, and that others found it appealing and helpful.

What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
I love so many authors and books, it’s hard to choose! But some favorite authors are Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Judy Blume, Anna Quindlen, Elizabeth Berg, Ray Bradbury, Antoine Laurain, Alexander McCall Smith, Jincy Willett, Anne Lamott, Mary Oliver, May Sarton, Michael Chabon, Ursula K. Leguin, and Erin Morgenstern. Some of my favorite nonfiction/personal development authors are Martha Beck, Elizabeth Gilbert, Julia Cameron, Thich Nhat Hanh, Brené Brown, and Gretchen Rubin.

In terms of an influence on my writing, I love Stephen King’s On Writing, Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, and Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and Wild Minds, as well as The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Those last three are not only inspirational and full of priceless wisdom, but the writing has such a lovely, peaceful, uplifting rhythm. I tried to have a similar feel in my book.

Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?
I was doing Morning Pages (from The Artist’s Way, where you write three pages longhand every morning), but I’d gotten out of the habit. I’ve just re-dedicated myself to writing something every day, as it really does keep the pump primed. I’ve found that when I sit to write at my computer, it feels like work; if I want to access something more personal, I need to be somewhere other than my office, with a notebook in my hand.

What are your interests outside of writing?
I love to travel and I find great joy in planning our next trip. I also enjoy learning new things, going to the beach, doing yoga, baking, and getting creative (I like to play with paints and explore fun tools like alcohol inks).

Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.

I wouldn’t have waited so long to work on my own writing. I wish I’d continued to explore my own voice when I was younger, rather than focus solely on client work. It’s difficult to get out of the mindset of writing for others (and writing as a job rather than a passion).

And when you have an idea, keep going! The feeling when you finish is truly magnificent, and worth all the effort. Also: what you have to say is important. The world needs your voice. Writing is a sacred act that can be healing for you and for others. Be brave and put yourself out there. And gather a team around you to cheer you on. Doing this alone is so difficult; having someone to encourage you will make a huge difference. Try to talk to other writers, or get professional assistance. I worked with a book coach (Cynthia Morris) who made the process less overwhelming and gave me valuable advice.

Renee interviews author Mark Barie

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Mark Barie

Mark Barie’s debut novel, “War Calls, Love Cries” is about a farm boy from upstate New York whose dreams are shattered when the Civil War erupts. The book won a 2019 Gold Medal in the Florida Authors and Publishers President’s Book Awards and was a Finalist in the 2019 Eric Hoffer Award for Historical Fiction.

Tell me about your background. Where you grew up, where you live now, education, work experience? Share some interesting things about yourself that we should know about.

I am a native of upstate New York with a master’s degree in business and then some. I am now a full-time resident of Sebring, Florida, having retired from owning a number of consulting companies over my 30+ year career as a business person.

What inspired you to write this book? What is the story behind the story?

My wife, who is an expert genealogist, came into the living room one day and announced that my great great grandfather fought in the Civil War. When I found a three-year diary of a man who served in the same regiment, the idea for the book was born. It was my first attempt at historical fiction and I had a blast writing it. I have previously authored two biographies and co-authored two local history books and frankly was tired of footnotes. Historical fiction requires you to be accurate but not to document every single thing.

What has been your biggest challenge or obstacle?

The biggest challenge with authoring a book is the marketing, but I feel that I have an advantage over most authors in that I have an extensive background in business. My marketing thus far has consisted of speaking events, Facebook, and author page, and A growing email list.

What has been your biggest “aha” moment or success?

The biggest success thus far has been the FAPA gold medal for Historical Fiction and being a finalist in the Eric Hoffer competition, a very prestigious honor. For me those awards were important because it meant that someone other than my friends and family thought the book was good. I needed that affirmation.

What authors do you like to read? What books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?

You may not believe this but I very rarely read fiction. Instead I read history books. Tons of them. I’ve already decided what my third fourth and fifth novels will be about…All with the theme of love and war… My current one just finished but still being edited takes place during the American revolutionary war. My third one, being outlined, takes place during the war of 1812. And unfortunately, mankind has given me plenty of wars to write about.

Do you write every single day? Any writing rituals?

I do not write every single day but I do something every single day to further my career as an author. I either write, or do some research or do marketing. Every single day. It is a good habit to get into.

What are your interests outside of writing?

I play the guitar, I have a couple of dozen bonsai pots on my lanai, I do some woodworking with a mini lathe. (I’m Trying to make a chess set… So far, I have murdered 7 pawns.)

I also have four adult children three grandchildren and an absolutely marvelous wife and all of them keep me very busy.

Share some tips for other Authors or Aspiring Authors: What would you do differently? What would you do the same? Please share anything you think would be beneficial to those reading this.

I have written and published a series of columns on writing tips for first time authors.

Number one: finish the book you’re working on. The combination of marriage, kids, a job, and the normal pressures of day-to-day life impede if not stop entirely an author’s progress on his or her first book. Nothing can or will happen until you finish the book.

Second, find a publisher. If you insist on a traditional publisher versus a hybrid publisher, (where you will pay for a portion of the publisher’s professional services but receive a significantly higher royalty), it may be a long wait. Most new authors are reduced to finding an agent who may or may not be able to find a traditional publisher. Consider a hybrid publisher.

Edit your book. So many authors refuse to pay a professional editor preferring to do it themselves or calling their friend the English teacher. More often than not this is a mistake. Even the best editor will miss the occasional typo. Amateurs will miss too many mistakes and the result will be that both the publisher and the reader will be turned off.

Market your book. Speaking in public, social media, direct mail, advertising, Book Fairs, and a good Email List are the necessary evils of most authors. Many times, such endeavors are so far removed from the authors comfort zone, that little or nothing is done in this regard. But marketing is our first and most important job.

Get rid of the self-doubt. Too many authors are intimidated if not openly frightened by the apparent success of their fellow authors, the myriad of rules that new authors are instructed to follow, and the seemingly impossible task of getting their book noticed when anywhere from 600,000 to 1,000,000 new books are published each year in the United States. That fact alone has silenced the pen of too many authors. The answer to this challenge, not unlike any other challenge in life, is the same. Welcome adversity, practice patience, be persistent, work smart not hard, and along the way help other authors. And remember, each time you fail, you are that much closer to your next success.

 

 

Emotional objects

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robe

I own a new bathrobe.

It’s Turkish white cotton and it replaces one that I have worn since 2007. When my mother died, I brought her bathrobe home with me and, for a decade, it served as the hug she could no longer deliver. It wasn’t expensive – its value was in its sentiment. Big and fluffy, it tumbled through the washer and dryer thousands of times until loose threads began to appear and, like my mother, it perished.

Finally, I was ready to let it go. Parting with an item (like a robe) may simply be a matter of accepting the end of certain relationships and understanding how the physical objects around us have served as their emotional accomplices.

I still miss my mother, of course, but I think she would be pleased to see me wrapped in a new bathrobe – especially one that looks a lot like hers.

 

 

Renee Garrison is the award-winning author of The Anchor Clankers.