Path to Publication, pt 18: Book Launch!

2 books 2 authors2-page-001

This photo of Lilian Baker Carlisle, the subject of my book, from 1970 when she published her first book, has been a source of inspiration for me over the last two years. I envisioned creating this side-by-side from the first time I came across it. 

Well, I did it. The book is finished. Lilian Baker Carlisle: Vermont Historian, Burlington Treasure — A Scrapbook Memoir is, finally, gosh-darn really real!

I truly didn’t believe it was real until the moment I first held it in my hands at the book launch. It’s always just been a one-dimensional design on the computer, even the printer’s proof was digital. Now I can literally flip through the pages instead of figuratively doing it by clicking the “next” arrow. And, oh, it feels good. Continue reading

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The Path to Publication, part 7: Brewing questions

What is it ABOUT?

It’s been almost exactly a year since my graduate thesis and creative project was approved by my advisors. It has had time to mellow. Or ferment?

Was I afraid it had fermented so much that it would explode when I took it from its box buried in the closet? What on earth had me so afraid that I would rather do anything — I mean, anything; I even went out and scooped up the dog’s piles of do-do — than sit down and start on this project? You know, the one I am so ready to do? “That’s what I want to do!” I said.

Well, I know, really: FEAR OF FAILURE (perfectionism) and/or SUCCESS (imposter syndrome or “What if that’s all I had in me? What then?”) But that’s a topic for another day… (although I have written a lot about fear before as well as little about the fear of success.)

But finally after a lot of procrastination in the form of house-cleaning, binge Orange is the New Black watching, and justified-as-research memoir reading, and yes, dog-poop-clearing, I finally picked up my manuscript. (And then I wrote this blog post as an additional justifiable procrastination method.)

So far I have only read the memoir section. I have to admit I’m pretty happy with what I read. That is, in Part I. It’s more complete than I remembered and I don’t think it will need a whole lot of editing. Part II, however, is a different story. Literally.

In that section I am telling a very different story than I was in the first part, which is the telling of certain childhood memories. Part II is an existential exploration into the ineffable. It has no structure as it was a recording of what I was experiencing while I was writing my memoir and doing research into the worlds of myth, women’s development and spirituality, and psychology. It is as fragmented as I felt at that time as I was attempting to connect of the dots of ME.

So, in order to gain some focus for my next steps I have challenged myself to answer some questions about my book.

1. What is my story about? What is the question I am asking?

2. In my story, what do I (the author, main character) want/need?

3. What is the obstacle to what I want/need?

4. How do I get over this obstacle?

5. How do I change in the process? What do I learn?

6. What am I teaching others through my story? What information do I hope to relay? What personal learning speaks to the universal? WHY am I telling this story?

I am hoping that as I answer these questions, I will gain insight into the true reason for my story; what it needs to say, not what I think I want it to say.

 

To read snippets of my memoir, “Leaving Fundamentalism in Search of  Voice,” click here.

 

 

 

 

 

A Path to Publication, part 2: When the time is right

“What do I really want to do?” I asked my journal.

“Finish your book!” it replied.

“Yes,” I exhaled in recognition of Truth. “I do want to do that.”

The Universe said, “OK, then!” And the Serendipities and Synchronicities began.

Within hours, two conferences popped up in my Facebook feed, one weekend-long one dedicated specifically to my genre, and another on writing pitches, queries, and book proposals — all those things that scared the bejeezus outta me — scheduled in my hometown. I sign up for both, thanks to the bigger-than-expected tax refund that came shortly thereafter.

I email some author and editor acquaintances of mine, asking for their advice. The responses are incredibly helpful.*

Then an opportunity for the summer suddenly presents itself which means I will only have myself to look after… no meals to prepare or piles of laundry to wade through. My editor OKs a sub for my columns for a few weeks. I have been given the precious gift of TIME.

At the first of the writing conferences I learn wonderful things* that give me new confidence in my ability to pursue publication. AND I learn there is a “Meet the Agents” event scheduled 90 minutes drive from me exactly at the end of the time-period I have scheduled to take off to work on the book.

One of my workshop participants said this yesterday:

Sometimes I feel like I’m just driving down a highway and I have no idea where I am or where I’m going. But then, suddenly, boom! there’s an exit and where I want to be is right there!

Well, I feel like I just found my exit. My journey is just started though but at least I know which way I’m going now. For that I am most grateful.

* In my next post I will share some of the gems I learned from authors and editors.

To read snippets of my memoir, click hereI will be adding more as this journey progresses.

A Path to Publication, part 1: It isn’t about publication

everestYou know what scares me?

Publishing my book.

No, let me rephrase that. You know what DID scare me?

Yup, until a week ago, the idea of going through the process of getting my book published gave me chills. It seemed a Mount Everest of Unknowns, with only the guarantee of the frost-bite of Rejection Letters.

But, I now know the fear was because I wasn’t ready. I am now.

I am ready to take this journey that I know will challenge my stamina and self-confidence. I don’t know what lies ahead, what crevices, cliffs, and peaks I will face, or even how long it will take. This is probably going to be a loooong, slooooow hike.

And I invite you to come along with me. It is my hope that by sharing the journey, it won’t seem so lonely or so cold. And for those who are also wishing to publish, I hope it might serve as a Sherpa, a guide: learn from my mistakes and find encouragement in my successes.

So, here’s where The Story of My Story is now. I won’t start at the very beginning, that was the day I was born, and who’s got time for all that? I won’t even tell you how I became a writer or how I came to write the particular book I wrote (although finishing it will become the part of this story which I am very much looking forward to reading myself…).

OK, let’s start here:

Once upon a time — oh, about eight, 15, 22 years ago — I thought the apex of my life would be to get published. I thought it would be as a novelist, but then I realized I like writing about my own problems too much to make up problems for non-existent people.

Fast forward a few years. I started blogging and then I got my first by-line in a tiny magazine. Fast forward again to now. I have two weekly columns in my local paper and I see my name on the cover at least once a month. Publication is no longer a big deal.

Now, wait a minute, you say. Having a by-line in a small town’s paper isn’t exactly The Big Time. No, I know. But what it has done is taken the OMG!-ness out of it. I’ve gotten used to knowing my words are being read over coffee and commented on in cyberspace.

What I’m trying to say is, I’m no longer wanting to be published for the sake of being published (I just yesterday heard about someone who is writing soft porn, not because they are called to write it, but because, as they said, “I just want to be published.”).

Oh, don’t get me wrong, when (I believe in positive thinking) I first see my book in a bookstore window I will be doing Pharrell’s “Happy” dance on the inside (or maybe just for fun, I’ll do it for real while telling all the staring passers-by, “That’s my book. See that? I wrote that. That’s me. See?”).

No, I now want to be published because I believe that what I have to say, what I have learned – My Story – is important and can be of help to others. I know — because it already has with some with whom I have shared it — that my story resonates. Therefore, I believe I have an obligation to share it with the world.

But wait, I still haven’t said where I am right now along this path to publication. Well, I’ve babbled enough for now. I will start with my latest story of Serendipity in the next post.

To read snippets of my memoir, click hereI will be adding more as this journey progresses.

Sing From the Womb, 8

This is the eighth in a series of snippets from my memoir, Sing From the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search of Voice (formerly titled Writing Me Back to Mat(t)er).

Please let me know what resonates with you.

~~~

(From a dream when I was five.)

I sit staring into my desk’s defunct inkwell; its extreme blackness reflecting my despair. Suddenly I feel a pressure gather around my body, embracing me cruelly. I open my mouth to cry out but my voice is restricted, either by the external force or by my own fear, I cannot tell. Just as I think my bones will shatter within me, a loud crack echoes overhead. The oppressive air is ripped away with violent force. Above, the ceiling is torn away, revealing a gray haunted sky. I know only moments will pass before I will be violently plucked from earth and cast into another realm…

There, God, like a cloaked and menacing Headmaster, looms at the entrance of the swirling abyss…

Sing from the Womb, 7

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the seventh in a series of snippets from my memoir, Sing From the Womb: Leaving Fundamentalism in Search of Voice (formerly titled Writing Me Back to Mat(t)er).

Please let me know what resonates with you.

***

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! She tugs the tri-corn hat over her mop of red hair. Usually comfortable on stage, she is suddenly self-conscious and suffering. They had quickly amended the script to give her a part in the Christmas pageant, and as always, due to her height, that of a man. In the past, she had played Pharaoh and Prince Yohan and “The Old Man.” Now she’s Town Crier: Hear Me!

After being away from church and England for so long, she feels different, like she doesn’t belong. She knows they see her as different. She’s not quite the same as them now…

…she’s back in this meeting hall, as familiar as her own home. The mint green walls and wooden flooring, the dark kitchen and the damp, always cold, concrete floor lavatory with its pull-chain flush. But now walking out onto the stage in front of her church family is uncomfortable. Embarrassed to be here acting as if she still has a right to be on this stage—in this place—after leaving it to be part of another world. She feels unprepared and unsure of herself in her small but conspicuous role. Dressed as a man, demanding all to listen, in the church where she is merely a girl, who is growing into a stranger who isn’t quite sure where she belongs.