Thursday, June 30, 2011

So how's the marketing going?

Since my book launch and signing just after my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, was released in early May, I’ve spent the month of June on a blog tour, coordinated and managed by WOW-Women on Writing. I decided to embark on this tour because I had hosted two other WOW blog tour authors in the last couple of years, and it seemed like a great idea.

I’m sure I’ve said before that I’m a me-too kind of person, so there I was again, letting the WOW folks know that I wanted a tour too when my book came out.
And actually making that happen was quite easy. All it took was a decision about dates, blog post ideas that included the subject-matter of my book and general writing-related subjects, and $350.00, to cover their advice and counsel about post topics and their picking out and communicating (almost continually) with the blog owners where I would guest post.  The big bucks kind of took my by surprise, but very quickly I decided it would be worth it.
Also in June, my publisher and I shared the expense of a part-time publicist, one of my dear friends with a great background in PR who worked way more than she was paid. And she has worked out tremendously. She has scheduled two radio interviews during July and a review just posted on the "100 Memoirs" website. She also got a commitment to have me be the over 60 expert on a popular health and fitness website. She is continually pitching. Hopefully we can come to an agreement continue her services for another month, at least.
Because our budget is so limited I have had to jump in as well, and now that I’ve finished writing blog posts to fulfill my WOW blog tour commitments I have plenty of time.

First thing every morning I post all over Facebook – my friend and fan pages and other groups that are of interest – about what’s going on with my book. Then like now, I write a blog post, or a poem, or a journal entry. I must keep up with my writing or everything will fall apart, including me. 

Also, since the book came out, I’ve arranged to participate in two book signings as part of the Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society, I’ve gotten friends to post reviews on the Amazon and Barnes and Noble sites that sell my book, I’ve submitted a book for review to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention in hopes that they’ll add my book to its bibliography, and I’ve given permission to a woman who is presenting a workshop on resources available for grieving parents and other family members at this summer’s national The Compassionate Friends convention to list my book as a resource and pass out information. 

That’s another thing. I’ve gotten bookmarks, flyers, and posters made. Everywhere I go from now on, I need to have something to give away.

Okay, then, has all this effort and not a small amount of money sold any books? Since there haven’t been a lot of comments on my guest posts, I have little indication that people who visit the blogs on my tour are interested in buying my book. And though I see great online rank fluctuations daily, my publisher thinks my online book sales are excellent. I just wish there was a place I could go everyday to find out the number sold everywhere.   Of course the evidence is the total of money I’ve earned. So far my expenses are way ahead of sales. But, it’s not even two months yet. I have a long way to go – at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WOW blog tour stop No. 13

I'm over at NAMW today with a blog post about my journey from aerospace writing to creative writing. Please go over and take a look and leave a comment.

I'm so proud to be part of this wonderful organization for memoir writers. It makes me feel like I've "arrived" to be in such good company. I'll also be with them again in September with a blog post about memoir writing to deal with grief and as part of a roundtable on the same subject in September. I'll let you know about dates as the time gets closer.

In the meantime please go to the following links to see my post:

and NAMW's news section:


"About the National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW)

The National Association of Memoir Writers (NAMW) is a membership organization that invites memoir writers from all over the world to connect, learn and become inspired about writing their stories. The goal of our organization is to help memoir writers feel empowered with purpose and energy to begin and develop their life stories into a publishable memoir, whether in essay form, a book, a family legacy, or to create a blog."

Monday, June 27, 2011

My first book fair event - Saturday June 25

I participated in the Leimert Park Book Fair on Saturday, June 25, and it went a lot better than I expected. As a member of the Greater Los Angeles Writer's Society [] I was in one of their two booths. Elizabeth, my friend and publicist came along to help - a definite necessity.

The traffic getting there was terrible and once we arrived we had to circle around for about a half hour to get a parking space in the supposedly author's parking area. That was both a good and bad sign - good that the fair was well-populated and bad for authors needing to be at our assigned booths at our alloted time. I was due to be there between 3 and 5:30 pm, and I just made it.

When we arrived, Elizabeth and I put up my three posters: of the book title, the flyer and Paul's Putting a Face on Suicide. (GLAWS already had a copy of my book and a promo card on a shelf at the back of the booth that I had provided in advance.) And while I was arranging books on the table - I brought eighteen along in a rolling suitcase - Elizabeth stood in front of the table and began passing out bookmarks. Once I finished setting up, I went out in front of the table too. Both of us stood for the entire time giving out bookmarks and talking to passers by.

And it was a lot of fun. Everyone was easy to talk to. And I even made a sale. Others seemed interested so I gave them information about buying the book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. One young woman, who is bipolar, said she’d like to read the book and get a mother’s point of view, and an older woman told me about her bipolar daughter. Another young women told me almost in tears that she had mental illness in her family. As always I am struck by how many people are affected by mental illness and suicide in their lives. 

However. I learned a huge lesson on Saturday. I have to have a pitch that doesn’t come across in a negative way. The author next to me was selling romance novels and she, as she passed out her bookmarks, asked, "you like to read romance novels, right?" And she was off and running.

Here are a few other lessons: have lots of bookmarks, flyers, and brochures. People love giveaways. They never refuse what's offered. Be prepared to stand. Sitting behing a table inside the booth won't attract anyone. Also, if you have posters, bring tape for hanging them. I only brought binder clips and stick pins and they didn't work on the canvas booth sides. And of course have a very positive pitch. 

However, I got what I wanted out of my first book fair experience: a little networking with my GLAWS colleagues, lots of contact with passers by, one sale, a list of stuff I need to do better next time, and many laughs with Elizabeth. Will I go back to Leimert Park again? Maybe not. In fact Tony, the GLAWS president, said all around sales were poor, so maybe GLAWS will opt out next year as well. (The woman with the positive pitch next to me only sold four books total - and she had three romance books to sell.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Broken foot update

Today is five months and one day since Bob fell down a dark stairway in a Sutter Creek, California bed and breakfast and broke his foot. Those of you who follow my blog know the story – surgery two weeks later to pin the three broken metatarsal bones together because of all the ligament damage, months of his riding around on a scooter-like vehicle called a RollerAid, walking for weeks after that wearing the Boot, and months of physical therapy. Plus until he could get rid of the boot I was his chauffeur. Believe me, none of it was a pleasant experience.

So here’s an update. He is walking very well wearing New Balance extra wide shoes though his foot is still red and swollen. He does foot exercises and soaks his foot in ice water twice a day, he works out at the gym twice a week with a personal trainer and once on his own, and he has begun to walk for about thirty minutes each day.

I wish I could say that his exercise program is pain free, but that is not so yet. He’s thinking about going back to physical therapy to see if that would help ease the pain. However, he walks free from the back pain that was caused by his having to move around on the scooter and later the boot, putting his body totally out of balance.  So he is making progress. And he goes at a pretty good clip – he complained yesterday that I wasn’t moving fast enough for him.

Well, I improved my gait, and I take great pleasure in being able to walk with him again. But, because I don’t find those 30-minute walks enough exercise for me, we walk after I return from the gym.

However, since he picks the routes – different from the ways I usually go on my big long walks – I get to discover new things around my little beach city. I took a couple of photos of one of our new statues in the patio area between the Manhattan Beach police department, city hall, and library. The patio has four sculptures, but this one is my favorite. I don’t know the title, so I’ve named it Fire Lady. Anybody out there want to give her another name?

Fire Lady - front and back

Friday, June 24, 2011

WOW blog tour stop No. 12

Today I'm over at 

Books, Books, the Magical Fruit

discussing how I used other creative material to enhance my writing. My guest blog post is:

Photos and Poems and Quotes, Oh My!: How Other creative Works Can Add to Your Writing

For those of you who have read my my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, you know that it is crammed with photos of our sons and family and there are one or two of my original poems in every chapter. I've also included three quotes -- I love to collect quotes so I couldn't leave a relevant one out. 

Please visit Books, Books, the Magical Fruit today. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

WOW blog tour stop No. 11

WOW Women on Writing arranged another wonderful blog tour stop for me today. I'm at Colloquium with Janie Siess who introduces authors and reviews books. She says her goal for her website is "it will be a place where people feel comfortable dropping by, reading about my experiences, observations and opinions, and responding by sharing their own vieewpoints, experiences, and feelings." 

My post today is: "Using Memoir Writing to Deal with Grief." And on June 27 Janie will post her review of my book.

I am so pleased about being the guest of Colloquium.  Please go over and check it out. And if you post a comment on June 27th, you'll have a chance to win a signed hardcopy of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

WOW blog tour stop No. 10

I am so excited to be the guest blogger on Women’s Memoirs  today. Thank you Robyn and Jodi of WOW-Women on Writing for arranging this stop for me.

Kendra and Matilda of Women's Memoirs asked me a series of questions about journaling and writing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, as they related to my path to healing after my son Paul's suicide. The post not only has my answers and recommendations for other women who need to find ways to heal, they've posted photos of Paul and our family and a wonderful piece of Paul's music played by him. The music player is inserted right there on the blog.

Please take a look at this wonderful and useful blog to writers of all genres.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

WOW blog tour stop No. 9

Today I'm the guest of Cindy Hudson's 

daughter BOOK CLUB   


My topic today is: does the stigma of mental illness still exist. And since this is a site intended for discussions between mothers and daughters, I decided to provide simple facts about what mental illness looks like and what stigma looks like. Just like they talk about drugs and sex, kids need to know about depression and mental health issues.

So please take a look at this great mother daughter blog site at:

And yes, the stigma of mental illness still exists.

Monday, June 20, 2011

WOW blog tour stop No. 8

Today I'm the guest of Mason Canyon and her blog:

Thoughts in Progress 
A place for my mind to gather its images.

My post is called: Not Another Casserole: How to Comfort a Grieving Parent. And Mason is offering a giveaway of a pdf ecopy of my book. Click on the link and make a comment:

She also asks: How do you comfort grieving friends? Has someone shown you care and support during a difficult time in your life? What are your thoughts on this topic?

Besides hosting guest bloggers, Mason writes book reviews. I suggest you go over there to peruse her long list of books.

Thank you WOW Women on Writing for another great blog tour stop.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Putting a Face on Suicide

The Facebook Putting a Face on Suicide is a personal project of Mike Purcell done in collaboration with the American Association of Suicidology. Mike’s son 21 year old Christopher Lee Purcell, died by suicide in 2008.

As Mike states: every 15 minutes someone dies by suicide in the United States, that’s 96 or so people each day. 

Putting a Face on Suicide [PAFOS] is an ongoing project soliciting pictures of your loved ones who died by suicide. Each 96 pictures will be used in a poster and a video, representing one day’s loss. The posters and videos will be posted on the PAFOS facebook page and may be freely used by any person or organization to promote suicide awareness and prevention. The goal of PAFOS is to collect 35040 faces representing 365 days of loss, and then to visually send a very powerful 35040 faced message. Please go to to see the faces gathered so far.

So far four videos have been complied with the able help of fellow survivors, Mel Maranian and Laura Shearer. My son's Paul's photo is in the Day Four video and his music plays in the background, lovingly edited by Mel.

Another project of PAFOS is a series of posters to raise suicide awareness and prevention. Each has a face and a message. Because Paul was a creative guy, Mike tied his bipolar disorder to creativity and the statistics of depression as it relates to suicide. 

He also asked what organization I supported and then highlighted the Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services on the poster. Didi Hirsch started the first suicide prevention hotline in the Los Angeles area in the 1950s.

The goals of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, are in keeping with the goals of Putting a Face on Suicide. I believe that together we can raise awareness, erase stigma, and make a difference in the lives of families all over the world.

Friday, June 17, 2011


My garden Buddha says it all

I remember sitting in a circle every morning at an Esalen workshop with everyone in turn giving a one-word check-in assessment of where we are with the day or anything else on our minds. So if I were to give one word for today’s check-in I could say “busy.” However, a better word is “successful.”

I’d say my WOW blog tour is going very well . Almost every day is full between June 6, the launch date, and July 1, the last day. If I don’t have a guest blog out there somewhere, a blogger is posting a review of my book. I feel that they are all doing a very caring job. The woman today asked that all who comment learn about bipolar disorder, and she also gave statistics about suicide. Hopefully this tour will help sell books though it’s certainly hard to tell at this point. Last week my rank was number seven in books sold under bipolar at Amazon. Today it is number eight-seven. I really have no idea what that means. Another success is that two more five-star reviews went up on Amazon.

My article, Keeping Fit After Seventy, for Huffington Post’s That’s Fit page is a success way beyond my expectations. It  was just dropped off the three most popular list after a week on it, moving up from third to first spot. I am definitely stoked. People “Liked “it, tweeted it, copied it and left over forty comments. Most were great, and a few not so great. I’m glad that so many folks bothered to write a comment at all. Many women my age feel as I do about keeping fit though one person 74-yeear-old told me to get a life. Another said she got her exercise doing her housework and running after her grandchildren. Well, I do have a life outside of exercise – in fact if I didn’t workout I wouldn’t have as good a life as I do. And if I had any grandchildren I would gladly run after them instead. One woman said she joined Red Room as a result of my article. That was a huge and welcomed surprise.

The lesson here is that I can be successful writing about something other than bipolar and suicide. It makes me want to go back to my novel. The only thing I haven’t been doing much of lately relative to my writing is poetry. I can’t seem to get anything going there. I’ve used a couple of Robert Lee Brewer’s prompts lately and done reasonably well with them, but I seem to be having a little bit of a poetry block right now.

Speaking of, my book was mentioned in Robert’s round up this week
and it was the featured book on #bookhashtags on Wednesday. It’s also in the International Women’s Writers Guild newsletter this month. So the word is getting out there slow but sure. As my publisher says, “Whoopee!”

Thursday, June 16, 2011

WOW blog tour stop No. 7

You must visit 
CMash Loves to Read

my WOW blog tour stop No. 7. The layout is just beautiful.

Cheryl Mash reviews books and provides giveaways. She is offering, through WOW-Women on Writing, a pdf copy of my memoir, 
Leaving the Hall Light On

To learn more and to read today's post, 

Using Memoir Writing to Deal with Grief 
go to: 

If you want a chance to win a copy of the book, click on the giveaway tab and post a comment. Cheryl has caringly suggested all who read her blog today and who comment learn more about bipolar disorder and know that: 

More than 30,000 Americans commit suicide each year, most leaving behind grieving families. Teenagers make up 5,000 of this group.

Many thanks to Women on Writing for connecting me with Cheryl Mash and her wonderful blog, CMash Loves To Read.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

WOW blog tour stop No. 6

Today I'm the guest of Linda Neas and her blog:

Words from the Heart

Linda says, 

Words from the Heart are powerful. Words, when connected to Spirit, heal, bring hope, connect us to the world. Words nurture dreams into a reality. Words from the Heart bring Peace.

And these are my sentiments exactly. 

Please read my post 

How to Survive the Death of A Child

About Linda M. Rhinehart Neas, M.Ed:
National Writers' Union (NWU)
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)
National Association of Multicultural Educators (NAME)

Latest book:
Gogo's Dream: Swaziland Discovered
Please help the orphans of HIV/AIDS in Swaziland...
All profits from book sales go to Possible Dreams International

Also see my memoir featured on today!

Monday, June 13, 2011

WOW blog tour stop No. 5

Today I'm visiting with Amanda Lebron and her blog

Rage against the Washing Machine

where I discuss: "Does the Stigma of Mental Illness Still Exist."

Amanda is the mother of (in her own words): "a beautiful, vivacious ten year old daughter who has Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, and Asperger's. It is for her that I am on a mission to wash away the stains of mental illness and to soak you in all the knowledge I find along the way. I am here to tell you, you are not alone."
I'm so pleased she invited me to help her wash away those stains.
Please click on the link so you can see her beating her washing maching with a baseball bat.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

What's so great about her?

For one thing she is my great niece.
For another thing she wrote the poem I've posted below and...
she is only twelve years old. 

Need I say more?

Holocaust Poem

People march
It’s all around
They’re coming closer
I feel myself being lifted
And thrown into the back of a truck
All around me
I feel them
Hear their cries
It’s dark
Where are we going?
Will I be ok?
We hit a bump
More cries
We stop
And get out of the truck
People with guns
Pointed at us
Shoved into a building
Small, cold
Days later
We are on a train
So few people
It never ends
We stop once more
Get pulled out of the train
We are told to follow
The men with the guns
Pointed at us
They lead us to another building
Told to undress
“Don’t worry”, they said
We were told it was a shower
We go into a small chamber
The doors are locked
The lights go off
The silence is so loud
The smell
I go down
That’s it
It’s over
No more crying
No more darkness
No more fear

Friday, June 10, 2011

WOW blog tour stop No. 4

Today I'm excited to be the guest of Linda Hoye and her blog

A Slice of Life Writing

where I discuss the process I used for revising my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On and getting it ready for publication.

Please click on the link:

Thursday, June 9, 2011

WOW blog tour stop No. 3

Today I'm back with Chynna Laird on her The Gift Blog

answering her long list of questions about my background, my writing life, how I cared for Paul and his bipolar disorder, and how we as a family survived his suicide. She got down to the real nitty-gritty. And you know me. I'm always ready to reply with the real hard facts. I'll do what it takes to get the word out to others with similar issues.

Chynna is a remarkable woman with a long list of accomplishments. Here's the list:

Chynna T. Laird
Author of award-winning book, "I'm Not Weird, I Have SPD"
Author of multi award-winning book, "Not Just Spirited: One Mom's Sensational Journey With Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)"
Author of "White Elephants" 
Author of 'Blackbird Flies" (Now available on all online eBookstores)
Author of 'The Gift' (coming soon!)
SPD Contributor with Our Journey Thru Autism
Contributing Writer for the SPD Foundation Blog
Contributing Writer for
Contributing Writer for Parenting Special Needs Magazine
Contributing Writer for Amaze Magazine

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

WOW blog stop No. 2

Today I'm at Beth Morrissey's writing resources website:

Writing Come Hell Or High Water

writing about how "It Takes a Village to Write a Book." Though writing is a lonely business, I sure had a lot of help putting my book together. 

Please take a look at:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My first WOW blog tour guest stop at White Elephants

White Elephants: A Blog About Bipolar and Mood Disorders, Mental Illness and Survival

founded by writer/author Chynna T. Laird, is my WOW Blog Tour host today. My blog piece discusses raising a child with bipolar -- and in my particular case how I cared for an adult-child with the disorder.
Please go to: 
to read more.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My WOW-Women on Writing blog tour launches today

The Muffin, the WOW blog, posted an interview with me today. 

Please click on the link and leave a comment, and you'll have a chance to receive a free copy of my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

My WOW-Women on Writing blog tour starts tomorrow

Here's my blog tour schedule. I hope you'll stop at all these interesting blog sites. And don't worry. I'll keep reminding you where I'll be throughout the month.

June 6
The Muffin
Tour Launch Interview
Host: WOW-Women on Writing

June 7
White Elephants
Host: Chynna Laird
Guest post: My Experience Raising a Child with Bipolar

June 8
Writing Come Hell or High Water
Host: Beth Morrissey
Guest Post: It Takes a Village to Write a Book

June 9
The Gift
Host: Chynna Laird
Guest Interview and Book Review

June 10 
A Slice of Life
Host: Linda Hoye
Guest Post: And You Thought You Were Done: The Revision Process

June 13
Rage Against the Washing Machine
Host: Amanda Lebron
Guest Post: Does the Stigma of Mental Illness Still Exist

June 14
A.L.L. Between the Lines
Host: Amanda Lebron
Book Review

June 15
Words from the Heart
Host: Linda Neas
Guest Post; How to Survive the Death of a Child

June 20
Thoughts in Progress
Host: Mason Canyon
Guest Post: Not Another Casserole: Comforting a Grieving Parent

June 21
Mother Daughter Book Club
Host: Cindy Hudson
Guest Post: Does the Stigma of Mental Illness Still Exist

June 22
Women’s Memoirs
Kendra Bonnett
Guest Post: My Experience Writing Leaving the Hall Light On.

June 23
Host: JH Siess (Janie)
Guest Post: Using Memoir Writing to Deal with Grief

June 27
Host: JH Seiss (Janie)
Book Review

June 28
The Cottage Bookshelf
Host: Kimberly Scott
Guest Post: The Support Services Available to Families Dealing with Mental Illness

June 29
National Association of Memoir Writers
Host: Staci Motherwell
Guest Post: The Journey from Aerospace Writer to Creative Writer

July 1
Women’s Memoirs
Interview: My Experience with a Book Blog Tour and the Marketing and Selling of My Memoir

Many thanks to my WOW Blog Tour coordinator, Robyn Chausse, for arranging all these interesting and challenging tour stops.