Monday, April 30, 2012

Farewell, Lucky Press! What's next after a publisher quits?

Right in the midst of saying goodbye to friends from Tuscon on Saturday morning, I got the news that Lucky Press was going out of business – on April 30 – that's today! That announcement gave me a whole three day’s notice. What a shock and what a scramble. It took me the better part of that day, a sleepless night, and until the next morning to get over it and consider this event an opportunity, not a disaster. First, I decided my book is way too important to abandon now.

Actually I should have seen the writing on the wall when Janice, the owner of Lucky Press, informed me about a month ago that she would not produce my e-book in May as promised. She had been in ill health and just moved. Plus creating graphic designs seems to be her passion and provides her real livelihood.

However, I was fortunate that she resonated with my book and offered to publish it. Her attention to detail with my text, photos, and book design was flawless. I am very proud of the book she produced. And it got my story out and my mission to erase the stigma of mental illness and suicide off the ground.

However, the repercussions of her shutting down her business – especially with so little notice – have been horrendous:
  • Do I self publish or find another publisher? I prefer finding another publisher, but we’ll see.
  • Hardback, paperback, or e-book? I don’t think I would want another hardback edition. It is expensive to buy. It will definitely be an e-book and maybe both paperback and e-book.
  • Are my books still for sale online? Since I have an Amazon bookstore set up I think my books will still be for sale there as of tomorrow, but I’ll find out for sure tomorrow.
  • How do I fix the link that went to my Lucky Press page that as of Saturday went to nowhere. I immediately contacted my friend who created my domain name:  and he fixed it to point to my blog for the time being. I’m going to ask him to build me a new website once all my ducks are in a row.
  • Do I own the copyright? Yes
  • Do I need a new ISBN number? Yes
  • Should I take up Janice’s offer to send me all the native files with all pertaining to Lucky Press removed? Yes. I arranged that today and paid the bill.
  • What about my bookmarks? This has to wait until I know if I’ll have a publisher or will self-publish.
  • What about new flyers? Same as above
  • And how do I even start on the road to recovery? Well, almost immediately one of my friends suggested I contact her publisher. I did that today, and I’ll follow through with an email with information about my book. I’ve also contacted a few other people I know on Facebook who might be able to help. And of course I emailed my mentor who helped me throughout my query process all those many months ago. He is as always encouraging.

I’m sure I’ll have more to say during this learning process. If nothing else this new publishing wrinkle will give me more blog fodder as the days and weeks go by.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Create a Time Management Plan – Platform Challenge – Day 23

Robert Lee Brewer’s platform challenge assignment for yesterday was to create a time management plan. He believes that we must manage our time so we can remain connected on our social networks and still spend the majority of our time writing.

I have been fully aware of this ever since I retired from my day job in April 2010 and plunked myself in my chair at my home office and began my life as a full-time writer. Even though I allow myself a lot of time to write, I find myself wandering every so often to look at my email, check my Facebook comments and likes, see if anything is happening here at Choices, and respond to Twitter messages and retweets. I feel if I’m going to participate in the social media at all it’s a matter of give and take. If someone gives to me, I have to give back.

View from my office 

Just now I found a comment on an article that went live yesterday. If someone was generous enough to make a comment on my piece, I had to write a thank you right away, didn’t I?

Well, no. It could have waited. Like Robert, I’m going to reward myself with fifteen to thirty minutes of social media time after I finish each piece of writing I’ve assigned myself for the day. My assignments for today are:

  • Finish and submit a piece for the Journeys through Grief  newsletter – Check
  • Write poems for the PAD challenge – since I didn’t respond to yesterday’s prompt, I had to write two poems today – Check
  • Post a blog piece on my Red Room page – that was easy, I posted a piece I had written for this blog – Check
  • Write a new Choices blog piece – I’m doing that now.
  • Reread and edit my piece for PsychAlive and get it ready to send off.
  • Work on my novel – I try to write 300 to 500 words a day, and so far I’ve been successful at it.

That’s about three to five hours of work right there, so I have precious little time for social media. Right away I know I have to limit my social media breaks to no more than fifteen minutes each – at least for today. And really that’s plenty.

I could also consider a shorter writing assignment list for each day. Actually that will happen almost automatically. My April platform and PAD challenge participation will end at the end of this month, so I’ll have more free time almost right away. And once I submit my two or three regular monthly articles, I don’t have to worry about those for a few weeks.

So my workload varies. What I need to do is write down what I have on my plate each day, and then check the boxes as I finish each task. I can then reward myself with some social media time as I check that finished box. I think that’s all the time management I’m going to do. It’s not rocket science. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

LA Times Festival of Books - was it worth it?

I spent most the last couple of days at the LA Times Festival of Books held at the University of Southern California campus. And most of the time I hung at the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society booth.

 I'm holding Paul's Putting a Face on Suicide poster

I was pleased to bond with several of the GLAWS members who volunteered to provide hospitality to people interested in joining our group and to help those of us who paid for a selling and signing place at the booth.

Here I am with author and actor, 
Ace Antonio Hall, my GLAWS colleague

I also learned a thing or two about my author colleagues. Most were lovely and friendly but as expected kept to themselves and their customers during our signing sessions. However, the woman next to me used her space as well as mine until I told her next time she needs to pay for two places, not one. She didn’t bat an eye and just leaned over my table space to yet again sign one of her posters for someone. But I won out in the end. My friends in charge arranged for me to have some extra selling time.

Pretty cramped quarters

When I came home after my first afternoon at the festival, absolutely exhausted from being on my feet for three straight hours, I made up my mind I wouldn’t pay to be a part of that festival again. It wasn’t worth it. I only sold one book on Saturday.

But I went back on Sunday with a newly enlivened attitude, and before it was even my turn to set my selling space up, I sold a book. Friends who had seen my event invitation on Facebook came and bought—what a great surprise. And once I was up and running, I sold two more books almost immediately. I think my new strategy of asking for the sale worked. When I saw interest, I just asked, “May I sign one of my books for you?” and sure enough both of the women who bought said yes.

Unfortunately the sales ended there, but not the conversations. As always when people find out what my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, is about, I hear their personal stories of suicide and mental illness. Or they are therapists and work with people at risk. One man asked me why I thought suicide was so prevalent now. Another told me how selfish it is to do that kind of hurt to one’s family and loved ones. Another asked my credentials. I said: I’m just a mother. I wrote my story. My credentials came from living through my son's bipolar disorder and surviving his suicide death.

So, here are a few book festival lessons learned:

  • Bring plenty of bookmarks. Stand up in front of your display and pass them out. Then you’ll be ready to speak to interested people at their level – they won’t have to look down at you in your seat.
  • Introduce yourself as the author of the book they are looking at. People like to meet authors in person.
  • Don’t expect to recoup the money you spent for the booth space. I almost did, but that’s because I am selling a hardback edition.
  • Learn how to ask for the sale. My pitch worked twice – so I plan to use it again.
  • Be prepared to keep smiling and keep talking. Even if you don’t get the sale right then, the odds are you’ll get some later. After all they still have your bookmark.
  • Don't expect the people who say they'll be there to show up. But surprises are always possible. I don't even know that all the advertising I did in Facebook and here on Choices made much difference.
  • And, if I decide to go back next year, I won’t go both days. It’s too much standing.
  • Plan to have a good deep massage afterward.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Call to action - April Platform Challenge - Day 19

As part of the April Platform Challenge my task today is to ask you to do two things:

  • Please click on the share buttons  - they are big and prominent at the top of the right side bar on this page
  • Please sign-up for my email feed – see the little box just under the share buttons. It has room for you to type in your email address. Please click Submit when you've finished.

And one more thing that is not part of my assignment:

Please join me at the LA Times Festival of Books on the University of California campus either or both Saturday and Sunday June 21 and 22, from 12 noon until 2:00 pm. I’ll be at the Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society booth number 970. Hopefully I’ll be signing lots of copies of my book: Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide (Lucky Press, 2011).

You can’t miss me. I’m the one with the long gray hair.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April poem a day challenge

In honor of National Poetry Month, Robert Lee Brewer, editor at Writer’s Digest and creator of Poetic Asides, holds a poem a day challenge. I love to take the challenge because his prompts are always fun. He also provides his examples to help get us started. This month Robert has also created a platform building challenge through his blog: My Name Is Not Bob. I’m doing that one as well.

Here are a few of my April PAD poems with Robert’s prompts.

Day 5. Write a poem about something before your time. Maybe it’s a certain time in history. Or a type of music. Or a story that was shared by friends or family–before your time.

Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris
brought back a world before my time
and people that I would kill
to have known:
Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald
Porter, Baker,
Picasso, Man Ray, and Dali
all in the raucous 1920s.
And for a little more romantic and quiet
take he took us even further back
to the 1980s Belle Epoque
and the artistic worlds of
Toulouse-Lautrec, Gaugin, Degas.
If I can’t be as lucky as Gil
to go back in time,
Woody’s homage to the creativity,
beauty, and romance
of the City of Lights long past
will have to do.

Day 10. Today’s “Two-for-Tuesday” prompts are: 

1. Write a Forest poem or 
2. Write a Tree poem.

Three Palms (Tweet-length)
Outside my window I only see
their wide round trunks
still wet from last night’s rain
that seeped in streaks
into their vertical pores

Day 11. Pick a season (any season) and make it the title of your poem; then, write your poem. For instance, your poem might be titled “Winter” or “Spring” or “Rabbit Season” (if you have a sense of humor and like Looney Tunes cartoons).

What Spring?
In sunny southern California
we have no spring,
and no summer, fall, or winter
either for that matter.
Here the seasons are all mushed together
It’s never hot enough to break a sweat
or cold enough to see your breath
But somehow the flowers
know when to bloom
and the leaves
know when to fall.

Day 15. Use the following five words in your poem: slash, button, mask, strap, and balloon. Use them in any order.

In sharp sweeping strokes
he slashed the flimsy fabric
eliminating all traces
of straps and buttons.
He let the skirt flow free
to billow like a floating

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Kid with the Bike

I’ve always said my blog is eclectic, Well, today it will touch on a brand-new subject for me: a movie recommendation. I think I’ve been influenced by Ann Best’s blog. Ann is doing the A to Z Golden Movies Challenge this month. Please check it out.

We saw “The Kid with the Bike” over the weekend, and the sadness of the film still reverberates with me. It is the most stunning piece about rejection and abandonment that I’ve ever seen. Yet, I feel it has a hopeful ending.

I don’t want to give it all away. I’ll just say it’s about a kid, played brilliantly by the young actor Thomas Doret, who is blatantly rejected by his father. The town hairdresser, played by the beautiful Cecile De France, takes him in as her foster child.

But before he can really accept her kindness he must act out his hurt, frustration, and disbelief about how his father has treated him. That part was very hard to watch because Thomas made it seem so real.

The film, released in Belgium May 2011 in French, was written and directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne. According to IMDb, they used their well-known technique of filming with available light and handheld cameras. Well, to my mind, this produced a brilliant affect.

So I recommend you go see it despite the subtitles. Others obviously liked it as well. “The Kid with the Bike” won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Independent Author Network

I recently joined The Independent Authors Network and I think it is paying off already in turns of book sales and reach. I recommend it to my author friends out there who have stagnating sales rankings, and who don’t get a lot of marketing coverage. Now I think tweeting about my IAN involvement is a necessary part of my marketing work.

Here are few bits of information about the network. But I suggest you click here to find out more and to determine whether it’s something you’d like to do. And if you decide to join, click here

In the words of The Independent Author Network:

Q. What is The Independent Author Network?

A. The Independent Author Network is a group of like minded authors who are self published or published by a small indie press. The group is open to authors who are active social networkers at sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. The group works together to support and promote each other online.

Q. How does I.A.N. work? 

A. Members are asked to Tweet and Facebook their IAN Member page and the pages of the other authors. If a member has a new book releasing, a book signing, a blog tour or any event the info would be posted to our blog and the others Tweet, blog, Facebook etc. the event as their time allows. 

Q. What is the cost to join?

A. Yearly Basic membership is free at IAN, however to help cover rising site costs we require new members to please pay a one time set up fee If you have 1-6 books to promote the Membership setup fee is $24.95.Please contact us if you have more than six books to promote.

Q. Will I need to pay this fee yearly?

A. No this is a one time fee and will not be charged again!

Q. What else do I need to join?

A. All new members must have a book that is published or near publishing at a small mainstream independent press or is self-published. We ask that all members have a twitter. Other useful accounts include: Facebook, LinkedIn, GoodReads, Shelfari as well as a blog and website.