Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Major Announcement!

It's truly funny how things work out sometimes.

For the past year, since about the time my son began pre-treatment for his bone marrow transplant, my thoughts where publishing were concerned have turned dramatically towards self-publishing. I've seen countless friends self-publish in the past 5 - 8 years, some who even surprised me because of their vehemence towards NOT self-publishing in the same time frame.

I've spent numerous hours in the last year reading popular self-publishing blogs, listening to podcasts, and questioning key friends who have both self-published and been traditionally published. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that self-publishing was for me because of the certainty of having my words and stories in print, and because of the level of control I'd be able to have.

And then, a random post about a month ago turned things on its head.

On my personal Facebook page, I made a comment one weekend about the priciness of ISBNs--those 10 or 13-digit numbers that uniquely identify your book and its edition. I knew I'd need several in the next year or two, considering my plans. But, yikes! Were they expensive!! I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I can't ask my husband for $500 for 20 ISBNs (or whatever the rate is.) We just don't have it in the budget, and I haven't shown him the evidence that I could earn it back yet.

So, back to the comment. I was surprised at how many people responded to my post--all authors, of course (because who else knows what an ISBN is??) It was an interesting conversation, especially because I commented that I almost wished we lived in Canada, where ISBNs are free to authors.

What I didn't know is that they're free in other countries, too. Like New Zealand.

One of my friends happens to live in New Zealand.

She also happens to have her own press.

She also has read my work, and was my mentor when I did the Team PYP challenge about two to three years ago.

And, late last year, I'd asked her advice on a short story I had wanted to develop into a longer piece of work, and she gladly gave me some advice which was key into developing it into a novella rather than a short story.

She also invited me to send her the completed novella to possibly publish it through her press.

My brain turned on its head. Traditionally publish? But... but... but... I've been planning to self-publish for the past nine months!

Still, this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. One thing I've struggled with was the idea that my stories were worth it. Another was what I'd do about editing because I knew I'd need at least a good polish, if not much more. If she was interested in the stories, maybe they do have worth, maybe they are good enough. If not, well, maybe she'd have some input on what I could improve.

I'm not going to prattle on much longer in my story, but long story short is: I sent the novella. She loved them. We talked. We agreed it would be mutually beneficial for us to work together.

A contract was sent. A contract has been signed.

As of March 25, 2014, I'm contracted with Splashdown Books. My editor is the fabulous Grace Bridges. I'm completely over the moon, especially since this is my birthday week. What better present could an author ask for but a contract?? Of course this year, I'm just thrilled to be home on my birthday, with my husband, daughter, son, and dog. But a CONTRACT! Probably one of the best presents ever!

We're still working out all of the details, such as titles and time frame. That information will be forthcoming as it's available. Check here, the Splashdown Books website, Twitter, my Facebook, or the Splashdown Books Facebook page for updates.

So, that's my major announcement! I'm so, so happy to share this with the rest of you!

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Time to Say Goodbye

Yesterday, February 11, was a difficult day for me. I awoke earlier than normal, scarfed down some breakfast, badgered my kids out of bed before the sun was up, and hit the road before dawn.

Anyone who knows me knows this is abnormal. Heck, I'm writing this at 8:30 AM, and I'm still in my pajamas.

But, I had a very important reason to hit the road.

On Friday of last week, I learned that a friend from my grade school days had died. Killed in a murder/suicide, actually. Very hard words to absorb.

I hadn't seen her in well over a decade, but she'd been on my mind for a few days leading up to this news. See, I'd had some personal turmoil last week, and in the midst of it, I remembered what a good friend she'd been to me all those years ago.


I first met her when I began taking piano lessons from her mother. Despite the fact I'd be taken out of the public school we both attended a few years later, I continued taking lessons from her mother until I was about 16.

We were in a combination class together the final year I was in public school, she in the lower grade, me in the upper. I've always been a little odd, and was not "in" with the other five girls in my grade level. Throughout the school year, I was constantly teased, but for the most part, ignored it. But my friend didn't. She and a couple other girls in her class eventually came to me and said if I didn't do something about what was going on, they would--and they did go to the teacher.

My grade-level classmates were called on the carpet for bullying me. But it wouldn't have happened without Erin intervening.

This story was in my head a lot last week before she had even died, and I'd been about to ask a mutual friend of hers and mine about where she was and to try to get in touch with her when I learned the news.

So yesterday, instead of talking to her, I got to hug her mother as I said goodbye to a woman I wish I'd stayed in touch with. I was so glad to be reassured of how much she loved her family, her friends, and God.

Life can be full of regrets. This is one that I'll definitely regret the rest of my life, that I didn't stay in touch, or get in touch sooner.

Rest in peace, Erin. I know you are already missed, but those who loved you and appreciated you will see you again, one day, in Heaven.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Culturally Different

In the last couple of weeks, I read Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman. For those of you not in the know, this is a memoir of sorts that Ms. Druckerman wrote about her experiences as an American mother raising children in France. I found myself laughing and learning frequently in this book. I rarely read memoirs, in fact, this may be the first I've ever sat through, but the subject matter was intriguing to me: how the French raise their children. Culturally, it's quite different than we Americans raise our kids, and I found myself wishing that even for a few years, my kids could have the influence of the French.

One thing I found intriguing was the idea of expectations. In one chapter, Ms. Druckerman describes how the expectations of life are much different in France than in America, and it filters into their literature, especially for kids. Where in our children's books, we have a story that gets resolved in most cases, and things become "perfect" (or as close to perfect as the author can make them so they're left with a feel-good effect), the French stories published on the other side of the pond are more true to life. She describes one story in a very popular French children's series where one character is mean to another (don't remember the context now, and I had to return the book to my library!) They work on the problem through the book, and I believe the mean child eventually apologizes to the other character... In an American book, that'd be the end of it, but the French book finishes with a final scene where the mean child repeats the same type of offense as originally started at the beginning of the book.

While I thoroughly enjoyed all of the rest of the book, and have learned several things that I'm going to try to implement with my own children, that story about French literature really stuck out to me, probably because I'm a storyteller. I love the art of storytelling, love learning about the so-called "rules," love digging in to my own stories to figure out what's working and what's not.

And I can't help but think I've approached it in a fully American way.

In adult fiction, it's a bit easier to have an ambiguous ending to a story. Fine. We're adults, we can handle it. But, I can't think of any stories I've read to my kids where there's not a happy ending. And, as Ms. Druckerman pointed out, that's not really all that true to life. It leaves kids with a false sense of what should happen in life, that our problems can be solved easily, when often, things are much more complex.

I love a happy ending just as much as anyone. I always get a bit teary-eyed at the end of Return of the Jedi when Han and Leia come to terms, and it's obvious they'll be getting together. Same goes for the end of Pride & Prejudice, and a whole host of other books and movies.

But, should we always let our kids watch shows or read books where problems are easily, and fully, resolved? Wouldn't it be better to expose them to life, and give them a sense that life isn't going to always be full of lollipops, roses, and puppies? As in the French book referenced in Bringing Up Bébé, wouldn't be better to let our kids know that friends won't always repent, and are just as likely to repeat the same offenses over and over?

I, for one, think that would be a benefit to kids.

What are your thoughts? Do you remember reading any books with ambiguous endings as a child, or were all your book choices ended in a happy way?

Until next time...

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