Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A New Memoir and Healing Journey

As many of you may know, I have spent the last two years writing the sequel to my memoir, Again in a Heartbeat.  As of this writing, I am happy to announce that the new book, Morning at Wellington Square, is finished. Now I move into the next phase, which is marketing.  But before I do that, I need to take a moment and reflect.

As any memoirist knows, writing one's life story is a healing journey. We need to make sense of our lives, to heal our wounds before we can try to move on. As we begin to focus on the memories and the people that have made the biggest impression on us, our journey leads to the compelling narrative. What is my story?  What is the message?  Once we understand that, things crystallize, come into focus.  We breathe deeply and feel the joy of finding our way out of the darkness, into the light.


While many new characters are introduced in this book, one of my central characters remains John, my husband.  That said, this story is more about me, more a self-reflective journey than the previous memoir.  This is a woman searching for herself outside traditional roles of  daughter, wife, mother, widow,and career woman.  As a middle-aged woman who has watched many of her friends grapple with unemployment, as well as her own, she asks the question: How do we remake ourselves and tap into our passions?  Can we? I felt this theme was central to Morning at Wellington Square.


My story is about mourning not just a lost career, but the loss of being wife, daughter, sister.  It picks up where Again in a Heartbeat left off as the narrator struggles with being single, an empty nester, and her feelings of emotional fatigue. How can she greet a new morning with optimism and hope?

This is a woman's journey as she searches for those answers  - a modern woman, an everyday woman.

As much as I love the Internet as a way to sell books, I am excited about my first signing at Wellington Square Bookshop from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 22.  Details to follow.

For now, if in some way my story resonates, helps others going through similar experiences, or is simply an enjoyable "read," I have done my job as a writer.  Mostly, I am grateful for the opportunity writing memoir has given me to find the "truth" of my story.

To order on Amazon:
http://tinyurl.com/9j9g3rm

To order on Kindle:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094W7CT2

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stories Restore and Renew

Women gather around a bookshop coffee table eager to read their stories and poems.  Before we start, I light a candle.  My words are always the same because there is a process to this.  "We light the candle to shut out distractions of the outside world and commit to our writing for the next two and a half hours."

I respect the ritual that brings us together; one carried down throughout centuries.  Women have always gathered in a circle to share their intellectual and emotional lives, committing time to themselves without apology.  The circle often became symbolic for a special occasion or celebrating a new journey. 

Writers groups, particularly among women, are growing in numbers and our group is no different.  On average we have a dozen women coming to the monthly read-arounds, far more than when I started the Circle in 2009 and there were three women and myself. Many come and listen, rather than read.  Whether we are the creator or the recipient, the stories restore and renew.  
We mourn and grieve, we celebrate the life that is to come, we search for "the truth" of our stories; that place between the remembered and the invented.  We give ourselves and each other a pat on the back and a "job well done" after reading aloud. Together, we weave our stories into one tapestry. 


NOTE:  The Women's Writing Circle will not hold its monthly read-around in September due to the Art of Life Writing Workshop which  is the second Saturday of the month, September 8.  We have several slots open and would love for you to join us.  See how to register below:

http://www.susanweidener.com/2012/06/art-of-life-writing-workshop.html

We resume our read-around at Wellington Square Bookshop on Saturday, Oct. 13. In the meantime, I offer a writing prompt for your consideration.  Take all the names of the women in your family and make a text or poem out of them.

Happy Writing!

Susan

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Self-Publishing Rollercoaster


It is often said that anyone can write, although not everyone takes the leap of putting their work out in public, or even writing under their real name.  Now we have entered a world beyond our wildest imagining; one that requires fortitude and courage as much as faith in one's talents and abilities as an author. As writers we are in increasing numbers becoming our own publishers. Beware. The ride has ups and down, steep inclines, and elevated curves.

As I write this, it has been another busy day going over proofs for my new book. The book has taken almost two years to write, but that sometimes feels like the tip of the iceberg considering the dozens of decisions every self-publisher has to make if they want a quality product. Some days I feel like a badly paid contract worker; or a stringer back when I first started my journalism career and got 25 cents an inch for copy. 

An interior image from Morning at Wellington Square
Although my first book, Again in a Heartbeat, a memoir of love, loss and dating again, was a success in ways I never dreamed, I am not complacent. I nervously anticipate how this new book - Morning at Wellington Square - will be received.  Hopefully, it will appeal not just to writers, but to anyone interested in life's journey and taking the path less chosen. 


Here are recent lessons I learned after working with CreateSpace on my new book, which I am again self-publishing as a trade paperback and an eBook.  (Why a trade paperback?  More on that in another post.)

  • As a self-publisher you have total control. You also have complete responsibility from hiring an editor, making each and every decision on interior formatting and photographs, writing the synopsis and everything else that goes on the back of your book, downloading your author photograph and bio . . .(not to mention figuring out your marketing campaign, but that's a whole other topic).
  • When the proofs to your book come back, be on the lookout for some really glaring errors. You have to catch it all from formatting mistakes - indentations that are off, larger type in some paragraphs than others; to the incorrect placement of an interior image.  My proof came back with a picture of a woman dancing among ferns above a caption reading: Santa Catalina Mountains in Tucson, Arizona.  Not sure how that happened, but my guess is that no one at the other end was doing much but a cut and paste. (The woman dancing among ferns was another interior image to go at the very beginning of the book.) I also caught Pennsylvania misspelled on the back of my book. True, my fault I sent it over that way, but if you are hoping for a spellchecker?   Don't . . .unless you pay extra for copy editing services, you'd better be on the lookout for the most obvious misspellings.
  • CreateSpace - the printing company I use -  has changed its initial offerings from when I first published with them two years ago. (Light years in the rapidly changing book industry.) Instead of allowing 26 text corrections after the proof comes back, you are allowed 80. This is good news, although corrections are "simple text changes" only and the interior design package has gone up from $329 in 2010 to $379.  If you have more than 80 corrections, you need to resubmit the entire manuscript at an additional cost. (I don't know what it is and don't want to know since my eyes are already crossed from checking and doublechecking the copy.)
  • The cover design package I chose allows for five hours of graphics work for $349.  Two years ago the package was $329.  You get to select from up to three design concepts, but it is the writer's decision whether to accept the styles and fonts proposed or try something different on the cover. (Hint:  Spend time looking at other books and see what has been done.)
  • The writer decides on pagination and running heads interior design, along with typeface and paper color.  I asked about cream versus white.  A CreateSpace representative told me that white is still the favorite.
  • Kindle conversion remains the same from last year at $69.  It is well worth the money to have the eBook look professional.
  • 
  • Interestingly, CS includes 20 "free" trade paperbacks with the Total Design package.  Back in the day - 2010 - no paperbacks were included and the author paid $2.96 per book. This "extra" seems the obvious result of the trend away from paperbacks to eBooks. Good news. I love going out in the community for signings and book club talks and this is a way to have copies to sell as well as pass out to the media for review.
  • Woman dancing among ferns


There are as many options and avenues with self-publishing as rides on a fairground.  Just be sure to select the one that suits your style, personality and temperament.  After all, you can walk away with a unique work of art, lovingly handcrafted. And you won't be much poorer than after writing the check for a year's worth of college textbooks for your children, although you might need a new prescription for eyeglasses. Here is a recent NY Times article on self-publishing.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/16/technology/personaltech/ins-and-outs-of-publishing-your-book-via-the-web.html?_r=1&smid=tw-share