Let’s celebrate with Linda Appleman Shapiro

Linda Appleman Shapiro's memoir, She's Not Herself is celebrating its second anniversary. And it has a lot to celebrate. Just take a look at these wonderful reviews: “An honest and compelling story by a brave and gifted writer.” ~ Wally Lamb – NY Times best-selling author of She’s Come Undone, I Know This Much Is True, and many other novels. Winner of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill’s Kenneth Johnson Award for the anti-stigmatization of mental illness. “A story that applies to us all – truthful, carefully crafted, and created with a clear-eyed affection.” ~ Watts, M.D., poet, writer, musician, NPR commentator “We identify with the author’s sense of alienation from the first chapter and agonize with her longing for a normal life. She's Not Herself is a revelatory account of someone who grew up with a mentally ill parent and grew up to become an effective, loving mother and a successful professional healer.” ~US Review of Books, Barbara Bamburger Scott “I lov … [Read more...]

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Reading about Corita Kent at {pages}: a bookstore

This past Thursday evening I attended a book reading at my local independent bookstore, {pages}. April Dammann, author of Corita Kent. Art and Soul. The Biography. (Angel City Press), spoke to us about the wonderful artist and teacher of the 1960s formerly known as Sister Mary Corita. I was most interested in attending this event because I have four of Corita’s serigraphs hanging on my family room wall. I fell in love with them in the 1960s when I first heard of this rebellious nun, modern artist, and activist for social justice who combined bright colors, whimsical shapes, and political and/or literary messages in her artwork. And I still enjoy having her work in my house. Her work is relevant. Her messages are universal.   For example, she wrote two messages in the Life piece (upper right): “Life is a complicated business fraught with mystery and some sunshine.” P. Roth “Let the morning time drop all its petals on me. Life I love you. All is groovy.” Simon & … [Read more...]

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How I got my book published

Now that this piece was rejected for inclusion into the Authors Publish anthology, I'm free to post it here. Hopefully my experience and perseverance and will to get my book published will inspire other authors to keep sending their work out. Please don't give up. It's worth it in the long run. How I Got My Book Published By Madeline Sharples Two years and sixty-eight queries later I finally got a book contract with a small press – the now defunct, Lucky Press. I found Lucky Press through the the firstwriter.com Publishers Instant Alert Service, and followed the submittal instructions so carefully that in her response, the publisher told me my query letter was perfect. (The instructions said: Send query by email with cover letter, short bio, how you can help with marketing, 300-500 word synopsis, and first chapter, all pasted into the body of the email. No attachments. Write "Manuscript Query" in the subject line.) With that and her request to send her my manuscript, I thought … [Read more...]

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Great writing advice from David Berner

I can relate. It took 68 queries before I got the "yes I'd like to publish your memoir." And like David Berner, author of There's a Hamster in the Dashboard, I kept submitting. I persevered. I believed I'd find a home for my book—even though the subject matter is mental illness and suicide. So, here's my plea to all writers: David has given you great advice. Read it, believe it, and keep writing and submitting - always with the positive attitude that your "yes" will come in time. Please welcome David as he tours his new book with WOW! Women On Writing. The Best Way to Submit Your Creative Nonfiction to Small Publications and Literary Journals By David W. Berner I received more than 30 rejections to the manuscript for my second book, Any Road Will Take You There. Thirty. Each one of them arrived as an email, one after the other in a steady beat for about two years. “But these are good rejections. They like the story,” said my agent. The editors did like the story, but m … [Read more...]

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A special to honor the Out Of Darkness walk

The Boston Out of Darkness overnight walk for suicide prevention and awareness is the night of June 27 – less than two weeks away. And I’ve been very aggressively training for it. I’ll need to walk 16 to 18 miles that night, so I want to be well prepared. Yesterday I walked almost 10 miles, so I think I’m right on track to be able to complete this personal challenge. I'll be posting photos of my team S.O.L.E.S. and me in this hat. In case you’re wondering why the walk is at night, here are my thoughts – it’s to bring the suicide word out of the darkness. We need to speak that word so we can help prevent it. If people will talk about their suicidal thoughts maybe others can help prevent those at risk from acting upon their thoughts. I wish my son had talked to my husband or me. I still think after almost sixteen years that maybe I could have changed his mind had he only told me what he was thinking. Here's one of the S.O.L.E.S. team captains, Deborah Lee Rose, wearing the&n … [Read more...]

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What’s in a book title?

The title of my memoir is Leaving the Hall Light On (Dream of Things). A lot of people ask me what the title means. Here's an explanation. At first I believed—my magical thinking—that if I left the hall light on, if we didn’t move away from our house, if we didn’t change our telephone number, Paul, our son who took his life at age 27, would know how to make his way back. Paul would know we were still here waiting for him. For a long time I waited for that familiar sound of his Volvo coming into the garage, the sound of the door from the garage slamming as he entered the house and went down the hall to his room, the sound of him walking around the house at night, the sound of the door opening and closing as he went in and out of the house. In fact, for a while I thought I heard those sounds. And for a long time I left most of the things in his room alone for fear of removing his presence there. For a long time I refused to give away his things in case he would need them when he … [Read more...]

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How technical writing helped me write memoir and fiction

I fell in love with writing in grade school and took journalism and was on the newspaper staff in high school. I attended the University of Wisconsin as a journalism major, then transferred to UCLA my senior year to complete a degree in English. Because jobs for women journalists were few in the 1960s in Los Angeles, I began a long career as a technical writer and editor, proposal manager, web designer and content developer in the aerospace industry. And I must say that was a great choice because my job paid very well, and I’m still able to work from time to time as a consultant years after I officially retired (I’m just about to embark on a four-month job to help a group of engineers write a proposal to the U.S. Air Force). Plus, I’ve been able to transfer what I learned as a technical writer over to my memoir and fiction writing. Here are six things I learned: Plan before you write. I had an outline before I started my memoir and a list of scenes that guided my fiction b … [Read more...]

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Saturday, November 22, is International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day

Throughout the  fifteen years since our son took his life, I've met many folks in person and through  groups on Facebook who like me are survivors of suicide loss. So, I thought I'd remind all of us that tomorrow, Saturday, November 22, is International Suicide Survivors Day, an event always falling on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I did a little research about how this day started and found out that Senator Harry Reid introduced a resolution to the United States Senate which led to the creation of National Survivors of Suicide Day in 1999. Senator Reid is a survivor of his father's suicide. Every year since the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sponsors the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. The AFSP website says: International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day is the one day a year when people affected by suicide loss gather around the world at events in their local communities to find comfort and gain understanding as they share stories of healing and hope. On thi … [Read more...]

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Blog hops – another way to introduce our fellow authors

I always love to participate in blog hops and tagging games, so I thank author David Berner, whose new memoir recently won the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year award, for tagging me to play this week. David and I recently met (virtually) through our publisher Mike O’Mary at Dream of Things. I heartedly welcome David into our Dream of Things family. David’s book due out this fall is Any Road will Take You There, the story of a father who sets out on a cross-country road trip, one he never had the guts to take as a young man. He hopes it will spark a new chapter in his life. But the once-delayed journey now takes on new meaning when he’s forced to confront his family’s unsettled past. Plus, this spring Dream of Things will publish David’s collection of essays: There’s a Hamster in the Dashboard. So here I am tagged IT and answering the: BLOG HOP AUTHOR QUESTIONS What am I working on? My list is long. I’m just about ready to get back to revising my novel based on four s … [Read more...]

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The benefits of a small press

I had an excellent experience publishing with a small press, Dream of Things. Meeting my publisher, Mike O'Mary, was the best thing that happened to my book, Leaving the Hall Light On. My Choices guest today, ElizabethMaria Naranjo, also enjoys a similar experience. Please welcome Elizabeth who has just launched her debut novel, The Fourth Wall, through WiDo Publishing. To enter to win a free eBook version of The Fourth Wall, please leave a comment on this post. Winners will be announced at the end of her WOW tour. Benefits of a Small Press by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo Writers tend to separate publishing into two camps: traditional and indie. Indie publishing is often thought of as self-publishing, while traditional publishing gets described as finding an agent, landing a contract with a big publishing house, and reaping the benefits of a nice advance. Arguments in favor of indie publishing include retaining creative control and bypassing the long wait and frustrations that ca … [Read more...]

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Some stuff about me

With a birthday coming up next month I've been doing a lot of reflecting and a lot of thinking about the future. However, since my suggestion of a book everyone should read is Ram Dass' Be Here Now, I thought I'd share a recent interview that tells about me right now. 1. What is one book everyone should read? Be Here Now by Ram Dass 2. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Peanut butter and blueberries 3. Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book, Leaving the Hall Light On. My book has much to share with anyone grieving the loss of a loved one or suffering any kind of loss. 4. Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?  I’m currently working on a historical fiction book based a bit on my family’s history, yet with a twist. I also want to have a book of poetry published. And I'm almost through producing, with the help of an expert recording technician, a CD made of my son’s jazz music. I hope to have it out in th … [Read more...]

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What more can we do to boost book sales?

Right at the start of the year I received an email from my Dream of Things publisher to tell me he had scheduled some advertising for Leaving the Hall Light On since January is typically a big month for eBook sales. I was elated to have this great opportunity. Here’s the list of advertising events he set up. Kindle Book Review - three posts on their Facebook page on January 2, 3 and 4, and tweets about Leaving the Hall Light On ten times in the month of January. World Literary Cafe – Leaving the Hall Light On featured as "Today's Hot Title" on their website on Jan 4, 5 or 12 (exact date TBD) – it occurred on January 2. Indie Author News – Leaving the Hall Light On their "Book of the Day" on January 6. Digital Book Today - Leaving the Hall Light On their "Book of the Day" on January 7. Indies Unlimited - will do an article on Dream of Things memoirs and anthologies (including Leaving the Hall Light On), date TBD. (hasn’t appeared yet) Kindle Books and Tips - will do a sp … [Read more...]

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Guest author Donald R. Dempsey: review of Betty’s Child, Q&A, and giveaway

I am honored to host author Donald R. Dempsey during his WOW-Women On Writing blog tour. His memoir, Betty’s Child (Dream of Things, March 2013) is the story of one young man’s ordeals with poverty, religion, physical and mental abuse, maternal insanity, and the dire need for confidence and direction as he attempts to come of age. Here’s what three noted reviewers had to say. “Heartrending and humorous. In scene after vivid scene, Dempsey presents his inspiring true story with accomplished style. Dempsey’s discipline as a writer lends the real-life tale the feel of a fictional page-turner.” Kirkus Reviews ”Honest and raw, yet full of humor, pathos, and no-holds-barred dialogue. Fasten your seat belt and get ready for a roller coaster ride. Highly recommended.” Dr. Alan Gettis, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of The Happiness Solution ”This memoir is for everyone who has ever known someone abandoned, someone unloved, someone with barriers that seem impenetrable. With wit … [Read more...]

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Support your favorite indie authors

I sometimes feel like a nag, asking my readers to post a review if they like my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. And I get disappointed when so many say, "yes they will," but fail to do so. After reading Betsy Graziani Fasbinder's suggestions on how to support your favorite indie authors, I think I will try her approach in the future. While I have a very generous and engaged publisher, Dream of Things, and I am continually promoting my work, I now feel empowered to ask my readers to help. Here are Betsy's suggestions. How to Support your Favorite Indie Authors A few hints from Betsy Graziani Fasbinder Betsy Graziani Fasbinder ▪ Friend and befriend: Check out and “like” fan pages on Facebook, author profiles on Goodreads, and Amazon and other online booksellers, as well as LinkedIn. The small task of “friending,” “liking,” “endorsing,” or “following” seems trivial, but it helps indie authors and their books become visible. ▪ It takes a village to promote a bo … [Read more...]

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Happy rebirthing [via Eleanor Vincent]

[This is a reblog of Eleanor Vincent's post today - by permission] I’m throwing a party for the rebirth of Swimming with Maya. Thanks to the power of networking, it has a new life as a paperback and eBook. But in 2010, the future of my book did not look bright. Capital Books, the independent publisher that issued the hardback in 2004, was closing its doors. My beautiful book about raising daughters and rebounding after loss would be pulped. I tried everything I could think of to sell the remaining hardback copies – and had some success. But even if I sold them all, the book would still slowly fade and die. I considered the Author’s Guild program “Back in Print” that creates print-on-demand books for authors in situations like mine. But I’d have to live with a generic book cover and format, and no marketing support for the book. Sadly, this story is not uncommon. Small publishers close their doors with alarming frequency. And big publishers – those consolidated megaliths – … [Read more...]

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Please welcome Eleanor Vincent, author of Swimming with Maya

I first met Eleanor Vincent, memoirist, essayist, and award winning author, in a writing workshop at Esalen in Big Sur California. It was in December 1999, four months after my son Paul took his life. While I was just getting my writing fingers moving again. Eleanor was already writing the first parts of her wonderful memoir, Swimming with Maya: A Mother’s Story. We have been friends ever since. And I am so pleased that Swimming with Maya was just re-released in paperback and eBook by my publisher, Dream of Things, this past February. Join me in welcoming Eleanor Vincent to Choices as she discusses her life since Maya died, the writing of Swimming with Maya, her writing work now, and some of her favorite books, authors, and things to do on a Sunday afternoon. MS: You have experienced one of life’s greatest tragedies. How can people who have experienced a personal tragedy find peace and meaning in daily life? EV: I think it’s different for everyone, but in general the thi … [Read more...]

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It takes a village to write a book

When Eleanor Vincent and I were at pages: a bookstore the other night discussing our memoirs and how writing helped us heal, we continually mentioned how it takes a village to write a book. I’m now in the process of writing a novel, and I continue to believe in the importance of many helping hands in the process. I’ve just completed a novel revision workshop and got useful comments from my instructor and classmates. I also belong to a writing group, and I’ve used the resources of The Next Big Writers website to get reviews of my book as I review the work of others. Here I discuss how I got my memoir written and published, not only once but twice. A member of my village helped me connect with my current Dream of Things publisher when my first publisher went out of business. Even though writing is a lonely business, a village of resources helped and nurtured me from the time I started writing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On. I started with journaling, at first sporadically a … [Read more...]

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A successful bookstore reading and discussion

My friend, Eleanor Vincent came down this weekend to fulfill our commitment to do a reading and discussion at my local independent pages: a bookstore. She arrived on Saturday afternoon, and after much stalling we got to work planning the event Sunday morning after breakfast. We quickly decided to alternate two or three readings with short chats related to them, and then open the discussion to the audience. We chose on our reading portions – I chose two and Eleanor chose three – and then we practiced and timed the whole piece, including our remarks. I also created an agenda so we could each have one at the ready as we sat in front of the attendees later in the afternoon. I had already purchased a few bottles of wine and sparkling water and some veggies and dip to serve. Mike O’Mary shipped us books to sell. Eleanor’s went directly to Pages. Mine came to my home. With all that we declared ourselves ready – mainly because we are very knowledgeable about our books’ messages and the co … [Read more...]

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Kindle giveaway – ends tonight

My publisher, Mike O’Mary of Dream of Things put Leaving the Hall Light On back in the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select program. He has also decided to give the Kindle version away for two days – yesterday and today, hopefully to kick start sales again. As of today – the second morning – it looks like the giveaway is going well though I won’t know the actual count of books downloaded for free until tomorrow morning. Other book sales are going on too.It looks like I sold a few paperbacksin the last couple of days, and surprise, surprise, a hardback sold through my Amazon seller’s account yesterday as well. Go there is you want a signed first edition. Of course the question still is: does a giveaway promote more sales once the giveaway is over? The last giveaways my publisher held did. According the webinar I heard yesterday by Howard VanEs through SheWrites on the subject of Cashing in with Kindle Books, a book giveaway should show up positively in the ranks for a few days … [Read more...]

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My writing life in 2012

Writing became a way to live with my son Paul’s bipolar disorder and to survive his suicide as a result. However, I never dreamed it would become my way of life. I still cannot get through the day without writing something. However, in the last few years it has become more than a balm to ease the pain. It has become a joy and a way to meet and interact with some very wonderful writing friends. Like writing, I can never have enough Buddhas (Richard Stock photo) With that in mind, I thought I write down a few of the highlights of my writing life from 2012, starting with my first publisher’s decision to go out of business. At first I was indeed devastated and then so angry. She closed down with four days warning and cut off our websites even before that. But the devastation and anger were very short lived. I reached out to a few writing friends – especially Keith Alan Hamilton – and got some suggestions about where to query. However, my dear friend and mentor Mark Shelmerdine came thr … [Read more...]

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