How not to ask for a review

I thought this piece in today's New York Times magazine, in The Ethicist section by Kwame Anthony Appiah, is something all of us authors should think about. My husband pointed it out to me, and I totally agree. The Question More and more of my friends are self-publishing books; some I purchase just to support their writers. In this new situation, a dear old friend wants me to give him a five-star review on Amazon and post it on Facebook. I’ve seen a few pages of his book, and it’s a piece of self-indulgent drivel. I don’t want to hurt my friend’s feelings, but I don’t want to sell out either. What do you suggest? Name Withheld Appiah's Answer If you are such good friends, wouldn’t it be better to give him, gently, your opinion of some of the book’s weaknesses? Possibly without actually using the words “self-indulgent drivel”? Self-published books have taken a long dive since the days of Jane Austen, and the new ease of making them, in the digital era, has turned a river of putrefact … [Read more...]

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What’s a platform anyway?

A few weeks ago I was a panel member at a writer’s conference workshop. The subject was building a platform. Today, I’d like to share a few points that we made at the workshop. But first, here’s my go-to person for all things writer-ly, Jane Friedman, who tells us what platforms are and are not: "What editors and agents typically mean by platform They’re looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience. Let’s break this down further. Visibility. Who knows you? Who is aware of your work? Where does your work regularly appear? How many people see it? How does it spread? Where does it spread? What communities are you a part of? Who do you influence? Where do you make waves? Authority. What’s your credibility? What are your credentials? (This is particularly important for nonfiction writers; it is less important for fiction writers, though it can play a role. Just take a look at any graduate of the Iowa MFA program.) Prov … [Read more...]

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$.99 sale today through Sunday

My memoir Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide went on sale today through Sunday for $.99 at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. We’re doing this promotion in honor of my participating in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s 16-18-mile suicide prevention Out of the Darkness walk in San Francisco on Saturday, May 21, and Mental Health Month. I immediately shared this promotion on my Facebook pages and with a few Facebook suicide survivor sites. Plus many of my friends also shared. As a result I’ve gotten a few kudos from people I didn’t know had read it: “This is a very good book. I encourage every survivor to read it.” “Thank you for writing and sharing your book. It helped me so much. So much of what you wrote felt like I was saying it. Some things you wrote I was even afraid to admit to myself and yet you were strong enough to share. Thinking of all of you this weekend. Thank you.” “A ve … [Read more...]

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More bragging

Even though I've bragged all over Facebook and Twitter I thought I'd do a little bragging here as well. The reason is that my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On is a finalist in the memoir, autobiography, biography category of the Independent Author Network's book-of-the-year award. And I've never been a finalist before. I'll know the outcome on August 15; however, being a finalist is all good as far as I'm concerned. The whole idea for submitting my book was to get it out there some more. So many people have told me how much they've benefitted from reading it that I'm always looking for ways to inspire more people to read it. Take a look yourselves. There's a sample on the right sidebar of this blog. Otherwise, my August has started with a bang. I'm back at my consulting job for one more month, and then I'll be free to go back to my full-time writing life. I can't wait. I also look forward to this job being finished so I can tell you what more I've learned about writing and … [Read more...]

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Through My Eyes by Regina A. Walker

I have always loved New York - the sounds, the smells, the people, the sights. I love it even more after experiencing Regina Walker's new book - Through My Eyes, a photo journal in photography and poems. I wrote on Facebook the other day, "Everyone needs this book." I think the beauty of the images and words in it will grab you as much as they do me. My fellow poet and dear friend, Keith Alan Hamilton, wrote the Foreword. He says, "...I think you will find in this book the combination of her imagery and words go way beyond the magical, as well as the mystical...." Her publisher, William S. Peters, Sr. at Inner Child Press also raves about her work, "The first time i had the opportunity   to   view   Regina’s   work   through   her   lens,   i   was   tremendously intrigued by her eye and her ability to Capture a unique perspective of the subtleness of life all about us. Over time i knew i had to get more involved with her work. . . my soul screamed it’s  necessity  for  it    . … [Read more...]

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We Love Memoirs – Sunday Spotlight

I had a fabulous experience yesterday - Sunday June 21. I was in the hot seat for the We Love Memoirs’ Sunday Spotlight. We Love Memoirs is basically a Facebook social group consisting of memoir writers and aficionados that allows no self promotion. That is except for the Sunday Spotlight. For that one day I was told I could promote, post relevant photos, links, and information about my writing work, and talk about it until I couldn’t talk (actually tap on my computer keys) anymore. Also those coming on-line to chat with me were told they could ask me ANYTHING, and that I'd be there to answer their questions ALL DAY LONG. So I sat down at my computer at 9 am and except for two 15 minute breaks and an hour for lunch (I needed to pay some attention to my husband on Father’s Day), I was online fielding questions and comments until 5:15 pm. The interesting thing is the people on-line were from the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, other foreign countries, and the US – so when … [Read more...]

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The beauty of flowers

This past week I've been surrounded by the beauty of flowers. I took the challenge to flood Facebook with flowers to break the saturation of negative images and videos, and promised my friends who liked this post that I'd choose a flower for them. As a result, for the last three days I've been posting some wonderful flower photos on my page. Please take a look here. Also last weekend while we visited family in Seattle, we attended the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. His glass flowers and sculptures are sensational. He says his glass subject matter was greatly influenced by his mother's flower garden while he was growing up. This museum reminds me so much of a greenhouse, as can be seen in the photo below. So if you're a Chihuly fan as I am, here are a few photos of my favorites at the museum. Note that the exhibit is both inside the greenhouse-like building and outside in the garden. I highly recommend you see them in person if you get the chance. … [Read more...]

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The gratitude challenge

My Facebook friend, Dorothy Sander, invited me to take the five-day gratitude challenge and I accepted. That means for each of five days I need to post three things I'm grateful for and invite three people to join the challenge. This was a real challenge for me because I don't normally think about my life in terms of gratitude - especially in a list. I've thought of benefits and gifts that have come my way. I also very much appreciate my family and friends who have stuck with me through some extremely tough times. So it's not as though I'm ungrateful. I just found it hard to put the words down. Even so, I have completed my list of fifteen. Three went up on my Facebook timeline yesterday, three went up today, and I will post the rest in the next three days. My Grateful List  For being with my godson Hugo and his brother Oscar and their mum and grandmum this morning. We got to show 4-year old Oscar the paleontology exhibit at the Page Museum and the La Brea Tar Pits. What a … [Read more...]

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Change your thoughts today

I've just discovered and liked  Steven Aitchison's Facebook page: Change Your Thoughts ~ Change Your Life. I feel like I've missed something not knowing about this page sooner. Over 440,900 people have beat me to it, but it's never too late. Steven's aphorisms are perfect for me and my life right now. I know they will help me at some point. I'd like to share a couple with you - the first by one of my favorite people, Pema Chodron. She always seems to show up at the right time.   The next aphorism is by Dodinsky, whom I've just gotten acquainted with. Check out his website Positively Positive. Thanks so much for all you do.   … [Read more...]

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Keith Alan Hamilton’s photo at Times Square

I'm so excited for my poet and photographer friend, Keith Alan Hamilton. His photo, Transition Flutter-Fly, will be shown at New York City's Times Square this very day. He'll be in the crowd with a butterfly shirt on, so if you're in the vicinity, please go by and say hi. Give him a hug for me too - I wish I could do it myself. I've known Keith for several years. We first met on Facebook when I joined the Poets, Writers, Photographers, Musicians, Artists ~ Networking group he created. We later met for dinner in Boston, and he also visited my husband and me in California. We discussed putting together a book of poems with images. That is still in the works. I've written several blog posts about Keith and his poems and photos (see this one). His devotion to his creativity is catching. Here's Keith's butterfly photo: And here's a photo of Keith so you can easily recognize him:     … [Read more...]

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Even Facebook can be comforting

Since going through a disturbing and hurtful incident in my life, I've begun to amass some sayings that resonate with me. It's amazing how Facebook is a conduit for such comforting and applicable words. It must mean that I'm not alone, and I treasure that. Here's  a few - in no particular order. I'll keep collecting and post more another time.       … [Read more...]

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Facebook like-my-page event TODAY only

Even though I still question the usefulness of Facebook fan pages, I like the likes, so to speak. But I always wonder if my likes even care about buying my book. Nevertheless, I'm participating in an event sponsored by the Online Book Publicity Group. It's called the Biggest Ever Fb Page Like-fest, hosted by Hajni Blasko. Here's her instructions: INSTRUCTION! PLEEEEEEASE READ. - Have an active Facebook page related to the Publishing Industry - Willingness to return the favor and like the pages of others. HOW TO POST YOUR LINK - Copy and paste ONLY your facebook page URL as a Comment to the top post of mine. - This event is not to promote your book to other authors, since that doesn't really work. It is strictly to gain more Likes. Therefore, do not include any text with your link. - Once copied wait for and leave on the preview ON, allowing others to easily like your page. HOW TO LIKE OTHERS - Please return at a later time and before the 28th 10:00. - Click on View … [Read more...]

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A successful library event

Since my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On has been checked out of my local Manhattan Beach Public Library many times, the library director asked me to come there to speak. The date we decided on was last Wednesday evening, March 20. I was asked to supply the library with a jpg of my book cover and a brief description of my topic: Writing was healing because it helped me put my pain on the page. Instead of carrying it with me every moment of the day and night, I found a place where I could have a little relief. There was so much I couldn’t say out loud to anyone. And since there was so much sadness, anger, and grief in me, I needed a place to put it. Writing was like repeating a mantra as I kept my fingers moving. And I wouldn’t let anything get in my way. I recommend writing or another creative outlet to those who are looking for ways to heal. After that I was on my own. My instructions were: you have an hour and a half from 7:00 to 8:30 pm to speak. That was it. I was lef … [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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My WriteGirl poem

There’s still time to buy a poem for as little as $5.00 and support WriteGirl, a creative writing and mentoring organization for teen girls. With only twenty-three days to go in this first campaign, WriteGirl wants to reach a goal of $30,000 to continue to offer writing mentors and creative writing workshops for more than 300 girls next season (October 2012 and June 2014). So far $6,635 has been raised. For my $5.00 contribution to the WriteGirl Poetry Drive, I received a short poem written by Guadalupe, a 15-year old WriteGirl teen. ONE OF MANY A blissful feeling of belonging A passage of time Forever captured in my mind Only a few to witness Not only the ride, But the love All forgot But I remembered I think it’s lovely and well worth the $5.00 contribution. Don’t you? If so, I hope you’ll contribute and receive your own poem. Here’s the link again http://www.indiegogo.com/WriteGirl-POETRY-Drive You can also find this campaign on Facebookand Twitter. So … [Read more...]

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Another rant – this must be my rant week

So I’m frustrated. I am in the running for a prize at the My Gutsy Story contest site. Up until yesterday another contender and I kept taking the lead back and forth, but now I’m seven votes behind. I’ve sent out two group emails, posted the contest info all over the place on Facebook, tweeted about it, other folks have tweeted about it, and just today created an event to ask people to over there to vote. And out of all that I have forty-five votes. I need seven right now just to tie the first place guy. And I would think that wouldn’t be so hard to do. Don’t people respond to requests like this anymore? Is this going to make me lose some of my FB friends and make me seem like a pest? It really isn’t pesty, I don’t think. Just a simple request: Click on a link, look on the right sidebar, find the Polling place, and click on my name. Should be a piece of cake. I can’t even get my family to do it. So now I’m at a loss as to how to draw folks in and to click where I’ve a … [Read more...]

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Blatant Bragging

Really I don't do this very often, but I couldn't help it today. Mentions of my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On or me have occurred in each of the last three days. And they are all good. On Saturday I found out that the Greater Los Angeles Writers Society Literary Landscapes magazine is now available. And an excerpt from my memoir is there. Here is the link and a picture of the cover. Please take a look. The GLAWS writers are a very talented bunch. We write in all genres. On Sunday Marty Tousley, creator of the Grief Healing website, sent me a Facebook message that she had finished her read of Leaving the Hall Light On and liked it well enough to post it on her Pinterest board called Books Worth Reading and on her list of books for adults on her websites's Grief Healing Books resource. Here's what Marty had to say: "A mother's brutally honest and heartfelt account of living through her son's bipolar disorder and surviving his tragic death by suicide. This is a powerful … [Read more...]

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Enter to win the new anthology – Poetry Pact 2011

I’m so pleased to be a part of a Facebook poetry group called Poetry Pact. Started 18 months ago by my author colleague Jessica Bell, her goal was for us to write and post a poem a day for a year. When I joined the group I did not commit to either a poem a day or even a poem a week, but I did post over 30 poems onto the site in 2011. And I’m proud to say, several of them were chosen for our first (I hope annual) anthology, Poetry Pact 2011, Volume 1, edited by two of our group poets: Angela Felsted and Richard Merrill. (Angela became our Poetry Pact leader in 2012.) I can’t tell you enough what a supportive group this is. The membership is small – we keep it a secret – so that we can all get a chance to Like, comment, and critique each other’s work. I have received so many good suggestions on how to improve my poems from this group. The critiques are always given with complete professionalism and care, never making me feel put down or discouraged as a result. It is wonderful to b … [Read more...]

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Birthday post mortem or how I’m moving forward

Just about a year ago – on Mother’s Day and near my last birthday – I achieved a huge goal. My memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On, A Mother’s Memoir of Living with her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, was published. In it I tell the steps I took in living with the loss of my son. First and foremost I chose to live and take care of myself as a woman, wife, mother, writer. In hopes that my story will inspire others to find ways to survive their own tragic experiences, I’ve devoted most of this last year marketing my book. I have become increasingly more engaged in social networking, through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, I had a blog tour through Women on Writing (WOW), radio interviews, and many speaking and book signing engagements. I’ve also embarked on a whole new writing career – writing for the Huffington Post That’s Fit and Healthy Living columns, the Naturally Savvy website as its over sixty expert, PsychAlive, a website that focuses on suici … [Read more...]

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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? … [Read more...]

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