Where I’ve been

I apologize for the scarcity of my blog posts lately. I've gotten very involved in a consulting job over at the aerospace company I used to work for and that has taken up most of my energy. And the problem  is, I don't see an end of the work in sight. Although I don't want to go on a complete vacation from blogging, I feel I have to cut back. I've already done that to my small stones writing regime, my work on my novel, and my attendance at  writing group meetings. Unfortunately, when I accept a consulting job, most everything else suffers. However, some interesting things have happened as well. I belong to a wonderful group called South Bay Cares that was founded as a source of education and to be an arbiter of positive action so that members can be the change that we want to see in the world. Our motto is: Educate. Empower. Engage. And a couple of weeks ago we hosted an event at our local independent bookstore: Pages: a bookstore with the cinematographer and two of the writer … [Read more...]

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How photos, poems, and quotes can add to your writing

Our poetry reading yesterday afternoon at Pages: a bookstore was a huge success. I read many of the poems included in my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, plus a few newer poems. Using that material and receiving so many kudos from those in attendance yesterday makes me so happy that I never faltered about adding poems (and photos and quotes) to the book. Almost as soon as my memoir was published one of the first reviewers said, “….The poetry and photographs add an extra dimension that is missing from most memoirs like this since as a reader you get much closer to the reality of what is being described on the page….” (Mark Shelmerdine, CEO, Jeffers Press). Another reviewer said my book is “poetically visceral.” Those statements helped validate any misgivings I had in adding other creative works into my manuscript. I really hadn’t thought of putting photos in my book until my publisher sugge … [Read more...]

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We’re taking the show on the road

Last December, Chanel Brenner, Alexis Fancher, and I read poetry about the deaths of our sons at Beyond Baroque, a literary arts center in Venice California. See my blog post about this event here. We’re reading again this Sunday April 24 at 4 pm at Pages: a bookstore in Manhattan Beach California. We’ve modified the program a bit; however, we are carrying through the same theme: WRITING HEALING POETRY Turning Grief into Art We hope you’ll join us. Each of us will read thirteen to fourteen poems. Mine are mostly in my memoir in prose and poetry, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide. Chanel will read from her book of poetry, Vanilla Milk, and Alexis will read from her poetry chapbook, State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies. I can attest that the poetry is fabulous, and I know you’ll like the refreshments as well. … [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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CD launch time is almost here!

I’m getting more and more excited. We’re having a party to launch the CD of my son Paul’s music this coming Thursday. I just ordered refreshments, I’m thinking about the logistics of bringing CDs and books to the venue, and I’m in the process of making up the program – all the details that go beyond producing the actual CD. From the FB event and eVite invitations, we’ve received definite and maybe RSVPs from 45 people so far. It looks like the event will be well attended. Hopefully more people will tell us yes in the next couple of days – maybe some of you who read about it here, today. Here’s the details: Date: Thursday September 25, 2014 Time: 7 to 9 pm Place: Pages: a bookstore Address: 904 Manhattan Avenue, Manhattan Beach CA And here’s a photo of the actual CD. My husband Bob Sharples wrote: "This compact disc is an introduction to the jazz piano of our son, Paul Sharples. Listening to it brings to me memories of evenings when Paul simply played for himself in … [Read more...]

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Launching a CD takes months

For the last several days I’ve been on a mission to finish all the online “paperwork” necessary to produce the CD of my son Paul’s music. On July 11, I wrote that the CD was almost ready, giving credit to the folks who have helped me with this project. However, little did I know how much more work I had to do. Doing the job of picking out the music, enhancing the music, and building the CD took months. While producer Patrick von Wiegandt  made the music sound so professional he also provided his expertise about what the launching of a CD entails. Early on he directed me to two sites: CDBaby for digital sales NationwideDisc to produce hard copy CDs complete with a sleeve with front and back cover art (artfully created by my photographer friend, Paul Blieden). It literally took me months to fill our their very detailed forms. I won’t go into all the gory details here. Let it suffice to say, that I’ve just finished – hopefully in enough time to have everything ready for the lau … [Read more...]

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Support your local bookstore

I'm so in love with my local bookstore Pages: a bookstore, I support it whenever I can. And it has supported me as well. I've had three readings there. I hope you will do the same to make sure we keep our bookstores alive. In view of that here is a post I just came across from the Book Marketing Expert, reprinted with his permission. Let's work hard to prevent bookstores from going away. Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques. http://www.amarketingexpert.com What Happens if Bookstores Go Away? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ That sentence alone is enough to send chills down my spine. No bookstores? I can't imagine a world without them. Yet the fact of the matter is, that's likely where we are headed. I don't often share this, but you know that term "bucket list"? One of my bucket list items is to get locked in a bookstore overnight - with a fully-functioning Starbucks … [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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Introducing Sonia Marsh

I met face to face with Sonia Marsh for the first time yesterday after a long virtual friendship and a lot of win-win networking. She is the author of the newly released memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops (available at Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle, as well as Barnes and Noble) and the Gutsy Livingblog. I posted my gutsy story there in June, and I’m pleased to say, I won for the gutsiest story of the month. Please go over to Gutsy Livingto receive a special gift. Just scroll down and look for the red starfish. So Sonia and I talked nonstop – mostly about how to go about the business of selling a book. We shared websites, conference information, how to get on panel discussions, what organizations we belong to. I urged her to join our Greater Los Angeles Writers Society. Although Sonia lives in Orange County, GLAWS has members who come to meetings and events all the way from Arizona. Yesterday’s highlight was meeting with one of the proprietors of my local indie book … [Read more...]

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The eve of New Year’s Eve

I think this is a perfect day for looking back. Usually we go to an eve, eve party where we always share about our events of the year. Since it was cancelled this year, I'll share our major happenings of 2011 here. Major Happenings of 2011: 1. My husband, Bob, and I traveled to Amador County and Sutter Creek, CA with Manhattan Beach friends to taste some native zinfandel wines in January. On our first night there Bob fell and broke the three metatarsal bones in his right foot. Bob had foot surgery to repair and pin his broken bones together in February and had to be off his foot for eight weeks. He got around on a knee scooter (Rolleraid) or crutches. I was his driver. Bob on his knee scooter (Rolleraid) 2. On May 8 (Mother’s Day) my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On was released by Lucky Press. My successful book launch reading and signing at our local independent bookstore, Pages, was held on May 12. A couple of weeks later we celebrated my birthday in Lake O … [Read more...]

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A book launch and signing – Part Three

Here’s the third installment of my blog about my book launch and signing. Signing a Book - What a Pleasure Part Three – Lessons Learned. Book the venue early. I contacted the Pages (http://www.pagesabookstore.com/) bookstore on February 2 and received an answer the very next day. I booked May 12 – four days after the book’s scheduled release – absolutely perfect timing. Be prepared to do most of the publicity yourself – I used my Facebook and email network; the bookstore helped by posting it on its weekly newsletter with a nice blurb and links to my book cover and trailer. Try to arrange for other publicity early. I asked both of my local newspapers way in advance to publish a story about the book. One published a great interview with me on the day of the event; the other just posted a brief notice on their weekly calendar of events. Even if someone says they’ll be glad to support your event, it doesn’t always happen as expected. Send out lots of invitations – don’t worry … [Read more...]

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A book launch and signing – Part Two

As promised here is part two of my three-part blog about my book launch and signing. In Part Three I'll discuss lessons learned. Part Two - The Actual Event Reading at {Pages}, a bookstore Our son Ben arrived at our house at about five thirty ready to help bring books, food, and drinks to the Pages bookstore, and by the time we got there, about six, Jetena, the receptionist from the building where I used to work, was already there. Although Ben joined his wife Marissa and her folks for dinner, Bob, Eleanor – my friend from Oakland who came down the day before to keep me calm and centered – and I opted to stay in the shop. Eleanor and I put out the strawberries, mangos and cheese cubes in a divided platter that I brought from home, Dinah, the cupcake host, arranged the mini lemon cupcakes, and the store manager and his assistant arranged the drinks – wine and waters – on a separate table, some chilling in ice buckets. They made a cute pyramid cup arrangement. Flowers from my publis … [Read more...]

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Book launch and signing – a huge success

The launch party for Leaving the Hall Light On at Pages: a bookstore in Manhattan Beach CA last night was a huge success. People from all parts of my life attended: high school friends, former work colleagues, neighbors, friends from the Los Angeles area and Las Vegas, Ojai, San Diego, and Oakland, and many family members. In addition people came as a result of a wonderful article about my book in our neighborhood newspaper, "The Beach Reporter": http://www.tbrnews.com/articles/2011/05/12/stepping_out/step3.txt. The room was filled to the brim with standing room only during my reading, and it was a dream come true to have so many attendees wait in line for me to sign their books. In all, the event resulted in the sale of sixty-one books - with some people buying two or three. People I've known for years and people I've never met came up to me to tell me their similar story of bipolar disorder and suicide in their lives. I am indeed thrilled they chose to attend last night and … [Read more...]

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