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I Skipped This One ABC Prompt: Day 29. Who’s your perfect partner?

It’s been two weeks since the 35 day Author Blog Challenge ended. I miss it. I got used to the regularity of posting every day. There were days I got ‘into a zone’ and wrote three blogs at one time. There were days I couldn’t think, and I was glad I had written ahead.

The only prompt that I couldn’t do was:   Who’s your perfect partner? I was stumped. Instead, I wrote about an off-topic idea (the Damn Sham books of ABookADay, discovered by accident when I ordered a book on Kindle that wasn’t what I thought it was!) because I simply couldn’t come up with an idea of who I could partner with for book sales.

In late March 2015, after my book Adoption: More Than By Chance was published, Kas Winters, a local publisher who has a catalogue of books that she offers through her website, contacted me about the possibility of listing my book with her. I remembered a caution in the Kindle contract about their exclusive link for 45 days and thought it likely there was something like that for CreateSpace, although I didn’t look it up.

Kas continued with her project of making a new catalogue of her books. I continued with Life.

Last week, Kas contacted me with renewed interest in listing my book for sale. I said Yes! And sent her a pdf of the cover along with some copy. Within an hour she had it posted! http://www.everythingfamily.net/AdoptionMoreThanByChance.htm

I have partnered with a purveyor of books on family issues with very little activity on my part! But I have no doubt that setting the intention via the blog that I didn’t write – but thought about a lot — helped this along!

I loved Kas’s personal comment on the page: Our family has a personal connection to the work she does and she has been helpful in getting us through some of the really tough aspects. I’ve added her book to my site, and I think those who are involved in any aspect of adoption would find it to be helpful.

Kas Winters also has authored several how-to books that help parents as well as activities for each holiday. Check out her full website: http://www.everythingfamily.net.

 

TO THE FUTURE

DAY 35  What are you going to do to keep the blogging momentum going? What plans do you have to continue your connection with other Author Blog Challenge participants and the new readers you’ve generated for your blog?

Looking at my posts from the first Author Blog Challenge in 2012, I feel like I was in kindergarten then, and now I’m at least in high school!  I’ve learned a lot since then, but I have a long stretch ahead of me, to get where I want to be. My decision to ‘Go Pro’ has made a difference, and I will continue to post an occasional entry about my ‘schooling’.

I want to keep the enthusiasm for blogging  that I feel now, and transfer that enthusiasm to writing my next book, Helping The Birth Mother You Know.

Re: my website. I want to transfer (or link) the blog pieces from my old wordpress site to my website. Re: Twitter. I want to look at the twitter contacts that came from the ABC. I want to see if there are people following me on Twitter that I need to connect with, and decide how to do it.

I’ll need some help for that. And I’ll not be afraid to ask until I get it!New Picture (1)

Thanks for a great experience, Laura and Marcie! See you soon!

 

SURPRISINGLY . . .

It’s the last week of the Author Blog Challenge, and I reviewed my ‘lineup’ today and found I am missing three posts!  So I’m filling in the blanks: Days 17, 23 and 29.. 

DAY 17 What has been the biggest surprise about writing/publishing your book? What has been the most enjoyable or most memorable aspect?

When I began my career in adoptions, I wanted to write a book about pregnancy for a woman planning an adoption. I remembered my first pregnancy, and my favorite book. I wore out the cover and thumbed the pages until they were marked in grime, especially the chapter that told about fetal development! And I gave it away, later, to someone else experiencing her first pregnancy.

I searched until I found a copy of that book (I think it was called Your Baby and You); I read it with my clients in mind. The book begins with the excitement of choosing a layette and painting the nursery – as a couple! It talked about attending childbirth classes with your husband! Yikes! That would only remind my clients of what she did not have! This would never do!

I was only a year into pregnancy counseling in 1980, when Jeanne Warren Lindsey’s book, Pregnant Too Soon came out. Jeanne was the teacher/principal of a teen pregnancy program in Los Cerritos, CA., and Pregnant Too Soon addressed the issue of teen mothers in a school-based program making an adoption plan for her baby. It was an attempt to de-vilify the few teens in the 1980s who chose adoption for their babies.

I wished I had written that book! I wrote to the author to tell her so, and Jeanne wrote back that it was her first fan letter. I even pitched my book to her publishing team, Morning Glory Press, for Jeanne was a pioneer in self-publishing. Although she encouraged me to address the issue, she wasn’t prepared to publish it.

I set aside my idea of writing a pregnancy book for someone planning adoption. Over the years there would be books written for pregnancy for single women who planned to parent. Every time I checked the index for those books, the word adoption did not appear.

I delayed publishing my book for years because I thought I had to:

  1. Convince a publisher to take a chance on me, an unknown writer.
  2. Set aside $5,000 to $20,000 to get it published, printed and distributed.

Then, in 2005 thanks to Phoenix Publishing and Book Marketing Meetup, I learned about self-publishing, and the most surprising thing is: it isn’t hard or overly expensive to self-publish and print a book!

Most people who write have the computer skills necessary to get a book ready for printing; if not, they can hire someone to bring the book to that level. The costs of self-publishing are not prohibitive. You can form your own publishing company. You can purchase your own ISBN (the barcode number that identifies your book and your book alone), or the company that publishes your book will supply it.

So, if you have a book that you want to write, go for it! You’ll have to make decisions about how many copies you will print. The more you print, the less expensive the cost. But an advantage of self-publishing is that you can rewrite the book between printings.

But if someone wants to write a book of family stories to share with children and grandchildren, it’s not hard (or expensive) to do.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

The Day 32 prompt is: Time for some shout-outs. This may mimic your acknowledgement page, but whom would you like to publicly thank for their help in creating your book or completing it to the point where it is presently?

There aremegaphone many people who were important to the culmination of my dream: to publish a book of adoption stories. At his memorial service in 1994, I felt particularly sad that Bill Hurley,  a friend since college, died without publishing any of his writings. I vowed not to die with my song still inside me.

I took an early version of the manuscript with me to Texas in 1998 when my brother Larry Scott and sister-in-law Patricia Scott were also visiting. Pat is an English teacher and reads more books than just about anybody I know. She validated my distinctive voice that comes through in my stories.

I left a copy of the manuscript with my sister, Nita Ellerd. She called and suggested that the story ‘Amaryllis’ would be strengthened if I didn’t reveal until the end that the social worker who brought the baby from Texas was from Amarillo.

Linda Radke, owner of Five Star Publishing, is someone I knew from my adoption work. I took my book to her in 2001 for feedback. She connected me to Paul M. Howey, the first editor to read my manuscript. He identified the synchronicity inherent in many stories.

Each secretary for Pregnancy, Parenting and Adoption at Catholic Social Service in Phoenix, read my manuscript and used their quick eyes for typos as well as content. I want to formally thank Diana Singer, Barbara Graham and Beverly Elias for their attention to detail.

My dear friends Ellen Sommers and Patricia Scott (same name but a different person from my sister-in-law) were always eager listeners for my adoption stories. I was trying to come up with a name for the book when Pat suggested “Adoption, It’s No Accident.” Changing that to the positive, the book became Adoption: More Than By Chance.

My absolute deadline for publishing was the week of March 12, 2015, so that I could participate in the Tucson Festival of Books. Two members of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Marketing meetup, Lesley Sudders and Eduardo Cervino, said it was a reasonable goal and helped me through the tangled web of publishing via CreateSpace and Kindle. Amazingly, we were neighbors living less than a mile apart!

When I needed help with technology, I got assistance from my daughter, Heather Kozan.  Another meetup alum, Mary Verdier, referred me to Kastle Olson, for web design. In three months Kastle has worked with me from Phoenix, Colorado, New York and Mexico City, yet she’s only an email away.

Finally, I would not have accomplished the production of my book Adoption: More Than By Chance without faithful attendance at the meetup group Phoenix Publishing and Book Marketing led by Laura Orsini. Laura willingly shares her knowledge with everyone. Her personal link to adoption gave me the necessary push to complete this book, and to go forth with my next book, Helping the Birth Mother You Know.

MY IMAGINED BOOK SIGNING DID NOT HAPPEN

When I knew for certain that the printed version of Adoption: More Than By Chance  would arrive before the Tucson Festival of Books in March, 2015, I imagined holding my first book signing event that weekend, in Tucson, since many of the stories in the book involve families from southern Arizona and Arizona Children’s Home Association where I started my career in adoption.

Following the suggestion in Laura Orsini’s book Practical Philantpracticalphilanhropy: How ‘Giving  Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You, I imagined pairing a book signing with a fund raiser for Arizona’s Children Association (their current name).

I pictured the co-sponsored event with the attendance of many families I had worked with in Tucson, learning of their now grown children. I knew the setting where we’d have it:  the gym at the Theraputic Center (yes, the copper plate of dedication has a misspelled word on it!) where we’d held annual Adoption Celebration events in the 80s and 90s.

Alas, when I contacted my friend Marcie Velen from AzCA to obtain the name of the current public relations person for the agency, she said she doubted they would be interested in promoting anything related to adoption. After all, they no longer have an adoption program, and they probably wouldn’t support such an event. They do maintain the adoption files (because it’s an Arizona law), which Marcie still updates when called upon.

It’s a sad commentary on the times that traditional adoption agencies like Arizona Children’s Home and Catholic Social Service (now known as Catholic Charities) have failed to support the adoption programs they were once known for.

The truth of infant adoption today is that most placements happen when a pregnant woman finds a profile of a hopeful adoptive couple on a website, and subsequently obtains support from a web-based service (often in a different state from where she lives, and rarely a licensed adoption agency). The traditional agencies, by and large, have refused to enter into this new age of web-based services. When we workers suggested our agencies provide our waiting families with an on-line platform to be seen by pregnant women, our ideas fell on deaf ears. More’s the pity!

So my first book signing has still not happened. It was only a fantasy

HOW I GOT A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR TO BLURB MY BOOK

DAY 22  If you could ask anyone in the world to write a blurb for your book, who would it be? Why that person/people? How did/will you go about reaching them? Yes – really!

I took a chance; I had been working on my book for a long time. Adam Pertman, a Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist when he wrote for the Boston Globe, was coming to Phoenix. Author of Adoption Nation was written when he and his wife hit the wall of infertility. His research of adoption resulted in Adoption Nation, a fresh look at adoption. Long treated as a sad shameful secret, adoption has come out of the closet!  Adam Pertman’s book led the revolution!

In 2004, I volunteered for airport duty to meet and greet Adam Pertman, who for the second time was the keynote speaker for a conference for the Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program. I’d first met Adam at a national adoption conference in California in 2002, when he was the keynote speaker, and again, when he came to Phoenix in 2003 for the first conference for Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program.

By 2004, Adam Pertman was the Executive Director of the Evan B Donaldson Adoption Institute. Adam gave a great keynote speech. As I drove him back to Sky Harbor, I told him about my book of adoption stories.  When he exited my car at the airport, I handed him a manila envelope and said, “What else do you have to do on a three hour flight back to Boston? Here’s my manuscript; let me know what you think of it.”

A day later, I got an email from Adam: “Hi Beth. I hope you’re well. I’ve read most of it, I really like it, and I think you write very well. So there. Now what?? adam. I asked for a blurb I could use on the cover and he sent back:

“More than By Chance” brings to life what so many of us in the adoption world feel: that life is not always random, and neither are our families. Its message is affirming and uplifting for us all.”  Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and author of Adoption Nation.

I’m glad I took that chance and put my manuscript into his hands, and that Adam wrote back!

I DID IT !

DAY 20  Did you publish your book as a traditionally printed book, an eBook, an audiobook, or all three? How did you come to your decision? Which company(ies) did you use for printing, formatting, recording, editing, and distribution? How did you select them?

I had told people for at least twenty years that I was going to write a book of adoption stories; I was pretty sure that a lot of people thought I never would reach my goal. When I learned I could join in the Phoenix Publishing and Book Marketing booth at the Tucson Festival of Books in March 2015, it gave me a deadline. I got ten copies of my book, Adoption: More Than By Chance, the day I drove to Tucson. I ordered fifty books, but a problem in shipping resulted in a short box of only ten.

Ten turned out to be enough books for that first foray into exhibiting the book. In the process of learning how to send the text to CreateSpace, I also learned how to re-format the book for e-book printing, so I re-formatted it myself and sent it to Kindle, also a company of Amazon.

I’m not proud to admit it, but I took the easy way out. I self-published, naming my publishing company after my parents’ song (Side by Side Publishing), and used Amazon’s print service, CreateSpace, to get a book into my hands. I was surprised that it was not as expensive as it would have been just a few years ago. I managed most of the editing of the final version myself and by having friends read and re-read the book. My new friends from the meetup, Eduardo Cervino and Lesley Sudders coached me through the final hours.

I proved to myself that I could do it. Perhaps– just perhaps – I can find a publishing company that will publish my next book, also on adoption. If I have no takers, I’ll go the self-publishing route again.

I learned a lot. The biggest lesson was: I could make my own dream come true.

A True Bibliophile

When this prompt came up, to interview a bibliophile, I could think of no one more fascinating than my FaceBook friend, Debra Reynolds Perri. We met on FB over a ‘correct grammar’ post – auspicious, to say the least. Debra often posts about the book she is reading, and she speaks with reverence of her books. When I asked, she quickly agreed to answer questions for this post. I’m just going to let her answers come in her own voice.

Approximately how many books do you read in an average month? I would say twenty. I used to try and read a book everyday but sometimes that is not possible, i.e. with the length of the book and what else is going on in my life. I don’t feel I’ve had a good day if I haven’t read at least two or three hours – and some days, I read most of the day. My goal is always 500 pages a day but I do fall short of that many days. Not long ago, I read a series of books with about 6000 pages and I read them all in a week’s time – just could not put them down.

Do you keep a list of the books you read? – Last year, I decided to keep a reading journal and be diligent with all the books I read, a description of them – what I liked and didn’t like – and I rated them on a scale of 1 to 10. My goal had been to read 100,000 pages in that calendar year. I fell short – I believe my total was 71,000+. The one thing I didn’t like about that was I felt everyday that I was just reading for the page count and not the enjoyment. I kept thinking I have this many more pages to read today and that took something away from the experience. This year, I did not do it – but I found I missed it – and am going to start again on January 1, 2016.

What is your preferred genre? – You know, I think about that all the time and I can’t pinpoint one particular genre. I used to read history and historical books most of the time – and a lot of novels. The older I get, the more non-fiction I read. There is nothing better than an enormous biography. I do read a lot of books on political campaigns and books like those of the author Eric Larson. I have a collection of books on Theodore Roosevelt, who is the most fascinating man! I have strong political opinions and read about the people I like and admire. Not to be too political but a year or so ago, I read a great book on Ann Richards, the former governor of Texas. That was just pure bliss! I read every one of Vincent Bugliosi’s books. My favorite fictions authors are Margaret George and Sharon Kay Penman. It has been a thrill to actually talk to Sharon online. One of my favorite historical characters is Richard the Lionheart and I had ordered Sharon’s book and was expecting it on a certain day. I had a migraine that day and had to go to bed. All I could think of was, when I wake up, I want to find that book on my living room sofa – and it was there. I posted that story on Sharon’s FB page and she sent me the nicest response.

My earliest memory is the Bookmobile. It came to our school every week and there was a limit on the amount of books you could check out. There was a series of history books. The first one I remember was a biography of Martha Washington. They had blue covers. I always took out the maximum number allowed and they never lasted until the next week. When I was in the fifth grade, I had read many more sports books with an emphasis on baseball, than any of the boys in my class and was chosen to lead the panel discussion on baseball. The boys were annoyed. I keep a legal pad next to my computer with a list of the books I “NEED” and it never seems to get any smaller.

Oh, of course, as a girl I read all the Louisa Mae Alcott books and the “Little House” books. I remember going to visit someone at Christmas and, it goes without saying, taking my book with me. A beloved character died and I started to cry. My aunt told me that was ridiculous. I remember calling my mother to tell her why I was so upset and that my aunt was being very harsh. She said, “People like her just don’t understand us.” What a thrill to have a parent like that.

At my mother’s funeral I told the story about reading “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I was a teenager and it was in the hottest part of the summer. No one had air conditioning then and I read upstairs in my bedroom with my canopy bed and a fan blowing right on me. This was a Friday and, as a special treat, our family always went out to eat on Friday night. I explained to my mother that I could NOT put down the book to go out. I had to keep reading. It was, to me then, life or death. My mother left me with my book and brought home take-out for me. What a great story.

With my son, my rule was “If you can read it, you can read it.” His father and his grandmother were very upset with me over that as they felt sure he was reading inappropriate things. I may have been wrong in doing it – but he says it was one of the things that made me such a good mother. Can’t beat that!

Where do you like to read – I like to read at home. I can take books wherever I go and, of course, I do – but I feel most comfortable and happiest curled up on the end of my sofa – next to a table that holds my ginger ale, my pens and journals, a good lamp – and the quotations books. Oh, when I read, if I find something I want to remember, I take a little post-it note and put it in the page of the book and write down page numbers. After I have finished the book, I go back and copy those sections into my quotation books. I have filled quite a number of them and love to go back and read them.

What else do you want to share – I am sure I have said way too much already. Books define me. I cannot be happy until my stack of waiting books is very high. I, actually, feel panicked if I don’t have plenty waiting. I used to tell people, “I would sell myself before I would sell my books.” That raised some eyebrows. When someone asks me what I would like for Christmas or my birthday, I say an Amazon card please. My husband always buys me books – but something else as well and I just think, gosh, think of the books I could have had with all he spent on that!

I am so glad I asked Debra, and that she agreed to answer my questions. I don’t think I know anybody who enjoys books better than she!

Beth Kozan

 

SONG FOR MY BOOK

DAY 18  If there were one song that captured the meaning, spirit, message, energy, and or substance of your book, what would it be? How can you use that song or piece of music to market your book or enhance your readers’ experience with your book?

My book is Adoption: More Than By Chance. This is a collection of adoption stories that all feature synchronicities.

The song that comes to mind illustrates déjà vu, a French phrase that literally means “already seen” and is the phenomenon of having the strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced, has already been experienced in the past, whether it has actually happened or not.

The song  is an old one I remember from the romantic movie era of the 40s. Written by Rogers and Hart for the 1937 musical Babes in Arms, it was recorded by Peggy Lee on Christmas Eve, 1941. It’s considered a standard.

It seems we stood and talked like this before

We looked at each other in the same way then

But I can’t remember where or when.

The clothes you are wearing are the clothes you wore.

The smile you are smiling you were smiling then,

But I can’t remember where or when.

Some things that happen for the first time,

Seem to be happening again.

And so it seems that we have met before

And laughed before and loved before,

But who knows where or when.

Enjoy listening to Diana Krall singing Where Or When, recorded in 2008. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGszsPhkrdo Diana Krall.

If I were doing a presentation about the book or a book signing, I could see playing an instrumental version (perhaps the Benny Goodman lead-in to the Peggy Lee version) as a prelude to the speech. I would have a large brandy snifter with a big floating gardenia on the table (an image evoking memories, from a Lena Horne version of Where or When).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbnA78ravpY

SEEKING HELP FOR A NICHE MARKET

DAY 13 – Have you participated in a critique group? If so, how did it work out for you? If not, why have you avoided joining one to this point? Is your critique group online or does it meet in person? What is the most useful thing you get out of your participation? How do you think a critique group could help you improve your writing?

When I wrote my first book, Adoption: More Than By Chance, I did not consider involving a critique group. I was comfortable with my writing style and had readers and editors checking for continuity and flow, plus the all-powerful errors in text that the author gets comfortable with and doesn’t see.

But I’m also writing more books. In the past 24 hours I’ve done some research and will attend my first meeting of a local writer’s critique group within a week.

Because my next book, Helping The Birth Mother You Know, appeals to a smaller niche market than my first book, I want to find (or create, online) a group who specializes in writing about adoption. It is a fact that adoption books written for adoptive parents and adopted people are more numerous than books written for birth mothers and even fewer for birth fathers. Birth parents’ voices are paramount to inclusion in an online group for adoption writing, but are often left out.

This has brought excitement to my book writing plan. That is a good thing!