Morning Coffee: Lesson Learned

fallI was told to always carry my business cards with me because you just never know. Last December I switched purses to go to a Christmas party. The new bag was much smaller and as I held the card case in my hand I thought to myself, “No one’s going to ask for a card at a Christmas party. It’s not that kind of party.” So I left it in my every day purse and, wouldn’t you know it, someone asked for my card. She chastised me, and rightly so, for not having some cards with me.

Flash forward to two weeks ago. I was packing for our vacation out on the coast and, again, when I changed purses I stood looking at that card case in my hand and debated whether or not to bring them. Remembering that embarrassing moment at the Christmas party I not only put the card case in the new purse, but I also added some of my bookmarks. Our plane was not long in the air when I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation from the row behind me. (Let’s face it; I was practically sitting in their laps. It’s not like I had to listen very hard.) A gentleman was asking the woman sitting next to him what she did for a living. Her answer, “I’m a publisher!” He was, of course, a writer on the side (isn’t everyone?) so I was able to spend the rest of our 3 hour flight listening to her views on the publishing industry today, what writers need to do to get noticed, and what she is personally looking for. Needless to say, by the time we landed I had one of my cards in my hand and introduced myself while we waited to deplane. She’s interested in reading a partial manuscript once my revisions are complete. A week later, while visiting with friends of my sister, he asked for a card and she happily accepted a bookmark. She’s now an official follower of this blog. (Welcome, Leslie!)

If I hadn’t been reminded of my Christmas party error in judgment, and if I hadn’t learned from it, I would have missed out on two more opportunities to get my name out there. Sometimes we think we know everything and get irritated when someone else tries to tell us how to handle our business. As I’ve said before, you don’t have to accept every piece of advice offered, but it is wise to always listen. You never know what you might learn that will come in handy one day.

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Morning Coffee: On Vacation

fallI am on vacation this week. A much needed get-away to celebrate my retirement with my sister on the west coast. So I will simply leave you with one of my poems. This was written years ago from a childhood memory. We lived on a hill and after a summer rain my two oldest brothers and I would rush outside to race our “ships” down the flooded gutter.

It originally appeared in The Villager magazine, October 1985, and then Priority Parenting, July 1992.

Until next week…

After The Rain

By Jane Yunker

Past dirty ankles the water rushed
tumbling the dam of leaves and sticks
built so carefully by muddy fingers
to stop the dreaded pirate ship
from plummeting down the sewer.

Morning Coffee: Self-Publishing

fallA couple weeks ago I wrote about my author friend Tina Susedik. This week I want to tell you about another, Beth James. Beth self-publishes and currently has three books available on Amazon. A fourth will be out soon…I hope.

Self-publishing isn’t for everyone, certainly isn’t for me, but I know a number of writers who do self-publish and I admire them for it. It’s hard work. You have to do everything. If you’re smart, after you write the book you hire a professional editor to go over it. Unless you have graphic artist talents you hire someone to do your cover art. Your techie side formats and downloads it to Amazon. You do all the marketing. You pay to have it printed and then you sell it, one copy at a time, at author events and festivals. It always amazes me how my self-publishing friends can find the time to write their next book when they have to spend so much time on the first. But somehow they do.

All that being said, I may one day find myself doing just that…self-publishing.

Product DetailsWe’ve all been disappointed after spending money on an Amazon deal for a self-published book that was not very good: confusing plot, horrendous grammar and punctuation, and all the typos. (Drives me crazy! I even marked up one with my red pen and then threw it away when I was finished. And it was a really good story.) As I said earlier, if smart, a self-published writer will pay a professional editor to catch what they’ve missed. Fortunately, not all self-published authors are that untalented or sloppy. Beth is one of the outstanding ones.

Product DetailsThen why not go the traditional route? There are many reasons. Even good novels can’t always find a publisher. The publishing business is tough. They get inundated with submissions, many not so good, but many are really good and they just can’t take them all. It comes down to cost vs income. They need to pay their bills, too. Some authors prefer to keep complete control over their work. They don’t want to have to make edits they don’t like. They don’t want to accept a cover design that doesn’t represent their view of the story. As for profits, publishers and agents do get a percentage of the sales and not all authors are willing to pay that when they believe they can do the job just as well themselves and keep all the profits. It’s all about control.

Product DetailsI recently finished reading Beth’s “The Promise of Return”, book 2 of her three book series “A Dream or Reality”, and I can’t wait for book 3 to find out what happens. After book 3 I may have to back track and buy her debut stand-alone novel, “Gitana – Life Plan”. I hear that’s another great read.

You won’t be disappointed with any of these reads.

 

Morning Coffee: The Next Chapter Begins

fallToday is the first day of my formal retirement. As I’ve said in the past, my decision was based on multiple reasons, including the chance to spend more time with my parents, visiting my children who live out of state and, of course, pursuing my dream of being a full-time writer. (Not to mention that bucket list that just keeps growing.)

At a conference back in May I pitched my first novel, “Mary Bishop”, an historical women’s fiction with romantic elements, to two different agents. Both voiced an interest in reading a partial manuscript. One asked for the first five chapters, along with a synopsis, but strongly recommended I add approximately 10,000 words. At the time it was 81,500 words in length. The second asked for the first three chapters, along with a synopsis. Since then I’ve been working on those revisions. I like to work with a red pen on paper and this week I completed that first step. Do these changes add 10,000 words? I don’t know. That’s part of the reason why I chose to do it this way. I didn’t want to get caught up in watching the word count go up and down at the corner of the screen. I wanted my changes to be right for the story, not right for the word count.

Next week I leave on a vacation to celebrate my retirement, so I will set aside these hand-written notes for now and come back to them when I return. Then I will type them, tweaking more as I go along, and hope that I add enough words to feel I did what was right for both my story and the agent’s needs. After all, this is her business. She knows what publishers want to sell this kind of novel. My plan is to have everything ready to go out by the end of October. Then it will be time to get back to my second novel, “The Healing Heart”, which was put on hold this summer. I will do this while trying to not obsess about my submission; although, I probably will anyway. Hopefully, at least one of the agents will want to read the full manuscript.

I will keep you informed about both my writing, and my bucket list.

Morning Coffee: Fall Is In The Air

fallFall is coming, and it’s not far away. You can feel it, hear it, almost smell it. Mild days followed by cold nights make for comfortable sleeping. Patches of colored leaves are beginning to appear. Rain clouds have taken on a steely gun-metal gray color and a thick blanket of fog can be seen clinging low over our river gorge some mornings.

The new school year hasn’t begun yet (our daughter-in-law in Florida is already back in the classroom) but there are definite signs that the district is preparing to receive all those happy faces eager to learn, and even those who aren’t so excited to be back. Teachers and staff are returning to their classrooms in anticipation. Last Friday was the opening football game for our local high school, and as I sit here at my desk with the sliding door open I can hear the drum cadence of the marching band practicing on the school grounds nearby. Back-to-school supplies have been overflowing the store shelves for weeks.

Driving home from work I noticed a nearby apple orchard will open this coming weekend. I’ve already received my email reminder that pumpkin spice coffee is available for a limited time only. Mmmmmm!

My brother’s birthday was this week and my baby sister’s is next week. That always meant school was starting soon and, with it, all that goes with the fall season.

I love fall! It’s not so hot and sticky, but is still comfortable before the snow starts to fly. I love the look and smell of the colored leaves, the crunch of them under my feet. Before you know it, the deer that pass through our yard will change their coats from a reddish hue to a heavy dark brown.

My children and I always enjoyed the fresh apple cider and donut holes at the farmers’ market. What a treat after picking out the best pumpkins to carve into jack-o-lanterns and walking through their haunted house. Fall golf is some of the best at our beautiful course, the lack of biting bugs mixed with the bright leaves glowing gem-like in the sun make for a perfect afternoon.

And don’t forget Halloween’s just around the corner. If you buy your trick-or-treat candy now you’ll still have time to buy more after you eat it all before the big night.

The following poem appeared in the 2016 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets calendar.

Autumn Soup
by Jane Yunker

Fresh pressed uniforms
Shiny Mary Janes
Clean spiral notebooks
Frosted window panes

Smooth orange pumpkins
Apples, red and green
Bright leaves drifing
Slowly from the trees

Cinnamon and nutmeg
Glazed donut holes
Cider and hot chocolate
Warm our chilly bones

Crisp brown cornstalks
A ghost’s whispered flight
Clouds gray and heavy
Mischief’s out tonight

Perhaps a horse-drawn hayride
Or haunted mansion scare
Trick or treat, smell my feet
A spider in your hair!

Morning Coffee: Writing For A Living

Healing HeartAs some…perhaps most…of you know, I’m retiring from my day job in a couple weeks. There is no one reason, but a big one is so I can pursue my dream of writing full time and becoming a published novelist. It’s not going to be easy. I have no illusions about that. It will take long hours of discipline and a hard shell when it comes to criticism and revision requests. But I have a wonderful example of how it’s done in a good friend, Tina Susedik, a/k/a Anita Kidesu. Tina/Anita has written numerous books ranging from children’s to historical nonfiction to romantic mystery to erotic romance for several different publishers. She’s currently developing a radio show, Your Book Garden, to be aired on Authors on the Air Global Radio.

Warning: I’m now going to shamelessly plug her two most recent publications. The first one I’ve finished reading, and the second I’m currently reading and find very hard to put down.

“The Trail to Love” is book 4 in the Soul Mate Tree novella series and Tina’s first The Trail to Love (The Soul Mate Tree Book 4) by [Susedik, Tina]historical romance. Jack Billabard, grieving over the death of his wife and newborn son, and Sarah Nichelson, a young mother looking to start a new life with her son after the death of her abusive husband, meet while heading west on the Oregon Trail. The question throughout is whether or not they can overcome the many dangers that surround them, as well as their own fears, and accept the love that grows steadily between them. The novella length makes this book, along with the others in the Soul Mate Tree series, the perfect read when you don’t have a lot of time or patience to commit. At only about 150 pages you can, and will want to, read this in one sitting.

Hell Yeah!: A Photograph of Love (Kindle Worlds) by [Susedik, Tina]“A Photograph Of Love” is part of the Hell Yeah! Series on Kindle Worlds. I haven’t finished this book yet, but only because of my very busy schedule. In fact, I’d rather be reading it right now instead of trying to write this blog. It starts with one of the best opening scenes I’ve ever read. An opening scene that can teach even the most accomplished writer how to pull their reader into the story and never let them go. Let’s just say it includes a beautiful amateur photographer named Trudy Selucas who, while trying to modestly answer the call of nature in the wide-open Texas countryside, has a very precarious, and embarrassing, run-in with a rattlesnake which ends with her needing to be rescued by the very handsome cowboy, Lincoln Phister. I don’t want to say anymore and potentially ruin it for you. I highly suggest you read it yourself. I laughed out loud, and not for the first time with one of Tina’s books.

I’ll remember Tina whenever I find myself thinking: “I can’t do this!” “It’s impossible!” “What do they expect? There just aren’t enough hours in the day!” And in the meantime, I will also continue to read her books. She never fails to show me just how it’s done.

Tina isn’t my only idol, though, but more on the others another time.

Morning Coffee: Excuses! Excuses!

Healing Heart“I have a lot of excuses, but no excuse.” That’s what a friend said to me this past weekend when we were talking about our writing. I knew exactly what she meant.

I have to work today…I’m tired after having to work today. I have a lot of other things that I just have to do today…I’m tired after all the other things I had to do today. I wrote a lot yesterday so I’m going to take today off. I just can’t think of a thing to write so I’ll go do something else rather than try. I’m too hot. I’m too cold. I think I’m coming down with a cold. The list goes on.

Writing, creating, can be a joyful thing, but it can also be a very painful process. There are days when every word you type is gold, but there are even more days when everything is garbage…or so you think. It’s those times that you have to keep going. You can’t listen to the little voice whispering in your ear, telling you that you’re no good, you’ll never amount to anything, no one will ever want to read what you’re writing so don’t bother.

A lot of garbage on the page is better than nothing on the page. It’s that garbage that you can later pick through, rearrange, until it’s art. Have you ever gone to an exhibit where the sculptures are all created out of literal garbage, discarded items the artist has rescued and brought home to fashion into something truly beautiful? That’s what those pages of questionable worth are, a diamond in the rough, a potential best seller.

So, how bad do you want it? Is a little pain worth the glory? I know on those days I have to force myself to sit down and write I will be glad for it later. What about you?

Time to go write something amazing!