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Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Beauty of Hindsight


THE BEAUTY OF HINDSIGHT 


Math has never been and will never be my strong suit.  But when I was fourteen, you might have thought math was my best subject.

At the end of 8th grade I took a placement test and scored high enough to take advanced algebra.

When my freshman year began at Jeffersontown High School in Louisville, Kentucky, I was proud to be part of Ms. Leslie's advanced class.  But after a few lessons, I realized this was not the right place for me.  I was in over my head.  Equations looked like a foreign language to me.  A blurry foreign language.  Vanity called and I gave up wearing my glasses—there were so many cute boys in class.

Ms. Leslie intimidated me.  No, let me rephrase that.  She scared the hell out of me.  She never smiled.  She was firm.  She was totally all business.

I wanted to do well in class, but the book was impossible to follow and there was no way to approach a teacher who frightened me.  Looking back, if I had been braver and asked for help, I would have probably made fewer Ds in algebra.

Ah, the beauty of hindsight.

Since then, my math skills have not improved that much.  I have a habit of overestimating.

I overestimate when packing for a trip and bring
  • way more clothes than necessary: 14 outfits, two jackets, earmuffs, scarves and gloves—I kid you not—when going to Spain for a week in April.  
  • too many meds:  Tylenol, muscle relaxer, Imitrex, Flonase, Pepto Bismol, Imodium, Naproxen, decongestant, antihistamine, Benadryl.    
  • too much jewelry:  earrings, bracelets, and bangles for every outfit. 
  • too many hair products which I won't list because this in itself is another blog.

I overestimate when cooking for a family gathering (20 pieces of chicken for five people, right?)

I overestimate when I should arrive for an event (an hour is not too early, is it?)

Sometimes, I underestimate.  When Jim and I got married, we held the ceremony and reception at a Spindletop Hall, a historic mansion in Lexington.  The ceremony took place in the library.  A very small library.  The room only held 200 people.  We invited 210 people.  We counted on five couples declining. 

They showed up.

I have a habit of overestimating more than underestimating, like the time I had my first book signing.  Two hundred invitations were sent to family and friends.  Of course, not everyone could attend.  There was a nice turnout, but true to form, I overestimated how many books would sell.  

And then there was a school visit.  I was scheduled to give nine classroom visits over two days.  The teachers gave me a head count of 225 students.  

I thought half of the students might like to buy Maggie.  Roughly 112 books.  Then, I thought that's being too optimistic.  It seemed reasonable to order two cases of books.  Each case has 25 books.  Surely, I could sell this quantity.   

I sold 14 books.

That said, I still have quite a few more copies.  I would love to sell them.  Each and every one of them.

How many do I have?

It might be best if you did the math.
   
✌ and 

COMMENTS:

Read it. Enjoyed it. I don't know what that stuff is on the chalkboard, but I think it's way beyond algebra!  M. Cook



Wednesday, November 14, 2018



WHERE'S THE BEEF JERKY?

I could have sold more copies of Maggie at a holiday craft fair...but I sat next to Beef Jerky Man.

Last year at the fair, I shared a table with Peggy Park, author of Grandmother's Journal.  At first, we were nervous.  Our table was in a room off the beaten path of the main lobby.  We figured the foot traffic wouldn't be as good and that people wouldn't find the smaller room.  But, we were pleasantly surprised.  People visited the lobby and then wandered into our room to buy jewelry, candles, holiday crafts, handbags, and paintings.  Peggy and I were the only book sellers and since we did quite well with sales, we decided to share a table again for this year.

But this year...oh my goodness.  Our table was next to K. C., a man who sold homemade beef jerky.

Beef jerky is a dried meat snack.  It is made by marinating beef in a curing solution and drying it. Meat treated in this fashion has unique flavor and a long shelf life.  Native Americans smoke-dried meat to preserve it and are credited for the invention of this meat-processing technique.  

Beef jerky is advertised as a nutritious product which is low in cholesterol and high in protein.  It was used during World War I as a source of protein for soldiers.  Astronauts travel with beef jerky.  It is a 2.5 billion-dollar-industry in the United States.

While beef jerky is touted as being a healthy snack, it can be high in fat and sodium.  As reported by Sara Ipatenco for Healthy Eating, "A 1-ounce portion of beef jerky contains 116 calories and 7 grams of fat, of which 3 grams are saturated.  While beef jerky also contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, much of the fat in the food is saturated.  If your diet contains large amounts of saturated fat, you're at an increased risk for heart disease.  A diet high in saturated fat can boost your cholesterol levels. Too much saturated fat as a regular part of your diet can also elevate your risk of developing type 2 diabetes."

Ipatenco advises to "look for beef jerky that contains small amounts of saturated fat.  Many brands manufacture thin strip versions of meat, which are often lower in total fat and saturated fat.  Opt for low-sodium versions of beef jerky as well; they are more nutritious than traditional versions." 

I wasn't sure about the quality of K.C.'s beef jerky.  But, I do know he sold an assortment of flavors:  peppery, spicy, teriyaki, scorpion (hot chili pepper) to name a few and that people flocked to his table.  I could tell in the opening minutes of the fair that we were doomed.  I could feel it in the air.  Peggy and I could not compete (not that this was a competition, mind you) with beef jerky.

K.C. had a simple table.  Four white baskets filled with plastic bags of jerky.  Nothing fancy.  On the other hand, our table was bright and cheery.  Welcoming.  We had a bright red tablecloth.  We had books wrapped in Christmas ribbons.  We had adorable plush puppies and Hershey's kisses.  Still, we were no match.  People never even saw our table.  They walked right past, hypnotized by the lure of beef jerky.  I'm not kidding—people waved money in the air as they approached K. C.'s table.

When the fair was over late afternoon, K.C. counted his money.  He meticulously laid it out on top of his table in four stacks.  With that much money, he probably figured it made sense to separate it into denominations of ones, fives, tens, and twenties, but I'm sure he had no clue how it looked to other vendors.  Sitting next to him made me feel uncomfortable and a little jealous.  I'm sure he wasn't trying to be boastful of his earnings, but he could have used more discretion.

Even at closing, crowds continued to flock to his table.  I wanted to get the courage to ask them to come over, pick up a book, and see the value in buying one.  Peggy's book is a wonderful way for grandparents to share their memories.  And picture books entertain kids while teaching them vocabulary and life lessons.

I wanted to tell people a book is a gift you can open again and again.  A book could last a lifetime.

It was useless.  Beef Jerky Man had a product that people craved.  A good friend of mine tells me that he buys beef jerky because it tastes great and it stays fresh for a long time.  That opinion seemed to be shared at the fair.  People were going gaga over beef jerky.  I never would have believed how popular it was if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

But all was not lost this year.  I met talented artists.  I sold a few books.  And, I learned an important lesson.  Next time, I won't use a red tablecloth.  Next time, I won't need ribbons or chocolate or plush toys.  Next time, I'll bring beef jerky. 

✌ and 




Thursday, October 18, 2018



Losing and Winning 

I was totally bummed out and feeling low.  I was losing money on book sales.  

How does an author LOSE money instead of make money selling her book?  For me, the answer was giveaways.  

Professor, columnist, author Jane Friedman says, "Giveaways (or freebies) are popular for good reason; they’re a classic, frictionless way to make people aware of your work."  She also states, "The giveaway is one of the more powerful tools in the new author’s arsenal because it’s a way to get attention when you may not have anything else going for you."

Giveaways however, did not work for me.  I gave away copies of Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell as a contest prize and as a gift in a silent action.  I also gave free copies of my books to catalog companies, school book fairs, and other businesses in order to create attention and drive book sales.  And this starting adding up.

I decided to give up this practice.  No more giveaways.  I was stick-a-fork-in-me done with losing money.

And then an opportunity arose to have my book considered for the Kentucky Book Festival (which meant relinquishing another book.)

The Kentucky Book Festival is a week-long celebration honoring reading and writing in Kentucky.  Now in its second year in Lexington (my hometown), the 37th annual Kentucky Book Fair is the grand finale of the week.  This festivity attracts writers of all genres and patrons who share a passion and interest in writing and reading.  More than 140 authors will attend the Kentucky Book Fair to promote and support literacy, including Silas House (Clay's Quilt), Bobbie Ann Mason  (In Country), and Wendell Berry (Jayber Crow).

After giving away close to 20 books (well over $200), I was ambivalent about having my book evaluated.  This did not guarantee an invitation.  But, I felt it was important to send my book to the committee.  This could be an awesome opportunity to introduce readers to Maggie and her rescue dog.

During the waiting period, I grew doubtful of hearing good news and thought more and more about the difficulties of being a published writer.  Being published is supposed to be totally joyful, but for me, there were times when it was not always a bed of roses.  The more I considered the struggles, the sadder I got knowing:

  • Book expenses exceeded revenue
  • Page views on my blogs were not as high as I'd like
  • Responses from agents for new picture book submissions had been nonexistent

Don't misunderstand.  In spite of these disappointments, I feel lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to write.  Writing is still one of my biggest joys in life.  But it's hard to hold on to the good feelings all of the time.  Especially when I had just given away another book.  I had lost more money.  What were the chances that this "investment" was going to pan out?

Doubt and worry seeped in and gnawed at me.  Feeling discouraged, I released a question into the universe:  Is writing still the correct career choice or is it time to move on?

Silly as it may seem, I asked for a sign—something, anything that might give me an idea if I should continue being a writer.  And then I went back to writing.  In only a few hours, this email appeared in my inbox:


"Dear Randi,

On behalf of the Kentucky Book Festival Committee of Kentucky Humanities, it is my pleasure to invite you to participate in the  annual Kentucky Book Festival (KBF), presented by Kentucky Humanities and our sponsors." 

I was floored.  This was unbelievable good news.  And the timing!  The timing couldn't have been more perfect.

This situation got me thinking about how we should turn to the universe more often if we have questions or if we are troubled.

"When you need to know, you will. There will be no confusion or doubt about what is being said. Seek out this kind of relationship with the universe and it will most certainly support it. Don’t allow yourself to get part of the message and end up more lost. Trust in the source, within and outside of yourself. Signs are not meant to be ambiguous, even if they appear to be so at first. Seek and find, then receive fully, in order to find your truth." ~ The Chopra Center.

And so my decision is clear.  Moving on to a different career is not part of the plan.  Despite the doubts and disappointments, despite feeling low about marketing a book, and despite losing money, I was shown that my footsteps should follow the writer's path.


Kentucky Book Festival
at the Alltech Arena at
the Kentucky Horse Park
Saturday, Nov 17, 2018
from 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

✌ and 

Comments: 
"Great Stuff. Congratulations!"  M. Cook
"Congrats, Randi!"  C. Phelps
"Congratulations on the Kentucky Book Festival" A. Miller Hudson

Thursday, October 4, 2018















Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book


The Benefits of Gratitude  

I like hearing the words "thank you."  Don't you?  Those two words make me feel good. 

And yet, those two words bring back a hurtful memory.  

Many years ago, I took vacation leave from my job and drove 75 miles to take care of a relative recovering from surgery.  It was my pleasure and honor to care for him.  But, when it was time for me to travel home, I never heard I'm glad you came, you were helpful, thank you for being here.  Maybe he felt that I was obligated to help out.  Or maybe, he didn't feel well and just forgot to thank me.

On a more upbeat note, a fellow writer and protégé has kept in touch with me for over ten years.  He writes to tell me of his rejections, acceptances, and goals.  In all of his emails he expresses thankfulness for the help I had given him in the past and for the help I still give him.  And this means the world to me.

I never fail to notice gratitude.  My husband thanks me after every meal.  Even if it's just spaghetti and meatballs.  Even if it's leftovers.  He doesn't have to, but he does.

Our daughter is grateful.  She thanks us when she gets a surprise package at college.  She always writes thank you notes to relatives for birthday presents.

My cat Ozzie expresses gratitude.  After he's been fed, of course.  Ozzie shows his appreciation by rubbing his lips across my hand and marking me with his scent, telling me that I'm his.

I like to express gratitude, too and writing has given me many opportunities to be thankful—when someone critiques my work, when somebody submits to Kid's Imagination Train, when a writer asks me to guest blog, when an editor publishes my work, and the list goes on.  
  
When people do something nice for me, I like to write a thank you note, send flowers, or bring them something sweet to eat.  And after being published, I found there are a lot of people deserving of a thank you:  
     
  •  My publisher
  •  My agent
  •  Reviewers 
  •  Fans who came to the book signing
  •  Shop owners who placed a book order  
  •  Bloggers who promoted my book 
  •  People who ordered my book
  •  Editors that accepted an article I had   written on publishing a book
  •  Bookstore managers and book sellers
  •  My book launch team
  •  Business people who helped me market   my book
  •  Media specialists who booked a school   visit
Gratitude is easy to do and it can transform your life.

Amy Morin, psychotherapist and author states that gratitude has been proven to open doors to more relationships and can improve physical and psychological health, enhance empathy, reduce aggression, improve sleep, and increase self-esteem.  She believes we can cultivate gratitude. Rather than complain about the things you think you deserve, focus on all that you have

Grateful people have been found to be blessed with more happiness.

As reported by Robin S. Stern, Associate Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and Robert A Emmons, Ph.D. Dept. of Psychology, University of California for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, "Grateful people experience more joy, love, and enthusiasm, and they enjoy protection from destructive emotions like envy, greed, and bitterness.  Gratitude also reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders, and it helps people entangled with those and other problems to heal and find closure.  It can give you a deep and steadfast trust that goodness exists, even in the face of uncertainty or suffering gratitude to mental health and life satisfaction." 

Stern and Emmons said it perfectly, "Gratitude isn’t just an emotion that happens along, but a virtue we can cultivate. Think of it as something you practice as you might meditation or yoga.  Gratitude practice begins by paying attention. Notice all the good things you normally take for granted." 

When you practice gratitude, it can inspire people to acts of kindness.  It has the power to strengthen bonds with other people. 

There are countless ways to say thank you.  All you have to do is to take note when someone is kind and express thankfulness.  No one gets tired of those two little words.  

✌ and 


Thursday, September 20, 2018




Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book

ONE COOL CAT  

Ozzie isn't crazy about his vest. 

Maybe he's not fond of the fabric.  Maybe he's not crazy about the pattern.  Maybe he doesn't like the color red.  Wait, are cats color blind?

"Want to try on your vest, Ozzie?"
Ozzie skedaddles away.

I'm feeling a little discouraged.

My husband Jim asks, "Who takes a cat outside on a leash?"
Well, that would be me.  If dogs wear vests, why not cats?

On cold days, the lean, short-haired breeds like the Greyhound, the Chihuahua, the French Bulldog, and many terriers and pinschers have trouble staying warm outside and benefit from wearing a vest.  According to www.orvis.com, "Dogs whose bellies are close to the ground—the Dachshund and the Corgi, for example—need extra protection from frigid sidewalks and snowy paths. Toy and small breeds, light-bodied breeds, and breeds with very short or thin hair (even if it’s long by nature but you keep it clipped close) need the extra warmth of a dog jacket or sweater outside in the cold."

Though most cats don't need a vest to stay warm, a vest would keep an indoor cat safe outside. The decision is up to the owner and of course, the pet's cattitude.  Our vet said that getting Ozzie outside for some fresh air would be good for him because he is an indoor cat.  That's all I needed to hear.  And since I need to take breaks from writing and marketing Maggie, being outside would be good for me, too.

The plan:
Day 1 - 3:  Let Ozzie sniff the vest and get familiar seeing it
Day 4 - 6:  Let him wear the vest around the house
Day 7:  Let him enjoy the great outdoors

I placed the vest next to Ozzie's food bowl.  He didn't tear it to shreds.  He didn't pee on it.  I took this as a good sign.

But the first time he wore it outside, he hugged the back door, crouched, and slunk around.  This was not a good sign.

And yet, he didn't growl or cry.  So, here we had another good sign.

I wasn't going to torture him with a lengthy stay, just long enough to sniff plants and experience bugs and birds.  To feel sunshine on his back.  To feel grass beneath his paws.

Ozzie tolerated  seemed to like the grand outdoors, but being out in the backyard wasn't always the cat's meow.

On one occasion with Ozzie outside and all-vested up, Putt-Putt (our loving stray) wandered by.  I hadn't expected he'd show up.  His schedule is fairly random, unless it's breakfast or dinner time.

When Putty comes to visit, I leave the deck door open and the screen locked, so that he and Ozzie can enjoy each other's company.  Since they are buds, I allowed Putt-Putt to get close to Ozzie.  But then clear out of the blue, Putt-Putt bit Ozzie.

Ozzie screamed.  My interpretation:  get me the hell out of this vest and back inside where I belong.

I felt terrible for Ozzie and never expected Putty to bite him.  But Putty's home is outside and he felt inclined to defend it.

I gave Ozzie a break from going outside after Putty's attack.  Then after a while, I tried again.

My husband snickered.  The look on his face said are you really going to do that to him?

Yes, yes I am.  I wasn't going to give up.

It's been several months and Ozzie is still not crazy about his vest.  Though, he is a good sport.  He humors me.  We hang out on the front porch away from Putty's backyard space for a good five minutes!  We take in the sunshine and enjoy the great outdoors. Or, at least one of us does.

Trying new things takes time. Ain't that right, Ozzie?  He may not believe it now, but one of these days Ozzie will know he is one purrty cool cat.


✌ and 





Thursday, September 6, 2018











Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book


I WILL NEVER BE A BALLERINA

When I was young, I loved ballet.  I couldn't get enough of the pink tights, the black leotard and the leather ballet slippers.

Children typically start ballet training between the ages of five and eight, and though I began at an early age and took for three years, I wasn't able to continue.  Students were expected to take tap before continuing to the next level of ballet.

Even at the age of eight I knew tap dancing was not for me.  I put my foot down.  I would not take tap. I would not take tap.  I WOULD NOT TAKE TAP.  And so, unwilling to take a class I had no interest in, I had to give up something that I dearly loved. 

I would never be a ballerina. 

Even if I had gone on to learn tap, ballet classes would have been too expensive.  My father worked two jobs.  He had five mouths to feed.  He only had to look at my overbite to know the future foretold the footing of orthodontic bills.  Paying for lessons would have been a huge financial strain.

I would never be a ballerina.

I would never have the opportunity to learn pointe and partnering.  That's just the way it was.  Instead, I was fortunate to do a little horseback riding and play softball and basketball.

And then much, much later in life, in my mid-twenties, I wanted to find a way to stay in shape, so I decided to try some adult ballet classes.  Once I learned the French vocabulary, I felt more confident to continue.

Over the years I tried different dance studios, trying to find the balance between a serious class and a class that would be fun.  Through persistence and luck, I found the place that I love—Dancers' Studio in Lexington, Kentucky.

We begin each class at the barre.  This is where we perform exercises to stretch the entire body.  We might do this combination:  tondue, coupe de pied, relevé.

That means begin in a ballet first position, extend a straight leg with pointed toes, return to first position, slide a curved foot to the ankle, and balance on the other leg.  The exercise is performed in first, second and fifth position.  Then the entire exercise switches sides so both the right foot and the left foot are used.  After eight different barre exercises, we're ready for center work.

Center work is composed of adagio and allegro movements.  We begin with adagio where combinations of ballet steps are pieced together and danced slowly in order to develop balance, control and extension without the use of the barre.  Then we move on to allegro—the faster, livelier steps which include jumps and turns.  Class ends with a révérence, a bow to thank the teacher.

I've been doing ballet for many years now and I still can't get enough of the pink tights, black leotard and leather slippers.  It is a good workout for the mind and the body.  Dancers must remember all of the steps of a combination and perform them correctly.

As I conclude this blog post, I am reminded about the similarities between ballet and writing.  Both require practice and discipline.  Even marketing a book is like ballet.  It takes an incredible amount of time and effort to be successful. 

However, even with practice, discipline, time, and effort chances are I will never be a best-selling author.

But, still I write.

And I will never dance a pas de deux or wear a dancer's tutu.  I don't have physical stamina and impeccable balance.  I'm not as flexible and coordinated like a professional dancer.

I will never be a ballerina.

But still I dance.

The Maggie Project is published twice a month. 

✌ and 





Thursday, August 16, 2018


Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book


TANTALIZED 

I was like a kid in a candy store.  And Vistaprint was my candy store.

As a newly-published author, I was over the moon about marketing my book Maggie and the Summer Vacation Show-and-Tell.  So, I went crazy buying all kinds of promotional material.  You name it, I bought it: posters and postcards, bookmarks and sticky notes, and mugs and magnets.

Vistaprint met most of my needs.  But there was one special item I was dying to have. Like the State Farm commercial - I had to have it.

I made the decision to splurge on Budsie doll.  Budsies are customized stuffed dolls that can be created from a photo.  After seeing several finished products online, I felt confident that the manufacturers could create just what I wanted.  In a short while, I'd be holding my very own Maggie doll.  

Several weeks later, she arrived.  I could hardly wait to open the box.  But the moment I saw her, I was crushed.  Simply devastated.  

The doll's face did not resemble Maggie's face at all.  Its head was floppy.  The hair was made of red felt which made her look like she was wearing a hat.  

Maggie did not look like Maggie.  

This doll cost a fortune.  We're talking close to one hundred dollars and I could not use her.  She looked as sad as I felt.  

But rather than giving up on her, I made a bold decision.  This doll was going to get a makeover.  

To begin, the "hair" had to go.  I snipped it off and sewed a small red curly wig (think Little Orphan Annie) to the top of her head.  Next, Maggie underwent cosmetic surgery—I reshaped the nose and the mouth with thread and black markers.  Lastly, I strengthened Maggie's neck.  My husband suggested using VelCro to make the head more stable.  Finally when all of the work was done, Maggie looked more like Maggie.  

Now that she looks happier (and I am happier) I bring my Maggie Budsie doll to events.  She helps draw people to my book signing table.  However, spending lots of money on a doll that did not meet my expectations made me wonder if the money was well spent.  This big purchase brought me to my senses.  As the newness of authorship wore off, I started to tally my expenses—and I discovered that I had spent a fortune.  But the rationale was, I'd sell a lot of books to make up for the spending and get reimbursed from my publisher.  

Wrong on both counts.  

Every author envisions or plans how they hope to get their fans interested in their books.  With hindsight, I discovered that not every marketing tool was effective.  Here are some of the items I would not purchase to promote a second book:
  • Wooden ornaments used as gift giveaways
  • Magnets
  • A Facebook campaign boost 
  • 500 oversized postcards announcing the book signing 
  • Large cardboard table top displays for selling books at local shops
Also, I would not send as many free copies of the book to companies or to contests because they are not returned.

There were several items that were inexpensive and worth having.  I would purchase these things again:
  • Balloons for the book signing
  • Pencils and candy 
  • A poster of the book cover
  • Bookmarks (200)
  • Large envelopes for mailing books
  • Small metal display tripods
  • Personalized post-it notes
  • Plush mini toy puppies as a giveaway gift 

Promoting a book was new and confusing for me.  If I had realized that my publisher was unable to reimburse me, I would have had a stricter budget. I would have made  sensible spending decisions. 

There are no regrets however, because this was my first book and it was a learning experience.  

But next time, I will check to see if the publisher will shoulder some of the costs.   

Next time, I will know what marketing tools to invest in and which ones to resist.   

And next time, I will be wiser, thriftier, and Budsie-less.




The Maggie Project is published twice a month. 

✌ and 





Thursday, August 2, 2018

Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book


CATWALK 

In the fashion world, a catwalk is a narrow walkway where models show off the latest fashions of   ValentinoDonatella Versace, Oscar de la Renta and other famous designers.

In my world, a catwalk is a typical morning stroll.

That's because cats have the habit of showing up while I walk.  All kinds and colors.  On porches, driveways, sidewalks.

If I call them, they'll come up to me.  They rub against my leg as I try to take their photo.  Curious creatures. Full of affection and curiosity.

These are some of my feline friends.


Cats also show up on our family vacations.  In Rome, we stumbled across cats dwelling among the temple ruins in Torre Argentina.  We've spotted cats roaming the Old City in Dubrovnik and living in the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.

Cats don't always show up every time I take a walk.  It's possible I don't see them because I'm usually preoccupied thinking about new blog posts, writing projects, and marketing ideas.  Some of my best ideas come when I'm strolling the neighborhood.

But one day on a walk, my focus drifted from writely projects and marketing woes to the dynamics of business and personal relationships.  Several unpleasant circumstances had cropped up and these weighed heavily on my mind.  These situations totally bummed me out and made me angry and confused because close friends had let me down.  I tried to figure out why people were arrogant, mean-spirited, self-absorbed, and disrespectful.  I wondered how people could not be aware of the hurt and damage their actions (or lack of actions) cause.

The further I walked, the sadder I got.  There were simply no answers.

I headed to a shady spot to stretch my back.  To sip water.  To mop the sweat from my brow.  Despite the break, my mood persisted.  I couldn't shake it as I pushed on. 

And then a cat spotted me.

A big, beautiful fluffy Persian cat with icy blue eyes.

He trotted from a front yard garden to greet me.  This little bundle of fur.  Had he sensed my feelings? 

The only thing I could think about and wanted to think about was this gorgeous cat.

He didn't come to me for a rub or a pat on the head.  But his actions were purposeful and deliberate.

He pressed his lips against my hand—a common catlike thing to do—and he marked me with his scent, calling me his human, assuaging the hurt.

 He offer tender feline love at a time I needed it most.




The Maggie Project is published twice a month

✌ and 


Thursday, July 19, 2018


































Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book


EXTREME ADRENALINE RUSH 

Let me set this straight.  I like massages.  But not with snakes.

While watching the Ellen Degeneres show, I learned about this strange practice called snake massage.

We're talking about a 550 pound, 6 foot long python wriggling across your naked skin.

We're talking about being tense because the snake squeezes your body.

And we're talking extreme adrenaline rush.

Pythons are the snake of choice.  Though they are not venomous, it takes time to feel relaxed getting a snake massage. 

The snake is washed and is well-fed (that's good to know) and its mouth is taped (also good to know) before it's draped over your torso and face and put to task.  Sometimes big and small snakes are used at the same time to achieve a graduation in pressure.  For some people, getting a snake massage provides a psychological release such as confronting a fear and wiping away stress.  For others, it relieves tension in a way that human hands can't.

I'm all for being different.  Different is good.

I love reading different kinds of genres:  nonfiction, novels, picture books, and books written in French.

I love traveling to different countries.

I enjoy different languages.  Parlez-vous français?

I like trying different kinds of foods.
While in Spain, my daughter got me to try mussels and octopus.

I did not try bull's tail.

I love working on different picture book projects and trying unconventional book marketing approaches.

And I've tried different kinds of massages.  Deep tissue massage is not for me, but a Swedish massage is soothing and helps relax tight muscles.  I'd love to try a hot stone massage.  According to Healthline.com, it relieves muscle pain, reduces stress, promotes sleep, and may boost immunity.

Snake massages sound intriguing.  They are inexpensive, costing about $45 for 90-minutes.  That's a bargain.  The average price for a massage is $60 an hour.

But I can barely look at a snake, much less have one slithering over my body.  I don't need an adrenaline rush—no matter what people say about them or how good it makes them feel.  Even my massage therapist has no interest in snakes rubbing her face and neck.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not against snake massages.  They are probably perfect for the adventuresome.  But having a 500-pound python massage my skin—no thanksssss.

The Maggie Project is published twice a month

✌ and 


Thursday, July 5, 2018


Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book



SIGN ME UP FOR SURVIVOR 

My husband and I are fans of the television show Survivor.

We have been watching the show for since Season Two.  That's 35 seasons of Outwit, Outplay, Outlast.  I enjoy getting to know the tribe members and seeing how they strategize.

I would love to a contestant if it weren't for...

missing my husband,

missing my cat,

missing my daily writing,

having sand on my body

having to live in a bathing suit for 39 days

being hot

being cold

being wet

the snakes and bugs

sleeping on the ground

no covers,

no pillow,

not being able to blow my hair dry

not having bathroom facilities

not being able to brush my teeth.

Now, I could go barefoot.  I could eat rice and coconuts for every meal. 

I could compete well at challenges (after all, I've faced the challenges of writing a book, getting it published, and promoting it)

...as long as they didn't include swimming, throwing balls, mud, and being blindfolded.

I tell my husband I could be on Survivor.  He tells me I wouldn't survive a few hours.

"You couldn't even survive the boat ride to the island!"

I forgot I get motion sickness.

"But I can do puzzle challenges.  I like rice and coconuts."

"Rice for 39 days?  What about your nightly treat of ice cream?  Daily coffee?"

Then he throws in, "What about Ozzie?"

I would worry about our cat.  Jim would only feed him dry kibbles (Jim hates the smell of canned kitty meat and Ozzie is a lover of wet-food).

So, maybe it's not a good idea.  It's probably better to live vicariously through the contestants in the comfort of my house and keep my challenges confined to the writing world.

Winning a million dollars and being the sole survivor would be nice,

but I'm a fan of being sandless, warm, and dry.


The Maggie Project is published twice a month

and





Thursday, June 21, 2018


 Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book


BOSSOME SHOES 

I am not a salesperson.  

I'm a shy, introverted writer.  When my book was published, I had to become an aggressive, in your face, pushy bookseller. 

And, I hated it.  But I did it.  

My goal was to get my books into several local gift shops.  I dressed in nice clothes, applied lipstick and mascara, and put on my boots.   

Real bossome shoes.

Wearing boots gave me a good two more inches in height (I'm only 5' 3") which offered me the opportunity to look people square in the eye rather than having them look down at me.

Most of the time, shop owners listened to my spiel as they flipped through the pages of Maggie.  Some bought a few copies, others turned it down claiming they could not make enough money on the book. 

On one occasion when I was trying to sell my book, the owner chatted with a customer.  She did not acknowledge or welcome me.   

I walked from room to room to pass the time.  

I looked through the clothing, the shoes, and the games, toys and books. 

I checked on the manager again.  Still talking.  

I felt awkward, ready to saddle up and get me and my 2" boots out of Dodge*.  

But on my way to the door, the owner thanked her customer and then greeted me.  

Whoa.  All of the sudden it was show time.  

I approached the counter, looked her in the eye and gave a brief summary of the book, described how it was inspired by a local rescue dog, and explained why it would be a good fit for her customers...all along thinking she's not (literally) buying this.  

But...she wanted several copies!  

I don't always make a sale, but sometimes I'm successful.  I placed some of my books in local shops by:
  •    Calling shops and telling them about my book 
  •    Making an appointment with the manager 
  •    Explaining why the book would be good for customers
  •    Showing up for the meeting with extra copies of my book 
  •    Bringing copies of reviews and a sell sheet
  •    Insisting on selling the books, not consigning them
  •    Bringing Maggie bookmarks 
  •    Striving to be patient and courteous 
  •    Trying to be positive and upbeat  
  •    Taking interest in the manager's business vision    
Every time I load my books in the car to drive to a local business, I get the jitters.  Man, I wish I didn't have to do this book selling thing.   

I don't want to do this book selling thing.

I REALLY DON'T WANT TO DO THIS BOOK SELLING THING. 

Then I put on my boots.  

 YEE HAW! 

I'm working bossome from my head down to my toes.


*The phrase 'get the hell out of Dodge' originated from the television show Gunsmoke, which took place in Dodge City, Kansas.

The Maggie Project is published twice a month

✌ and 

Sunday, June 10, 2018


Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book


BEING BOLD 

They're big.  They're beautiful.  And they're bold.

As colorful and impressive as this guy was, I didn't want to get near him.  

He's loud.  REALLY LOUD.  And he means business, or should I say he's looking for business. 

On a visit to Spain with my family, we explored a section of Retiro Park in Madrid where scads of peacocks and peahens live.  We found the birds on steps, in flowers, in bushes, on hilltops.  It was like a peacock paradise.  Magical.

They totally owned the place.  

Bold birds.  

Upon returning to the states, I discovered more peacocks, this time in the news...

"PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Philadelphia Zoo officials hope to recapture four peacocks that escaped and caused a traffic jam on a major highway.
The officials on Thursday will work with police after the birds took a stroll along Interstate 76 around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday. State police arrived and shut down two lanes of traffic on the highway, causing backups for miles.
Police say they managed to get the birds off the highway, but they were unable to capture them. Zoo officials say the peacocks went to roost for the night.
The zoo says the flock roams freely on its grounds, and it is cared for by veterinary staff. The zoo says the birds sometime venture past its gates, but they normally return home on their own."
They didn't.

These stately birds remind me that when it comes to writing, I must be bold—   
to admit my work needs revision, 
to put a manuscript aside when the story is not working, 
to submit manuscript,
to face a possible rejection,  
to edit, edit, edit because the first, second, and third drafts are never good enough, 
to ignore the ambiguous replies that say this work is not a good fit.


I must be bold...
because quitting is not an option.  

If I want to succeed at publishing, I must find my inner-peacock.







The Maggie Project is published twice a month


Tuesday, May 29, 2018



Marvelous musings and the mind-boggling journey of marketing a book

 


SAY DISAPPOINTMENT AIN'T SO 

I have a confession to make.  

After my book was published, I was disappointed.   

At first, I felt on top of the world.  I couldn't believe my manuscript was going to be a book.  This feeling was an indescribable high after travelling the incredibly difficult road to publication.  But within a months, disappointment sailed in like clouds gathering before a storm. 

I wasn't upset with the way my book turned out.  Disappointment came in the guise of rejection (as if I hadn't had enough rejection before my book was published)  Surprisingly, this rejection came from family members.    
It was shocking for me.  Though I wished otherwise, I found some relatives less supportive than I had expected.  These family members did call or email me.  They did not come to book signings.  They did not buy the book or even read it.  So, I found myself grieving because I felt let down. 

Behind the smile I felt sad and angry.  I wished things could have been better, that my loved ones would understand and care more.  However, the lack of support could be due to complicated dynamics, jealously, or just plain ignorance.

I know, I know, we can't change our people.  We are the ones who must change when we are faced with this kind of rejection.  

Here's what I did to ease the hurt:     
  • Recognized and accepted that this was another form of rejection   
  • Talked about my feelings with others  
  • Released the pain through forgiveness
  • Shielded myself by limiting contact with unsupportive people 
  • Immersed myself in new projects

Though it is incredibly painful and mind-boggling, being rejected by family can be common.  A fellow writer once told me that her mother didn't read her newly published book.  It's comforting (and sad) to know I'm not alone.

After a while, I figured I had to move forward and not dwell upon the negativity because it drained my creative energy.  

thought about the neighbors who inquired about my book.  I remembered the friends who bought my book and the young fans who showed up at the signings.  I tried to concentrate on all of the good things about publishing a book, the wonderful lessons it teaches and the joy it brings to young readers.  When I focused on the positive, the hurt of rejection softened and slowly, the clouds of disappointment drifted away.






















My biggest supporters, my husband and daughter♥

The Maggie Project is published twice a month