Shoelady’s Tips to Self-Publishing

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My self-publishing journey started when I read Peter Bowerman’s “Well-Fed Self Publisher” book. After many years of writing to publishers and literary agents, I figured “what the heck!” I wasn’t getting any younger…even though I will never be this young again!

After contracting with the talented and patient, Breena Nuñez, our project got under way. She submitted batches of drawings every month or so, while I worked on typesetting the book.

I followed religiously Nigel French’s Lynda.com’s “Designing a Book” tutorial. Lynda.com is a great resource for the self-motivated learner. They have hundreds of classes that range from Business to the Arts. Look into it. For about $25 a month, you can learn a host of new things.

Nigel’s class introduced me to Blurb.com where I had my finished product printed. For a low price, I was able to produce what you see today. I admit it is far from perfect, but Nigel even said “It looks great—and well written too!” So I consider that a good B.

For you folks who want to publish your novels, memoirs or cookbooks, look into all the resources that are available for the self-publisher. The links to the resources I used are below:

Breena’s Etsy

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TechnicolorMorena

www.wellfedsp.com

www.lynda.com

www.blurb.com

And of course,

www.fromtheshoe.com

Thank you all for attending and listening to my Author Talk.

Are You My Identity?

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Below is an excerpt from the my self-published book, The Plight of the Hare & Other Stories From the Shoe. This blog was first written in 2009.

Here I am on the cusp of 50, and I am having an identity crisis like one of my 15 year olds. It is rather humorous and pathetically sad, and slightly terrifying.

I am newly divorced and for the past two decades, I pretty much conformed myself to my husband, his business (a business I liked), his wishes for our family and “subjugated” anything that was purely me to these pursuits. I don’t regret this time of my life, and we did have many things and thoughts in common. Nevertheless, as I face a single life, I am mystified as to who I really am. I am like the baby bird that went from one thing to another asking the profound and longing question, “Are you my mother?”

As I look for direction in my new life, I look back to the days before love and marriage, and try to remember the passions that were truly my own. As a perpetual people-pleaser, it’s hard to distinguish what I really like from what was either popular at the time, popular with the folks I was hanging out with or limited what things my overly active conscience deemed permissible. You see, I looked to those around me for existence confirmation, validation and acceptance. But as those influences diminished, I learned there were certain things I knew for sure that were from me, just me.

I remember my love for languages and cultures which was born in my heart in the sixth grade. After I got saved in 1979, my whole life soon revolved around my church, and that love was reinvigorated by the scores of missionary stories I read. When I got my English degree back in the ’80’s, I intended to go overseas to teach English. Maybe I should pursue that again. I had even started the certificate at Cal, but couldn’t finish because of the demands at home were very high. There were still at least nine under the same roof. They needed a little supervision, and I remembered my first and foremost responsibility. In an old (1991) journal, I copied a little poem:

This is my mission field; the kitchen sink, where countless plates and glasses clink.

While mundane tasks involve my hands, I pray for those in distant lands.

This is my mission field; a child’s heart where endless thoughts and actions start,

For in that heart through word and deed I plant and water sacred seed.

Marcia Baldon

I remember my job as a construction secretary in 1979. I worked on a job site in Redwood City. The radio was set to a local country western station – KLOK – by decree of the cigar-smoking, Andy Devine-cloned superintendent named Andy, and there I fell in love with Willie and Waylon, and Merle and Marty. I got myself some cowboy boots and I was set. “I was country when country wasn’t cool…” well, really, I was going country when it was getting popular. So this city-born country girl started gazing at plans and dreamed of building a home of her own. I taught myself how to read blueprints, and I also crudely drew a floor plan for an off the grid house on Mt. Rose in Nevada. I don’t know where the Mt. Rose idea came from, but the seeds of working in the construction industry were germinated in that little job site trailer. Over the years, I would add to my knowledge of the construction business. Maybe I’ll go get my construction management certificate and stay in this industry.

Finally, I remember I liked to write. I began writing back in elementary school for fun, I even bound my own book titled “Suzanne and the Pig”. Don’t know what became of it, never hit any best seller lists. I wrote poetry in high school; however, I was easily discouraged as you can see from this poem:

Tired of the same old words,

Tired of the same old verbs,

Wishin’ for the capacity beyond my control

To create poems true and bold.

Dreaming does no good,

Nor hoping that I could,

The energy does not exist

To dedicate my heart to this.

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My godfather was an author, and he encouraged my writing, but I don’t think I seriously thought of doing it until I read a book my ex bought for me “Maybe You Should Write a Book”. Maybe I should, I could stay home with the kids and generate an income. I did pray a Gideon prayer in 2006 that if I was to write, I’d need to get published within the year. And I did…twice. But I’ve yet to receive a book contract…I can’t even get an agent to email me back a rejection notice.

So I look back at the expanse of my past life and ask “Will the real Donna please stand up?” Is she the country music loving pseudo-architect, the internationally traveling English teacher or the best-selling “best thing since Bombeck” writer? Actually, each and every one of these parts is a facet of who I truly am: the identities of the past, the present and the future: best-selling writer, mother of ten great kids, and future wife of knight in shining armor, and builder of dreams.

If You Want to Read This….Thank a Writer!

snoopy-writing1Ok, wait, before any one gets upset,  I know the common maxim is “If you a can read this, thank a teacher!”, and I want to give credit to those folks that taught us how to read and those who teach our children. I work for a school district, and I am so impressed with their organization, patience and mission to educate and nurture the next generation. Believe me, they do not do this for the pay. But, at the same time, I’d like to extend my gratitude to the wonderful writers who have helped shape our personalities, slipped into our childhoods and left lasting memories and images through the written word, and even as adults continue to challenge, illumine and comfort us in our earthly journeys.

A writer is not only an author, but could be a playwright, lyricist or poet. Whatever medium from which they come, their words can change and definitely enrich our lives, and without their wonderful words, lyrics and sentences, what would we read?? The ingredients to the shampoo bottle, the toilet cleanser or soap box.  Here are a few words that have knit themselves into the fiber of my being.

Robert Bolt wrote the play, “A Man For All Seasons”, the story of Sir Thomas More and his confrontation with Henry VIII. Written in the early ‘60’s, it still feels like Bolt was recording actual conversations from the early 1500’s.  Paul Scofield brought Sir Thomas More alive on the stage and the screen and whose voice was the perfect vehicle for Bolt’s lovely lines. Faced with imprisonment and possible death, More’s daughter urged her father to sign the Act of Supremacy to save his life, but More  beautifully states:

“Listen, Meg, God made the angels to show Him splendor, as He made animals for innocence and plants for their simplicity. But Man He made to serve Him wittily, in the tangle of his mind. If He suffers us to come to such a case that there is no escaping, then we may stand to our tackle as best we can, and, yes, Meg, then we can clamor like champions, if we have the spittle for it. But it’s God’s part, not our own, to bring ourselves to such a pass. Our natural business lies in escaping. If I can take the oath, I will.”

I tell my kids that they love poetry. “Huh?” The songs they listen to are filled with all different kinds of poetry. We all have song lyrics that beat within our own hearts. What could be more wonderful than beautiful words set to lovely music? I can’t list all the song lyrics I love….there are so many. What parent is not brought to tears by the poignant lyrics of Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game”? Or whose heart doesn’t swell with pride when anyone sings “America the Beautiful”? Even Tupac’s “Dear Mama” brings me to tears, probably because one of the kids said they were gonna play it at my funeral. And Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s hauntingly beautiful love song “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” must be the most romantic of all the love songs – “that in your eyes I may not see forever….forever…” Ahhh, truly sublime.

Who doesn’t have a favorite poem? I have many, some have changed my life. My old boss was posting some poems on Facebook not too long ago, and he posted this one:

someone's poem edit

That poem was a revelation to me, it was like God took one of those little flashlights you get at Walgreen’s, pointed it to my soul, and said, “See, I know you.” That’s what poetry does, that’s what good writing does. It helps us discover ourselves.

You see, reading is more than just filling out a job application or doing your taxes. Reading for some of us is as essential as eating or breathing. I read all the time much to the annoyance of my children, I can’t help myself. I do thank my teachers for teaching  me to read, but I thank these writers and others for fueling the desire to read.