Brain fried!

This has been such a steep learning curve that my poor tiny brain is fried! I knew for several years that one could self-publish on Kindle free but I doubted that I could manage it, technologically challenged as I am. I succeeded only after many hours of frustration, kicking and screaming. I have considerably less hair than I had a few months ago.

I’m not a Luddite; my first computer was an Apple 2e in 1980. I’ve gone from the simple as pie Apple Writer to the horrible Word Perfect with all its F commands to many iterations of Word. In every case I’ve learned just enough to do what I need, mostly to simply write.

Formatting for publication is a huge jump, and my legs are short! Once I got Amigos on Kindle, my sister-in-law who drew the illustrations many years ago said she would love to see it in print. Okey Doke I thought. But that took weeks. Either there’s flaws in our Word 2013 or I’m seriously impaired. I prefer to blame our program.

Then there were weeks of editing my memoir and struggling to write enticing language for the book jacket, cover, etc. Now I’m told that a serious author needs a lot of “platforms” like a web presence, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. I’ve been on Facebook for years, but only to occasionally see what friends and family are up to. I joined Twitter during the election in 2008, but Mark soon gained followers on my account by making rude comments about some candidates. In fear of being put on the “no fly” list, I soon backed off. Now I’m in the throes of learning to use this platform (if that’s what it is). In every case if I finally succeed I’m so stressed and tired that I have no idea how I accomplished it.

Will all this brain activity strengthen my mental ability or will it hasten the onset of dementia?

Why “Writing Life?”

I’ve read (and repeated to students) that there are three classes of writers: Those who want to be A Writer, those who want to write, and those who write. The first category dream of author’s tours with TV interviews, fame, and lots of money. Those who want to write have a story they feel compelled to tell. The last category simply can’t help but write.

As with most truisms, this isn’t entirely true, but I fall mostly into the latter group. I still have a “poem” written when I was about eight and diaries or journals kept off and on through the years. In the eighth grade my essay won an honorable mention in a county-wide contest. During boring college classes I wrote (very bad) short stories, to all appearances taking extensive notes.I later took writing classes, but I seldom submitted anything for publication because I lacked the drive to be A Writer.

My work for many years mostly satisfied any creative writing itch because I graded thousands of college compositions, wrote thousands of dull words of curriculum, policies, self-studies for accreditation, strategic plans, etc. However, during summers and a period of several years when I wasn’t working full-time, I wrote four novels, a novella, and co-wrote a murder mystery. Mostly what I submitted for publication were stories for the local newspaper or poems.

Only recently have I decided to do something with those files of manuscripts and obsolete Apple floppy disks. Either I die leaving my daughters to burn those moldering piles or I work to get them out into the world for better or for worse.

Premature publication

Yes, it’s embarrassing. It’s something I hoped would never happen to me, but I got so excited by being close to publishing my novella, Amigos, that I rushed it into publication. My second mistake was signing up for Kindle Direct, which meant that I couldn’t unpublish it for ninety days, even though I had an improved more attractive version. Finally today I accomplished the switch. For those who have already read it, don’t fret. Only the cover has changed and preliminary pages like title and dedication have been added.

And then it happened again with my memoir. I had hoped to have at least a proof copy to take to the family reunion over July 4, so instead of going slow and careful, again I rushed to completion, leaving me dissatisfied and embarrassed.

Another Lesson Learned.

My memoir —used?

I just went to Amazon, peeked into the hardback of In pursuit of Dreams and found what they say is the e-book edition. There I found the paperback version for sale at multiple prices ranging from $15.70 new to $20 something — used! I’ve heard other authors complain that they saw their book for sale used even though they never knew a copy had sold nor had they been paid. My real question is: Why would anyone pay more for a “used” copy than the “new” price?

Back to “Lesson Learned” –yesterday I went with Mark to get work done on the RV and he asked me to wait a minute before leaving to be sure it was good to go. I had a copy of my memoir in the car, so I started reading. I got so engrossed that I didn’t see him leave and sat there reading at least ten minutes after he had gone.

Now before you think I’m one course short of a certificate (as we used to say at the community college), I wrote parts many years ago. But the lesson learned is that though I had gone through the manuscript so many times that I was sick of it, I wasn’t actually reading it. Mostly I was looking for little punctuation errors I tend not to see on screen, and I see some still in the finished book.

To repeat The Lesson: Get an editor. Get a reader. Get more than one reader. I was too proud and too confident of my ability to see errors. I wanted it to be read only when it was complete and in print. Really dumb!

Big booboo; lesson learned

My daughter called to say how much she and her husband were enjoying my memoir, BUT she spotted an unfortunate error. Twice on one page I was writing about my first drug-addicted husband (long dead) and called him by my current husband’s name! My publisher, Archway, allowed 50 corrections free and a charge of $100 per 25 changes after that. I had assured them that I didn’t need to pay no $$ for editorial help.  i is a porfesional, i cun find me own erors!

Well, I did. Most of them, I hope. I have been advised and know from experience that it’s hard to spot your own errors. Looking for a possible market for the next novel I’m working on, one publisher demanded the name and address of my writing partner or editor.

I can imagine that I was writing late at night when Mark called, as usual, “Why don’t you knock it off and come watch TV with me.” And so I wrote his name instead of who I was writing about, and those aren’t the kind of errors I was looking for in the editing phase. Now the book is in print, so I will have to pay more for corrections.

Home Again

After eight days of camping, the cleanup takes days! Will we do it again? Of course! It was great to visit with seldom-seen relatives – 32 of them the evening we (with daughter Janelle) cooked dinner for the group. I took copies of my novella, Amigos, and gave a copy to my sister-in-law Diane, who drew three illustrations after reading it probably 35 years ago and also gave copies to other interested folks. Per request I read a piece from Amigos around the campfire one night and a poem, “Brother” from my memoir another night.

A hint for your memoir writing or just for reference: I keep a little notebook divided into months with those little post-it strips and record whenever we take a trip like this one, have guests from out-of the area, etc.

Big Surprise

Curious to see if the improved version of Amigos is available on Kindle, I went to > books and typed my name. There was Amigos, both e-book and paperback, PLUS my memoir, In Pursuit of Dreams, in paperback and hardback, PLUS my author photo and short bio and blogs from this site.

I had not been informed that the memoir was in print nor did I know that the other things would be on “my” page. I am concerned that the price is so high, which is partly because there are some photos. When I complained, Archway said that of course I (and retail buyers) pay a wholesale price. The e-book should be available soon, which I have priced at $3.99.

How Amigos came to be


This little story nagged at me for years. I was living in Mexico nearly forty years ago, sitting one golden afternoon in a plaza in Guanajuato when I saw the man, incredibly old even against the backdrop of that ancient town. There was a strength under his frailty, a vitality under the wrinkled skin, a dignity transcending his rags that stirred me to record him for posterity.

Lacking a camera or artistic talent, I jotted a few words of description in my notebook. “Bent at the waist, upper body horizontal with the ground. Shuffling with the help of a strange-looking cane, each step an effort. Face deeply creased, eyes scarcely visible through the folds.”

He wasn’t happy with that. Didn’t do him justice. I had to agree. I dug a bit deeper, added detail, made complete sentences. I watched him circle the jardin several times that day and many more times in memory. Why did he keep on when merely moving was such an effort? Why didn’t he relax like the rest of us passing the summer afternoon there on the grassy square, on a bench, or on the steps of the band shell? What compelled him to continue around and around? Was it some inner path he wandered? A pilgrimage of penance? Perhaps he knew if he stopped he would never start again.

I put the old Mexican in a poem. He said, “Lady, you’re no poet,” and I had to agree.  I gave him a young boy to befriend and wrote a little story about the amigos. Still not good enough, he told me. So over time I expanded that little story, and many years later I added a troubled would-be writer who might right his world by getting to know the lonely boy and the old Mexican.

Thus my novella Amigos came to be.