Writers Conferences–nuts and bolts….

Writers Conferences—the nuts and bolts—and what you can get out of going to one.

•You’ll connect with new writer friends. Those connections are valuable especially since you’re all going through the process.

•Your newly met friends may become your allies and accountability partners.

•You’ll clarify your book concept. Every time you practice talking about your book (not just writing it), you’ll get clearer about the direction you want to take.

•You’ll learn things you didn’t expect to learn. Sessions, lunch gatherings, and happy-hour mingling will present opportunities, which you didn’t expect.

Attending a conference:

Here in my greater Cincinnati area, I’ve been to several writer’s conferences, workshops, and the like, each of which garnered from our community. Last weekend, September 29 & 30, I stepped it up a notch by attending a conference which invited writers from all-around. Although, still here in Cincinnati, people came from as far away as California, New York, and Canada.

Given by Writer’s Digest, it was at the Renaissance Hotel downtown, with a friendly hotel ambiance that was comfortable, and plush. Before even hitting the check-in table, I met up with an online friend, Amy for breakfast, to meet in person for the first time—she lives in the New York area. Amy is an industry leader when it comes to teaching new authors how to promote our book(s) and I’ve been one of her groupies for more than a year.

When my book was hitting publication, I retained her marketing services for her know-how and action that I see she puts in to her passion. You see, an author is always responsible for carrying some, if not all the burden in marketing efforts. A publisher; most any publisher won’t do it all, nor could they even if they tried. My publisher is involved in the social media end of things, but they can’t walk with me in my daily commute to promote my book.

My breakfast time with Amy was not to talk business, but for us to get to know one another on a more personal level. I already knew we are the same age (by two months, I’m the older one)—we were in a group video conference on the day of her last birthday. Come to find out over breakfast, we have much more than age in common. It was an invaluable connection.

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With about 75 writers and authors in attendance, we mingled in the conference room, anxious for the 9:00 hour to start it off. At the front of the room was the podium. We took our seats, with many seats to choose from and four chairs to each table, all facing the front. Each table came with a carafe of water and a place to put our complimentary coffee. Through small talk, we encouraged each other to be proud of our published books. This could be seen as many of us pulled our book out of our tote bag (or attaché case or backpack) and laid it prominently on our table.

The conference opened with a presentation by another well-respected industry leader, Jane Friedman. She gave us her experience in publishing options and then how to proceed once published (the latter of which I tuned in to).

The weekend continued, all day Saturday and much of Sunday, with break-out sessions, guest speakers, and networking with fellow writers through lunch. Our break-out sessions spanned the gamut from readership connection to social media use to audio book consideration, and oh, so much more.  Even Amy had her share of leading workshops during these break-outs.

Key-note speakers were Zetta Elliott (children’s author) and Tobias Buckell (sci-fi author). With the conference focused on diversity, Zetta shared her journey with us, as an African American woman who writes stories which give a voice to the diverse reality of children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aside from the structure in these sessions and listening to speakers, it proved to be an awesome opportunity to meet others. I learned from other authors who are a step or more ahead of me, and I shared my experience with those who are where I was a year or so ago.

Overall, it was great to see a big picture of opportunities and choices available to authors in our writing careers. This big picture will carry me forward as I continue to learn and make informed decisions, which ultimately will benefit readers.

A writing conference comes with nuggets:

•The craft and business of your writing life is enhanced when joining forces with others.

•It keeps you abreast of the rapidly changing shifts in the industry so that you can make informed decisions for the best-fit path in your journey.

•Its uplifting and motivational to be surrounded by other writers. The writing process can be solitary. Being surrounded by other writers who are also going through the process is motivating.

Conferences gives us the venue to invest in our dreams….

Like the protagonists in the books we read or write, we too have turning points in our journeys. A conference is our way of accepting the challenge and rising to the call. It means we are willing to invest in our dreams, learn all we can, teach others through our experience, and do the action.

If you are a writer, what are your thoughts? Have you ever attended a conference? Did your first conference change your outlook and attitude? What were some changes you saw in yourself after going to a conference?

If you are a reader, curious about my writing life, what are your thoughts? Have you ever attended a conference for your craft or profession? Did your first conference change your outlook and attitude? What were some changes you had after going to a conference? And if you knew your favorite author attended conferences, would this influence your opinion of that author?

Please join in the replying comments below. As writers and readers, we come together; it’s a “we thing.” -Elle-

 

 

 

 

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“What’s that book you’re reading?”

Have you ever wondered if you should pick up a certain book?

If so, you’re not alone. People turn to others to ask, Is that book any good?”

Have you ever wondered why (or otherwise, been frustrated that) your favorite bookstore or neighborhood library doesn’t carry the book you want?

Many factors go into book buying decisions for these places. And it’s the reviews that count! Every single review, even the critical review stacked next to the 5-star reviews is a powerful and positive influence in the book buying industry. Ultimately, these reviews keep the author writing based on readers’ needs and gets books out into the world.

Have you ever read a book and then thought, “That was great!” or “Gee, I want to tell the author what I think.” (??)

There is a way. It’s called Posting a Review.”

Writing a review for a book is not rocket science. (Trust me, it’s not.)

Tip 1: Say something about the story line without revealing spoilers.

For example, Author Richard DeVall says in his full-length review “Elle Mott is like Marilyn Monroe, men want to rescue her, and women want to be her friend.” (How is she like Marilyn? Rescue—how, why? Women? Who? Tell me more.)

Tip 2: Add your feelings. Could you resonate with the story, even if the details are different? If so, say how and why. Or did you experience that too? If so, say so.  A library worker put this in her review:  “Elle Mott’s chaotic journey makes one appreciate who we have in life and how we get through both trials and victories.”

Tip 3: Keep in mind that stories and memoirs are subjective, and just because it didn’t appeal to you doesn’t mean it won’t appeal to someone else. If it didn’t grab you, explain in your review why you didn’t like the story. That’s what reviews are for. (But) remember that the author put their heart and soul into this piece of work and a lot of time. If you did not like something in the book, be constructive.

An example from my reviews: “Difficult to read at times, but like a train wreck, just couldn’t walk away for long. I found myself back in the pages, rooting for this woman. As the title suggests, she really does make it out of chaos.”

Tip 4: Keep it sweet and simple. A paragraph—your definition of a paragraph—is great. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar. More so, think of it as sharing your input with someone. “Elle Mott doesn’t sugarcoat. Instead, she gives us an intimate, unflinching look….” (Emily Hitchcock).

Tip 5:  An author-to-author comparison or the like can be a fun and easy way to give that review. When at my recent author presentation, one reader came up to me and said “It’s like the Ocean 11 movie, only it’s the Ocean 8 movie.” More than once I’ve heard it’s like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.

In the replying comments found below this post,  a comparison is made with Down And Out In Paris And London by George Orwell.

You may ask, “Where do I post my review?”

Amazon is the leader when it comes to answering that question. However, it is not the only place to shout out your review. Goodreads, which is a community of readers, is another great place. And more simply, where you purchased your book (Barnes & Noble.com or Walmart.com for Kobo and more) is like-wise perfect. If you got it at the library, tell your librarian.

You may say, “Is there another way?”

Comment: “I don’t want to open an account on Goodreads or anywhere else.”

Message me your review and I’ll handle it from there.

Comment: “I don’t want to give my name.”

No problem. If where you post your review lets you do so anonymously, go for it. Another option is to message me your review and let me know not to include your name. I’ll take it from there, respecting your privacy.  It’s the review which counts.

Comment: “Amazon won’t let me.”

It’s true, our industry giant has rules and regulations and restrictions and oh my! If Amazon is a no-go, jump to Barnes and Noble.com or any of the other places mentioned.

Comment: “I’m really not that good at computer stuff.”

No worries—skip the logistics and shoot me a message. I’ll take it from there.

All-in-all, I hope I’ve shared well with you that reviews are ever so important and how to offer a review. For me, as an author, it will help leverage my current debut book and will help me as I write my next book.

Please review “Out of Chaos.”

I write to share not only my story but to hopefully touch you, making a difference in your life; a kindly one. As reviews filter in, you help me, and I help you. It’s a community thing. And I am so glad you are in my community.

Conclusion:

With any book you read, please know that your review is paramount.

In the comments, as a reader, please let me know how have any of the above questions affected you and have any of my answers helped you? If so or if not, share with us, as a community of writers and readers who hope to change our world for the better.

Helpful Links:

Post your review on Amazon. (Link here.)

Post your review on Goodreads. (Link here.)

Post your review on Barnes and Noble. (Link here.)

Message me.

See reviews for my debut book, a memoir, “Out of Chaos.”

-Elle-

*This post was revised on October 2, 2018.

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No longer in Chaos (Author Presentation)

Thank you to Tri-State Freethinkers (TSF) for asking me to share my journey at the September meeting.  TSF is a community involved, social, educational, and activist group. Speakers include local experts and organizations about the science of our world, experience of those from different backgrounds & causes that could use our help.  I was the first of four speakers on this night.

I discussed my debut book, a memoir: “Out of Chaos”.

Yes, my book is published and available for your reading. What is my book about? Well, that’s why I stepped up to the podium on this night at the TSF meeting. Through this group, I have had ample opportunities for volunteering. These volunteering commitments have given me a way to show my gratitude for life today, a life out of chaos.

A recent volunteer commitment took me to the Freestore Foodbank in downtown Cincinnati, near me, here on Liberty Street. It’s a choice pantry, laid out much like a grocery store. Volunteers are needed for keeping shelves stocked, bagging food, and helping customers. On that day, I was a runner. My job was to help load groceries into people’s cars or to help them gather their bags for their walk home. As we’d walk out together—me pushing their shopping cart to their car, it was easy to chat. One woman kept saying she was sorry for being so needy and for almost forgetting to get diapers.

I let her know there was no need to explain or be sorry. I’ve been there before, on the edge, wondering if I’d survive. I know what it is like—that raw empty feeling inside our gut, breaking down our mental and emotional cognition when having to depend on others for our very basics.

Yes, sometimes, I feel as though it’s an effort to choose to volunteer rather than hang out at home. But, I know that all I have to do is show up. From there, any inconvenience is uplifted as my happiness to get out of myself and be a real part of the community shows its face.

When we step up to volunteer, we make a difference in people’s lives. I know this. During the times I needed help, help was at times tough to find.  When I did get help; that help helped me help myself.

No matter what hardships we endure—or what mistakes we made—no matter where we go wrong or where society fails us, we can survive. And more than survive—by doing the action, we can make a life which gives us inner peace, a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning.

 

A recap of my volunteering thus far with Tri-State Freethinkers:

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How about you? What difficulty have you faced and what has helped you to overcome such a troubling situation? Please share in the comments. Community is a “we thing.”

Together, we can and will make a difference; a positive difference!  -Elle-

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Rubber Ducks Help the Community

Rubber duck races are used in family-fun fundraising events by organizations worldwide.

HOW IT WORKS:  People donate money to the organization by sponsoring a rubber duck. Behind the scenes, before the event, volunteers put a bar code sticker on the bottom of each rubber duck. These bar codes tell who paid for the duck to race.

ON EVENT DAY:  These rubber ducks are then dumped into a waterway. The first rubber duck to float past the finish line wins a prize. These prizes are paid for and sponsored by area businesses.

Proceeds benefit a charity in need.

AFTER THE EVENT:   Rubber ducks are pulled out of the waterway or river with fishing nets. Each rubber duck has a buoy to keep it afloat.

Of interest, the same rubber ducks are used worldwide. When one community is done racing the ducks, the ducks are shipped or trucked to the next location for their next race. (Wow! These rubber ducks sure swim a lot, working hard in their fundraising efforts.)

 

Here, in the Cincinnati area, the 24th annual Rubber Duck Regatta will happen on Sunday, September 2 on the Ohio River off the Purple People Bridge. People will watch the race from both Kentucky and Ohio. Those on the Kentucky side of the river will gather at Newport on the Levee; and those on the Ohio side of the river, at Sawyer Point Park. Rubber ducks will race toward the Serpentine Wall.

Each year, twenty-four years strong, The Freestore Foodbank in Cincinnati has sponsored this event. It is their largest fundraiser, raising money for children at risk of hunger. Every duck purchased (at $5) provides 15 meals for a child or family in need. (Wow! $5 goes a long way.) Partnering with area grocery stores, farmers, and others, The Freestore Foodbank has resources to stretch their budget.

PREPARING FOR EVENT DAY:  Yesterday, Saturday, I was behind the scenes in this effort. Me and many other volunteers showed up at their warehouse, putting those bar code stickers on the bottom of the ducks. Sadly, we’d sometimes come across a duck that just can’t make another race—their head is torn or the buoy in their bottom is no longer any good. These went into a box labeled, “Dead Ducks” (how sad).

In the morning shift, volunteers got 2,500 rubber ducks ready to race. In my afternoon shift, we did another 3,900. More volunteer shifts are available. It’s estimated that more than 20,000 rubber ducks will race next weekend!

Yesterday, I learned that this fundraiser is a huge help to the Freestore Foodbank when it comes to providing Power Pack Lunches for school kids throughout the year. 

 

These power packs are given to those children who are on the Free Lunch Program.  I’ve had my hands in these Power Packs, having volunteered to help put these together. Link here for that post.

 

 

Cincinnati’s Rubber Duck Regatta is the largest race in America, yet by far, not the only race which is impactful in the community. With hundreds of races held internationally, here are a few recent past rubber duck races:

The Incredible Duck Race in Tampa, Florida was on August 16, raising funds for their Kiwanis Club.

Reno, Nevada had their Duck Race and Festival on August 9 at Wingfield Park to benefit the Humane Society.

Chicago Ducky Derby was August 8, in support of Special Olympics.

In Columbus, Ohio, there was the Zoom Duck Derby on August 3, which benefited the Alpha Group in financial support for services to individuals with developmental disabilities.

And yesterday, August 25 was the Duck Race in East Peoria, Illinois. Proceeds from their event benefited The Center for Prevention of Abuse.

Szentendre, Hungary also had their charity event yesterday, August 25. (Pictured at right.)

 

 

 

 

Of the many-many upcoming races, these here are but a few:

The Southern Illinois Ducky Derby Dash to help Special Olympics is September 2. It will be at the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds.

On October 13 at the Bridgeport Park in Santa Clarita, California, their Rubber Ducky Festival will raise funding for under insured persons needing healthcare.

And the Incredible Duck Splash happens November 3 in Glendale, California, in support of their Kiwanis Club.

We can be a real part of our community.  I hope you will consider supporting the Rubber Duck Race in your area. It is a family-fun way to think of others and to help those in need, ultimately helping the whole community.

Please share about the Rubber Duck event in your community. You can drop your comments below, in reply to this post.

RESOURCES:

Cincinnati area: http://rubberduckregatta.org/

To find out more about Rubber Duck events in other communities– in your local area, visit the website for Game Fundraising or call 1-800-779-RACE.

-Elle-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Memory Lists by Denis Ledoux & the Memoir Network Team

This guest post comes to you from Mr. Denis Ledoux.

I first met Denis in a teleconference when I was learning to write my own memoir. I’ve since stayed tuned to his invaluable tips. I’ve also personally referred him to two of you—one, a friend, Brad, who as an older gentleman is writing his life story for his grandson. My other friend, who has seen hard times in losing loved ones wants help in writing her story—here too, I suggested Denis.

It is for you if you like to:

  • Write about your personal experiences
  • Write about your family history
  • Would like to leave a written legacy to your family
  • Enjoy exploring who you are through the creative art of writing.

Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Please note: The following post, MEMORY LISTS was developed by Denis Ledoux and the Memoir Network team at www.thememoirnetwork.com

It is being used with their kind permission. 

Memory Lists

People who attend Turning Memories Into Memoirs® workshops will sometimes say, “I want to write my stories but I have forgotten so many details. Is there any way I can get them back?”

I spent a whole week making lists! Was that lifestory writing?
—Turning Memories Into Memoirs® workshop attendee.

There is one tool above all others that makes the experience of lifewriting successful. That tool is the Memory List. No other exercise opens up the process of lifewriting as quickly and as surely as the thoughtful and thorough compilation of the Memory List. It’s simple, and as a first step, it’s crucial.

Memory Lists Are the Backbone of Writing Memoir

In this lesson, I will talk about the Memory List (a general term for your list of memories), the Extended Memory List (its widest, most all-inclusive version) and the Core Memory List (the list refined to the ten most important memories).

Your Memory List is always a work in process because the more you remember and jot down, the more you’ll recall. You will return to and rework your Memory List again and again as you write your lifestories.

The Extended Memory List 

The Extended Memory List consists of short memory notes (three to five words is sufficient) of people, events, relationships, thoughts, feelings, things–anything–from your past. The list is usually random and always uncensored. Each line lists a different memory. When you write a different memory, start a new line. Do not feel compelled to write in full sentences. (In fact, I urge you not to write in full sentences!)

I’ve never been a very observant person. Things just happened around me, and I didn’t really notice them. So, what do I write about?
—Workshop writer

  • Let the logic of creating a Memory List be internal. Do not force yourself to be chronological (“everything I did when I was sixteen”) or thematic (“my father”), and do not strive for
    cause-and-effect relationships (“because this happened, that followed…”) unless the memories come that way spontaneously.
  • Do not censor your memories. As soon as you find yourself thinking something like “Is this
    really important enough?” you are censoring your memory and compromising your Memory List. Censoring can result in a list that is less comprehensive—and therefore, less useful to you as a lifewriter–than it would be if you allowed yourself to be free-flowing and uncensored. Let yourself go where your imagination takes you.
  • A Memory List includes both big items and small ones. Any of the following are “on target” for a Memory List:
    • brother Stan died
    • green wallpaper
    • stage coaches and buttes
    • Sister Marie Gertrude fell on stairs
    • my parents divorced
    • blue Schwinn bicycle
  • The list is for you, and you’re the only one for whom it needs to have meaning. No one else will see it unless you share it. Include enough data to make the notes understandable to you at some future time. Don’t fall into the trap of writing something cryptic like “cap.” In a month’s time, you may not remember which “cap,” or whose, you were remembering. But, if you wrote “Bob’s Red Sox cap/1970,” it is likely you will have enough of a cue to recall what you meant.

Your stories are waiting to be told. Your task is to let them emerge from the depths of your memory.

  • The Extended Memory List ought to be fairly long. It is not unusual for a writer to spend two or three weeks or even months compiling it. You will find yourself adding to it regularly in the months ahead as more and more memories come to you. This Extended Memory List will go in your three-ring binder. It will serve as your source of writing inspiration and be a tremendous time saver. Whenever you sit down to write, you won’t need to spend time coming up with a topic. All you have to do is pick an item on the list and write about it. (Write everything you remember about the “blue Schwinn bicycle” you mentioned on your list.) With your Memory List, you need never again have writer’s block. With an extensive list of memories to pick from, you will always have a ready prompt.

We offer much in the Memoir Education area, but if you want even more, check out the our Learning Memoir Writing programs: Write Your First Memoir Draft and Writer’s Time: Management That Works.
[Denis Ledoux offers this, found on his website at  www.thememoirnetwork.com.]

The Core Memory List

The Core Memory List is a list of the crucial relationships and events which have shaped your life. It contains just ten or fewer items.

 

This is because Core Memory Lists are about the relationships and events which, had they not occurred, your life (or your mother’s or father’s, etc.) would have taken a different turn, and you would absolutely have become a different person from the one you are.

If life teaches us anything, it’s that we don’t have inexhaustible energy and time. It is perfectly possible to run out of both before we get all our stories written. With this in mind, because you have compiled the Core Memory List, you can identify your most important lifestories—the ones about the prime relationships and events of your life—and concentrate on writing these first. These few core memories serve well as the backbone of your longer lifewriting project. The peripheral stories can be dealt with later–as time and energy permit.

What kind of items will appear on the Core Memory List? The answer is: only big items. Here are a few Core Memory List possibilities:

  • a major illness or a death in the family
  • the arrival of a sibling
  • the community
  • the town or neighborhood, the ethnic, religious or social
    group you grew up in
  • a significant fire, flood, car accident or historic event
  • a formative relationship with an older person or a peer
  • a failure or success at school
  • scholarships, sports or arts awards, a decision to go or not go
    to the university
  • conflict with a teacher, having to leave school for work
  • boyfriends/girlfriends, deciding to marry or to not marry
  • marriage and relationships
  • children and family life
  • career choices and changes, successes, failures
  • religious and spiritual quests and experiences

Limit your Core Memory List to ten items. Limiting yourself to ten—admittedly an arbitrary number—forces you to evaluate and select the most significant material to start writing about.

The items on your Core Memory List are almost never splashy events: not the time when you met someone famous briefly and superficially (e.g. Elvis Presley kissed you goodbye on the cheek when you both happened to be at the same airport in 1965!) but something essential like deciding (or deciding not) to move away or marry, or like winning a scholarship and going to the university instead of going to work at the mill (or vice versa).

One way to create a Core Memory List is to analyze the Extended Memory List you have already compiled. You may notice that a number of seemingly separate items are really part of a single category and might be grouped together into one story.

Instead of scattering, or listing separately, the names of the men (or women) you dated from your eighteenth to your twenty-fourth year, you might cluster these relationships under a Core Memory List heading like “Getting ready to meet my husband/wife.”

In this category, you might make a sub-list of the more significant relationships you had. This would create a natural occasion for you to write about how your understanding of what you needed in a mate matured over those years as you dated each of these people until you were finally ready to marry. By grouping extended Memory List items, you can discover core stories and make it easier for the reader to understand or evaluate your experience.

Compiling a Core Memory List will make it easier for you to organize your material early in the writing process and assure that you write your most important stories first.

By identifying core influences in your life, you can focus on them quickly in your lifewriting. In this way, you will develop a body of stories that depict the person you are and have been. If your time and energy is limited, you will not squander either one on writing about secondary events in your life. Perhaps you and your friends were impressed, at the time, that Elvis kissed you at the airport, but how has this influenced your development as a person?

If you have the interest and the time, later on, you can write about the secondary events in your life. Otherwise, you may find yourself having “run out of wind” on the unessential stories before you commit your core stories to paper.

Action Steps 

Start Your Memory List Now!

Write down at least twenty memories to start off your Memory List (fifty would be better, and a hundred preferable).

  • Place these pages in your three-ring binder.
  • Every day, continue to add memories to your list. Do not stop until you have five hundred items. (Yes, five hundred!)
  • Take your time to mull over your Memory List. Add or delete, combine or expand until you have a list that represents your life.

In conclusion…

Whatever you do today, write a bit on your memoir.
Denis Ledoux and the Memoir Network Team.

A NOTE FROM ELLE:

Thank you, Denis. As you taught me, I like to remember, “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. Yard by yard, it’s hard.”

 

Friends, please share in the comments below of your writing journey with memories. If this post has helped, please share how.   And I believe Denis would enjoy it if you’d visit his website.  -Elle-

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Helping out in the Community

The Freestore Foodbank in downtown Cincinnati gave an urgent shout-out last Friday for volunteer help, come Saturday morning. They were low in their count of registered volunteers. While I could have felt my Saturday was already filled up, I figured where there’s a will, there’s a way. I split a shift with someone else.

Following an early morning visit with a friend, I then joined my local writers group. Before doing my weekly shopping on my drive home, I stopped by to offer a helping hand with this food bank.

Helping is my way of showing gratitude. As my recently published memoir shows, I was once on the receiving end—and I’ve also been on the taking end, not proud of my choices when a young woman. Today, my living amends for yesteryear are found in my volunteerism.

I’m so glad I showed up to help—it gave me connection to those in need; a heart-felt connection. My job was to be with folks as they left the food bank. Often I helped load their food into their car. Sometimes it was to help them gather their sacks to carry in their walk home.

Chatting, it was easy for me to relate to what they were going through. One woman— (paraphrasing, here)—tried apologizing to me for her neediness and forgetfulness—“Diapers, oh I need diapers, too.” I let her know there was no need to explain her forgetfulness—I’ve been there before, on the edge, wondering if I’d survive—our mental and emotional cognition is so broken down when leaning on others. “I understand.”

Picture retrieved from Freestore Foodbank website.

According to the Freestore’s website, this food bank serves up to 300 families daily and more than 88,000 individuals annually.

From what I saw, these numbers are a gross understatement. Only so many people could shop at one time. This left a long line of people waiting their turn. The line never grew short. People in need kept showing up.

The Freestore Foodbank operates under Feeding America, a national association of affiliated food banks. Feeding America is the largest hunger relief organization, connecting community food pantries in every state in America.

While my reasons for being a part of my community is my way of giving back for what I have received, other reasons are abundant when it comes to volunteering. Some people volunteer to fill their free hours, some for something worthy to do during retirement, and for some, it is to show their concern for those less well-off. No matter our reasons, it is our opportunity to come together to make our community a better place for everyone.   

To join the volunteering efforts, you can find out who to contact in your local area and how by visiting the Feeding America website. On this page is a search bar for your zip code.

We can make a difference!

RESOURCES

Link to Freestore Foodbank.

Feeding America. Find your local calling to volunteer by linking here.

-Elle-

 

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WIP Update: This Book is Happening!

Publishing my debut book is  exciting and a little scary. Have you ever created something only to wonder if people will like it?  Coming August 9 it’s aptly titled, “Out of Chaos: A Memoir.”

It is my true story of living in chaos, what happened to throw me into that chaos, what I did about it, and now, who I am today. At times, my story is dark and harrowing, yet I promise, it will end on a bright new way of living.

My book is finished, yeah! This journey has involved plenty of hard, yet creative and fun work in collaboration with my publishing house. And questions–oh, so many questions I’d bring to the table when I’d get ideas or wondered “why this way?” The entire publishing team was ever so patient, open to my ideas, and happy to talk about anything with me.  Last Friday, I saw this book’s fruition when I approved the latest proof. This book is happening!

Through my writing and publishing journey, I’ve met numerous supporting and incredible authors. Heartfelt gratitude goes out to my new friends and to my publishing house.

My two writing groups, one on-line, and one here locally in my community have also been invaluable.

No way, could I have gotten this far alone. In all of life, in our community endeavors, and in our own personal aspirations, it is a we thing.

Often, I was asked, “Why don’t you self-publish?” That’s the route many in my local writers group have taken and have been quite successful at doing so. Success means different things to different people, and mostly, I see my fellow authors who have self-published happy with their decision.

The idea of that (of self-publishing) seems overwhelming—I don’t have the skill set in this laborious and complex world. Creating a great book cover while meeting industry standards, perfecting interior design, expense of editors, worrying about metadata and distribution—oh how exhausting to ponder. And then, there’s distribution—I want my book available most anywhere and yet so many places are out there; some I’ve never even heard of. Time was also an issue—I work full-time, writing on my lunch breaks.

My publishing choice has proven to be perfect for me. I’ve gained insight, learned plenty and have felt my fears in publishing lifted as someone else (my publishing house) has done the heavy work garnered from my vision.

You may ask, “What came before yesterday’s finalized proof?”  

  • Ringing in the New Year, I expressed my Persistence, Power, and Positive Attitude to bring this book alive. (Link here).x
  • In late March, it was how I got through developmental editing. (Link here).x
  • In June, it was copy editing; it was my motto of Inspired by memoir, focused on life today. (Link here).

Look for my debut book in paperback and e-book, releasing August 9. “Out of Chaos: A Memoir” will be available on Amazon, Kindle, iTunes, Sony/Kobo, and Barnes & Noble Nook, to name but a few. Incoming reviews (from readers like you) will determine the distribution path into brick-and-mortar bookstores and libraries.

Closing this post, a shout-out with a big “thank you” to you for following my writing journey and encouraging me to keep going.  -Elle-

 

 

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“The Public”, my review of a film by Emilio Estevez

Last winter, the public library in downtown Cincinnati was all abuzz. That’s where Emilio Estevez spent many over-night hours—during the filming of “The Public.” A small ensemble cast joined Estevez, as well as many library employees—my coworkers. This public library is where I spend many days—in my job as a library page.

And last Thursday evening, I attended a private showing of this movie. It released January 31, 2018 at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in California. It has yet to be found in box-office theaters.

Written and directed by Emilio Estevez, who stars as a librarian, Mr. Stuart Goodson, it is loosely based on a true story and brings a comic relief with its true-to-life dramatization of the life of homeless folks and their daily reprieve in urban public libraries.

Emilio Estevez wrote its script based off a piece in the LA Times from April 1, 2007. That piece was aptly titled, “Written Off: A librarian’s days among the chronically homeless,” by Chip Ward, a librarian, and at the time of printing, recent past assistant library director of the Salt Lake City Public Library.

“The Public” is about more than just the plight of homelessness. It is about the role of librarians and other library workers who welcome all patrons into the library. It is about an awareness of this social issue and how two librarians (one played by Jena Malone and the other played by Estevez as Mr. Goodson) reacts. The story takes place overnight as the library is turned into a de facto shelter on an especially cold night in Cincinnati. Actor Alec Baldwin helps bring the movie to its climax, in his role as a crisis negotiator.

The personable and even at times, likeable characters can pull you in, but what is most fascinating to watch is the tension that builds when these characters are faced with their dilemma—leave the library when it closes for the night—at the risk of succumbing to freezing weather—or demand help from society.

These likeable characters, though, were almost stereotyped. The homeless folks who turned the library into a de facto shelter were entirely men. Where were the homeless women and families? Then again, families tend to be let into shelters before men are, provided there is room for them. And, as this film portrayed, many homeless men are mentally ill, incapable of changing their way of life.

I could relate to the frustration felt by these homeless men, even though I am not mentally ill. When the Red Cross helped me following an apartment building fire, their help was limited. When the recession hit hard, I was affected, unable to secure gainful employment, even with a college degree. When homeless back in the 1990s, social service agencies seemed tough to navigate.

I could also relate to our librarian in this film, Mr. Goodson. During the unfolding of this story-line, we come to learn more about this character—his history of personal problems and his corrective action to make good of his life, even by becoming a public servant despite his brushes with the law.

My bold truth, centering around my years of homelessness, brushes with the law, and other equally wrought problems are shared in my memoir, coming soon. Like Mr. Goodson, I took corrective action and like him, I too am today a public servant. While the character of Mr. Goodson is fiction, it felt real to me. It is much like my real story.

The ending to this film was a voice-over, saying, “It takes a miracle.” I say it takes action. Our country needs to talk about these topics, and if the push to get us there takes Emilio Estevez’s movie, so be it. This well-directed film about a topic not well-talked about in our day-to-day activities is a must see for all of us.

Resources:

LA Times, April 1, 2007. “Written off: A librarian’s days among the chronically homeless” by Chip Ward. http://articles.latimes.com/2007/apr/01/opinion/op-ward1

Trailer for  “The Public” (Click image, below).

 

 

 

 

 

 

xxx

 

For a glimpse of my working day as a library page: (Click image).

 

 

 

 

 

In your day-to-day activities, are you affected by those experiencing homelessness? What are your thoughts on bringing this social problem to the forefront?

-Elle-

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Community: Giving = Gratitude

 

Community is Connection

As human beings, we need a sense of belonging, and that sense of belonging is what connects us to the many relationships we develop, and to our community as a whole. We find community though family or friends, work or organized sports, and through other activities.

Demographic, social, and economic status can bring a threat of alienation. Community involvement is the thread to bring people together to advocate and support each other in the fight to overcome such threats.

A true community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It’s about feeling connected and responsible for what happens. Humanity is our ultimate community, and everyone plays a crucial role.

Community is Social Justice

My memoir is aptly titled, Out of Chaos. My life was chaotic. I had made poor choices, was homeless at 25 years old and homeless again not long ago. No longer living in chaos, my life is good today.

Writing my memoir took time, lots of time. Lunch breaks at work, evening down time, and early morning wake-up calls got me through the first draft, which took more than a year.

During this year of my jumbled writing, life kept happening. When in my daily commute on foot, I’d see homeless folks and others struggling in the moment. When with friends, I’d feel their difficulties. And news reports would show effects of social injustices.

Giving back to my community is my way of showing gratitude for my life today. I do this through commitment to my library job, through volunteer work with organizations which help others, and through a listening ear for friends and strangers who I cross paths with.

It’s a matter of  working with others to make sure that good things happen. It’s about creating positive change. It’s a matter of avoiding contempt and embracing equality, support, and a sense of caring. So, for me, community is social justice.

What Does Community Mean to You?

There are many ways to get involved in the community through humanitarian efforts. I created an e-booklet, chock full of ideas, resources, and links, all to lead you with inspiration to your calling in your community.

Do you have the e-booklet? People Helping People is now available when signing up for my newsletter. This is new, so if you are already subscribe and don’t have it and want it, let me know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I like to think of community as a collective effort for us to come together as one in celebration of, and not resistance of, our unique differences. Beliefs, goals, and identity may vary among us, but connection can be a constant attribute if we wish. Community has given me stability. It’s polar opposite to my old life; a life of chaos.

I’d like to hear your comments on community.    -Elle-

And if you like what you read here, please share.

 

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WIP (Work in Progress) Update, Inspired by memoir, focused on life today.

In March, I posted a WIP Update that my first round of editing was finished. That was the developmental editing. Since then, I’ve been inside a whirlwind of excitement to get my book ready for you. (Read that post, here.)

WIP UPDATE

Copy editing has been completed. Working with Emily Hitchcock from my publishing house, we did a line by line reading, sometimes jumping back a few chapters, or even forward. Word usage, grammar, and in essence, making my story the best it can be for you. Emily also came to the rescue for fine tuning how I’ve named chapter titles. Moving forward, proofreading will be done.

In the meantime, also from my publishing house, graphic designer Cate Labish is handling the book cover. Cate and I have collaborated well in this. I picked the picture. She’s putting it together. The front side is done. Soon, Cate will have the back cover done too.

 

Publishing my debut book is not only exciting, it is a little scary. Have you ever created something only to wonder if people will like it? My story is not a cozy one. My story is aptly named, “Out of Chaos.” It is my true story of living in chaos, what happened to throw me into that chaos, what I did about it, and now, who I am today.

Today, life is good. With my good life comes a freeing feeling. I’m okay if someone finds my story not to their liking. I am hoping that my story will make a difference in someone’s life.

An excerpt from my book explains why I wrote my story:

….to show that no matter what mistakes we made, what wrongs we did, or what hardships we endured, we can make a right-about face. A change of heart and action makes it possible to become a contributing member in society. This change gives us peace, a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning.

 

I suppose that’s how and why I came up with my phrase, “Inspired by memoir, focused on life today.”

 

-Elle-

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