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-

 

 

Share this:

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-

Share this:

Reading Journey

Reading Journey

My writing journey today is about my reading journey—and perhaps, yours, too.

Admiring friends as they keep up with their Goodreads reading profile, I ticked this to-do item off my list today, and plan to keep up with it.

‘Having read several good books, anthologies, and literary journals lately, Goodreads is the hang-out for connecting with readers and writers. It’s a place to discover the next great book to read and why. You can follow my reading journey on Goodreads.

 

Here are some reasons for reading:

1. (To) Change When writers impart motivational, spiritual, and cognitive thinking skills to us, we become stronger to overcome personal challenges.

2. Exercise Brain Muscles (Yes, our brain is a muscle!)

3. (To) Feel for Others Feeling empathy for what the character is going through gives us greater socialization skills.

4. Imagination Other people’s stories can open a whole new world for us to envision places, people, and ideas that otherwise could remain dormant.

5. Information Gathering Becoming familiar with other places, people, and cultures, we become a little bit more familiar with our world.

6. Learning at one’s own Pace With self-help, how-to, and craft and recipe books, we are in control of our own hands-on-approach.

7. Morality Building How characters approach their challenges gives us an opportunity to discern our own choices.

8. Self Esteem By becoming more informed in various life situations, we become more confident in ourselves.

9. Stress Reliever Even as stories heighten our sensory impulses, this same story can envelop us, letting us become relieved of any current concerns.

10. Vocabulary Builder Whether it’s words in our native tongue, conversations found in other cultures, slang, or a new way to verbally express a concept, our choice in which words to use when communicating expands.

Imagination and Information Gathering are likely my top reasons.

xxx What are your reasons for reading? Any other reasons you read? Please share.x

xxx

xxx

 

Resources:

 

Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/

My Goodreads profile (link here.)

For a more in-depth and comprehensive take on using Goodreads, check out this free PDF: “Make Use Of: an unofficial guide to goodreads for readers and writers” by Nicole Dionisio. (Link here).

The Importance of Reading by Tawni Fagan and Nicole Holley. This 3-minute video found on YouTube is as relevant today as when it was posted.

From my library to yours, happy reading! -Elle-

Share this:

Community of Stories

Annually in the spring, the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCPA), here in Cincinnati, offers a creative writing workshop, Community of Stories (preregistration required.)

Yesterday was their fifth annual event of Community of Stories and my fourth year attending. Setting aside writing rules, this event’s focus is to share our diverse perspectives and life stories. It joins a cross-section of our community as we come together as one with hope, support, and encouragement.

Under the guidance of writing mentors, we divvied up into small groups, each with about ten people. We had groups in poetry, fiction, and I participated in the memoir group. Comprised with many students from its school and area high-schools, this event is open to the community.

Our day encompassed writing prompts, quiet time for writing, then sharing our writing with open discussion. I’m amazed how these young students can make a first draft look like a third draft. My writing feels choppy to me if I compare myself. Rather, I realize my writing is but a jumping off point for me. More so, I learn so much from these students. Their views of our society and community, their hopes and dreams, and their desire for growth in themselves and others is an inspiration to me.

Following this group time, we all came together in the school’s auditorium. Those who wished to, shared their writing from the podium.

Each year following this Community of Stories event, SCPA publishes a chap book. Those who wish too, have their writing included in this literary journal. And each year, we wait patiently for this journal, which comes out in print shortly before our next annual get-together.

My contributions to the Community of Stories literary journals include:

2015

A Community of Stories: Seeds of Change

“Sun Catcher.”

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

2016

A Community of Stories: Dream of Change

“Who?” (fictionalized memoir).

xxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

2017

A Community of Stories: On the Wings of Change

“Transformation is About Becoming Who I Am” (reflective essay).

(and)  “Forest” (poem co-written with Isa Walker).

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

xxxxxxxxx

 

2018

A Community of Stories: Speaking Our Silences

(Editor’s choice, to be determined).

xxx

A big thank you to those who shared their day with me! -Elle-

 

 

Share this:

WIP (Work in Progress) April Update

First round of editing is finished.

With my editor, we tackled these issues:

  • Scene development. Welcome to my world, my reader-friends.
  • Parting with poetic language. Readers, what’s your take-away?
  • And showing the progression from chaos to a new way of thinking or a new set of actions.

Persistence — Power — Positive Attitude, a January post put forth what I was up against. My editor’s guidance in this editing process has been invaluable in my persistence. It has given me confidence. (Thanks, Brad!)

 

Going in to April, the copy editor with my publishing house is now working with me. This is the fine combing through word after word and phrase after phrase, while paying attention to comma and period placement, and so on and so forth. Yes, tedious. I don’t envy her job. (Thanks, Emily!)

 

Following copy editing, there are more steps ahead of us. I’m not going to future trip. Rather, I’m happy to say we are getting my book ready for you. A well-known quote by Aristotle goes like this: “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.”

 

Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher and scientist. Today, I am somebody. I did something to become who I am today. Criticism fell, and I pushed forward. Had I sat still, my life would have stayed in chaos and this book would not be happening.

 

Why I wrote my story:  People told me to get my story out in any way I could. That got me started. When recalling memories to put on paper, I couldn’t forget that when life was incredibly difficult for me, people said, “Keep the faith” or “It will be okay.” Read more, here.

Share this:

Brave to Share, Brave to Change Things

Recently I participated in a spoken event to help raise awareness, energy, and financial support in the fight against gender-based violence. Each person who stood at the microphone and podium shared their personal story with our audience. Our expressions in poetry and prose emitted daring honesty to reveal a time we had been powerless yet are now brave and confident.

Heartfelt words of encouragement from others gave me a level of pride, that yes, each of us can make a positive difference in our communities.

My personal experience with this issue comes from a dark point in my journey. As explored in my debut book, coming out soon, choices, and then consequences of those choices push me to the brink of changing my life for the better. Just when I thought I had it figured out, I’m faced with one more hurdle. When at this spoken event, I described this hurdle in my spoken prose.

An excerpt from “Living on a Fork in the Road”

I had no idea how to define [him] but had nodded anyway to their comment. I’d gotten my college degree in June [2010], then in April, still without a career job, I left Seattle with him. I had no family to help. We’ve traveled from Seattle down to San Francisco, east into Arizona and Utah, and west again, through Nevada. Six months out from Seattle, my goal now is to survive.

One woman at that campground had told me, “My husband and I can take you to a women’s shelter.”

Homeless shelters don’t keep people forever. That’s why I went with [him]— I believed it would lead to something permanent, unlike temporary solutions from agencies. He jumps another pothole, then swings his right arm towards me. I’m afraid in his reaction, but then he stops mid-air, damn-near hitting my face. “Ellie, why did you let me break the trailer door? Why?”

We bounce deep into a graveled stretch of road as he grabs his steering wheel for control.  I hadn’t noticed leaving pavement. Cacti and pine trees keep the world out. I can’t rule out he can pull over and kill me. He’s strong enough. And mad enough.

Dust kicks up. I grab my door handle for leverage, not that we’d crash into another car.  There aren’t any other cars [on our road].

He demands, “Stop that. Now, look—you’re upsetting Manny.” (Manny was his dog, at twenty pounds of white matted fur).

He swings his right arm again, this time pushing me deeper into my seat. He corrects his driving one-handedly, screeches to a stop, turns the ignition off and pockets his keys. “I hate you, Ellie…. I (expletive word redacted) hate you, Ellie.”

What difficulty has personally touched you? How can you share your story with others? What will you do to create positive change in our community? Please share in the comments.

Share this:

Persistence — Power — Positive Attitude…. (New Year’s WIP Update)

WIP (Work in Progress) Update

I’m starting this first month in the new year with my publisher. We’re working together in my latest manuscript revision. I’m assured I have a story to tell. My goal is to tell it well.

GOALS:

Scene

Scene development is key. I must bring readers into three scenes (on average per chapter), showing my perceptions, motivations, and feelings. How I’m doing this: outlining (again) to decide which plot points to keep and which to let fade. Infusing these points, I’m also letting go of any ramblings which follow.

Clarity

Poetic, and sometimes archaic language, tends to weasel its way into my unfolding story. (“Thanks, Nana”, I say in response to this.) To fix this, I’m replacing certain words with short punch lines to instill opportunity for my readers to have their own “ah-hah” moments.

xxx

Understanding Action

My publisher brought forth a few questions, “Why?” or “Didn’t this happen because of this?” There, I need to clue the reader in. This can be challenging. As a true story, the “why’s and “why not’s” can seem illogical. My homework is to show how chaos evolved into a new way of thinking or a new set of actions.

WHAT I’M DISCOVERING:

Purging unnecessary crap leaves room to fall in love with the must-have and must-keep scenes.

Persistence gives me an incredible high, nearly indescribable. Words of wisdom from my late nana are showing their true face as I work toward my goals.

Power. My story is about choices and consequences and what these make of us. Overcoming obstacles are a part of my story. Describing through rich scenes show how I overcame, and like my late Nana had influenced me, my story is influential.

Positive Attitude. At times, I can allow myself to feel daunted by the current problems in our American society and other world-wide injustices. Yet, by sharing my voice, my concerns, and my answers, I know change is possible.

WHY?

I have a story to tell. You may, too. If you feel your story in your heart and bones itching to get out into the world, check out this recent past blog post: Writing Changes Things. Writing experience not required.

Join me in this journey. What are your thoughts in overcoming challenges? How are you influenced by others’ experiences? And how do you—or can you—influence others?

Please let me know in the comments.xxx

Share this:

Writing Changes Things

As writers, our stories, whether fiction or true, causes readers to feel emotions, form opinions, and become informed.

Since the latest political shift in our American society, people are taking a stand in unprecedented numbers.

Whether for or against our cultural changes, this latest wake makes it difficult to remain neutral.

Take for example, in January 2017, our Capitol’s front steps saw the largest political demonstration in fifty years; a plea for human rights and equality. Our country hadn’t had such a large turnout since the days of the Vietnam War protest, back in the days I was born.

As writers, we hold the power to influence and persuade our families, communities, and lawmakers as we live through this turbulent time.

Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a daily column for a syndicated newspaper. Her writing ranged from women’s issues to general humanitarian causes. She was not just another First Lady. She was a changemaker. Likewise, we needn’t be just another concerned community citizen. Through our chosen venue, we too can influence others through our writing.

My passions include equal rights, advocacy for the homeless, and support groups which don’t isolate members based on individual differences. I’ve been adversely subjected to these problems in society, yet overcame them through action. Not many people can say the same, but many people are affected by these concerns.

For example, the neighborhood I work in is in the heart of a big city, saturated with homeless folks. I put this concern in writing and it is now published in the inaugural issue of One Person’s Trash Literary Journal. I am also published in a national news magazine—even without any journalist credentials.

 

Like Eleanor Roosevelt, I believe I can make a difference, and I see differences all around me, thanks to my writing.

 

Here’s how to write for a difference:

1. Which “hot topic” do you find yourself “quick-tempered” over? Start here. This is your subject.

2. How has this concern personally influenced you? Write freely, in your own space and without forethought. Then revise to convey your emotions to readers.

3. Research. Which details in your personal essay could and should be backed up with supporting facts, numbers, and statistics? What suggestions can you offer for positive change? Are there certain organizations or support groups you can recommend to your readers? Transition this information into your written story.

4. Proofread, edit, and revise, as you feel is best. Then, be cognizant that your passionate message needs to be shared with readers.

5. Learn how to get your writing noticed by familiarizing yourself with community papers, regional and national literary journals, and your local newspaper. Magazines can be hesitant with “new” writers for feature articles, however many open their running columns.

Church bulletins and the newsletter with an organization you belong to are plausible. Self-publishing through Amazon and other venues are also viable options. Think outside of the box– do what you have to—get your work into your readers’ hands.

6. Be proud. By sharing your experience and concern, your are empowering readers  to create positive changes.

How will you influence change?

What will you write about? Let me know in the comments.

 

This post has been revised and was first published on 8/27/17 at Blogging my Writing Journey, found at NovElle.blogspot.com.

Share this: