November 13, 2011

In Great Company

Yesterday was a super day! I had two book signings in Decatur-the first at Cokesbury Book Store and the second at The Little Shop of Stories. I always enjoy sharing Haven's Heaven with people and coloring with kids, they are really inspirational.

I got lots of contacts who are excited about the upcoming coloring book.
The Coloring Book in the works
in my second office, the dining room
But best of all, I got to meet almost a dozen self-published authors, who all have great books, and know that I am not alone....... We are all proud of our work, excited to share it with people, and getting the word out... one book at a time.


Some wonderful drawings these girls did for their Nana!


Well except for Donna Whitten, who sold several hundred copies of her book, "Pocket full of questions" right away! I enjoyed sitting next to her at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur and sharing some laughs!

I am so thankful for all the great marketing ideas I received from everyone!


  

November 10, 2011

Do all your research first…say WHAT?

The book began to take shape with all the questions and was ready to illustrate.  I took art classes with the fabulous Cathy Little (clittleartist.com). It was the start of a great friendship and Cathy was very patient. She told me to use watercolor, I used acrylic…

Well, five years later, and three versions, alas, the project complete…
in watercolor.
So what do you do now, send to publishers? Well…small detail found in some “Publishing 101 for Dummies“ book after the fact:

*It is very hard to “Make It” as a author AND illustrator.
Almost impossible. *

There were Publishing Formats and Publishing Rules, and so much more! Well, I really liked my book… I mean it was complete, it even had a name, 'Haven's Heaven'. And it was dedicated to the three previously mentioned families, and most importantly, it had their blessings.

So I decided to self-publish. A family member was already in the works self-publishing a children’s book with Mirror Publishing, so I used them too. The benefit of self-publishing was immediate release and it would be exactly how I wanted it. The drawback is that I would do all the marketing… and I (err... my husband) paid out of pocket for the publishing of the books (thank you!).  Six hundred books to be exact (of the one million, yes one million, I told my dad I would sell, okay, I was being overly optimistic, I think we compromised on 10,000.)

In the past year, I have been on the fast track of “Marketing Your Book 101” self-researched by Katie Grant. I now can tell you that a Zip drive is a the little doohickey you plug into the computer to save files on, a PDF is much better than a JPG because of a bit map (whatever that is), a Tweet doesn't come from a bird, a Post isn't on a porch, being Followed is good, and you can never be Liked by to many people. And also, people don't magically find your website and want to buy your book because you like it. 

And MOST IMPORTANTLY,
before you get your website paid for and printed on the back of your book,
you REALLY, REALLY... REALLY should make sure a porn (yes, I said, PORN)
company did not own your website name back in the 90’s.
So apparently, there is another Haven. It was my father-in-law's middle name, who would have thought! I found this out after proudly emailing my new website to former colleagues and they responded, “I couldn’t access it due to 'pornographic and inappropriate content'.  I thought it was a children’s book, ha, ha”

In a panic I paid some online computer genius to tell me how to 'FIX' it, and was told “there was nothing I could do, that it was a former porn site”.
Soooo, I got to thinking......who blocked my site? The Blocker Companies! I started emailing them one by one, and low and behold, they started “recoding” my website from inappropriate to safe. (I may have missed a couple “blocker” companies,  so do let me know.)

AND, then I emailed the computer “genius" and got my money back!
My poster from my first LifeWay Book Signing!

Haven's Heaven was published a year and two weeks ago, and I have sold over 250 copies. I just learned that 250 is the average self-publishers sell, but we will just forget that statistic, cuz I told my dad, I would sell......


  

November 1, 2011

Technically, I am qualified....

 
I used to wear glasses in all my interviews after college so I would look smart-er
Maybe I just chose the wrong ones!

I have been asked by people who were simply curious, “What made you think you could write and illustrate a book?“ I have always been crafty and taken art classes my whole life, and have two brothers who are writers, but I guess that doesn’t technically qualify me….

In 2004, our friend’s son passed away a month shy of his 4th birthday from an aggressive brain tumor.  Our daughter was almost 2 when he passed away and she asked, “Do you celebrate your birthday in Heaven?” I remember that struck me as very “coincidental” because we did not mention his upcoming birthday. That is the first question I wrote down, I didn‘t know why, but I wrote it down.

Then in 2005, another friend’s daughter passed away at the age of 6 after a sudden illness. Our children were now 3 ½ and 1 ½, and a week later my oldest asked, “If I let a balloon go, will it go all the way to Heaven?” Also coincidental, as she did not attend the funeral and see the school-age children releasing balloons at the service. That was the second question I wrote down of many more to come, thinking “I should do a children’s book”

Some time later, we had dinner with our former pastor from Savannah and his wife. I had my folder of questions in the car. I shared my book idea with them and said I wanted to represent Jonathon in the book. At the end of dinner, Carol told me how 9 months after Jonathon died, his sister said “Mommy, I know what Jonathon does in Heaven! He paints the rainbow!” Little did she know, “Mommy, who paints the rainbow?” was just asked a week earlier and it was written down in the car.


You could have blown me over with a feather, and I knew at the moment, it wasn’t a matter of “I should do a book" it was, I “have” to do this book.  I began to tell people with a new confidence and determination, that I was going to do this book, I wasn’t sure how yet… but I was sure…

So, now you may ask… what qualifies me to do a blog? Well, I have two brothers that have blogs, so technically, I must be qualified!

  

October 28, 2011

Praying for a baby...

Recently I shared my testimony with my church, and it seems like a fitting place to start. My parents were separated right after I was born and officially divorced when I was two. I was not “knowingly” baptized as a child. (my father’s mother may have had my brother and I baptized, which doesn’t surprise me!) 

I grew up in a Unitarian church with my mom, and The Catholic church when visiting my dad.  At a Catholic service with my dad I almost gave my step-grandmother a heart attack doing the sign of the cross with the left hand instead of right. I think it is the sign of devil or something, who knew???


Fast forward to being happily married with a beautiful 6-week old child and after seeing that little miracle, it was time to go to church! So we went to a church across the street and were received by a wonderful congregation of elderly folks eager to show us some love.  Not having family of our own in town, it was a perfect fit.

Unbeknown to us, at that same church, a wonderful lady, Belle, had been sitting in the church nursery for six months by herself each Sunday.  She sat and prayed for a baby to come to the church. Well, she prayed and we arrived. Belle was a little upset with me though because I was quite the neurotic first time mom and wouldn’t leave our baby in the     nursery with her… at least for the first couple months. 

We later joined that church, (Grace United Methodist Church) in Savannah, GA, and on my 30th birthday I was baptized there, as well as our first child. It was a wonderful start for my little family in understanding the importance of the church and a church family. I also learned that church people are “normal” too. And because I was “officially a Christian”, I wasn’t expected to be perfect, or be just like anyone else. That Faith wasn’t a thing, but a Journey.

I became friends with the pastor, Brother Eric, and his wife, Carol, and we often had refreshing, candid conversations as my year old daughter would take all the books off the shelf in his office, one by one. They forgave me when I made homemade chicken pot pie and Brother Eric had a mild heart attack after he left that evening… I also learned about the painful loss of their young son Jonathon to a brain tumor on May 19th, 1982.  

While at Grace, I collaborated on a wonderful VBS that had almost 60 kids, the prior year there were only 10. It was a huge success, and just what this stay-at-home mom’s confidence needed, a match made in Heaven! But it wasn’t until 9 years later, when I was writing down my thoughts  to share my testimony, that I realized the importance of Belle faithfully praying each Sunday for a baby.  







  
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