Elliot’s Big Adventure

Elliot’s Big Adventure

by Beth Kozan

It was 1989. Elliot had a big birthday coming up; in December, he would turn 50.

I was spooked about my men and their decade-marking birthdays. My first husband, Doug, left me and our two little girls the summer he turned 30. That was in the early ’70s, and he gave me reason to “Never trust anyone over 30!”

In 1981, my second husband, Tommy, woke me on his 40th birthday to announce he was tired of being married. He moved into the empty side of the duplex he owned with his mother, and we divorced.

50th birthday bikers

So as Elliot approached the milestone of 50 and said he wanted to ride his mountain bike from Phoenix to Seattle, I was concerned that I was being left again.

Most people preparing for a long bicycle ride would concentrate on getting into good physical shape. Elliot trained for his trip by packing and repacking the gear he would need: a tent, sleeping bag, pad for the sleeping bag, rain poncho; canned goods and a small camp stove; clothes for rain, clothes for sunshine, clothes for cold. He trimmed it down to 70 pounds of gear to pack into his panniers. When he came home, he would say he should have left the tent and the stove – he never used either and it would have trimmed 25 pounds off his total weight.

Then he went to Arizona Automobile Association for roadmaps of the western United States. He would map out his route using the less-traveled roads, knowing he’d be safer there than riding on roads with heavy car and truck traffic. He did not set a time to complete the trip; his purpose was to enjoy the journey.

I’d spent three months (February, March and April) of 1989 working in Seattle at the new adoption agency started by my employer. My schedule for those three months: Monday mornings: a staff meeting in Scottsdale; then fly that afternoon from Phoenix Sky Harbor to SeaTac in Seattle. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I worked in Seattle training staff who were new to adoption. Friday afternoon, I’d fly back to Phoenix to spend the weekends with my family. My family consisted of Elliot and my daughter Heather, a student at Paradise Valley Community College who biked four miles to class. Once a month, instead of flying me home, the agency would fly a family member to me in Seattle.

On Elliot’s weekend in Seattle, we took the hydrafoil Clipper to Canada’s Vancouver Island, had high tea at the Empress Hotel in Victoria, and ate authentic fish and chips. It was rainy and – regretfully – we opted not to see the flowers at Busch Gardens.

When Heather came to Seattle, we watched vendors throw whole salmon the full length of their stall at  Pike Place Market, enjoyed the flowers there, and ate dessert at the revolving restaurant atop the Space Needle.

Elliot was enamored with Seattle and decided he would bicycle there. He would camp out most nights and check into a motel on the weekend, where he’d sleep in a bed, catch up on the TV news, do his laundry, and buy provisions for the coming week. He didn’t know how long it would take, and wasn’t concerned.

As he unloaded his bicycle in mid-June from the back of the Subaru station wagon at the outskirts of Phoenix, I asked him if he’d packed any paper to jot down his thoughts. He had not. From my purse I pulled a small spiral notebook (6” x 4”), almost the size of a today’s cell phones. We had no concept of cell phones then. A “car phone” in 1989 was the size of a large sweet potato and needed to be plugged in at all times to work. In Seattle in 1989, the ARCO gas stations had the capability to pay at the pump with debit cards, but – like Starbucks – the practice had not yet moved beyond The Emerald City.

I wondered if he would really go all the way to Seattle (a distance of 1,483 miles) when he hadn’t trained for the physicality of such an endeavor. On his third day out, he wrote in his journal: Pain is Temporary – Pride is Forever. On day six, he called from Las Vegas. He spent two days in Vegas and bought a small camera to record his journey in pictures.

His bed on the road was his sleeping bag. Gas stations with outdoor hoses became his water filling stations and, sometimes, stops for an overnight rest. He slept on the concrete slab at Peach Springs Arizona where the train used to stop; he’d often sleep near a school practice field or behind a gas station. Sometimes he’d be invited to spread his sleeping bag on someone’s kitchen floor. One night, he slept near a ditch in Napa Valley grape fields, under the stars, listening to the drone of irrigation wells.

Elliot_DeathValley

On Day 10, he took a picture of his bike alongside the Death Valley Monument: the imposing challenge! (Factoid: Death Valley, California, is the lowest point on the continental United States and often records the highest summer temperatures in the United States.) To avoid crossing in the high heat of Death Valley in the day, he would do a night crossing. He wore his minor’s headlamp on a headband, and when the temp dropped to 103°, he began his journey. He recorded in his notebook that he crossed Death Valley from 11:30 p.m. to 3 a.m., a distance of 40 miles.

Five days and many mountain ranges after crossing Death Valley, he entered Yosemite National Park. Although there were entirely too many cars in the park for the 4th of July, he glided through the long lines on his bicycle, glimpsing the towering sights from his bicycle seat! The proof is in the pictures. The wheels kept a-turning: he had his eye on Seattle!

Elliot met a fellow bicycler (on a skinny tire bike) who was headed south; they found some shade, smoked cigarettes (he was a heavy smoker at that time), and each shared advice about the road ahead for the other. They rode a few miles together, then parted ways. In addition to writing about this chance encounter, he wrote in his journal: “Saw my first Redwood Grove. Wow!” He saw many Sequoia trees up close and personal, and recorded the events with his camera.

Due to unexpected detours of road traffic, twice he shared a treacherous road with cars and trucks, with no shoulders wide enough for a bicycle. He wrote in his journal: “It’s like riding a bicycle on a Band-Aid.” Each time, he was offered a ride: “Throw your bike into the pickup and we’ll take you through this mess!”

Where are you going? Seattle. Where’d you start? Phoenix. He was invited to share water or a beer or a toke or a meal. Twice as he struggled up an incline, he had a water bottle thrust on him by an arm in an anonymous passing car.

When he entered Oregon, he saw on the map what appeared to be an almost straight line from Coos Bay to Tillamook, so he caught U.S. 101 up the coast. He points out in his journal that a flat map does not indicate the up/down, up/down of the actual roadway, nor the wind currents coming off the water! He enjoyed the bucolic scenes of farms and dairies , then turned toward Port Townsend on the edge of Puget Sound and took the ferry to Seattle.

The most frequent question he was asked toward the end of the trip was: How many bicycle tires did you go through? He recorded two blowouts (the first so loud he thought he’d been shot at!) plus one flat; he always carried spare tubes and fixed his flat with the tire kit all bikers know to carry. So, original tires; two tubes replaced and one tube patched.

He reached Seattle two days short of seven weeks after his departure from Phoenix. He called from the Seattle adoption office to let me know he had arrived. I asked to talk to the secretary. Marti, how does he look? “Well, he’s very tanned, but he hasn’t lost any weight.” She and I had speculated he’d have to be ‘skinny as a rail’ from all that exercise, but he’d held his weight!

I told Elliot I needed him home; he went to a bike shop, boxed up the bike, and flew Southwest the next day with the bike checked as baggage.

This Big Adventure was Elliot’s longest bicycle trip. I think it did help him sort out a few things that bothered him. His favorite t-shirt was orange and had the black silhouette of a bicycle rider and the word CycleTherapy emblazoned across the front. More than once, he biked away his depression.

Twenty-eight years later, he would leave us and his bicycle behind, and there would be no notebook from this next journey. Elliot died at Hospice of the Valley on October 12, 2017. Cause of death: congestive heart failure and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

“What a long, strange trip it’s been!”

_____________________________
Beth Kozan
is the author of the book Adoption: More Than by Chance and the forthcoming Beth KozanHelping the Birth Mother You Know. Beth worked in adoption for 35 years and retired to write. She has many more books than these titles to write and will emphasize and explore the concept of community in her additional books. “Growing up in a close agriculture-based, rural community in Texas, I felt the comfort and bonds of caring for others which is often missing in our busy lives today. Exploring and building communities for today is my writer’s goal.” Follow Beth on Facebook or visit her website, where she reviews books and films featuring adoption.

Please Share

Advertisements
Posted in Beth Kozan | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The Effective Author: The Power of Colors in Your Workspace

The Effective Author: The Power of Colors in Your Workspace

© 2017 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.

Feng Shui Elements-Colors

You, as an author, may not think much about the look of your workspace – least of all the colors in your workspace. After all, who is ever going to see it? People see the products you produce, and those will show up online and in stores. No one but you will ever see your workspace, so who cares? Actually, you do! The right colors in your office can create a number of effects to help you. And there are several cultural lenses for looking at the Power of Colors.

The first major color system came into US culture around 1980. Remember the color analysis for your wardrobe and makeup? This seasonal system was very popular. It organized colors into warm and cool, light and dark. The “seasons” were Spring (warm and light), Summer (cool and light), Fall (warm and dark/rich), and Winter (cool and dark/rich). Holding cards or fabric panels in front of your un-made-up face, a color analyst would have you look at the effects of different colors next to your skin. Some colors made you look awake and happy, while others made you look sallow, green, or ashen. It was a quick exercise that revealed so much. Many went on to winnow their wardrobes and makeup to only the most flattering colors. Some also noticed that adding those colors to their home décor was also flattering and pleasing.

Others didn’t exactly find a use for this season-exclusive system, noting that they always look best in a combination of warm and cool colors, or a balance of light and rich colors. These people will also look their best in an environment decorated with an artful blend of the warm and the cool, or the pastel and the dark. And they likely feel better around these colors. Could you be one of them?

A second major color system has washed over the US in the last 20 years, in the context of feng shui styling of homes and offices. This is the view of colors we need in different areas, or in our clothing, according to the elemental energies that best serve us. The five basic elements, and their colors, are:

Earth – Yellow

Metal (Air) – White or Black

Fire – Red

Water – Blue

Wood – Green

When enhancing the energy of a room or space using feng shui, you should add the colors of the elements you want to represent in your space. Red and black are the two most yang (masculine energy, exhibited through light, heat, or dryness) colors in feng shui, so where you want to amplify or strongly increase that energy, use red or black. Want a calming environment? Try pale blues and greens. Want a stimulating environment? Use bold yellow, red, and blue – think of Frank Lloyd Wright. Want a light, airy feel? Use white or silver.

If your entire workspace is half the couch, a laptop, a mug, and a lamp, try using a couch throw in the color you want to experiment with. Soften your mood with baby blue or pink, and rev up your pre-deadline self with a bright red throw. Colors can help you ratchet down or raise your energy to the vibration you need to support your current writing project. Use your power of colors in your workspace and notice how much more you get done and how good you feel. And that’s you: The Effective Authorsm!

_________________
Kebba Buckley
Button is a stress management expert. She also has a natural healing Kebba books 2017practice and is an ordained minister. She is the author of the award-winning book, Discover The Secret Energized You, plus Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, available through her office. Just email SacredMeditation@kebba.com. Kebba’s newest book is the full-color Inspirations for Peace Within: Quotes and Images to Uplift and Inspire, also available through her office. For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: calendar@kebba.com.

 

Posted in Kebba Buckley Button | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Adaptation vs. Extinction

Adaptation vs. Extinction

by Rita Goldner

I’ve always admired the ability of successful entrepreneurs to predict trends – or at least extinction vs adaptationto sense impending trouble and jump out of the way. My husband Dave has this skill, and years ago, it was a lifesaver for our business in Phoenix. We had a costume rental shop on Indian School Road in the mid-’80s. To stretch our revenue beyond Halloween and Santa Claus costumes, we had agreements with almost all of the big hotels and resorts. We supplied their wait staff, and sometimes convention attendees, with costumes for pirate parties, ethnic dinners, and gatherings with themes like cowboys and the Roaring Twenties. At the time, Phoenix was a very popular destination for conventions, and business was brisk.

In 1987, Arizona elected a controversial governor, Evan Mecham. He became famous for his one-line zingers, which the local news media loved. Immediately after taking office, he rescinded the Martin Luther King holiday, stating, “King was not of a stature to deserve a holiday.” In other comments, he described working women as the cause of divorce and used the word “pickaninny” as a term of affection for black children. Defending his choice of a local weather reporter as his liaison to the Spanish-speaking community, he said he was “dazzled by her beauty.”

Organizations started canceling their conventions in Arizona. Some entertainers canceled their Arizona concert dates. Stevie Wonder refused to sing here at any price. Others who did come, such as U2 and Peter, Paul and Mary, donated part of their earnings to the new Mecham Watchdog Committee. The NBA, Planned Parenthood, and at least 40 other organizations canceled their meetings in Arizona. The boycott spread. Mecham was a big part of Arizona’s colorful folklore through his short tenure and subsequent impeachment and removal from office.

Several small entrepreneurs with businesses ancillary to the conventions were blindsided by Mecham’s disastrous impact on the resort trade. Low booking rates and cancelations caused the hotels to cut back drastically on flower arrangements, music, parties, and tours. Two of our small business colleagues, one a music agent and the other a florist, couldn’t react fast enough to find new markets, so they went under.

Fortunately, Dave had the ability to see the disaster bearing down on us and told me we had to evolve very quickly. He and I brainstormed extensively about how to use our skills, marketing and costume designing, respectively. We needed to morph into an endeavor that was immune to the vagaries of Arizona politics. We had previously made a few foam character costumes for parades and promotions, so we decided to push that facet of our company to the forefront. We marketed this type of costume to fast-food franchisees to use in their parking lots, beckoning passing drivers. We abandoned the hotels just before they would have abandoned us. We were off and running, and our customers didn’t care where we were when we shipped their costumes to them. I’ve credited our ability and willingness to evolve with saving our collective posterior.

Fast forward to my retirement. Now I’m enmeshed in children’s picture book writing/illustrating. Some of that former prescient vision rubbed off on me. I see this landscape changing also, and rapidly. I’m still involved in a creative pursuit – that part doesn’t change – but the administration, the business side, and especially the marketing are shifting drastically. Authors have to be savvy enough to see what’s coming and jump on the train. I can’t hide from the digital world that is changing my marketing strategy, as well as my art form. This time, the challenge is more fun!

______________________________
Rita Goldner
is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book, Orangutan: A Rita Goldner2Day in the Rainforest Canopy. Rita has also written and illustrated two eBooks, Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, in the Jackson’s Adventure series. For orangutan facts and images and to purchase the book (also available as an ebook), visit OrangutanDay.com. Or by the Kindle version here. Rita’s newest book, Making Marks on the World: A Storybook for Left- and Right-Handed Coloring, is available for purchase here. Works in progress: H2O Rides the Water Cycle, The Flying Artist, and Rose ColoredTo view additional illustrations and Rita’s books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook. Subscribe to Rita’s newsletter, Orangutans and More! and receive a free coloring page of today’s illustration.

Please Share

Posted in Rita Goldner | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

The Season of Love

The Season of Love

by C. K. Thomas

When you’re out and about during the holidays, notice the couples. Can you guess whether they’re married or dating? Here’s a fun exercise my husband and I tried during our Thanksgiving trip to Tubac, Arizona this year.

As we surreptitiously observed those around us, we kept an eye on how our own relationship might look to an outsider. For instance, while in the gift shop at the Tumacacori Mission, I looked at a wooden, hand-carved hot chocolate froth maker I wanted to buy. My husband looked askance at me, and I immediately knew what he thought of the idea. Later, we agreed that if we were dating, he would have bought the thing for me no matter what he thought of the wisdom of the purchase.

At lunch, we noticed couples at nearby tables staring at their phones while texting instead of talking with each other. They were probably married, right? Otherwise, they would have been making an effort at small talk over lunch. When the meals came, we observed the half portions ordered by the older married couples, while among the young dating couples, each had ordered full servings. The married couples paid for lunch with “gold cards,” while the singles often paid cash. As a married couple, we briefly discussed the cost of the meal, but the dating couples avoided looking at the check together.

As a married couple touring Tumacacori, we each went our own way and met up again in the small museum. However, we watched a young couple taking “couple-selfies” and pictures of each other while touring holding hands. These two were laughing and talking all the way around the mission grounds. Conclusion: Probably not married!

Singles in couples spent lots of time turned inward toward each other. Married couples often struck up conversations with the people they met along the way or in restaurants. As we strolled along hand in hand (we’re one of those married couples who do so), we noticed one young guy with his hand lovingly placed on the back of the neck of the woman he was dating. He guided her through the door of a small shop, and I wondered what he bought for her inside.

couple sightseeing

After a day of observing the nuances of our relationship, we decided we could easily try a bit harder to show each other some of the finer pleasures of dating we’d cast aside after saying “I do.” That guiding hand to the back of the neck might really lift my spirits from time to time or even a peck on the neck at home while I’m washing the dishes. Not being concerned about the price of a restaurant meal says something like, “I appreciate our ability to pay for such a nice meal” and also coveys “I love you” in a subtle and endearing way.

Consider trying your own couples experiment during this year’s “season of love.” It might prove to be the best present you didn’t expect to give or receive.

_____________________
C.K. ThomasC.K. Thomas lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Before retiring, she worked for Phoenix Newspapers while raising three children and later as communications editor for a large United Methodist Church. The Storm Women is her fourth novel and the third in the Arrowstar series about adventurous women of the desert Southwest. Follow her blog: We-Tired and Writing Blog.

Please Share

Posted in C.K. Thomas | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Local Authors Collaborate to Write Thriller

Local Authors Collaborate to Write Thriller

by Mary Ellen Stepanich

I wrote the following article, published in the Peoria Today newspaper, about my writer group’s upcoming book launch party on December 2, 2017. (Marketing a book is SO much work!)

––––––––––

LS McFan

What happens when women writers gather together for dinner once a month? For seven local residents, it was a published book – eventually.

In 2012, seven women formed Scribblettes, a writers’ feedback and critique group, to share story ideas and improve their individual writing skills. Five years and 50 chapters later, the group produced a novel, North of the Border, a modern Romeo-and-Juliet tale of intrigue with international terrorists, sinister drug gangs, and dedicated law enforcement heroes.

The most difficult part? Meshing individually written chapters into an organized and believable story line, given the diverse personalities, career backgrounds, and life experiences of the authors. They published the book, available on Amazon, under the author name L. S. McFan, an anagram of the writers’ surname initials.

Lester worked for a variety of moving companies under the motto, “Across the street and around the world, we meet your needs.” A sought-after freelance editor, she provided the group with guidance on grammar and sentence structure.

Stepanich, a retired Purdue professor of organizational behavior, confesses: “I’m very organized but my behavior is a bit wonky.” Her job was to keep the group and the manuscript focused. She has published two books: a memoir, D is for Dysfunctional and Doo-Wop, and The Doo-Wops and the B-Flat Murder, a Lilac Crazy Quartet novel, with a sequel in the works.

Mounsey, a former educator who also has an art degree, is a poet who observes people in every setting, hoping to find the perfect character for her next poem. She has published three poetry books, including Living in the Shadows, Amanda’s Journal 1927-1948. Her current project is a memoir, A Place of Ghosts and Memories.

Cushing worked for the FAA and retired as a program manager and contracting officer. Married to an Army officer, she had traveled the world and lived in romantic settings in France, Thailand, and across the U.S. Cushing contributed many of the provocative and detailed romance sequences.

Feyrer is a registered nurse who still works as a caregiver. She has published a children’s book, Hard Town, a whimsical story of overcoming prejudicial beliefs. She was the group’s analytical thinker, questioning how a character could know that something had happened when he or she wasn’t present.

Alandar, a retired administrative manager with the Arizona Game and Fish Department and an investigator with the state Racing Department, has written and published Behind the Starting Gate, in memory of her best friend and their shared love of horses. Her passion for horses and dogs was helpful for working both into North of the Border.

Norris, a retired police officer, provided the law enforcement background to lend credibility to the novel. The Scribblettes helped her to develop her writing style so as to avoid sounding like a police report. She’s currently writing about her adventures as an HOA board member.

Usually, a writer builds a story from the inside out – in other words, the author knows the theme or heart of the story and then builds around it. However, these seven women created North of the Border when one author wrote a first chapter and six others expanded it, a chapter at a time, into a thriller set in the Sonoran border area between Mexico and Arizona.

The women will talk about their group writing experiences and read portions of their novel at a book launch on Saturday, December 2, 1 p.m. at Ventana Lakes Landings Lounge, 20245 N. 106th Avenue, Peoria, AZ 85345. Light refreshments will be served. (You’all come, now – ya hear?!)

_______________________
Mary Ellen StepanichDr. Mary Ellen Stepanich is a retired professor of organizational behavior. She told her students at Purdue, “I’m very organized, but my behavior’s a bit wonky.” Her publications include academic journal articles; stories in Good Old Days magazine; a memoir, D is for Dysfunctional … and Doo-Wop; a novel, The Doo-Wops and the B-Flat Murder; and an award-winning radio play, Voices From the Front. Mary Ellen blogs on her website at MaryEllenStepanich.com, and can be reached via e-mail at DrStep@cox.net.

Please Share

Posted in Mary Ellen Stepanich | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Thanks Giving

Thanks Giving

by Barbara Renner

A Yellow Lab Mix I know once stated, “Practice Thanks Giving all year long.” He’s a very wise dog and even printed his own desk calendar, called Larry’s Words of Wisdom. Larry Gives Thanks.jpgOkay, he’s my dog, and I speak for him – dog lovers will understand. But, really, Larry has a point.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated in Canada and the United States and was originally observed at the end of the harvest season to give thanks and feast on its bounty. Similar holidays and festivals occur in countries around the world. Even though it’s noble to be thankful for that which gives our body sustenance, there are other reasons to offer our thanks. Let’s look at ways authors can practice Thanks Giving all year long.

Write “Thank You!” on your receipts: I always carry a receipt book along with a supply of my books. I use a duplicate copy receipt book as a way to track my inventory for both sales and giveaways. There’s a label at the top of each receipt with my logo, name, phone number, email, and website. After I list what the customer purchased, I write “Thank You!” and give them the top copy. This shows gratitude to them for purchasing my books, and provides my contact information for future orders or referrals.

Hand write a thank you note: I’ve published six picture books, four about a Common Loon named Lonnie and two about a Gambel’s Quail named Quincy. I purchased two sets of note cards, one with images of loons and one with an image of a quail family. After reading my books to children at a school, I mail a handwritten thank you note to the teacher or librarian who arranged the author visit. This is not only good manners to thank them for their effort in scheduling the classes, but it also puts my name and contact information in front of them one more time. In addition, I hand write a thank you note to the bookstores or gift shops where I have book signings. In the body of the note, I pay them a compliment, thank them for having me, and mention that I look forward to working with them again.

Email a thank you: Sending an email to a school, bookstore, or gift shop after a guest author visit or book signing would be almost as good as mailing a handwritten note. Know your customers, and determine which would make the greater impression, a handwritten note or an email. Consider also emailing a thank you to a reader who has given your book a nice review.

Send a card: During the holidays, or possibly every three months, mail a greeting card or postcard to the stores who carry your books on consignment or who have purchased your books for their shelves, thanking them for selling your books. At the same time, you can ask if they need more copies, or mention that you’ve published a new book. I just ordered two sets of Christmas cards, one with an image of a loon and one with a covey of quail, to send to the stores that carry my books. I used a 50% off discount code from zazzle.com (zonedaydeal2) when I purchased the cards.

Post a thank you message on Twitter or Facebook: An author I know through Twitter and Facebook always posts “TY” to me if I share or comment on her Twitter feed or Facebook post. Because of this simple gesture, I remember her name, I know the genre she writes, I can recommend her book, and I’m aware of the state where she lives. She has done a great job of branding herself just by ensuring I see her name on my social media.

Share Facebook posts: This may not appear to be a great way to thank someone, but if you share another author’s posts, it sends a message to your followers that you appreciate the work of others and aren’t only selfishly promoting your own books. Your fellow authors are colleagues, not competitors.

Create a “thank you” page on your website: This could be a landing page after someone signs up for your newsletter or submits a question or comment. Offer something interesting on this page, such as an entry to win a prize, or links to your social media sites. For authors of children’s books, it could contain a downloadable coloring page or puzzle.

Give a gift: Consider giving a gift if someone buys several copies of your books, or refers your books to others and it results in sales. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive; use your marketing giveaways or SWAG. By simply saying ‘thank you for your order or referral or support’ your customer will be more likely to refer your books to others in the future. A grandmother recently ordered all six of my picture books to give to her grandchildren. I included with the order a book bag, which cost me less than a $1, and a stuffed quail, a $7 value.

Comment on a blog post: If you enjoyed reading a particular blog post, let the author know how much you enjoyed reading it and thank them for the information. This small gesture will make the author feel like their post was worthwhile. They will also remember your name and possibly follow your blog posts. (No, this is not a hint; just another example.)

What are some other ways you can say “thank you” and practice Thanks Giving all year long? I’ll let Larry know.

______________________
Barbara Renner
and her husband have lived in Phoenix for more than 40 years. As “Sun Barbara RennerBirds,” they fly away to Minnesota to escape the summer heat – and to fish. While in Minnesota, Barbara became fascinated with its state bird, the Common Loon, and was prompted to write four picture books about Lonnie the Loon, because everyone should know about loons. However, books about loons don’t sell very well in the desert, so she is writing a new series of picture books about Quincy the Quail. Barbara visits elementary schools as a guest author to read her books and share interesting facts about loons and quails. She’s working on other children’s books and a special book about her yellow lab, Larry: Larry’s Words of Wisdom. Learn more about Barbara at RennerWrites.com, as well as on Twitter, Facebook, and GoodReads.

Please Share

Posted in Barbara Renner | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Proofread – Then Repeat

Proofread – Then Repeat

by Katrina Shawver

proofreading-tips

An author has only one chance to make a good first impression with readers. I know with certainty that it takes time and multiple trained eyes to catch every error. My standard for proofreading has become this: I am never done.

If you think the detail of a single comma does not matter, think again. In March 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a $13 million class action case for the “want of a comma” that changed the entire meaning of a critical clause in a labor contract.

My nonfiction manuscript has been through more reviews and versions than I can count. My writing critique group helped me work through the earliest confusions and issues, chapter by chapter. I sent sections to any friend who offered: “I’m happy to take a look.” I spent years compiling research. Eventually, I burned out and invested in hiring a developmental editor. She made all the difference.

From this professional editor, I learned critical things I did not know that I did not know. The nuance of a serial – also known as the Oxford – comma. When to use a hyphen, an en-dash, and an em-dash. How to format, according to the requirements of The Chicago Manual of Style, which, for example, is different from AP style and the Gregg Reference Manual I was used to.

That professional edit potentially saved me years of shopping the book around. I only sent 14 queries, and of those 14, four publishers requested the manuscript. Of those four, two offered contracts. An even larger publisher offered to purchase the book after I had already signed a contract with another publisher.

When I needed to submit the manuscript to my publisher’s editor for their own touches, I was assured “You’ll be in excellent hands.” Though I was supremely confident in my work, I chose to invest a full day in re-reading the entire thing, word for word, slowly, aloud from a printed copy before sending it off. I was stunned at the minor details both my first editor and I had missed six months earlier, and the number of word choices and phrasings I wanted to change. I now understand why so many writers swear by the practice of setting aside a project for a few months to final edit and proof with “fresh” eyes.

As it turned out, I was in adequate but not perfect hands. She gave the manuscript a polish, came up with great formatting suggestions, added headings, and even caught some context issues. Nevertheless, I still found more than 150 minor corrections to her corrections. After three back-and-forth passes of corrections, I would not see the book until it was in a formatted pdf.

Guess what? In converting to new software, new errors occurred. It was incredibly frustrating to see missing spaces, errant italics, and other errors where there had been none in the Word version. I marked everything I could find and submitted them. Two more rounds of back-and-forth corrections ensued. I would not see it again until it was in bound format.

Henry ARC cover.jpg

The box of Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) arrived. Oh, the sweet jubilation as I held my “finished” book in my hands. Flipping through it, I found an error on the back cover text. An entry in the table of contents did not match a last-minute revision later in the book. A friend identified several errors. Sufficiently paranoid, I once again invested an entire day in reading every word aloud. I made several passes. Once to match headings and page numbers to the table of contents. Once to measure that the headings were consistently spaced. Another to verify various data issues were consistent throughout. Each pass found something to correct. The ARC acquired more Post-It notes for “final” corrections than I would like to admit, even though many were not my errors.

In conclusion, I learned multiple lessons in publishing my first book:

  • Each conversion of software is an opportunity for new errors. Thoroughly check each one.
  • Budget the time for multiple days of proofreading every single word, from front cover to back cover, on each edition. Each complete proofreading took me eight keep calm and proofreadhours.
  • For me, there is no substitute for proofreading from a printed copy. The minute differences between commas, periods, and semi-colons can be easily missed on a monitor, and in my case were confused in multiple places. My editor maintained she never prints out her projects.
  • I paged through the eBook version, again a separate version. Somehow the last sentence in the book was omitted, which I attribute to an unintentional technical error.
  • Never, and I mean never, accept your editor’s polish as the final, perfect edition without your own final, careful review. Similarly, never publicly blame your editor. Like signing off on a tax return, it is ultimately the author’s responsibility to get it right. After all, it is the author’s name on the cover of the book, not the editor’s.

____________________
Katrina ShawverKatrina Shawver is the author of Henry, A Polish Swimmer’s True Story of Friendship from Auschwitz to America, officially released on November 1, 2017. The book is published through Koehler Books and is available in hardback, paperback, and ebook formats on most book sites worldwide. Visit KatrinaShawver.com where she blogs regularly.

Please Share

Posted in Katrina Shawver | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment