Success As A Writer

IMG_3870As I’ve been posting, I spend a great deal of time promoting my work. It’s not an easy task and it certainly can be frustrating, if I allow myself to become frustrated. Like everything else that we encounter as we go through life, we have to measure our successes based on each accomplishment.

“My Name is Rebecca: A Novelette” is historical fiction about immigrants who came to this country in the early 1900s. My intention was to dedicate the story to my mother’s family but it evolved into a story dedicated to all who came during that era. Anyway, I’ve been busy marketing it and have it placed in quite a few stores on consignment. But let me tell you about my great accomplishment with the book. It has been accepted at two Jewish museums (one in Milwaukee and one in Miami Beach); at the Racine Heritage Museum (in Racine, Wisconsin which is the setting); and in the Racine Public Library. I am beyond thrilled that these institutions have accepted my donation of this story.

My grandparents were married in Racine in 1915–over one hundred years ago. Their five children were born and raised there. (I was also born in Racine.) I find it astounding that my family can be traced back over one hundred years. Some of the stories in the novelette are based on things I heard and experienced while growing up, making it even more meaningful to me.

So, I have been successful in marketing my story.  I have no doubt that my family is pleased at where the story will be housed. I know that I am. And by-the-way, the picture on the cover is of my mother, taken in 1931 when she was four years old. And want to know a little secret, in case you haven’t read it yet? Her original name was Rebecca and if you do read it, you’ll see what the title is all about.

The book is available on Barnes and Noble in Nook format; and on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. (The e-books are only $1.25–and the story is worth a million times more. To me, anyway).

I hope you’ll read it–and share the experience that I have tried to convey about the experiences of the immigrants who came to America during that era.

Phyllis

 

 

What Came Next

So, after the first couple of writing classes, it was time to get to work and write something. And I did. I discovered an online-social work magazine that was asking for submissions for their social work month issue. I was thrilled when my article was published. I asked the editor if she would be interested in having a series–about older students returning to school. So, I wrote a total of about six articles. I also wrote, and continue to write, articles for a university newsletter–I’m proud to say that I am now a regular contributor.

I wrote a couple of stories and after a trip to Vermont (my first one) I decided to start a novel. It was an interesting process and I’ll tell you why. I would sit down and the words just came to me. I found that to be exciting and really kept me motivated. I’m not saying that the book wasn’t a lot of work, because it was. But it flowed, if that makes sense. I had two people who really helped me with editing, suggestions, etc. I ended up making it longer, changing the cover and other things along the way. “When Shadows Linger” is very special to me–and always will be.

But then I tried to find an agent and publisher. The process proved to be torture for someone with little patience (which has since changed!.)  Last year I decided to self-publish it and I’ll talk about that in my next post!!

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The Beginning

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When I decided to do some writing after I retired a few years ago, I started with some online classes through a university. They weren’t expensive and I learned a lot. The feedback on the assignments was beneficial, as was the encouragement that I received. It also helped me become more structured with my writing. One of the first  things that I learned was to write–write–write. And that advice was worth all of the money that the classes cost me. Because like the old saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” It doesn’t matter if your writing is good or bad–just write.

Keeping a writing journal was another good piece of advice.Write your thoughts, goals–whatever. And write in the journal everyday, too. Write what your thoughts are, things that you see. It’s your journal, write whatever you want. Then go back and look at what you wrote.

 

The Art of Promoting My Book

bookmarkmomThat’s right–I said “art” because I have found that promoting my books takes as much creativity as writing the story. In fact,  there are some days that I feel as though I have to be more creative. I’ve done business cards of all kinds; the pictures here are tiny book marks that I had made that complement the book covers. I’ve created flyers, posters, and professional e-mails to stores in various states. I’ve also placed a few ads in some local papers in Vermont to promote my novel that is set there. My Rebecca book has been donated to  two Jewish museums and to a city museum, something that I am extremely proud of.  (By the way, the picture of the little girl with the doll is my mother, “Rebecca” in 1931 when she was 4.

I’ve done several giveaways on Amazon and goodreads but have been disappointed by the lack of reviews, so I’m trying some new approaches. I guess that the bottom line is to keep trying and come up with new ideas everyday. It has been a learning experience for me because I’ve never been a patient person. Or a creative one. But I have to say, it’s a challenge that I am enjoying every day.

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Bouquets of Words

 

img_1794 I love flowers–all kinds of flowers. But my favorites are lilacs, peonies, irises, daffodils–and wildflowers. And roses. Okay–the bottom line is, I love flowers. I feel good just looking at a pretty bouquet, or even a single flower. Just think–they start as a little seed and bloom into something that brings a lot of happiness to us. Flowers are used for both happy occasions and sad times. Flowers mirror our moods and they have different meanings.  Roses signify love; lily of the valley is popular in bridal bouquets; carnations are symbolic of pride; daisies are symbolic of innocence; and on and on.

Words are bouquets to writers. We carefully choose the word that we want to use to express what we are thinking, and trying to describe. We HAVE to choose the perfect word to convey our meaning to the reader or our story will be lost. In my novel, “When Shadows Linger,” I carefully selected the descriptive words that I wanted to use to describe a New England town. My goal was for my readers to be able to envision themselves walking down Main Street in a small town; in this case it was Middlebury, Vermont. Having been there and fallen in love with Middlebury, I was able to do that. And I am very proud of that accomplishment.

In “My Name is Rebecca: A Novelette,” I improved the descriptions of the characters in the story. Not their physical characteristics, but who they were and how they “felt.” What was it like for a family to leave their home country in the early 1900s and come to a strange place? What were their fears? And what were their dreams?

My Bouquet of Words is plentiful. There is no shortage and the bouquet is with me all of the time. I can reach in and grab the one that will convey the meaning that I am trying to get across to my readers. And like a bouquet of mixed flowers, the possibilities of arranging them are endless. Like flowers, our stories grow from single words to sentences, to paragraphs, to pages, and finally to the place where we want our readers to be. So, when you sit down to work on your book, make sure that your bouquet of words is right there with you. I promise you–it will work for you just as it does for me.

Phyllis

Why Do I Write?

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In one of the on-line writing courses I took, there was an assignment about why we write. I don’t remember what my reasons were at the time (after all, it has been about three years!) but I can tell you why I continue to write.

Obviously my writing is not motivated by money. And that’s because I haven’t made any. It’s not for lack of trying, that’s for sure. But if my reason was to make money, I would have quit by now. (It has actually cost me a great deal, just with the promoting, etc.). I write because I truly love it. Just like reading takes a person on adventures, so my writing does that for me. For example, when I wrote, “When Shadows Linger,” I placed myself in Middlebury, Vermont. I have fallen in love with New England and so through my writing I am there.

“My Name is Rebecca: A Novelette” takes place in the early 1900s. When I was writing the book, I was able to visualize the various experiences that the immigrants had–life in their home country, traveling to America, the Lower East Side of New York, and Racine in the early 1900s and beyond. I was also able to put down family stories that I heard while growing up and share with readers. And when I included my parents’ names in the book, it took on a special meaning for me. I think you know what I mean. Also–the book has been accepted for the archives in The Racine Heritage Museum and for the archives at the Jewish Museum in Milwaukee. I consider that to be more meaningful than a sale. Why? Because my maternal family can trace itself to Racine for over 100 years, something that other generations of immigrants have not been able to do.

I can’t forget the two stories that were printed in Edify Fiction. “My Joe: A Reflection” will always be special because it was my first piece of fiction published in a magazine and not self-published. (Also because it’s a very nice story about a love that lasts over decades.) And recently, “Willow Falls” was also published in Edify–a story about a love  that is meant to be.

So, that’s why I write. I put all of my feelings into my writing and all of my dreams. I hope they are conveyed to my readers so that they can share my journey.

Phyllis

 

 

 

 

It’s Been Awhile

IMG_3870I was going to blog regularly and here I am–almost a month since my last entry. It’s not that I don’t think about it, because I do. But I either get sidetracked or just plain upset because I don’t get any comments or have many followers.

Anyway, my third book is “My Name is Rebecca: A Novelette.” It started out as being a tribute to my mother’s family and evolved into a tribute to immigrants who came to America in the early 1900s. The story is about a man who brings his sons to the United States to escape religious persecution. The story details the journey and the process of Ellis Island; After living in the Lower East End of New York for awhile, they move to Wisconsin.

I’ve been busy trying to promote the book and have to say it’s doing pretty well. It’s been placed on consignment in several bookstores. I have also contacted several Jewish museums about donating it to the archives and some have agreed.

The picture on the cover is of my mother, taken when she was four years old in 1931. I can’t explain why I chose it without ruining the story. But, after your read it, email me and I’ll explain. (mirikal1210@gmail.com).

I don’t think mentioned this in an earlier post, but I created bookmarks to complement the books. If you decide to buy any of my books on Amazon, email me and I will send you a free bookmark. I think you’ll like it. I’m in the process of sending a bookmark to those who won the books before I had them made.

Thanks–and I’ll be back soon.

Thanks and take care.

Phyllis