Holiday Minefields

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Pictures of my Mom’s Antique Santa Collection that I use every year!

As we dive deep into the holiday season I find myself wondering how I will find any excitement over this Christmas. Losing my husband, my best friend, and my companion means that all the fun I had decorating our house and celebrating the season has been taken away.

I’ve always loved Christmas since my Mom made this holiday special. She loved decorating, making cookies, and buying presents for everyone. We always had a trip into San Francisco to soak in the cheer that splashed everywhere. When I lost her in 2001 the holiday light dimmed a lot. However, I was the mother to two small children so I picked up the holiday baton and carried my mother’s love of the season into our home.

After meeting my husband five years ago the holidays became a special time for us as our mutual love of the season went gangbusters. Our blended family loved celebrating together, buying gag gifts, and filling the floor with paper and the house with laughter. Our grandchildren came along and there was even more inspiration to make the holidays a perfect time of being together.

This year…I don’t even want to put up a tree. I did buy a wreath for the front door and a couple of poinsettia for the coffee table, but the thought of pulling out ornaments that we picked out together and adding festivity to our home feels unexciting and I’m not inspired.

I drive through our neighborhood with all the lights sparkling and Christmas trees peeking out from the front windows of homes and I try to find that spark in me.

I adore buying gifts for those I love and seeing the joy and surprise on their faces when they unwrap them. I’ll always love that. But I can’t imagine this season without the inflated Christmas decorations that my husband loved to put up. And I just can’t do it without him.

I know that life goes on. I also know Terry would want me to celebrate with the kids and make it happy. And I’ll try. Really, I will.

Thanksgiving was great. More than I expected really. It wasn’t during the festivities that I was sad. I was surrounded by my grandsons and family and was happy to be there. But when I came home and entered a cold and empty house I broke down.

That’s what it always comes down to. A cold and lonely house. My home, which was always filled with happiness, love, kisses, and hugs is now empty. It’s just me buying frozen dinners for one. I freaking hate that!

I think the biggest thing people don’t realize is that it isn’t the big days that you are at your greatest sadness. Of course you miss them desperately on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other holidays, but it is deepest on a random Tuesday when you see something that reminds you of them. Or a Thursday when you hear a song that makes you think about them.

For some reason you prepare and steel yourself for the big days. And those that love you are so wonderful checking up on you. But this is the thing about losing someone so important in your life, there can’t be someone there every time you’re sad. You have to deal with that pain in your own way and find a way to go on.

So, I may not be able to put a tree up this year. But I can find gifts for those I love to make me feel better. I can wrap them beautifully and bask in the joy when they open them.

I don’t know what the New Year is going to bring, that’s the scary part. In fact this year I’ll be bringing in the New Year with friends at a 20’s themed party. Why? Because I know my husband would want me to do this. He wants me to be happy and find joy. I also know that at some point in the evening he will whisper in my ear, “Happy New Year, Baby Doll.”

Lorena

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Butterflies

Not gonna lie, things have been tough this last year. It seems that life is just punching the poop out of me. I stand up, cause that’s what I do, and “WHAM” another hit. But I keep standing up. Keeping the faith. Being positive. All those things you’re supposed to do when life hands you a you-know-what-sandwich.

SONY DSCSo today I stepped outside to the sunny side of the yard when this huge butterfly came right at me. It almost hit me in the forehead and then it swooped up at the last minute and flew off. Two seconds later it made another pass over me. Weird?

I thought back to animal symbolism and how it always seems to have something to tell me. I ran inside and looked up butterfly on Whats Your Sign.com. The site told me how much change butterflies go through in such a quick amount of time. How transformation comes with pain and challenges. But mostly how all this will be worth it.

Okay, I felt that. It completely jived with what my life has been like. But more than that, it gave me hope.

Hope is powerful and heady stuff. Hope is what you can survive on. Hope is the fudge in your sundae. Hope is what it’s all about. Without hope there is sheer desolation. Without trusting that someone up there loves you and has a plan even thought you can’t see what it is…you’ll need Life Alert.

Today hope came to me as a butterfly almost crashing into my head. I guess you could say that someone wanted to make sure I was paying attention.

What has given you hope today? Please let me know, I love to see where hope lives.

Thank you,

Lorena

Editing is More Than Owning a Red Pen!

red-pen-editRecently I had someone contact me about being an editor. They were a student, they were new to the craft, and they wanted to learn what editing was so they could become a full-time editor someday.

I am always looking for qualified and talented people to edit so I said, let’s take a look at what you do.

I sent her a chapter of my next novel and let her go to work. She was quick in returning my chapter and so I opened up the file to see what her thoughts were and what her editing prowess may be.

I’ve hired professional editors and I’ve also used friends of mine that are teachers, librarians, and avid readers with anal tendencies to what books should be like. What I’ve learned is that not everyone is an editor even if they think they are.

Editors are a certain breed. They see your mistakes in a work that you won’t because you’ve read it three thousand times and your brain just glosses it over. Even more, they see when you’ve re-named a characters kid another name. Editors are there to search the nooks and crannies to find the errors, inconsistencies, and make your work flow.

Yet this person has been ever elusive to me. I’ve had some close calls to finding someone who I really trust, but I’ve not found that symbiotic relationship that I’m searching for. I am still missing the editor that gets my work, sees the flaws, and simply makes it better.

Let’s go back to the editor-to-be that contacted me. She’s new, wants to edit, but doesn’t really know how to do it. So I went back through the edits she made and made my own notes.

I told her ‘writers are creative people so you don’t want to make demands in your notes’

And ‘As an editor you shouldn’t rewrite things and tell them to use it’

I gave valuable advice on how to really work with authors. Guess what, I never heard from her again.

Finding an editor might be the search for the holy grail, however, I’m not giving up. Every book I’ll try someone new until I find the person that the doves fly out of my computer and the world trembles just a little bit at the joy of a perfectly edited manuscript.

Lorena Bathey

Follow me on Facebook and you’ll see portions of my new novel, Coaster, which is being heralded by reviewers as the must read book of the summer. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lorena-B-Books/138014032926011?ref=hl

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Do Judge a Book by its Cover: More Than Just Flourishes and Fonts Part 2

 

English: book cover of German Reader's Digest ...

English: book cover of German Reader’s Digest collection book, 1988. simple shape cover design Deutsch: Buchdeckel von Reader’s Digest Auswahlbücher, Bestseller-Sonderband 1988 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Book covers have such an impact on a reader. They are the first feeling, inkling, or insight into what the book they are looking at is like. The cover will evoke the mood for your reader and prepare them to read the story you’ve written, therefore, it’s a very important aspect of your work.

 

After you’ve combed the bookstores and found the look you like then you need to decide how to get that look.

 

Graphic Designer/Book Designer:  These people can be invaluable, not only for your cover design, but to create your platform that as an author you need to have. You want your look consistent, so once you’ve found a designer you can work with, have them help you create all your collateral and marketing material.

 

‘Buy A Cover’ Websites: These sites have started popping up all over. Its a simple and rather ingenious idea really. They have designers that create covers and then you find one that works for your book and input your personal information and for a reasonable price (I’ve seen $50-70 price ranges so far)  you’ve got your cover and the design is retired so they don’t resell it.

 

Find an Artist: Think outside the box and find an artist you like and see if they will paint you a design for your cover. This can be a win/win for both of you as it gives the artist exposure and something for their portfolio and it gives you a unique cover. It can also be economical if you have a young artist that wants exposure.

 

This is just three ideas to begin creating a cover that will not only get readers to pick up your book, but get them to open it and start reading.

 

Next installment: Cover Design: What’s Love Got to do With it? Part 3

 

If you got something good here, please follow me (at the end of the page) as I delve into the world of not only the self-published author but give tips that traditionally published authors should be thinking about as well.

 

Lorena Bathey

 

P.S. Want to win a signed copy of my most recent novel, Coaster? Head to Goodreads and sign up for the giveaway here: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/59409-coaster

 

 

 

 

 

How do People Judge a Book by its Cover? Part 1

Several thick hardcover books stacked on top o...

Several thick hardcover books stacked on top of each other (Photo credit: Horia Varlan)

Okay, so you’ve heard the adage, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’  In the world of judgments and assumptions I am in agreement, because you never really know who someone is no matter their demeanor.

However, in the world of publishing a cover is judged as to whether or not someone wants to pick it up and read it.

We are visual people and our eyes like what they like. Now the great thing is that there are billions of people out there and every one likes something different, so you never know if your cover will intrigue someone enough to read your work.

Your cover needs to have certain criteria to make it attractive to readers.  So you have some things to do before you just hire a graphic or cover designer to begin creating.

First step is to head to a book store. Go to the genre you write and look at the covers.  What do they look like? What colors are being used? What kind of font draws you in? Be a consumer and see which books attract you. Why do you like them?

These questions are hugely valuable and will absolutely allow you to commit to an idea which is the first impression a reader will get of your work. Covers in the book stores are what the publishing industry call ‘shelf-ready’. Meaning they can go onto shelves in any retail establishment.

As self-published authors there has always been as stigma about what our covers look like. They don’t have that shelf-ready look that readers are looking for. Because the truth of the matter is that if a cover looks expensive then the readers are more drawn to the title.

Once you’ve done your homework then you need to do some research on cover designers. There are many places in the internet where you can find cover designs. Find a designer that you like and email them and ask if they will design your cover.

We’ll discuss the process of getting your cover design made in the next installment of the post called Do Judge a Book by its Cover: More Than Just Flourishes and Fonts Part 2

Lorena Bathey

 

Is it Soup yet? How to know when your manuscript is ready to print?

Intentionally blank pages at the end of a book.

Intentionally blank pages at the end of a book. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you self-publish it makes you the final decision maker. It also makes you the marketing person, sales force, CFO, and janitor.

That means you decide when your work is ready to go to print. So how do you get to that decision? When do you know your words are the best they are going to be?

We already spoke about using beta readers and professional editors. But you are the final say in your books debut, so here’s some tips on when to know it’s right:

1. You’ve incorporated the feedback into the work that your beta readers gave you. There were some tear-stained pages, but now you’ve got the kinks worked out.

2. You cleaned up the punctuation, commas, and general grammar of the work until it is easy to read, flows, and doesn’t have blinding errors by using a professional proofreader.

3. You let someone else you trust read it one last time and use a red pen generously. Ask them to make sure there is continuity with characters and plot lines.

4. You read the entire manuscript aloud. This is a very important step because reading the book aloud gives you perspective not only on grammatical errors, but on sentences that don’t work or characters that aren’t pulling their weight.

5. You know in your gut, it’s ready.

After following these five steps you should have a manuscript that is ready to print. But you’re not done yet. You have some other issues to pull together that are necessary for your book’s success.

The next step is cover design. Yes, even if you do only eBooks you must have a cover.

Next installment we’ll talk about, How People DO Judge a Book by its Cover.

Lorena

Right now on Goodreads you can enter to win one of five copies on their Giveaway program. Here’s the link to win your copy too. And please add me as a friend.  http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/59409-coaster

 

I Think I Might Self-Publish…Now What?

After the Edit

After the Edit (Photo credit: LMRitchie)

Deciding to self-publish should not be taken lightly. I know, I know…it’s easy to upload a file to Amazon and voila you’re a published author.

But it takes more than that.

Okay, so we covered that you have to write something. But let’s step back before you begin uploading. Back to your manuscript.

Self-publishing used to bring many more stigmas. Most people thought self-published works were badly written and not well edited. This might have been the case in the past, but now most authors who self-publish make sure their work is professional.

When you have a manuscript the first step is to let a few people, who you really trust to be honest, read it.  And here you have to grow a thick skin. If you ask for honesty, be ready to receive it. Remember what they tell you will make you a better writer because they are your target market – readers.

Once you’ve had people beta read it, get a professional editor. I mean a professional. Not your Aunt Grace who was really good at her Christmas letter. Hire someone who reads manuscripts for a livelihood with the intention to better the work. To find them you can go to sites like Writers Digest or try out writing forums to get feedback. (We’ll talk more about how to find them in the next installment)

Once you’ve done proofreading and editing, then you go back and rework your manuscript. Reading aloud is a great tactic to hearing and finding any errors you might have made.

This is the first step to creating a manuscript that you can send out into the world.

Next installment: Is it Soup Yet? How to Know Your Manuscript is ready to Print.

Lorena Bathey

How I Decided to Self-Publish.

Books to read

Books to read (Photo credit: Phil Gyford)

Today there are so many writers able to get their words, thoughts, and stories out into the world because they haven’t had to wait for the world of agents and publishers to give them a stamp of approval.

Don’t get me wrong, I know many authors that follow the traditional route for publishing and are quite satisfied with the process.

I believe it takes a certain type of author to decide to self-publish. I am such an author. When my first book, Happy Beginnings: How I Became My Own Fairy Godmother was finished I went to a writing conference and some very good interest in my book and story. But many of the agents said that memoirs about someone who isn’t famous wouldn’t sell.

But I knew the information was valuable and many women in similar circumstances as mine i.e., going through divorce, transition, trying to find themselves, needed this information now. So I made the decision to self-publish.

At that time fortune seemed to smile on me, or maybe fate and karma were in cahoots, but I found someone to help me on my self-publishing path and I never looked back.

It wasn’t easy. You need to have some finances behind you and be willing to spend money. When I started out there were not as many companies offering ways to publish as there is now. But you need to be careful where you put your dollars.

Don’t just hand over to cash to anyone who says they can get your book published and in the marketplace. Do your homework and ask around the writing world. There are plenty of forums where you can see if a company you’re considering working with is a good bet. These communities can be very helpful with basic questions for getting started. Make some new writing friends and help each other out.

Deciding to self-publish should not be a decision made on a whim. There is a lot of work entailed in being an Indie author. So make sure you are up to the task before getting started.

Next post…What is the first step to Self-Publishing?  Follow me at the link at the bottom of the blog to keep getting insights to the world of Self-Publishing.

Lorena

 

Research Brings Insight

Chinese Chippendale railings on Monticello's r...

Chinese Chippendale railings on Monticello’s roof (topmost level) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As an author it becomes important to do research. Depending on the books you are writing, research can be an activity you do every day.

My first few books I didn’t have to research very much. They were written in current times and with knowledge I already had acquired. But the novels I am working on now both took research. I baby-stepped into the research pool with my Marilyn Monroe novel. And now I am diving into the deep end with the novel I’m working on about Thomas and Martha Jefferson.

Here’s what I’ve been learning from this endeavor:

1) I didn’t learn as much as I thought I did in school.
2) I am glad I wasn’t born in Colonial days.
3) I love sanitation services, garbage men, and the inventor of the grocery store.
4) The dynamic between men and women has changed SO dramatically.

These are just a few of my insights through researching my recent novel.

In Colonial times men and women really relied on each other. There wasn’t a competitive factor or ‘I don’t need you’ ideal behind their relationship. Men and women needed each other to survive. Perhaps that’s the key…survival. In colonial times survival was your first priority and so you learned early on that you couldn’t do it on your own. You needed others and especially you needed whomever you choose as your partner.

Interesting concept, huh? Working together instead of against each other? Where could that idea greatly help progress our lives and even our society?

Through this research I figured out that while I can’t change everyone, I can change me. I can look at things differently. I can work with others better. I can delegate to those who may be better qualified than me. I can’t do it all.

Research really works, doesn’t it?

Lorena Bathey
Author/Publisher
http://www.LorenaBBooks.com

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Does Bravery still exist?

Bravery…what does this word mean? To me it means action in the face of fear. Like soldiers who are afraid to join into battle, but do so anyway. That is the highest pinnacle of bravery. Or mother’s that step in front of danger for their children. That’s bravery.

I am sad to see that bravery doesn’t show it’s face much today. Often times people are more afraid that they might upset someone or cause unwarranted attention that they forget to take a step forward and say or do something.

But the biggest tragedy of the loss of bravery is in your own life.

Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to be a dancer, astronaut, race car driver, or cowboy. There were not limits. You truly thought you could do any, or maybe even all, of those jobs.

But as we grow up, face reality, and find ourselves responsible for bills and mortgages we also find that our bravery wanes and we end up doing what we think we should, rather than what we really want to do. What if that changed? What if you put bravery first and changed your life? What do you think would happen?

I made such a decision and decided to become a full-time novelist. Believe me I had plenty of people saying, ‘What the heck do you think you’re doing?’ But I had an equal number of people saying, ‘Good for you!’ Yes, it’s a risk being brave. Yes, things can go bad…but they can also go amazingly good.

So, if you’re life is not satisfiying and you feel like you’re on a gigantic treadmill, how about jumping off and trying something brave. Change your work maybe and do what you love. Or move somewhere new. Write that book. Take those pictures. Go on that trip.

This is it people…your life. You may be fearful to make change, but if you do it anyway then you’re living brave.

Lorena Bathey
Author/http://wwww.LorenaBBooks.com

I’ll be speaking on Bravery on a call this Saturday at 9 a.m. Find out more here…

FREE Saturday Morning Coffee Call LIVE – Bravery Before Breakfast

Saturday, Feb 23, 2013, 9:00 AM

Dial-in Number: (805) 399-1000 Access Code: 965353#
Dial-in Number: (805) 399-1000 Access Code: 965353#

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Every Saturday Morning we start our weekend out and end our week with a value packed LIVE call!It’s a fabulous way to unwind, get inspiration and share with other women….Join The Mastery for Women Successful ThinkersSaturday Morning Coffee Call!Speaker:Lorena BatheyTopic: Bravery Before BreakfastWhat does it take to make difficult choi…

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