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Seriously, a proposal…

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WritingWednesday

Typewriter Pink

 

Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey from writing to publication, marketing and writing and publishing again. If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them. If you have any tips please share them with us…

Proposals

 A proposal is a business plan for your book. If you write nonfiction and query an agent that agent may ask to see your proposal. More and more agents that represent fiction are asking for one as well. It is a good idea to have one prepared before you start to query.

When I started querying for my first book I had no idea what a proposal was. I was so excited to get a response from the third agent I queried but when she asked for a proposal, I had no clue. Needless to say the one I hurried to put together got me nowhere. This time around I wrote the proposal before I wrote the book.

Quote Never Give Up

  • It contains a cover page with word count, genre, title, short description of the book and your contact information.
  • A table of contents
  • A one page summary (the synopsis) of your book. Think of what might be on the back cover of the book.
  • Target Audience. Who will buy this book and why. Do not ever say everyone will love this book because they won’t. Pick a specific demographic and then two sub demographics.
  • Research the competition. What titles out there are similar to yours? Remember that competition in the book world is a very good thing. If there are numerous titles that means there is consumer interest. Agents and Publishers love competition. List these books and explain why they are similar and why they are different. Why is your book better?
  • Your Platform- how you will be able to reach your target audience (where you are on line, your church, groups or organizations you belong to, connections etc…)
  • Detailed Author Bio- Who you are and why you are the best person to tell this story and the best person to promote the book. Include resume information.
  • Your marketing and promotion plan. Only list what you know you can do not what you hope to do. Example: Do not say I will appear on Oprah’s show and she will love my book unless you know for a fact you can make that happen. Make your plan concrete and include numbers. The secret to creating this plan is not how many ideas you have but how many connections you have and the action steps you are willing to take to improve your presence.
  • Chapter Outline with a brief description of each chapter.
  • Sample chapters- Choose two or three of your absolute best chapters (complete)
  • Have several people including your editor go over your proposal.

 

Quote Start Somewhere

Happy Writing,

Doreen

 

 

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Mad Fragments…

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Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, “Heard” items, other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Then leave a link to your Friday Fragments post and link back to our host Mrs. 4444 at Half-Past Kissin’ Time.

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It’s not too late to join in on the fun and we would love to have you!

During the month of April I participated in and was a helper with the A-Z Blogging Challenge. I planned on posting my Friday Fragments during the month too but the best intentions…

A to Z Survivor Badge

There was a terrible Amtrak train crash not far from us, in Philadelphia. The train was coming from Washington D.C. and headed to N.Y.C. Apparently the engineer took a radical curve at 106 mph. The limit is 50 mph for that curve. Eight people lost their lives and more than one-hundred were injured, some critically. I know so many people that take that train, often so it was terrifying. The two people I knew that happened to be riding that night are okay, thank God.

When my favorite weather woman said it was going to be a pollen-tsunami, she wasn’t kidding. My eyes are so itchy and red. I take Allegra but am going to have to try something else because it just isn’t working anymore.

Pollen

I had a health scare, actually it is still happening. Something was ‘falling out of me’ and it was extremely painful. My primary doctor gave me an antibiotic, called it pelvic prolapsed and sent me to a gyn. The nurse-practitioner stopped the exam and was leaving the room. I asked her to say something and she said she needed to get the doctor because she had no idea what it was. I panicked. Of course I did. The doctor came in and introduced himself and proceeded to examine (push on, press and prod whatever was bulging causing me to see stars.) He had no idea. I insisted he tell me something so he said, “I think you are going to be fine. It might be varicose veins.” I needed to see a gyn-urologist as soon as possible. The soonest appointment I could get was June 10. I went to the ER. They admitted me, treated the pain ran a bunch of tests and said it was indeed pelvic congestion, (Varicose veins in the pelvic area.) I won’t see the vein doctor till June 2 so I am home resting as much as possible. I will most likely have an embolization done, soon I hope.

Never a dull moment.

The Stranger in My Recliner is in production. The art department told me I would have cover mock-ups by the end of the month. This book is finally going to be born. I am so excited and cannot wait to share Sophie’s story with everyone. I am hoping it at least starts a few conversations about ending homelessness. The synopsis is up there under books. I need to have a list of reviewers by the end of the month. If you are interested in a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review, please e-mail me and give me your address and let me know if you prefer paperback or digital copy. Thank you!

We are a little more than a month away from our crazy, fun annual beach week with all of our kids and grandkids. I am praying my health crisis doesn’t ruin it for us.

Beach Chairs

Is it spring in your neighborhood yet? We are bouncing between the 80’s and the 50’s. It is SO much better than 20J

Are you watching Madmen? What do you think?

Madmen

I am obsessed lately with Arranged, Married at First Sight and Newlyweds, the First Year. I just find these shows fascinating. What are you watching?

Have a blessed weekend,

Doreen

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It could happen to anyone…

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Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

a-z 2015 f

AtoZ F Banner

The homeless people walking among us are invisible to most. We look past them, avoiding eye contact at all cost. I always did.  Not so much purposely it was more subconsciously. I never wanted to intentionally look into the eyes of such vulnerable human beings.  I could easily be seeing my parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles. It could be a friend or a family member that struggles with mental illness, addiction or chronic poverty. If I didn’t look, I didn’t have to feel anything or do anything for them.

homeless musicians

I had nothing personal against homeless people. In fact I once was homeless. I was in an abusive relationship and left with the clothes on my back. I was one of the lucky ones, my daughter and son-in-law took me in and took care of me until it was safe for me to take care of myself.

Whether we like to think about it or not we are all vulnerable. A job loss, long illness, the loss of a supporting partner, a few wrongly timed tragedies and we could find ourselves without a place to lay our head. It happens more often than you think.

As a twelve-year-old boy, Dr. Phil McGraw lived in a car with his father. His father was doing his psychology internship. Jennifer Lopez left home at eighteen after an argument with her mother. Her mother didn’t want her to be a dancer. She slept on a couch in a dance studio. Singer Jewel lost a job because she wouldn’t sleep with her boss. He withheld her paychecks so she ended up sleeping in her car. She became very ill when her kidneys failed and nearly died in a hospital parking lot.

Dr Phil

The thought that I could be the one pushing a rickety shopping cart has kept me volunteering and bringing in donations of canned and non-perishable foods to my church’s quarterly ‘stop hunger’ drives. Dropping those cans in that box always made me feel good. I was making a difference. I felt as if I earned a free of guilt card and was then able to move about town looking past all of those unfortunate people that walk among us. I was doing what I could do.

Homeless woman shopping cart

Giving always worked for me, until that night, the night that I first met Sophie. That night I had no choice but to look homelessness right in its’ terrified eyes. I wanted to look past it, to keep walking, to throw money and canned goods at it but it was impossible. It was impossible because it was under my roof, sitting on my sofa and wearing my pajamas.

Thirty-seven-thousand people die homeless on the streets of America nearly every year. The number has been at least this high for years and it is growing. This number breaks my heart. No human being should die alone, on a sidewalk or in a shelter. I don’t even believe animals should die alone on the streets or in a shelter. It seems at times we do more to rescue those animals than we do our own family members. Both need to be rescued.

As part of this rapidly changing demographic baby boomers are turning sixty-five at a rate of ten-thousand a day. With those numbers expected to continue until at least the year two-thousand and twenty we are likely to see a dramatic spike in the already epidemic numbers of elderly homeless people between now and then.

We need a plan.

~~~~~

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard.

I am excited to be working with this bunch of fabulous bloggers …

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

 

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Churches and the homeless…

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Welcome to my blog and today’s post which is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com

A-Z 2015 C Letter

My theme this year is: An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America, which is the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger In My Recliner. 

Churches and the homeless

America’s churches offer a wide variety of services to support the nation’s homeless. Just south of Philadelphia where I live the churches coordinate services. A different church each day provides dinner and a place to warm up. Congregants provide a hot meal, blankets, clothing and other supplies. Once they have been given a hot meal and some supplies, the homeless are sent back out onto the streets.

 

What confuses me is how the homeless keep track of what church is doing what each night and how do they get from one church to another. Living in a neighborhood that has three churches within walking distance I understand the complaints of residents. We have found drugs in our front yard, had our cars keyed and broken into, witnessed fights and more.

Church ours

A few years-ago a church in Portland Oregon offered its’ parking lot for people that were sleeping in their cars. Neighbors worried about increased noise, trash and crime.

Churches in suburbs and cities across the country run soup kitchens.

A church in San Francisco installed a sprinkler system to keep the homeless from sleeping on their grounds. People were outraged that a church could be so cruel. It is a problem plaguing the country’s churches. How do they protect residents and still be compassionate to those in need.

In Virginia a church with acreage offered land to be used as a tent city. The surrounding community supported the idea bringing in a nurse, volunteers, meals and supplies.

Most people want to be loving, giving and caring to those in need, they just want to do it anywhere but in their own neighborhood.

Church family photo

Wouldn’t it make more sense for each church to donate a year’s rent and a social worker to a homeless person or family? If the churches can manage to coordinate a dinner chain, jump through permit hoops to open their parking lots to campers and build a tent city I am positive they would have no trouble working together to support homes for the homeless.

What services do the churches in your area provide for the homeless?

Happy A-Z’ing,

Doreen

For this years A-Z I am a minion for the lovely co-host : Lisa Buie-Collard

Meet the other minions:

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan  –   Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee

 

 

 

 

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Shotgun Rider, BAM and A-Z…

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Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, “Heard” items, other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Then leave a link to your Friday Fragments post and link back to our host Mrs. 4444 at Half-Past Kissin’ Time.

Friday Fragments logo

 

It’s not too late to join in on the fun and we would love to have you!

It has been a month since I last participated so I am full of fragments.

I had another jaw surgery the first week of January. This was the 7th surgery on my jaw/mouth in 2 ½ years. This one was rough. I am SO glad that one is done. It feels so good to be eating real food again!

One month from today I will be in Nashville for the very first BAM blogging conference. I am so excited that I will be meeting in person, some of the most supportive blogging friends. Did I say I was excited?

http://midlifeboulevard.com/bam-conference/

BAM-FB-cover

 

Those of you, fragmenters that know me know that the first week of March my husband and I always attend bike week in Daytona Beach.

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Because of the BAM conference we will be leaving 3 days late. It’s a good thing bike week is actually 10 days long. My plane from Nashville will land in Philly Sunday afternoon and I will hop in the truck and head south. I’m sure this song will be playing because John has been singing it to me for a month now.

http://youtu.be/BkpuLMsDn48

Tim McGraw

 

While I was recovering from surgery we binge watched the first four seasons of Downton Abbey. I had seen a few episodes and I couldn’t wait to catch up. It is so hard to wait till Sunday now.

The sign-up list is open for the April A-Z Challenge! I will be helping out with the challenge again this year and I would love to see your blog on the list! You can find all of the details here:

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

A to Z 2015 Badge

 

This time last year I was in North Carolina helping to care for my dear friend Joelle. I cannot believe it has been almost a year since we lost her. #ihatecancer

My long time elderly client has taken a turn. My day job is awfully sad sometimes.

My other job is going very well. The Stranger In My Recliner is about to go into production and I cannot wait to share Sophie’s story with you.

I am going to go watch a mindless, stupid reality show because my head is about to explode from the news.

How did your week go? Seen any movies? Have you had snow?

Have a blessed weekend!

Doreen

 

 

 

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Writing Wednesday/Focus

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Writing Wednesday

Typewriter Pink

 

Wednesday is the day I share what I have learned on my journey to being published, marketing, writing and publishing again.

Focus

2014 got off to a devastating start for me. I lost my father on January 10th and one of my closest friends on February 24th, my birthday. I struggled to find my words for a few months but I was determined to finish several projects before the year ended. It seems to take me forever to find my writing groove every fall after a summer of slow down. Just when I feel I am caught up the holidays arrive. It’s not like I don’t know they are coming, they arrive at the same time every year. I did put in extra hours this fall and I did manage, somehow to catch up. My word for 2014 was finish and I cut it very close but I did finish most of the projects on my list, including my second book. Beach Goodbye Summer 3

 

The Stranger In My Recliner is done, for now and I am waiting for a production schedule. I cannot wait to share Sophie’s story.

My word for 2015 was going to be organize. I had breakfast on Christmas Eve with a few members of my writing group HotPenz7 and friend, Annmarie Kelly (Happy Hour Radio, Victorious Woman) said her word for 2015 was going to be focus. Focus sounds so much more important than organize so I am going with it too.

How did I ever remember when to pick up my kids and from where, doctor appointments, days off of school and everything else including my work responsibilities without a plan, a schedule and a calendar?

Looking ahead to this New Year, I am full of hope and words that I cannot wait to write. I just need a plan because I can’t seem to remember anything these days.

Weekly word counts worked so well for me I am going to stick with them. Daily word counts caused me to fail and to feel like a failure every single day. With weekly counts I always feel there is always a chance to catch up if I fall behind. I am going to go with 5,000 words a week. That number feels comfortable and achievable. Focusing may be a bit tougher. In January I will be busy planning.  I will be creating a schedule for writing, blogging and living for the entire year.

Quotes Start writing

If I focus, I should have a second draft of The Father’s Pain by June.

I have a lot of friends who are committed to finishing books in 2015 for many it will be their first. I am excited for them and it feels good to have so many to cheer on and to celebrate with.

2014 is leaving with a few chunks of my heart but it also held many blessings and for them I am so grateful. Change and saying goodbye to this year feels hard but I know moving on and living does not mean I have forgotten.

Do you have a word for 2015, writing goals or do you make resolutions? I wish you a healthy, focused, happy, and successful 2015.

Happy New Year,

Doreen

 

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The Insecure Writers Support Group and Writing Wednesday

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The first Wednesday of every month I participate in The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. #IWSG. This is one AMAZING group of talented writers. Some of them are beginners and some are professional authors. One of the many things we all have in common is our moments of extreme insecurity about our craft. Another is our gratitude and strong -pay it forward attitudes when our confidence is soaring.

 Congratulations and Happy 3rd Anniversary to:

 

Founder of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Alex J. Cavanaugh

To find out more about the IWSG or to join us, visit:

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com

InsecureWritersSupportGroup3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every Wednesday I also share some of the things I have found that worked and some that didn’t work so well along my journey to publication, marketing and publishing again. Being insecure at times is one thing I had to and still deal with in my writing. Learning to listen to other writers, taking their advice and learning to write through those insecurities is a must.

Writing Wednesday

Typewriter Pink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Your Family and/or Friends Don’t Support Your Writing

 

It is hard enough for us writers to believe in ourselves so when someone close to us questions our choice and doesn’t support our decision to write, it stings.

We need to first consider the possibility that they may be genuinely concerned for us or they may lack understanding of what all is ‘involved’ in writing when we choose it as a career.

Once we have done our best to explain to them what we do and what they can do to support us and it doesn’t work out that way we have to realize that no matter how hard we try, everyone will not love our choice or our work.

When I asked a friend to come to one of my book signings and she asked me when I was going to come see her at work that got me thinking. I didn’t know exactly what she did at work. It had also been ages since I stopped by the dealership where my husband works, just to say hi. I never stopped by to see my daughter at the nursing home where she works to bring her chocolate or wine nor have I ever gone to the lumber yard where my other daughter works to buy lumber and have her sign it for me.

Well that revelation hit like lightening. Writing is my job.  It is emotional and I am passionate but at the end of the day I cannot expect a daughter that lives for romance novels to gush over my nonfiction.

birdprints

I needed to pay more attention to the careers of my loved ones and my friends and be more supportive of their passions if I expected the same of them.

I realized that when I need support for my writing, feedback or have exciting news to share the best place for me is a group of my peers.  Writers groups, critique groups, Facebook writer’s groups and especially The Insecure Writers Support Group are full of other writers that get what I do and feel what I feel.  There is always someone there with a hug, creative advice or a hand- up.

HotPenz7

Hot Penz7/ Writing Group

 

I am blessed because my family does support me and my choice to write. My girls are happy to help me choose an outfit for a book event but they do not want to go to work with me. For that I need my tribe and my tribe needs me.

“Success is knowing, your purpose in life, growing to reach your maximum potential and sowing seeds that benefit others.” John C. Maxwell    

 

 

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What would you do if your husband brought a woman home?

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This is an excerpt from my second book The Stranger In My Recliner, an intimate look at the mental health and homeless crisis[2015.] It is the true story of Sophie a homeless woman my husband brought home one night.

When Sophie walked through my front door that night I could not believe my eyes. She was a frail, filthy, and hunched over, eighty- year –old woman. I wondered if she had bugs. I’m OCD[obsessive compulsive disorder] like that. I told her to sit on the sofa, while the whole time in my mind I was making it all better for me by imagining myself throwing that big red sofa away and buying a nice new, clean one. Maybe an ‘L’ shaped, brown microfiber one, this time.

I made her a hot cup of tea. After noticing she had no teeth and wondering what in the world could have happened to them, I made her a scrambled egg. While she ate her eggs and talked with John about people they might mutually know, I went upstairs and prepared her a warm bubble bath. I gave her my favorite silk pajamas, clean underwear, a warm fluffy pair of socks and a thick robe. The pajamas were a gift from my kids. They gave them to me when I was in the hospital for treatment of a bad allergic reaction to a vitamin supplement made from shellfish. I was certain they would understand why I had to give them to Sophie.

While she was in the bathroom having her bath, I made up the big red sofa with our softest six-hundred thread count guest sheets, our best pillows and a warm cotton blanket. I wanted her to feel safe, warm and comfortable. Whatever the reason for her plight, no one should be sleeping on the ground in this crazy weather. John thanked me for allowing him to bring Sophie into our home. He gave me a hug and promised me everything would be okay. He sensed my growing discomfort so he hugged me again. I love that he has the ability to sense my feelings.

I wanted to ask her a thousand questions. Do you have a family, where you ever married? Do you have children? How did you get yourself into this situation? Are you still drinking? That was the big one. That would be bad. I decided not to ask too many questions that night. I did ask her where the woods were located, the ones she had been sleeping in and she told me they were alongside McDade Boulevard.  McDade Boulevard is the main thorough fare connecting a dozen or so small towns in Delaware County, leading to Philadelphia. She also told us that night she had been attacked and robbed several times.

4016095-elderly-woman-with-worry-in-her-eyes-and-demeanor

Talk about a soft target and for what a few coins at the most. I felt so sorry for her and such anger for those unknown scumbags that would hurt her. I wanted to know more but decided I would ask her another time. I thought she must be physically as well as mentally exhausted. I thought she might be embarrassed too. I would be horrified if I found myself with nowhere to go and I had to wear a stranger’s underwear, their clothes and sleep on their sofa.  I would also be scared to death if I had no choice but to trust in the sincerity and saneness of strangers. I did not want to think about that stuff anymore.

She seemed to trust in John completely. With me, she was completely unsure. She most likely sensed my fear and disapproval. I had the feeling there was so much more to her story. How could there not be more. How do you get to be eighty-years-old and not have met at least one person that loved or at least cared enough about you to take you in from the cold. What possibly could have happened to her, what sin or crime did she commit that would force her to have no choice in the world but to trust complete strangers over family or friends? Wondering about those possible sins and crimes scared me to my core.

My husband on the other hand is the least judgmental person I know. He is trusting to a frustrating fault. I admired his compassion and knew in my heart keeping her safe and warm on this cold, wet night was the right thing to do no matter how she came to be in this situation. Even if it was wrong of me, I could not help wondering why I had to be the one to do that particular right thing on that particular night.

We made sure she had everything she could possibly ever need during the night. I poured a glass of ice water and placed it on the end table beside the red sofa. I put a few magazines on the coffee table. We asked if she would like to watch some TV. She said she would like that. I found an old- movie on AMC, Duel in the Sun and I was thrilled to see her eyes light up. “I love Joe Cotten” she said smiling, “He is my favorite actor.” I had no idea who, Joe Cotten was but I did notice Gregory Peck and Lionel Barrymore where in the film. I sort of wished I wasn’t so tired. I wouldn’t have minded watching it with her if John would have stayed up to watch it too. Instead John and I went to bed. I imagined it must have been a long time since she was able to watch and enjoy a good movie. It felt good to do that for her.

Joe Cotten

Turning the latch on my bedroom door knob ever so slowly, so she wouldn’t hear the click, I locked our bedroom door and tip toed over to our bed. Yes I admit it I was scared. I had visions of this crazy lady stabbing us in our sleep, robbing us or having her homeless gaggle of friends coming into our house to party through the night. I shuddered at the thought of the endless horrific things they could do to us. I tossed and turned all night. I tried to imagine how anyone could let an eighty -year –old woman become homeless and then reverted to what could she have possibly done to find herself in this situation.

The truth is I wanted her and the sting of the slap in the face reality of her situation to go away. I felt guilty that I felt that way.

I rolled over and flipped my pillow again, hoping to find a small patch of cold on the other side. Instead memories flooded my mind. I had a history with homeless people and it was not always good. I took in a homeless woman with a six-week-old infant, when I was a young, divorced mom.  My kids and I fell in love with the baby. Danielle lived with us whenever her mother was in prison, which was several times over an eight-year-period. The mother emotionally blackmailed and sometimes even terrorized my family for years. A priest told me sometimes we have to make the choice to hurt one to save many others.  I hated the sound of that advice. We did not want to but we sent that little girl to live with her father and her older sister in Minnesota. It wasn’t fair of us to keep her from knowing her family. Our hearts are still broken.

I took in a young man that worked for me when I managed a Pizza Hut Restaurant. He was a homeless drifter, a musician.  I found out he smoked pot in front of my young daughters and their friends. I was horrified, hurt and furious.

Another time, I took in a childhood friend of my sister’s. The woman had two young children and they were living in an abusive situation. Her husband had no idea I existed, so they would be safe and able to get a head start on a new life. It was a struggle for her and her children.  I admired her for finding the strength to leave him and for loving her children so much that she gave up everything to keep them safe. I was thrilled when she moved on, fell in love and remarried a gentle man.

I do not regret helping any of those people but now that I am older and look back, I realize what dangerous situations I put my family, my own children in at times. That woman’s abusive husband could have found her at my house and killed us all. That little girl’s mother was jailed several times for terroristic threats. I shudder when I imagine what could have happened. I do not mean to be over dramatic but you only have to watch the Lifetime Movie Network to know it can, and unfortunately does happen when you least expect it.

I seem to constantly, be asking myself if the fear I developed with age is a good- enough reason to do nothing. Of course the answer is no. It is not a good reason. Eliminating the fear and replacing it with knowledge is a good start. It is always easier to open a door if you have a reasonable expectation of what is waiting for you on the other side of the door.

I flipped my pillow again and rolled onto my side. Why didn’t I leave some cookies, crackers or chips out for, Sophie? I wondered if she was still hungry. There was no chance I was going downstairs to find out. John was sound asleep.

What do you do in those situations where there is no way to know what’s behind that door? You can choose to stay stuck or you can dig deep for the faith and courage to open that door. I would rather have stayed stuck in my safe comfortable world that night, secure in the fact that I had done enough good deeds in this lifetime. John however, on that night needed me to walk through that door with him.

He was grieving the loss of his mother. She passed away six-months prior to him finding Sophie on that sidewalk. John and I met and married shortly before his mother became ill. Kathleen was the first elderly person I ever lived with and the first elderly person I ever provided with hands on care. Honestly, ever since I was a small child I was afraid of older people. We had a few cranky neighbors when I was a kid. The older kids would tell us stories about being, captured by these creepy-old people and kept chained in their smelly basements.

I always adored, my own grandmother except for the times when she was yelling at my poor grandfather. While I was growing up in Northeast Philadelphia, she lived just a few blocks from our house. We saw her every day.  As I got older I would drive her to doctor appointments, clean for her or just sit and visit. Back then she never seemed old to me. Maybe I was too close to notice. When she did become sick, she went down hill and passed away quickly. My grandfather got sick years before and took his own life before he had the chance to grow old.

For the first time in our young marriage, John and I were living alone. We were just getting used to our newly found freedom. We discussed traveling, home renovation projects and retiring at the seashore. We discovered our living room. For two- years, the room was a campground for John’s sisters and nieces who thankfully were there to help care for his mother. That is the way it is supposed to be right? Families are supposed to come together and come up with a workable solution to provide care for their elderly loved ones. It is one of those times in life, that you must put your own needs and feelings aside and work as a unit.

I enjoyed the chaos of so many people coming in and out of the house.  That was what I came from. The situation helped me to be less homesick. When I married John I moved in with him. He lived in another county, on the other side of Philadelphia. I was used to seeing my kids and grandkids every single day. When the house was quiet, I missed them.

What a long night that first night with Sophie turned out to be. As I walked downstairs, in the morning I was hoping it had all been a long dream. No such luck. There she was sitting on the end of the big red sofa.  She was awake and as real as my freezing feet on the cold floor. She was dressed in her own, old-dirty clothes. Those ripped plastic grocery bags that were full of I have no idea what were at her feet. We originally thought they held some sort of groceries but no. They definitely did not hold groceries. She clutched a filthy overstuffed pocketbook with a broken strap to her chest. Her head was down, she was staring at the floor. She looked so fragile. I noticed the pajamas, underwear and those fluffy socks I gave her folded neatly beside her. My first thought was; not believing she put her dirty underwear back on her nice, clean body. I cringed. My second thought was she must have been a beautiful woman. Her hair was pure white not at all that dingy grey most of us are stuck with. It was so long and wavy. Most of the older women that I knew wore their hair short. I wondered if she ever colored it. It was so beautiful this morning compared to the filthy stringy mess it had been last night, before her bath.

I made her a cup of hot tea and some instant apples and cinnamon oatmeal for breakfast. Oatmeal is not one of my favorites but I love the way the flavored ones smell. She seemed thrilled when I handed her a banana. It didn’t seem like the right time to ask where her teeth were. I hoped I never had the opportunity to ask.

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Time for Teaching and still Beaching…

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Friday Fragments are bits and pieces of your week that are usually brief; too short for a stand-alone post, but too good to discard. Collect humorous observations, “Heard” items, and other small gems and put them together in a Friday Fragments post. Then leave a link to your Friday Fragments here:

Half-Past Kissin’ Time

Friday Fragments Summer logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My husband told me yesterday to stop thinking about summer being over and to concentrate on enjoying each day of September. He is so right. The days are still sunny and warm, without being oppressive and the nights are comfortably cool. Then he asked me to go on a couple of beach dates. Just another of the million reasons I love that man.

Florida Does Beach Feet

I have some exciting things to look forward to this fall. Not only will I be teaching again but I have been working with a committee since last spring to put together a workshop series sponsored by the Press Club of Pa. They will be held the fourth Saturday of every month (except December.) They will be on social media, branding, style (for men and women), networking, understanding the news, how to get attention from the media for your product, business, store, event, non-profit, blog or book, writing and publishing, pitching your business and more. We have been so lucky to have top experts in these fields offer to join us. We even have a few celebrity guests. I will be writing more about these classes next week!

http://www.thepressclubpa.org

Our Florida adventure has come and gone but I have no doubt we all created memories that will last forever. My husband and I took five of our grandchildren to Daytona Beach to visit my mother and John’s sister. We were worried that at least the driving part would be a nightmare but I have to tell you the kids were so good and we had SO much fun. Kudos to John for renting the top of the line Town & Country minivan equipped with DVD players and satellite radio and kudos to me for creating maps and putting them on corkboard for each child with colored stick pins. One color for cities we stopped in and another color for cities we passed through. They really got into it and now they know how to read a map. We had a great time with family and friends, went Go Karting, to batting cages, the beach, to Zoomair Daytona a zipline adventure and more…

FLORIDA trip the kids by pool FLORIDA Here we go FLORIDA trip maps FLORIDA with Kids Florida beach all 5

During our vacation my laptop kind of crashed and even though there was a TV by the pool the kids always wanted to listen to music so I was forced to detox from my news addiction. After reading this post on Boomeon written by Cathy Chester, taking an occasional news break is going to become a habit for me:

http://www.boomeon.com/posts/taking-a-short-break-from-the-news

Have a safe and fun Labor Day,

Doreen

 

 

 

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Writing Wednesday/ Marketing Part 2 PR

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Writing Wednesday

Typewriter Pink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Wednesdays I like to share bits of information that I picked up on my journey to publication and preparing to be published again. The kind of information I wish someone shared with me.

 

 

 

 

 

MARKETING PART 2

You can find part 1 here:

http://doreenmcgettigan.com/?p=5230

Marketing is composed of Advertising and Public Relations (PR.)

This week I want to talk about PR. It is the communication that is created to show you and your business (book) in the best light possible. Good PR does not just happen. It usually takes serious planning, a lot of effort and patience.

Press Releases fall under the PR category. They should be short, no more than one page and should answer the questions who; what; where; when and why. They should be e-mailed to editors of print media and producers for radio and TV. Editors and producers are extremely busy. Chances are you won’t hear from them but your release could possibly appear in their publication or be mentioned in a community information spot on radio, TV or the stations websites. If you don’t hear from them and your release does not appear chances are they were not interested. Remember lead times if you are submitting to magazines or TV. Many of them plan their publications well in advance. It is never a good idea to call these people. If you put your contact information on your press release they will contact you if they want more information.

Reasons to send a press release for a book:

  1. To announce the release of a book
  2. To announce book readings/signings

Press Releases should not be sent for reviews. They should never contain links or buying information. That is advertising.

Newspaper photo

Talk show hosts, radio announcers and news anchors rarely have authors on to discuss their books. They are more interested in ‘experts’ on a particular current topic. This is where you need to get creative and prepare a pitch sheet. What has the research and the writing of your book taught you? As an example, my first book Bristol boyz Stomp is about the random road rage murder of my younger brother. That loss has made me an expert in road rage statistics, grief and victim services. When a road rage assault occurs, a producer or journalist (because I sent them a pitch sheet) may request an interview with me to discuss road rage statistics, give the victims view or to give listeners tips on how not to become a victim. Your pitch should include a very brief bio (related to your topic,) the reason you are the best person to discuss your topic and a list of talking points (what you are able to comfortably discuss on the topic.) Again make sure there is no advertising in your pitch. In your bio you can mention you wrote a book on the subject.

An agent or publisher is likely to Google your name before they decide to offer you a contract. Make sure there is something for them to see. Is your blog consistent? Is your Twitter page interesting and engaging?

Google Logo

A quick way to increase your online presence is to write letters to the editors of local newspapers on current events. Most papers are quick to post these online. This type of letter, once in print also gives you publishing credibility.

Another part of PR is public speaking and events. If the thought scares you find a way to get past your fear. Approach your local library, your church and your bookstore with a pitch for a writing or blogging workshop, author panel, reading etc… Do these for free until you have established a name for yourself. The first people you should invite to your release party is the media.

Remember, the buzz about your book should always come from readers, reviewers and the media, not from you.

Social media is a clever tool for marketing and PR if used correctly. You must be human, chat about stuff other than your book. Be interesting and relevant. If you start or join interesting conversations with people they will want to know more about you, realize you are a writer and seek out your books.

The success of your book hinges on having a book that has heart; is a compelling story and is professionally produced.

Word of mouth is still an effective PR and advertizing tool however; that word of mouth can snowball if you have a good PR plan. PR can be much more effective than advertising. One mention of you and your book by the media can quickly legitimize you as an author.  PR works best in conjunction with a good advertising plan.

PhillySnaps5

After being cooped up in my office writing for eight months, in my pajamas the thought of going out and actually speaking to people terrified me. What would I wear? Would I sound like I knew what I was talking about? With each book signing and each media event my confidence grew. I actually enjoy it now. The key is being practiced and prepared.

Happy writing!

Doreen

 

 

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  • Friday Fragments: Episode #354 May 22, 2015
    Hey! It's great to see you!Thanks for stopping by to see what our fragmented minds are spewed this week.I'm facing nine more days of school with hormonal middle schoolers, so you can imagine that I'm still about to lose my entire mind, not just the fragmented parts!***The CBS TV station in Denver produced a beautiful story […]