Archive for the ‘book launches’ Category

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!!

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June Question: Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

I’d say the closest I’ve ever come to quitting happened in the last week.

I began working with Createspace to produce Book Two in the Chronicles of Aden Weaver series in April. As ‘The Sasori Empire’ had been through three rounds of critique, professional editing and had subsequently been vetted by a professional proof-reader, I knew the copy was clean and ready to format. Yet even so, a few minor errors were found in the process of designing the interior of the book. That’s par-for-the-course.

However, I wasn’t prepared for how long each editing change would take to effect. I had to organize, postpone and reorganize the book launch two times. I came close to the point of quitting because the long delays meant a huge amount of extra work for me. When I realized last weekend, that the books were not going to be here in time for the second attempt at a launch, I felt gutted. I didn’t know where I’d get the energy from to start the engine a third time.

PSA re Book Two

This called a great many things into question in my mind. It was just one of those moments in a writer’s life where you question, is it all worth it? All the sacrifice, all the money and time poured in so liberally when time for everything else is so squeezed and for a short while, I wondered if writing was worth the blood of my life.

I don’t usually ever question it. I’ve always had a facility for story ever since I was a small child, and I enjoy writing, however, I wondered for the first time, maybe my path is not writing books? Maybe I was purely put here to be a mother to three children.

I questioned, is fiction where I should be aiming my efforts? I felt, it’s taking me a long time to master this craft! Maybe I’ll never get there. And so the doubts went on.

Then I saw Kristen Lamb, who is such a warrior writer, was going through publishing woes of her own, and she was taking them in stride.

I read her blog post, Reality vs. Expectations—Remaining Calm When it ALL Goes Pear-Shaped (http://authorkristenlamb.com/2017/06/reality-vs-expectations-remaining-calm-when-it-all-goes-pear-shaped/) and was inspired. Kristen said, “If we never fail, we never learn. Show me a person who never fails and I’ll show you someone who’s never done anything interesting.”

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Why does trying to publish our books cause so much anguish?

“Publishing involves…humans,” said Kristen. “Humans who screw up, make mistakes, etc. Even better? Now that we’re in the digital age? Humans can screw up much FASTER and INSTANTLY.”

Yes. This is the thing, these days, every step you take and every stumble is public property.

“If we allow ourselves to be at the mercy of circumstances? We’re going to be miserable and we’ll never finish the blog or the book. We’ll give up, tap out and take every carb in the house down with us,” she wrote. “One thing we must learn to be successful in this profession (or any other) is to forbid outside circumstances to own, control or derail us.”

I took heart. I began to feel the love of writing fiction return. I felt that I was not alone (!) and it didn’t hurt that Kristen finished the post with this kick ass Teddy Roosevelt quote, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.”

Yeah!

It’s good to be back! Have you ever quit something and returned stronger?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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“Loss is hard and we must grieve but then we must write a new story, with better ending.”  © 2017 LEAH WHITEHORSE  

 

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It means that you must set your standards high and create what I call a grinder. You must set up a system that holds your writing feet to the fire, and makes you get better at your craft. ~ James Scott Bell

The journey of a book, from genesis to garden of inspiration takes us through the valley of many sorrows, aka the editing. The time spent refining and rewriting our original work is a long, seemingly never-ending road. As an author friend said the other day, with her work-in-progress, it took her two months to write it and so far, it’s taken her nine months to edit, and she’s ‘still not finished.’

As the famous meme which went around Facebook showed, as new authors, we start out imagining ourselves spending our days in throes of inspirational wonder, running through fields of daisies with stories in our heads. However, the reality is we spend 15% of our time writing genesis draft and the rest of our time editing the beast, trying to tame this monster we’ve created into something presentable we can show the world.

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Stephen King said, ‘what separates the talented from the successful is a lot of hard work.’

Writers need to be prepared to a) get the copy written, and b) amend and polish their words until they can see their faces in them.

I recently finished working on my work-in-progress, ‘The Sasori Empire.’ My critique partners and I had done all that we could do. I sent the story to editor, Donna Blaber, of Lighthouse Media Group (info@LMG.co.nz). I had worked with Donna on my first book, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ in 2015 * http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I, and knew she was quick and on top of her game. Nine days later, Donna had sent the fully edited paper version of the manuscript back. It really did feel joyous to work with professional tweaks and changes.

Donna Blaber

Over the following few days, I transcribed the edits into the manuscript. I liked that sometimes instead of taking words out, Donna had linked sentences together and made them longer. Using James Scott Bell’s analogy of critique being “the grinder,” these edits were buffing those last few rough edges off.

The next step in the process, I sent the new version of ‘The Sasori Empire’ to the proof-reader.

This last round of professional editing will take a few weeks. When I have transcribed those edits, it will be time to submit to Createspace for book design, production and printing.

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But, in the meantime, at this stage in the journey of a book, the work of organizing the launch needs to be done. Peer reviews need to come in for inclusion on the back cover, the artwork finalised, the publishing/printing and cover design lined up. A media page is helpful and can be used across platforms to update all social media sites. For the launch party, there’s the venue, the helpers, the speech, catering, the invitation, and the guest list to organize. This stuff can be a lot of fun, and also a lot of work!

One bit of advice I’d give after having published one book, is to be humble enough to ask for feedback on a sample of your work, tapping into the wisdom of friends who are successful authors.

Prior to launching my first book, last year, I asked a friend who is an established author, if he would read the first page and give me honest feedback. He did. Just those few words from a seasoned author’s perspective helped so much. I made a couple of subtle changes that altered the tone and set the first chapter of my debut novel over the edge.

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I wanted to touch the lucky stone again, as it were. I asked, would you read the first page? He very kindly said, send the first chapter. His response came in this morning; again he made a couple of on point suggestions. He said I was giving too much information too soon, and suggested I let the reader get closer to the hero, Aden. I made a couple of tweaks along these lines and voila, it has transformed the all-important opening chapter to a shade above the level it was on before.

They say it takes many a village to raise a child, well, it takes a small town to produce a good book. My advice?

In the final stages of preparing your baby for the world, get as many eyes upon it and voices involved as you possibly can. It makes a world of difference. Good luck!

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Talk to you later.

Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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Writing is always this: an adaptation of the sacred into smut. Dragging the divine out of his Sky Chariot and into the human dirt. ~ Chuck Wendig

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“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

Speaking in public, so they say, is the number one fear, surpassing even that of death, for some people. I tried to avoid speaking duties for the first 50 years of my life. In that time, I got roped into giving speeches twice and both times failed miserably.

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Wells, Fargo & Co, CEO, John Stumpf, said his intense fear of public speaking nearly derailed his career. His boss, picking up on that fear, said, ‘You’ve got to fix this. If you can’t, that’s a career disabler.’ Stumpf joined Toastmasters in the eighties. “The feedback I received on my speeches wasn’t always feedback I enjoyed getting. But it was real stuff. It was a life-changing experience for me.”

He said in an interview. “Toastmasters was the vehicle that saved me.”

Last year, in a bid to face my insane fear of public speaking, I joined Toastmasters, too. All I wanted to do was to be able to give a speech at the launch of my first book, without looking like a complete idiot.

By the end of 2015, I had given four speeches, one of them being a ten minute oration at the launch of my novel in September. I know for a fact, that I could never have nailed my speech, not even a two minute one, without flubbing it, if it hadn’t been for Toastmasters. So, I can testify to the fact that the system works.

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Once Christmas had passed, however, I thought perhaps that would be where Toastmasters and I would part ways. After all, who are we kidding, it’s hard!

Yet, I went along to my first meeting of 2016 this week. Something about the friendships, and that unparalleled opportunity for growth that Toastmasters represents called me back. How can you not admire a group of people who are all in the same boat as you, tackling this really intimidating, unfailing challenge of public speaking? These are extraordinary people. And, there’s something thrilling about being around extraordinary people.

None of which makes it any less nerve-wracking. Talk about ‘starting off with a bang.’ I was the honourable ‘Toastmaster,’ and therefore had to run the meeting. I could hardly remember the protocol! Yet, that is the nature of the beast, to be put-on-the-spot and expected to deliver. Just as in the “Table Topics,” when you may get called upon at any moment, to speak for a minute on the topic-du-jour, there’s ever a sense of the possibility of being tested—that prickle of challenge—is always in the air.

Paulo Vasconcelos

Paulo Vasconcelos told a story in the December issue of Toastmaster magazine, that after traditionally avoiding every chance to speak in public, he’d spoken spontaneously at his son’s seventh birthday party. “To everybody’s astonishment, including my own, I spoke fluently and inspirationally about the importance of frequent family gatherings. But best of all,” Paulo said, “I saw my son’s proud face staring at me like never before.”

I knew exactly what he meant. I had the same experience at my book launch, when all three of my sons watched me with pride. It was a great moment and memory.

Nat speaks

Is it scary to have to face your fear each week? Yes. This is the thing; if we don’t tackle the fear, it’s going to feel the same, we have to feel the fear a little bit – in “safe” settings – in order to grow. So, I keep stumbling forwards with this self-development tool. How long will I continue? I don’t know. For now, it helps me to do this thing that I didn’t do.

I’m preparing towards the next speech. I’ll give #5 in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck!

Have you ever thought of joining Toastmasters, or doing the things you don’t do? How do you tackle your fears?

 

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Life should not be comfortable; it isn’t to a person’s advantage to have it so.  Nor should art.  Never have the masterpieces of life or art been pleasant or easy.  They are always rugged peaks to be ascended by the few. ~ Nikos Kazantzakis

 

Each moment we’re given is a building block, a stepping stone, an open door, toward greater self awareness and cultivation of our individual abilities. ~ Gigi Sosnoski

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‘In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. Now, I know when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth…Pursue relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days.’ ~ Steve Jobs (last words)

Steve Jobs

Here in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the 24th of December, Christmas and the end of the year are mere days away.

 

In the past, when we were an agricultural society, the 25th December determined the point when the sun started to move again, and thus, it bore the promise of planting and reaping the crops. This serves to remind us even today of the passing of time, the cycles of nature.

 

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With the coming of the Romans, and then the Christians each utilizing different calendars, New Year’s Day was a “moveable feast” back in those eras. After the Gregorian Year was introduced to modern thinking, however, 1 January was generally accepted in most places as New Year’s Day. And that’s the way it remains to the present.

 

From Christmas to New Year’s Day, this is traditionally a period of introspection, a time for reflection, and a time to refresh one’s spirits before moving forward again.

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At present, a dear old friend of mine is dying of liver cancer. She has decided to die at home rather than stay at hospice. This dire situation has given me a lot more to think about during this festive season.

 

On the way home from visiting her last week, I noticed there was a marked difference in attitude and body language between the kids and I. My boys sat in the back seat, singing. I, meanwhile, drove along tense and upset, completely fraught about the fact my pal was soon to be entering the dark forest and leaving us behind. And the difference between my kids’ chirpiness and my somber contemplation was “time.” My kids have the “blissful ignorance of youth.”

 

I, meanwhile, am a lot older than they are. My mother died this year. My father thinks he’s losing his memory. I know that time is running out. I wrote to my critique partner, Maria Cisneros-Toth, about this dark night of the soul I was walking through, and about my dying friend.

 

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With Maria’s kind permission, I will relay our email conversation:

Maria CT: ‘I am so sorry about your friend. When these things happen, whether I know the person or not, it’s a reminder to me to get done with the writing project I want to complete.

‘Life is so precious; there isn’t a moment to waste. It’s so cliché, but very true. And this is your first Christmas without you mum. That’s tough, too.’

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Yvette C: ‘Yes, it has been a big year, 2015. You’re so right! With Ma’s passing, I decided to draw a line in the sand. The finish line is here. I wanted dad to be alive to see me launch my first book, and, indeed, by pushing ahead to professional proof-reading and self-publication, I did achieve that goal this year.

 

‘Dad was there at the launch of ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and he gave a speech about how proud he was. It was a wonderful, emotion-filled moment for me. Ma didn’t get to be there in physical form but she was there, nevertheless.
 

‘Sometimes, you get a reminder that life is short. Your mother dies suddenly of stroke in the night. Your friend is dying of cancer. Your husband has a heart attack, right? That’s when you realize our dreams need to be put into action. Now. Today. There is no tomorrow!

 

‘Then it came to me, I understood what my friend, and mentor, Erin Lees was trying to tell us, when she said last year, that we should ‘live as if death were always at our shoulder.’ Aha!’ mum

 

With this perspective, I need to take clear, focused, heart-motivated action towards my goals in 2016. Remember, that Steve Jobs, one of the most successful men in the world said we should ‘pursue relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days.’

 

While I remain heartbroken for my friend who is sick, I am realigned with my purpose and my willpower to strive towards my dreams.

 

What does the essence of this Yuletide and New Year distil for you? Any revelations to share?

 

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Talk to you later…

…in 2016!

Yvette K. Carol

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This was me on my way home from an audition for King Kong where I was told I was too “ugly” for the part. This was a pivotal moment for me. This one rogue opinion could derail my dreams of becoming an actress or force me to pull myself up by the boot straps and believe in myself. ~ Meryl Streep

 

 

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

Christopher Campbell

This week a dearly beloved and heart-inspired project came to fruition. My author friends and I have been putting together a children’s anthology to support our dear friend, Robyn Campbell, and her son, Christopher (29) who lives with the little known or understood syndrome called Sturge-weber.

Our beautiful book, Kissed by an Angel is out now, available on Amazon.

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I thought that I would re-issue this earlier post, detailing the illustration I did to go with my story in the anthology, ‘Grandpa & Loor.’

A Photo Essay for ‘Grandpa & Loor’…

A few years back, I tried using computer software to “draw” but I didn’t take to it. I simply prefer pencils, erasers, pens, colour pencils, and paints. I’m old school. So, bear with me. For some people, this might be a trip down memory lane.

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First, I had to work up a sketch I liked. I borrowed the man’s expression from an old photo of my boys’ father and aged him by adding wrinkles, I borrowed the idea for the hair out of a Santa book from the ’70’s. I was seeking with this illustration to express how we caregivers and parents of special children feel about them, and how they feel toward us. Once I was happy with it on a feeling level, I had a pencil template.

Grandpa & Loor

I painted the background over with a pale wash of pink.

First wash, G&L

Next, I applied the first coat of watercolour. At this stage, I made a timeline of the process, by taking this snap when I started.

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I gave each area a slightly different shade, in order to alter the end look. The lesson I’ve taken from training in oil portraiture is to build layers. That’s where you get your depth.

At that stage, I added the second layer to the characters, according to what I thought the colours might be later.

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As I got onto the third coat, I started to use three or more variations of the shades and add areas of light and dark.

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The fourth layer always makes the tones more solid and real.

At that point, I switched from water colour to gouache, and started using the fine tipped brushes.

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I made the shadows more convincing.
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And, just like that, in the twinkling of a back-breaking eye, I had finally crossed the finish line, thirteen hours later!

I feel victorious. Art is magical, isn’t it?

What sort of art do you do in your life? What’s important to you creatively? Tell me in the comments….

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Keep Creating!

Talk soon,

Yvette K. Carol

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‘I’ve been thinking about my Christopher and how our family could never make do without him. He is the epitome of this quote: “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.’ Robyn Campbell

‘This is the best time in history to be a writer. Today, you can bypass the gatekeepers.’ So said the author, Andy Weir.

 

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It is also said, there will be more books published in the next five years than have been published since the invention of the printing press.

 

“Going Indie” means everyone can publish their own work, which is wonderful news. This effectively means that the author takes on the lion’s share of the burden.

 

Personally? Long story short: In September, I self-pubbed my first book*, then I found mistakes, recalled the book, and have been editing for the last 3 months.

 

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My eldest son asked me the other night, Why are there so many mistakes?

 

A perfectly presented and edited book is not a freak of nature, my son. They do not just happen by themselves, you know.

 

Once upon a time, the large traditional publishing houses were the so-called “gatekeepers.” These big publishers (and loads of smaller ones) employed all the experts in the industry to curate and produce their perfectly-turned out books. Many different professionals had input on guiding every author’s work into an error-free work of art.

 

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As opposed to the past, these days, self-publishing is becoming more accepted and is becoming a phenomenon. Some Indies have done very well at it and made loads of money. Some have ended up being signed to traditional publishing companies. For every Indie author who wins, however, a gazillion fall by the wayside with their hard-won novels fading into obscurity.

 

I’ve blogged before about how I held on stubbornly to my dream of being picked up by a traditional publisher. However, even the rock of Gibraltar is wearing away with the years, I’m sure, and the attrition of the fact that everyone’s doing it had a pumice-type of effect, because last year, for the first time, I began to consider publishing my own book.

 

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I was busy editing the first book in my Fantasy Tween Fiction series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, called ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ for the umpteenth time, through the critique group process.

 

When I felt it was ready, instead of submitting the manuscript to publishers, I hired an American professional to edit it for me. In my innocence, I imagined that once I put in the editor’s changes, I would be ready to upload and to go to print.

 

Yet, once I did get to that stage, author friends told me, no, no, no, you need to get as many people to read it as possible.

 

Lynn Kelley

 

Therefore, I asked friends who are well-published authors to proof-read it for me. I made more changes to the copy following the editing suggestions. I then had a very kind friend, who has published more than thirty books with a NZ publisher, give the book one last edit, just to catch the last two or three mistakes. Then, I read it myself one last time.

 

Finally, after six months effort, I handed over the manuscript to a local typesetter and printing house, BookPrint.

 

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The same day I launched the book, it came to my attention that there were still some errors in the book. Despite the carefully editing and checking, a few things had been missed. As my author friend said, ‘Your name is going to be on that book forever, how do you feel about that?’

 

I recalled the book.

 

I proof-read another three times, picking up a surprising number of mistakes.

 

The time had come, I realized, when I needed to hire a second professional proof-reader. This girl did a stellar job, finding “70 inconsistencies,” and she delivered the edits within the time she’d predicted.

 

I read it through and edited it another two times after that.

 

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To be absolutely certain, I asked the proofreader to read it through again for me. She did so and found yet more errors. Sigh.

 

*Indies who are reading this, wait, don’t be discouraged. Be informed. Go into this battle arena clear-eyed, focused and aware of your tactics.

 

We Can Do It!

 

Here’s how you can benefit from my experience. When you’re ready to self publish your book:

 

  • Hire professionals, one after the other, to catch what the other has missed.
  • Hire people who come well recommended to you.
  • Double- check and check your work again!
  • Be prepared for everything to take longer than you expect. I think it’s more realistic when planning a self-published novel to do it this way: set a launch date for your book, take that length of time and double it. That’s your realistic projected date of publication.

 

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‘This is the best time in history to be a writer.’ Yes, agreed. We are lucky we can ‘bypass the gatekeepers.’

 

Is it hard? Yes.

 

Yet, you gain the reward, the satisfaction at the end. When you publish your own as-near-perfect-as-you-can-get-it novel, as I did yesterday, the sheer sense of absolute triumph is immense. I felt as mighty as a victorious Viking.

And just in time for Christmas. Squeee!!!

What are you doing as an Indie? Do you have any tips to suggest?

 

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Raise your sail one foot and you get ten feet of wind. – Chinese Proverb

*my recently self-published debut novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’

 

Twenty nine years ago, Christopher Campbell was born with Sturge-weber Syndrome. His parents were told their beautiful baby would not live past two years of age.

 

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But Christopher defied the odds. Despite the seizures, despite the surgeries, and despite the pain, he has grown up.  He leads a full life on the farm with his family. He is a black belt in karate. Helped by his loving parents and big family, his progress has been enabled no doubt by a great deal of love and support. It’s commendable he’s achieved so much and yet, the reality is he suffers multiple seizures, and endures regular surgical and medical procedures while the experts turn him into a human pincushion.

 

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One of the problems faced by Christopher, his family, and other families in their position is that very little is known about Sturge-weber.

 

‘Sturge-Weber Syndrome is a rare brain disorder,’ said Robyn, his mother, my friend, and an amazing author. ‘It is characterized by a port-wine birthmark. It can cause seizures, paralysis, stroke, blood clots, glaucoma, and a host of other problems. The seizures in Sturge-Weber kids are really mini strokes.’

 

What’s desperately needed is more research into the condition.

 

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Robyn told us about an initiative started by another enterprising warrior parent.

 

‘The Sturge-Weber Foundation was founded by Karen Ball. Her daughter was born with the disorder and she realized there wasn’t anywhere folks could go for support with this rare disease. So she started the foundation, which is now a place where parents can go to find information. The researchers are working diligently to find better treatment options for SWS and maybe even a cure someday. Recently researchers identified a mutation in gene GNAQ on chromosome 9q21.’

 

The scientific work is still in its infancy and requires more funding.

 

Lynn Kelley

 

The issue, the way my friends and I saw it, was to:

*Shine a light on Sturge-weber Syndrome.

*Spread the love.

*Raise money for research.

 

What do writers do best? Yep. You guessed it. Write! We came up with the idea in 2014 of compiling an anthology, Kissed by an Angel, an MG book about “gifted children” to be sold with all proceeds to benefit the Sturge-weber Foundation.

 

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Everyone either knows someone who has a special needs child, or grew up with a sibling with special needs, or has a child themselves. Somehow, we all are touched by these gentle beings in one way or another. In the case of me, and my family, my middle child, Sam-the-man, has Down Syndrome. The likelihood of having a child with Downs is one in 600, so they say; therefore this lightning strike or that of other syndromes like Sturge-weber can be random and happen to anyone.

 

What can we do? How do we help our brothers and sisters, children and friends?

 

In the case of the pioneering research being done into Sturge-weber, and the battler, Christopher Campbell, we can start by spending a few dollars on a great book.

 

Buy Kissed by an Angel when it comes out, Dec. 13 and give it to a child you love this Christmas!

 

Christopher Campbell

 

This project is set to launch into the stratosphere Dec. 13. We aim to sell a gazillion copies of this special book. Through doing so, we hope to:

*Shine a light on Sturge-weber Syndrome!

*Spread the love!

*Raise money for research!

 

‘I hope that the research finds better treatment options,’ said Robyn.

Me too, Robyn, me, too!

 

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Talk to you later!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘You have to accept whatever comes with the best you have to give.’ ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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Sturge-Weber Syndrome is a rare brain disorder. It is characterized by a port-wine birthmark. It can cause seizures, paralysis, stroke, blood clots, glaucoma, and a host of other problems. The Sturge-Weber Foundation is a place where parents can go to find information. ~ Robyn Campbell.

 

Since meeting writer, Robyn Campbell, through our “tribe,” Writing for Children, over on Wanatribe, we’ve learned about her brave son, Christopher, who lives with Sturge-Weber Syndrome, a rare brain disorder. Though doctors predicted Christopher would not make it to the age of two, he is twenty nine today.

 

One fine day, in October of 2014, WfC member, Teresa Robeson came up with the idea that we put together an anthology, to benefit the Sturge-Weber Foundation, and in that way, she started the conversation. Lynn Kelley, Catherine Johnson, myself and of course, Robyn, jumped aboard the project.

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Robyn loved the idea. She said, ‘The seizures in Sturge-Weber kids are really mini strokes. I really hope that the research finds better treatment options. The slogan has always been, the stronger the wind, the tougher the trees.  Maybe folks will donate and at the very least maybe when they see a Sturge-Weber child or adult, maybe just maybe they won’t stare. 🙂 That’s worth it all.’

Her words galvanized our effort. As we worked on our stories, over the months, more and more writers came on board, from other areas, until we had eleven contributors.

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In celebration of the fact that our anthology is soon to be released, I interviewed Robyn Campbell about her feelings and thoughts.

In your own words, what sort of book is KBAA?

 

First off, let me thank you Yvette, and all the contributors for over a year of solid work for the Kissed by an Angel Anthology. I feel so blessed to know all of you in such a personal way. This past year has been a struggle as doctors have tried to find the reason Christopher is having these latest problems. To me, Kissed by an Angel is a book of hope, magic, love, joy, and the belief that anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it. The stories are the best of the best. You writers are the best of the best. I will miss our family after the launch. That’s what it is, you know? We’re family.

 

Definitely! I’m grateful to have had something concrete to do, Robyn.

Tell us what this anthology means to you? How did you get involved?

 

The anthology means so many things on so many levels. This is our chance to do something for research. We know the gene that causes Sturge-Weber (GNAQ), so now we are chomping at the bit for better treatment options and dare I say it? A cure. I want to know that I had some say in this. That I made a difference toward finding a cure. It makes my heart cry to hear of these deaths from Sturge-Weber that we’ve heard about. It brings it too close to home. Way too close. I got involved after Lynn Kelley (who has worked on formatting and everything else, she needs a medal), Yvette Carol (that’s you), Teresa Robeson, and Catherine Johnson (our tribe) started tossing around the idea of doing an anthology to benefit the Foundation’s research. And may I say that Christopher just wants to give all of you a colossal smooch on the mouths. Well, except Erik. Haha Actually, Christopher loves Erik and his family. He KNOWS they pray for him. That means a lot to him. He prays for them and for Sam and for all of you.

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Thank you, Christopher!

Robyn, your story starts the whole book. What is your story about and why did you choose to include it?

 

My story is titled Kissed By An Angel. It is real life turned into a fictional story. But it is very true. It’s about Christopher before he got his black belt. When he was having many seizures. Every day he would have seizures. All day long. He’d end up in the hospital. It was a trying time. Especially, because he was trying to test for that belt.

The anthology stories are about special powers of middle-graders. I wrestled with writing a story on magic. But it didn’t feel right to me. I always believed Christopher had his own special powers. So I decided to write the story that is in the anthology. It was hard. I cried so much while writing that first draft. All those memories came flooding to the surface. I wrote his neurologist into the story too. I dedicated it to Dr. D’Cruz. And to someone else. Shhh. I can’t say anymore. All of those seizures are why Christopher will always live with us on the farm. He will never drive. But he can read and write. He can do much more than doctors ever thought he would. I give all the credit to God. Christopher had a very special request of the authors in the anthology. That they all sign his copy. Poor Yvette lives in New Zealand. But they all agreed. He is so excited to get his anthology.

KBAA, cover art, 2015

Tell us a little about the idea of the charity initiative behind KBAA, with all proceeds to go to the Sturge-Weber Foundation, as a lot of people are unfamiliar with either the syndrome or the organisation.

 

The Sturge-Weber Foundation is a place where parents can go to find information. Karen Ball started it after her daughter was born with Sturge-Weber. She works tirelessly for the families. The foundation has research irons in the fire. We hope for better treatment options. 100% of the proceeds from the anthology goes to the Foundation. I will set Karen up with CreateSpace as soon as we’re finished with everything. That way, all money goes into the Foundation’s account. I’m super excited. I want this to be huge. I want this to help bring answers. Please buy a copy. It will be in print and ebook. Thank you, Yvette. For everything.

Thank you, Robyn!

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The anthology is due for release Dec 13. In the meantime, to whet your appetites, here’s a cover reveal for the anthology. Ta da!

Our hope is that we have given people a simple way of helping an awesome charity. Spend a few dollars on a really great book you can read with your kids this Christmas. 100% of the money goes straight to the coffers of the The Sturge-Weber Foundation.

Easy as!

 

Yvette Carol

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‘Every story started with just an idea in someone’s head. Isn’t that a fantastic concept?’ Bob Mayer

Here’s what other contributors are saying:

Robyn Campbell – http://robyncampbell.com/

Sharon Mayhew – http://skmayhew.blogspot.com/

Theresa Milstein – http://theresamilstein.blogspot.com/

Erik Weibelg – http://ThisKidReviewsBooks.com

Vivian Kirkfield – http://viviankirkfield.com

Ellen Leventhal – http://ellenleventhal.com

 

 

 

If you do a lot of things, you screw up a lot of things. You have to give yourself permission to totally humiliate yourself repeatedly. If you can do that, then happiness results. ~ James Altucher

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September 19: I launched my first book

September 20: I learned there were multiple errors in the copy

September 21: I started proof-reading the copy

November 7: Blurry-eyed, I was proof-reading the copy for the third time. I wasn’t seeing the words anymore.

I had reached burn out

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I really want to get this project finished. I am overdue sending my “two copies” to the National Library, I need the corrected versions uploaded to Amazon. I owe folks everywhere new copies of the book after I asked them to trash the first ones. The whole situation is a mess. However, this week, after striving for months to edit my book to publishable standard myself, I had to admit defeat. I realized if I continued on my own I could take a few more months over the project.

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I realized I could no longer keep trying to do the final proof read myself. As I had already paid a proof-reader to do it once, I had felt this inner resistance to the idea of having to hire another. Costly business this Indie thing, let me tell you.

Nevertheless, I quit, and I handed the job over the same day to a professional proof-reader, who works locally.

And do you know what? It was the best thing I ever did.

As soon as I handed over the manuscript, I relaxed. I hadn’t even realized how stressed I’d become about the whole process of putting out a quality self-published book.

As soon as I quit, we began to get things done. Within one week, the proof-reader has read the whole thing. She has found “70 inconsistencies” and she’s hopeful of getting the project done by November 20.

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There is a great sense of relief to have let go of the reigns. I’d been holding on so tightly, I don’t think I was doing a very good job of editing anymore.

This way, I will have the peace of mind, of knowing we caught all the little errors. I will have put out the best book I could and that’s the main thing.

As my friend, author, James Preller, told me recently:

“In the end, the only thing that matters – the only thing – is the book.”

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However, this road of being an Indie author, as wonderful as it is to have total control, can be an overwhelmingly large amount of work. I guess what I’m saying is, that I learned a lesson the hard way. I pushed myself to burn out before I would admit that I’d taken on too much.

I wanted to pass on this nugget of wisdom I have between my teeth that it’s okay sometimes to quit.

I felt ashamed to admit I stopped editing only three pages into the manuscript. I had fallen down before the finish line.

Yet, it was the best thing for me. I was tired. It felt so good to stop; I may start stopping more often, if you know what I mean!

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The ultimate test is in the end product. Did I put out the product I intended?

I feel assured now that the end product is going to be a polished book which will be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any book in any library anywhere. Will that end product be worth the shame and embarrassment of quitting at the final hour? Heck-to-the-yeah!

As Altucher said, “You have to give yourself permission to totally humiliate yourself repeatedly. If you can do that, then happiness results.”

Quitting is so hard to do, why is that? But, sometimes it’s the best, and smartest way of stepping forward.

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Here’s to the next step!

Talk to you, soon,

Yvette K. Carol

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Failure is the start point for future success.~ Bob Mayer

InsecureWritersSupportGroup

 And this Wednesday it’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

They say when you reach the top you’ve got to stretch back down and help others up the ladder. There’s also a thing, or there should be, of when you reach the bottom, or make a mistake and fall headfirst down a well, whereby you can share what you’ve learned with others, in the hope that they might avoid the same mistake.

I want to share the Number One mistake I’ve made as an Indie author so far, and my Hot Tip solution.

I’d worked on my book a long time when I started the process towards publishing. I think I “caught a glimpse of the finish line.” I became too eager to be done with the process, in other words, I started to rush. At the exact time I should have been slowing down and ticking all the boxes, I was busy planning the book launch and making sure the food was organized, and I skipped an important step.

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“It’s harrowing independently publishing,” said a fellow writer friend. “No one understands what Indies go through to reach this point. It’s physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausting. We are running on adrenaline, on this super high, and then we crash,” said another author. I had heard it was an insane amount of work. Yeah, it was.

Sometimes you fall down, you get to see a new perspective — in the gutter, looking up at the stars. ~ Chuck Wendig

I worked with a designer over the look of the bookmarks and the number cards. That finish line, that had always been so far off in the distance, was so close. I began to run, then sprint. The days between me and the deadline of the book launch flashed past like marker flags, no sooner seen than forgotten.

Number One Mistake: I set an unrealistic deadline and rushed the end product trying to meet it.

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I was staying up late and getting up early, and going everywhere at a run in between. I think I knew then, that I was not fully in control, but I didn’t want to admit it.

James Altucher said, There’s a two-step solution to blame: a. it’s your fault. It’s always your fault. b. Have a Plan B on every decision.” I had no plan B.

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A good friend who is a writer, advised me wisely, to ask for a galley of the finished typeset book to check before it went to print or digital publication.I did ask for a copy to proof. But did I read the whole book from cover to cover? No, I didn’t read the whole thing. I had read it five million times, I had paid a professional proofreader a lot of money, I had done what needed to be done. I really didn’t think I needed to read it again. I ran an eye over the pages, and they looked great, but I didn’t proofread every word. I had set a date for the launch. The printers needed to have already started printing to get the job done on time. I looked at that finish line and I wanted to cross. So, I approved it.

After my book was published and launched, my sister was the first person to read, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and she emailed to say it was full of errors: words missing, words repeated, etc.

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One friend thought the fault might have lain with the typesetter. “As a former book editor it sounds to me like he had problems with file management/version control.”

But to my dismay, when I checked the final version I had sent to the typesetters, it did have those errors present. That was when I realized what I had done. It was my mistake. As another author friend rightly said, “You need to own this part of it, too.” He was right. How did that happen?

Donna Blaber

“Another thing to consider,” Kiwi author, Donna Blaber said, “is if you accidentally added in mistakes when making amendments.” This is a very real possibility and is actually the explanation I’m leaning towards now. After some ferreting around in my files, I’m unable to find a more recent version of the manuscript.

After all the careful editing, and re-editing, and professional help times two, I still managed to send a manuscript to the printers that was full of mistakes.

When I went back to talk to the typesetter, he had some good advice which I pocketed in order to repeat it here. Listen up, Indies, and listen well. This is my hot tip to save yourself time, money and anguish.

Hot Tip: Find a local professional proofreader and pay them to check your precious book before and after typesetting.

Excellent Plan B. Face. Egg. Saved.

A good friend remarked, “You will get there. In the end, believe me, the process is forgotten and the only thing that matters — the only thing! — is the final book.”

I thought that was wonderful. The only thing that matters is the book! Don’t you agree?

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Talk to you later,

Yvette K. Carol

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Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. — George Orwell

I always say that a creative career is you putting a bucket on your head and trying to headbutt your way through a brick wall. Sometimes you get through, but most times? The wall wins. Quit now. Save yourself the headache.~ Chuck Wendig

If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy. – Dorothy Parker