Sunday, July 31, 2011

Going Indie

Recently my mother/writing partner, Barbara Andrews, and I launched our first venture into ‘indie’ publishing. Faith, Fireworks and Fir written as Pam Andrews Hanson is an original inspirational romance available for Kindle at Amazon and for
Nook on Barnes and Noble.

My husband, who was instrumental in the process, strongly suggested I blog about the whole thing. “Write something clever, funny, and witty,” he said.

No pressure there!

Naturally all week I’ve felt more witless than witty. Cleverness also continues to elude, so here I sit on a Sunday night willing to settle for mediocre – but even that seems elusive.

I’m just going to plunge in and make do with what I’ve got.

Several factors influenced this leap into independent publishing. First, after 30-plus books with conventional publishers (with more on the way) for Mom and me (and 50 plus for Mom including those written under her own name), the time just seemed right to explore ‘long-tail publishing.’

It used to be if you wanted to write a book, record an album, or produce a movie, and you wanted it to go out to a national, or even global, audience, you had to work with a major publisher, recording company, or movie studio.

But today, with online technology, anyone can distribute his or her work to a vast audience independently. You can sell your book, album or movie using online stores like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes. And since it is all done electronically, you don’t have to underwrite the costs of printing a book or burning a physical CD/DVD.

I have to confess I am slow to change when it comes to technology. Case in point: I just recently gave up my ‘chewing gum’ iPod, and I’m sure the Smithsonian will soon come to claim it. However, I’m also a voracious reader and being able to load half a dozen or more books onto an e-book reader when traveling is very appealing. I’ve come to believe electronic delivery systems of books don’t have to replace the traditional form but rather are complementary.

So why make the leap now? While my mom and I continue to write inspirational women’s fiction for Guideposts, we also love co-authoring inspirational romances. It is complicated to plan projects around multiple publishers. The interest in a measure of editorial and scheduling freedom meshed perfectly with the concept of indie publishing.

We view this foray into independent publishing as akin to launching a small business. Not only did we have to write a good book, we also needed to find someone to design the cover and figure out ways to promote it. I owe a great deal of thanks to many people, especially romance author Holly Jacobs who referred me to the fabulous Kim Van Meter, a Harlequin author who is a freelance designer. Holly was also instrumental in suggesting ways to use social media to promote the book, and she titled the book. She is an amazing cheerleader and friend.

And I owe a lot to my friends for not only liking me in person but ‘virtually’ on my official author Facebook page. Even people I don’t know have clicked like for which I’m also grateful.

This is not the first entrepreneurial venture my mom and I have tried. The summer after my junior year of high school, she and I went into the ‘junk’ business. My Aunt Marge (who gave my mom a paper bag of Harlequin romances which in turn spurred her novel writing career) owned a flea market in a small southwestern Michigan town not far from the city where we lived. She offered us a booth to set up and sell our wares. We haunted garage sales for antiques and collectibles and books to resell. I started collecting cookbooks that summer. After expenses, I earned enough to buy myself contact lenses. It was the best summer job I ever had, and my mom and I had a lot of fun.

Just like we are now.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Heat wave

I was reading an article this morning in our local newspaper that quoted a National Weather Service forecaster as calling the heat wave gripping the central part of the country “unrelenting.” Temperatures on the prairie soared to 98 today.

A good friend of mine lives in Oklahoma, which is particularly bearing the brunt of the heat. In the same article it reported in Oklahoma City another day of 100-degree heat was expected last Sunday, making it the 27th day the city reached 100 or above. (I’m behind on my newspaper reading). And the triple-digit temps could last through September. My friend, Sandra Dark, is the co-author of a book coming out that month on weatherproofing your landscape.

Sometimes I wish there was a way to weatherproof my internal landscape, to better manage my inner mercury. Oh, I’ve mellowed considerably as I’ve aged. It’s been nearly 30 years since I lobbed a blob of Thanksgiving pie dough at the ceiling of the apartment my husband and I lived in our first year of marriage. I’m fairly certain something was preying on my mind in addition to my leaden crust.

Over the years, I’ve tried and failed to adapt my mother’s adage of “only worry about things you can do something about.” I’m a worrier, and worrying can make me cranky. Aside: I imagine my husband, mother, sons, and friends reading that last sentence and laughing hysterically. Perhaps cranky is too mild a word. Conversely, I have mellowed somewhat in my old age. I still worry excessively, but I think I do a better job of handling it.

Then a week comes along where an egg would fry on the sidewalk, two fairly new appliances fail, family challenges arise, work is ‘interesting,’ and the post-surgery boot feels welded to my foot. But I see an amazing physical therapist, work always works itself out, ditto on the family stuff, it wasn’t the AC that broke down, and the heat, well…

The weather is the one thing I never worry about because it is totally out of my control. When shivery 50 mph winds whip across this piece of prairie in late winter, I’m going to remind myself to be grateful it’s not nearly 100 degrees outside. And when life lobs lemons at me, I’m not going to make lemonade; I’m just going to lob them back.

Just not at the ceiling.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Writing Life

In lieu of writing a blog post this week, I would like to direct you to Janet Smart's blog (link below) to read the lovely interview she posted about my mother/writing partner (Barbara Andrews) and me. Thank you, Janet!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Reading the fine print

Today our older son’s lovely landlady called to tell us she was showing the apartment he’s vacating (he’s spending fall semester studying in Seoul, South Korea) to some prospective tenants, and they were interested in buying his furniture.

Specifically: his platform bed and new box spring and mattress, futon and wire cube storage unit, kitchen table and two mismatched chairs, and even his dishes.

While Erik and his father texted back and forth, negotiating what he wanted to keep (bed et al and dishes) and what he didn’t (futon and storage unit), my inner hoarder kicked in with a vengeance.

The thought of parting with that little JC Penney table, a wedding gift from my in-laws (one I am ashamed to admit I was always indifferent about), horrified me, the matching chairs long since discarded in some dumpster in some state we called home in the course of our nearly 29-year-marriage.

So I planned to write some sentimental twaddle about possessions and the meaningfulness and meaninglessness of their existence—and then I logged onto Facebook.

In matter-of-fact language an old college friend posted he had cancer. Treatment is pending, but he was happy he can still take a planned trip with one of his children. His spirit is indomitable.

Waxing woefully about an old table now seems stupid and pointless. Besides, Erik wants to keep the table. It really is a sturdy thing that will fit nicely into his first apartment somewhere, whether it be Baltimore or Berlin or points in between.

And railing about the unfairness of life seems pointless, also. We all know life isn’t fair. If we don’t, it means we neglected to read the fine print. The unfairness of existence can be debilitating. If we dwell on it, how can we truly live?

Instead I’m just going to say ‘thank you’ to Mark Zuckerberg for the means to stay in touch with a vast array of old and new friends, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters-in-law. And a bigger ‘thank you’ to God for these people who make life worth living, fine print and all.