Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Blue Hydrangeas is BookWorks - The Self-Publishers Association's Book of the Week

Over the last year I've joined many writers' organizations and uploaded information about my novel to as many professional websites I could find. Its what we do as independent authors - it's all up to us, and we have to be aggressive in our approach. One of those organizations was BookWorks - the Self-Publishers Association. 

BookWorks is a worldwide community dedicated exclusively to helping self-publishing authors prepare, publish and promote their books, giving their members exposure to markets and resources that no other organization currently provides. I met them at BookExpoAmerica's uPublishU 2013 conference for self publishers. They're affiliated with Publishers Weekly, PubMatch, and Combined Book Exhibit, so I figured membership was a good idea. I immediately joined, uploaded my files, and went on my way, checking in on their website and blog once in a while, and following their tweets.  

Yesterday I almost fell out of my chair when I received an email from them saying they've selected Blue Hydrangeas as their featured Book of the Week. "The BookWorks team enjoys reading the many excellent books written by our members, and keeps an eye out for those that are especially attention-worthy," wrote Christi Love.  "Blue Hydrangeas has been selected from hundreds of submitted titles, as our featured Book of the Week."  It's got a nice spot on their homepage with links to my author page and beyond, including my pages on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. There's info about the book, me, and a bunch of reviews.  You can even read the first 30 pages! Sweet!

It's always satisfying to see the result when I work hard at getting a review, an interview, or some other recognition, but when an honor comes to me out of the blue, it's fantastic.  Thanks BookWorks!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Potting Petunias

Google photo via www.dickmanfarms.com
Potting petunias is a lot like writing a book or building an author's career. You plant delicate seedlings into rich soil, give them plenty of room to grow, feed and water religiously, and soon reap the benefit of beautiful, flourishing blossoms.  At least, that's the way it's supposed to work.

It's garden season, and one of my favorite things to do is hang pretty baskets of flowers in the front of my house.  This year I chose petunias.  They're hardy, easy to care for, and give great color.  For many years, I went to the nursery and bought my baskets pre-made.  A couple of years ago I decided I wanted to do it myself, to save a few dollars, but also to get exactly what I wanted without too much shopping around. Plus, I like to get my hands dirty.

I went to the nursery and purchased hanging wire baskets with cocoa liners, big ones, the first time I've used them. I was unsure as to how many plants would fill them and a clerk recommended 16 in each one (I had four.)  I bought pink and purple wavy petunias and a bag of soil.  I went home and started potting right away. 

Gardening is a relaxing hobby. As I sunk my hands into the rich, dark soil a lovely peacefulness fell upon me.  My thoughts started wandering and I thought about how growing and nurturing flowers is a lot like growing and nurturing a book, putting it out there for all the world to see, and then waiting for the critics and the fans to voice their opinions:  "Aren't they beautiful?"  "You did a nice job."  "Why did you use petunias?  You should have used geraniums."  "I smell manure.  What's in that potting soil?"

When the last basket was filled with the final 16 seedlings, I stepped back to consider my work.  Something was wrong. The baskets looked empty. The flowers hardly reached over the top of the cocoa liners. I saw a lot of dirt. It looked like the nursery clerk was wrong - these pots needed more than 16 plants. Before I got into the car to race back for more flowers, I remembered something: the most important ingredient in growing healthy, gorgeous flowers is time.

It takes time for the flowers to grow, for the plants to establish their roots.  It takes weeks for the baskets to burst with blooms, cascading over their rims, crowding one another for the sunlight, water, and Miracle-Gro. I need to be patient.  I need to tend to my delicate seedlings with TLC every day.  In time, my efforts would pay off and my baskets would be as dazzling.as the ones I saw all ready to go in the nursery.

This, too, is much like creating a book or launching an author's career. Neither happens overnight. Both require time, sometimes years, to reach their potential.  The basket does not start out full.  There must be space between the seedlings to allow each one to grow.  Nourishment is essential.  Patience and faith are vital.

As I set about each day nurturing my baskets of petunias I see promise, growth, potential.  When I look at my work - the novel struggling to find its place in the literary market, the work-in-progress begging to be completed, the blog posts to write, the book reviews to publish, the tweets and  the Facebook posts - I know that the same ingredients that make my petunias fabulous will also favor my work.  One day, my author garden will be spectacular.