I was all set to write a new blog about mothers today when I received the most amazing email from my friend and fellow writer, Cherie Colyer (Embrace). It seems that the blog, The Bookshelf Muse, is sponsoring a Randon Act of Kindness Blitz for writers, and that Cherie chose me as someone who has touched her writing life. She even went so far as to offer me a gift. A personal, private critique of one whole chapter of my next novel! What a generous offer considering how valuable her time is these days. (She's hard at work on the sequel to Embrace, Hold Tight). I'm honored and thrilled by this unexpected surprise, and I thank Cherie from the bottom of my heart. When we met many years ago in our SCBWI writer's group, I was the one who was touched by her kind nature and generous spirit. As a co-chair of our group, she is always quick to make new members feel at ease. Her critiques are honest and heartfelt, and I've come to trust and depend on her opinion for my own work.
So, as my own way of thanking Cherie, I'd like to continue this ROAK Blitz by selecting two fellow writers who have made a huge difference in my life—the dynamic duo of Terry Flamm and Mike Kelly.
Early last summer, our group attempted to gather for our bi-monthly meeting at our local Barnes/Noble. For some unknown reason, only three of us showed that night—Terry, Mike and myself. Terry Flamm had brought a brochure from the Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago announcing the productions for the 2011-2012 season. The three plays had a theme. They would each tell a story about an incident that had changed history. The first play would be about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the second about the hiring of the first-ever black baseball player, Jackie Robinson, and the third would be a musical about the Eastland boat disaster of 1915. Now as most of my readers know, my novel, Merely Dee, is set against the drama of the little-known Eastland disaster. What great good luck! A respected Chicago theatre group was going to tell the story of the capsizing. The city would hear the details in a new light, and maybe, just maybe the Eastland would finally come out of the shadows. But what about my as-yet-unpublished novel? I had to get it out there, but how?
In what I can only call a magical moment of serendipity, Mike Kelly handed me an article from Time magazine. The article was about the boom of self-publishing and highlighted several self-published books that had become best sellers. Some authors had even signed movie deals. Why don't I self-publish Merely Dee, Mike had inquired. Yes! Terry Flamm echoed. Why don't I?
I didn't have an answer that night. But I did go home with the Lookingglass Theatre brochure and the Time magazine article and talk to my husband. We discussed the money, the risks, and the opportunities, and made the momumentous decision to self-publish my book. That decision changed my life in so many wonderful ways, and it all came about because my two friends cared enough about my work to get involved. For over a year, Terry and Mike, and all the other members of our writer's group, critiqued my manuscript and helped me to shape the novel. Terry and Mike are particularly adept at critiquing and I truly value their opinions and insights. They're tough, but honest, and their suggestions for revisions are always right on target. And so was their suggestion to take a chance and self-publish, and for that, I'm forever in their debt. As a small token of my affection, I'd like to buy you guys a 'thank-you' cup of coffee at our next meeting.
You can find Terry Flamm's stories, commentaries, and reviews on his blog, http://brokenheartedtoy.blogspot.com. Mike Kelly writes and illustrates graphic novels. Check out his Barker the Beagleman series and his soon-to-be-published GN in the Night Stalker Series. And of course, you'll always discover new and exciting stuff on Cherie's blog, http://cheriecolyer.blogspot.com. Information on Chicago's Lookingglass Theatre is at: http://lookingglasstheatre.org. So how about you, fellow writers? Who would you select for your Random Act of Kindness? Join the Blitz at http://thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com