Thursday, 6 December 2012

PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife Appeared on My Doorstep!

The first copy of Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder sits on my desk at my elbow. My husband's eyes look over at me. What I'm feeling is difficult to put into words, something quite poignant. After all the years and all the tears, my MEMOIR not only has a face, but now it has a physical presence. I hold in my hand a piece of my life that was so powerful I had to put it on paper to keep my heart from shattering. As I fan through the pages I watch my words blur under my thumb. I'm afraid if I blink it will disappear.

Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the  hearts of men.
      ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It wasn't until I contacted my self-publisher to approve the galley that I learned there was still more WRITING to be done! More delay!

I was now requested to submit the Book Page Submission Form which included the following:
  1. Author bio. Must use third person. Limit 50 words.
  2. The total number of physical pages.
  3. Search Terms. Specific words and phrases related to the subject of my book. Limit 20 words or phrases.
  4. Chapters to Excerpt. They found that offering one or two chapters of the book for free to customers helped improve a books sales.
  5. Short Description. Would be displayed on the category page. Limit 10 words. (Ten words? They had to be kidding!)
  6. Long Description. It needed to be a description of what the book is about. LIMIT 500 WORDS. (This was going to take some time!)
It wouldn't be half-bad, if that was ALL that I was doing right now . . .

However, I'm also in the middle of getting ready to leave for AUSTRALIA on Saturday, December 8th to spend Christmas with my daughter and her family, returning on the 27th. What a dilemma! Everyone knows I HATE to pack, which I posted last year when I went to New Zealand. I still need to find that professional packer!

Talk about PRESSURE! Not to mention Christmas cards and presents.  It's a special time of year when we're should to be filled with peace and joy. Honestly, I am filled with GREAT JOY and thanksgiving, but where can I find peace with so much still to be done? Probably not until I buckle my seatbelt on Virgin Australia. :)

But there is HAPPY NEWS . . .

The writing requirements have been completed and my BOOK went up for SALE late yesterday afternoon at BookLocker, my self-publisher. The AUTHOR PAGE looks amazing! The book should appear soon on the other online sites (Amazon, B&N, Books-a-Million, etc), but I'll be out of pocket when it happens. The author photo was attached today and I leave for Australia on Saturday. Now this is what I call "CUTTING IT CLOSE!" :)

Attached is the link: The complete first chapter is available for viewing.

I apologize for writing in such haste, but I wanted to reach you before my flight takes off. I'll still be burning the midnight oil, but I'll definitely be happy to check "WRITE BLOG" off of my list. :)

I wish each of you a wonderful holiday season with friends and loved ones according to the tradition you celebrate. 2013 is but weeks away when we hail in another NEW YEAR. If I had only one wish, it would be that all wars end and that all peoples come together to live as one in peace and love . . .

"Safety and happiness can only come from individuals, classes, and nations being honest and fair and kind to each other."    ~ C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

PTSD / Diary of a Vet's Wife / Where's the Book!?!

On July 28, 2012, I learned that my memoir, Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder had slammed into a brick wall, and for a while, I didn't know if my PERFECT COVER was going to survive.  I was crushed . . . but not broken.

Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.     Gilda Radner
My last post on July 16th was a SNEAK PEEK at the cover of my memoir, Diary of a Vet’s Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The PERFECT COVER for my story!
A literary high enveloped me as I downloaded my PERFECT COVER to Booklocker, my self-publisher, on July 28th.  My mind wandered as I envisioned unwrapping the brown paper package, which could arrive within two weeks.  After all the tears and all the years, I would finally hold in my hands, the first copy of Diary of a Vet's Wife, otherwise known as the galley.
The next day, I learned my cover had been rejected!!
It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.   Robert W. Service, poet

BookLocker’s email indicated there was no bleed . . . .  

What did that mean? I had no idea, so I looked it up: "A bleed is when a photo or graphic runs beyond the edge of the finished printed page, with the excess trimmed off before the book is bound.  You prepare for a bleed in the document setup before you begin your layout, and in the file preparation for the commercial printer after the design is finished."

I forwarded BookLocker's email to Australia, but they were already on holiday in Hawaii.  And I was leaving for my family reunion in Ohio - for THREE weeks.  What a predicament!

Hence, the parade of delays began . . . .

Once I returned from Ohio, my team in Australia worked diligently to correct the problem.  After another rejection, they apologized with the fact that they were unable to meet all of the printer's specifications.

I contacted BookLocker and asked if their cover designer could correct the bleed.  My next lesson unfolded . . . "like all written material, there’s an automatic copyright on original covers."  BookLocker’s cover designer would only design a NEW COVER!
But I didn't want a new cover!  Was I about to lose my PERFECT COVER?
A tearful pity party brought my sister to my rescue.  She and her husband have published a local newspaper in Ohio since 1995.  She said SHE COULD FIX IT!!  Thank you, Lord.  However, she and her assistant must start from scratch.  By working with the team in Australia, they could duplicate the original cover design, but I'd have to WAIT IN LINE with the newspapers yet to be published.  
“A setback is a setup for a comeback.”  T.D. Jakes 
Sadly, my technical-know-how could swim laps in a match box.  Without going into detail, I learned that "computer advertising" and "newspaper printing" each have their own unique set of specifications.  Never the two shall mix like oil and water.  Period.  
Self-publishing is a little like putting an octopus to bed.   Anne Lamott

I'll skip the details.  As soon as the three editions went to press, my sister, Karen, and her assistant, Amanda, went to work to re-create my PERFECT COVER.  All of the original photos, blurbs, book review, etc., had been sent from Sydney to Ohio, where everyone concurred to duplicate the original cover.  There were a few snags along the way, but all were determined to make it happen.  My sister is amazing!

I held my breath and waited.  Everything was upside-down and I had no idea how to translate this into a blog.  Anyone ever been there?

On October 29th, the re-creation of my PERFECT COVER was downloaded to BookLocker!  They acknowledged receipt!  The next day, I learned that shortly after my cover was sent, Hurricane Sandy hit Ohio, knocking power out for three days.  I feel guilty being happy when so many have had their lives and futures destroyed.  Please forgive me.

Where am I today?

As a writer, who decided to self-publish after a year of querying with no results, I can breathe again.  If I had known the challenges up-front, would I still have proceeded?  I don't know.  But I do know I'm a much stronger and self-confident person because of this journey.

What next? 

I wait for the galley.  And as soon as it arrives, I'm going to Trader Joes and buy bouquets of yellow roses!  Off  in the distance you might hear the sound of fireworks soaring through the heavens, as I compose a blog with the announcement.  I've spent almost two decades preparing for this moment!

My Personal Request ~

If anyone reading my memoir knew my husband, Lorne, in Viet Nam, I'd like to communicate with you.  Does anyone know who took the picture that's on the cover?  I'd be most grateful. . . .   

Please contact me @  

Monday, 16 July 2012

PTSD / "Diary of a Vet's Wife" / Sneak Peek at the Cover

July 4th, 2012 was the date I set to release Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - the driving force behind my madness. Regretfully, I didn't make it. But I tried! The good news? I'm close, very close!

Liberty is the breath of life to nations.  ~George Bernard Shaw

As I sat watching the Fourth of July fireworks dance over New York city on TV, mesmerized by the blazing light show, my thoughts drifted to those who fought for the freedom we enjoy and often take for granted. Far too many young men and women gave the ultimate sacrifice. Yet what about those warriors who returned home dragging the war behind them?

Our country has such abundance, compared to what I see throughout the world and the havoc and terror so many have to deal with. Why must war rage on? The thirst for power ... freedom ... human dignity. The constant battle of good and evil. These wars we see from the outside, continue to FESTER on the inside long after they are over. And it's happening all over the world!

I know because I've lived with that aftermath of war. I know first hand the pain and heartbreak, and the never-ending feeling of helplessness.

Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder may be my story, but there are thousands living as I once did, which compelled me to share my journey from its beginning. I wanted others to know they're not alone, and maybe they can learn from the lessons I was taught ... before it's too late.

A picture is worth a thousand words.  ~~ Napoleon Bonapart

Pictures can speak louder than the people in them. The setting - the light - the mood - the eyes.  Amazing photographs stream across the internet faster than a fire storm, yet they are soon forgotten. 

Then there are photographs hidden away in an old hat box in the back of a closet. Tucked out of sight for decades. Pictures that leave an INDELIBLE impression that often linger for a lifetime. 

During the last year I struggled with ideas for my book cover. Suggestions and renderings were offered but nothing was quite right.  A few months ago, my daughter and son-in-law in Australia sent an email asking to join the MacMillan team, and they volunteered to do the cover. Each creatively endowed in many areas, I was delighted to welcome them onboard.

Soon afterwards an email arrived requesting a photograph of my husband in uniform. Hmmm ... I didn't have such a photo. I didn't meet Lorne, my husband, until two years after he returned home from Vietnam.

Immediately, I called his mom in Houston and explained my dilemma. She wasn't sure if she had one either but said she would check.  A week or so later, I received a letter and six photos.  She apologized because she only had two of Lorne in uniform.

I had never seen either photo. One was an official military photo, the other just a snapshot. They held me captive as memories knawed at my heart. The following day I made copies for my mother-in-law and myself, then sent the originals to Australia.

Tiffany and Scott did their magic while I scrambled with what I had to do. There was proof-reading and formatting once the manuscript was sized to fit (5.5 x 8.5). Everything must be perfect. Self-publishing means you alone are responsible for any errors. Period! I still had to polish off a blurb for the back cover, which would also appear in Ingram's catalog with a 75 word minimum. I touched base with my patient editor a few more times. And there was the author photo to decide on.

When the back cover is complete, it will be downloaded for the printer. I then wait for the galley, the first book, which must be proof-read again - all 320 pages. Once I sign off on it - it's ready to roll! I promise to keep you posted! 


The sneak peek! Last Friday, I finally viewed the finished front cover of my book and I couldn't be more pleased.  It's perfect!  My story now has a face unlike any other.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

PTSD / Vet's Wife Self-Publishing / Chapter 33 Excerpt

The clock ticks louder and pressure is building.  Will I make my self-imposed book release date of July 4th?  A GIANT QUESTION MARK! 
Chapter One of my memoir, Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, begins on July 3rd . . . this date is huge to the topic of my story.

My final draft of the MANUSCRIPT was emailed to my self-publisher on Monday, June 4th, for basic formatting.  What surprised me was a feeling I can only liken to the empty nest syndrome.  I've put my HEART and SOUL into my writing for so many years, I feel lost without it!  Do all writers experience this with their first book?  I've sent my heart out into the world, the house echoes with emptiness.  Will the world be KIND or CRUEL?   

An avid reader all my life, I never stopped to think how much work went into publishing the bazillion books buttering our planet that I took for granted.  But I do NOW!  As a novice, it's enormous!  Am I just a wimp?  Or too much of a perfectionist?  No one else complains.

I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time.  It expands later, and thus we don't have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.
           -Virginia Woolf

(I've placed the following excerpt here for my READERS ONLY, so they don't have to plow through the publishing jargon that I share with other writers).

Chapter 33 Excerpt . . .

     I turned in my sleep, automatically reaching for my husband.  But my hand touched cold empty sheets.  I opened one eye and glanced at the clock.  It was 4:00 a.m.  An alarm went off in my head; the bars close at two.  Unable to fall back to sleep I slipped out of bed, wandered out into the hall and turned on the light.  Shivering in a thin nightgown, I made my way to the living room.  There in the shadows Lorne slept on the couch, fully clothed, curled in a fetal position.  Still half asleep, I shuffled barefoot across the carpet; my only thought was to coax my husband to bed where he would be more comfortable.
     “Lorne,” I whispered, leaning over him, gently laying my hand on his shoulder.
     Suddenly, his eyes snapped open.  He leapt from the couch, landing in a tight crouching position.  His jaw muscles twitched in the dim light, his fists clenched at his chest, ready to strike.  He scared me to death.
     “LORNE!” I shouted, backing away, “IT’S ME, NANCY!”
     Hearing my voice, his eyes came into focus and his facial expression softened.  He was groggy and shaken, but he realized where he was and straightened up, letting his hands drop to his side. 
     “God damn it, Nancy,” he reprimanded me, “don’t ever do that again.  I could have hurt you bad.  And God knows I don’t ever want to do that.”  Shaking his head, he ran his fingers through his hair.  “Nancy, you just don’t understand.  You have no idea what I’m capable of doing.  Promise me you’ll never do that again.”
     “I promise,” I said timidly, sinking into the couch.  I reached up and turned on the lamp.
     Lorne sat down next to me, his brow creased, confusion obscuring his face.  He lit a cigarette, leaned forward, rested his elbows on his knees, and stared out into the dark kitchen.      
      “Baby, I’ve seen and done things I can’t tell you about.  Terrible things,” he said, not looking at me.  “The jungle in Nam was hell.  And the nights were worse.  Black as pitch, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face; I never saw anything like it.  You sleep with one eye open.  You never knew when one of those gooks in their black pajamas would reach out and stick a knife in your gut.  Couldn’t see the little bastards but you knew they were there.  You couldn’t hear ‘em but you could smell ‘em.  Never knew who would get it next.  Which sorry bastard would get his throat slit?. . .  

My Latest Trials and Triumphs . . .   

My last blog detailed my encounter with the MUSIC PUBLISHING world. Their quick response was welcome, but I later learned there were "two writers names" on the copyright of the lyrics that were THE END of  my story!  Okay, now what?  The good price I was quoted was good only if the other writer agreed to it.  If not, they were each to be paid the higher price!

Thank goodness, my self-publisher saved me a lot of money.  They refused to COUNT BOOKS SOLD, which was a requirement in the copyright.  Can't count books printed one at a time!  Instead, I stubbornly rewrote the last chapter without using the song lyrics . . . even though it REALLY HAPPENED. 

Note:  For the full impact of Chapter 107,  the reader might want a copy of the words to Are You Lonesome Tonight? close at hand.

FORMATTING - The process of "laying out" text and illustrations to convert a manuscript into a finished book page design                 Independent Self-Publishing - the complete guide by Michael N. Marcus

Personally, I lack expertise when it comes to the whistles and bells that hide behind the written words on my computer screen, which magnifies my challenge with formatting my manuscript.

Once the manuscript was submitted and accepted by the self-publisher, my next step was agreeing to the contract and payment.  At that time, they wanted information for THE BOOK TEXT FILE . . . I chose 5.5 x 8.5 (black and white interior only) and creme color paper.

This self-publisher has a limit of 14 ACCEPTABLE FONTS that are used by their printer, allowing the writer to use ONLY TWO of these fonts throughout the manuscript.  The end result:  I chose Palatino Linograph for the body of my text and Arial for titles.  It was time consuming to adjust my 108 chapters to this requirement.  I know there's an easier way, but I wasn't taking a chance of messing up my work at this late stage.

Also notedTabs should be set at .25 or .3, not .5.  DO NOT USE TABS TO INDENT PARAGRAPHS.  Tabs should be replaced with indents.  No idea how to safely perform this task!

(My self-publisher agreed to handle the few tasks I shyed away from).

I think it was at this point I actually REALIZED we were converting a 8.5 x 11 manuscript, 408 double-spaced pages into a 5.5 x 8.5 Trade Paperback!  This meant my book could grow to 500 pages, including blank pages and PART NUMBER inserts.  Not good!  TOO BIG!  The price of a book is determined by the page count.

My challenge: SHRINK THE BOOK!

I ended up outlining a templet of the 5.5 x 8.5 printable area on a clear plastic sleeve with a marker.  Then I proceeded to change fonts, sizing and spacing on one page my manuscript.  One at a time, I'd slip them into the sleeve. This allowed me to judge which combinations would be EASIEST TO READ, while downsizing my work.  I changed the style and size of the chapter number and title as well.

I was on a MISSION - DOWNSIZE the number of pages to cut the cost to the buyer.

As I was formatting, I noticed the WASTED space at the end of many chapters.  

I skimmed through books, looking for ways I could conserve space and I found what I was looking for in a book by Elizabeth Gilbert - "rolling chapters."  Gilbert's publisher began each new chapter within a FEW SPACES of the previous chapter.  A few spaces, a bold chapter number and her story continued, eliminating wasted space.  Actually, I never noticed it until I began my research.  Gilbert's publisher may have done this for the same reason.  And it looks GREAT!

The END RESULT - 188 single spaced 8.5 x 11 pages.  I won't know the final count, nor the thickness of the cover spine, until my manuscript is returned for final proofing.

My FINAL STEP -  To alert my book cover designer in Australia the spine width, which is necessary in completing his work. Once the cover and manuscript are downloaded to the self-publisher - I wait for the galley (first copy printed).  And the BIRTH of my first book. :)

To be continued . . .

Lessons learned . . . my two cents

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us."     
                                                                       ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, 6 April 2012

Self-Publishing / PTSD - A Passage of Passion

Lately, I feel like a puppet whose strings are tangled, trapping my arms behind my back and my feet up over my head.  My thoughts are scattered like my many projects.  Focus comes in spurts and splatters with so many loose ends eager to be tied.  This Gemini sure wishes the other me would get busy and do her share.

Then I remember - I'm on a journey - a PASSAGE, much like life itself, where we never know what to expect.  A passage of passion isn't always neat and tidy.

Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. 
          ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The last few months have been tumultuous.  My eyes crisscrossed and my brain scrambled with the plethora of self-publishers available online.  Far behind schedule I had to make a decision . . . flipping a coin entered my mind more than once!

July 4th seems to be approaching at the speed of light!

I did a comparison of the top POD (print-on-demand) companies and their services - amenities that were included / add-ons / other options / and cost involved.  The scenario's went every-which-way.  I weighed my alternatives like labor pains until I reached a DECISION . . .

This company's goal is to get a quality book quickly into the market (usually in a month or less) with the lowest out-of-pocket cost to you, greatly increasing the time it takes to make back your investment.  The majority of their revenue comes from public book sales, not service fees, which is why they request a writer to submit their manuscript for APPROVAL prior to acceptance.  Their acceptance rate is less than fifty percent. 

To be honest, this was one of the reasons I chose this company, and I'm pleased to say my manuscript was accepted.  Now I must wade through their multi-paged contract, but this should be a walk in the park compared to the last 30 days. 

"In war, there are no unwounded soldiers." -Jose Narosky

Combat and PTSD go hand in hand.  One is usually enmeshed with the other.  Yet I often wonder about those who do not suffer PTSD after combat.  Who are these survivors and why them?  What makes them different?  What unique attribute do they possess that shields them from the horror of war?  What is their common thread?

One day, I plan to research this phenomenon.  

My last post announced my decision to donate a portion of the proceeds from my memoir, Diary of a Vet's Wife to Pets for Vets, a group pairing veterans suffering with PTSD and rescued dogs.  As a courtesy, I sent them an email confirming my decision.  Their response was electric!  I was welcomed with open arms.

On March 23rd, they posted my blog on their Facebook and by the feedback, I knew I found my audience - others who know what it's like to live with PTSD.  Pets for Vets has offered to put my memoir, Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, on their website when the book is released - I'm aiming for July 4th, 2012.

Pets for Vets reaction far exceeded anything I ever imagined.  I'm humbled by this experience.  Please check them out at and see what a unique service they offer our veterans.

"According to the thread on Zoetrope, which came from an article in the Guardian, it cost one author $1500 to quote two lines from a Bob Marley song in his novel. The concept of fair use doesn't apply to lyrics."  

                             - Dawn Copeman,

The final chapter of my memoir contains song lyrics that are crucial to the end of my story.  It was written exactly as it happened - my proof is safely tucked away in the back of a drawer, along with my husband's bronze stars.

Last week, I started the copyright search pertaining to these song lyrics.  My publisher advised that such permission could cost "hundreds to thousands of dollars" - which I do not have.  My plan was to beg on bended knee, if necessary, not knowing if these fees are iron clad - or flexible. 

I contacted ASCAP via email because the song in question did not appear on their database.  A reply sat in my email the next morning with namesthe Work ID and the ISWC.  But it lacked an email address. 

I called the first name on the list in New York city at the phone number provided.  After explaining my request, the male person on the line supplied a name and an email address.  That afternoon, I emailed them my Copyright Permission Letter along with the last 3 pages of my manuscript.  Within minutes, it came back undeliverable.  I tried 3 different times.  NO LUCK!

The next morning, I called and reached the same person.  He asked what addresses I used. "Oh, those are the wrong addresses."  I knew that.  Then he gave me with another . . . it went through.

Research online stated it could take anywhere from 4 weeks to 3 months to receive a reply.  Start early!  This was a main concern . . .   

Two days later, a formal "quote proposal" for the lyrics requested, appeared in my email.  I was ECSTATIC!  It's good for 30 days.  The pricing didn't SEEM outrageous, however, it's written in legal terminology.  I don't have a literary lawyer, so I sent an email to my new publisher, asking if she would be willing to look it over.  Hopefully, I hear back on Monday.

Lessons learned . . . my two cents

A manuscript should be professionally edited prior to submission to "any publisher," verifying the writers confidence in their own work.  That is, unless the writer is qualified to edit.

Monday, 12 March 2012

PTSD / Can One Woman and Her Book Make a Difference?

We can do no great things, only small things with great love. 
               ~Mother Teresa

During the 16 years I spent writing my memoir, Diary of a Vet's Wife, one question kept tumbling around in my mind like marbles in a jar - WHAT can I do to help veteran's suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?  I felt a bond with each of them.  I knew their suffering.

Help is such a tiny word when related to such a BIG issue.  Webster's New World Dictionary used 31 lines to describe this little word - boiled down - "to make things easier."  PTSD is very REAL!  I know how  it feels and what it does to a marriage and family, my heart carries the scars.

I am only one WOMAN, who has spent half-her-life in the shadow of PTSD - either living with my husband's disorder, or writing about living with his PTSD.  I never knew at the time that I had developed PTSD by association.  Few know the heartbreak and terror, until they have lived with someone caught in the strangle-hold of this illness.  To be in the trenches with a ticking time bomb for what seemed like an eternity.  

In sharing my story, Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic, I hope to AWAKEN the world to the devastating aftermath of war living among us, and comfort those trapped in the trenches, knowing they are not alone.

But how can my memoir help disarm a veteran's horror buried deep within his MEMORY before it explodes?  How can I help defuse and neutralize it?  How?

I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.            ~Edward Everett Hale

One day, I had an AHA moment . . . and I knew what I must do!

My book is the only means I have of reaching other families, and our world, living with this nightmare.  I have no idea how many lives will be TOUCHED by my story, but I knew I wanted to donate a portion of each book sold to help veteran's caught on this crazy merry-go-round called PTSD.

I fervently began a search on the internet.  I was familiar with Wounded Warriors, who provide services to severely injured veterans during the time between active duty and transition to civilian life.  Large corporations donate heavily to large, well-established groups.
My quest was to find a GROUP that deals specifically with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light.  ~Norman B. Rice

One afternoon, I Skyped my sister in Ohio to chat.  It was then she told me she had watched a TV program the night before about veteran's with PTSD being rehabilitated using RESCUED dogs. 
"I wrote the name down, so I wouldn't forget to tell you," she said, holding a piece of paper up to the eye of her webcam. 
Here was the organization I had been looking for.  It was PERFECT - and from my sister! xo
"Pets for Vets" - Helping Our Brave Veterans Heal with a little help from Man's Best Friend
Their goal is to help heal the emotional wounds of military veterans by pairing them with a shelter dog who is specially selected to match his or her personality.  Professional animal trainers rehabilitate the dogs and teach them good manners to fit into the veteran's lifestyle.  Training can also include desensitization to wheel chairs or crutches as well as recognizing panic or anxiety disorder behaviors.

It's a win-win relationship . . .

Needy shelter dogs get a second chance at life while giving our returning soldiers a second chance at health and happiness.  The bonds of friendship formed between man and animal have the power to ease the suffering of our troops when they return from overseas . . .

Pets for Vets is a concrete way to thank U.S. Military Veterans for their service . . .

  • Featured on NPR, CBS2 and CNN
  • Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law
  • Serving Veterans in Southern California, Washington State, Florida and Michigan
  • With each veteran-dog match they provide all the necessary equipment for them to start their new life together

Currently, they're only in four states.  My VISION is to help donate enough so that Pets for Vets can gradually expand into every state in the nation, then into every city in that state.  Our veterans come from every corner of our country - I'd like to reach them all.  I can dream, can't I?

Please check Pets for Vets online, if you have any questions.  You may feel drawn to contribute a single donation dedicated to a veteran in your own life.

My tentative book release date is still set for July 4th, 2012, which gives me less than 4 months to get everything in place.  At this moment that seems impossible . . . but I'm not giving up.

Lessons learned . . . My two cents

I expect to pass through life but once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.                                           ~William Penn

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Self-Publishing Nitty-Gritty / Copyright / Excerpt

The Mesopotamian stone tablets of 3000 B.C. were man's first "books."  This was improved upon with "papyrus," and ""parchment," and finally the Gutenberg pressing press in 1455.  Before that, all books had to be copied by hand.  Gutenberg's Bibles ushered in the age of print.  Now, printing has gone one giant step farther:  Electronic Printing.       
        - Cork Millner, Write From the Start

A person who self-publishes for the first time has no idea how many different decisions there are to be made. The list seems endless!

It was not until I sat down to tackle the job of Self-Publishing my own work, that I realized I had not recorded the necessary steps from my research in some orderly fashion to move forward.  My original "Cheat Sheet into Publishing" from September 2011 - related to traditional publishing.  It was useless!  

This eye-opener led me to write today's post, where I begin to list what I need to do -  "as I do it" - and share a few gems I uncover along the way. 

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else. ”              ― Erma Bombeck 

Last week, Kay Thompson Lee, my free-lance editor, emailed me the final chapters of my memoir.  I was elated!  Then it struck me like a speeding car!  No more excuses!  I MUST decide on the publishing company to handle my book!  I'm one who has a hard time choosing a selection from a menu, let alone a publisher.

Kay has been my guiding star throughout the edit.  Her subtle suggestions and gentle manner kept me focused and encouraged.  The process involved - emailing Kay sections of my manuscript, five chapters at a time.  This way I didn't bury her alive with my 109 chapters, plus it allowed me one last proof-read before I hit SEND.  There was no hurry - after all, I was still in the process of studying "HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH."

Towards the end of January, I emailed the last section, Chapters 104 through 109 - the END of my book.  Within a week, Kay returned my Chapters 104 through 108, but she had changed Chapter 109 to an epilogue.  I never thought to use an epilogue in my memoir.  Kay thought differently . . . and she was right.

An epilogue is a mini story that explains what becomes of the characters in the future.

“Sharing will enrich everyone with more knowledge.”      Ana Monnar

Copywriting Your Book

Technically, any original creation, including a book, is automatically copyrighted by virtue of its creation.  However, if you choose, a formal copyright will offer an extra measure of protection.  Easy and inexpensive ($30), visit  The instructions include a request to send two copies of your work.  It's recommended you wait until you have your galleys, if not the final published version, before filing the form and sending the books.

Your Copyright Date

This I found interesting - If your Bound Book Date falls after July, meaning your Book Release Date is three to four months later, it's acceptable and recommended to put next year as your copyright date.  That way, your book stays "new" longer in the eyes of the book world.   - Peter Bowerman

Once you've seriously undertaken the self-publishing process, these will be among the first and foremost items on your to-do-list.  This list includes . . .
  • ISBN
  • Bar Code
  • LCCN
  • Copyright
Remember, your publishing entity may include these in "their package."  If this is the case, most likely these items will be in your publisher's name - not yours.  Be aware.  This needs to be discussed before you sign on the dotted line.  Think twice about signing away your foreign rights sales - it's more difficult to get them back later, if you need them.
  • Copyright Page - is where all the above data comes together. Check books you own for a sample.
Song Lyrics

Are you considering using song lyrics in your book?  I AM! 

Music is one of  the most protected copyrightable works, infringement of copyright can carry heavy fines for which the author is responsible.

If your book includes lyrics from a song, you will need to request permission from the copyright holder.  This  includes cases where you are only using a stanza or two, and sometimes if your are using anything more than a single line.

Only song lyrics created and first published prior to 1923 are in the Public Domain in the United States.  If the song was created after that, you will need permission to use it in your work.

There are two great resources on the internet for finding the rights holders for most music and song lyrics, from the two leading music entities, ASCAP and BMI, respectively:
Actually, I have three song titles, and one other song, where thirteen lines are embedded in my work.  It appears I will need to request permission from four different copyright holders.  This should be interesting!

My memoir, Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and Living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is compelling with thousands returning from war, unaware of the ruthless demons waiting in the shadows.  I know . . . I've seen them.

Chapter 34 Excerpt

          A huge Texas moon hung high over our solitary car, but darkness surrounded the deserted country road in the middle of nowhere. 
           “Are you going to be mad at me the rest of the night?”
           Lorne slammed on the brakes, thrusting our bodies hard against the seat belts.  He shoved the gearshift into park, and got out, leaving the car and me in the middle of the road with the door wide open.  He walked to the front of the car with his hands in his pockets, crossed in front of the headlights and took off up the shoulder of the road.  
           I sat stunned.  Unbuckling my seat belt, I hiked up my skirt and crawled over the console into the driver’s seat.  I pulled his door shut, putting the car into drive and followed him up the road. 
           “Lorne, I’m sorry,” I called out the open window.  “Please get back in the car.”
            “Get out of here and leave me alone,” he yelled over his shoulder, squinting into the headlights.
            “Please, Lorne,” I begged.  “It’s late and its pitch black out here.”  By now my head was throbbing.  “I won’t say another word, I promise. Just please get back in the car and let me take you home.”

Lesson learned . . . my two cents

Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.        - Virginia Woolf

Saturday, 7 January 2012

The Self-Publishing Jitters of a Perfectionist . . .

My last post was Christmas Eve!  Good gravy. . . where does the time go? 

My blog copped an attitude on New Year's Day, and I'm hopeless when it comes to knowing what to do!  I was able to get in, but the letters I typed were INVISIBLE!  I couldn't see the curser, nor any words that I typed for at least 30 seconds, which I nicknamed, the PERIL of the PAUSE.  Doom to creativity! 

No one I knew could fix my problem.  For a quarter, I would have thrown that technical bully right through the window!

But life goes on . . . work as usual . . . spring classes began again in Santa Barbara . . . more chapters were emailed to and from my free-lance editor, as I continued to research the self-publishing arena.  But I was FRUSTRATED!  Is there such a class as, "How to Fix Your Own Computer?"

Then last week, I received a call from my bible study teacher, who graciously volunteered her husband.  We talked at church and he came by on Monday.  It took him two and a half hours, and had something to do with a YouTube download, but my computer is fixed . . . "AND I'M BACK!"

"Thanks, Dave, you were heaven sent!" 

"This nation will remain the land of the free, as long as it is the home of the brave."   - Elmer Davis 

The final six chapters of Diary of a Vet's Wife, Loving and living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, were emailed to my free-lance editor last evening.  Once this last group is returned, my memoir will be ready to self-publish.  Brave warriors have just returned home, and a new battle awaits many.  My story shows what took place within my family, and I pray it will help others find their own way.

"Perfection is not attainable.  But if we chase perfection, we can attain excellence."     - Vince Lombardi 

Perfectionism can be a curse, but when you're raised by a perfectionist, you either follow the same path, or you rebel, regressing into a contented slob.  But after so many years, the ideals of a perfectionist are intrinsically engrained to my core.   

There lies my dilemma!  How do I choose the right Self-Publisher for my book? 

Each week, I find another company whose promotions catch my eye.  My mind is a jumble of names, and all the options available.

Before the holidays, I had more or less decided to go with Amazon. Their name is WELL-KNOWN, especially since their bold move into publishing, wooing some of their top authors, and challenging major publishers.

Their online data was impressive, however, their packages seemed expensive.  Yes . . . they do have many levels to choose from . . . but once I saw the "top of the line" . . . that's what I wanted!  What can I say?  But something else was hindering my decision.  The weight of the paper!  Am I too picky? 

It appears that Amazon only offers 60lb offset paper.  I've seen books published with Create Space, and the pages were stiff, like they could easily break away from the binding.  I've read that most traditional publishers used 50lb paper.  Personally, I still like the "feel" of a book in my hands, as I curl up in bed at night to read.  I prefer soft pages that "fan" easily.  Are there others like me?

"A man would do nothing, if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault."  
- John Henry Newman

Recently, I stumbled upon another self-publishing press that caught my attention.  Outskirts Press . . . they offer the flexibility and control of self-publishing, combined with the full-service support and confidence of a book publishing company, all under one roof.  They claim to be there before, during and after publication with a dedicated group of publishing professionals, while you maintain 100% of your publishing rights and 100% of your profits.

They offer many package options at reasonable prices . . . plus 50lb and 55lb paper!  Their crème-white is 30% recycled natural off-white color.

They also offer select marketing services and products to all authors, regardless of where or how you published your book.

My question:  Has anyone out there reading this blog used Outskirts Press?  And if so, could you please share your experience?  I would be most grateful . . . as would many others.

Lesson Learned . . . my two cents

"It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do."  - Elbert Hubbard