Friday, May 25, 2012

One writer's experience

This is me with my big sister Wendy:


I'm the baby, and Wendy holds that unlucky position of being next in line, even though she's 7 years older than me. That means that when two of us kids needed to share a room, poor Wendy got stuck with me. She suffered such ills as my leaving a basket of Easter eggs to rot for six months in the closet, endured issues like my frequent nightmares, and even survived that short period (thanks to her protest) when I decided to sleep in the nude (or, for even more fun, to sleep with a long skirt pulled up over my head). When I pretended to be sick every day for the better part of second grade, Wendy was the one who got pulled out of class to come home and babysit me. She's the one who had to answer the call back from 911 after I gave in to that greatest of childhood temptations--calling and hanging up. And she was the one who got the blame for my being attacked by that dog (with demonic red eyes, if I recall correctly) and who had to put up with my hanging around her cool Halloween party and my drooling over the cute boys in her yearbook. As I remember, she took it all pretty well. My impression of her back then was that she was thoughtful and intelligent with an attitude. And, though I hadn't realized till now, I'd say the same of her today.

But now I think of her as a mom too. And as a wife and an incredibly hard-working nurse. And as someone who smiles a lot. Wendy is one of those lucky people who can get laughing so hard they start crying and have to leave the room. She likes to read and take baths, and be with people and have fun. She likes creating things from scratch and seeing them succeed. And she's really really good at telling it like it is, which she got from our dad. The thing she's pretty awful at is keeping secrets, but the great part of that is, if you kinda sorta wish everyone knew about something but don't have the courage to tell them yourself, go to Wendy. She'll get the job done for you, because courage, though I didn't know it till this year, is Wendy's specialty. As you'll know if you've read the blog before, my sister is a breast cancer survivor. That's not what this post is about, and it's not what she's about, but once you've gone through something like that, or anything world-shaking, you'll know everything that comes after exists in the light of that experience. Among her other experiences and interests and talents, Wendy is also a writer. I recently asked her to do a guest blog post on her writing and describe her experience with self-publishing, and she kindly agreed. Here's her answer, and see below for links to her non-profit organization and to her books:

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I write for two reasons. Primarily because I believe every person's voice is important. By writing I am able to express views that I feel are of benefit. For example, I don't believe you can ever tell your children to "be considerate" too many times. By writing in a format that is appealing to my children, I am able to teach them lessons, such as the importance of family, that they would otherwise not be open to hearing from their mother. 

I also write because it is something I have always wanted to do. By using the self-publishing process, I was able to fulfill a dream and to show my children that there are unconventional ways of achieving your goals. I wanted them to know that if they set their minds to do something, it can be done.

My ideas come from situations I encounter in every day life. The two Harvey books were written as a tribute to Robin, my sister. I have three books that have not been published to date. Henry the Hairless Gorilla was inspired by my brother-in-law, Mack, and is geared toward pediatric cancer patients. You Are Not Wearing That to School was inspired by my other sister, Saundra, and her cooky sense of style.

One of my personal favorites is a story called Anna's Surprise Pies because it is about, and was co-written by my 9-year old Anna. We worked together on the story and on our idea of the illustrations. I wanted Anna to get a very early idea of the importance of self-expression.

I have considered writing for adults and have actually been working on a book called Chemical Dreams: How Cancer Treatment Affects the Subconscious Mind. This has been a journey for me, while being treated for breast cancer over the last year. I have been keeping a journal of my dreams and then trying to determine what those dreams were telling me. I have not decided if this will ever go to print, but it has been very healing for me.

The self-publishing process was very much what I expected it to be. There were options to cover from just printing your poorly written text, to complete editing, illustrations, copy writing the book and complete marketing with book fairs, etc. I chose to use an independent illustration group, but otherwise the group I used was Author House Publishing, and they were fantastic.

My two published books Harvey's Very Favorite Place and Harvey's First Halloween can be purchased through the Author House website, or online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Books-a-Million.

I encourage everyone to put their thoughts in print, either formally or informally. I have found that after being faced with my mortality through my battle with breast cancer, being able to not only write out my thoughts, but to go back and review how my hopes and fears played out in real life has been a very healing and personal growth experience.


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To check out Wendy's books, click here.
For more information on Wendy's non-profit organization, click here.