About Me

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Delray Beach, FL, Westport, MA, United States
Undergraduate degree, Colby College; MA in teaching, Columbia Teacher's College; former high school English teacher in three states; former owner of interior design co. with advanced degree from R.I. School of Design. Published first book in 2009 titled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. Her humorous manuscript titled ELDERLY PARENTS WITH ALL THEIR MARBLES: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE KIDS was published in June, 2014. In 2015 A SURVIVAL GUIDE won a gold medal in the self-help category at the Florida Authors & Publishers Association conference. See website By CLICKING HERE.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Making Lists

I'm a list-maker. I think it's in my genes, and my sister's, too. My calendar has an 8 1/2 x 11" page for every three days, and they are FILLED! I list the phone calls I have to make each day, the stops in the car, the correspondence, etc.
The only thing I don't put in there is the grocery list. I have a separate sheet for that. I guess you can tell I don't bother with a Blackberry - it would take me way too long to enter the items and I couldn't read three days all at once.

A long time ago I began to keep an open notebook for lists of things that pop into my head. Sometimes I write down a great-sounding phrase, or a page reference for a really unique idea that I just read. Sometimes I jump up in the middle of the night and creep into the kitchen to jot things down. I don't turn on any lights till I get there, so I won't wake Charley. When we're on trips, I record the restaurants where we had a great meal, or where we should return to a hotel, or even where we might go on our next trip!

My list-making turned into journal-keeping. That's how my first book got published, MINOR LEAGUE MOM. I kept journals of everything that happened to our two sons while they were playing pro ball with the Red Sox farm teams, as well as to Charley and me. Now that MINOR LEAGUE MOM is in print, I'll begin writing my next one about my elderly parents: all the funny, idiosyncratic things they did and the great relationship we had until I became their caregiver (and our roles reversed). All of those stories are in journals waiting to be put into a framework.

I have also started a journal about the tennis team I am on in South Florida. We play interclub matches from late September till middle of May. If I ever produce a book on that subject, it could be a soap opera! Some of my teammates are now feeding me material.

Here's the point: it's easier for me to write from notes than to begin with a blank slate. And I like to write what I know about, since the reader will discern that the details are true. It makes the writing fun, not work, while I recollect the experience.

Here's another point, and it is a problem: I become obsessed with checking off the items on the list! That means I must see these tasks through to conclusion, whether it's phone calls, grocery-shopping, or emails. Now in the case of writing, self-discipline is a good thing. To a point. I write till I get too hungry or too tired. Sometimes a month goes by and I haven't relaxed by the pool with a book or sat at the ocean (right outside our window!). That's when Charley says, "It's time to go to a movie!"

In addition to writing the second book, I'm still marketing the first. Check out MINOR LEAGUE MOM's website for an idea of things I've been up to: www.minorleaguemom.net. Plus I've got other stuff I still want to accomplish. But that's another list I've started in my head!

Friday, November 20, 2009

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU'RE GOOD ENOUGH?

OK, so you've written pretty much on and off your whole life. You have researched, written, then rewritten (maybe for years) your first manuscript. Facts have been verified and properly credited. How do you know if you're good enough to get published?

In order to get published, a writer has to do something well. And in order to write something that the reader will hold onto, a writer must believe in his product. That belief shines through the work, and the reader becomes a believer. The writer has put in the time and effort, and has been validated.

No one writes his best on the very first draft. It helps to read it aloud, to himself or others. That's where a writer's group or critique group comes in. After all, his wife and kids all thought it would be a best-seller! A group will give input and tips on general improvements to make. In the case of nonfiction, a pro who is knowledgable in the subject should look it over.

I am a newly-published author (MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS). Obviously, I knew my subjects intimately (my two sons) and my research involved the seven years that my husband and I followed them through the minor league system, from the rookie team through AAA (baseball's highest level). I kept journals as I watched. I collected all the newspaper articles from the towns we were in, and programs from games, etc., etc. When I finished my manuscript, I networked to find a sportswriter to read it.

After calling/emailing literally hundreds of people I knew and didn't know, I was lucky to find a published author/sportswriter who was also a reader for a literary agent in Boston. He agreed to edit my manuscript (my first truly objective reader). When he'd finished the manuscript and we went over the suggested revisions, he declared, "You've got to publish this!" That was my first real validation.

I sought a second one. I rewrote the manuscript, making many (but not all) of the revisions my paid editor had recommended. The second opinion was from a sportswriter for The Providence Journal (another published author). He perused the first fifty pages of my manuscript and told me I had a unique story to tell and a readable one. I had been validated twice!!

During the following eighteen months, I tried to find a literary agent to represent me (dealing in sports memoirs, of course). I collected a folder of rejection letters. It was a "Catch-22." No agent wanted to take a chance on a first-time author, but no new author can get published if an agent isn't willing to take that chance! During all this, I continued to believe in my story and in my writing.

I decided not to self-publish. My "Plan B" consisted of soliciting independent publishers from Maine to Florida. Luckily, I found New River Press in Woonsocket, R.I., which had formed a new imprint division called Barking Cat Books for first-time New England authors. I had a literary contract attorney look at the contract, then I signed. I sent the manuscript and all necessary photos, dedication, footnotes, and bibliography, electronically to the publisher. He in turn sent it to his editor electronically.

Over the course of three months, I received only three emails from the editor, while the publisher was in constant touch with her. I had heard stories of the great relationship editors develop with their writers! Not in my case. She kept us waiting until the last possible minute before returning the edited galleys. We almost missed our printing deadline. And she had cut practically nothing!!

Once again, I was validated. In the end, it meant a much longer book, since we were hoping the editor would direct me in consolidating parts of the saga. Since she didn't, we went with the manuscript almost exactly as I had submitted it.

My book has sold half of its first printing (1,500 copies)in seven months, and I am still doing book signings and presentations at libraries, book stores, and clubs. MINOR LEAGUE MOM has taken on a life of its own, and certainly overtaken mine! Who would have thought that I was good enough for all this?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Taste is in the Mind of the Reader

As a follow-up to Nathan Bransford's recent blog on Oct. 6. '09 (literary agent for Curtis Brown), I would like to reinforce his opinion that taste in literature (or anything) is always:

#1 extremely personal

and somethimes:

#2 a way of trashing something you don't agree with.

In the case of literature, as Nathan points out, to trash a book is highly risky. Not only will there be others (including the agent and publisher, of course) who disagree with you, but there might be thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, who are reading the book. Therefore, as a writer, there is something to learn from that book's formula for success.



In other words, if you trash a book because you believe it is unworthy of being on the same bookshelf as a "classic," you are neglecting the thousands of books who have given readers a "quick read," a "beach read," or even a "plane read." They may not be a MOBY DICK, but they have provided hours of pleasure, nonetheless, for readers who may not be looking for a timeless treasure that can be dissected.



There is something else happening here. Trashing a book does, indeed, mean closing off a part of your brain that learns from whatever was deemed worthy of publication in that book by either an agent or a publisher, or both. If I hate a book, I don't trash the entire thing. I will simply point out in my book clubs what I didn't find up to par: plot, character development, voice, symbols, etc. However, if there was any small redeeming factor in the writing, I also point that out, too. I cannot remember reading a book that I did not finish, for that reason. But then, I am one to never walk out of a movie, either, even when I dislike it intensely!

Monday, September 14, 2009

REINVENTING MYSELF

There are many people writing on websites more qualified than I, giving advice on how parents can help their children become successful individuals (athletics being only a part of that formula). I would like to discuss the flip side: how to maintain a balanced lifestyle as the parent of athletes (thereby raising well-adjusted and happy kids!). It's not an easy task.



My book, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS, has just been published by Barking Cat Books. For a complete profile, visit www.minorleaguemom.net. The book is my story of the seven years of triumphs and tragedies, as our two sons journeyed through the minor leagues, from the rookie team through AAA (the pinnacle) during 1992-99. What I had considered to be my balanced lifestyle definitely became one-sided during those years! Here's the background of how it developed.



STAGES ONE AND TWO: FROM TEACHER TO FULL-TIME MOM
I obtained a Master's Degree from Columbia U. Teacher's College and before we had children, I taught high school English in three different states. I sometimes got so caught up discussing books with students afterschool that I would forget to pick up my paycheck! I absolutely loved teaching, although this was before the days of weapon- and drug-checks in the hallways.



When we had our boys sixteen months apart, I decided to become a stay-at-home mom. I absolutely loved that, too! I was always busy, either taking the boys to museums or zoos or later volunteering for things at their school. Our neighborhood mothers would meet for coffee to share recipes, stores and restaurants that had opened, kids' experiences at school or on teams. Those of us who didn't work put each other's names on the "Call in an Emergency" list for our children at school. There was always an instant playgroup in the yard with neighborhood kids (including the sisters), and the play usually involved a ballgame. We didn't have to arrange many "playdates." I volunteered for everything: President of the YWCA, President of the Preschool Parents' Association, President of Newcomer's Club, team mom in Little League. Our social activities revolved around our friends in these organizations or tennis court friends.



STAGE THREE: RETRAINING FOR A NEW CAREER IN INTERIOR DESIGN
When Tim was around ten and Todd nine, I decided to return to the work force. I felt I needed to direct my creativity to something beyond the boys' classroom projects or directing annual funds, budget proposals, raffles, or bake sales. I tried to get back into teaching high school English, but in the early 80's there was a glut of teachers. So I went to my first backup plan. I decided to retrain in something I also enjoyed: interior design. We lived close to R.I. School of Design, and the commitment involved four years of night-school for an advanced degree. My husband, Charley, was completely supportive. Although he had a demanding job that involved travel (often international for ten days at a time), he took over the homework check after dinner with the boys while I worked on perspective drawings or studied for architecture exams, often till sun-up. During this time I also apprenticed for a local designer during the day, but was available when school let out.



When I opened my own company, I chose to do so out of our home. I used the dining room, right off the central hall, as my office. This allowed me to arrange my work hours around school, practice, and game schedules. I don't want to minimize the stress this schedule caused...often I was in Boston at the Design Center with a client and would be looking at my watch to get on Route 93 South in order to avoid rush hour and be able to pick the boys up on time. My stomach was often in knots. I worked till midnight many nights on the accounts, after attending one of their hockey games or drilling them for a test.



In addition, I was not earning nearly what I would have if I had joined an interior design firm in a city. But the trade-off was a more balanced lifestyle and a happier me. Charley and I both participated in the boys' activities to a huge extent, once they chose to commit to a team (always their choice and no quitting was allowed). Often dishes piled up, the grass grew long. Our commitment to their education (ALWAYS the first priority) and their team sports became their commitment - habitual, expected, a way of life. I suppose that the discipline they learned early from balancing studies with extracurricular activities paved the way for the self-discipline they needed later, both in the Ivy League and in professional sports. They began to reap the rewards: state championships, All-Star status in both hockey and baseball, entrance to Dartmouth and Brown, All-Ivy status for both boys in baseball, and finally, THE BOSTON RED SOX!



STAGE FOUR: AN UNBALANCED LIFE
Todd, our younger son, was drafted in the ninth round by the Red Sox in '92. He had just completed his junior year at Brown. He promised us he'd complete his degree in the off-seasons, and because of his strong work ethic, we knew he would. Tim, his older brother, graduated from Dartmouth and signed ten days after his brother as a free agent. I still had my interior design company, but things became part-time. About this time, Charley lost his job. We decided to relocate to Florida permanently. That meant we could attend spring training in Ft. Myers and follow the boys' careers on a more frequent basis.



Over the course of the seven-year Red Sox journey, their dream became mine. I changed from supportive mom to Red Sox addict to obsessed minor league mom. Their tragedies and triumphs became mine, as interested fans and relatives constantly besierged us with questions. I needed another back-up plan! I found it in the journals I began to keep about the experience of dealing with the Red Sox farm system. Into what would have been his third season, our older son, Tim, was released at the end of spring training. My role as Mom kicked in. He went to Japan to teach, then to graduate school, and began another career. He survived just fine! When Todd's career ended just one step below Fenway Park (AAA), he went back to graduate school and on with his life. I survived those last five seasons with Todd in the minors by writing about it - reinventing myself with my journals.



A NEW LIFE AND NEW LESSONS
It's been ten years since Todd last put on a pro uniform. I turned my journals into a narrative, eventually found a publisher (through persistence!), and began a new career as an author. It is challenging, fun, exciting, and time-consuming. And who knows where my journey will go from here?



The lessons I learned?
ALWAYS HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN - whether it's education, a career, finances, or anything else!
IF YOU ARE ABLE TO FIND FULFILLMENT in what you are doing, your family will be happier,
too.
IT MIGHT BE TOUGH TO BALANCE all the facets of your life, and sometimes something will
have to be put on "hold." You might have to take a PAY CUT, to NOT volunteer for
things you would like to, and perhaps to NOT work so hard.

But when you are a grandmother, as I am, you will be able to look the rewards in their little faces and smile!



Saturday, August 29, 2009








HOW DOES AN UNKNOWN AUTHOR GET PUBLISHED??





Here is my journey from handwritten journals to printed book.







Our younger son, Todd's, professional baseball career ended in 1999 during spring training with the L.A. Dodgers. He had spent six years with the Boston Red Sox, attaining AAA status (the highest level of the minor leagues) for the last two years. When the Dodgers released him in '99, it was time to move on. Our older son had played in the same Red Sox minor leagues with Todd during '92 and '93.







I had written all my life, first as a child writing poetry, then as a high school student who won writing prizes. I obtained an MA from Columbia Teacher's College in NYC and went to work teaching high school English in Connecticut, Georgia, and Maine. So it was natural for me to keep journals during our sons' saga through the Red Sox minor leagues. Besides, I think every English teacher believes he/she has a book buried within!







It took me eighteen months after the story ended to corroborate the facts and convert the journals into narrative form. That was the fun part for me! Memoirs must be completed in full to be sold.







The first step







I did what every author has encouraged future writers to do...I networked! I contacted at least 100 people I knew and told them my story; then I contacted at least three times that number whom I did not know to tell them my story. The first break was finding the brother of a Colby classmate of my husband's who was a reader for a literary agent and a published author himself. He edited my 400+ pages and convinced me I had something worthy of publication - a unique story and a readable one! His editing took six months.







The most important thing!







I then called a sportswriter for The Providence Journal newspaper (also an author and friend of the family). If you want something badly, you have to believe in yourself and then sell your product!! Over lunch, Bill Reynolds perused the first fifty pages of my manuscript and declared, "You've got to publish this!" He also recommended two resource books to purchase:







How to Write a Proposal for Literary Agents and


Guide to Literary Agents (2002) .






The latter is published yearly.







Literary Agents in a Nutshell







Manuscripts are not submitted in totality to an agent. Agents only accept proposals, which must be preceded by a query letter. Writers can spend months on the wording of the query letter, which is an introduction not only to you, the author, but also to your manuscript. Queries should only be one page long. Nathan Bransford, literary agent for Curtis Brown, Ltd., has excellent suggestions for writing the perfect query letter on his website: http://www.nathanbransford.com/. Although Nathan did not take me on as a client, I am devoted to his blogs!







I included my query letter with my proposal, since I had a prior entree to the literary agent in Boston through his reader, who was editing my manscript.







In general, if the agent likes the query letter, he will ask for the proposal. If he likes the proposal, he will ask for a partial manuscript. If he likes the partial, he will ask for the complete manuscript. I spent six months developing a seventy-page proposal for this agent in Boston, who handled sports memoirs. It is very important to find an agent who specializes in your genre, since each agent has his own niche. My query letter and proposal were hand-delivered to the literary agent in Boston by the man who had edited my manuscript.







The Waiting Game







The literary agent rotated my proposal between his office in Boston and his office in NYC. Six months later (!) I got a two-line rejection letter. Eighteen months later, I had received seventy of these two-liners. It was a Catch-22: literary agents aren't interested in an unpublished author, but how does an unknown author get published if no-one is willing to take a chance on him/her?







It was now four and one-half years since our son Todd had finished playing pro ball. Then life interfered! My Mom and Dad, healthy and in their nineties, were hospitalized for the last ninety days of their lives in successive years in the town next to us in Fla. I concentrated on their remaining months and settling their affairs for three years.







Persistence Pays Off!







Finally, I went to Plan B. I explored the option to self-publish and decided that wasn't the road for me. So I began to solicit small, independent publishers, from Florida to Maine. Fortunately, New River Press, in Woonsocket, R.I., was interested in my proposal. They had formed an imprint division for new authors from New England called Barking Cat Books. We signed a contract twelve months ago (Aug., '08), with scheduled publication for April, '09 (to coincide with the opening of baseball season).







The Hard Part











I submitted the manuscript and all the photos to the publisher electronically by early December, '08. He sent it electronically to his editor in England. As part of my proposal there was a two-page marketing plan. I began to market the book and myself on the internet in January '09. The publication date was set for April 7, '09, since my husband and I reside in Florida until May and book signings were already scheduled there before the "snow birds" went north.







The Waiting Game







We waited for the editor's final proofs...and waited...and waited. In an ideal world, the editor and author work closely together. In my case, I got three emails over three months from the editor, while the publisher remained in close contact with her.







There is something else over which the author may have little control - the book cover. In my case, I sat with the publisher and artist. Together we changed the title of the book and developed the cover. The upper section of the cover with the "heart hands" is my contribution.







Finally, the third week of March, the editor sent the final proofs, without having cut anything! The book was supposed to be shorter, with larger print. The theory in publishing is that anything over 300 pages won't sell well. Because of time constraints, we had to go with almost the entire manuscript as the editor had returned it; hence, we needed smaller print. We were under a tremendous deadline to print in THREE WEEKS!!







The pros of small, independent publishers and a lousy economy







In general, the process I am describing, from manuscript to published product, can take a year or more. Small, independent publishers have a much shorter turn-around time. The publisher chose a printer close to us in nearby Deerfield, Fla. Because of the economy, the printer was able to slide our job in first. My husband and I almost had nervous breakdowns awaiting the finished product! Invitations had gone out and deposits had been made for the book signings at various clubs around Fla. We made it with FIVE DAYS to spare!!







The cons of small, independent publishers and a lousy economy







And so began a marketing campaign that in ideal circumstances would be handled by the publicist on the publisher's staff. In this economy, my publicist was now part-time and had five other authors to deal with. The internet, book signings, the ads, radio interviews, press became overwhelming for me. I hired a publicist in NYC for three months - all I could afford. Like agents, publicists specialize. Mine handles radio and tv. All the rest is up to me, except distribution and websites. I now spend two - four hours every day marketing. I hired a videographer and we put a promo video on YouTube. The book has its own website; I have a Facebook page, and two blogs (this is one). I am still learning how to spread the viewer base on the internet. I have two book signings/presentations with powerpoint show every week which I must prepare for.







A Wild Ride and a Full-time Job







So, ten years after our second son finished his pro career, I have a finished product called, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. It's been a new life for me, from teacher to interior designer to author - interesting, challenging, exciting. Certainly the most fun has been interacting with wonderful people I meet at the book events. As Nathan Bransford said in his blog on August 11, '09, "There's no such thing as 'just an author' anymore, and I suspect there never was."


Visit the book's website: www.minorleaguemom.net

















































































































































Tuesday, August 25, 2009

NO TIME TO WRITE!

I have published a book in April from Barking Cat Books entitled, MINOR LEAGUE MOM: A MOTHER'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE RED SOX FARM TEAMS. It is the saga of our two sons in the Red Sox organization from 1992-99, and is written entirely from a mother's perspective. It chronicles the triumphs and tragedies of the minor leaguers on their way to the big leagues, as well as the effect on the parents. Although neither of our sons made it to the majors, one played at the highest level of the minors (AAA) for two years with many future stars who did make it.

I kept journals during the seven years the boys played in the pros. After their dream ended, I converted the story into narrative form. I promised them I would wait to publish until they were firmly established in other careers. I also promised our sons they would be the first to read my manuscript and could edit as they wished. This is indeed what happened.

Another time I will describe my journey to get my manuscript into print as a first-time author.
At the moment, I want future authors to know that once my book was in print, I have had an almost full-time job to market the work. This is expected by the publisher, especially in today's economy, with staff cut-backs. Unfortunately, I am spending ALL my time on the internet, developing book signing/presentation dates, preparing for them, or doing radio/tv interviews, etc., etc.

I have been a fan of the literary agent Nathan Bransford (Curtis Brown, Ltd.) since well before I found a publisher, despite the fact that he passed on my query to have him represent me!
I find fault with his latest blog, which describes the publishing process. He neglects to reveal the incredible commitment an author must devote to marketing during the year after publication.
To his credit, however, in a blog on August 11, '09, he stated, "There's no such thing as 'just an author' anymore, and I suspect there never was." How true!