Friday, August 25, 2017

August Musings as the Month Winds Down

I haven't posted much here and I apologize. I've been working on several projects I needed to get done- a little tweaking to Bending Birches and Life, Death, Love, Cats & Dogs. I wasn't happy with my first choice of fonts for the covers, so I pulled the books and changed the fonts to something easier to read. I also cleaned up a few things in the interior copy- I despise autocorrect! It does not know what word I want so it just changes my words on a whim or caprice. When you want the word confirm and it changes it to conform- uh, NO! Fixed it along with a few commas and missed or extra words- the usual stuff that gets past the review process. Now I'm more satisfied with those two books. Out went through four proof copies, multiple revisions and readings before I finally let it go out into the world...and I'm a little sick of reading it right now, so if anyone has the black cover version with the deep purple roses and smaller font (not all capitals) that is not the fourth proof copy, let me know if you find any errors!

Next, I want to thank Glen Ebisch who sent me his newest book, The Open Window, to read (and I will review it also) this week. I started reading it the other night and said, "Oh, my God! It's a fictionalized Westfield! It's my alma mater (WSU, where I majored in criminal justice and minored in English, graduating in 1980!) Weird coincidence! And- HOLY MOLY! One of my best friends at work is the twin sister of our Chief of Police's wife- so when I read about the Chief in the novel, I can't help but think of our real Chief! I know it's all fiction, but it's shaping up to be a fun read for me with its often just on the edge of familiar setting!

I did three beta reads this month. Two manuscripts went back to the authors with scribbles, comments and a few emojis over because I can't read anything and not mark pages up- my home library is full of big publisher brand novels that I've marked up the interiors of as I've read them. I'm not always right, of course- I am not a professional editor...I just have habits developed over years of fiddling around with my own stuff and now Kelly's I hope no one takes my OCDism seriously! What it ultimately boils down to is I LOVE to read what authors are writing, and I really thoroughly enjoyed all three books I was given the opportunity to beta read- I think they're wonderful, and in one instance, downright magical! I'm excited to know that all three books are in various stages of being published!

My current project is to finish my edits in Mike Brenner's trolley story collection so he can self-publish his book before the end of September. I have about 50 pages to go, so should get that done and the file sent back to him this weekend so he can add his copyright info, dedication, and author bio. Kelly is working on getting him just the kind of photo he wants for the front cover at the trolley museum.

Meanwhile, I have the August Wordsmiths newsletter to write and send out. It will have the September 23rd meeting agenda included. It looks intimidating- but it's totally not! There will be instructions in the newsletter what to bring. Kelly and I will be providing each member a folder, a white lined 8.5x11" pad, and a pen. Inside the folder will be something you'll need for the October meeting, which may take place on October 21st right after my author appearance for Out at Blue Umbrella. I need to firm that probability up first though. But I will be discussing Out at the bookstore on October 21st at 2PM-3PM and talking a little about vampire legend and lore and reading from the book. You can bring your fangs, but no biting!

Finally, does anyone have any idea how we can connect with long distance members at the upcoming meeting? I am woefully non-technical. I don't have a hi-tech phone. A member in VT would like to be "present" at the meeting- any ideas how we can do that? Thought I'd throw that out now so there's time to brainstorm.

The newsletter will be going out at the end of next week- probably on Friday the 1st.

Welcome Joseph Vass!

Just a word of welcome to Joseph Vass one of our newest members. Please check out his member info on the members page to learn more about him. Happy to have him in the group and we're looking forward to meeting him!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Welcome Andrew!

I'd just like to welcome Andrew Curran to WhipCity Wordsmiths. Andrew is our newest member and we're looking forward to meeting him!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Accident by Glen Ebisch

I received local author Glen Ebisch's email newsletter a couple of weeks ago in which he offered three free copies of one of his new books to the first three people who contacted him. I contacted him to invite him to become a WhipCity Wordsmith, which he did do. He filled out his application and emailed it back. And he sent copies of The Accident signed and personalized to Kelly and me. Kelly has taken hers with her on his current road trip out to Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York State. It's quiet here without her across the table from me every night, so I've been doing some reading. She took Sean Sweeney's Model Agent with her also, a book I've been reading, so I grabbed The Accident.

I didn't intent to stay up late last night but I had to finish the book. Yes, it's a page turner! Mystery/suspense with well drawn characters, red herrings, plot twists, a coastal Maine setting I felt entirely familiar with. Glen has written a taut novel with some psychological shadows playing through the background. I tend to ramble on, so will just say that I really enjoyed this book and absolutely couldn't put it down last night until I had reached the end. 5 stars and a snap! Highly recommended.

Once again, I reiterate- many of us are local authors. I am an avid supporter of local authors and have quite a collection of fantastic books written by them in my bookcase, and hope to add more. As I read the books I always try to post a review, because reviews matter to local authors. So, please, if you read a book by a local author, and there's a site, such as Amazon or goodreads where you can go to post a review, please take a few minutes and leave a review- even if it's just a couple of words- like Great book! Or, this author has a knack with characterization. Whatever you want to say- please say it and make the author's day.

Now I'm off to go post a review of The Accident for Glen...and I hope to add more of his books to my local author shelf in the near future!

Bravo! Well done! My heart is still pounding!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Conversation With Mike Walsh This Morning

This is an excerpt from a series of messages exchanged with Vermont author and former Westfield resident, Mike Walsh this morning-

Mike: Just sitting here remembering something that happened a couple of years ago. I was at a family gathering. The father of a fellow author was there. Their child had written six books and was proud of what they had done. The father looked at me and said, "She has tried this writing thing. She didn't do well with it, so it is time for her to move on to something else." I was flabbergasted with his comment. It is bad that most people feel that way. Namely, if you haven't made a lot of money at writing it is not worth doing it. I have never talked to the person about this. That author knows that she has done well in creating all of those stories and that is all that matters. This issue is something that all new authors have to learn to overcome. I was going to post this on the website but thought better of it. I don't want to discourage anyone. The fact that less than 5% of our population writes is important. Less than half of that number writes more than one book because of the superficial success measurements society puts on all of us. To write is to bare our souls to the world. It takes courage and commitment.

Susan: You should put this on the blog. Yes, it can be discouraging, but it's something authors have to deal with, and that is why groups in which authors support and promote one another's work is important. It keeps us from feeling so alone and hopeless in the world.

Here are some additional thoughts I've had since this morning.

I am the mother of an author. I have written for my daughter for her entire life. The greatest gift she's ever given me is her sitting down and writing stories for me. She began writing stories in first grade. They were better than the average first grader's work, which was pointed out to me by her teacher during a parent teacher conference. I had begun writing around that time myself, so I didn't think much of Kelly's ability to plot and write a story at that age. Her work wasn't always perfect. There is no writer living or dead who has ever sat down and written the perfect, flawless piece.

What I never did was say, oh, what are you wasting your time for? I encouraged her, supported her, and as she grew up we have grown together as writers and authors. She has self published two books. I am terribly proud of her. I would never dream of telling her it's time to try something else. She is a writer. It is in her blood and DNA. To squelch that would be akin to stepping on a pretty bug because it serves no visible purpose. EVERYTHING has a purpose. Musicians play the music that threads and resonated through their souls. Poets, authors, playwrights, screenwriters, blog authors....anyone who writes cannot NOT write. It is who they are.

Instead of discouraging creativity we should always make an effort to encourage it and nurture it. Most of the time creativity will not pay the bills, those boring routine but necessary jobs pay the rent and grocery bills and utilities. If a publisher gloms onto you and promotes the crap out of your work more power to you, but it's actually a very small percentage of authors who attain that lofty status. The rest of us labor away at what we love to do, pouring hearts and souls into our works and reaping extremely limited rewards, BUT, the greatest reward is following your dream and writing those books and getting them out there into the world.

And the best marketing tool is word of mouth. Who is better at promoting your work than you yourself? Your local author friends who also make author appearances. There are all kinds of writers in the world, and all kinds of readers. I always ask people who come to my table, what do you like to read. If it's not something I write, but it is something one of my author friends does write, I say, well, here's the name of a terrific author who writes books like that. I think you'll enjoy them. I may not have a sold a book, but I may have helped another author sell a book. I want to promote this idea of a network of authors and writers supporting one another and promoting one another's work.

And we should never discourage anyone with the guts to put pen to paper and write. I was a horrible writer when I first started writing. But I kept writing and my writing grew as I grew. I evolved and so did my ability to use words to evoke images and emotions. Never stifle the desire to write in anyone. Encourage, nurture, support, mentor, monitor and never forget, you were in that place once.

Another way to support other authors is to read their books and review them. You won't like every book, but always find something positive to say. If it's not your cup of tea, say, "Although this is not a genre I normally read I did find the authors ability to evoke images and emotions both poignant and provocative. If you like (insert genre here), then you're certain to enjoy this book." Keep it positive. Keep it simple. Keep it honest. Keep it in mind that your author friend will return the favor.

Well...I was just supposed to post that piece Mike had written to me this morning...and as usual, sit me down at the computer and I'll write forever!

Opportunity for a Literary Event

On October 14th, potentially from noon to ?, there is a fall Family Festival Day with a pumpkin carving event happening in downtown Westfield. With this event there is an opportunity to hold a literary arts event, possibly in the former Carson Center Building across from the green beside the church. There would be a small room available for authors. I'm putting feelers out now to find out if there is any interest among the authors in our group in having a table at the event to showcase your work? I need to get a general idea of how many authors would be interested so space can be planned. Email me at, or comment here on the blog where I'll see it. I would need to know by the first week of September at the latest. The festival is family oriented with the big event being pumpkin carving and decorating on the green, possibly buskers (musicians) playing at various locations downtown, art & photography for sale in the former Carson Center.

Any opportunity to get your books and yourself out there in front of the public helps promote and market your work, and earn new fans! And it's also been fun chatting with other authors during lulls and keeping up with one another in a relaxed and fun setting!

Think about October 14th and let me know if you're available and interested so I can set something up.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Welcome To Joyce Collins!

A word of welcome to Joyce Collins who joined WhipCity Wordsmiths today. We're happy to have her as a member. Joyce is interested in writing for genealogical projects, and writing about her travels. She's also interested in writing memoirs. Welcome!

Inaugural Meeting Scheduled- September 23rd

While this group was founded by Susan and Kelly (mother/daughter Westfield authors) around the beginning of July and this blog was set up for members to post on, we have not yet had an inaugural meeting, or any other sort of meeting. However, that has not deterred 16 writers/authors/reviewers from joining fairly quickly once word got out.

Today I had an opportunity to visit with Russell Atwood at Blue Umbrella Books at 2 Main Street, Westfield, MA. During the course of discussing a number of topics I mentioned I needed to see the store's schedule so I could book a first meeting date and time. Tom Deady has an author event on September 9th. Kelly and I have a button show on the 16th, our local button club is hosting so we need to be present since we provide breakfast and dessert at lunch, and usually host the annual auction. September 23rd was free so I grabbed that date and chose 3PM since most people have eaten lunch by then and have accomplished the majority of their weekend errands. The store is open until 6PM so we're generously booked from 3PM-6PM which should give us plenty of time to start this group rolling. A general notice that persons interested in joining but undecided, and those who are curious and want to see what the group is all about has been posted. They have been invited to come and observe and join, if they'd like to.

I was going to try to do an initial casual get together this month, but Kelly's taking off for Illinois, New York State, Pennsylvania and who knows where else doing a transportation (railroad, trolley and antique/vintage cars) this month, so she'll be out of town for two weekends, and people are still on vacation and preparing for college, so we'll have an opportunity to get to know one another at the inaugural meeting. Snacks and beverages will be provided. All I ask is that you bring a notebook and a pen, your favorite word, and your enthusiasm.

If you could drop me an email by September 16th to let me know if you can make it I'd appreciate it as I'd like to give Jessica a ballpark number of people who can attend so she'll have enough seats for us set up.

If you are unable to attend don't worry- I'll send a Meeting Summary by email or snail mail, and post it here on the blog, as well, so everyone stays connected and up-to-date and no one feels left out.

Bring your ideas to the meeting. We'll do a couple of fun writing things at this first meeting, but also come prepared to meet and greet one another with a brief bio and a short summary of your work.

Looking forward to seeing you on September 23rd, 2017 at 3PM at Blue Umbrella Books in Westfield!

Welcome Geri Johnson

Just want to post a word of welcome here to new member Geri Johnson. We're happy to have you with us!

Friday, August 4, 2017

One Inquiry So Far

We've had one inquiry so far from a person interested in what the group is all about. Right now we stand at 15 members. Just wondering what the rest of you feel in regards to the number of members- enough? Room for 5 more? Bear in mind that not everyone will be able to attend meetings, and some live at a distance so will not be at meetings, but are present here on the blog.

I'd appreciate your thoughts in regards to membership number.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Press Release = Advertising in Westfield

I sent a press release to the Westfield News last night and received a response letting me know that there is such a plethora of press releases swamping their office that the groups press release may not be published for "quite some time", however, I could contact sales and PAY for an AD, if I wanted it to appear "sooner." Needless to say, I opted out of paying for a press release to appear as an ad. I am not advertising anything. The group collectively has zero dollars because we do not collect dues.

I did post the piece about our current membership drive on several social media sites for FREE and am happy to see members sharing the posts that I've put up on various sites they belong to. As always, we are very supportive of one another. I'll look around for other places where they accept press releases without charging for them.

Meanwhile, everywhere I go I am spreading the word. Anyone know anyone in the English departments at the high school or WSU? I'm sure that there are other students, like our Lindsay, who have talent and might be interested in joining a supportive group that will help them grow and chase their dreams.

Any other ideas?