Monday Notes: UPDATES!

I’m one of those people who busies herself with all of the things when faced with adversity. So, while some people were in a worried frenzy last year, I was sitting at my laptop writing my life away. This is probably a form of escapism, but I don’t wanna get into that today. Instead, I want to update you on what my creativity yielded thus far:

Stories of Sport: I’ve already told you about this one, but I have to share again. During the beginning of 2020, I’m not ashamed to say I pushed my colleagues to complete a monograph. I’m not the kind of person who puts off projects or abandons them. If I say I’m doing something, then you can believe that it will manifest in some way. And if you said you’re helping, then I’m going to be on your tail, like “Let’s go!” It didn’t matter if we were facing a collective unknown, and it didn’t matter that there were global protests in the streets. I’m glad we persevered. We’ve received nothing short of high praise for a timely publication, and I’m pretty proud of it. My institution even ordered a copy for the library, which is now on hold because people are wanting to read it, something I never considered.

Tough Love: March 2021, one of my essays, “Tough Love” was curated with an organization called the Lungs Project. A close friend sent me their call for essays focused on all things love. At first, I wasn’t going to submit because I didn’t want to write about something sappy. I never do. But then, I had an idea to write about my grandmother and the way she interacted with me during childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. Maybe you’ve heard of the phrase tough love? If not, it’s associated with raising someone in an abrasive way to toughen them up. Unfortunately, this was published and offered during a limited time, but as soon as I read what my author’s rights are, I’ll share it here if I can.

There’s Strength in Softness: Mid-May 2021, Raising Mothers published one of my essays called, “There’s Strength in Softness.” I wrote this last year, too, but I had nowhere to publish it. This is a frequent happening in my life. I’m compelled to write something, so I do, and then months (sometimes years) later, there’s a call and I’m ready with an essay. Anywho, when I saw Raising Mothers’ theme on tenderness, I knew I had the perfect writeup. This one is based how generational patterns persist.

But here’s the cool part: while I was preparing Strength for submission, I was a bit stuck as to how to end it. One day while practicing yoga, the instructor said something she always says, “Sthira-Sukha,” which means there’s strength in softness. That’s where the title came from and also how I knew this essay was destined to be public. This pub is one of my favs to date because during the process, the editor really pushed me to dig a little deeper and use narrative nonfiction to tell a story, as opposed to using the blogging skills with which I’ve become accustom. I worked hard for this one.

Good Enough: June 1, 2021, another Chicken Soup for the Soul (CSS) series I’m Speaking Now: Black Women Share their Truth in 101 Stories of Love, Courage and Hope will be available for purchase. In it, you’ll find an essay I’ve written called “Good Enough.” My story is about being an Affirmative Action hired prof who worked alongside an arrogant, white male, who didn’t know how to do his job. It may sound familiar because parts of it were first written on this blog. The beauty of CSS is that they don’t care if you published the work somewhere else; they’ll still publish it…and pay you. The other cool thing about this publication is they did a book trailer. And to my surprise, guess whose chapter is featured twice? Here it is, in case you’re interested:



That’s it for my updates! Let me know if you purchase a book or read any of these works.

Writer’s Workshop: Studying the Craft

There are many ways to study the craft of writing. You can earn a bachelor’s degree in English. You can attain an MFA in creative writing. You can even take a few classes here and there to learn from experts.

But what should you do if you’re like me and have no intention on setting foot in another university as a student?

Read. That’s what! Writers read, and it’s important to read books in the genre in which you intend to publish. For me, that’s memoir.

Writers read, and it’s important to read books in the genre in which you intend to publish.

So, in 2018, I read ten memoirs to learn what bestsellers are made of and to understand what the pulse of a “good” memoir is. Here’s what I found out.

A “good” memoir focuses on one theme. My favorite memoir that demonstrates this basic principle is Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped. The overarching question is why have so many of the men in her community died? The quick answer is the interrelated nature of racism, poverty, and gender. The long answer is her 256-page memoir, where chapters are written in a seesaw fashion. One chapter is devoted to understanding one man’s in-depth story, while the next chapter reflects Ward’s life as it was related to each man. By the end of the memoir, Ward has clearly made a case for how systemic racism affects human beings.  

A “good” memoir has to present a bigger purpose. A bigger purpose doesn’t mean theme, necessarily, but it should answer the question: why is this author telling these stories? In My Dead Parents: A Memoir, Anya Yurchyshyn spends the first half of her book describing how much she disidentifies with her parents, how much she hates them, and how much their deaths don’t affect her. Part two digs deeper and explores who her parents really were prior to marriage and children and how this showed up in her life. This is ingenious. Anyone can write a book about why they dislike their parents. But she researches their histories as a way to see their identities, and then analyzes their lives outside of being her parents.

A “good” memoir weaves back and forth through time. This is a skill. Tara Westover’s Educated is superb at showing how to write a linear/not-linear story, which is important. While the overall story should be a cohesive narrative, it should travel back in time and then snap or slowly crawl back to the near present. For example, Westover remembers one of her brother’s violent acts from when she was an adolescent and then moves the story forward to a more recent memory of when she planned to visit home. The memory of the violence is important for how she will return and interact with her family in the book’s present.

A “good” memoir fits into a clear subgenre. Issa Rae uses humor for The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, which is a coming-of-age memoir. Kenan Trebinčević’s The Bosnia List: A Memoir of War, Exile, and Return is obviously a historical memoir, and so is The Girl Who Escaped Isis (Farida Khalaf and Andrea C. Hoffmann). Celebrity memoir is a thing, but more literary leaning ones, like Trevor Noah’s Born A Crime demonstrate sociocultural lessons. Finding Your Creative Muse explains more about these categories.

There’s nothing wrong with taking classes or seeking degrees; however, if you’d like to see what works for published authors, then I suggest reading in the genre you plan to write. I am also in no way advocating that you imitate the style of your favorite author. To me, that’s a no-no, but studying and learning about how others put words together? That’s a win for you and your growing body of work.

Are you intending to publish a book one day? Who’s your favorite author? What’s your favorite genre? What makes a book good?

DADDY CONTRIBUTOR: Anna Scott

Unlike The Unhappy Wife book, Daddy is not written by me. This anthology includes stories written by women, who felt it important to publicly re-tell narratives centered on their relationship with their father. Each woman’s purpose is similar, yet different. Every Friday, I invite you to read about their reason why.

Today, please meet Anna Scott, author of “The Thing About My Father.”

Why were you inspired to contribute to this book? When Kathy invited me to submit an essay about my relationship with my father for consideration in Daddy, I knew this was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work through the myriad emotions I felt toward him in what I hoped was a healthy, constructive way. One of my greatest concerns while writing this piece was making sure that my intentions for doing so were clean. By that, I mean that I didn’t want to write out of anger or to be vindictive. I wanted to write to share my truth about our relationship, as I saw it, and in the process, try to heal and move on. Writing this was cathartic in the sense that, while I didn’t have any epiphanies or learn anything I didn’t already know deep down, I was able to release the expectations associated with our relationship. Somehow the process of putting pen to paper and being able to look at the relationship objectively, through an author’s eyes, transferred that energy out of me.

What is your father-daughter relationship like now? Nothing has changed on the surface. Our relationship is still superficial, kind of like that between a niece and an uncle she sees a few times a year. What has changed is that this no longer upsets me. Once I accepted that my father doesn’t get it and never will, I stopped taking his behavior personally. This has made a tremendous difference in my sense of self-worth and esteem. Also, I no longer feel an obligation to make effort with him.

If there is one thing you could tell women who struggle with “daddy issues” what would it be? I would tell them that they are worthy, lovable, and significant regardless of whether their father values them or not. I would tell them to be kind, loving, and forgiving to themselves. I would also tell them to be mindful of the men they invite into their lives so that they are not unconsciously trying to work out their “daddy issues” through unhealthy romantic relationships. It is better to be alone than with someone who doesn’t value you.

1521808695783What do you hope your story accomplishes? There are two things I hope to accomplish with my story. The first is that it might encourage women to stop feeling guilty and afraid to speak their truth to and about their fathers. This is tough, I know, because The Bible tells us to honor our father, and so it seems the burden of guilt falls on us, the daughters, no matter how deplorable our fathers might be. Family members may try to make us feel guilty for speaking out, even if they know full well our father has hurt us in some way. Society overall might judge and condemn us. Even so, it is our right to speak our truth, as we see it and feel it. A wise woman once shared something that I still refer to whenever I am questioning my feelings about someone or something: “I know what I know. I see what I see. I feel what I feel.” Don’t let anyone invalidate your feelings in the name of “honoring” your father if said father is an asshole. The second thing I hope to accomplish is that women will realize they should not take their father’s behavior toward them – whether it is rejection, cruelty, abandonment or something else – personally. Again, this is tough, because fathers are supposed to love and protect and adore their daughters, and when they don’t, it hurts. Try not to internalize the pain. It is his ignorance, selfishness, fear, self-loathing, etc. that causes him to behave the way he does. In the end, blowing the opportunity to have an authentic, loving, healthy relationship with his daughter is his responsibility and loss far more than anyone else’s.

What are you working on currently? Currently, I’m working on a historical romance novel set in 1930 Newport, RI. It’s about a young woman trying to hold her family together after her father loses his fortune and his mind in the 1929 stock market crash, who falls in love with the businessman sent to try and purchase their summer cottage for a steal. Recently, I submitted to Harlequin a 75,000-word historical romance. It is the first novel I have ever completed, and I didn’t show it to a soul before submitting it. This was a bucket list goal for me. Three months later, I received a rejection; however, it was accompanied by an extensive constructive critique by the editors that told me what they had enjoyed about it and what they felt needed improvement should I choose to submit again. I was so encouraged by the feedback that I am back to work on this new novel and plan to try again.

Anna Scott believes in the power of writing our stories to facilitate healing and personal growth. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and the family cat. “The Thing About My Father” is her first published personal essay.

A portion of the book’s proceeds will be contributed to an organization important to Scott, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. The Foundation’s mission is to “provide optimal care and services to individuals living with Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses and to their families and caregivers.”

The eBook version of Daddy is available for pre-order now!

Paperback is available for order here.

 

Monday Notes: Writing Endeavors®

Recently, I began an editing service business called Writing Endeavors®. While I’m happy for you to procure my services, what follows isn’t necessarily about the business. It’s more about the process of actualizing dreams.

bradburyPeople ask me all the time how I do fill_in_the_blank. The answer is simple. I just do it. Take this business for example. Over the years, friends have asked me to edit work for them. There have been times when I decline and pass the work on to someone else. Sometimes I’ve edited for free. Other times, I’ve worked more like an independent contractor; we create an agreement and the person pays me.

As recently as February, I edited a first-time book for a friend’s son. Shortly after, a thought occurred. The urge to begin my own editing service business flashed in my mind. I needed to stop passing work to colleagues and friends and do it myself…for a fee.

The next step was to tell Dwight. Announcing my plans to him somehow solidifies things. He’s been with me long enough to know that once I say it, then it’s as good as done.

What happens next is what I’ve learned to be the difference between myself and other people. I typically research how to do things while I’m doing it. For example, I didn’t know if I should create a business first, or trademark a name first? Well, after working with Legal Zoom, I found out that you create the business first. So, I did that. The business was created March 21st.

Afterwards, I trademarked the business’s name. During that process, I learned the difference between the little TM symbol and the R in a circle sign. The first is something you can use, whether you registered the name or not. The latter means registered trademark and allows the owner to sue if someone else tries to use it.

More questions cropped up, as is common with on-the-job training.

Should I create a whole new website just for this business, separate from selling books and blogging? Should I pay for this website, or be comfortable with using an extension, like .wix? How about registering the business with the county? The state? The government? What’s required? When am I supposed to pay taxes on this business? I found all of that out…as…I…went…along.

img_3635In fact, I just started editing a client’s dissertation, while still in process of learning more business-related info.

I don’t want to paint an idyllic image. I’m not dancing through poppy fields while establishing a business. Functioning this way can sometimes be a tad stressful, like when the state notified me that I’d missed a deadline for reporting income, even though there was no income. But here’s the reality. I know that dreams might not materialize, unless I just begin. I know it’s important to just get going and trust that the rest will work itself out. I know this because it always does.

So, I have one question. What are you waiting for?

Monday Notes: 4 Ways to Support Someone

Do you know someone who’s baked pastries, created jewelry, or written a book (wink-wink)? Well, I’m willing to bet that person would love some support. Here are a few ways you can offer assistance.

Money

img_3018Money can help in a few ways. If the person is in the beginning stages of creation, then perhaps you can donate money to his or her cause. Many people have GoFund Me pages or other crowdsourcing Apps just for that reason. It might not seem like a lot, but you never know how much your $5.00 is boosting his or her dreams.

If the person has a product, then they’d probably appreciate it if you’d bought it. That is the ultimate goal, right? Over the past few months, I’ve bought six Indie authors’ books for no other reason than I know what it feels like to self-publish a book and want someone to buy it.

This leads me to the second type of support: Interest

I didn’t just purchase six books, I’ve read four of them and provided Amazon reviews and feedback to each author.

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As bloggers, you can probably relate to this idea the most. Remember how you felt when someone not only clicked on your link, but also read, liked, and commented on your early posts? It’s a small bit of validation that you actually did write words that interested someone.

Writers want readers. Podcasters want listeners. Artists want viewers. You get my point.

Another way to show interest is to literally be interested. Ask the person about what they’re doing. Most people love talking about their latest project if it’s common knowledge. For example, I appreciated it when the few people who knew I was writing, actually asked, “How’s the book coming along?” Conversations centered on the production showed they cared about what I was doing.

img_3033Next is Advertise. Most small business owners do not have a large budget for marketing. That means they have to rely on word of mouth. Contemporary marketing can help because it includes social media. Love it or hate it, it’s an important part of spreading the word about products.

Think about how much you can support others’ business endeavors simply by providing a short shout out on FB, Twitter, or IG? The way I see it, if you can post and share about some celebrity you don’t know, then certainly you can post and share about your cousin who’s trying to make it as an actor!

Okay. What if you don’t have a lot of extra money or you loathe social media? Well, the next thing you can do is Provide a Service. People are surprised to hear that my husband hasn’t read the book. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me though because he’s done other things. He helped me conceptualize the cover; he’s created an Excel sheet and kept up with sales; and he’s created fliers for a few events. In essence, he’s supported me in ways that are aligned with his business major skillset.

My little sister-friend is the one who nominated me for an award, which ultimately provided exposure. Another friend is a media journalist. She used her equipment to create the promotional video. Those of you who’ve read the book know that an online relationship coach, Anita Charlot wrote the afterword. She didn’t have to do that; it was a service she provided to me, which of course simultaneously supported her own business.

And I can’t forget about you guys! I was surprised at how much my own WordPress community read and blogged about The Unhappy Wife. It was five-months of blogging love. You provided a writing service that doubled as unexpected advertising. I’m positive this was one of the reasons I had consistent sales. I can’t thank everyone enough for that.

Those are my four ways: give money; show interest; advertise; and provide a service. What would you add to this list? How do you support your friends and family’s goals?

 

Happy Halloween and Good Luck w/NaNoWriMo!

raven-988218_1280Happy Halloween Everyone! That is, if you celebrate that type of thing. As for me and my house…just kidding. Halloween is fun. I will probably pass out candy because I LOVE seeing little kids in their costumes. 👻🍬👀

 

 

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AND…Good Luck to all of you participating in NaNoWriMo! I hope you meet all of your November writing goals 🤓✍🏾️📖

Drumroll Please…✍🏾️📖🏆

img_2274Remember that contest I told you all about? Well, I won! Initially, I was nervous sitting there listening to all the rules and stipulations about rubrics. When Chris Coward, the president of the Florida Writers Association read my name, I couldn’t believe I’d actually won first place for creative nonfiction.

“The Transition” is the story of how I shifted from bitterness to compassion for my father, while he shifted from life to death due to his cancer diagnosis.

I want to share it here, but cannot because I’ve submitted it for The Binge-Watching Cure, a paid book publication.

Instead of posting it, I want to tell you something I find odd.

In 1983, my mother had a kidney transplant. Consequently, at ten years old, I wrote a book called On the Farm. It was the story of a little boy whose dad had died. The boy had to learn how to take care of the farm and his family. My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Patterson submitted it for a citywide competition, sponsored by Gwendolyn Brooks. Remember, I grew up in Chicago so this was a huge deal. My grandmother and I dressed up in church attire and attended. My mother was still in Madison, Wisconsin recovering from her transplant. I didn’t win. But 33 years later, I find it quite strange that I won a competition for a story I wrote about losing my own father.

Today, everything is still surreal. However, if I can say anything to all of you who read my words, it is this: Carpe Diem! That was the 2016 Florida Writers Association’s theme. Seize the Day! Do what you want! Live life and experience it however you see fit. And have faith that everything is working out for your highest good.

Break over!

24_2I had to take my own advice. I needed a break. My semester ended last week and I couldn’t grade projects, papers and stuff, and maintain new blog material. I thought about re-blogging, but quite honestly, I re-blog with a purpose. So, I took a break. But break-time’s over. I’m back! Here’s what you can expect:

  • Some purposeful re-blogging.
  • Some new material for a new category, “Behind the Kwotes.”
  • Different Inspiring Images – I’m moving away from nature and figuring out creative ways to photograph real people.
  • A little marketing for my new book, scheduled for a December release.

So glad that each and every one of you continue to follow me through all the end of life turmoils, thinking and re-thinking, and selling of self-published books. I love and appreciate you.

~kg

Four Considerations as you Publish Beyond your Blog

 

Image. ©2016 All Rights Reserved K E Garland

Do you want to publish outside of your blog? If so, then here are four things that might help as you journey down that path.

Check Publication Requirements Research the publication’s rules about previously published stories. For example, an editor loved my Gratitude article but his strict no prior publication rule meant the original, which was featured on my blog, was a no-go. He, like most editors, wanted first rights. And even after he published a revised version, I had to wait 30 days before I could share it publicly. Other places won’t consider your stories, even if they’ve only been on your personal blog. So, if you plan to write for someone else, be discerning. You might want to start saving those really great pieces for other opportunities.

Prepare for Editing This might seem like common sense. Publications have editors and editors have processes. I guess what I wasn’t 100% ready for is someone else rearranging the beloved words to which I was inextricably tied. Also, unexpected was how one publication chose to run my entire moniker, instead of my pen name. I was like what the what? But I inhaled and exhaled. The message was bigger than the byline. Another publication asked for edits that took a few hours on top of the weeks that it had already taken me to research the unfamiliar topic. But again, I revised because the point of it all was greater than the extra time it took to double-check information.

Roll with Rejection Rejection is a huge part of writing. Although I’ve secured a few popular publications in the past, I’ve also counted twice as many rejections. And depending on where you submit, that’s what they’re called, rejections. But I don’t get caught up in them. Blogging helps with this part. Take that Breast Cancer Awareness article, for example. I was prepared with images and a publication date to post here. If the newspaper declined, then it would have been shared with each of you anyway. That’s how I roll with it. The comfort of having a blog allows me to go with the flow. No matter the outcome, I have a medium and trusted community.

Remember your Purpose What’s your purpose for writing in a public forum? My purpose is explicit. I want to use written words to promote discussion and nudge readers to think outside of societal boxes. One way to do that is to publish with bigger venues. They provide a wider audience. However, it’s super easy to get caught up in accumulating bylines. That’s not my overall goal. Reminding yourself of your specific purpose can keep you grounded and also connected to the larger objective.

Hope these help as you navigate the public writing terrain. Have you published beyond your blog? What else would you add?