Isn't it pretty?
As I examined it further, my excitement waned just a teeny tiny bit. I noticed that there was a blank spot at the bottom of the cover, so I knew I would need to fix that. I had already fixed a couple of things in the text since uploading it and ordering a copy, so those will be fixed in my final copies. Then I made a startling discovery...there were no page numbers!
What?!? How could there be no page numbers? How could that have been overlooked? Oh wait, maybe it's because I am the chief writer, editor, and copy editor of the project. And maybe it's because I am excited to get this baby out there for people to read. And just maybe it's because I made a mistake, because I do make mistakes...a lot.
Okay. No big deal. I can just go back in and add page numbers. Should be a simple fix, right? Wrong. In one of my last editing sessions, I had altered the margins a bit so that I could fit more text on a page. I have been trying to get the page number count as low as possible so that I can charge the least amount possible for the hardcover editions. Anyway, because of this margin fix, the "add page numbers easily" option was not going to be so easy.
So, after praying and pondering as to what to do next, I have been stuck at the computer fixing the problems. *Sigh* Just when you think you've got it made...
I took one little pause to fix dinner, only to find that I did not have the ingredients that I needed to make what I had been planning on making. *Sigh* again. Plan C. Guess what, everyone? It's a "let's throw whatever can bake at 400 degrees into the oven" kind of night! Yay!
Enter my little heroes. One of my little cuties put on an apron and scoured the house for customers, jotting each of their orders down. The other cutie stepped into the roll of short order cook and immediately set to work getting the orders put together.
We threw in some fruits and veggies for good measure and Voila! Dinner! Or something that resembles a dinner.
And now, I must leave you and get back to my project. If anyone needs me, I will be chained to the computer for a few hours trying to fix my blunders.
But! Did I mention that the cover is beautiful? :) I can do hard things...I can do hard things...
Chemo was a journey...a very hard journey, one that I do not wish to ever repeat. Writing a memoir was also a journey...a very hard journey, one that I do not wish to ever repeat. ;) However, both journeys were necessary. For obvious reasons chemotherapy was needed to make me whole, even though it brought me down to the depths of despair and fatigue. Writing my memoir was needed to help me process everything that had happened to me and even if it is not successful in wordly terms, it will always be a success in my heart.
On February 1, 2012, my friends and family threw me a party of the pinkest proportions. There were a lot of tears, a ton of laughter, and love flowing from every nook and cranny.
On February 1, 2016, I get to throw the party myself and I cannot wait. I don't have a location yet and I have no details other than you will be able to buy a copy of my book there, but it will happen. Oh yes. It will happen and I hope that you will be able to join me there. :)
BTW...if anyone has any great ideas as to where this incredible book launch party should be held, I am totally open to suggestions. Just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am looking for a place that is kid-friendly and will hold a good amount of people. It will also need to be a place that will allow pink cupcakes, because that will be a must. :) Thank you much!
Guess what? I have decided to now include an audio version of each blog post I write. Now you have the choice- read my ramblings or listen to them. I don't know which one is more exciting. ;)
Remember this post?
Isn't it interesting how things change and evolve in our lives in a matter of days? Just barely over a week ago, I sat at my computer and typed that post about my social media experiment. I was feeling really good about my decision to back off of social media and to not let it dictate my thought process, daily schedule, and self-worth.
Then I received the first blow to the Great Experiment when I received that email from the publishing company. In it they said, "One huge contributor to our decision making is social media presence." In other words, if you want to be successful as an author these days, you need to jump on the social media bandwagon and make your presence known.
The second blow was when I realized that I would have to do something I swore I would never do- open a Twitter account. From the very first time I heard about Twitter, I just did not see the appeal. As I have talked to parents and teachers about it- and some teenagers- it seemed like they all had the same advice in regards to Twitter. "DON'T DO IT!" And I was completely fine not to have a Twitter account until I learned that statistically, the best social media outlet for authors is, you guessed it, Twitter. I could see all of the signs pointing in the direction of the land of Tweets, but I desperately wanted to stay safe and comfortable right where I was. So I took the decision and made it a matter of prayer. I am an author because of an experience that God blessed me with. The basis of my memoir is a daily journal that I was inspired to start writing in on Day One of my journey. Every post I write does not happen until I have prayed about it, studied it out in my mind, and carefully reviewed it before I hit the publish button. I knew that I could not move forward in any marketing decisions before I talked to the One who brought me here in the first place.
And He told me it would be okay. I know that I will be able to add Twitter to my "sharing happiness arsenal." My goals with all of the social media that I participate in are to:
#1. Share happiness.
#2. Be completely real and honest.
#3. Spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
As long as I am careful and keep my priorities straight, Twitter will definitely help me to achieve those goals.
Over the past few days my brain has been jammed up with so much information. I am trying to process all of the things that I have learned about marketing with social media and how I am going to implement them. I am also trying to figure out how to get my book off my computer and into the hands of those who want to read it. And, I am also working on a secret project that came about as a result of the "Thanks, but no thanks" email I received last week. I will tell you this much about it...it's going to be amazing. Oh, and I have also been doing all of those little life details like homeschooling two of my kiddos, teaching preschool three days a week, running kids to lessons, and trying to make sure that my husband doesn't feel like his wife has abandoned him. It's a tough load to carry at the moment, but I know that I don't have to carry it alone.
So the Great Experiment continues. I've added a few ingredients to the mix, but as I push forward with faith and trust in God's timing and His plan for me, I know that the end result is going to be beautiful.
Just when I had come to a place of peace and minimal anxiety about the status of my book, I opened my email this morning and saw this...
I almost dropped my phone.
For months I have checked that email account and it has been the same story- no new emails. Every now and then I would receive a notification about something or other, but no emails from the one company that I desperately wanted to receive an email from.
Then today it happened. With hands shaking, I said a silent prayer that I would have a calm presence of mind no matter what the email said, although in my heart of hearts, I knew it was going to say, "Thanks, but no thanks."
Sometimes I don't like it when my heart is right.
I will not have the opportunity to publish my book with Cedar Fort Publishing and although I am not surprised at this outcome, it did shatter my heart, just a bit.
However, all hope is not lost.
They were very kind and gave me some words or encouragement.
"Please be aware that we offer to publish less than 10% of the manuscripts we review, and although we did not offer to publish your manuscript, we encourage you in your endeavors to get it published..."
"We enjoyed reading your work...You have a beautifully clean manuscript that does a wonderful job explaining your journey and the perspective it gave you. We still feel like it is a wonderful resource to those who are struggling with breast cancer. Unfortunately, our cancer memoirs haven't done as well as we would like..."
The good news? They liked what they read, it's just not a great fit for their particular company. I was not surprised to hear that their cancer memoirs have not done as well as they would like them to. The unfortunate fact is that there are a lot of people who have had, still have, and who will still have cancer and a lot of those people have written books. Maybe the market is a bit saturated? It's definitely a possibility, but that is only a speculation on my part.
Now for the bad news and the part that, in all honesty, has weighed heavily on my mind since reading the following words...
"One huge contributor to our decision making is social media presence. Marketing has changed drastically in the last several years for publishing companies. Authors with a high number of social media exposure will be significantly more successful. I would recommend doing what you can to extend your social media reach and share your story..."
There it is again. The wonderful pain that is social media has reached out and slapped me in the face. It has been on my mind for months now and I have researched ways to extend my social media reach and tried different tactics, but sadly, none of those tactics have made a noticeable difference. This is where the adversary steps in and says, "That's because your writing isn't as good as you may think it is."
Does my writing reach people? Yes. I know it does. I have had a handful of people tell me that it has reached them.
I suppose that is problem number one. A handful of people is not appealing to publishing companies. They need to see several thousand handfuls of people. This is where I have hit a wall. I am completely clueless as to what more I can do to get myself out there. I can share my posts and website as much as I want, but if no one is interested in sharing it with their friends who then share it with their friends, then it does not matter how many times I share it. This takes me back to the adversary as he says, "If people aren't interested in sharing your posts, then they will not be interested in reading a book that you have written."
To be completely fair here, I do have at least 50 people who would like to read my book. Thank you to all of those who have taken the time to fill out my little survey. I thank you all again for your love and support on this endeavor and I promise that you will get to read it, even if I have to just email you the manuscript.
Now, I have to pick up the pieces of my slightly shattered heart and try to figure out where to go from here. At the moment, all I can seem to do is stare at those lovely little heart pieces and feel the world bustle along around me. It takes me right back to how I felt in that moment that I heard those words, "You have cancer."
From the very start of my cancer journey it has been hard. Brutally hard. Now, it continues to be hard as I try and figure out where my place is in the literary world. All along, the one thing that I have kept clinging to is the fact that I just want this book to reach those who need it. Maybe that's just the 50 people in my little world.
But, I won't lie.
If that is truly the case then that leaves me a little sad. I was hopeful (and still am hopeful) that these words that I have been inspired to write are meant for more than 50 people. So once again, I am having to turn my will over to the Lord. I have to have faith and hope in His timing, not mine, while trying to do all that I can and need to do to have it reach its full potential.
It may seem strange to some that I have made this a part of my #100happydays posts. But I am happy. I am happy that I am not in limbo anymore, watching my email like a hawk, waiting to get some closure. I am happy that they took the time to read my manuscript and say kind things about it. I am still happy that I took the time to write it, even though it was and continues to be really hard.
And I am also happy to know that I can still do hard things and that Heavenly Father is mindful of me on hard days like today. He has helped me to not have a major freak out session, just a minor one. (I shed a few tears, but only used a single tissue, not a whole box, so that's a bonus.) He also sent love in the form of freshly baked bread and a jar full of jam from someone who, without a doubt in my mind, followed the Spirit as it directed her to send these goodies my way today. Thank you kind friend for your gift and note. It brightened my day and allowed me to place a few heart pieces back where they belong.
Now that the whirlwind of school and preschool have both started, I barely have time to breathe which means that blogging has moved WAY down on my to-do list.
And that is perfectly okay.
There was a time when blogging consumed me. When I was using it as a tool to share my cancer journey with family and friends, it was a source of practicality and healing. It was really easy for me to get the word out about things that were going on. I was also able to express frustrations, love, worry, and joy in a way that was very therapeutic for my soul.
When I started running out of cancer related items to write about, I came up with a few things that I could write about on a regular basis...Tuesday Traditions, Thankful Thursdays, and my I Believe posts. Those were all wonderful things for me to write about and I love that I now have all of those thoughts and feelings available for my posterity to read.
However, there is a dark side to blogging that you may not know about. At times, I would be so consumed with blogging that I would push more important things aside. I would get agitated if I felt like there was too much time in between posts. And sometimes, as often happens with social media, I would let the lack of followers and comments or the content of comments eat away at my happiness.
W h a t w a s I t h i n k i n g ?
More recently, as I have been researching how to become a published author, I have found myself getting sucked into the social media trap again. On numerous occasions I have read the words, "must be very active on social media", "must have at least 20-50,000 hits a day", etc., etc., etc. This left me feeling completely hopeless. I am lucky to get 20 hits a day...120 if it's a really good day. That number does not look impressive to a publisher. I consider myself an "active" social media user, which honestly, at times I hate.
This has led me to the Great Experiment.
About a week or so ago, I set a social media goal. I decided that I would only allow myself to look at my Instagram account ONCE A DAY- not every time I found myself with a few minutes of downtime, just once a day when I post my #100happydays post. I also decided that I was going to go back to my goal of only checking Facebook if I receive an email telling me of a message or notification, or if I have something I need to notify people of.
So far, I have been at it a week and can I be completely honest with you?
I have been amazed with how much time I suddenly freed up in my busy schedule. A few minutes here and there really add up in the course of a day. But there has been something much more beautiful and amazing that has happened.
I HAVEN'T MISSED IT.
Not at all. I haven't missed the agitation, depressing feelings, or jealousy that would sometimes rear its ugly head. I haven't missed looking down at my phone instead of looking at the world around me. You know what else I haven't missed? I haven't missed a single, important message. Somehow people have still been able to get in touch with me, even though I am not looking at Facebook a dozen times a day to make sure I don't have a message waiting for me. It's a miracle.
I want to have some finality to this project.
I want to stop thinking about it all...the...time.
I want to stop wondering what is going to happen with it.
But most of all, I want to get it moving so that people can read it! Just like cancer, I never imagined how long this adventure would take me to complete. It has now been 2 1/2 years since I wrote the first lines. It has been much harder than I expected it to be and sometimes I wonder why in the world I thought it would be a good idea to take on a project of this magnitude.
But then I read a section of it and it all comes back to me. This book has been directed by an unseen hand. There have been miracles all along the way and I am hoping that there will be at least one more miracle to come (as in, finding someone who would like to publish it!)
I know that there are a handful of people out there who are just as anxious for it to be in actual book form so they can read it and I appreciate that support more than you will ever know. Thank you for sticking with me. I hope that I can have some answers for you soon.
Until then, I feel like I should give you a little taste. A little nugget to hopefully get you excited to read more. So I close this post with an excerpt from my memoir,
"One Day at a Time: My Journey with Cancer."
The next few days went by without too much of an incident. Ellie had come to accept my baldness and discovered that she really liked to rub my head. I had preschool the day after I shaved my head. I had previously talked to the kiddos about what was happening so they wouldn’t be scared when they showed up at school and saw their teacher looking like a pirate. They were pretty cool about the whole thing. Some of them even brought me new scarves.
I began to think that I really could do this whole bald thing. It wasn’t such a big deal after all. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice and round my head was. There were no weird lumps or bumps and I thought that I actually looked pretty decent as a bald lady.
I relied on mostly on hats as I was trying to figure out the best way to tie the scarves. I had looked up a lot of tutorials on YouTube (thank goodness for the internet). I was having fun experimenting and was slowly getting the hang of things. I had not really needed to go out in public though. Only a few people had seen me in a hat or scarf and only my immediate family had seen me completely bald. The real test was when Sunday rolled around and I had to get ready for church.
Remember when I said, “Think of how much time I will save getting ready in the morning!” Wrong. Until I got better at the whole scarf tying business, it was taking me just as long or longer to get ready. Nothing looked right. I tried on scarf after scarf with dress after dress until the mound of clothing on my bathroom floor was almost as tall as Ellie. I felt like a gypsy. I finally just crumbled into a heap on the pile of clothes and cried my eyes out. This was at 8:45 in the morning. Our church starts at 9 am and I was in charge of the lesson for Primary that day.
This would not do. I had a decision to make. I could either let the cancer win and stay home from church or I could suck it up and get on with my day. I chose the latter. I said a quick prayer, grabbed the scarf closest to me and tied the darn thing on my head with a bun in the back.
Mark had been following me around wondering what he could say or do to make me feel better. I know he hated that I was feeling so down and wished there was something that he could do. So he did the only thing that he could do; he got the children in the car (along with the 25-lb. church bag that was overflowing with crayons, books, and treats to keep everyone occupied during Sacrament meeting.) Once I gained some composure, I joined them in the car and away we went, with smiles on our faces and tearstains on my cheeks.
We made it to church on time. I was able to make it through my lesson, through taking the Sacrament, and then I had Mark take me home. The nausea had kicked in and there was no way that I wanted to lose my cookies in the middle of church. I am sure that people would have understood, but there was no need to stick around and tempt fate.
On the way back home I felt empowered. I could add one more thing to the list of hard things that I had made it through. I felt weird and different walking into that church building. But no one there cared. No one laughed or pointed. The primary kids didn’t even bat an eye.
My Father in Heaven sent me among angels that day. Angels that made comments like, “I love that scarf! The coloring is so pretty with your skin tone!” and “You look beautiful today!” Perhaps they were just being nice, but I didn’t care. Those were the words that I needed to hear. Those were the words that calmed my anxiety.
I am so thankful that the first public place I had to go to was to church among the people that I call my “ward family”. I valued having had this support system of people who loved me for who I was on the inside and not what I looked like on the outside. I loved having a Savior who knew that I was feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable and helped me to be brave and overcome those feelings.
“I can do this. I can do hard things. I am trying to take this one step, one day at a time and not let myself get overwhelmed.”
To be continued...:)
I have come to the conclusion that writing a book is terribly hard.
I really have no idea what I am doing. Thank goodness for things like spell and grammar check. They have taught me a number of things, including the fact that I love fragmented sentences.
I am happy to say that after countless late nights and early mornings, I have finished my chapter revision. I took each chapter, one by one, and went through them all very carefully. A lot of things were trimmed down or cut out completely. I realized that I had repeated myself on a few occasions and a lot of the places were just too wordy. Sorry to the publishing company that I sent it to. They probably didn't even make it through the whole book. It was not good.
Oh well. There are many more avenues to try and now I am one step closer to having it really ready to put out there. It is very exciting and nerve-wracking. This book is all me. It includes some of my deepest thoughts and ugly moments. I am really going to be putting myself all out there in the hope that it will give people strength to endure their own challenges.
I have printed out two copies, one for me and one for my friend who is going to critique it for me. It is very exciting to hold it in my hands. There is nothing quite like a hard copy. Digital is nice for sharing, but I just cannot read it again on my computer screen. My eyes would probably pop right out of my head.
Thank you to everyone who has offered words of encouragement. I need those words. I still have a very long road ahead because along with my limited knowledge of writing, I have absolutely zero knowledge of the publishing world. I'm livin' on a wing and a prayer, baby. Wish me luck.
I have had a few people ask me about the progress of my book. I have both good and bad news.
Let's start with the bad news and get it out of the way.
Publishing company number one said thanks, but no thanks.
I have to say, I really was not surprised when I received that email. I knew that the odds of having it picked up in the first go-around were very, very slim. Still, it stung a little and I spent some time in the land of hopelessness. I went back and forth a little bit. Is this something I really want/need to put precious time and effort into? Am I just kidding myself in thinking that someone will actually want to publish it? What makes me different than any other survivor out there who has penned their thoughts about their journey with the disease?
I also had the thought that maybe everyone who has read the book was just being nice when they said that it was a good book. I know that there are many things that need to be fixed and I am now in the process of yet another revision. It hasn't been the first and it certainly won't be the last. But just maybe it's not something that a lot of people would want to take the time to read.
I didn't stay in that thought process for long, however. I talked with Mark and my mom about it, and now I am ready to start the next round. I am going through the book, chapter by chapter and really getting down to the nitty gritty. Is it too wordy? Does this experience really pertain to the rest of the book? Lots and lots of details to look at. It's going to take some time to fit it into my busy schedule, but I am not ready to give up on it yet.
So I guess the good news is, it is not over yet. The book is still there, it just needs a little refining. After this next revision, I will send it off to another company and another and another until I find the right fit.
I have to thank my friend, Jessica, for sending me a quote a little while back that helped me to find my way out of the land of hopelessness and gave me the will to forge ahead.
It is important that I share my story. It's just figuring out the best way to share it with the people who need to hear it that is a challenge. It is a challenge I am willing to accept and someday, complete.
I am loving my second chance at life.
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