Are You In? - (R-U-N)

Welcome to my journey of writing, editing and publishing my first independently published novel, "Fish and Grits". Although this blog is about the adventures of publishing it is an inclusive journey, open to all who chose to join me on the path. It is not only my story, it is also your story, your dream. The "Are You In Campaign" is a partnership of people, spirit and vision. It is a connection - a power grid that grows stronger with each person who supports another person. It is about encouragement, wisdom, and advice. ARE YOU IN? Together our dreams can light up the world!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Writing a book, like getting pregnant is the easiest part of the birthing or publishing process.   Once the story takes hold of your body, planning for it's arrival to world becomes the incubation period. 

Once I decided that I would independently publish "Fish and Grits", I began my journey. 

  • In September of 2009 I made the decision that I would pursue the publication of Fish and Grits.  So began what I like to call the "parade of agents".  I constructed my query letter and sent out 20-30 to the agents I thought might would fall in love with my novel and be willing to represent the book.  I received about 10 rejection letters and silence from the rest.
  • My next steps involved investigating the option of electronic publishing or E-publishing, studying this new avenue for the author who wants to independently pursue their novel.  This I discovered was a
    growing business which required no agent or even a large financial investment. I studied, religiously, the journey of other writers who have pursued this path and researched the companies who were offering this publishing options. One great cite I found in from the Createspace Blog, Amazon's electronic publishing company is a terrific blog page from an author who has published her book with them. It gives a clean, clear map of the publishing process with Createspace - - and convinced me that this was the company to entrust my baby (Fish and Grits) to.
    I begin to study everything I could get my hands on about the electronic publishing business and the new age E-Books (I got the Kindle for Christmas). I discovered that while the print publishing business was still trying to recovered from the recession that almost devastated us, the electronic publishing business had grown by 175% and has a growth potential of 500% over the next two years.
    In January 2010, I took ownership over the publishing of my own novel.
    February 2010 I did an official copyright of Fish and Grits
    March 2010, I purchased an ISBN number un-necessarily from Ecko House publishing because I discovered a month later that Createspace would have provided me one for free. I discovered the Self-Publishing Hall of Fame which gave me courage to continue the journey. On this website they have hundreds of authors who have independently published projects and turned them into a huge success.
    In April 2010 I announced the birth date of Fish and Grits and knew I wouldn't turn back. I scheduled a photo shoot for the cover at Geechee Girl Rice Cafe (It's good to know the owners of great restaurants).
    In May 2010 I put my book into the hands of a professional copy editor (which I had never done before with my previous five manuscripts). IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you allow a professional to edit your manuscript if you are serious about independent publishing. If you don't know of any I found which offers the service. I can't recommend them because I did not use them, but this is just to let you know that they do exist. Also, most electronic publisher offer the service at a cost also. As a graphic designer I would design my own cover to save on cost. Having a catchy cover is one of the most important things you can do for your book since that is that first thing to attract the attention of your readers. On Facebook I began the Are you In (R-U-N-) Campaign building friends and announcing the soon to be arriving Fish and Grits. It would be a 3-fold literary attack (e-book, on-demand and print) and I planned it all carefully in a business plan. The photo shoot complete, I narrowed an hundred choices down to five and designed five covers that I put on this blog to be judged by my wonderful Facebook and Email friends.

    Stay Tuned - Fish and Grits has planned birth date of late June/early July.

    Tina (thanks for taking this journey with me)


The first step in any birth, of course, is inception.  For the writer, finding the beginning of a book is like finding love - warm and satisfying - a little scary but an adventure you would not trade for anything.  I think stories unfold first in your heart - you write what interests you - what you love. When the story progresses to your mind, that is actually when you begin to carry it, like a baby deeply inside of you. 

While it is extremely scary to share the news of your book (your baby), like being naked in the woods my friend Lisa likes to say, it is also one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.  At first you tell your family and closest friends, tentative and shy like, but as the months progress you become bolder and more confident.  See once you share the news, like sharing the news of a new baby on the way, the world expects you to produce. 

The idea grows larger in your mind each week, characters taking on lives of their own, directing you where they should go and say, and write, write, write.  Then rewrite.  You live on a diet of words, thoughts, sentences, paragraphs, chapters and worry all the time - is it good enough?  Have I prepared?  Have I done my homework?  Have I given the reader excitement, love, fear, satisfaction?  You worry like a pregnant woman worries about  her unborn baby.  And you write more.

Your book extends, like the growing belly, the story waking you in the middle of the night with kicking and movement.  Sometimes you jump up to jot down the perfect sentence, or dream of make believe people and scenes.  You carry your book, carefully, protectively, with the trepidation and excitement as it grows deeply inside of you.



Friday, May 21, 2010

The Big Question

You will ask why I wrote Fish and Grits, of course.  It is a standard question for the author.  I can answer now by saying we do always return to what we know best.  I know the "projects childhood". 
Sometimes if I listen very close, I can hear the sidewalk spiritual calling out to me in the evening dusk.  "Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack, all dress in the Black, Black, Black.  I can feel the hot winds of thick ponytails bouncing freely up and down as young legs "jumped" and immature breasts bounced.  I still smell the stench of thick urine, strong like turpentine cutting my nose as I dashed up and down the steps of the high rise buildings. 

Yesterday is only a paragraph away.

I see the tail of the disappearing mouse, the smell of raid from the neighbors fighting the battle of the roaches, hear the voice of mother telling one of her nine children to "run and get a can" before those devils move in over here.  A battle, always.

I look at my hands and see blood, my knees are scarred from cement, my head wears the memory of the telephone that "busted it wide open".  In the distance a drunk lady calls out "I need a man, tired of making love to myself", her voice mixing with the song of dice hitting the side of a dilapidated building. 

Oh yes boys and girls, you can go home again.

Steven Wonder's voice floated out of open windows - "living just enough, just enough for the city" - and once a month people lined up for government cheese and peanut butter. Mothers traded books of green stamps and kids borrowed "a cup of sugar" until Friday. Tube tops fell and under arms smelled and wasn't no secrets for nobody tell - 'cause it ain't no privacy in the concrete jungle baby!
Writing Fish and Grits for me was like a taking a deep breath, an accepting of self, and childhood and parents doing the best they could do.  Days and nights on our knees and bullets whizzing overhead in man made bomb shelters built to house thousands.  It was a life.  It remains the life of many.  I love this story, like a woman loves a man, completely, totally, without shame or regard.  It is a love affair with life's good and bad, and all those little things in between. 

Why did I write Fish and Grits?  How could I not.