A Dream and a Miracle Part I

In this space, WestBow Press publishes articles written by our authors in which they share some aspect of their self-publishing journeys. The following blog is from Debra Irene, author of “Helen’s Heritage: Life Stories of Helen Herbert Gillham.” You can learn more about Debra by visiting her websiteFacebook, and Twitter. To begin your self-publishing journey, get a free WestBow Press publishing guide today!

How It All Began

A storyteller of real-life adventures and everyday life – that’s what I call myself. So how did this all begin?

The year was 2010. I was working through the financial repercussions of a devastating divorce a few years earlier. I had two very good-paying jobs, one a career job, and three sons in college. Even though I worked about 70 hours a week, I managed to find a little time to devote myself to a lifelong dream of writing. I started one of my project ideas – a small book of vignettes reflecting on people in my life.

Determined to complete the project despite my busy schedule, I got to work. I had heard about self-publishing; and, as I gazed out my condo window at a traditional publishing company in downtown Kansas City, I wondered about the best way to break into this world of publishing. So I called my friend Brenda for advice, who confessed that she wasn’t sure but she knew someone who would know. She said I needed to attend his two-day writing seminar in Franklin, Tennessee. This was, of course, impossible. Remember – I worked two jobs; was in a financial crisis, and this suburb of Nashville was 575 miles away.

Brenda said, “At least think about it.”

I looked into airfare and hotel possibilities for two to three nights and knew that I would have to come up with the registration fee, which I believe was between $200-$300. I remember feeling overwhelmed with it all. Then another friend offered to drive for a little getaway if I was able to take the time off. I tucked that away in my memory bank as I pondered how to come up with all of the necessary funds.

Miracles Happen

One evening, I attended a business social event at a local Marriott hotel. The grand prize giveaway for the evening was 60,000 Marriott reward points. As I signed my name on the strip of paper, I told our hostess that I needed to win the grand prize and jokingly asked if there was a Marriott in Franklin, Tennessee. She assured me there were a couple nearby and throughout the evening told everyone I needed to win to go to Franklin, Tennessee. People laughed and wondered why anyone “needed” to go to – where? Yes, Franklin, Tennessee. At the end of the evening when the names were drawn, I watched as the third and second place winners claimed their prizes. Then when the name was drawn for the grand prize, the hostess laughed and said, “She’s going to Franklin, Tennessee!” (By the way, my name really was legitimately drawn.)

Have Faith

My friend, Brenda, smiled when I told her the Marriott story and encouraged me to just wait and see if something else fell into place. Then a week later, I was on a call with the administrator of my 401(k) plan at work. One of my sons needed an additional $3,000 for school that semester, and I investigated the possibility of withdrawing some of the money for educational purposes.

After answering many questions and jumping through all the hoops, I found out our situation didn’t qualify for that withdrawal. But the administrator said, “You do have a small amount from a previous rollover that you can withdraw without question.” I was shocked to learn the amount was almost the exact amount needed to cover the registration fee for the writing seminar. That was the final piece. We had to find another avenue for the funds for my son, and I had to arrange for time away with my two employers; but I was going to Franklin, Tennessee!!!

To Be Continued…

What happens next when I get to Franklin, Tennessee? Find out in the next installment of my blog coming soon!

– WBP –

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation, and length. 


Tips for Beating Writer’s Block, Part One

Today we’d like to begin discussing something that affects all writers, self-published or otherwise. Yeah, you know what it is already: writer’s block.

Why are there so many articles on writer’s block? Probably because writer’s block is to authors what a pulled muscle is to an athlete: one of the common denominators of the trade, something every participant can identify with. And like that pulled muscle, it’s one of the most frustrating.

Remember what writer’s block is, and isn’t.

In search of inspiration.

“Writer’s block.” It sounds so impenetrable, doesn’t it? And that’s part of the problem. But it’s not a wall or a force field or a dead-end street. It’s just a temporary inability for a writer to decide on the best direction for their story. Realize that there IS a best direction; you just haven’t figured it out yet. Relax!

Remember, you’re in good company!

Charles Dickens has had it. Ditto for Stephen King, John Grisham, J. K. Rowling, Tom Clancy, Stephanie Meyer, and James Patterson. You name the author, and it’s guaranteed that (s)he has stared at the monitor, blank sheet of paper, or piece of parchment and thought, “I have no idea what to write.”

And you know what? They went on to write classics and bestsellers. A problem doesn’t seem so insurmountable when you see other people solve it, does it? Well, every writer in the history of the craft has solved it; you will too.

Lower your standards.

Poet William Stafford perhaps said it best: “There’s no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.” He wasn’t promoting substandard writing, of course. The point is, it’s common for writers to set unreasonably high standards that aren’t achievable on a consistent basis. Remember, a lot of your story is going to manifest itself in the rewrite, not the first draft. The important thing is to just keep moving forward; you can always come back and fix that “clunky” scene later!

Just skip it!

So you’ve already written “A,” “B,” and “C,” and you have “F” and “G” plotted out. But you’re stuck on “D” and “E,” and have no idea what to do with them. Sure, you can pound your head on the desk until you figure it out, or you can just skip ahead for now! Jump to the next place in your story where you’re on “sure footing,” and start writing from there. You can always figure out the gaps later–and you will!

– WBP –

WestBow Press authors who’d like to share a 350-600 word experience related to the self-publishing of their books are invited to do so by sending a message through the WestBow Press Facebook page and follow the WestBow Press Twitter account @WestBowPress. WestBow Press reserves the right to edit stories for content, grammar, punctuation, and length. 


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