Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart Featured over at Monster.com's NursingLink

It's always fun when someone recognizes that a book is good and worth promoting. It's even more fun when you're invited to write an article about it and your client will post it on their site for a week.

Check out what NursingLink, a nursing community part of Monster.com, has posted for us: Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Lots of Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart Linking

Our book, Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart is getting notice in blogs and newspapers, and on the radio!

Check out these links:

CJAD Radio: Passions (scroll to Audio Highlights - "Authors Wendy Helfenbaum & Marijke Vroomen-Durning")

She Reads and Reads: Monday Mailbox

West End Times (Montreal): Scene

West Coast Families: New Book: Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart

Examiner.com: Fits, Starts, and Matters of the Heart--collection of relationship stories


Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism:  "Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss & Everything In Between"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Montreal Book Launch and Signing Report: Success!

On Thursday, November 25, Wendy Helfenbaum and Marijke Vroomen-Durning presented the book Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. They were hosted by the lovely owners of Café 92, a local coffee shop in the western part of Montreal.

Wendy Helfenbaum & Marijke Vroomen-Durning
"Many people stopped by to meet us and to buy books and/or have them signed. We even had two writers who teach writing skills stop by with a couple of their students. That was a treat in itself.

We sold 29 books and we're sure the coffee shop owner sold a lot more coffee and hot chocolate than they usually do on a Thursday evening. It was a win-win situation - we had people come to see us and our hostess had people discover their little oasis.

We chose to do a "5 à 7" (cinq à sept), which is a traditional Montreal event. It's a time when people go to a bar or some other place on their way home from work. And that's exactly what many of our visitors did - some stopped in briefly, others stayed to chat and have supper."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Give-away

Monica Bhide - one of the authors included in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart is hosting a give-away. You could win a copy of the book and something very special to Monica's heart. Check out her blog to see what exactly that is and how to enter!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Joene Hendry Writes About Her Feelings of the Book, Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart


Have you ever wondered how a first-time published essayist may feel when she sees the final product and finally has the chance to hold the book in her hands? Joene Hendry penned her thoughts and offered to give us a glimpse of how she felt the day she received her copy of Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss, and Everything in Between

My First Read of  Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss, and Everything in Between
By Joene Hendry 

The cold, rain-drenched November day shed little natural light toward my overstuffed reading chair. Some supplemental florescence would be needed to read what the mail delivered yesterday in a nondescript corrugated package. Though I had carefully opened the package to insure the contents arrived undamaged, until now I  had to squelch my excitement over the words within my copy of Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss, and Everything in Between.

The book is a compilation of essays - one of them mine - written by writers who are also members of the professional writers' group, Freelance Success. As a freelance writer my byline appeared on hundreds of print and online articles, all reporting facts and research. This was different. For the first time my name is listed as an author in a published book. For this publication I put a piece of myself - a huge, intensely personal piece - out there for all to read.

Many years had to pass before I could begin to write the feelings my essay conveys. Many months went by before I had the emotional strength to rewrite, rework, rehash, and tweak the words that eventually matured into Tending the Garden of Grief.

When I first compiled this essay I suspected my series of sentences and paragraphs was worthy of sharing, but I was too close to its contents to be sure. When I submitted the essay to Andrea King Collier during one of her popular essay classes, and she called to say, "this is beautifully written," I knew I had the makings of a publishable work.

Still, my tale - not the kind of feel good essay many publications seek - remained in the essay folder in my computer, undergoing occasional tweaks and revisions. It only came out from its protective archives when the Freelance Success team asked members for personal essay submissions for a self-published book project they planned.

After carefully reading the submission guidelines and tweaking my essay out of its lengthy gestation I hit 'Send' and hoped for the best.

It's a major understatement to say I was thrilled after learning my essay was chosen. Now, after of hundreds of hours of committee work by Freelance Success members who believed that turning a bunch of personal essays into a book was a worthy exercise, I held the book in my hands.

My collective words make up just one/twenty-eighth of the other personal stories in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss, and Everything in Between. I was anxious to see, feel, and absorb the subjects the other writers tackled.

I read of events that wove the fabric of each author's life - that strengthened the author's sense of self or of others. Some ring true with my memories, others are foreign to my experiences. But all, whether about families, friends, lovers, pets, or life-changing events, touched some part of me.

As I sat curled into my don't-bother-me reading chair, protected from the autumn chill by the afghan my Grandmother made for me years ago, I read how two dear friends share the warmth of their friendship by trading off the crocheted goods they created when they lived near each other. How a woman knitted as her way of dealing with the loss of a loved one.

I shed memorial tears of losing two of my adored pets as I read others' accounts of finding, learning to love, and losing their beloved furry companions. And I marveled at how a wingless butterfly can be the impetus for a child's and a parent's learning.

After reading this compilation, I'm overcome with admiration for my fellow essayists. The breadth and depth of the subject matter is so diverse - sexuality, personal quirks, family shortcomings and traditions, sending children off into the world, loves gained and lost, foods that nourish beyond the belly.

Anyone with a pulse will find something in  Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss, and Everything in Between  that tweaks at or pierces their heart.
           

If you want to hear the Wendy & Marijke interview

If you missed the news about the interview with Wendy Helfenbaum and Marijke Vroomen-Durning on a Montreal radio station, CJAD, you can listen it online. The interview runs just shy of five minutes and you can access it here:(http://www.cjad.com/Shows/Passion.aspx, in audio highlights.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Tonight, Nov. 19, 10 PM EST - radio interview

If you're in the mood to listen to Montreal radio tonight at 10 pm, EST, Wendy Helfenbaum and Marijke Vroomen-Durning will be on CJAD Montreal, speaking about Fits, Starts and Matters of the Heart.

To listen online, go to http://www.cjad.com and click on the listen now button.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today, it's Kristen Stewart's Turn for our Q&A

Welcome Kristen!
How long have you been writing essays?

Like many of my coauthors I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember—non-fiction, fiction and essays—and mining my family, friends and life for inspiration along the way.  In fact, my first “book” was the life story of my cat Midnight and his brush with death after being run over by a car.


When and where was your first essay published?

I've written for various commercial magazines and websites but this is my first published essay.
How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?

I was thrilled because it would be my first published essay and honored by the company it would be keeping.  I think many writers doubt themselves and their abilities from time to time—I know I do—and to have my essay be accepted to appear alongside work from such a talented group of writers gave me a great thrill of validation.

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it? 

My essay is called "Butterfly, Butterfly Fly Away Home" and is about my son and our experience with a one-winged butterfly.  He received a Butterfly Garden for a gift and we couldn't wait to watch the caterpillars turn into butterflies and fly away—until one of the cocoons was misshapen and resulted in a one-winged flying-impaired butterfly.  The essay celebrates my son's innocence both in his reaction to the butterfly itself and to its ultimate disappearance in the backyard. 

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology? 

Being published in this anthology feels not only like a great accomplishment writing-wise but a affirmation that others saw the "magic" in the story itself like I did.  It's also been a fascinating—and educational--experience to be on the inside of a self-publishing endeavor.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?

Everyone has something to write about—the trick is finding it and then determining the right approach.  For my non-fiction writing I gravitate toward ideas that I feel are applicable to a large group of people but when it comes to essays I try to examine unusual events that happen in my life—and then figure out how to apply this unique experience to a universal theme.  

Kristen Stewart lives in New Jersey.  Learn more about her and her writing at www.kristenestewart.com.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday's Q&A, with Beverly Burmeier

Beverly Burmeier is the next author in our Q&A series about Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. Here is what Beverly has to say:
How long have you been writing essays?
Seems like almost all my life.

When and where was your first essay published? (If you haven't been published before, how did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?)
I started writing seriously about 10 years ago and had essays published soon after in regional and parenting magazines.  My first essay in a national publication was Christian Science Monitor in 2005. 

What inspired you to write it?
I've had a pen pal for more than 50 years.  We've never met but still stay in contact, especially through Christmas cards.  I wrote about that enduring relationship.

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?
My oldest daughter is adopted, and I wrote about how her journey to find her birth mother affected our relationship.

Had you tried the essay market before?
Yes.  A totally different version published in Woman's World was one of my first sales.

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?
I'm very pleased to be in the company of some wonderful essay writers.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?
Life is full of story ideas, so take time to put your thoughts and feelings on paper (or at least the computer).  Just let the words flow; you can edit later. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Q&A With Author Monica Bhide


Do you like Nutella? Well, whether you do or not doesn't matter, but Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart essayist Monica Bhide *loves* Nutella. Guess you'll have to buy the book to find out why, right? ;-)
How long have you been writing essays?  About six years now. 
 
When and where was your first essay published? My first essay was published in the Washington Post Food section almost five years ago ( or a touch longer..). It was about attending a huge Indian wedding. 

How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?  

Very honored. I know several of the writers and really love their work. 

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?  

It is about my love for Nutella and how Nutella has been a constant friend all my life.. through ups and downs and all. 


Had you tried the essay market before?  

Yes, it had been selected for publication in a magazine and I had been paid. Sadly, the magazine shut down. 


What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology? 

I count it as a huge blessing


Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?  

There is so much to write about... mine your life and you will find so many little things to write about. Essays dont have to be, in my opinion, about huge magical moments and miracles. Good essays make us see the miracles in small, everyday things. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Author Joene Hendry Answers Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart Questions


I've known Joene Hendry for quite a while now. We "met" when I was an editor for a doctor's information website. I knew she wrote beautifully on other topics and now I have more proof. Here is Joene's Q&A for Fits, Starts and Matters of the Heart.

How long have you been writing essays?

I've been writing my feelings and thoughts for years. I never considered them essay fodder until I took an essay class a few years ago taught by Andrea King Collier, who has two essays published in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart.

When and where was your first essay published?

This is it, in this book. All of my previously published writing, outside of my blog, Joene's Garden, consisted of reporting research for professional and consumer readers.

How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?

I was honored, excited, surprised, and a little apprehensive. I don't know if this is normal but it's how I felt.

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?

My essay accounts how gardening helped, and continues to help, me conquer the grief and deep-seeded loss from the death of my first husband. I wrote it as a means of organizing my feelings. I gained the courage to show it to others after some essay class feedback from Andrea. Because of the subject, it gestated in my head for years before I felt comfortable sharing it with the public.   

Had you tried the essay market before?      

Not really seriously.

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?

As so many others have already said, I'm honored. This book contains some amazing essays from talented writers. It is indeed a thrill to have mine included. I feel energized to develop more of my thoughts into works that can be pruned and shaped into solid essays.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?

Everyone has life events and experiences to write about. It's cathartic, it clears the head, and takes a heavy load off. It helps those with no intent of sharing their words and no designs on publishing their thoughts. I've spent many hours facing some incredibly deep hurts and what could have been overwhelming hurdles. Writing my thoughts, even rambling thoughts, brings some clarity. Once my thoughts become written words I'm able to edit them with a clearer head.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Author Meredith Resnick Discusses Essay Writing

Author Meredith Resnick, whose essay My Inheritance, appears in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart, joins us today to discuss her take on writing essays:

Before I began writing professionally (and for a long time while I was, as well), I was a therapist. Therapists are dedicated to confidentiality. So how do I reconcile writing essays that include people I care about so that they will feel comfortable reading them—and I will feel okay if they read them, too?
How do I maintain others’ privacy as I write about finding my own truth and a larger universal truth? Here’s a few thoughts:
Keep the focus on myself. Having this ground rule has given me more freedom to write than I ever could have imagined. I focus on myself, on the lessons I learned—about me. Attached to this is something equally important and sometimes difficult, when writing about something that is emotional or feels raw: remembering the humanity in the other person. 
Grasp the deeper meaning and higher purpose of “The Essay.” After studying the personal essay with masters like Lori Gottlieb, Andrea King Collier and Beth Levine, this is the [somewhat] distilled definition I refer to: It’s a true story that utilizes select personal details from my life, to reveal a lesson I learned that deepened my understanding of myself, that proceeds to reveal a greater, wider universal truth beyond me. So, it’s about me, but it’s also not about me (that’s the universal truth part).
The discomfort test. If a person mentioned in the essay reads the essay, the only reason I would want to feel discomfort would be with what I reveal about myself—not what I mention about them.
Lay-my-head-on-the-pillow test. I’ll admit it, anxiety is an issue for me. If a piece I’m writing is causing me so much anxiety and fear that I can’t sleep, I put it aside and reevaluate in a day, week, month or year. The distance gives me time to feel okay with what I send out into the world via what I put on the page.
Meredith Resnick lives in southern California. Visit her at http://meredithresnick.com.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Montreal Launch and Signing, November 25, 2010.

Montreal authors Wendy Helfenbaum and Marijke Vroomen-Durning will be presenting Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss and Everything in Between on Thursday, November 25th, 2010, from 5 pm to 7 pm,  at Café 92, located at 6703 Sherbrooke St. West, in NDG, corner Montclair.

You can bring your book to be signed or you may purchase one there.

Sarah Zobel - Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart Q&A


Sarah Zobel is today's Q&A author, so grab your beverage of choice and read about how Sarah feels about essays and being published in the FLX anthology, Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart.
How long have you been writing essays?

It feels like I’ve been writing them forever, though I suppose I’ve only really been doing so for maybe the last decade.

When and where was your first essay published?

My first essay was published on Common Ties in May 2007. They were looking for essays related to motherhood and it meant a lot to me that mine—about buying my son a cup for playing baseball—was chosen. I ran into his teacher a few days later—he was in third grade at the time—and she said he’d told her I’d published an essay about him and could she read it to the class? I had to laugh. She changed her mind when I told her what it was about.

How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book? 

Well, first I had to make sure that it wasn’t a misprint or that I’d misread, that they hadn’t actually chosen someone else whose name is close to mine. And then I was thrilled, of course. Since I’m home alone most of the day—like the majority of freelance writers—I get to do stuff like jump around and say, “Oh my god!” and no one has to know.

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?

This essay is actually about my reaction to my father-in-law’s death from lung cancer. He was in Maryland and we are in Vermont, so there wasn’t much my husband and kids and I could do. But I decided to knit Jack a blanket—for practical reasons, but also just as a gesture of love. I had barely finished it when he died. I guess writing about dealing with his death was another way of dealing with it.

Had you tried the essay market before?

I have, with limited success, and only sporadic effort. I did sell another essay a while ago to Hallmark, but just as it was being slated for a specific issue, the whole magazine folded. They still paid me, which was nice, but I was disappointed. Essays are tough to sell, and given their personal nature, I don’t send them out all that often—the rejection hits a little harder than with a feature article.

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?

A lot. The selection committee members said they sought variety in the subject matter of the essays they chose, not wanting only death and love stories. So I’m extra flattered, since obviously there’s mention of death in my essay. And of course the other writers whose essays are included just universally wow me.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?

Don’t overthink it—start writing! Every day that you open your eyes and get out of bed, you’ve got something to write about—and somewhere out there, someone will want to read about it. And if you stay in bed, hey, write an essay about that!



Monday, November 8, 2010

Ruth Pennebaker Drops By Today

It's the beginning of a new week and a busy one it's going to be. But that is ok because busy is Good, right?

Fits, Starts and Matters of the Heart is now available on Amazon.uk, as well as Amazon.com and Amazon.ca. It is also on the Barnes and Noble site. Now, if we could just get it listed on Chapters/Indigo, I'd really be happy.

Anyway, enough about that. Today, Ruth Pennebaker drops by with her bit about her essay and essay writing. Without further ado, here she is:

I've been writing essays for more than 30 years.  The first, which was about interviewing for jobs as a lawyer, was originally published in Juris Doctor magazine in 1977, then reprinted in the Washington Post in 1979.

I was very happy to be included in this collection along with so many fine writers.  The essay, which originally appeared on my blog, http://www.geezersisters.com/, is about the later stages of parenting, when you're learning (over and over again) how to let go.  My husband and I were visiting our daughter, who's in her twenties, in California and we were saying good-bye once again.

I've had essays published in other venues, including The New York Times magazine, Washington Post, Redbook, Parents and McCall's.  But the essay market isn't nearly as large as it used to be, unfortunately.

Like many writers, I find my ideas in very daily events.  When you start to look, ideas are everywhere.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Amazon adds "Look Inside" feature to Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart

One advantage to browsing in a bookstore is the ability to flip through the book to see if the pages call out to you. This is one of the criticisms of online book buying - you can't really do that.

Luckily, Amazon has acknowledged this drawback and has made available on many books the Look Inside feature and they have added it to our book, Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. So, go have a peak!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Importance of Reviews

People love reading a good book and when they do, they usually like to tell others about it. They like to share their find with others who they feel would enjoy the book as well. Word of mouth does a lot for book sales, but leaving reviews on online book-seller sites is also important.

If someone wants to buy a book, they may be swayed by the number (or the lack) of reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Chapters/Indigo. The lack of reviews may make them wait and although they may come back later for a book, there's always the chance that they won't.

So, if you like a book, let's say like Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart (no pressure!), you can help the authors by leaving your reviews on any or all of those sites. You don't have to have bought your book from the site to leave a comment.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Author Emily Rogan Answers Our Q&A Today


Author Emily Rogan is our author of the day today. Here are her responses to questions about her essay that appears in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart.
How long have you been writing essays?
I probably wrote my first essay in grade school; my mom has an essay I wrote in 9th grade about her framed and on her office wall. I wrote essays in high school, college and graduate school, so I guess I've been writing them a long time!
When and where was your first essay published?

In March 2008 I published an essay in Long Island Parents & Children about balancing the needs of my family with my own.

How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?

Honestly, I was shocked. I am so humbled by the talent represented by Freelance Success and I suffer from some inadequate feelings when it comes to my writing (what a shocker) that I didn't expect my piece to be chosen. I was so excited and felt a sense of validation about my writing that I'd never felt before. 

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?

This essay was my attempt to make peace with the difficult, sad relationship I had with my father who died fourteen years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. For a long time, I focused on so many negative things about him; I think this essay was my tribute to what was good. I wrote it many years ago and then put it away. I'd take it out from time to time, work on it some more, then put it away again. Finally I thought it was ready to share, and I guess it was. My dad was an amazing hairdresser and the essay is about how we found common ground when he cut and colored my hair. 

Had you tried the essay market before?

Yes, but I haven't had much luck. Essay writing is my passion; I have so many stories to tell! But so far, the essays I've pitched have been ignored or rejected. 

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?

As I mentioned earlier, I feel honored to be included in a collection with so many amazingly talented, prolific writers. I am literally bursting with pride. On a personal note, this project has bolstered my confidence as a writer; it's also my first time ever being published in a book, so that's exciting too!

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?

I work with high school seniors on their college essays and they often tell me that they don't have anything to write about. It's simply not true. What I encourage them to find is a small moment or experience and then look for the greater meaning in it. For example, one of my favorite essays was written by a young man about his grandfather teaching him how to whistle-not a life-shattering experience, right? The truth is, that grandfather was everything to that boy and had a great impact on the kind of man he was becoming.  It turned out to be a beautiful essay. We all have stories to share. The hard part is finding the universal meaning in those stories.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Today's Q&A Author: D. Cameron Lawrence

Welcome to D. Cameron Lawrence, author of the essay "Charlie the Graceful," included in our anthology, Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart.

How long have you been writing essays?

I’ve been scribbling ideas down for decades! I’ve been writing coherent essays for about 8 years.

When and where was your first essay published?

The Washington Post Style section in April, 2006.

How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?

Lovely! It’s always nice to hear a “yes” where one’s writing is concerned. Plus my essay is about a beautiful animal who graced my life, and I was especially happy that others would learn about him.

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?

“Charlie the Graceful” is about a wondrous cat who entered my life briefly. I was so moved by his charm and grace that an essay bubbled up. I’ve been an animal lover my entire life and have known many wonderful creatures. Charlie remains one of the dearest.

Had you tried the essay market before?

Yes. I’ve had essays published in The Washington Post, the Lexington Herald-Leader, The Hartford Courant, Health, Notre Dame Magazine and New Southerner and in NPR’s Kitchen Window feature.

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?

It’s a tremendous honor to have my work appear with that of so many talented writers. The freelancesuccess.com community is an amazing group.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?

Everyone has stuff to write about--unless you’re a couch. Hey, come to think of it, that might make an interesting piece. The couch could write about what it’s like to get sat on, or who sat there, or what they did…

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Author Jody Mace Talks to Essays: Fits, Starts and More

You may have read some of the many essays written by Jody Mace without realizing it. She has an essay in our anthology, Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart.



How long have you been writing essays?  

I started writing when I quit my job as a software developer after my second child was born. I took a class on poetry, and that ignited my interest in writing, which had been dormant since college. Poetry led to essays for me around 2001. 

When and where was your first essay published? 

My first essay was called "Learning to Fly" and it was published in Mothering Magazine in 2001. It was in the issue that had the cover picture of the pregnant woman with "No AZT" written on her belly. My essay was about my daughter trying for a year, when she was four, to learn how to fly, and the transition away from that fantasy. It was actually the first essay I had ever submitted anywhere so I thought that selling essays must be very easy. I later found out that I was wrong!  

How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book? 

I was honored, especially when I heard about some of the other writers whose pages my story would be sharing.  

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?  

My essay is called "A Bad Dog." It's about my mother and about a dog. It's an unusual essay for me, because most of my essays are funny, and this one isn't. It's also the only essay I ever wrote that leaves me at a loss when I try to explain what it's about. I wrote it because it was a story I had to tell, but I make no attempt in the essay to define what the story means. I'd be interested in hearing other people's interpretations.

Had you tried the essay market before?  

Much of my published work has been essays. 

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?  

It's gratifying to be a part of a cooperative work like this. Many of the writers in the book are ones who have helped me over the years to grow as a writer, so it means a lot to be in the same book with them. 

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."? 

I think that the trickiest part of writing (any writing, not just essay-writing) is to figure out what the story is. So often I talk to someone who thinks that she doesn't  have a story and when I hear her talk I can put my finger right on what their story is. But the thing is, not everything that happens is a story. A hundred events can happen, but maybe just event 4, 37, 58, and 75 are part of the same story. All the other events are just things that happened. Maybe they're part of other stories. Or maybe they're just not that interesting. So you have to pay attention and think about the connections. What does event 37 remind you of? Did it change how you felt about event 4? Did it foreshadow event 58? In "A Bad Dog" there's no reason that the two sets of events that I write about are part of one story, except that I made the connections.

Also, tell the truth. Tell the truth. I'm serious. Tell the truth Don't try to make yourself look good. Nobody will think more of you because you come off as the hero in an essay. Tell the truth about how you felt during the events, even if it reflects poorly on you. The only reason to write a personal essay is that it is telling the truth that hopefully someone else will relate to.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart Essayist Emily Rogan in the News

It's fun to be recognized for good work, isn't it? Well, if you're looking for good work, Emily Rogan seems to be the go-to person for that. Check out this article, Trustee's Essay Published in New Book, which was published online by the Huntingdon School Board in New York.

The moral of the story is you may find a Freelance Success author just about anywhere!

Today's Q&A Author: Karen Hammond

Today we have author Karen Hammond visiting us. She is a lifelong freelance writer who resides on an island off the coast of Maine.


How long have you been writing essays?  

I’ve been writing essays for a number of years, but especially for the last ten years or so.

When and where was your first essay published?

Many years ago I had essays published in newspapers and magazines, but my first essays in major publications were in Family Circle and Woman’s Day.

How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?

It’s always a pleasure to have my work appreciated and validated.

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?

On the surface, my essay is about spending a day with my father, but like most essays, it has a deeper meaning – in this case, that love is often shown best by what we do rather than by what we say.

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?
The anthology is a nice idea and I look forward to reading the other essays.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?

If you’ve ever been a child, you have more things to write about than you’ll ever have time to accomplish.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Print-on-Demand and Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart


Publishing a book sure isn’t what it used to be. Way back, when we still used typewriters and paper, authors had great ideas (or not so great ideas), they wrote them up, shopped them around to publishers and – voila! They had a book published.
If the authors were good (or lucky), their books made it big in the literary world, or the books helped build a platform from which they could write more and better books.
Alas, the world has changed and the book writing and publishing worlds have changed along with it. Now, authors may still go the standard route – and many do. But some authors who know they have a good thing are starting to take matters in their own hands.
Self-publishing
Self-publishing was always an option for writers, but this route can be onerous. First, you have to find a book printer who will print it up for you (after you have done everything from write it to get it edited, formatted, and so on), and then you were committed to printing a sometimes outrageous number of copies, for you to sell. Alone. By yourself.
What happened more times than not, wass the author sold books to his or her family and friends, sometimes lucked out with local book stores, but unless self-published authors are willing to put all the money, time, and effort into self-marketing and traveling about, then word is likely not going to get out and the book won’t sell. Some authors avoided this fate, but there’s a good reason why self-publishers were often referred to as vanity presses.
Print on Demand
Luckily, with the Internet and all that goes along with it, also has come the print-on-demand format, or POD. At first, POD books had the same lack of cachet as many self-publishers did, but as authors and readers began to learn about how effective and good POD products could be, this new way of doing things began to catch on.
That’s not to say POD is easy – it’s far from it. Just ask Jennie Phipps of Freelance Success and the many people who put together the new essay anthology: Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss & Everything in Between. It’s no picnic, but the results were beyond what the writers and the team expected.

“Two years ago, we started talking on the Freelance Success Forums about the frustration of writing good essays that magazines just didn’t have room to publish. One thread led to another, and we decided to publish our own collection of essays.
A long time has passed since that day and one thing we’ve all learned is that it is a lot easier to decide to publish an essay book than it is to actually do it. But Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart – 28 True Stories of Love, Loss & Everything in Between is finished and ready to buy at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble,” said Jennie on the FLX website.

Success!
The Freelance Success writers, editors, and everyone who put the book together are very pleased with the results of the book, a compelling collection of writers and their work.

“For anyone who has fallen in love, been betrayed, lost a parent or let a child fly from the nest, Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart will resonate with your heart. A woman recalls her decision to lose her virginity at 17 - and the emotional roller coaster that ensues when her parents discover a secret stash of prophylactics. A mother comes to terms with her adopted daughter's quest to find her birth mom. A black Labrador wreaks havoc on one woman's idyllic relationship with her boyfriend- until she, too, falls in love with the beautiful canine. A pregnant woman discovers her husband's affair - and realizes that the baby she's carrying is her ticket to rebirth. A daughter learns that the way into her father's heart is through her hair. These are just a few of the essays in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart: 28 True Stories of Love, Loss & Everything in Between.”

As one of the authors in this book, I have to say I am flattered and honored to be part of this book. As an exercise, it taught the FLX community a lot about POD, what was good, what wasn’t, and what could be done better. It taught some of the writers patience, as they waited to see the final product. And it taught all of us that a group project can be achieved and revealed with great success.

Today's Q&A Author: Marijke Vroomen-Durning


Today, I answer my own Q&A for the anthology Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. It does feel kind of odd! By the way, if you would like to know how to say my name, it’s not too difficult: It’s a Dutch name. Phonetically, my name is said muh-rye´-kah/keh. Sort of. Kind of. Well, you get the drift.
How long have you been writing essays?
I’ve been writing personal pieces for years off and on, but essays in particular are a relatively new venture for me. I started about four or five years ago fiddling around with them seriously.
When and where was your first essay published?

This is it! I've been published many times as a health and medical writer and a couple of times outside of the niche, but this is my first published essay.

How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?

I have to explain that, at first, I didn’t know my essay had been selected. I thought we were going to get an email telling us, but a list was published in our newsletter. Because I skimmed the list, I didn’t see my name. So that sort of validated that my essay wasn’t good enough – or so I thought. A while later, I went and reread the list and, oops! There I was. I was thrilled and a bit embarrassed about my defeatist reaction of a bit earlier.

My feelings had changed from “I knew it wouldn’t be picked,” to “OH MY!!!” It likely included an impromptu very badly done jig and multiple phone calls to anyone who would answer the phone that day.

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?

This essay was about my oldest child, then just shy of 21 years old, moving out of the house. He had decided to share an apartment with a friend. I wasn’t sad about him leaving. I was kind of excited for him because I remember what it’s like to strike out on  your own. After all, this is what we, as parents, work towards, right? It also went a bit further than just my son though. It made me realize that we still continue to do for our children as my mother-in-law continued to do for us.

Had you tried the essay market before?

I guess you could say I have. I sent out this essay and a few others for consideration. I did receive good feedback for this one and one other in particular, but I never did seem to hit the right home for them.

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?

{insert Sally Fields’ incredulous voice} You like me, you really like me! Seriously though, it meant so much to me. I’ve seen my name more times than I can remember related to my professional writing and I still enjoy that, but to see my name published on a piece that I put my heart into, that’s a different feeling all together. And to be published with some of the other authors in this book, that’s just something else. I’m thrilled.

This publication proves to me that not only can I write my professional stuff, but I can be creative and evoke specific feelings from people through my words.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?

It’s the cliché, don’t give up. Some of the best essays I’ve ever read were about very normal, every day things that normally we wouldn’t think about a second time. There’s something about the event or the time that strikes a chord though.
I think what I learned is not to start out being serious, funny, poignant, whatever. Just write. Once you’ve written it, then you can see what sort of tone the essay is taking and then run with it.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

From Project Happily Ever After

Alisa Bowman has listed Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart, on her blog, Project Happily Ever After under "some links you'll love." Thanks Alisa!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Marijke's Books Arrive! (Video)

People who know me already know I'm a bit on the odd side, so they shouldn't be surprised to learn that I video-ed (is that a word?) the arrival of my first copies of the book Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. So - on with the show!

video

This week's Q&A author round up

A quick round up so you can see who is part of the blog's Q&A sessions. I'm working on getting photos for the writers, so you can put faces to the names. I was going to put Grover (Sesame Street) for mine, but thought better of it.



Essayist Wendy Helfenbaum answers our Q&A


Today's Q&A Author: Carol Brzozowski


Today's Q&A Author: Amy Mayer


Today's Q&A Author: Denise Schipani


Today's Q&A Author: Judy Gruen

Today's Q&A Author: Judy Gruen

Here we are at the end of the week! Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart has been out for two weeks now and we're thrilled with the response we've had from friends and those who are learning about the book from others.
Today, author Judy Gruen drops by with her Q&A session about her essay and writing. Enjoy!

How long have you been writing essays?

Oh my, since gas was cheap and only sailors had tattoos! That would be more than 25 years, which I find hard to believe, since I'm still only . . . well, never mind.

When and where was your first essay published?

Not counting the editorials I wrote as editor of a college newspaper, I sold my first humor essay to the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in 1983, I think. The Herald had always been the scrappy second-tier paper in LA till its demise many years back. The essay was a spoof on the aerobics craze, and it was called, "Fear of Fat: Don't Let it Make You Skinny." I was thrilled down to my toes when it was published.


How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?

I submitted two essays, and was extremely gratified that both were accepted. I was especially grateful that the more serious of the two essays, "The Rabbi and the Skeptic," was included, since I wrote it with this anthology in mind. This essay has become the springboard for what I hope will be my fourth book.

Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it?

My humor piece, "Click Here for Trouble," is about how we found our beagle-lab through an online pet rescue matchmaking service. My husband hadn't wanted a dog, the kids were clamoring for one, and I couldn't resist him. (I'm referring to the dog, but I still find my husband irresistable, too.) Conflicts over chewed socks and stolen pizzas ensued, but peace eventually returned to the house, though we are down by many socks and one half-eaten sofa.

"The Rabbi and the Skeptic," on the other hand, traces my mistrust and apprehension about attending a class on the Torah taught by an orthodox rabbi. The struggle to be willing to engage with traditional Jewish teachings, and a controversial rabbi to boot, forced me to confront my own unfair stereotypes about what Judaism, undiluted by modernist twists, really said. It felt threatening, and it was the most difficult, important, and transformative decision of my life.


Had you tried the essay market before?

Yes, I've been an essayist for more than 20 years. My essays have been published in Woman's Day, Family Circle, the New York Daily News, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and many, many other media outlets. My most recent book, "The Women's Daily Irony Supplement," is also an anthology of what I consider my best humor essays in recent years. I continue to write regular humor columns for Aish.com, MommaSaid.net, and many of my essays are syndicated through Featurewell.com.


What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?

I'm really thrilled to be in the company of so many other accomplished writers. This is an exciting project, and I'm enjoying my colleagues' contributions immensely.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?

Everyone who has a pulse has something to write about, even if it's just musing about the miracle of having that pulse continue to beat! My funniest and most poignant work is never fiction based; it's all fodder for essays that has come from listening and observing the fascinating, ironic, touching, scary, amazing and sometimes infuriating things that happen every day.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Emily Rogan Guest Posting over at 'Making Baby Grand'

As we spread out the news about Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart, many of the writers are writing guest posts on other blogs as well as this one. Emily Rogan has written such a post, Taking Chances, over at Dina Santorelli's blog Making 'Baby Grand,' the Novel: Afterbirth.

Today's Q&A Author: Denise Schipani


Today, Denise Schipani, writer, editor, and owner of the blog Confessions of a Mean Mommy, tells us about her essay writing experiences and her essay in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart.
How long have you been writing essays?
I've been writing in the first person as long as I could write. ;) That said, I've been writing essays for many years now, though like most essayists I have many more pieces on my hard drive than I do in my clips file!
When and where was your first essay published?
I'm not sure I remember -- though I have to say that the one I am most proud of (apologies to my Fits, Starts piece -- was published in 2005 in the Washington Post Styles section. It's a piece about losing two friends in one day -- one to cancer, one due to the fact that, aside from calling to tell this person about our friend who'd passed away, we had no reason to talk anymore. It was painful to write in the way the best essays are. Not so much to write, but to work and re-work, because it ended up bringing me to a different (and emotionally raw) conclusion than I believed I'd reach when I first started writing. The best essays end up being therapy sessions!
How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?
Pretty great! I was not part of the selection committee, but I had signed on to head up the editing committee, which meant that no matter whether my piece was accepted, I had to work on the rest of them. Plus just being a part of something this amazing group of people put together -- something that, if memory serves, started out as a thread on FLX bemoaning the lack of good essay outlets -- is a great feeling.
Tell us a bit about the essay published Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it? Had you tried the essay market before?
 It's a piece about an old, failed relationship -- an exploration of how, and why, I held together a relationship that was built, from the start, on rocky ground. Funny you should ask if I've tried to sell it before: In another form, years and years ago, I got thisclose to having this piece published in the Lives column in the New York Times magazine. I worked on it with an editor there, who loved it, but it didn't get past a committee. Ah, well. Actually, there's not a lot left of the original piece -- reworking being the name of the essay game. In the end what I submitted was the progression of an idea that originated with that long-ago essay and had been merged with other pieces and scraps of pieces I'd worked on over the years since. Again, because it was highly personal and something that happened to me, my feelings about it -- and thus the way I approached it as a writer -- necessarily changed over the intervening years.
What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology?
 It's nice! This is my second anthology -- I had a piece in P.S.: What I Didn't Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, edited by Megan McMorris, which was also a thrill and a delight. Right up there with the professional bump of getting my essay chosen is the gratifying sense that you're part of a group -- it's like a pat on the back by association.
 Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."?
 Everyone who can say "I don't" is alive, yes? If you're a living human, you have something to write about.




Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One of my clients is promoting the book on their site

How nice is this?

One of my clients, ScrubsMag, is a nursing lifestyle magazine. It's an online publication but also comes out in print. The gang there is wonderful to write for and I have such fun with the topics I'm assigned.

When the Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart came out, I told my editor - I figure, you just have to tell everyone you know about stuff like this, right? Well, the people there very kindly listed the book in the Nurse Pick section -it's on the second page.

It's small things like this that really make my life a lot of fun. Seriously!

Today's Q&A Author: Amy Mayer

 Today, it's Amy Mayer's turn in the Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart hot seat. Let's see what Amy has to say about writing essays and being published. Amy is a freelance writer and radio producer in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Her website is AmyMayerWrites.com


How long have you been writing essays? 

I wrote some commentaries that aired on public radio beginning 10 or so years ago. My first published essay in a print outlet was in 2007.

When and where was your first essay published?

That first essay appeared in Wellesley, my alma mater’s quarterly magazine, in the Winter 2007 issue.

Tell us a bit about the essay published in Fits, Starts & Matters of the Heart. What is it about and why did you write it? 

My grandmother told me several times about the unlikely friendship she had with an African-American man shortly after she emigrated to the United States in 1933, a German-Jewish refugee. The part that tickled her most was that 30+ years later, she discovered his daughter lived down the street from her daughter, and they, too, became friends. But what interested me, was how that original friendship caused much friction in my grandmother’s family and how she chose to deal with it. I started contemplating some sort of story on the subject a full decade before this essay collection came into being. I wanted to produce a radio piece, and pitched it a few places but never found it a home. Then I decided on the essay format and wrote a few versions that I submitted to publications, again without success.

How did it feel when you discovered your essay had been chosen for inclusion in this book?

Being chosen for inclusion in this collection gave me a new confidence in the essay I submitted. Selection in this anthology validated my sense that this story could resonate with others.

What inspired you to write it? 

As an adult, I became increasingly close to my grandmother…until she found out about my plans to celebrate my wedding—to a woman. After we reconciled, I began thinking again about the material I’d gathered around the subject of her friendship with Julian Steele and that’s when I came to interpret her friendship with him in a new way. From the bigoted environment her siblings created during her early years in this country, my grandmother emerged into an impressively open-minded and tolerant American. Still, that kernel of thought percolated for some time before I figured out how to write about it. My grandmother’s 100 th  birthday helped nudge me into finally doing something with her story.


Had you tried the essay market before? 
 

Besides unsuccessfully pitching this essay, I have also submitted a few other essays here and there. Wellesley has run a few and I also had a piece (coincidentally also about my grandmother) in the Boston Globe.

What does it mean to you to be published in this anthology? 

Certainly it is an honor and a thrill to be published alongside such a fantastic group of other essayists. It also feels like another step in the direction of writing a book, something I am striving toward.

Do you have any words of wisdom to share with someone who says "I don't have anything to write about."? 

I hardly feel qualified to advise other people. What I have discovered for myself is that essays spring up from inside, usually unexpectedly. I don’t typically sit down and say, “I’d like to write an essay today. Let me think of a good topic.” Rather, some incident, conversation, Facebook status update, interaction at the grocery store, etc. wedges itself in my brain and grows, sometimes without my realizing it, until suddenly I have an idea for an essay. If I’m able, I scratch it down right then. If not, it continues to grow and morph until I’m finally able to feed and nurture it. Everybody has stories to tell, but searching for one isn’t always the best way to find it.