Looking back on my blog last June, I wrote about my initial shoulder replacement surgery and the aftermath. For the remainder of 2018 I coventrated on my physical therapy and consequences of the surgery. I also announced my returning to writing my novel using the fingers of my right hand. I was not too keen on trying to write with oral methods even though friends told me I could do it. I could write email and journal entries, but i couldn’t seem to create my fiction orally. As I wrote in June, I completed some 42,000 words or the remaining chapters of my book with my right hand.
I return to my story because it is Disability Awareness Month. I hesitated to write this until now because there are so many folks out there who struggle with physical and mental disabilities. Some have been at it all of their lives. It almost felt like iI demeaned their point of view when i just have had to deal with this condition for three years.
But I have, and what I do know is that I can empathize more fully. I want to tell them how heroic they are. I want to say how angry I feel sometimes. This happened to me without any warning. i was supposed to come out of surgery with a sling and a fuller, happier life. What i came out of surgery with was a shoulder replacement, a nine inch scar housing a rod, seven screws and a plate that ripped my radial nerve leaving me with wrist drop. I couldn’t raise or use my arm and i certainly couldn’t use my hand. Angry, you bet.
Anger can be beneficial, don’t you think? It can get you into action. And that’s what i did. Got into action and had the third surgery. In February of this year, I had a tendon transfer to try to restore the use of my hand. Another eight months of occupational therapy and another wrist brace and I must tell you, i have greater use of my hand. more function, which makes the OT’s so happy to hear.
I still cannot write longhand. I type with my right hand and my left index finger which would drive the therapists crazy, but it works. i am writing more orally, dictating text and copy/pasting to whatever I care to. I didn’t even know i could copy/paste to so many places. I have pasted all over websites and business memos and every medium I can find, so ling as it gets the job done.
I said i was going to write about publishing and querying agents at then end of the June post, but I’m not. It’s Disability Awareness Month. I want to write about awareness, because what i notice now are the folks out there who need a helping hand. I am more aware now of the lady who can’t quite push the basket, the man who needs help to open the door, the person who obviously cannot read the paper he’s supposed to fill out. The every day people who need help and whom I can help, even when i just had use of one arm and hand. Now that I have partial use of that arm and hand, imagine what i can do. Let me never forget.
And to those folks who have lived with disability for a long time, for all their lives maybe, find a way to tell your story, to speak your story. You need to be heard more than anything.
I wasn’t going to talk about publishing, but let me tell you, when i started working with publishers, they didn’t want to hear that I write with one hand. They didn’t want to hear that I couldn’t write a long revision that day, that it might take three days. They just want the work done. That’s why we tell our story.
It helps me to write about it. And I’ve only been at this for three years – and i have my left index finger helping out. I’m going to continue my telling you about this. Life does go on, and as Maya Angelou said, “I rise.”
We surely do.
Interesting title, don’t you think? What does it really mean. As young children, we swore friends forever by crossing our fingers. Girls even had a sure fire method by crossing pinkies. Boys? I’ve heard they beat each other up and a bond is created.
What does this picture reveal? It was sent to me by a lifetime friend, Jim Ed Riley from Gatesville, Texas, who more than once in high school demonstrated he was a loyal friend. Little did I know back then in tenth grade, I would hear from him years ago in an article he wrote about his favorite redheads, One lady with this hair color was our favorite English teacher, and the other redhead, you guessed it, was me.
I would love it if Jim Ed would post that article here, but for now, let me tell you, just because we are life time friends, doesn’t mean we always stayed in touch. That’s the thing about friends for life. We drift apart. Jim Ed and I did. But when we reconnect, it’s like we never parted. More like we were lost in space, called time, and when we found each other again, that special friendship is still there.
Another surprising fact. We think we know each other so well, but friends for life can surprise each other. Jim Ed is a writer -and a good one. He is admin for Gus Koch’s Gatesville 1884 public group page where he writes about all things Texas, which I love, and bids everyone good night at the end of his day. And the pictures! Great! Why do I follow that FB page?
Even though I connect with its admin, I remember some of the followers from -how many years ago?- I follow it because I love folks who find a sense of purpose. On the surface, Jim Ed seems to be touting Gatesville and surrounding areas, but I think the importance is his linking people. Keeping them together, friends for life. I read some of the replies and posts, and amazed at what friends remember and want to talk about.
The group is a true respite. Sometimes a trip back in time, but also a truly quiet place to land. When folks friend to this group, they really mean ‘friended.’
I have a few other friends for life. mostly people I met at work years ago, Work is a wonderful place to bond. Mary always Mary, thirty years Mary. Y’all know about her. Pat, who amazingly in retirement does exactly what she wanted to do, not what others told her was best. Today , she lives in a lovely cottage she built and has tea parties with her granddaughters.
I was asked as a security question recently to write down my first very first best friend’s name. Easy , Mary Ellen. I don’t see her, but I remember. Boy, do I remember. We have some catching up to do.
But it was Jim Ed who kept my secrets, told me over and over, I could do whatever I decided to do, emails old pictures to me like the one above. He is there in that virtual space where we all need him. My friend for life.
Visit Leah on FB/LeahB.Eskine, twitter Eskineleah
Here I was in the late summer of 2019 with a completed young adult novel and no place to go. I knew I had revisions ahead of me, so I returned to the advice of my old friend, Margo Dill, from Women on Writing (WOW). She has a website Editor 911 devoted to helping authors in several categories, and I wanted her to read my work, edit , and comment on weaknesses and strengths. Since I worked with her on WOW, I had a discount but her fee was still reasonable, well worth the cost.
She did a great job and I was delighted to get a printed copy back from her with edits and a lengthy letter outlining those factors. Actually, she found more strengths than I did and less weaknesses than I did. Pretty good! She also had publishing recommendations which were helpful.
I want to give a shout out to my friends and writing partners, Dee Boling, Xavier DeSoto, and Doug Stevens, all writers themselves, who took interest in my work and stuck with me. It really does take help from others to get a writing project off the ground.
I began the job of researching and in a former blog, I wrote about query and the work of looking at samples online and writing over and over until you get that one page you feel might make an impression and get a nod from some kind agent. I did not. As a tip, I regret not writing about my themes in my query; I believe my theme of racial tension is important in the novel and would be of interest to more agents. Instead, I focused on the pregnancy and the sexual assualt, both important themes to today’s reader, but this is such an important moment to write about attitudes towards race.
Another shout out to Shannon Thompson, author of many novels who focuses on young adult and a really neat person. You can follow here on Twitter and Facebook where she maintains an interesting, often carefree, presence.
Back to me. When it became pretty obvious, I couldn’t get an agent – YET -I began researching independent authors, These are traditional publishers, but I will tell you, you must follow their submission guidelines, and they vary. You might not want to go forward when you read some of them. If you don’t follow their guidelines, they will not respond. If they request a fee for ANYTHING, you are in the self-publishing domain, which is fine if that’s want you want to do. I determined early on I didn’t want to self-publish my first novel. I wanted to learn more about publishing and marketing. BTW, no matter who you publish with, you will have to help with the marketing. It’s quite possible I will do self publish next time, but for now, I needed help. I had been through several surgeries and didn’t know squat about publishing, so I went through Black Rose Printing. in Texas. Haven’t paid them a dime, and more than satisficed.
That’s where I am today. My novel, CC’s Road home, will be released January, 2021, and I hope to do a cover reveal very soon on this website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I am very excited to say the least and those links are on my homepage.
If you would like a sample query letter or the website I researched to find independent traditional publishers, give me your email address on my home page and comment as to what I can help you with.
The title of this article is taken from #amwiting last year. Another writer discussed how difficult it is to keep working with physical ailments. Some folks know a little of my story. I have not divulged a great deal about what happened to me because I was so engrossed in a comeback to my writing.
For me it all started with a rotator cuff shoulder surgery which went haywire. In March, 2018, I underwent a reverse shoulder replacement –left – which is also my dominant side. During that surgery the surgeon fractured my humerus, my upper arm, which in turn cut the radial nerve. I ended up with a replacement, rod and screws and an inability to use my left hand at all due to drop wrist.
It gor very complicated. Soon after the replacement surgery, my physical therapist determined I developed lymphedema of the left arm. This caused me to see three different therapists every week for several weeks for shoulder therapy, hand therapy, and lymphedema. I had breast cancer of both left and right breasts but I had been in remission for 18 years by that time. Never had that type of swelling before this, but when it started, it was a mess to say the least and hindered the progress of restoring function to shoulder, arm and hand. The physical and occupational therapists and I never gave up.
I wish I could say I was able to lift my arm, straighten my elbow and use my hand, but that was not the ease. It took aa lot of work at therapy for two years and home exercises. It also took a couple of more surgeries. I had a neuropathy (nerve surgery) in January, 2019, which didn’t take. Then in February, right before the quarantine, I had a tendon transfer to hopefully restore the use of my hand. The picture in the full cast at the top of the page is about six weeks after that surgery.
So what happened with my writing? In March, 2018, I had written 16 chapters of my novel, CC’S Road Home. After the surgery, I was tied up completely with the therapies and medical appointments. Frankly, I didn’t think about it. Also, I couldn’t write longhand – I had wrist drop. At the beginning of 2019, I started journaling about my experiences with Cortana and using a headset to write orally. I hated it, but plowed ahead. I tried to do the same to write my novel, but soon learned I could not write fiction orally.
On the one year anniversary of the surgery, March, 2019, I woke up and thought, “I’m going to just sit and write. One hand. My right hand.”
And that’s what I did. I proceeded to create and type my novel with the fingers of my right hand. By October, I had written 48,000 words, twenty eight -28- chapters to complete CC’S Road Home.
What ensued next was research to learn how to query and the process of siubmission, all with my right hand. As you probably know, there is more to this story. In the next blog I will write about how I found a publisher and how I got published, and what happened because of the hand surgery this year.
For now, this is what I have to say on how it got hard, what I did when it got hard, and how to keep going when it gets hard. LBE
How does it begin? Seems simple on the face of it. Meet a publisher or agent at a conference, get their card, and snail mail a copy of your manuscript or send a manuscript file as an attachment. Seems simple enough, right? And in some rare cases, and I do mean rare, it might work. On a good day, your contact might not have one hindred- or more – submissions on the desk, read your carefully typed and edited -I hope- and jump up to say, “This is it! The story I’ve been waiting for!”
This is a great dream, and may work in very rare cases. But what I soon discovered (for me and everyone has her own journey) as I completed the first draft of my young adult 80,000 word novel, it would take work, and I mean a lot of work to delve into the world of publication. First, I had to do a lot of research. And I had to find out what a query looked like. I was helped in those steps by a couple of people. First, my good friend Val, suggested I contact Shannon A. Thonpson on Messenger. I’ve been talking with Val for years, but had no idea he knew so much about publishing. Which alerted me to an important piece of info, research through people you know. Throw the idea out there and see what comes back.
I contacted Shannon and she messaged me. In case you don’t know, she is an accomplished author, having written the successful Bad Bloods series. and other YA novels. She sent a couple of valuable links to me about finding an agent and writing a query letter – the latter article I lived by in the process that followed. She is a terrific person, and if you go to her website, sign up for her newsletter. Fun, informative articles. BTW, a great one in July about how to query.
The research had just begun. I found lists of agents and publishers easily enough, but the next step is to survey the genre, characters, themes each may be looking for. Once I narrowed a list down, I took notes on each publisher or agents submission policy. I read more than once, follow the submission policy, and they make it clear: in the world of publishing, if you don’t, they will toss your precious piece of work.
Which leads to writing a query letter. Imagine taking a 300 page novel and writing a one sentence hook, a less than 200 word synopsis, and adding in whatever other details are requested, all in less than 400 words. If you can keep it at 300, great! Understand that, the recipient will usually just look at the hook, the one sentence descriptive, and decide whether or not to keep reading, asking that big time question, “Do I care about this? Will it sell? Why would I read this?” The hook is exactly that, hook, grab, coerce, beg, plead, shock, goad, -whatever – to interest the individual enough to read my synopsis and then to read my first 20 pages, if it was even requested in the submission guidelines. And, oh! make sure you don’t send in an attachment unless… that’s a whole topic. I had to learn a lot about copying and not just pasting. I’m not kidding. Everyone is nervous about opening attachments now.
If you’ve read this far, fill out my contact info on my home page (if you haven’t done so) or contact blurb at bottom right of this page, and I will send you my first query letter, which is pretty good I think. As an attachment of course!
It’s another beautiful day here in New Orleans. October brings with it sunny, mild weather and I’m really looking forward to getting outside for a walk. But before I do, I want to write about my PLATFORM. As I began writing my novel, I also checked around with other writers on websites and YouTube. As I did, I read about the importance of creating a platform. The advice out there was to get it going about a year before publishing your work. That seemed premature to say the least. What would I write about on a website? What would I post on Facebook? What could I possibly contribute on Twitter? You get the idea. Looking back, I understand the advice I was getting. First, it takes a while to get all of the media in place. Second, you hope to get a following to help when your work is published. Third, it helps me to establish my own interest in what I’m trying to accomplish. Namely, to write and publish a work of fiction that others will want to read. Creating a platform to generate interest is a wonderful opportunity, and isn’t it great that we have the technology to do it? I’m still working at it. As you can see, I have links on my homepage to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. It takes work – and fun- to check your media and not only share what you’re doing, but to also follow writers, agents, publishers, friends, etc. My advice is to grab someone who understands what you’re trying to do to help in the creation of your platform. I’m fortunate my daughter in law, Elisa, is an excellent media strategist and librarian. She helped with my website, and, believe me, I couldn’t have done it without her. Next, I’m going to take one of my young friends, someone under twenty- five, for coffee to help me work on my new Facebook page and Instagram. I also belong to a newly formed marketing group with members willing to help each other. Teamwork, right! I wish you luck if you’re just beginning the journey in writing, publishing, marketing, wherever you are.. Have fun! Let us know how you’re doing.
Greetings to all on a beautiful Monday in New Orleans. So I’ll start with the ‘city that care forgot’ today. I am expecting some out of town guests later this fall who have only been to this wonderful place for two days, and of course, they visited the French Quarter when they weren’t in conferences. Good choice but so much more to enjoy. Day or night, one of the most magivcal things to do is a streetcar ride. And it is a must to ride the St. Charles Avenue line. Always a winner. You will be riding the oldest continuously running streetcar in the entire world. It was made an historical landmark in 1973, and you will see so much history on St. Charles. Mansions sit quietly in full view as you look out your window and enjoy the beautiful oak tree canopy, shading the street and pedestrians who stroll leisurely on narrow sidewalks. During the 1960’s arguments surfaced about the need to abandon the system, especially in the downtown area, to allow for more automobile traffic. But New Orleanians never wavered in their loyalty. So much so, that in 2004 another streetcar line started rumbling on its way connecting The North Carollton Avenue, Mid City area with downtown New Orleans. You can jump on the car pictured below and ride all the way to Canal Street, the Mississippi River, The French Quarter and more. The street car ride is truly an experience to remember.