Archive for Writers

Client Success: Sheryl Parbhoo’s Novel Explores Love, Family and Healing in Intercultural Relationships

“Like my book’s character Jenny, I am a woman with deep southern roots,” Sheryl said.  “Unlike Jenny, I was raised by doting parents and learned to love the quirks and traditions of southern life.”

Sheryl Parbhoo’s first novel, The Unexpected Daughter, is a contemporary story about hard choices in love, family and personal healing.  Set within intercultural relationships in the southern US, Jenny, a Caucasian, and Roshan, an Indian, embark on a love forbidden by his traditional mother Esha, entangling all three in a web of betrayal, violence, and shame as they struggle for peace with the past in the new world of the present day.

“I met my Indian husband when I was 16 and fell in love with his exotic looks, world view, and extreme devotion to his loved ones. But while love is an amazing force, we also suffered through deep cultural differences in how our marriage should look and the role that our families should have in our lives. This became the initial inspiration to write the novel, a sort of catharsis for my feelings, a way to put myself in the cultural shoes of my loved ones, and a way to share the uniqueness and beauty of love that transcends culture and race.

“Because of this, readers may think the plot is my life.  It is not. Yes, the setting is Memphis and Atlanta where I have lived, and the characters are informed by many who I have met over the years.  My knowledge of Gujarati culture, as a perpetual outsider on the fringe of family, has also informed the plot and the characters’ struggles.  However, the characters have lives of their own with no basis in my life whatsoever.”

Sheryl got the idea for the book soon after the births of her twin sons.  “I was consumed with mothering my children, ages 5, 3, and the newborns, and spent many sleepless nights rocking babies and thinking about the unique relationships in my life.  The book slowly began to grow in my mind, becoming my precious little secret for a long time before I ever began writing.”

Sheryl wrote short stories with characters similar to those in the novel.  Eventually, she crafted the opening chapter, rewriting it five times over the next six months before joining my Creative Writers Workshop at FoxTale Book Shoppe in Woodstock.

“Wayne encouraged me to give myself permission to move past the imperfections of the first chapter and grow the entire book,” she said.  “He’s uplifting and motivating with a good sense of humor, and I loved that, but during those times when I wanted to give up, he was persistent in coaching me to finish and editing my novel for publication.

“The biggest lesson I learned from writing the book with his guidance is that nothing of value comes without very hard work and sacrifice. When the media features successful people, all we see is them reaping the rewards but nothing of the hard work it took to get there.  Now I know what hard work is.  And whether or not my novel becomes a commercial success, I already feel successful because I completed it.  That’s huge for me.”

The Unexpected Daughter in available in paperback or e-book format.

Visit Sheryl’s blog at www.sherylparbhoo.com

Join the Creative Writers Workshop where many writers have birthed their novels, memoirs, inspirational/self-help, and children’s books.

Client Success: Joan Kaplan’s Heartfelt Fare Blends Memoir and Recipes

Info/schedule for Memoir classes.

The truth is Joan Kaplan is writing a novel. The commitment and the act of producing the drafts doesn’t shock her.

Joan Farbstein Kaplan at stove“What has surprised me,” Joan shared, “is my ability when I’m entrenched in writing to shut out other aspects of my life, like taking my dog out.”

She jests…somewhat. No need to call the ASPCA; her dog is very well cared for.

Yet while she steadily drafted the opening chapters of her first fiction book, she took a detour and left it all alone for a few months after one spring day at her weekly coaching session with me.

She arrived with a tattered pair of treasured recipe collections she had created, one 15 years ago and the other 8. She showed me one group and its intricate mailing package, then wrangled the other photocopied pages escaping the raffia that once decoratively corralled them. Both were fun family projects.

“For each recipe book I create, I combine my love of food, my passion for entertaining, and my desire to give a meaningful gift to friends, clients, and other supporters.” As I examined their uniqueness, she talked passionately about creating another, adding this time she wanted to produce more copies. Maybe 500.

I asked, “Do you want to hole-punch and tie raffia on 500 copies? Will your daughters really chip in?”

Joan looked dismayed, but not deterred. I continued, suggesting a professional layout, 4-color card-stock cover, and spiral binding for durability…and to save her time. She smiled.

“The purpose for this collection,” she added, “is to celebrate my 10th year in real estate.”

“Well, wouldn’t it be extra special if you added a story about where the recipe came from, when you serve it, and how it’s exceptional to you?”

She smiled brighter…and added even more, sharing the news that her family was starting a foundation to support four charities in her neighborhood of Oak Grove. Proceeds from donations gathered by the distribution of the cookbook would join contributions from her family each time she is involved in a real estate transaction to support Atlanta Hospital Hospitality House, Contribute2America, One Good Deed, and Ruffus Rescue.

“Why not combine all of them?” I recommended, and soon we were underway.

As she pulled together recipes and wrote stories, I coached her on content while organizing and editing, then I walked the project through the design and printing process.

Joan.Kaplan.Heartfelt.FareJoan self-published using a local artist, a local designer, and a local printer, sharing, “I believe wholeheartedly and ‘whole-financially’ in keeping things local and supporting the independent contractor.”

Ten weeks after that initial meeting, Heartfelt Fare: A Collection of Favorite Recipes from My Home to Yours was published. Thus far, after personal and mail deliveries, a rousing launch party at Vista Yoga featuring generous donations amongst fabulous bites and bevs from the book’s recipes, and then additional marketing from Joan, more than 700 are now at home in kitchens.

Fueled by the positive response to the recipe book, Joan returned to writing the novel with more gusto.

“By meeting with Wayne, I continue to grow confidence for my dream of sharing my writing in bigger ways,” she said. “One highlight of my otherwise very full life is meeting with him to talk about what I have written.”

I enjoy it too, but continue to wonder which Friday she’ll bring my favorite mouth-watering dessert from the book—a Lemon-Dream-Come-True! I am quite aware we would simply eat and get little done.

And the truth is I’ve got the recipe!

Photo of Joan by Karin Koser.

Guest Post: Author Ann Temkin and The New Term for “Book Marketing”

“The real work begins after the book is published,” Wayne said to me a year ago as he shared marketing ideas.

Don’t think so, I thought. I’m working like crazy now writing it. And besides, I despise marketing.

The day before Thanksgiving 2014, Sight in the Sandstorm: Jesus in His World and Mine was published. My book combines personal memoir with stories about the very Jewish, liberating Jesus living in turbulent 1st century Palestine ruled by the violent Roman Empire.

Ann.Temkin.book.signingOnce it was published, reality hit: I had to sell some. I wrote the book to say something, and over time I had even come to believe that what I had to say was important. So I wanted people to read it. Then there was the practical reality: I’d spent money getting published with fees for design, copyright, bar code, editing, etc., and I needed to recoup costs.

That meant getting the word out. But how?

For months I worked every day at something I didn’t call “marketing.” Nine months in, I’m still doing that, but not every day. Though Amazon and Kindle helped, I’ve found over 60% bought directly from me, and probably at least half those who purchased through Amazon did so because of some connection with me or with someone who bought a book from me. So, I’ve focused on four areas: book signings; book store events; webpage and social media; and what I call “wherever-I-go-the-book-goes.”

Ann.Temkin.Sandstorm.finalA solo book signing event where I have 45 minutes to talk about the book, read a brief section, partake in Q & A, and sign books is my favorite. Excited friends at two churches offered to host book signing parties right away. I sold and autographed 39 copies between the two wonderful events. I have some booked in the future and am exploring possibilities at churches, synagogues, and other spiritual centers by asking people I know. I’ve met great people and had wonderful conversations, and when people meet an author, they generally want to buy the book! Maybe two or three!

Bookstores haven’t been so great. Most bookstores won’t give a self-published author a solo, and I understand that. I have joined events with multiple authors where I get three minutes for “the sales pitch.” Though the owners were great and it was interesting to meet other authors, my experience was that most people come to these events looking for mysteries, romance, or children’s books.

Social media is a must to build momentum; I focus my efforts on Facebook. Everyone says you have to have a website and blog. In my case I haven’t seen a lot of results from these. Writing blog posts is a huge task, and I haven’t committed the time.

Ann.Gurney.Book.Sales“Wherever-I-go-the-book-goes” has been really fun and the biggest surprise. I’ve learned to carry the book deftly with the back cover facing people as close to their eye level as possible. Doing this casually takes practice! People see the picture and say, “That’s you! That’s your book!” and pretty soon I’m selling a copy and signing it for them. I’ve done this at meetings, professional organizations, even the dentist, but I pushed the farthest when I was at the hospital for a colonoscopy. There I was, lying on a gurney covered with a sheet, clutching my book—back cover up—on top of my stomach…and two nurses wanted it!

Most of “us writers” don’t like marketing. And in general we aren’t good at what we don’t like. So I deleted the term “marketing” from my brain, and I began to think “teaching” or “healing” or “having fun experimenting.”

What name would work for you in boosting your enthusiasm and confidence to get your book sold?

Ann’s book is available on Amazon, or pretty much wherever you happen upon her!

Client Success: Vanderyt Publishes Memoir Sequel “Obsidian Rose”

Memoir classes scheduled in Winter and Fall.

“My inspiration for writing Obsidian Rose was feeling like I had unfinished business,” Karen Vanderyt said about her sequel to 2012’s Afterglow. “My writing process was smoother, probably because I had a bit more confidence after editing and publishing my first book, but also because I had worked through a lot of things emotionally.”

Vanderyt.Obsidian.Rose.coverAfterglow: Remembering A Life Well Lived, her memoir about commitment and family, heartbreak and loss, was heralded a love story. This exercise in remembrance came soon after losing her husband of 39 years, Bill, to incurable brain cancer. She wrote to attempt to make sense of those swift three months from diagnosis until his passing.

Obsidian Rose: Reclaiming A Life After Loss shows her reality still full of memories and mourning, but how bringing a Lab puppy into her home while navigating everyday hills and valleys reinforced her determination to create a new life for herself. The pup became a touchpoint, and in turn, the title of the book. To all who know her, she’s lovingly called Siddie.

“Writing the sequel enabled me to be more proactive about doing something about the disease that Bill died of. I have worked through a lot of anger, and I want to feel as if I have made a contribution by supporting Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure and sharing with others my own healing process.” Karen donates all proceeds from both titles to ABC2 for their mission “to invest in research aimed at finding the fastest possible route to a cure.”

Shortly after publishing her first book, Karen began anew. “It was nice to take a break from the writing routine, but I found I missed it and started carving out a few mornings a week to write, and the process flowed.”

Her biggest encouragement came from family and friends, even strangers who identified with her grieving process. “There is a special bond that only another person who has suffered a similar loss can truly understand.”

kv.Kirby.Siddie.porch.back.cover With our ongoing creative relationship of 14 years, she credits our bond of trust and our lively concept meetings as the most fruitful part of her writing process. “They encouraged me to explore deeper levels of meaning,” Karen said. “You push writers to better themselves and their product.”

“Getting the book to print was challenging because there were several things going on at once: editing, proofing, website design, navigating social media, and traveling to visit my three grown children and my eight grands! Life does go on…” She also set a deadline to publish in May to coincide with Brain Tumor Awareness Month, which we achieved.

Currently, she is building a home in Oregon on land she and Bill bought decades ago, land where they planned to fulfill a dream of retirement, a dream she is realizing. “I’m giving myself permission to take a break from writing, and then, I’m going to explore writing a love story about my parent’s early years together based on the love letters my dad, Norm Van Brocklin, wrote to my mom, Gloria Schieve, during the special time in our nation’s history after WWII. And, either concurrently or after that, I’ll work on closing the trilogy of memoirs, writing about restoring life after loss. But I realize that requires living life for a while! And there is great fulfillment in saying ‘yes’ to life.”

And no doubt, Siddie will be right by her side.

Visit Karen’s website and order books in paperback and e-book formats.