Peddling Fast. Going in Circles

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When I was a kid, I had an aquamarine bike that I lived on. That’s where my imagination was born, on that bike peddling faster and faster around the driveway that encircled my home in South Carolina. On that bike, I dreamed of other worlds, made up interesting people including lots of Knights in Shining Armor to whisk me away. That was the place, that spot, where I decided to become a writer. Even though you wouldn’t call my current profession a literary one, I write all the time, just not the novels or stories I dreamt of on that bike with my initials carved on the back as a license plate.

Do I have any regrets? No. Living in regret is a waste of precious time that could be used writing. Over the past few weeks, I fell behind on my blog, my newsletter, and fiddling around with a script idea for Dreams Thrown Away, because I was writing policies for a client. Shh…Don’t tell anyone. I hate to admit it, but there is a certain satisfaction in that type of writing as well. There must be. I have done it for so many years, and no matter how many times I tried to close the door on that side of my writing, another door slams open. It seems that no matter how hard I try to get off that loop on Askew Circle, I just spin my wheels through another opening. I am still peddling fast.

Maybe the going in circles is not such a bad thing either. I know, I know. You may think there is a lesson I haven’t learned because I am doing the same thing over and over. Or maybe, in my opinion, my circle is expanding and retracting, taking different shapes and forms, more like a spiral. You see, humans are not just malleable beings, shifting and shaping our minds and bodies with each cultural and societal shift. We have been endowed by a greater Source with the ability to do many things other species cannot. However, humans spend a lot of time trying to get one thing right. But, what if we were meant to do many things right? What a concept? Maybe each thing comes at a different time in our lives, or perhaps all at once. We are each different, and it’s time society stopped trying to make us all the same. Or, better yet, we need to stop trying to make ourselves like everybody else. Not every woman can fit a dress size 6 or should that be her desire.

This morning, as I write this, I am trying to stop myself from doing two things at once. I want to get on that bike and peddle fast, write more novels, write that script, that short story. And the other part of me says your client wants that policy by the end of the week, riding back into that circle again. But, hey, I am a spiral. I can do both, just one at a time. That’s called time management. The most important thing though is that I am WRITING. What are you doing today?

Dilsa Saunders Bailey, the author of The Sperling Chronicles and A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Doctor, loves to blog as “simplydilsa,” a woman who loves to write out loud. The third novel in The Sperling Chronicles, No Tears for Dead Men, is now available in Print and on Kindle.

 

 

What I Have Learned as an Author

This past week, I stepped out of my usual routine and participated in a book event, The Author Expo at the Dekalb County Public Library in Tucker. At first, I was a bit wary about doing so because of my past experiences with book events. As an author, I have always believed that my goal was just to sell books. That was the attitude I have carried since my first release in 2009. Not that I was entirely off, but what I had failed to grasp was the importance of networking and meeting people face to face. Over the years, I have blogged off and on, hung out on social media way too much, and half-heartedly sought a book club here and there. In hindsight, it wasn’t all about my commitment to selling books, it was more about my lack of knowing what to do.

I am not writing this article because I now have all the answers and I am going to shout what I do know about selling training or eBooks or anything else. I am writing this article because I don’t want other writers and authors to feel left out. As I listen to and read the gurus out there, I have come to realize a couple of things about marketing my writing. One, the best audience is your live audience. Start with those who you can touch and who can touch you, then branch out from there. When I say branch out, I mean choose your venues carefully, but choose. Get out, especially from behind your computer on social media, and in front of people. Engage. Book events are good for that. Even if the foot traffic is low, you will still have a room filled with potential readers and collaborators, the other authors.

Don’t despair though. When I first started out, I spent thousands of dollars on book events and their associated costs. That first year, I attended five events from Atlanta to Houston. My hard-earned dollars were spent on booths, books, airfare, hotels, food, transportation, and shipping. At each event, I averaged the sale of about 10 books. So, you get why I quit doing book events unless they were free. I gave up, threw my hands up until another two years past and I wrote another book. This time, it was more blogs, more social media, launch parties, and book clubs. The momentum for my books was picking up, but so was my nine-to-five. One of them had to go. I dropped the books. After all, I had convinced myself it was a fairy tale. So, what has changed since then? What was the second thing I finally realized? Commitment.

Real commitment. In addition to learning that face to face is as important as a daily post on Facebook or a robust email list, I have realized nothing will work unless you work it. You must stay focused on the results you visualize. And yes, a healthy email list is a plus, but a little voice inside my mind keeps asking, “Does Stephen King have an email list?” At least, I am not on it. And when I open my email, I think I am on everybody’s list. I could spend the day unsubscribing and still have a full box in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking emails. HINT: Please subscribe to my newsletter by giving me your email. I promise I won’t inundate your mailbox. Just saying. However, in addition to subscribing, whether you are a reader, an author, or someone only interested in “Living Life One Story at a Time,” drop a comment to say hi. If I am at an event near you, stop by and say hi. Let’s meet and greet.

But, this advice is not just something to keep in mind for selling books. In today’s society, we need to become more organic, more aware that each of us is human, with feelings, dreams, and goals. Go share those over a cup of coffee, at a book event, or any event where humans are there. And I implore each of you reading this blog, commit to something whether it is to become the bestselling author or the best mom in the world. Commit. Stay Focused. Smile and Say Hello to another human. Let’s continue to keep Living Life One Story at a Time in the best way possible.


Dilsa Saunders Bailey, the author of The Sperling Chronicles and A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Doctor, loves to blog as “simplydilsa,” a woman who loves to LIVING LIFE ONE STORY AT A TIME. All three novels in The Sperling Chronicles, Dreams Thrown Away, Split Images, and No Tears for Dead Men, are now available in Print at most online retailers and on Kindle.

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Dreams Thrown Away ~ The Sperling Chronicles by Dilsa Saunders Bailey

Woke up this sunny Sunday morning after a long day at a book event yesterday to this wonderful review. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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dream_thrown_6x9-perfectebookDreams.  Dreams are a series of thoughts, images or emotions that occur while sleeping.  Having daydreams is something that is pleasurable for you while you are awake.  Most of us dream about what our lives would be like when we get older or what we want to be/want to do in life.  Whenever you hear someone say “I’m living the dream”, the things they thought about when they were younger is happening for them now.  Is it possible to live the dream or is the best we can do is hope for the best?

Kalina Denise Harris is a young girl with a lot of big dreams.  Kalina comes from a small town but she has big city dreams, and she can’t wait to leave this small town behind!  Kalina has dreams of going to a big college and leaving all of the sadness that she has to endure living…

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DO I REALLY NEED AN EDITOR? (Part 2)

GUEST BLOGGER AND EDITOR-LYNN SURUMA returns to explain the different roles of different editors.

So, you know you need an editor but what kind of editor do you need? After reading an excerpt of your manuscript or, sometimes, the entire manuscript, an editor will prescribe the process necessary. That prescription will be based on how close your manuscript is to a finished product. If you have a manuscript you want to submit to a small publishing company or to a potential agent (a necessary step if you’re going to approach a major publishing company), look for an editor who wears more than one hat, someone who does content or substantive editing and copy editing.

What is Content or Substantive Editing?

Fiction or nonfiction, a manuscript must be organized in a way that makes sense to the reader and tells the story you want to tell or delivers the information you want the reader to get. You know what you want to say, you know what you expect the reader to get from your book but, unless it is organized well, your readers can get lost. If they do, not only will they lose interest, but you will lose an opportunity for future readers.

A content editor will flag rough patches during a cursory read of your manuscript and will suggest a reorganization that will make sense to the reader and help your content emerge to its best advantage. This process may require shifting paragraphs around, deleting distracting text and/or writing additional text. Organization can get muddled, and narrative threads can get tangled if not lost altogether, when you’ve written several drafts. Among other potential landmines:

  • Does your narrative proceed logically?
  • Are your fictional characters developed enough to seem real and are distinct enough to the reader to tell one from the other?
  • If you are writing a sequel to an earlier book, did a character you killed off in Book 1 show up again in Book 2?

Editing can get pricey. If you are concerned about cost (and who isn’t!), consider choosing several individuals whom you believe to be your potential audience to read your manuscript before you submit it to an editor. They may not catch everything but, at least, you’ll have an opportunity to address glaring trouble spots before the submission.

What is Copy Editing?

When new writers think of editing, they think of copy editing: spelling, grammar, punctuation, incorrect word usage, consistency, and typos, although the latter is usually considered the purview of proofreading.

  • Do you confuse the meaning of some words, like capital/capitol, peak/peek, eminent/imminent? Are your participles dangling?
  • Did your character ask a question but there is no question mark?
  • Did you capitalize a word on one page but not on some others?
  • You named the main character’s sister named “Deena” at the beginning of your novel, but you changed it in a rewritten later chapter because it sounded too close to the name of another character, “Dinah.” You renamed the sister, “Sara,” but forgot to change the name in the earlier chapters.

Even though the process is not considered “copy editing,” your editor will also make suggestions about changes in style to help you present a clear narrative that flows well and moves forward. This is line editing and addresses issues like redundancy; over-use of a word or phrase; sentences/paragraphs that are too long or are overloaded with difficult vocabulary; and the occurrence of too many clichés.

The editing process at a publishing house is more specialized than what is outlined above but, first, you have to get your foot in the door. The point of all this is for the writer and the manuscript to be presented in the best light to interest an agent and a publisher.


Atlanta-based Lynn W. Suruma, editor and writer, has more than 45 years’ experience editing a wide variety of products, including books, articles newsletters, brochures and pamphlets, theses, proposals and reports. Her published work includes children’s stories, magazine articles, and poetry.  Since 1990, she has worked with Teachable Tech, Inc. as editor and writer of curriculum products for such clients as CNN for CNN Newsroom; The Weather Channel for The Weather Classroom; ABC Inc. for ABC Classroom Connection and ABC NewsConnect; and, for SAMHSA (US Dept. of Health and Human Services), Building Blocks for a Healthy Start.

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DO I REALLY NEED AN EDITOR? (Part 1)

INTRODUCING GUEST BLOGGER AND EDITOR-LYNN SURUMA as she explains why as a writer you need an editor!

You have read and reread your story over and over again. You are certain your piece is perfect ⸺ after all, you’ve practically memorized it word for word! And that’s the problem: You have been “living” with the material for who knows how long and you read what you expect to see, not necessarily what is on the page. Another pair of eyes will be more likely to spot something you missed.

And this is only one reason why another pair of eyes is invaluable.

All writers have their little quirks, those style peculiarities which show up in everything they write. One writer will start off 80% of his sentences in one paragraph exactly the same way. Another will use the same trite phrases over and over. And a third writer, no matter how many times you remind her, still forgets to put her ending quote mark outside the period. Regardless of the type and degree of the error, every writer wants to present the best work possible, not only to interest an agent or a publishing company but, also, to satisfy the reader enough to return to pick up the next book.

You may think you are ready for publication but, surprise, surprise, maybe you aren’t quite ready at all. The question you have to ask yourself is not “Do I need an editor?” but what kind of editor do I need? The answer: it depends on the condition of your manuscript. A prospective editor who requests sample pages to read first will be able to tell you what kind of editing you will need, about how long it may take and how much it will probably cost.

Manuscript editing falls into these two categories, generally: copy editing and content editing, although there are others. See next week’s Blog about the editing process.

Atlanta-based Lynn W. Suruma, editor and writer, has more than 45 years’ experience editing a wide variety of products, including books, articles newsletters, brochures and pamphlets, theses, proposals and reports. Her published work includes children’s stories, magazine articles, and poetry.  Since 1990, she has worked with Teachable Tech, Inc. as editor and writer of curriculum products for such clients as CNN for CNN Newsroom; The Weather Channel for The Weather Classroom; ABC Inc. for ABC Classroom Connection and ABC NewsConnect; and, for SAMHSA (US Dept. of Health and Human Services), Building Blocks for a Healthy Start.

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Our World, Our Stories

TheSperlingChroniclesBanner-FINALHumans love stories.  We exist in stories.  That is why the great teachers like Buddha and Jesus are still revered by the masses. They taught through storytelling, vivid parables and examples of how life should be lived. Their stories resonate within our souls. Stories. They are timeless and are continually seeding our minds with worry or hope or faith, dependent on your life’s situation.

Think about it. You are always telling yourself or someone else a story. Other people are always telling you a story as well. For instance, people listen to the office gossiper because that person is so good at relating a story, even if it’s detrimental. How do you think President Obama was elected or even Trump?  President Obama seeded us with stories and visions of a better progressive world. Trump planted the world with stories of fear. He had his followers envisioning the past as the good old days. Let’s face it, there is never a time when we are not amid a storyline, one that has happened, one we are creating, one that we are planning, or one that we are fantasizing about. Isn’t this why we have become a society of television watchers. We are hooked on stories. I admit I am a binge-watcher. There are only a few shows that I worry about seeing as they air anymore. I’d rather watch the whole season at once for the story. I want the entire story from beginning to end, like reading a book or a series of books. I must have it all.

As a writer who loves to read books for stories as much as she likes to watch television, I know the value of all stories is the word. The words that tell the stories evoke emotion and possible action. What words are creating your stories today?

Dilsa Saunders Bailey is an independent author who has not only self-published three novels and a non-fiction book; she has spent most of her medical services career writing policies, bylaws, operations manuals, and more over the last 27 years. Dilsa is now coaching writers through the self-publishing journey and helping them to set up their businesses using their books as a marketing tool to build their platforms. If you want to learn more about how she can help you, contact her at dilsa@simplydilsa.com or join her blog below to keep up to date with her books and seminars.

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simplydilsa NEWSLETTER – August 6, 2018

Subject: Hello Again❤

Living Life One Story at a Time
INTRODUCING GUEST BLOGGER AND FELLOW BOOKPRENEUR-PAULINE MANSFIELD as she shares her experiences “Living Life One Story at a Time.” Twenty years ago, I never imagined that I would ever call myself a writer; the first time I said those words out loud, “I am a writer,” it was a very weird feeling because it took a while for me to really to believe that I was worthy of claiming that title. Read More…
ARE YOU AFRAID OF PUBLIC SPEAKING?  Are you afraid to speak in public? Writers, if you want to promote your books, here’s a great place to find your voice and to hone your writing skills. Read A Toastmaster’s Tale»
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Drop me an email, complete the form below.
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Author-Dilsa Saunders Bailey
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Help!! Book Reviewers NEEDED!
Just received an email from a friend whose friend had taken “Dreams Thrown Away” on vacation. Her friend’s husband called to scold her for recommending the book. It seems The Sperlings blocked his quality time with his wife. The whole time they were away, she sat on the beach with the book. It seems “Kali strikes again.” I hope she takes time to give the book a review on Goodreads or Amazon. Hope you will, too.

PUBLISHING NEWS

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August 18, 2018
Decatur, GA
August 31-September 2, 2018
Albuquerque, NM
September 26-30, 2018
Lakewood, WA
September 28-30, 2018
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October 12-13, 2018
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Hobart, NY
September 7-9, 2018
Niles, MI
October 27, 2018

A TOASTMASTER’S TALE

1

Enid rapidly tapped her right foot under the table. It was one of her long list of bad habits she needed to learn to control, but no matter how hard she tried, that foot would not stop. Why? Because she was nervous and the promotion she had dreamed of was just within her grasp. All she had to do was to survive this conference. Much to her surprise, she was ready. As she waited for her introduction, she remembered how the air had been knocked out her, literally, when her boss asked if she could stand in for her and speak. Enid had nodded yes, smiled, and ran straight to the ladies’ room to throw up. What had she agreed to do? Of all the things Enid knew that frightened her, the main one was to speak up or speak period. In public, it would be a nightmare come true. Between her mother patting Enid’s knee to keep her foot from tapping the floor to her father opening her mouth to see if there was a tongue residing there, Enid knew with all her heart that she could not do it, neither speak up in front of people she didn’t know nor even the ones she knew.

Greta noticed Enid had moved timidly back to her desk as if someone had given her the worse news in the world. The poor girl was talented and very intelligent. She could write the best suggestions in the world, complete the best-written drafts of policies, and even had other employees looking forward to the once dull company newsletter. But getting her to speak more than two or three words was a daunting challenge. One that most of her fellow employees had given up on which made Enid seem like a loner of sorts. The pain of watching her shrink away into her cubicle almost hurt. Not that Greta had been the most talkative in her early corporate years, she could at least hold a conversation and wasn’t afraid of the higher-ups, but back then she was acutely scared to speak in meetings. Greta’s greatest fear was of saying the wrong thing in the wrong way, not like Enid who was fearful of everything and everybody except her computer.

“Enid, could you come into my office a minute?” Greta had asked as she walked out of her office and called to Enid. The look of fear surfaced in Enid’s eyes. Greta smiled hoping that would calm her a bit, but the jilted way Enid removed herself from her chair made her realize the smile had failed to soothe her.

“Have a seat,” Greta pointed to the chair across from her desk. Enid sat down, and her knee started pumping.

“You are okay with speaking at the conference next month?” Greta had asked.

“Hmmmmm. Yes,” Enid nodded, her eyes appearing teary.

“You have six weeks to rehearse,” Greta offered. “I’m sure you are going to wow the crowd. And don’t worry, my crowd is the smallest crowd at the conference, usually about 40 people. They are really nice though. You will be fine.”

“Why me?” Enid realized the words had spilled from her lips before the thought had been completed in her mind.

“Because I see greatness in you, Enid. You just haven’t discovered it yet.”

“Ma’am?” Enid couldn’t believe her ears. Her father used to ask her to open her mouth and then jokingly he would look inside of it saying, “there’s greatness in there. One of these days, you are going to have to let it out. Speak up, young lady.”

“This is what I want you to do,” Greta smiled. “I realize I didn’t give you much time, but you are more knowledgeable in our department doings than anyone else. You write so eloquently and professionally about everything we do, every little detail. You know this profession inside out, and you can share that with others at the conference. You can tell them why our department is always the top one in the company in the nation, and it’s because of people like you, but you don’t have to brag. You know what I mean?” Greta laughed.

“If I write the presentation, can someone else give it?” Enid asked.

“Nope. You write it. You get the credit. You get the recognition,” Greta said as she opened her desk drawer. “I learned how to stop being bashful and how to speak professionally as a leader in this company by joining a club called Toastmasters. Ever heard of it?”

Enid shook her head.

“No problem, I want you to start a club right here at this company,” Greta said handing her a manual. “I want you to be their first president. Here’s the information on who to contact to get started. In the meantime, I want you to write your presentation and start rehearsing. Every day, I want you to give me 15 minutes of the segment at the end of the day. In six weeks, your life is going to change, but once you get started in Toastmaster’s, well, let’s say everybody will see the same greatness in you that I see. Are you ready?”

Enid put her hand on her knee applying a little pressure to stop it from bouncing upward, the same way her mother used to do. She nodded her head yes, she was ready for greatness.

That was the tale Enid shared as she took the podium at the International Speech Contest two years later. Before emerging on stage, her foot had not tapped, and the words were not hidden inside of her. With the help of her Toastmaster friends she had made, her confidence had grown. Composed and filled with the lessons she had learned in Toastmasters, she was no longer afraid to hold conversations. There were no nervous moments before speaking her truths and sharing her expertise with others. She took that stage owning it, letting everybody in the room know there was greatness inside of her and inside of them.


Yes, I am a Toastmaster, a Northlake Toastmaster!!! Proud of it and always moving forward earning every award that I can. Toastmasters has been very instrumental in me moving forward in my career. Everything I have learned in Toastmasters has helped me to become a more confident leader and communicator in all areas of my life, not just work. Another great benefit of being a Toastmaster is the networking. I have had the pleasure of meeting people from all walks of life, professions, ethnicities, and nationalities. We find that we have so much to learn from each and so much that we share, a special community. If you haven’t visited a club, if you are afraid of speaking in public, or if you are just looking for like-minded individuals who are all about growth, check out Toastmasters. And, be careful, you may join our group of Toastmaster junkies before you know it. It’s intoxicating! Hope you enjoyed the story I wrote for a Toastmaster‘s project toward another award. Let me know what you think. Dilsa S. Bailey, ACS, ALB aka simplydilsa


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