Try a Different Door!

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My publisher went out of business in January!   That means my books went out of print, and out of distribution.  It was a door suddenly slammed shut in my face–totally unexpected, although there had been signs, had I been more perceptive.

So, what now?

I had three novels in print, one of which was a second edition.  I had worked with my wife on a nonfiction book we published two years ago.  On top of that, I’d spent much of the previous year writing a biography that I anticipated getting published.

Boom!  It felt like hitting a brick wall.

My first thought was to seek a new publisher.  Major problem:  I had no money to invest.  Some people suggested crowd funding.  I wasn’t so sure, but took a shot at it.  Nothing!

Backstory…I’m an artist as well as a writer.  When I started writing I stepped away from painting.  I guess I have a narrowly-focused muse.  As publishing doors seemed to close, I took another look at the unsold paintings I had in my garage.  “Okay, maybe it’s time to change focus.”  I had some opportunities to exhibit my work, so I jumped back in.  Lots of publicity. Painted some new things.  

It worked!  I hung 23 paintings in a month-long exhibit out-of-town, and sold one.  The next month I entered three pieces in a local exhibit and sold one.  This month I entered five in another remote exhibit and sold three.

So what now?  Am I going back to painting?  Probably not–well, maybe an occasional piece.  What happened during this period of art shows was that I discovered Kindle Direct Publishing.  It has opened a  whole new world.  I think I want to dwell here for a while.

Becoming an independent author with Kindle is like going through a different door.  No up-front costs means I’m free to explore where else my writing might take me. The first benefit was it provided a way to publish the book I had just finished writing about my mother’s life.

The book’s titled When Love Prevails, and chronicles her journey from an Ohio dairy farm where she was born, to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia where she blossomed.  Along the way she experienced the Great Depression, World War II, the raising of two handicapped children, founding a residential school for severely physically handicapped adults, the loss of those who children, her husband’s Alzheimer’s Disease and death, and a few years as the least assisted resident of an assisted living facility.  Her faith gave her courage and wisdom for a journey that lasted 105 years.

When Love Prevails is available now in e-book format for kindle reader, tablet and smart phone–and also in paperback through Amazon.  

My task now is formatting e-book editions for each of  my Dinkel Island Series novels:  A Change of Heart, Return of Bliss, and Secrets at Lighthouse Point.  Each book has a new cover, and some good re-writing.  In September my wife and I republished her book through Kindle:  NPH Journey into Dementia and Out Again.

The Kindle door has been a great re-awakening for me in terms of writing and publishing.  Once I finish all the resets, I’ll get back into book four of the Dinkel Island Series.  Meanwhile, I invite you through this door with me…visit my books at Amazon.com.  Read an e-book edition on your computer, tablet or phone, then write a review of your impression of the book and send it to Amazon.  That’s how the system works inside this new door.

Today I’m thankful I tried a different door!  I wonder how many more “different doors” await me in the future?

A Fresh Start

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On July 23, 1982, Sharon and I were married at Mechanicsville United Methodist Church where I was serving as pastor.  We had met a year earlier at Woody’s Funeral Home when I did her grandmother’s funeral.  Having each been divorced, our marriage was a fresh start for us, and for the children we each brought into the blending of a new family.

Having failed at marriage, starting over was a giant step of faith.  We needed, and received, the support of our families, both church and biological, and our friends.  More than that, we needed God’s grace and guidance, which we received in abundance.

Our district superintendent told us about a group called the Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment (ACME).  We became involved, learning new skills in communication, dealing with our emotional “baggage,” and relationship-building that gave us a strong foundation.  In time we attended leadership training with David and Vera Mace, ACME founders.   We led marriage enrichment retreats, and even served a term as leader couple for the Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia Region of ACME.  

We soon discovered a realty we hadn’t weighed.  When Sharon and I married each other, that didn’t mean our kids automatically fit together as a family unit.  Some people thought calling a step-family a “blended” family, would “fix” the issue by changing the focus. In reality, what was needed was “bonding” with each other, respecting each other’s separate identities, and intentionally working at identifying and building a common bond.  Couples facing these tasks needed a supportive network.  To address this, Sharon and I formed The Stepfamily Connection.   Under the umbrella of Mechanicsville UM Church, we held monthly meetings with other stepfamilies, sharing experiences, skills and resources.  The group existed until I was transferred to a different church.

Stepping into the role of a pastor’s wife at “mid-stream” brought challenges of its own for Sharon.  It also brought new spiritual growth and a deeper sense of God’s love, strength and redirection.  A full-time secondary teacher, she soon found building a new family unit required primary attention.  She moved to part-time teaching.  

“Fresh starts” continued to occur.  Spiritual growth  opened new vistas of God’s call in Sharon’s life.  After a few years she went back to graduate school for a Master’s Degree in Counseling, then went through the steps to become a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist.  She spent fifteen years helping other’s find their own fresh starts.

Today, Sharon and I are celebrating thirty-five years of marriage.  We could never have become the persons we are today without the bonding God has given us in our life together.  When she went through a neurological crisis, we wrote a book about the experience in order to help others.  I have continued a life-long artistic expression through painting, drawing, and writing.  We’ve had struggles and triumphs, and most of all, no matter what, we’ve had each other.

We’ve also learned that around each corner, if we keep faith with God and each other, there is the promise of yet another life-enhancing “fresh start.”