TIME

Time,
we believe
we have so much
when in truth
time spools out
like thread
on a spindle
weaving together
with other threads
creating a tapestry.
Your thread,
my thread,
can break
at any time.
I pray to consider carefully
the choices I make,
the actions I take
so the thread
from my spool
adds goodness to
the tapestry of life
before it breaks.


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


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THE TREE

Someone with knowledge
could save this wreck of a tree,
planted back when water
seemed limitless
and rain fell
with some regularity.
This old Russian Olive
remains stubbornly productive,
giving off leaves and shoots and
and anemic branches.
Still, it is beautiful
in the way resilient
things are.
Defiant, the tree
makes its imprint on Father sky,
an ‘I’m not done yet’ statement,
that encourages me
to say the same.

Covid Cascade, an essay

It is clear there is more to covid than scientists realized with its evolving variants. Now we have something called Monkeypox, which somehow indicates it comes from contact with monkeys. And it does, sort of. To be better informed about Monkeypox, check out this article from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Photo by Lorenzo Martinez the night we were evacuated.

I am not going to embark on a discourse about viruses and their dangers/impact on society. What I want to ramble on about is uncertainties we all face and how we are changed for better or worse by circumstances beyond our control.

In the recent fires in our area, we were evacuated for eight days from our home. Not because the house and property were in danger, but because the air quality was so dense, we could scarcely breath. And we didn’t know our house would be unharmed, especially when we looked to the hills behind the house and saw great plumes of grey smoke and flames leaping in blended slashes of orange and red and yellow heat.

We’re weeks past the declaration of containment and we should feel at ease, but we don’t. We know many people displaced by loss who are further devastated by flooding that takes destruction to a new level.

And it’s not these destructive fires and floods that weigh on us. It’s the unsettling mountains of shifting dialog about where to go for help and whether or how much help will be available. In the middle and immediately following the fires, the outpouring of love and support were beautifully staggering. Food. Hot meals. A place to stay. Clothing. Resources galore. As time has marched on, the tragedy of many has been left behind. The kindness remains but it is woefully disconnected from the specific needs of those most impacted by the devastation.

The thing is, we have all been hit with multiple tragedies: covid, the deaths of loved ones, illness, a senseless and devastating war in Ukraine, people at our borders struggling and suffering, Monkeypox for crying out loud, violence at every turn, mass shootings, an insensitive and cruel political environment, global warming/climate change… I could go on, and so could you. In a recent sermon, Pastor Katie Palmer likened it to Russian stacking dolls. See a summary here. We are individually at the core of layers and layers of influences over which we have no control, but they affect us in unimaginable ways. No wonder we’re edgy.

The other side of that are the acts of generosity and neighbor helping neighbor, strangers stepping up to help, a community taking in those in need, powerful acts of kindness unselfishly given.

One thing we can agree on: thanks to firefighters and first responders the response to the Hermit’s Peak-Calf Canyon fire was phenomenal and kept a horrific situation from being worse. The community took them in as well.

Personal loss is just that – personal. Typically, most of us have a support network to see us through dark times. Where do we go when so much in the world seems to be so wrong?

It may sound simplistic, but live as best you can. Help in the ways you can. Go to the polls come election time and vote.

THE QUILT

Life is a quilt,
one created over time,
one square, one stitch
placed just so
over weeks,
months, decades.
Sometimes the stitches
knot up, tangled
in unexpected
life events:
death of a love one,
divorce,
too much of this
too little of that.
And then
it smooths out
when new bonds
are made,
babies are born,
life goes on.
The quilt spreads,
covering the span of life,
bringing comfort
and protection.
The quilt of life,
the connectedness
that bridges divides.


Check the BOOKS tab to find out more about my work. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.comhttps://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooksAmazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org. Thanks for reading, commenting on, and sharing this post.

YEAR AROUND

Snow Day

The winds and snow of Winter
invite us to cozy down,
take comfort from those around us
in our home and in our town.

Spring’s gay bright blossoms
give us cause to laugh and sing,
as we watch for early robins
and hear the messages they bring.

Summer opens wide its
sunny arms enticing us to play,
kick the ball and swim the lake,
and make the most of every day.

Autumn whispers a sleepy song
of falling leaves and wind all around.
It’s time to rest, they say,
let peace and gentleness abound.


Check the BOOKS tab to find out more about my work. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org. Thanks for reading, commenting on, and sharing this post.

WALKING IN OCTOBER

Walking in October

There, clouds riding high
in a brilliant blue, blue sky.
Further along black birds cluster,
feathers flap with wicked bluster.
A shedding tree bares its limbs,
dropping leaves like floating gems.

A pumpkin here, scarecrow there,
a ghostly presence to give a scare!
The air is fresh with a little bite,
wood smoke smells of fireplace alight.
Oh, the joy of an October walk,
listening to Mother Nature squawk and talk.

_______________________
This is Day 175 of my 365 day self-imposed poetry challenge, which will culminate at the end of April (poetry month) 2022. The photo is one I took today, which inspired, in part, Walking in October.
_______________________

I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org. Thanks for reading and sharing this post.

FOR LAS VEGAS AND AREA AUTHORS

My Books at Paper Trail
A few of my titles at Paper Trail. I’m looking forward to being represented at Southwest Books in Rough Rider Antiques.

Every author I know, or know of, wants to see her or his books on bookshelves and available for purchase by readers. Southwest Books’ expansion at Rough Rider Antiques (501 Railroad Ave.) to include a local author section is an amazing opportunity. The bookstore section is set up and ready to take in new inventory.

Owners Carol and Dennis Ditmanson couldn’t be more excited.

They are looking for any book written by local authors in San Miguel and Mora counties, and open to any genre. Stocking books by local authors starts immediately. For more information, contact Carol at cid1nm@gmail.com to make an appointment.

Book signings and readings won’t be available in the immediate future, partially because of Covid, but Carol is open to the idea.

Creating this opportunity for local writers to reach new readers appeals to Carol on several levels.

“I recently retired from Western National Parks Association. I worked at and with 10 of the National Parks in New Mexico. Our book sales in the Parks were a passion for me and I tried to promote local authors as much as I was able to. The review process at the parks can be a bit challenging. Now, with this opportunity, Dennis and I can approve and carry local authors in many genres.

“I admire the arts and the heart and effort that goes into creating, that includes paintings, sculpture… well, all arts, and of course writing, which I consider an art. And finally, I am a military brat. It was instilled in me by my parents that I should give back to the community I live in.”

As a writer, I’m delighted at the prospect of getting my work before the eyes of potential buyers. Rough Rider Antiques’ proximity to the Castaneda Hotel is a benefit not to be ignored. I plan to submit my books for consideration. Carol and Dennis will buy books outright at an agreed upon discount.

Carol said Southwest Books at FrankieAnnTiques on the Plaza also continues to carry a wide array of books, including local authors, as does Nancy Colalillo at Paper Trail on Bridge Street. The new section of books at Rough Rider Antiques offers an expanding marketplace. Thanks to all Las Vegas booksellers, for your commitment to local writers.


I am an indie author of six books and two chap books of poetry. Check the BOOKS tab to find out more. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I’m also a member of the Las Vegas Literary Salon, a group committed to sharing the work of local writers. Follow LVLS at lvnmlitsalon.org

Five Truths About Indie Publishing

Writing
Write on

I am an indie author, a writing entrepreneur. The following comments are based on my experience and are in no way intended to discourage anyone from self-publishing. I get – and occasionally sign up for – “helpful” blog posts about how I can make a six-figure income using my writing skills. I want to laugh with all the derision my body can muster.

Maybe someone can do that, but not me, at least not up to now. Maybe? Someday?

Let’s start with the cold, hard truth that, according to a Bowker report, nearly four million books were published in 2019, 1.7 million of which were indie-published. For those who don’t know what Bowker is, you can find out more about it here. In a nutshell, Bowker provides tools to help authors promote and sell their books — and resources, such as the Books In Print® database — to help make their titles more discoverable. Bowker, a ProQuest affiliate, is the official ISBN Agency for the United States and Australia. (From Bowker’s website).

Truth #1
There are countless self-publishing platforms. Countless. Researching what each offers is straightforward. Most list different levels of what is available through their platform. The more you pay, the more services you get. If you’re able to go for the gold, or premium package, you will get a ton of help. That does not guarantee success for your book.

Truth #2
These platforms have one goal in mind: selling you services. There’s nothing wrong with that, these are businesses operating from a proven business model. Ultimately, selling your book is not what they are designed to do. Yes, these platforms will give you helpful hints about revising, uploading, editing, publication and marketing, but in the end, it’s your book and selling it is your responsibility.

Truth #3
Everyone wants to help you, for a price. There are many writing gurus who have wonderful ideas about how you can sell your book. Wonderful ideas. All you need do to get this magic formula, is pay a small fee. It could be $27, $67, $87, for a course that would normally cost $367, or $587, or any way higher price you can think of. What a bargain! Well, no, it’s not. If you want to take that course and glean from it what you find helpful, go for it, but it is not a guaranteed path to a best seller.

Truth #4
To be an indie author, you must believe with everything you have in you that your work is the best thing ever written. If you don’t believe that, you will spend a lot of time second-guessing yourself. Equal to that, your responsibility is to make sure it is technically the best thing ever written. Bad grammar, poor spelling, sloppy writing, all these factors will turn a reader off. Fiction authors will want to pay particular attention to plot, character development, and story arc. And believe me, folks, that’s a short list!

Truth #5
Writing entrepreneurship is a business and you must treat it that way. If you aren’t comfortable with self-editing, find a reliable editor with references. It will cost, but worth the expense. Unless they are professionals, don’t rely on your friends and family to review and make suggestions. Even the most honest will hedge in favor of not upsetting you. The cover is your book’s most important marketing tool. Invest in a qualified designer. Cost varies. But it’s not just the image on the cover; it’s the typography, the title, and the book’s back blurb – the first thing readers look at to decide whether your book is worth their time. These critical details done right, will build your confidence in the work you have created.

And, speaking of business, keep track of sales. I know, sounds like a no brainier, doesn’t it? Find a method that works for you, but keep track of sales, where the books were sold, and your earned royalties or margin. Also keep track of books you buy for resell. Your accountant will tell you all this, but in case you don’t have one, it’s a sound recommendation that you’ll find useful over time.

Happy Writing (and Publishing)!


Thank you for being a reader/subscriber. Your likes, shares, and comments are welcomed. Click the BOOKS tab to find out more about my work and to order my books. Follow me at www.vandermeerbooks.com, https://www.facebook.com/vandermeerbooks, Amazon Author Central. I may be reached by email at fsvandermeer@gmail.com.