Monday, April 30, 2012

How to Get Published Today

 

Why I Wrote This

 

If you have a message that will inspire, make your readers smile, or teach them a truth that can change their lives, then you deserve to know how to get published with the least amount of wasted time and money. In my booklet that follows, I will attempt to tell you how.

 

About Lisa Saunders

 

Lisa lives in Mystic, Connectiut, with her husband and beagle/basset hound, Bailey. A speaker and award-winning writer, she gives talks on her books, Mystic Seafarer’s Trail (includes little-known details about Amelia Earhart’s wedding in nearby Noank); Ever True: A Union Private and His Wife (also a one-act play); Ride A Horse, Not an Elevator; How to Get Published; and Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with CMV. She was awarded the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations Gold Medallion. See her work and availability to speak at www.authorlisasaunders.com


 

 

Table of Contents

Introduction

Summary of What Works

My Humble Beginning—will I ever get published?

The Truth About Publishing

Where to Begin: “Will you be my publisher (or agent)?”

Finding an agent or book publisher

Self-Publishing

Self-Publishing Through Smashwords and Amazon

Query Letters

Book Proposals

Promoting Your Book

Building an Audience (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)

Links for Writers

About the Author

 

 

Introduction

 

My story that follows is meant to be a starting point for you—it is based entirely on what has worked for me. In this booklet I will share my experiences getting published and also address the publishing process at large. I cover the publishing of short stories, articles, non-fiction, children’s fiction and memoirs. Although I’ve never written an adult novel, many of the principles still apply. Also included are lists of free resources available to writers seeking a publisher. Self-publishing is an increasingly popular alternative, so I will discuss that option as well.

 

Summary of What Works

 

If you're just starting out, you might as well know the truth now--you have to be "famous" (at least well-known) to get published by a major publisher. Unfortunately, I'm not kidding. (Don't believe me? Then how did Paris Hilton's dog, Tinkerbell, get published?) At the very least, the publisher needs to know you personally or know your best friend personally to consider your manuscript. It is difficult to convince them to take a chance on an unknown unless you have unique credentials to cover a topic that fits in with their general themes. One intern at a major, glossy magazine finally told me what I always suspected, "We never read unsolicited manuscripts."

If you want to get paid (or at least read by more than your mother), then you need to find a way to start writing about topics of interest to readers. Once editors and readers get to know and trust you, then you can start branching out with your own personal stories.

How to begin:

1. Build your portfolio--local newspapers and magazines WANT to print your words

The easiest way to get your thoughts into print and begin gathering "your" audience, is to submit letters to the editor (don't forget to include your hometown when you do) and to submit stories to those free weekly newspapers and monthly magazines you see lying around. They are short staffed and welcome free stories with a good photo or illustration (thoroughly caption your image and only send them work that won't violate anyone's copyright).

2. Call local editors directly, offering a story for free

I finally began earning money as a freelance writer when I called a Rockland County magazine offering them a story I did on a friend in the area who beat the Guinness World Record time for paddling down the Mississippi River. The editor replied, "That sounds very interesting, but we have a limited budget and won't be able to pay you." I assured him that was fine. I just needed to get my foot in the door.

That article lead to my very first assignment (though still unpaid) from the magazine: "Will you go to Nyack and find people to discuss Russell Crowe's stay there while he's working on his current film in New York City?" I have to admit, it was a bit exciting to walk into bars with a reporter's notebook and pen and ask around if anyone had seen Russell Crowe. After uncovering a few "Russell Crowe" sightings, the magazine offered me the chance to write the cover story, "The 7 Wonders of Rockland," and I was to be paid! The response to the story was great--not only did people call the magazine asking for several copies to use as a sightseeing guide, but a local developer contacted me with an offer to write about the towns where they were building. They paid my expenses to sleep in a bed & breakfast and eat in fancy restaurants in order to review them. They also paid for my husband Jim's expenses in exchange for digital photographs of our travels.

Although this magazine and developer were paying me to write on a specific topic, I was still able to share my personal insights and "voice" within. The local magazine went on to hire me to write reviews of hair salons (thus I got a free haircut from a lady who styles the heads of celebrities), and other places in my area.

3. Contact editors by name at national magazines

It's almost pointless to send a query letter to an editor without addressing it directly to them. You can find an editor's name by flipping through the pages of the big general books like the "Writer's Market" and "Literary Market Place," which are probably available at your library or local bookstore. I've always found my updated contact information by sitting on the floor of bookstores and libraries and skimming through magazines looking for the current editors, or I call publishers to find out who the submissions editor is.

4. Write a query letter that grabs their interest right away

The next step is the query letter, which introduces you and your work to a publisher. I've had the most luck when I begin the letter letting them know I've read their publication or I simply jump right into my story, hoping to catch their interest in the first sentence. For example, this query letter landed me a publisher for my memoir, "Anything But a Dog!" It began: "Inevitably, most kids ask for a dog. And who can blame them? Dogs like Lassie adore you, keep you warm when you're caught in a blizzard and drag you out of burning buildings when you're unconscious. But by the time we're adults, we've learned the truth: dogs urinate on your new wall-to-wall carpets; dig holes in your leather recliners to hide their rawhide bones, and bite your neighbor's kid. So when my seven-year-old daughter Jackie asked for a dog, I said no. Our younger daughter Elizabeth was disabled and wouldn't be able to protect herself from a frisky animal. But I did make Jackie a promise: 'If God brings a dog to our doorstep, you can have it.' In the meantime, I offered her a hamster..."

5. Learn how to use a digital camera

Magazines and newspapers need images to make their pages come alive--and many have had to lay off their photographers. Offer to provide images with your story, and if that's not possible, suggest in your query letter an image they might want to consider. In my historical story, "The Hanging of Henry Gale," I wrote to the magazine: "After reading the article about the Revolutionary War in your June issue, I thought you'd be interested in my story, 'The Hanging of Henry Gale.' My ancestor Henry Gale was a captain in the war who later became a leader in Shays' Rebellion. He was found guilty of treason and sentenced to hang. I can submit a photo of his headstone and suggest an illustration of Shays' Rebellion from the New York Public Library image database."

6. Get out from behind your computer and network

Meeting people in the industry is important. You'll never be "discovered" spending all of your time at a desk. Attending a writer's conference or taking a writing class improves your chances of finding work. At 45 years of age, I finally took my first writing class at Rockland Community College--Introduction to Journalism. Not only did I finally learn that periods should be placed before the end quotation mark, but the instructor was a copy editor who helped get my work published in her newspaper. I also joined the 18-19 year-old student staff of the College paper and learned how write and edit for that. When the College had an opening for a writer in their Camus Communications Department, I was offered the job.

7. Give readers what they want--but stay true to your voice

Why do you need to please your editors/readers first when starting out as a freelance writer? Only when you have developed an audience can you can branch out and truly say what you want to say.

When it came time to write the humorous account of how a homeless dog found his way onto my disabled daughter's couch, I wanted to secure a publisher before spending the time finishing the manuscript. So, I wrote a book proposal (required when seeking a publisher for non-fiction), sharing my harrowing search for just the right pet and analyzing the market, stating who my "readers" already were and who I thought would also be interested in my story. My query letter interested a few agents and publishers enough to ask for my book proposal. One publisher liked the proposal, so we signed a contract and "Anything But a Dog!" was published.

8. Write from your soul

When you write, write from your heart--really share your soul. Don't write what everyone else is writing. If you lay your heart bare, your readers may just find a kindred spirit in you.
M
y Humble Beginning—will I ever get published?

by Lisa Saunders

(skip this if you don’t want to read one of my many humiliating publishing experiences)

 

"Is this Lisa Saunders?" the caller asked.

"Yes," I said, irritated, sure it was a telemarketer interrupting me in the middle of writing a story featuring myself as the heroine. Recently recovered from years of writer’s block, I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop—despite the fact that I couldn’t get an editor to adore me—or even to look at me.

Several months earlier I had sent my first story to Snooty Home magazine (name changed in case I ever work for them), thinking they’d be thrilled to get the first crack at my work—a humorous piece about what a slob I am and what it takes to prepare for a guest. But instead of sending me an offer to be their next great columnist, I received a “Thanks, but no thanks,” form letter. I’ll show them! One of their major competitors will snatch me up. I’ll become a household name! As quickly as I could address the envelopes, I sent my stories to other popular magazines. Still no nibbles. Although the wind was leaving my sails, I pressed on, now querying magazines that nobody's ever heard of.

The caller, sensing I was annoyed at the intrusion, continued, “Mrs. Saunders, I’m sorry to bother you. I’m from Nice Home magazine (name changed so they won't know I lumped them in the “nobody’s heard of them” category). We really enjoyed your “Oh No, Camping” and “My Apple Obsession” stories. Do we have your permission to publish them? We’d like to run the camping one in September and the apple one in October, but we can only pay you in three complimentary magazines. Is that okay?”

Somebody finally liked me! So what if I wasn’t going to be paid and I didn’t know anyone who read the magazine--now I’d have samples of my published work to show editors. Hanging up, I called everyone I knew along the Eastern Seaboard, “I have been discovered and am on my way!”

It was more than 10 years earlier, during my brief stint as a high school newspaper columnist, that I first thought of becoming a famous author. So I read books on how to write, scrolled a sheet of paper down into my father’s old typewriter, placed my fingers on the keys and waited. I couldn’t think of a thing to say! And that was it. I went off to Cornell University, majored in business, found a husband, worked in accounting, and had a daughter.

Writing never crossed my mind again—until the birth of my second daughter, Elizabeth. Born with a severely damaged brain as a result of a virus—cytomegalovirus (CMV)--doctors told me that she would never walk, talk, or even feed herself. Suddenly, I had a lot to say! As a way to deal with my grief, I began writing letters to friends and family to express my feelings about her prognosis and our future. Eventually, I no longer focused on what we didn’t have, but on what we did have, and the letters began regaling fun family adventures. Writing soothed my soul--perhaps getting my stories published would soothe it even more! I bought the Writer's Market, a fat book full of publishers and directions on how to submit your work. How hard could it be?

My September issue of Nice Home magazine finally arrived in the mail. I couldn’t wait to show it off! I pulled the magazine from the mailbox and stood on the porch, opening it to the table of contents. Wait a minute. I don’t see my byline. I flipped through the rest of it. My camping story was nowhere to be found! I called the magazine.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Saunders, we ran out of space,” the editor explained. “We found a humorous piece about laundry that fit better with this month’s theme.”

Devastated, I read the article that ousted mine. I had to admit, it was pretty funny. But I had funny laundry too. Why didn’t I think to write about what a riot doing my laundry was?
When October came, so did another issue of Nice Home magazine. I was scared to pull it out of my mailbox. Was more humiliation in store? But there it was—“My Apple Obsession.”

“Not your best piece,” was my husband Jim’s first comment after reading it. On second reading, I kind of agreed—I doubt I had made Snooty Home sorry they hadn’t grabbed me first. But I didn’t care--I was finally a published author!

Eventually, several of my little stories made their way into specialty magazines and local newspapers. I wasn't exactly a household name, but I was having fun--sharing the ups and downs of dieting, of trying to get a major publisher to notice me, remembering my eccentric relatives who hid false teeth and Twinkies, and of raising a severely handicapped child.



The Truth About Publishing

 

You have to be famous to get published by a major publisher. If you’re not famous, or somehow “in” with a major publisher, you’ll have to start with a small one.

 

The reason you have to be famous? In book publishing, it costs a lot of money to promote a title and the profits on books sold in stores are slim. It is only worthwhile to the publisher if you already have a large following they can count on to buy your book. So that’s why it was a lot easier for Paris Hilton’s dog to get published (remember The Tinkerbell Hilton Diaries: My Life Tailing Paris Hilton by Tinkerbell Hilton?) than many great writers. Now that’s depressing!

And in the magazine industry, they already have several trusted writers they work with. It is difficult to convince them to take a chance on an unknown unless you have unique credentials to cover a topic that will fit in with that month’s theme.

 

It is much easier to get non-fiction published than fiction. Sorry, but it’s true. But by no means should you give up if you believe in your story. If you can tie in your novel to a particular group of people, you’ll have a shot at getting it published or selling it if you self-publish. For example, my children’s novel, Ride A Horse, Not an Elevator, sells well to horse enthusiasts (even though it’s about my terror of horses), because it has “horse” in the title (however elevator buffs don’t seem to be buying it and I haven’t figured out why yet). I met a poet at a writer’s conference who was doing very well with his book of car poems because auto show attendees loved to buy it.

 

 

 

Where to Begin:

 

“Will you be my publisher (or agent)?”

What kind of publishers would be interested in your work? You can start by flipping through the pages of the big general books like, Writer's Market and Literary Market Place, which are probably available at your library or local bookstore, to get ideas on how to submit query letters and manuscripts to major publishers. Children and other specialty publishers also have their own publishing guides. For example, if you have a child who wants to get published, read The Young Writer's Guide to Getting Published by Kathy Henderson.

Although I’ve learned a lot looking through those general books, I’ve rarely found a publisher through them. I’ve always found mine by sitting on the floor of bookstores and libraries and skimming through magazines and books looking for the names and contact information of the current editors, or I call publishers to find out who the submissions editor is. I often find publishers by doing searches on the Internet and clicking into their submission guidelines, which tell me their required procedure and format for submitting manuscripts. Sometimes I find publishers through word of mouth (my sister-in-law: “Lisa, I just met the editor of a magazine on disabilities at a party and she said she would be interested in considering your story about Elizabeth). In my early years of seeking to be a freelance writer, I found a lot of support and advice in a writers group. You can probably find one by asking your library and bookstore if there are any locally or look at Meetup.com for one near you (I include this and several other valuable links toward the end of this document).

The next step is the query letter, which introduces you and your work to a publisher. I usually start my query letter saying something like, “After reading the article about the Revolutionary War in your June issue, I thought you’d be interested in my story, ‘The Hanging of Henry Gale.’ My ancestor Henry Gale was a captain in the war who later became a leader in Shays’ Rebellion. He was found guilty of treason and sentenced to hang. I can submit a photo of his headstone and suggest an illustration of Shay’s Rebellion from the New York Public Library database.”

I finally began earning money as a freelance writer when I called Rockland Magazine offering them a story I did on a local man who beat the Guinness World Record time for paddling down the Mississippi River (he did it in order to raise awareness of Rett syndrome).

The editor replied, “That sounds very interesting, but we have a limited budget and won’t be able to pay you.” I assured him that was fine. I just needed to get my foot in the door. That article lead to my very first assignment from the magazine: “Will you go to Nyack and find people to discuss Russell Crowe’s stay there while he’s working on his current film in New York City?”  I have to admit, it was a bit exciting to walk into bars with a reporter’s notebook and pen and ask around if anyone had seen Russell Crowe. After uncovering a few “Russell Crowe” sightings, the magazine offered me the chance to write the cover story, “The 7 Wonders of Rockland,” and I was to be paid—(although when all was said and done, I only made about $4/hour because of the extensive research and driving involved).

The response to the cover story was overwhelming. Not only did people call the magazine asking for several copies of that issue to use as a sightseeing guide, but a local developer contacted me and asked me to write about the towns where they were building. They paid my expenses to sleep in a bed & breakfast and eat in fancy restaurants in order to review them. They also paid for my husband Jim’s expenses in exchange for digital photographs of our travels (advice: learn how to use a digital camera so you can offer photos with your story).

Attending a writer’s conference or taking a writing class also improves your chances finding work. At 45 years of age, I finally took my first writing class at Rockland Community College--Introduction to Journalism.  Not only did I finally learn that periods should be placed before the end quotation mark, but the instructor was a copy editor who helped me get my work published in her newspaper.  I also joined the 18-19 year-old student staff of the College paper and learned how write and edit for that. When the College had an opening for a writer in their Camus Communications Department, I was offered the job.

The easiest way to get your thoughts into print is to submit letters to the editor (don’t forget to include your hometown when you do) and to submit stories to those free weekly newspapers and monthly magazines you see lying around. They are short staffed and welcome free stories with a good photo or illustration (thoroughly caption your image and only send them work that won’t violate anyone’s copyright).

Finding an agent or book publisher

It is so much easier now to contact publishers and agents because of the Internet. Although small publishers don’t require you to have an agent, most large publishing houses won’t even look at you without one—especially if your book is a novel. To sell a novel, you need to be prepared to present the entire manuscript once they tell you they like your synopsis and first three chapters. To sell non-fiction, you’ll need to submit a book proposal—which takes more work than writing the actual book—and I suggest you write the proposal before completing your entire manuscript because it may cause you to take a direction that will make it more marketable to a publisher (I’ve included an excerpt of my book proposal for Anything But a Dog! that resulted in securing a publisher). Most publishers and agents have their submission guidelines available online.

 

Self-Publishing (may lead to finding a publisher)

If you’ve tried everything and just can’t find a publisher, there is a very good alternative to those elusive publishing contracts. Self-publishing not only gets your book out there faster, but you maintain control of the content and how and when you promote it.

In the mid 90s, on a high after getting several of my stories about life with my severely disabled daughter, Elizabeth, published in a variety of magazines and newspapers, I decided to write a book about our journey as a family caring for a profoundly handicapped child. I called it, “A Time to Weep; A Time to Laugh.”

A round of rejection slips. Despite all sorts of excuses like, “We already did a story like that”; We don’t do personal experience stories” and, “Our editor died,” I still felt the need to have my story told.

I’ll publish it myself! I was inspired by the self-publishing success story of Richard Paul Evans, author of The Christmas Box. His book was so successful he printed it in several languages and it was adapted for TV audiences.

I had my manuscript professionally edited and typeset. Sweltering in my garage during a particularly hot summer in Maryland, I attached the pages together with an old comb binding machine and made a hundred copies.

At first I felt embarrassed promoting a book to the news media that had been rejected by publishers…until the day I received my first letter from a reader:

“Dear Lisa Saunders, I recently read an article…about your daughter Elizabeth. I just had to buy your book…I’ve had a hard time with accepting [my daughter’s disabilities]…Thank you for writing your book. It helped a lot.”

Her letter meant the world to me. My story did have a purpose.

Then, unbelievably, a publisher contacted me. The editor said, “I am attracted to your book, not only because it’s a good story that fits into our market, but because you have already laid the foundation for a good promotional campaign.” I signed my first contract with a publisher. This was it! Or so I thought…

I gave up the right to sell my self-published version (which hurt when I received an order for a hundred copies from a hospital) and spent an entire summer rewriting the manuscript according to the editor’s specifications. But on the good side, I attended the publisher’s book parties, mingled with other authors, and received a copy of my book’s press release, bearing the publisher’s logo and a picture of Elizabeth and me. It featured rave reviews and announced my book’s imminent publication. I had arrived.

But wait. Moments before the book went to press, the publisher downsized. My editor was let go…and so was my book. Utterly defeated, I shelved the manuscript. I just didn’t have it in me to pursue another publisher or to self-publish it again.

I moved on. Besides, the voices of my eccentric relatives from childhood summers spent in upstate New York were calling me. Memories of my great-grandfather’s bed clanging back and forth in his bedroom on railroad-like tracks, my aunt making me use the outhouse, and the terror of riding my ornery pony, blossomed into the children’s novel Ride A Horse, Not an Elevator. It is basically a true story except the part where I, the heroine, overcome my fear of the pony to ride alone for help when my grandfather’s chest is smashed by a charging cow (in reality, my grandfather and I walked slowly back to his house with him holding his broken ribs together).

While the Sentinel newspaper in Maryland serialized Ride A Horse, Not an Elevator, I searched for a publisher. Another set of rejection slips convinced me to try getting an agent instead. Even getting one of those was difficult, but I finally did and signed a one-year contract with her. But she was unable to sell the story to a publisher within the year so I decided to self-publish again. This time I had a printer bind it to look like a real paperback book (called perfect bound) and I sold it to local school children, horse enthusiasts, and New York and Iowa featured it as part of their state-wide 4-H program called, “Horse Book in a Bucket.”

Once again I was back on the road of self-promotion (it would be so much easier if I was famous so someone else would promote me!). However, I do love sharing my experiences before a live audience and I particularly enjoy speaking to children at elementary schools. They’re excited to meet an author and pepper me with questions like, “Did your grandfather really knock over outhouses?”; “Did you really get gum stuck all over the dog?” and “Did your aunt really hide her Twinkies in the dishwasher?”

Not inspired to write a sequel to Ride A Horse, Not an Elevator, or to dust off my book about Elizabeth again, I feared a long season of writer’s block would hit. Little did I know that the inspiration for my next book sat languishing in the dark, right in my mother’s attic. And then it happened—I found them—the Civil War love letters between my great-great grandparents stuffed in a little, old wooden box. Through their correspondence I traveled more than 100 years into the past catching glimpses into the humble spirit of President Lincoln as well as a couple’s commitment to each other and their country despite the war’s infidelities and ever-present threat of death. I scoured overgrown forts and battlefields as well as out-of-print books and the National Archives to uncover the facts and family secrets behind those telling letters. My book, Ever True: A Union Private and His Wife, was born.

And this time, publishers were interested. It was released by Heritage Books in 2004. Although it was great to finally have a book published by someone else, the work of promoting myself was almost the same (but with their connections, they were able to get the book reviewed in a major Civil War magazine and it was a little easier to get certain media to interview me). I have heard that even if you’re published by a major publisher, if you’re not famous, you’ll still be out there promoting yourself. Although self-publishing is more work, there are certain benefits--especially if you are the type that doesn’t mind contacting the media and event planners. Carefully research the pros and cons of self-publishing before you jump in.

Self-Publishing Through Smashwords and Amazon

Amazon has made it so easy (and free except for their commission) to print and sell books through Createspace.com (e-books are published through their Kindle company). If you want your print book distributed to bookstores and libraries, you will have to pay a $25 fee and use their ISBNs. You can also publish your e-books on Smashwords in addition to Kindle (Smashwords lets you publish free e-books--which is good if you want to publish a "teaser," but Amazon's Kindle makes you charge a minimum of $.99 for an e-book). My experience has been both Amazon and Smashwords have great distribution channels and they both offer free ISBNs. Amazon's e-books don't even need an ISBN, but Smashword's e-books do, but they offer you the chance to use their free ISBNs. Others also use and love the print-on-demand printer/publisher, lulu.com, but I haven't gone through their procedures yet.

Both e-books and soft-cover books can handle images, charts, anything. If you know how to insert then into a Word document, and use the formatting criteria both companies give you, your document will come out looking like a real book. I wish I had only used Endnotes instead of Footnotes and Endnotes in my print version of Mystic Seafarer's Trail because the e-book version can only handle Endnotes, so I had to convert all my Footnoes into Endnotes when converting my print version into an e-book version. (In addition, an e-book cannot handle an Index, so I warn people in the first opening pages of the free preview they are given that if they want the Mystic Seafarer's Trail's Index of ships and famous people, they should consider buying the print version instead of the e-book version).

The following is what I've learned recently about Amazon and Smashwords. I started with Amazon's print-on-demand service because they provide free templates for the book covers, which I could then use with the Kindle e-book version available on Amazon (you don't need a Kindle to download e-books--both Smashwords and Amazon make them available in all kinds of formats so they can be read on any computer, phone, etc). Here is an excerpt of an email I sent to someone in response to how you self-publish online:

To begin, you might want to check out this link for the print on demand service hosted by Amazon (where I did the print version of the Mystic Seafarer's Trail): https://tsw.createspace.com/getstarted/productselection

(You will also want to publish as an e-book through Kindle on Amazon and on www.smashwords.com)

It cost nothing to set up my book (and make changes) because I didn't use the extra services they offered. I have self-published before so I knew a little of what I was getting into and I was able to fit my book cover material into the templates they offered. I don't have the skill/interest to come up with my own templates. You can find out how much your book will cost YOU by clicking on a link they provide to tell you that. Since this is a print on demand service, you don't have to buy a zillion books to get a good price per book. I chose to use black and white images within my book to make it cheaper for me. You have to have at least 24 pages to make a print book. Even though I'm doing a short fairytale right now, I have gotten it to 24 pages because I have a dedication page, title page, an addendum, and excerpts of my other work in the back.

I chose to do the print version before the e-book version of the Mystic Seafarer's Trail because the print version gave me templates and directions that were easier for me to understand than the e-book instructions. I was then allowed to take the book cover I designed on Create Space and use it for my e-book on the Kindle site hosted by Amazon. They are two separate companies, so you have to have two accounts and transfer your print book set up over to it.


I chose to use the free ISBN provided by Amazon for my print book. You have to use theirs if you want the book available through Baker & Taylor (libraries like to go through that distributor) and Ingram (bookstores like to use that distributor). I had to pay a $25 fee to make my book available through those distributors. You don't need an ISBN for Amazon's e-book version.

For future books, I will probably use the ISBNs I purchased several years ago at


You may also want to make your book available as an e-book on Smashwords as Barnes and Nobles distributes their e-books on Nook.


Smashwords has an agreement with Podiobooks. I am going to turn my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail, into an audio book at some point: https://www.smashwords.com/links/podiobooksExit

 

 

The Query Letter

 

If you are trying to get your book published by someone else, you will need to compose a query letter. Query letters tell the publisher about your story, your audience and your credentials. What the publisher really wants to know is, “How many books can this author sell? Do I already have the contacts and means to market this book successfully to this author’s particular audience?”

 

After receiving an invitation to speak at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about my daughter’s life with congenital CMV (the invitation came after I interviewed doctors for an article I was writing about CMV), I decided it was time to update my earlier book about Elizabeth. But this time, I would focus mainly on the fun side of her life growing up beside a tomboy sister who wanted a dog. The general public likes animal stories so I decided to recount my harrowing search for just the right pet—one that would satisfy my oldest while not harming her disabled little sister.

 

The following is my query letter that gained a publisher for my light-hearted memoir, Anything But a Dog!, which is the true story of how a big, homeless dog found his way to my disabled daughter Elizabeth’s couch.

 

Dear [editor’s name],

 

Inevitably, most kids ask for a dog. And who can blame them? Dogs like Lassie adore you, keep you warm when you're caught in a blizzard and drag you out of burning buildings when you're unconscious.  But by the time we’re adults, we’ve learned the truth: dogs urinate on your new wall-to-wall carpets; dig holes in your leather recliners to hide their rawhide bones, and bite your neighbor’s kid.

So when my seven-year-old daughter Jackie asked for a dog, I said no. Our younger daughter Elizabeth was disabled and wouldn’t be able to protect herself from a frisky animal. But I did make Jackie a promise: “If God brings a dog to our doorstep, you can have it.” In the meantime, I offered her a hamster.

My nearly completed 40,000-word manuscript, “Anything But a Dog,” includes the accounts of our dysfunctional pets like the hamster who wouldn’t run in her wheel, a Stinky Rabbit who did even less, an ant farm that killed off its ants, the cat who attacked Elizabeth’s face and the inevitable appearance of a dog at our door. Of course we also had other concerns-- keeping Elizabeth alive and happy. Elizabeth was born severely disabled as a result of a virus I caught, CMV. Although congenital CMV causes more disabilities than Down syndrome, most women have never heard of it or how to avoid it through cautious handling of the saliva of young children. OB/GYNs often don’t realize how common the virus is or they just don’t take the time to warn their patients how to avoid it. The back matter of my book includes interviews with the country’s leading CMV experts about the latest prevention methods and emerging treatments.

Dog lovers or those who care for someone disabled will find “Anything But a Dog” a place to get comic relief from the very difficult worlds they have chosen, or have been forced, to enter.

Short stories about our dog and Elizabeth have appeared in newspapers, magazines and newsletters. I am the author of the books, Ever True: A Union Private and His Wife, published by Heritage Books, and the children’s novel, Ride A Horse, Not an Elevator, serialized in the Sentinel and incorporated into Cornell University’s statewide 4-H programs. I write public relations material for the State University of New York at Rockland and am a graduate of Cornell University. A public speaker, I have appeared at Cornell University, Johns Hopkins, West Point Museum, on radio and television, and at several libraries and schools. I will also be speaking at the international 2008 Congenital CMV Conference to be held at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. To see samples of my work, visit www.authorlisasaunders.com

Please let me know if you would like to see my book proposal for "Anything But a Dog," which includes an overview, samples chapters, the target market and promotional ideas.

 

Sincerely,

 

Lisa Saunders


 

 

The above query letter intrigued a few agents I found through QueryTracker.com, but ultimately I found a publisher, Unlimited Publishing LLC, by searching online for one that would be interested in my type of book. After reviewing my book proposal, a contract was signed.  Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with CMV was published in 2008 (the official date turned out to be December 18—my daughter Elizabeth’s birthday!).

Book Proposals

 Excerpt of my book proposal that landed me a publisher for Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with CMV:

 

Book proposals are usually required when presenting a non-fiction book for publication. Below is just a brief excerpt and doesn’t include all of the components of the following table of contents (but you must be prepared to do so). Book proposals, like manuscripts, should be double spaced with page breaks for different topics—I’m just trying to save paper here!

 


by Lisa Saunders

Book Proposal Table of Contents

Summary, Page _

Format, Page _

The Market, Page _

The Competition, Page _

Anything But a Dog! Table of Contents, Page _

Sample Chapters: Chapter 1, Page _

Author Biography, Page _

Author Promotion, Page _

Chapter Summaries, Page _

Possible Reviewers, Page_

Author Resume, Page _

 

Sample Chapter (an excerpt of one)

 

.1.

 

“No, you can't have a dog.”

 

“Mom, can I have a dog?” my six-year-old daughter Jackie asked, standing next to me while I washed the breakfast dishes.

I cringed. The dreaded day was here—all kids inevitably ask for one. And why wouldn’t they? Movie dogs like Lassie drag you from burning buildings and keep you warm when you’re lost in a blizzard. But by the time we're adults, we've learned the truth about them: they urinate on your new wall-to-wall carpets, dig holes in your leather recliners to hide their rawhide bones, and bite your neighbor's kid.

“No, you can't have a dog,” I said, bracing myself for the age-old argument.

“Why not?” she demanded.

My mind raced for good excuses to make my point. Might as well start with the standard one: “A dog is too much work. And I know I'll end up being the one who walks it in the pouring rain.”

“I promise I'll take care of it. I will, I really will! Honest Mom!” Jackie exclaimed.

“Sure,” I thought, “that’s what they all say.” Avoiding her pleading eyes, I picked up a plate sticky with leftover syrup. “The truth is,” I said, “we just can't risk a dog around your sister.” I hated admitting that. I didn't want her to blame her little sister, three years younger, for being so fragile. But taking care of Elizabeth, who was quadriplegic from cerebral palsy, was already enough work without adding a dog that might playfully nip at her.

I know! I’ll give Jackie the “lip-severing story.” That’ll convince her we can’t have a dog around her sister.

“When I was 13,” I began, “I talked Grandma and Grandpa into letting me have a Weimaraner. His name was Bogie—short for Humphrey Bogart—and he was a nipper. One day, my two-year-old cousin Suzannah was playing on the floor underneath the table with a Popsicle stick in her mouth. Bogie snapped at the stick and bit her lip off! My grandmother got the lip off the carpet and wrapped it in a paper napkin to take to the hospital. But it couldn’t be sewn back on. A surgeon fixed Suzannah’s face, but when we got home, my mother loaded Bogie into the back seat of the car and took him to the vet’s. I never saw him again. He took the ‘long walk’ as they say in the Lady and the Tramp movie.”

I paused so Jackie could let the horror of the incident sink in.

But all she wanted to know was, “Where’s Suzannah’s lip now?”

“Gosh, I don't know! The last time I saw her lip it was stuck to the napkin, all shriveled and mummy-like on my grandmother’s bookshelf. But that’s beside the point; can't you see how dangerous a dog could be for your sister? She can’t speak—how would she call out to us if she was in another room and the dog was bothering her?”…

 

[Dear Reader of this free e-book, How to Get Published,

About.com published the following review of Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with CMV: "If you're an animal lover, you'll love the critter tales as much as the special-needs storyline...really lifted my spirits." --Terry Mauro.

To help prevent congenital CMV from happening to other children, please consider ordering the book to share with women of child-bearing age and/or asked your library to add a copy to their collection to help raise CMV awareness in your community.

Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with CMV is available through Amazon and Unlimited Publishing LLC, and if purchased through the National CMV Disease Registry or the UK CONGENITAL CMV Association, a percent of the proceeds are donated to raising CMV awareness and parent support. Thanks in advance for your support!]

 

Promoting Your Book

It doesn’t matter whether you published your book or if it was published by someone else, you must overcome any shyness and call places like public libraries and schools to offer yourself as a speaker. You must also learn how to write press releases about your work and send it to newspapers (although publishers do this, if you’re not famous, you have to do a lot of this work yourself too). Before I knew what a press release was (it’s just an e-mail/fax to the media alerting them to your latest news), I simply called newspapers and told them about my book and that I was available for an interview. Now I write press releases for my job as a Campus Communications writer. You can see my press releases at: http://www.sunyrockland.edu/news

Think of creative ways to sell your book (book stores are the worst place for a non-famous person to sell their books). Most of my book sales come from my public speaking engagements, sitting at events or by using them as fundraisers.

 

Building an Audience (which can help you get a publisher and/or sell books)

 

You can start your own blog or website for free using tools set up by http://www.google.com/ and you can submit your articles to sites like http://www.ezinearticles.com/  and  http://www.articlesbase.com/

When people do a search on a topic, well established websites pop up high on the search. You can also submit your memoir to places like http://www.storyofmylife.com.

I have my own website for which I pay a monthly fee. Websites that you pay for show up higher on the list when people do Internet searches (one man told me that’s not true—but that has been my personal experience). I began the process of setting up my personal website page, www.authorlisasaunders.com, by registering my domain name on www.register.com (they allow you to set up a very basic Website for free). You’ll then need a service provider to host your site. Register.com walks you through the steps. One advantage of my website is that it has a guestbook to keep track of the e-mail addresses of people who want my occasional news in their inboxes. If you’d like to receive my news, you can go directly to my guestbook and sign in at: http://www.authorlisasaunders.com/pageemail.htm

People are sending strangers to their blogs and websites using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

 

You can visit me on my following URLs:

 






It is important that you know your book details at all times to join in on sites that promote books. The following are my book details:

Mystic Seafarer’s Trail: Secrets behind 7 Wonders, Titanic’s Shoes, Captain Sisson’s Gold, and Amelia Earhart’s Wedding. Published by Createspace on October 29, 2012. ISBN: 1480085847

Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus). Published by Unlimited Publishing LLC on December 18, 2008. ISBN: 1588329968

Ever True: Union Private and His Wife, Published by Heritage Books in 2004, ISBN: 0788425269

Ride a Horse, Not an Elevator, Published by Lisa Saunders in 1995, ISBN: 0964940302

You can set up a Facebook “page” versus a “profile,” which allows strangers to click on “Become a fan.” Then they can read your latest thoughts attached to your blog links you post with your updates. You can find my Facebook “page” at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lisa-Saunders/403960002971840?ref=hl Posted on it is a place for you to click to set up your “page” by clicking on “Create a Page.”

LinkedIn has groups for writers. You don’t have to know the members in the group to be allowed to join, although you do need to request permission. To set up an account, visit: http://www.linkedin.com/

 

Why Twitter?

  • The media can follow your latest thoughts/news
  • If you want to follow breaking news from your favorite organization or person like: http://twitter.com/Saundersbooks, Oprah, whitehouse, CDCemergency, Reuters_TopNews
  • You don’t have to be someone’s friend to see what they’re up to and vice versa.

Begin:


Click on:  Get Started—Join!

Full name: (can have spaces in it-people will see it)

Username: How you want people to see you

Password:

Email:

Type in those security words

Click on:  Create my account

Tabs in upper right:

Home: Where you can type your updates and read others.

Profile: Lists all your updates—this is what people see when deciding if they want to follow you

Find People: Provides ways for you to invite by email, find on Twitter, on other networks. If you still can’t find someone, click into “search” at the bottom which allows you to do a more advanced search on a person or topic.

Settings: Has your info about who you are.

 

Other important social networking sites:

Join any social networking sites that cover topics of interest to you. I joined the site, “Moms Like Me,” because I wanted to post information about congenital CMV, figuring that those women are in the high risk group for transmitting the virus to their unborn children. One day, thinking they might also be interested in knowing I just published a free e-book on how to get published (because I became a freelance writer after the birth of  my children), I posted the link to the e-book under the discussion board category, “My Story.” Dominique, a freelance writer and founder of Mommy Writers, downloaded my “How to Get Published” e-book, read it, enjoyed it and then contacted me for an interview to be published on her blog and incorporated into a future article. A book reviewer, Dominique also plans to review Anything But a Dog! I, in turn, was so impressed by her work and mission to help writing moms find publishers, that I posted an excerpt of our interview on my blog and included her link so my readers can find out more about her. The following is the excerpt published in my blog, How to Get Thin and Famous (or at least published!) at: http://howtogetthinandfamous.blogspot.com/

[Dominique]: What would be your best advice for beginning writers?

[Lisa]: Find out what audiences want to read and then find a way to write about that while remaining true to your “voice”—your unique way of expressing your thoughts. Only when you have developed an audience can you can branch out and truly say what you want to say. When you write from your heart, really share your soul—don’t write what everyone else is writing. If you lay your heart bare, your readers may just find a kindred spirit in you.

Visit Dominique’s blog for the rest of the interview at:
http://freelancerforhire.wordpress.com/2009/08/28/qa-with-published-writer-lisa-saunders/

 

Links for Writers

 

Beginning and Seasoned Writers will find resources on: http://www.writing-world.com

 


 

Writer’s groups: www.meetup.com For tips on writing memoirs, visit my blog: http://authorlisasaundersmemoir.blogspot.com/

 

My blog, “How to Get Thin and Famous (or at least published!)”: http://authorlisasaunders.blogspot.com/

 

 

Literary agents

http://www.querytracker.net (helps you search for an agent and keep track of what you sent them)

http://agentquery.com (has great links to lead you directly to large and small publishers)


 

Book Publishers:

HelpAPublisherPublishYou.com (Sign up for their free e-newsletter that provides publishing contacts)

http://agentquery.com/publishing.aspx (Provides links to large and small publishers)



Self-Publishing reference e-newsletters & books: I recommend subscribing to the free e-newsletter, http://www.u-publish.com/ and the books: U-Publish.com 4.0: A ‘Living Book’ to Help You Compete with the Giants of Publishing, by Dan Poynter and Danny O. Snow. Order at: http://www.u-publish.com/ Also check out: The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter

Book Promotion: The books I recommended on self-publishing plus the following links will help you get started:

Make yourself available as a quotable source for writers/reporters at: http://www.helpareporter.com/

I also get several helpful promotional tips through these free e-newsletters:

http://www.u-publish.com/ and http://www.publicityhound.com/ and I have several links with ideas for the endless job of book promotion on my publishing blog: http://authorlisasaunders.blogspot.com/

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


 

Lisa Saunders is an award-winning writer and speaker living in Mystic, Connecticut, with her husband and hound. She works as a part-time history interpreter at Mystic Seaport and is a member of the Mystic River Historical Society and Daughters of the American Revolution. A graduate of Cornell University, she is the author of several books and a winner of the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations Gold Medallion. She is the Congenital CMV Foundation parent representative.

 

Lisa’s other work, plus her free “How To” e-books and availability for speaking, can be found on her website at: www.authorlisasaunders.com. To continue to read her exploits, sign into her blog at: http://authorlisasaunders.blogspot.com

Lisa’s books (and short video of her hound in Mystic) are available through her author’s page on Amazon at: www.amazon.com/author/lisasaunders

Lisa can be reached directly at saundersbooks@aol.com

 

 

BOOKS BY LISA SAUNDERS

 


Excerpt:


Chapter One

Wanted: Epic Adventure

 

Moments after I stepped out of my new home with my hound for our first stroll through the historic seacoast village of Mystic, Connecticut, a woman pulled over in her van and yelled, "Excuse me."

 

Assuming she was a tourist wanting directions to Mystic Pizza or some other attraction, I wasn't prepared for what she really wanted to know.

 

"Do you realize the back of your skirt is tucked into your underwear?"

 

What a debut in my new hometown—I don’t think this is what National Geographic meant when they named Mystic one of the top 100 adventure towns in the United States.

 

Once recovered from my wardrobe “malfunction,” I continued toward downtown Mystic with Bailey, a beagle/basset hound mix, to embark on a new life—to shake off my old, sedentary landlubbing ways.

 

No longer did I want to be known as the lady who always talks about losing weight but never does it. No longer would I sit around daydreaming about becoming thin and famous so I could hire someone else to clean my house. I had a real shot at it now that I lived in a place where I couldn’t help but fall into a swash-buckling adventure—the kind that might inspire me to write a bestseller.

 

Straddling both sides of the Mystic River in the towns of Groton and Stonington, the village of Mystic takes its name from an Indian word, “river running to the sea.” With its scenic views of tall ships, islands, lighthouses, and secluded coves, it has attracted such legendary honeymooners as Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It is a place where those who cross the oceans gather to swap stories and repair their boats. It is where famous explorers are born, visit, or come to live.

 

To launch my career as an adventuress, I decided to walk Bailey to the haunts and homes of such celebrated adventurers as Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic; Dr. Robert Ballard, the discoverer of Titanic’s watery grave; Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, the first aviator to fly over the South Pole; and Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer, who accidentally discovered Antarctica.

 

Now was the time for me to join their ranks, to start living life on the edge. Maybe I could become thin and famous like Amelia Earhart. Like her, I am fairly tall, my middle initial is M, I have a gap between my two front teeth, and until I looked it up, I couldn’t spell medieval either (more on that and her wedding day later). Unlike Amelia, I wasn’t skinny, but that was about to change. I would stop lying around reading about adventurers and do what it took to become one.

 

My husband, Jim, and I were transferred to Mystic by his company, which meant I had to quit my job as a writer for a college and search for a new one in a community that revolves around life at sea—not easy for a confirmed desk sitter like me. Finding the area already teeming with underemployed writers and publicists, I was grateful when my former employer hired me back as a consulting writer. Although freelancing allowed me to work from home in my pajamas, it offered no retirement benefits—hence the need to become famous. Being famous not only helps pay the bills, but it gives you an edge when trying to accomplish other goals.

 

Now was the time for me to follow in the path of prominent authors such as Herman Melville who went to sea on a whaler (a ship designed to catch whales and process their oil) when he couldn't find a job. Although he deserted and had to live among cannibals for a time, he found the inspiration to write his first novel. Further sea adventures, which included mutiny and learning about a whale that rammed and sank the Essex, led to the creation of his magnum opus: Moby Dick. I, myself, could barely get through this “Great American Novel,” but somebody must like it. And now that I lived within walking distance of the Charles W. Morgan, the last wooden whaleship in the world, I felt that was a sign. Perhaps I could enlist as a deck swabber for some epic voyage on it. The house we purchased came with a brass, whale-shaped door knocker. That had to be a sign.

 

If following in the footsteps of a whaling writer didn’t work, there was always the chance I could get famous by finding a dead body—just like Bailey and our older daughter had. Although it didn’t make her into an international celebrity, I use it as a party stopper whenever I want to be the center of attention. Of course, I should really find my own body, preferably of a well-known person. Celebrities are always coming to Mystic to film movies or vacation.

 

Since I couldn’t count on finding a dead body, famous or otherwise, I decided to start small. First, I planned to compile “The 7 Wonders of Mystic”—something quick I could shout to the tourists who rolled down their car windows asking what they should see (besides my underwear).

 

National Geographic’s website suggests that Mystic adventurers bike what it calls the 25-mile Vineyard Loop that includes “some hairy climbs that stops at two of the best wineries.” Hairy climbs? I hoped to get thin, but did I have to go uphill to do it? I thought not.

 

Instead, I would conquer a trail of my own design—one that would avoid hills where possible—and call it the “Mystic Seafarer’s Trail.” It would include “The 7 Wonders” (once I figured out what they were) plus the spots where legendary adventurers lived, worked or got married in Mystic and nearby Stonington and Noank. It would include not only the haunts and homes of those adventurers already mentioned, but also of those you may have never heard of—such as Kate the acupuncturist who gave birth on a schooner and rowed to shore to weigh her baby on a lobster scale.

 

With so many potential wonders to consider and adventures to try, I had a lot of ground—and water—to cover. So, every afternoon, I checked my skirt and off Bailey and I went to follow a scent of our own.

More about Mystic Seafarer's Trail:
While searching for the Seven Wonders of Mystic with her beagle/basset hound, author Lisa Saunders uncovers the secrets behind the Titanic's shoes, Captain Sisson's hunt for gold, and Amelia Earhart's Noank wedding. But will she ever find an adventure of her own--one that will make her thin and famous? Enough to afford a housekeeper? When walking the Mystic Seafarer's Trail (which Lisa designed for those who don't like to go uphill), she meets a blind sailor who invites her on a long, winter voyage. Can this plump writer defy squalls, scurvy, and her fear of scraping barnacles to survive this epic journey?

More chapters of the Mystic Seafarer's Trail, which is available as softcover or e-book, are available for viewing by clicking on the "LOOK INSIDE" image on: http://www.amazon.com/Mystic-Seafarers-Trail-Titanics-Earharts/dp/1480085847/ref=la_B001K7Z5AC_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355776710&sr=1-1

OTHER BOOKS BY LISA SAUNDERS

Anything But A Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with congenital CMV (cytomegalovirus)—the true story of a big, homeless canine and the little girl who needed him.

Reviews:

"Saunders takes readers on a road trip as harrowing as any Dog Whisperer training challenge...Beyond the laughs about a dizzying pet search, Saunders' dog tale is about a mother who candidly reveals her family's burden, love, and acceptance of a daughter born with severe disabilities-and the people, and pets, forever touched by her life."

Tonia Shakespeare, Rockland Magazine

"Sheds light on a disorder that is preventable and not talked about enough. If you're an animal lover, you'll love the critter tales as much as the special-needs storyline...really lifted my spirits." Terri Mauro, About.com

“A hilarious set of pet tales! This mini-classic shines with the assurance that every child is beloved and valuable."-- Dr. Elisabeth Schafer, author of Vegetable Desserts: Beyond Carrot Cake and Pumpkin Pie

Excerpt from Chapter One:

“Mom, can I have a dog?” my six-year-old daughter Jackie asked, standing next to me while I washed the breakfast dishes.

I cringed. The dreaded day was here—all kids inevitably ask for one. And why wouldn’t they? Movie dogs like Lassie drag you from burning buildings and keep you warm when you’re lost in a blizzard. But by the time we're adults, we've learned the truth about them: they urinate on your new wall-to-wall carpets, dig holes in your leather recliners to hide their rawhide bones, and bite your neighbor's kid.

“No, you can't have a dog,” I said, bracing myself for the age-old argument.

“Why not?” she demanded.

My mind raced for good excuses. Might as well start with the standard one: “A dog is too much work. And I know I'll end up being the one who walks it in the pouring rain.”

“I promise I'll take care of it. I will, I really will!" Jackie exclaimed.

“Sure,” I thought, “that’s what they all say.” Avoiding her pleading eyes, I picked up a plate sticky with leftover syrup. “The truth is,” I said, “we just can't risk a dog around your sister.” I hated admitting that. I didn't want her to blame her little sister, three years younger, for being so fragile. But taking care of Elizabeth, who was quadriplegic from cerebral palsy, was already enough work without adding a dog that might playfully nip at her.

I know! I’ll give Jackie the “lip-severing story.” That’ll convince her we can’t have a dog around her sister.

“When I was 13,” I began, “I talked Grandma and Grandpa into letting me have a Weimaraner. His name was Bogie—short for Humphrey Bogart—and he was a nipper. One day, my two-year-old cousin Suzannah was playing on the floor underneath the table with a Popsicle stick in her mouth. Bogie snapped at the stick and bit her lip off! My grandmother got the lip off the carpet and wrapped it in a paper napkin to take to the hospital. But it couldn’t be sewn back on. A surgeon fixed Suzannah’s face, but when we got home, my mother loaded Bogie into the back seat of the car and took him to the vet’s. I never saw him again. He took the ‘long walk’ as they say in the Lady and the Tramp movie.”

I paused so Jackie could let the horror of the incident sink in.

But all she wanted to know was, “Where’s Suzannah’s lip now?”

“Gosh, I don't know! The last time I saw her lip it was stuck to the napkin, all shriveled and mummy-like on my grandmother’s bookshelf. But that’s beside the point; can't you see how dangerous a dog could be for your sister? She can’t speak—how would she call out to us if she was in another room and the dog was bothering her?”...

Anything But a Dog! is available through:

Amazon (e-book or soft cover) at:  www.amazon.com/dp/B005GRAE0I

National CMV Disease Registry at: www.unlimitedpublishing.com/cmv

(If purchased through the CMV Registry, a portion of the proceeds is donated to CMV research and parent support.) Publisher at: http://www.unlimitedpublishing.com/saunders

 

RIDE A HORSE, NOT AN ELEVATOR

Lisa leaves the bullies and elevators of New York City to confront the outhouses, horses and eccentric relatives on her grandparents’ farm. Chosen by Cornell University for its "Horse Book in a Bucket" program.

Reviews:

“A special treat for children and adults!” Mary K. Henderberg, Wayne County Star.

“A ‘warm fuzzy’ in paperback form. It is a tangible tale for storytelling that provides a springboard for discussion between children and adults.” Ruth Zwick, Educational Director, Sentinel Publications

Ride a Horse, Not an Elevator, is a children’s novel about a test of young courage. In this story, based on Lisa’s childhood summers, Lisa is a chubby city girl searching for friendship and excitement. She leaves home, and the elevators and bullies of a big apartment complex, to spend a summer in the country at her grandparents’ farm. Culture shock! Accompanied only by her loyal beagle, Donald Dog, Lisa faces a summer in a very different environment with its own challenges and dangers. Using an outhouse is the least of her problems! She is terrified of her new pony. Lisa’s grandfather is injured by a charging cow and needs her to ride the pony to get help. Remembering Grandma’s lesson about how love overcomes fear, she pushes herself past her anxieties to ride alone and obtain the help he needs. Book includes recipes from grandma’s kitchen.

Excerpt from Chapter Three:

…My mother sighed and then smiled as if she knew something Uncle Jim didn't. "Okay, but you'll be sorry!"

With that, Uncle Jim and I drove off.

Donald Dog rode in the back with some clothes and packages, and hung his head out the window. As we picked up speed, his ears flew back and his lips quivered when he faced the wind.

"Lisa, I don't know this area so I'm going to need you to be quiet until I figure out how to get out of the city. O.K?"

"Okay." I was glad to be quiet. That meant I could dig into the huge bag of gum balls Uncle Jim had bought me. I chewed one gum ball until the sugar coating was gone. I wanted to spit it out to chew on a fresh one. "May I eat another gum ball?"

"Go ahead. But please, I really need you to be quiet so I can concentrate."

"But, Uncle Jim, what do I do with my old gum ball?"

"Spit it out the window. I just can't worry about it now," Uncle Jim snapped.

Spit it out the window? That sounded like fun! My parents would never have let me do that! I carefully aimed my lips toward the window and spit my gum through it. The wind quickly grabbed it and flung it backwards. I chewed another gum ball. As soon as it lost its coating, I again spit it towards the window. I repeated this several times. I was keeping busy, just like Uncle Jim hoped I would.

Once Uncle Jim and I were on the open road driving away from the city, he relaxed. I had almost chewed through all my gum. "Uncle Jim, I have to go the bathroom."

"Well, you'll have to wait until I find a sign for a rest room."

"But Uncle Jim, I have to go really bad--now...I can't wait!"

"All right. I'll take one of these exits. Maybe we'll find a gas station or something."

I could barely stand the ride, I was so uncomfortable. When I turned around to check on Donald Dog, I was horrified. Donald's head was happily hanging out the window, but stuck all over him and the back seat were chewed up wads of gum! The gum I had spit out had been swept right back into the open window behind me. It was all over the seats and Uncle Jim's clothes. Donald Dog had been stepping on it and grinding it in. What was Uncle Jim going to say about this!...

To buy: click on image at: www.amazon.com/author/lisasaunders

To have Lisa present her book and the "Horse Book in a Bucket" program, contact her directly at saundersbooks@aol.com

Learn more about Lisa’s Writing Workshops for Children at: rideahorsenotanelevator.blogspot.com

 

Ever True: A Union Private and His Wife—The Civil War love letters of a Union Private and his 17-year-old wife. Published by Heritage Books.

Reviews:

“The story of how the marriage between Charles and Nancy survives separation, disease, the threat of death, and malicious gossip is compelling.” Pamela Goddard, Ithaca Times

“I was thoroughly fascinated by the letters and much impressed by the artful way the material was woven together. The story is cohesive and informative, but charming and romantic in a very personal way - I think this has real potential on several different fronts." Corinne Will, Managing Editor, Heritage Books, Inc.

 “From seeing New York City for the first time, to the suffering of a soldier at war, EVER TRUE is a compelling first-hand glimpse into the emotions and experiences of the people who helped build our great country.” Terry Thiry, Radio Personality

To buy: 1-800-876-6103, or click on image found at: www.amazon.com/author/lisasaunders

Excerpt: I carefully unfolded the stiff yellowed paper, incredulous that I was actually touching a letter written during the American Civil War. It was one of 150 letters written between my great-great grandparents that I had discovered in a small wooden box in my mother's attic in Suffern, New York. The note I held in my hand, authored by Private Charles McDowell to his wife Nancy, was written on a small, plain piece of stationery--not at all fancy like some of the others in the batch which bore sketches of the White House and battle engagements. I gently smoothed it flat on the table, afraid I would tear it. The handwriting was strange, the ink somewhat faded, making it difficult to read. And then suddenly I came upon a word I recognized in an instant--Abe! It read, "We have [Secretary of State] Seward down here about every other day, and sometimes he fetches Old Abe with him and [he] looks about like any old farmer." I couldn't believe it - Charles met Lincoln!

In addition to the letters was Nancy's obituary, which reads: "MRS. MCDOWELL IS DEAD - SHOOK HANDS WITH LINCOLN. With the death of Mrs. Nancy Wager McDowell...the town of Sodus probably loses the distinction of having a resident who could boast of having shaken hands and talked with the martyred Lincoln… Mr. McDowell was a member of the Ninth New York Heavy Artillery in the Union Army and it was while stationed near Washington that his wife had an opportunity to speak with the President. Mrs. McDowell passed nearly a year in that vicinity and many were the pies she baked for the soldiers stationed at the capital. Typhoid Fever caused her to return to Alton to the home of her parents…" ("The Record," Sodus, Wayne County, N.Y. September 18, 1931)

I took the collection of letters back to my home in Maryland and began what was to become an exciting ten-year adventure. First I arranged the letters from Charles by date and began to read. Once I grew accustomed to his old-style handwriting and run-on sentences, I felt myself leaving the present and entering his past. I traveled back over 130 years and joined Charles in heart and mind. I felt his loneliness, his boredom, his fear. I laughed when he found a reason to laugh. He and his brother had enlisted despite his Canadian father's pleas to stay out of the war. As the months of his service turned into years, I hurt over his deep longing for his wife and home and for the life and family he left behind in Canada.

In other letters I was shocked to read of the desertions, hangings, amputations, prostitution, and even theft and murder among Union troops. Charles wrote home about the battles of Cold Harbor, Jerusalem Plank Road, Monocacy, Opequon (Winchester), Cedar Creek, the Siege of Petersburg, an attack by Mosby's Men, and the Shenandoah Valley Campaign.

Next I tackled Nancy’s writing. As her collection of letters drew to an end, I was completely immersed in her anxious thoughts about Charles's welfare. She hoped there hadn't been a "ball made to kill" him. She hoped he wouldn't get too close to the Southern women when he occupied their homes. She longed for him to return to her--even if it was just for a short furlough. She wrote that she would rather be dead than continue to live the way they were. I now pondered the final years of her life spent rocking in her chair looking out the window. Perhaps she was awaiting her death so Charles could come for her once more…

 

Shays’ Rebellion: The Hanging of Co-Leader, Captain Henry Gale

A Revolutionary War veteran is found guilty of treason and sentenced to be hanged for his leadership role in Shays’ Rebellion. The shore-book is available on Amazon or at: www.smashwords.com/books/view/55159

 

LISA’S FREE E-BOOKS

Visit Lisa’s page on smashwords.com to download the following free e-books:

How to Get Published

How to Get a Job

How to Promote Your Business (or yourself)

 

LISA’S SPEAKING TOPICS INCLUDE:

 

1.         Graveyard Adventures—you never know who you will meet!

2.         The Hanging of Henry Gale—from patriot to traitor in Shays’ Rebellion

3.         The 7 Wonders of Mystic

4.         Finding Humor on Life’s Adventures—and Misadventures!

5.         Civil War: Union Private & His Wife (available as a talk, one-act play, or combination)

6.         How to Get Published

7.         How to Get a Job (Lisa is a former employment recruiter)

8.         Stop CMV (Lisa is the Congenital CMV Foundation parent representative)

9.         How to Get Free Publicity

10.       Children’s Writing Workshop (Cornell University included, Ride a Horse, Not an Elevator, in its “Horse Book in a Bucket” program)

11.       A Time to Weep, A Time to Laugh—Moving forward after the death of a child

 

Lisa’s appearances: USA 9 News… Cornell University… West Point Museum…Washington Independent Writers Association… Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)… Seward House… Lincoln Depot Museum…Johns Hopkins University… Siemens Healthcare  Diagnostics… Rockland Community College… Three Rivers Community College… Daughters of the American Revolution… Civil War Round Tables… Fitch Middle School… Women’s Clubs… Genealogical  conferences… grammar schools… Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association.