Current list of books I’ve written

Free Range Faith.   Essays on following Jesus and not Christianity.  Published 12/11/2014.  ISBN-13: 978-1502367679

Fortunate Stamps.  Collage using stamps and fortune cookie messages. Published 1/17/2015.  ISBN-13: 978-1507623480

The Condensed Gospel.  The Gospel, as one story, in order, with no repetition.  Published 12/19/2015.  ISBN-13: 978-1505514940

Travel by Stamps.  An all-ages story using vintage stamps for the illustrations.  Published 12/27/2015.  ISBN-13: 978-1522947127

Some for the Road: Meditations and milestones on the road of recovery. Daily meditations on recovery. Published 4/22/2017.   ISBN -13: 978-1507633588

Images of God (in color).  Inspirational poetry and pictures, in full color.  Published 6/21/2017.   ISBN-13 978-1546815129

Images of God (in black and white).  Inspirational poetry and pictures, in a more affordable black and white format.  Published 6/23/2017.   ISBN-13 978-1548191023

Short and Strange. 25 unusual short stories inspired by vintage photographs.   Published 9/26/2017.   ISBN-13:  978-1974103669

maps for lost places. 27 speculative fiction short stories.  Published 1/6/2018. ISBN-13: 978-1981396856

Creating a Life. Essays about being an artist with a full-time life. Published 2/17/2018.  ISBN-13: 978-1985022140

home is a place in your heart. Essays, poems, workbook-style prompts and full color pictures exploring the idea of “home”. Published 10/30/18   ISBN-13: 978-1726019750

The Invisible House series.    Essays and tales about negative space and impermanence. It is more of an art piece than anything else. It is non-classifiable.   ISBN 9781795706964   Kindle edition published 2-27-19

The Abandoned Project (volume 1) Short stories inspired by pictures of abandoned doors and gateways. Published 5/16/19    ISBN: 9781799149507

Short and Strange volume 2    21 short stories inspired by unusual black and white vintage photographs. Published 11/22/19   ISBN: 978-1703976113

Stamp Stories   A diverse collection of art and stories illustrated by stamps and ephemera.  In color.  Published 3-23-20.   ISBN: 979-8629681601

Tuesday Buffet   A series of photographs taken once a week of a tree, for a year. Published 3/31/20.    ISBN: 979-8632414265

Female Trouble: stuff we don’t talk about   Essays on womanhood in 21st century America.  Published 5/8/20    ISBN: 9798644132874

poems for hard times    47 poems of inspiration and uplift, written between 6/30/13 and 1/31/19.  Published 5/14/20   ISBN: 9798645747121

Wander    Essays, poems and stories inspired by The Wander Society.  Written between February 2016 and June 2018.  Published 6/23/20    ISBN: 9798656489744

All titles are available through Amazon. Most titles are also available on Kindle unlimited.

Library thoughts – book magic

People think that if you work in the library, you are a librarian. They think that librarians are intelligent and deserve respect. In many ways, they give them more respect than teachers.

They do not realize and are surprised to discover that to be a librarian you have to have a Master’s degree in library science. Just working in a library doesn’t mean you are a librarian.

Thus, they think merely working in a library is enough to indicate intelligence and command respect.

Thus, merely being around books makes you smart and respected. This seems to not apply to booksellers, though. Perhaps it is the number of nonfiction books to fiction that makes the difference. Perhaps it is because librarians help you for free, so their actions seem altruistic.

I don’t know. I’m running with it though, because it benefits me.

I spent a lot of years working retail, and honestly, the library is a lot like retail. I like it better, not just because people respect me more. I’m the same person whether I’m at Waldenbooks or the library, so it isn’t me, it is them.

I like working at the library because I can help people regardless of their ability to pay. I always felt a little guilty encouraging people to look at extra items when I worked in retail. There was always a little bit of tension there because of it. They’d sometimes say “Oh, you want me to get this so you’ll get a higher commission.” No, it is because it will benefit you. Or you need it.

Now there is no tension. They can have 100 books at a time.

In a related thought, people are now saying to me “Wow! I know a real author!” Being a writer isn’t enough. Publishing a book is what makes it real. Maybe this is part of working in the library. People respect books. Real, physical books. Just being around them, the magic rubs off on you.

On being a “real” author.

I’m looking at publishing some of my blog in book form. This has lead to a lot of questions. Do I self publish? If so, who with? How much do I want to do on my own? Do I try to find a “real” publisher? And perhaps more importantly, what do I hope to gain from publishing my words in book form?

They are already out in the world. They have already been seen. They are available all the time to anyone who has access to the internet.

In part I want to provide an experience. I want to provide an order and a flow to it. I wrote my pieces at different times and with different topics. And not everything is that great.

In part I had to write some of the “meh” pieces to get to the “ah ha” pieces. I’m reminded of the idea that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. So you have to write a lot of posts before you find your focus.

In a way I want to provide an appetizer, then a four course meal, then the dessert. I want the posts to lead from one to another in a logical way. I want them to be grouped together in a logical way too. There is an order of sorts with the blog because of tags and of categories, but there is nothing saying that people will go from one to another in order. That is a strength and a weakness to a blog.

Right now what I have written is more like an uncompleted jigsaw puzzle. That was helpful to me at the beginning. I allowed myself to write whatever I wanted and in whatever order. This meant that I didn’t have any rules. Sometimes rules help and sometimes they hinder. I felt that if I told myself I could only write about one topic at a time then I’d miss some posts that would be valuable. In a way it is like drawing without any lines. You have to do whatever works to get the work done.

Recently I was talking with a guy with a company that is a division of Thomas Nelson. That company’s name would be in my book, but it would still be mine and I would pay for it. It wouldn’t be cheap. The starting price is one thousand dollars.

Cough.

Now, that amount of money isn’t just for their name. They would do the formatting. They would create the cover. They would professionally print it. They would proofread and edit it. Basically all I’d have to do is write it, and really, that is already done.

Now, it would have to fit in their strict guidelines. They are a Christian company. They don’t allow slander, cursing, or plagiarism in their books. You also have to actually state that you, the author, are Christian.

In a way they would legally protect me too. They would make sure that nothing in it could come back to haunt me.

But a thousand dollars is a lot of money. I’d get just ten copies for that. I’d have to pay for more copies.

The representative was trying to rush me, to get me to commit to them. He wanted me to hand over money before he even looked at my work.

I told him that I know his job is to get the little fishes into the basket. He laughed. He couldn’t say anything to that because “The call will be recorded for quality assurance purposes.”

I was being kind. His job is to hook them, to reel them in.

I said I’ll think about it. I haven’t dismissed that avenue. That name is a respected one in the book world. They have high standards. Their books are good inside and out. If I went with them, that would make my work look even better and give it a level of authority.

He mentioned something that publishing your own book is like starting an independent business. If you are going to open a coffeeshop, do you go and do your own thing, or do you go with a known brand? Do you have a small Mom and Pop shop or do you lease a Starbucks? He said that people gravitate towards the already known and already tried. Also, if you go with the known brand they’ve worked out a lot of the kinks for you.

But, a lot of people I know trust the individual shop more. They like the quirks and charm of a one-off. They’d rather support an independent over a chain any day. They know that more time and attention goes into the independent shop. They care, because they have to.

What I need to do now is to separate the wheat from the chaff. I need to focus in on one topic or a related group of topics and put them all together. I’d need to do this for any publisher – whether it is “real” or self-published. I already have a good idea of what posts the most useful or helpful that I’d like to use.

There is nothing stopping me from trying with CreateSpace. It is the self-publishing division of Amazon and is totally free. I’d have to do most of the work. The reviews are good. I have friends who have used them and they like them very much. But you get what you pay for.

The marketing is the same with both companies. There is none. I’d have to do it all on my own.

And, as people are pointing out, actual brick and mortar book stores are disappearing. So why am I worried about the idea of how am I going to get my book on the shelves and into the hands of readers?

I certainly don’t just want to just sell to my friends. That is a very limited pool. I want a wide audience. I knew someone who got in on a pyramid scheme of selling supplements. The pyramid collapsed on him because he was only able to market to his family and friends. He ended up having to buy a lot of the product himself. That is insane.

I am bold enough to say that I think that some of the things I have written are revolutionary, and helpful, and needed. I am bold enough to say that I think everybody should read what I have to say, especially Christians. They will be the most challenged by it, and they will give me the most flak.

Boldness is part of writing. Just writing, even if it is just for yourself, is claiming your voice. It is saying that what you think matters and needs to take up space in the world. To post it for your friends to read is another step. To post it so strangers can read it is a further one.

I feel like I am just getting braver and braver with each step.

Where am I headed?

Further away, or closer towards? I think that perhaps it is a little of both.