The Visitors – book list

So, interested in what books have inspired me in creating this series? Here they are – but really the push for it came from a dream that lasted all night. Perhaps these authors had a similar kind of dream.
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“The lion, the witch, and the wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis

“The Long Earth” by Terry Pratchett

“The Skin Map : a bright empires novel, quest the first” by Stephen Lawhead

“Vengeance for a Lonely Man” by Simon Green

To create a book. Thoughts.

I’m having debates in my head about how to do the book and if I’m ready to publish. I realize now that I’ve already said it several times – it is already written, I don’t need to add more.

I’m still writing more, and I can and will always write more. I have finally realized that I can publish the new stuff later. I can republish old stuff and put it with new stuff if I find I’m writing a lot on one theme – like Communion, for instance. This book is a taste, a start, a beginning.

I’m weary and I worry about going through editing. But then I remember the only thing to it is to do it. Just start.

Also, then I remember the Jewish idea of the yetzer hara – knowing about it is helpful. I’m seeing all these distractions as a sign that I’m on to something good. It is a sign now, when I stop to notice it playing this game on me.

Just like how a child learns “this” feeling is a sign to go to the bathroom – “this” feeling of being distracted is a sign that outside influences are messing with me, trying to stop me from doing what I’m being called to do, what I’m made for. Sounds paranoid? It isn’t. It is actually very healthy. The idea of the yetzer hara isn’t mine, and it isn’t new. It was very freeing to learn about it. I’ve written about it many times before. It is an indicator to me now. I’ve transformed it from being a stumbling block into a steppingstone.

The idea of the yetzer hara needs to be introduced in mental hospitals. Heck, it needs to be introduced to people before they get into mental hospitals.

So the more I write about writing, the more I’m not putting my book together. See, it is a game, a distraction. This is all part of being human. I still feel a need to publish something every day. It is a way to stretch and clean out my head. But I need to use this unintended vacation time (the library is closed for remodeling) to work on my book, as I’ve said all along.

Perhaps there is a good reason I found out that Internet Explorer isn’t to be trusted. I was using it and Chrome to work on the book. I had my main blog open on Chrome, and I had the Empty Cross Community blog open on IE. I’d post from one to the other, and check to make sure I’d not already posted something. I created the second blog just to create file folders for my book. My first book. Which is already written, mostly. I’ve not added anything new to Empty Cross Community that isn’t already in BetsyBeadhead. It is just more focused – just the religious stuff. No rambles, no pictures.

I found out that IE is highly suspect, so I stopped using it. It is impossible to look at two WordPress sites using the same browser – I can’t log into both and look at both. It thinks I’m “BetsyBeadhead” when I’m on “EmptyCrossCommunity”. It won’t let me post to it. So I had to stop. I’m starting to see this as a good thing – it has created a stopping point. Start on the next part of the project. Stop adding to it. Start formatting.

Time to get going. Wish me luck, and say a prayer if you are the praying type. Pray that my words are of use to people, that they lead them towards God, and towards healing.

Changing gears

When I made a lot of jewelry in college, I would go on binges. I’d feel really creative and make just one earring of each set. I’d make about twenty different single earrings like this. To slow down long enough to finish out the pair would stop the flow. I’d leave the tray of singles aside until another day, when I wasn’t feeling as creative but I wanted something to do. Then I’d make the other one.

I’m finding it is the same with writing. I’ve reached a slower part. It is now time to condense everything and sift out what needs to go into a book.

There are plenty of contenders for the first book. I feel like I’ve written about three, all at once, over sixteen months. I certainly hadn’t planned on writing this much.

It isn’t all awesome. Some of it is rambling. Some of it is just a warm up for the rest. Some of it is pretty worthwhile. Some of it surprises me. Some of it I don’t remember writing.

The funny part is that with writing and jewelry it is the same. The stuff that I really like, that I poured a lot of work into, is the stuff that gets ignored. My “throwaway” pieces get far more notice and attention. Well, except for the stuff I publicize. When I’ve posted stuff on well-trafficked pages on Facebook, I’ve gotten thousands of hits.

For a while I was writing three posts a day. Sometimes five. For a while I’d wake up with a new idea for something to write every morning. Then I’d get new ideas during the day and I’d jot them down in my notebook. For a while I felt like the ideas were wrestling for my attention, demanding to be written. For a while it was overwhelming.

It has slowed down quite a bit, and I’m glad in a way. I’m a little concerned it means that things are drying up, but I still have my notebooks full of ideas. They are like little seeds. Just water them with a little time and they will grow into full sized posts. They are like zip files – compressed information. The ideas were coming so fast it was almost like I had to take shorthand in order to catch them.

Now is the time of sorting. I’ve sort of pre-sorted all along. I’ve put posts into categories and I’ve tagged them. The only issue is that some posts are in multiple categories and some have multiple tags. While this is fine in a blog, it isn’t fine in a book. Books are very linear. Blogs are very, well, not.

I’m not a big fan of sorting, but it doesn’t do itself. Sometimes I think I’d like to have minions. It would be nice to have an assistant to sort and sift. But then whatever comes out of this is going to have my name on it, so it needs to be all stuff that I not only like but can stand behind.

I’m sorting things roughly now. I’ve created a separate blog just for the religious/spiritual pieces to help me organize. Interestingly, that blog has its own set of followers. I don’t advertise it. But creating it gives me a different way to look at what I’m sorting out. I put the posts in folders on my computer as well. Then I’ll go through and look at them again, closer, and weed out what isn’t quite useful at this time.

It is kind of like making a jigsaw puzzle, except it doesn’t have the ease of visuals. I can’t just look at a post like I can with a puzzle piece and tell that it has a bit of sky in it, so it goes over here. I have to read the posts closely for themes. It takes longer.

Just getting them from one blog to the other (and the folders in between) takes a long time. It was really slow going for a while but I’ve finally learned to open up two browsers. I’m almost embarrassed to admit how I was doing it before. It was quite clunky and I was losing posts. I was also getting confused as to how I was sorting them.

This work is pretty dull in some ways, and interesting in others. I’m coming across some posts that I’ve forgotten. I’m also a bit amazed at how much I’ve written. I have no idea if this will do well as a book either. I may spend a lot of money self publishing it and nothing will happen. Sure, it is already “published” on the web, but there is something about having an actual book that says “real author”. Of course, having it published by a “real” publishing company versus self-publishing says that.

The stigma is going away for self-publishing. People don’t look askance at it. There are plenty of stories of authors these days being turned down by major publishing houses, only to go ahead and publish their work on their own. Then they make a lot of money, and the publishing house begs their forgiveness. Then they show a contract to the author, and the author realizes that she would lose a lot of money to get her book published by them. It is kind of like going freelance versus working for a company. An electrician who works on his own charges a lot less and takes home a lot more than the one who works for a business. Plus, people seem to like the renegade, the rebel, the self-starter. People cheer on the underdog.

I’m reminded that Emily Dickinson’s poems were unknown to anyone other than her in her lifetime, and that Mozart wasn’t acclaimed anywhere near what he is now. I’m also reminded that even Thoreau self published a book.

Do I want fame? Not really. Do I want the ideas that have come to me to change the world? Yes. Do I trust that God’s hand is in all of this? Yes, and no. But this is normal for me. I want to make the frog’s legs grow faster, because the tadpole is too slow. I feel like my “push”, my desire to get things done, is from God. Is it, or is it just me being impatient? A lot of it is trusting the process, and just showing up, right? I think if I pray hard and work hard, then what will happen next is what is meant to happen. I think that if I work to align myself with God, then I’m on the right path no matter what happens. I think that even if I think I’m off the path, it turns out that is part of the path too.

Writing a book.

I want to write a book. Well, essentially, I’ve already written a book. I just need to put it together.

I’ve been writing a book all along with this blog. I’ve actually been writing several books. Each post is a page or two. I’ve got way more than enough posts and enough topics to write about three books right now. The problem is sifting through everything. In a way it is like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Or maybe it is like disassembling one.

Ideally, I would have been copying what I’ve been writing into a Word document, sorting it into folders, all along. That way it would already be done. I didn’t do that, because I didn’t know that was what I wanted to do. Now I know better.

The problem is time. I still have a forty hour a week job. And the new ideas keep coming. It is hard to do it all at once. But then again, I am having a hard time believing that I’ve written as much as I have in sixteen months. When I started I had the goal of posting three times a week, with the hidden goal of at least once a day. I’ve far surpassed that.

What I need to do is sit down and start sorting. I’ve done some of it. There is a lot more to go through.

I just have to commit to doing this daily. Even a little bit a day and it is done. While feel obliged to post something new every day, then I remember that nobody is paying me for this. Some days I’ve posted anywhere up to five things. So I’m ahead.

I think I’m using the idea of “I have to spend the time working on new things” as a diversion to not work on this project.

And that lets me know it is the “yetzer hara” doing the talking. This is the Jewish idea of the “negative influence” that tries to stop us from doing good things. I have learned to use its powers against it, like in aikido. When I feel it trying to prevent me, then I know I’m onto something really good and amazing. It actually spurs me on, rather than preventing me – once I notice it.

So, it is time for a shift in energy. Time to start sorting. I’ll try to post new things too because that is a good exercise for me. But I’ll try to use things that I’ve already worked on part-way rather than stuff I have to start from scratch. There are plenty of ideas that I’ve gotten some of the way into and just not finished. This way I’ll be using them up and not taking as much time. This way I’ve got more time to sort.

But mostly, I’m going to spend some of my writing time as book time. This stuff doesn’t do itself, and I don’t have minions. Even if I did, I’d want to make sure that anything that has my name on it is the way I want it.

The only thing to it is to do it. Wish me luck. Sometimes the biggest battles are in our heads.

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.

Book – what to include?

Dear Readers –

I am going to put some of this blog into a book. Do you have any particular posts that come to mind that you think I should include? What has spoken to you? What resonates? What fires you up and gets you going? What consoles you? Please let me know the title.

And, what do you think is a fair price that you would be willing to pay for a such a collection?

Thanks!

-Betsy

Book sniffer

I am a book sniffer. The older, the better. Perhaps that is part of why I chose to work in a library. I love the smell of books.

Now, I didn’t get hired at an old library. It was new when I started. You could say it and I started at the same time. It is now 13 years old and the books are just starting to smell pleasant. Fortunately we are part of a system and we get old books in on hold all the time. Every now and then there will be a special one.

A good book smells like fall leaves raked into a pile. It smells like the pile of leaves after you have jumped into it.

A good book smells a bit like vanilla pound cake, fresh out of the oven and cooling on the windowsill.

A good book smells faintly of pipe smoke from your grandfather, while he is warming up by the fire after coming in from the rain. He is sitting in a soft worn leather armchair, wearing his tweed jacket. It is a little bit of all these smells.

A good book smells comfortable and friendly. These smells are the smells of safety and home.

There was a coworker once who shared my love of smelling books. When we’d find one, we’d share it. We’d take the book in our hands, admire the cover and the patina of age on the pages, open it up and have a good sniff.

The branch manager saw us doing this once and openly wondered about our mental health. But, then again, she never read a book to our knowledge.

Now, not all books smell good. Some smell of feet, and cat spray, and the sad sickly smell of too many medicines and ointments and not enough fresh air. Way too many books smell like cheap cigarettes.

But it is the good smelling books that I cherish.

How can you spot a potentially good-smelling book? Covers like this are a sure thing. The original covers have been taken off and the book has been rebound in this amazing stuff. It is beyond the hardness of a hardback. This kind of stuff is going to last forever.

1

6

The spines are embossed, either in gold or silver.

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7

The edge of the book looks like this. Note the worn nature and the color.

3

The corner edge is rounded. That is always a nice touch.

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All these different bits point to really old books. That is what you are looking for. Smell the edge, and if that is OK, then open it up and smell the gutter (the inside, opposite the spine) of the book.

Modern books with their fancy ink and high quality paper just won’t do. You are looking for old books with old-fashioned paper.

Happy sniffing!