“All contest entries will receive a judge’s review.” These words caught my attention and I mused, Friends will give kind, perhaps biased reviews…or be silent…but a contest judge? Who knows? With nothing to lose other than a small entry fee, I dispatched a copy of Sticks, Stones & Songs—The Corey Story to the Writer’s Digest 2017 Self-Published Book Contest. Months later the results were in. Sticks Stones didn’t win big money, but she did merit some decent grades—a total of 28 points out of a possible 30. Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 5; Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 5; Production Quality and Cover Design: 5; Plot and Story Appeal: 4; Character Appeal and Development: 4; Voice and Writing Style: 5 The book also received the judge’s comments which included the following: When, near the end of the Great Depression, Mrs. Corey falls in with Mr. Arthur Corey’s plan to give up
“Let me tell you, I knew it was a BIG one,” Pastor Corey exclaimed. The excitement in his voice gave way to motions of his body as he jumped from behind the pulpit and extended his arms. The buttons on his suit coat stretched against the button holes, his white shirt showed at the waist, and his tie bunched up. “I’d never felt anything like it," he said. "Even wondered for a moment if I’d snagged a whale.” There was a chuckle in the congregation as one of Pastor’s hands squeezed an imaginary pole that flailed every which way, while his other hand circled as if working a reel. “I couldn’t even stand up,” he gasped. Next thing I knew he was on the floor, feet bicycling the air, and body twisting as if he were in the bottom of the boat and bracing against the pull of the line.
“At the Port Angeles library,” wrote Jessica Smith on Facebook. “That’s where I discovered your book and decided to contact you. I loved the story and even cried at the end.” She continued, “Your father reminded me of Abraham from the Bible. Going on his faith and knowing that things would be taken care of. Now I am going to buy my own copy on Amazon, and will leave a review.” Jessica followed through with her promise. A few days later, a publishing agent called to congratulate me on the number of 5-star ratings the book has received on Amazon, and to offer publicity service…at a cost of course. His comments, however, served as a reminder to me that an independently published book gets noticed when there are enough strong ratings. “Enough” is the key word. Enough endorsements could open the door to influential reviewers, or even a traditional publisher
“I’ll read your book on the plane,” says Scott Jacobs, famous artist. He smiles in a way that makes me feel as if I have just handed him a piece of art as valuable as his own. And, mind you, his paintings are valuable. One of them, a large purple iris, has just sold for tens of thousands. The art show began the day before and, as I already mentioned, I brought nothing to wear but beach clothes. That evening, Scott’s show was unveiled and, perhaps as a motivator to bid, some attendees, including me, were gifted a photo album of his paintings. I decided right then to pretend these snapshots were the real thing. As Scott’s show ends on the second day, art lovers who’ve purchased genuine, original paintings line up for signings and a photo shoot. Ding! An idea rings in my head. I hang around, chat with people,
“I suppose you all got along with each other, so many of you growing up together under one roof,” commented Todd Ortloff, program host and partner/owner of KONP in Port Angeles WA. “Oh no,” I said, “We weren’t nice at all. We squabbled like cats and dogs…at least while we were kids.” This opportunity to share Sticks, Stones & Songs—The Corey Story with the KONP audience came because of Glenn and Linda Cutler. Remember them? They are the Port Angeles couple that sat across from me at the art show banquet and paid no heed to my grubby clothes. After returning from the art show, Glenn called his friend Todd, and within a week I was answering questions on the Todd Ortloff show—questions about writing a family story within the context of local history; questions about the response of my siblings to telling tales on them; and questions about the
Four days for free at a resort on the Oregon Coast with my cousin? Why not. I pack for summer sun, sandy shores, and swishing surf. But this is no picnic, I learn upon arrival. This is a VIP art show and auction. Oops. Oh well, I’ll put on lipstick and wear my scruffy jeans! At my age, who’ll notice? At dinner the first evening, a lady seated across the table is eyeing my name tag—I don’t think she notices my tee shirt—and says, “Are you somehow related to the person who wrote The Book?” Linda Cutler tells me she is lives in Port Angeles, the town where I was born. She has read Sticks, Stones & Songs—The Corey Story, and loved learning the history as my family lived it, many decades earlier. While reading, she explains, she encountered the name of one of my high school classmates, whom I
One year ago Sticks, Stones & Songs—The Corey Story made her debut. Since then, she has entered homes and hearts across the US and Canada, and travelled as far away as New Zealand and Panama. Now that she is into her second year, she has great expectations that this will be her best year yet.
Gilbert leaned on one of his two walking sticks and motioned to me. On a table in front of the 99-year-old gentleman was his copy of the book, “Sticks, Stones & Songs—The Corey Story, purchased less than ½ hour earlier. “I want to show you something,” he whispered, as his arthritic fingers fumbled through the first pages. “Has he discovered an error that I haven’t even found yet?” I wondered. I moved closer and searched his face, for no sound escaped but the voiceless whispers of his lips. (I learned later that he had lost his vocal chords in a throat surgery.) With moisture forming in his eyes, he continued, “I just finished the first chapter and want you to know that I lived for many years within strolling distance of Hart’s Lake and the Wilcox Farms. I can almost picture the place where your dad received his call from
“When I read that you (as a child) learned to drive the ’31 Chev truck and could pop the clutch, I rejoiced in the fact that we were of a select elite group of women who could claim that ability,” wrote Nancy. She also said. “It was affirming to me that the prayers and sacrifices of parents really matter.” At our family reunion in July, Sticks, Stones & Songs—The Corey Story received similar kudos from members of the Corey clan. An entire evening, filled with sound bites from the book and never-before-told camping, hunting, and fishing tales, was punctuated with peals of laughter. Besides the family reunion, there have been other opportunities to share: reading at a book store, placing the book in libraries, speaking for social and church groups, and selling at a street fair. I am grateful to those who are helping me add dates to the calendar.
“Are you writing the sequel or, perchance, the love story of your parents?” They ask. “Or are you taking a rest, now that Sticks, Stones & Songs is done?” After four years of researching, writing, editing, and publishing, it would seem right to sit back and bask in the accomplishment, or even to get started on the next one. “But alas,” I respond, “the more demanding task has just begun—the task of getting The Corey Story to more readers.” “Not to mention,” I say to some inquirers, “I need to sell enough books from my closet inventory to make room for the coats.” All jokes aside, I am grateful to those who are reading the book, telling friends, and inviting me to speak at events. If you too would like to purchase signed books for yourself or to give as gifts, or if your group would enjoy hearing more of the story, just contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Travel is in