I was told if I sell over a 1000 more copies of my book a particular book publisher would be interested in picking up my book for republishing and distribution. In 2001 I first wrote and published Bobo’s Daughter using a one time cookbook publisher now turned into self publisher, Morris Publishing. During that year, in less than seven months, I sold just under 1,000 copies.
In September of that year our world changed. 9/11 froze our country. Very few bought the book at the scheduled book signings, but that was the least of our worries. We were all afraid.
December of 2002 brought a different kind of devastation to my family. Because of a severe ice storm here in North Carolina, we were locked in our home for nine days without heat or electricity. The temperature was 8 degrees so we used the 100 year old fireplace. We believe the fire started behind the bricks in the chimney. On the only day we had been able to get out, day ten, I was contacted by the police and told the fire had enveloped our home and killed our four dogs and two cats. That was the worst part. Also destroyed were the rest of my books and many boxes of promotional material, not to mention many photos and memorabilia from my mom and dad.
Start over. The process of identifying every object in a large old farmhouse (in order for the insurance company to pay us anything) was long and arduous. Our hearts took even longer to heal.
Six years later I decided I wanted to re-publish my book. I looked for a publisher and found again that being a first time unknown author is a difficult position. I decided to hire Phenix and Phenix in Austin, Texas. They had a very good reputation and had accepted me before, only after I had already committed to Morris Publishing.
Phenix and Phenix was an in-between publisher. Very good choice in those days for a new author. The deal was I pay for the publishing and they provide excellent editing, reformatting, promotional materials and advertisment as well as, promotion and marketing. I wanted a hard cover book. It all seemed to work.
However . . . little did I know that Phenix and Phenix was sold to someone else. Until I was well into production and money had been exchanged I did not understand this was fact. It was now called Book Pros and my publishing arm was Synergy Press. I stayed optimistic. Not all promises were kept, my book was not published on time and the finished product was delayed, making my release date and launch party not match up with the pre-publicity I had done. I found that the twenty-something women doing the publicity were INTERNS, not paid employees. They were actually sent to my book signing launch party at the International Clown Hall of Fame in Baraboo, Wisconsin as my publicists. They told us they were SO excited because they had never done this before. They didn’t do a thing to help. Now that’s the way you instill confidence. Hmmm.
Well, it got worse. I will spare you the details but let’s just say in the middle of the Book Expo America in New York, way over in a corner, there was a man giving lectures on the new wave of publishing. He discussed ebooks. Yes, that was the year that ebooks took over. Small publishers hit the wall. Can you see what is coming? Yes, Book Pros took the money and ran. They filed for bankruptcy. I was lucky. I had 1500 beautiful books. However, I had no publicity. My heart broke for the people who were called the week before and strong armed for their payments for their books. They sent in large sums of money and never got anything. I count myself in the blessed catagory.
To make matters worse when I had to go back to Illinois after the initial book signing fiasco and keep the committments I had made, I had to reship boxes of books again. The U.S. Postal Service lost four boxes of books. I spent weeks trying to find them. Wrote letters, made phone calls. Suffice it to say, postal employees are overworked and disinterested in helping you find lost books. At least that was my experience. My fear was that someone stole them and they would show up on EBAY or AMAZON before they were even in the stores. MY FEAR CAME TRUE.
The post office is not helpful in returning your books because they get to sell them at auctions. Various so called Book Stores buy lost merchandise/books and resell them on line. If the book was published by a large publishing house, perhaps they wouldn’t feel the loss. I, however, had paid for everything that surrounded my book, didn’t have a chance to market or publicize the book and now it was showing up on EBay and Amazon for cost cutting prices.
I wrote to the owners of the post office purchased books and explained myself. Only one person sent me my possessions. THE BOOKS ON LINE ARE STOLEN PROPERTY. Please don’t buy them.
After finding the remaining 1200 books stored in Austin, Texas, I had to ship them at my cost to Kansas, a new distribution center. They do nothing to help sell them but at least I know where they are. I transfered my book to an ebook, too. And then I just stopped being creative for a couple of years. In the meantime I focused on my private practice and all the changes in the mental health system in North Carolina. That project took all of my energy and time.
However, there is one quality that threads through all of this: Perserverance. I don’t give up. Now I am back. I was told that if I sold another 1000 books a publisher will pick me up. They will remain nameless at this time, but my hope is that this is the next rung on the ladder toward sharing my story with more people.
I ask you to please tell ten people about my book. (Especially if you have read it.) I tell everyone I know that I promise it won’t bore you. My daughter and I are taking over the distribution of the book. We have discounted the price from $23.95 to $10.99. If you send me a check for $15.00 that will cover postage, unless out of the country. Then it will be a bit more.
I am asking you to support me in this. If I sell the remaining 1200 books, reputable publishing houses will consider me.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have quoted Sly and the Family Stone: “Different Strokes for Different Folks.” Today it just seems so appropriate.
OSCAR win for Life of Pi
For this New Year I wish you a journey of meaning. I would like to wish you a year without conflict, heartbreak or challenges, but I know it is impossible to breathe on this planet and avoid these things. Instead, I wish you the ability to find peace in the middle of the conflict and the ability to solve it with honesty and kindness. If you have heartbreak I wish you the ability to be grateful you are alive and can feel and will let God comfort you. Whatever challenges you face I wish you the ability to press through and find the answer. In the middle of life, I wish you moments of joy, feeling love for a person, animal or work. I wish you the ability to see how you matter in all you do, everyday, even in small ways. I am grateful you share this planet with me at this time, in this season. Happy New Year.
Thoughts on Newtown, Connecticut.
I am broken hearted. Again, I see innocent people shot and killed. This time it is small children. Precious lives extinguished. Heartbreak. Sadness.
I eventually see the face of the shooter. Then I see the illness. Along with the rest of the country, and the devastated people of Newtown, Connecticut, I listen to commentators and officials ask the question, “Why?” I write this because I feel compelled to share what I know in hopes it will somehow do some good to prevent other tragedies.
Each person who has done these despicable crimes has illness in their eyes. Go back and read the accounts of each shooter’s family members and you will hear the same story: “We tried to get him help. We tried.”
Our mental health system is failing our country. Here’s what I know:
I work with families every day who walk through very difficult trials to help their loved ones who are suffering from mental diseases. Our mental health system is broken. I could write volumes about my unscientific theories of why we are seeing so many neurological diseases such as ADD, ADHD, Bi Polar, Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder, formerly known as Asperger’s and various forms of Schizophrenia. I have no real proof, except I see patterns in the people I work with and these patterns lead to my theories.
We all, given enough stress, will break. Let me repeat: ALL of us, in our own way, will break. However, when you are a person who has a neurological disease, which is a brain disease, through no fault of your own, your fuse is shorter. You perceive hurt and rejection in a very different way. If there is any kind of stress it may trigger, angry, helpless thoughts. Added to this, our world is filled with chemicals and preservatives in our food, in our polluted air we breathe and in the polluted water we drink. Some people react negatively to these chemicals especially those who have very sensitive neurological systems. They cannot tolerate the pressure that builds up in them when the uncomfortable pain is too great. Not every person who has a neurological disease will become violent, but some do.
As a child moves into their late teens and early adulthood, they have an added difficulty in the form of a bath of hormones in their brain that makes each confused feeling more intense. As we all know we consider our children to be adults after the age of eighteen. However, the frontal lobe of our brain, where our decision making is done, does not fully form until after the age of at least twenty-seven. Often times the real signs of a thought disorder or brain disorder do not show up until late teens and early adulthood and therein lays the difficulty.
We passed HIPPA laws to help with privacy issues. However, there is a black hole of powerlessness for families, who can see the problems up close and personal. If the child is over eighteen, the family is not allowed to get help for their loved one. If they do commit the child to a hospital, which can be done only if the child communicates a threat to others, the family cannot be involved, even in aftercare if the patient does not want their help, which is usually the case. The families are helpless if the patient does not give permission. This is the black hole.
In other words the mentally ill person, who is considered dangerous and therefore is committed to be in the hospital, becomes the person in charge of their wellbeing.
I know the dialog in the newsrooms today is all about gun control. Granted, this is a discussion that is important, but another real issue is that we are failing those who need serious help.
I find that even in my practice when a family wants help for their child, they have so many doors closed to them they eventually give up. One case in particular has been exhausting for me and them. We band aid the problems as best we can, live with rejection from other sources and agencies and hope that there will not be another outburst or threat to another family member. We play Russian roulette with the medicine because every person reacts differently.
I recommend we change the HIPPA laws so families are able to commit their children to get them help with a psychiatrist’s assistance when the signs of serious mental illness show up. This is not to give carte blanche to families to “put away” their children but an avenue to help them and prevent the untreated patient from going insane, hurting others and wrongly thinking by acting out, they will alleviate their own pain.
Please join me in supporting any legislation that encourages help for families with children who have mental illness. In this way, I believe, we will stop some of this needless heartbreak.
To those people who live in Newtown: I will pray for you, mourn with you, and carry you in my heart as you go through this excruciatingly painful time in your lives. I wish you healing as you find your way to wholeness again. I send you love.
I am being interviewed today at 10am on WORT radio in Madison,WI. If you are in the area, please tune in.
Ok. Now I am an official Michael Wall groupie. Mike Wall plays music for the dancers at American Dance Festival here at Duke every summer. He is one of many musicians who play but I am happy to say we have a special connection.
Two years ago Christiana and I were searching for a recorded version of Peg of My Heart, my dad, Bobo’s, signature song. Couldn’t find one. Christiana decided to ask Michael if he could play it and he agreed.
Well, not only did he play the song, he arranged it, threw in his Michael Wall twist, with summer time crickets in the background, Terrance playing on the accordian and voile’ . . . it is the song on my website! www.BobosDaughter.com Much more than I could have imagined.
It was particularly hot here yesterday. I worked with clients most of the day and had to travel in the heat. At one time my car thermomenter read 112. Christiana wanted to go to hear Michael and his musicians , Terrance and Adam play at the Green Room, a local pool hall I had never had the pleasure of visiting.
It was 9 pm, I was hot and exhausted and she begged me to go with her, to hear Michael play. That was the bait. I dragged my weary body out of my air conditioned living room and drove 20 minutes to the Green Room . . .without air conditioning. Use your imagination of a local, old, pool hall hang out and there you have it, right out of central casting sans the cigarettes because they have been banned here in restaurants and pool halls for some time. YES!! Turns out the lack of air conditioning didn’t even matter. The night was rich with music. I didn’t even notice the temperature.
Michael Wall is a consumate artist musician. He plays the horn, piano, maracas, and more. He sings. His repetoire of music crosses over generations and genres. Then he plays his own. His whimsical charm infuses the soul of his listeners with feeling and sometimes, tears. Besides that he has a compelling story of victory.
Although I loved the Green Room setting, I also pictured Michael and friends, Terrance and Adam playing in a theater with a box office and paying customers. Perhaps, in Ohio, where he teaches and lives, he does just that.
And so to you, my Dear Mr. Michael Wall. You are a brilliant musician and performer. I am an official groupie! Thank you for sharing your gift with all of us. You will see me in Jesse’s class this week. I’ll bring my autograph book for you to sign.♥
Love, Bonnie, Christiana’s mommie and Bobo’s Daughter.
What the world needs now is love. Today some of us celebrate the ultimate expression of that love: the Resurrection. If we could learn from that sacrifice and attempt to love each other at that level, the bombing would stop, the thieves wouldn’t need, the pain we sometimes feel would diminish. The faith to push through the pain to see what is on the other side would free us. Happy Resurrection Day.
My daughter knows me. She expects me to step outside the box, outside the norm, especially when it comes to breaking down a barrier. Today was once of those days.
I was humming the song that Michael Jackson sang, today Man in the Mirror .
“If you want to make the world a better place then look at yourself and make the change.”
I would like to add to that lyric, and have courage, be silly, don’t care about unspoken rules: just do what is right.
Christiana and I went into the Kroger grocery store in Durham on our rounds of errands today. The store has an eclectic mix of people: students from Duke, families living on a serious budget, older folk, black, white, gangsters, Hispanic . . . everyone.
We shopped and then decided to have a coffee at Starbucks located within the store. As we were waiting for our latte’s to be completed, Christiana gasped when she sat down. She reached for a man’s wallet that someone obviously had lost on the chair. On close inspection we saw that it had quite a bit of money in it and an identification of someone from South Carolina. We tried to find a phone number so we could call him but the girl next to us suggested we take it to the manager and announce his name over the loudspeaker just in case he was still in the store. Of course.
I knew he was African American and that his name was Malik. Off I went to the front desk on my mission, but as I was briskly walking toward my goal, a very tall, handsome young man walked by me. He worked at Kroger’s and had a name tag on his shirt. You guessed it: Malik. I followed him around to the other side of the desk and looking carefully again, I spoke.
He looked a bit startled when I asked him if he was “Malik” and did he ever live in South Carolina. He replied, Yes, but looked very confused. I asked him if he had his wallet.
Instinctively he reached around to feel where it should have been and said he didn’t have it. I playfully asked him, “Would you like it back? Yes, he said. He started to walk away.
An African American lady gasped. “What? No thank you? In this day and age, someone returned your wallet WITH all the money in it? You owe her more than a thank you. She deserves a hug! This should NOT be about a race thing.”
He mumbled a quiet thank you.
I looked at this handsome, shy, young man and walked right to him. “I want a hug,” I said.
“It’s been a rough day,” he said. “Well, we both need a hug and we got one.”
By now a small crowd had gathered. Sweet moment.