Hello! A few things have happened since my last post. The two most exciting things have to do with the title of this post: The End.
First, came The End of my working career. I’ve been blessed with working fulltime, long-term jobs since I was 16-years-old. On June 30th this year, I RETIRED! It’s been amazing these past few months working on projects whenever I wanted to and when I actually felt creative – napping when I didn’t feel creative. Let’s be honest, naps are great!
Secondly, after three retirement checks, I finally realized that my retirement was permanent, real, and wonderful! The time had come to wake up and spend more time focusing on the next book in my Hope and Horses series. So, I prayed and forced myself to finish the first draft of my second book. At the bottom of the manuscript, I typed: The End. It’s at least fifty re-writes from being finished, but those two words gave me great SATISFACTION!
Also, since readers have told us they wished this book could be available in schools, because the theme is mental health, and it addresses the stigma that comes with mental illness, Editor-911 Books now offers a sponsorship program that hopes to help that happen. For more information, please click here: https://editor-911.com/sponsor-books-for-kids
I’ve sold out of the first two boxes of author copies, and just received more. Please give me a shout if you want to order a signed copy.
So many of you have supported me by purchasing my book and sharing my posts on your social media, thank you VERY much!
I get to do a blog tour with members of WOW! Women on Writing along with Margo Dill, Editor-911 Books and Fred Olds! I’m so excited about this. It will have book reviews of Only My Horses Know and Read-Aloud Stories With Fred, interviews, and guest posts. This is all so new to me, and I have to admit, I’m a little nervous to read those book reviews. I hope you have a second each day to check out the posts. I’m sure you will enjoy hearing more about Fred and Margo, they are the best! There’s also a contest to win a $25 Amazon gift card if you enter a comment on the posts. See the banner for all of the links and dates, and here is the link for today’s post: https://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com/2021/06/read-aloud-stories-with-fred-and-only.html
Re-reading reviews of Only My Horses Know has surely boosted my confidence and jump-started my writing mojo! Some of these didn’t make it to the book sale page, so please bear with me as I share. 🙂 Then, if you will please keep scrolling, you’ll find the new promo video where I am talking to readers between the ages of 10-12 about Only My Horses Know.
Some weeks, for one reason or another, just aren’t the best. I’ve had a few of those lately. I try everyday to think of three or more things that I am grateful for. It really helps! Today, spring flowers were on the top of my list.
Here are my rave-iest reviews:
“I thoroughly enjoyed the book Only My Horses Know. I immediately bought copies for two tween-agers in my lifeand I’m sure they will identify with the main character, Kylie, a girl who lives on a Montana horse farm and experiences problems similar to those in their own lives. The book describes changes in Kylie’s life when a family member developed some serious emotional problems, causing disruptions in both family and friend relationships. Kylie learns that she must seek help beyond telling her horse.
“Middle-level teachers and parents will want to share Only My Horses Know with their students. The characters resonate with realism and a sound understanding of problems of middle childhood. As a long-time professor of child development, I am pleased to see a book that encourages students to trust their own intuition, but to reach out persistently to the adults in their lives, including teachers and counselors, when they need help. Also, I am equally impressed with Cinda Jo Bauman’s handling of the sensitive issue of mental illness and its effects on families. In short, embedded in this engaging story is a model for problem solving and relationship-building that is much needed in the experiences of early adolescents.” Darlene Haffner Hoffman, Emeritus Professor, Millikin University
“Just WOW !!!!! I TOTALLY LOVED IT. It started slow but picked up. I love it even for my age group. You, my friend , are one talented Lady ! I loved how God was there but not shoved down your throat. I loved how it dealt with bipolar disorder….again not bogging you down but getting across that people with mental challenges are all around us…they are us. I loved it and hope you sell millions.” Lisa Mohr
“I think nearly everyone has had a ‘Kylie’ dilemma in their life. We grapple with how to handle the pain a loved one is causing; we dread the embarrassment and the stigma associated with their problems. We worry about losing friends if someone finds out what’s going on. We struggle with it all. And worst of all, will our parents understand the anxieties they are passing on and the fear that wells up inside us? What if I say something and my parents don’t forgive me? That’s the biggest question and the highest hurdle.
“But this book helps you realize that your only real choice is to share all this with others, including your parents. It helps you understand that in these circumstances silence is certainly not golden and it can be devastating. Reading this book helps you embrace the notion that honest discussions can lead to solutions and a better life.
“You may regret that you didn’t have this type of guidance when you were growing up, but you’ll rush to send it to any child who seems embattled in life. As will I.
“I do admit that the book is a little slow to start, possibly because I’m no teenager. But, in truth, I believe a child who is going through similar problems will stick with It to find their solution.” Sparky
“A wonderful book to entertain young readers. The focus on mental illness mixed with a passion for horses was an engaging combination. Some great life lessons for young readers that life isn’t always perfect, but you can turn things around to make a difference if you rely on friends, family and God.” Brenda Ripley
If you know any tween age readers, please share this video with them. Thanks so much!
I’m not one to write a reflecting back on the year type of post. But, I have never before experienced a year filled with so many conflicting emotions. Maybe you’ve felt the same? Some of mine have been terror but peace, heartache but happiness, guilt but appreciation, fear of what the future will bring, but hope for a miraculous future.
I know God wants me to feel thankful, not guilty. I’m working on that. But it’s hard not to feel guilty for having a job I enjoy and great health, when there’s a pandemic taking other’s jobs and lives by the minute. Then today, I practically jumped up and down (my old, arthritic knees kept me from really doing that, but inside, I was JUMPING) when I opened the mailbox and saw the review copy of my book inside; while just last night, I couldn’t sleep because I worried about all the people who must be wondering how in the world they will pay rent, buy food, and everything else, when their unemployment runs out. I imagine I’m not the only one struggling with conflicting emotions.
I’m very thankful for my faith in God. And although I don’t understand why so many people have suffered this year – mentally from loss of loved ones, physically from illnesses, or financially from the pandemic; I do believe that someday I will sit beside God and get the answers to my questions, and then I’ll understand. I also believe that the answers will be deeper than I ever could have understood while here on earth. Until then I will pray with my whole heart for all who are hurting. I’ll pray for peace and healing for you and for the people you love.
Has this year made you feel helpless, too? Helpless and conflicted, boy am I a mess! I’ve decided the best thing I can do is to count my blessings every second, but also watch for ways where I can somehow brighten other’s days. I’m sure it will be in small ways for now, but who knows what God has planned for me to be able to help others.
My mind is swirling like the sugar in a cotton candy machine. So please forgive me if I babble.
When Margo Dill, publisher/editor of Editor-911 Books, told me she wanted to publish my middle-grade novel, I thought that was THE best day ever. Then, today, she sent me the link to the Amazon book page (above) saying that the pre-order for the Kindle version was live, and the print book will be available to buy on January 19th! When I clicked the link, my heart must have stopped beating for a second, because I seriously got a little light headed. All I could think was: This Is Really Happening!
Please check it out! I’m so proud of how both the novel and the cover turned out! I made the cover art all with cut and torn paper except for the face. I tried many times to make the face with cut paper, but those tiny eyes and mouth would not cooperate with my fat fingers, or even with tweezers, so I gave up and painted her face. A huge thanks to Jamey for modeling for me and to Jama for catching the perfect shot of her horse, Cowboy, for reference. The torn paper background was an interesting challenge since I had never tried collage! The straw field is torn paper with oil pastel. My biggest challenges, since I’d never made art for a book cover before, were finding a larger size that would scale down correctly for the final book dimensions, and being an amature PhotoShop user, adding the text and making even small corrections on a slow computer took me FOREVER. I kept telling myself, you know a ton of people who could do this for you in seconds, but I was determined to be able to do it all myself. I’m so glad I kept trying because it feels superfantastic to look at this book cover and say – I did that! I hope you like it.❤
If you would like a signed copy, by then I should have this site set up to buy a book, and I will mail it to you. You can also keep up with news about my book and other books by signing up for the Editor-911 Books newsletter here: https://margoldill.com/newsletter-sign-up
When I asked my publisher (I still love saying that!) if I could take a shot at creating the cover art for my book, I knew that book covers are more than just art, they are mostly marketing. Meaning, I needed to do some serious studying, and praying. It would be very possible that she would end up saying, “Yeah, nice … but we can’t use it.”
Still, I wanted to try!
After scouring online articles on book cover concepts, I researched other contemporary middle grade book covers, both best sellers and not, hoping to see a trend. Guess what? There were no trends. Not that I saw, anyway. I did notice that shades of teal and orange were very popular, but the style and art were all over the place! I found everything from cartoon characters to photographs, silhouettes, text only, and fine art. I also found nothing even similar to my art style or medium, which made me wonder if that was a good thing, or a bad thing. I hoped it would make my book stand out…in a good way.
My first sketches for any project have always looked super amateur – like a three year old drew them. My nerves were making these look even worse. I wanted to give up, but I kept sketching and sketching until I finally had one that was approved by my publisher and a few of my artist friends. So, I started choosing my colors and buying paper. Did you know they make papers in prints that look like leather? That was SO exciting! You’ll see why when you see the saddle I made.
A few days into the next phase, I panicked. I’d already taken so much time on the drawing and color scheme. What if I couldn’t pull this together, and my publisher would have to find someone else to do it? What if there wasn’t time for that? If you are imagining me laying awake at night with my brain in freak out mode, you are so right on.
I think it was the day I decided to experiment with making folds in the paper to make my girl on the cover’s shirt look more like fabric, the way I saw another paper artist do, that I finally thought, Wow, that looks pretty cool. I think I got this!
Here are a few photos of my mess, my color scheme inspiration, and a peek at my progress. I’m almost done with the cover now, and it really feels good to be using the creative gifts God gave me. I can’t wait to show you!!
But first, please bear with me while I back up a bit. When I sat down to write this post for my website because I finally had something AWESOME to share, I saw how long it had been since I’d posted anything, and I wondered what had been holding me back. Browsing my website, I clicked on the About section. I realized that I have been avoiding my website because this section needed updated. And updating this section would sadden my heart. A lot.
I still live in central Illinois with my husband. Yay!! My daughter has graduated from college and lives less than an hour away. This part has been an adjustment but not that sad, since, thank God, she stayed close enough so she could still come home on Sundays. The free washer and dryer here may have something to do with this, but that’s fine with me. I’ll take her visits however I can get them!
That’s all good stuff, but changing the part about my best friends, Lucy and Harley (our dogs), is what I have been avoiding. Because after an accumulation of almost 35 years of unconditional love and laugh out loud entertainment, they have both passed on. I’m not going to lie; each loss took many months before a day passed without me crying. When friends or family who I have in my address book pass away, I can’t bring myself to erase or cross out their names. They are all still there. So, you can imagine how I have avoided updating my About page.
Now for my news!
I have posted before about my writing, my submitting, and my rejection. I started writing my first novel at least 15 years ago. Since then, I’ve completed another novel and several picture books. The first novel has been constantly re-written, as I’ve received feedback from other writers and gained skills from writing workshops and articles. It has been submitted to publishers and agents throughout the process and received TONS of rejection forms. But it also received some personal rejections with encouraging notes, and once it even made it to the acquisitions team before getting … you guessed it…rejected.
I’ve spent this past year doing a major re-write after finally investing in a freelance developmental fiction editor, Bev Rosenbaum, and then asking my cousin, Teresa, to use her mad editing skills to read my revisions and offer suggestions for improvement. I loved the new version, and I looked forward to sending it out on submission again. But this meant starting over the agonizing research for editors and agents and then waiting forever for a response, so I kept putting it off.
Then…an editor friend, who had worked on this story with me before, decided to expand her editing business of thirteen years and begin publishing books. She emailed me that she might like to publish my book, if I was interested. Was I interested? Was she kidding? OF COURSE, I WAS!
God is SO GOOD!
Below is a picture of me signing my very first book contract with Editor-911 Books – Publisher and Editor, Margo Dill. My middle-grade novel, Only My Horses Know, will be available on Amazon between middle December to early January! I am SO excited!!!
This book is about acceptance; accepting change – accepting lack of control – accepting differences – accepting judgement – and then, letting go of it all and accepting God’s help.
Well I’m back in writer/submission land, and it feels pretty good.
Some people are able to create at a steady pace. Me, I work in spurts. Because of this, I really battle with negative thoughts. You know them, right? “I’m not a real (writer, artist…fill in the blank). I’ll never get published, because I don’t work hard enough. Whaaa, whaaa, whaaa.
But then I remembered the published writers and successful artists I’ve read about over the years who work in spurts-like me! I realized everyone has a different momentum to their muse. Just because some people thrive on the constant call of creativity doesn’t mean that others, like me, who get a little distracted with family and day jobs, can’t also become successful–in our own time.
This month I have been revising a novel; I love revision but this one is a challenge, and I refuse to let it kick my butt. I finished a picture book that I LOVE, and I pray someone in the industry will too! I’m stirring up some ideas for cut-paper pieces that could be marketed for children’s room decorations. And, yep, I still have that HUGE canvas waiting for paint. Most importantly, after a long lull, I’m submitting my writing again. Stay tuned, wish me luck, and NEVER GIVE UP!