Peace on Earth and Spread Good Will

December is for giving. What most people don’t realize is that most writers give back all the time. Being this is the season for giving, I thought I’d share with you.

I give back. I run writers’ groups every Tuesday. I do classes on writing at the local libraries. Usually twice a year, and I try to help local and online friends realize their dreams as authors.

Anyone in this business will help. But be prepared. Most of us are busy. Don’t expect an answer that evening or the next day. Especially if you want us to read something! Most of the answers can be found in Kindle Direct Publishing or what we call K. D. P. Don’t understand that technical stuff? Check their FAQ. There are also some great online groups where you can ask questions. Learn what you are doing! Don’t expect us to spoon-feed you. You’re an adult.

Yes, many of us entered this indie publishing as it was just starting. We didn’t have anyone to hold our hands. We made mistakes. Kindle made mistakes. But we kept making changes as they did and we’ve all learned. I can remember my panic as I uploaded my first book. I sat and looked at the button that said publish for probably five minutes until I had the guts to click on it. It honestly felt like an hour.

Know something about what you are doing before you do it! Do not expect to put your book up and have it sell a gazillion copies right from the get-go. You’ll hear about books that want viral. That didn’t happen overnight. They did a few things before they posted that book online. I’ve known people who have put a book online and then they will ask me when will it start selling. Have they done anything to make it sell? Have they spent money advertising it? Do they belong to any groups online? The answer is sad. No, they haven’t. They expected that it would just take off. They want that $100,000 a year income from it. Don’t we all?

The other thing I hear is: I want to write and publish my memoirs. My first question is why? What has happened to you that is so compelling? It’s always the same story. There are dozens of those stories out there. How many books have you read with that theme? What will make your story stand out? They don’t know.

May I offer a suggestion? Write it. Get it out of your system. Let your children know that you have this manuscript that you’ve written about your crappy life with a dysfunctional family. Maybe one day those children might read it.

On the other hand, those who do have lives worth writing about seem to ignore it. Case in point, a local woman has been a missionary in the Middle East and in places further east almost her entire life. Her story of that time is amazing. She’ll read her old journal entries during our writer meetings and you can hear a pin drop. I’ve been trying to tell her that those journals of her time there are worth putting into a book. She ignores me and wants to write devotional stuff. What’s truly fascinating in those journals is her hopes and dreams for her own children growing up in third world countries and her beautiful descriptions of places untouched by civilization. Living without running water and carrying the water they needed from a stream that wasn’t even close to the shack where they lived. The political stuff that she has lived to tell about. OMG! The people who have awaken them in the middle of the night and made them leave with only what they could carry, and then later that morning discovering that the country was overthrown in a bloody carnage. Trying to get to civilization because her babies were due or trying to get home to the States because a family member was dying. That’s what glues us to her readings. It’s the human aspect of her life while under duress. We can lead the horse to water but we can’t make the creature drink. Maybe someday her grandchildren will pull those journals into a book, not the whole journal but lifting the best tidbits from them.

December is beyond all the gift giving and Christmas lights. It’s about giving more than that. Have you given of yourself? Tried to lift someone up or helped in way way? December has just begun, there’s plenty of time to do that. There’s also time to plan for next year. Can you share a bit of yourself? Give some time to help those who are just breaking into your career or maybe studying for your career. Are you an engineer? Can you give an afternoon to your local library to entice children especially those little females that they too can be engineers? STEM is serious there are less than 12%  of the engineers are female, and the engineering schools don’t have females even applying for those classes. It has dwindled to virtually no female attendance.  Call your local Girl Scout office and say hey, I can do this!

Give that little gift of yourself. There’s some little talent inside that you can share and as a result the world will be different because of what you’ve done. Time is your greatest gift.

Merry Christmas…..Happy Hanukkah

No matter what you celebrate, stay safe this season and spread a little good cheer!