Seven Steps

After years of gathering, supporting, building relationships and writing, we scuffed in a circle not knowing how to  accommodate the wishes of each member of our writing group. Publish? Not Publish? All of us? Some of us?

A friend who knew the intricacies of publishing suggested that ‘getting published’ might not be the most difficult challenge. His perspective suggested that maintaining the relationships was an even greater obstacle. Competition, ego, assigning blame–all human tendencies, would ooze into the process.

In our euphoria, we discounted his experience, vowing that we had the character and courage to continue in friendship and determination. However, balancing the wishes of everyone could not happen. When the goal of being published became firm, our group grew smaller. From the original twelve women, various kinds of attrition brought us to four — Four Ordinary Women.

We began the work of finding a publisher, making that goal the measure of our success.  Rejection slips did not discourage.  After some negotiation, a publisher sent a contract.  Hours and efforts melted into the joy of knowing our book was in process.

A new yardstick, a new goal, new hours and efforts took renewed commitments of time and energy. With a beautiful book in hand, we realized that the launch was not the success. Launch was a step, but not a time for laurels.

The initial launch happened at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, late May 2009.  Our euphoria dissolved in August, 2009 when the publisher closed the business.  We were left with our three-month old, no formula for marketing or publicity and a learning curve that felt impossible.  On our own, we continued.

Our first signing event at Keeler Women’s Center in Kansas City, Kansas was amazing, a subject of previous blogs. This will always carry the imprint of our original  public success. In truth, it was a gentle and supportive baby step. Much more was to come.

Attrition took another punch and we became three ordinary women at most signing events.  Eventually, two ordinary women carried the ball with a third becoming a part-time ordinary.

As we reviewed our new and daunting goals, someone suggested the trite game of Seven Steps to Kevin Bacon, a method of connecting any human on the planet to any other human by seven steps of increased contact. If the game works, any of us could be introduced to Michelle Obama, Joyce Carol Oats, Bill Gates, Colin Powell,  Oprah, Bill Moyers,  Ellen, Coretta Scott King, or a woman selling jewelry in a remote village somewhere on this earth–all through seven handshakes along the process. These seven steps might connect Four Ordinary Women to that public figure who, given the opportunity, would recognize the message of our book.

Together, the two of us, Patti and I,  have smiled at this suggestion as we continue our work of making contacts, pursuing author events,gulped and shallow breathing when overwhelmed, middle of the night prayers, day light doubts constantly squelched by an intense belief in our book and in one another.

Just in case you,  Gentle Reader, happen to be one of our seven steps to success, we invite you to visit us (gold embossed linen stock invitation) through our website                                                          or via comment on this blog.  As always, you are appreciated.


Oprah’s Last Chance

Oprah is probably the most powerful women in this country.  And she has given notice.  In two years she will give up her daily seat of power and move into a different phase.

She overwhelmed the emotions with her role in The Color Purple. She has a glitzy magazine, interviews celebrities daily and could sell ice cubes to Eskimos.

Oprah is beautiful, talented and speaks to the age groups controlling most of the disposable income.

But there is something Oprah has yet to do.

We are out here.  Four Ordinary Women, Seven Locks Press is waiting for the invitation to sit on Oprah’s couch and explain why ordinary speaks to extraordinary…why woman to woman on every level is vital communication.  We are not kidding.  We are ready.   Anyone from Harpo…just give us a click…

Perception, Again!

Oprah announces retirement.

Tiger Woods is contrite when his personal life overshadows his Madison Avenue package.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Our President, Barack Obama, accepts the Nobel Peace Prize with the dignity of the man and the office.

To avoid government oversight, a major banking institution repays the loan.

Front page story reports that employee honest and moral behaviors become pragmatic, inching upwards when job security slips.

And it begins again.  Hundreds of print inches and hours of radio/TV discussion circle those wagons ’round points of view.  Righteous anger, virtue offended, politics as usual spawn another round of “My truths is better than your truth.”    Or is that ‘bigger’?

No matter.   This wonderful country protects our speech and supports our right of expression.   Discourse is the best of learning tools.   While we exchange our opinions, it is good to remember words credited to Bertrand Russell.

I am firm.  You are obstinate.  He is a pig-headed fool.

Trading: Up or Down?

One year ago this venture began.  Feels like I could type “Once upon a time…” as a perfect beginning.    It was a fairy tale, a dream that was coming into our lives after years of persistence.  Our book, Four Ordinary Women, was in the process of being published. The promise was a launch at the New York Book Expo in May, 2009 and entry to major bookstores by June of 2009.  Euphoria comes close to describing the feeling.  We had realized a goal and the sparkle was blinding.

One year later and the dreaded ‘hindsight’ covers earlier due-diligence with a very gray cloud.  We question our business savvy as we relive the events.

There were moments of joy.  Book signings  brought us together with relatives, friends, high school classmates,  former colleagues, neighbors and wonderful strangers with whom we felt the bond of shared lives.  This was validating in so many ways.  And on top of that, it was pure fun.

Today?  Today the gilt  flaked.   Euphoria is long gone, replaced by frustration.

“Economic downturn” is the expression that  translates to an  octopus of failures.  The publishing business was not an exception and our publisher suffered the consequences.  His door closed on many levels, ours included.

Being the most ordinary of women, Patti and I refused to give up.  That is exactly what ordinary women do…refuse to give up.  It is the nature of our ordinariness, right?

We test our patience in so many ways.  We restructure our lives to fit new demands of time.  We falter.  We try something new.

Patti and I jokingly talk about meeting the chauffeur of a famous person, Oprah, Dr. Laura, Sarah Palin,  Margaret Warner, Gwen Ifill, Ellen.  We not-so-jokingly reach out in every direction that comes to mind.  We learn about marketing and distributing.

That famous dance? One-Step-Forward-Two-Steps-Back?  We know the rhythm and we make the moves.  It isn’t clear if we continue despite the set-backs or perhaps because of the set-backs, but we do continue.  Patti and I share the determination to prove that ordinary is amazing.