Having a Book

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As I waited for the proof of my first book  Visions from Two Continents to arrive.  I thought this is just like when I was waiting for my first child who was a month overdue.  My stomach had been huge and in those days the school district had made me quit teaching at the due date, so I sat at home waiting, and waiting, staring at the empty crib praying there would be a child to put in it soon.

My husband and I had dreamed of having children of our own.  Then after many years of waiting there was a tiny life pulsating inside me.  Once conceived she grew.   As long as I ate she grew.  My prenatal doctor used his stethoscope placing it on my growing belly, and then he put earphones in my ears.

“Swish thump, swish thump”  I thought my ears would burst with joy as I heard her heart beat.

My book started out as a worm spinning in my brain demanding that I make it a reality . My mother, Sheila Buchanan Buell, was a painfully shy artist.  Her paintings surrounded my childhood and she told me stories of a dream world before my time.  She often said she wished she had a brother like Theo van Gogh, Vincent van Gogh’s brother who would show the world her paintings.  I wanted to tell her story and share her paintings by writing a book.

Over twenty years ago I started to research the book.   I organized tons of letters.  I went to England and met my cousin Brian Powell.  When we sat down to talk in his ancient cottage with three foot thick walls I said, “It must have been awful when your grandfather was murdered.”

“He wasn’t murdered.  They kept it out of the papers, but he jumped off that bridge when he discovered his partner had embezzled all the money.” Brian said matter of factly.

“What?” I replied in total shock from a story that was not as I had been told.  We shared how his death affected both our families, throwing us into poverty.

Ten years ago I wrote the first draft, carefully documenting everything with proper historical research.   When I shared it in a writing group it did not have any life of its own. No one seemed to understand what I was trying to say or to whom I was writing. It was a miscarriage.   I swallowed my pride, listened to what my readers said, took classes and learned how to turn the images in my mind into word pictures others could see too, just like I had learned to create pictures with lines, color and clay as a visual artist. I used her voice, and she came alive in my mind and on the page.

My first child may have been overdue, but she came out as created by God, her conception an act of joy and a miraculous mixture of my husband and my genes.  My book baby did not write itself, but sometimes it flowed from my mind like nature intended it.  Writing with the flow, and with the help of friends proved easier than hammering out the finished product.  I sent a couple of inquiries to publishers and got rejected.  They loved the story but they weren’t accepting unknown authors.  My unborn book baby was being turned down by the hospitals with the power to turn her into a real live book.

I did not have time to keep getting rejected.  The story was written and I needed to hold it in my hand and pass it around for the world to see.

So, I looked into self publishing.  The internet screamed this is easy, just do it, in a language I did not understand. I forced myself to understand enough to find an editor book designer, and finally a reliable book hospital was found by chance. (To be described in the next blog.)

So when I left my home in Wisconsin and drove to Texas just after Thanksgiving I was  expecting I’d have a proof of the book to look at when I got there.  When I arrived my grandchildren were there but my book baby wasn’t on the doorstep. It wasn’t anywhere.

I called Thomson-Shore. the publisher  They said, “We’ve been cyber-attacked, and we’ve lost lots of files.”

Was my book destroyed before it was even born?  I called my book designer I was irritated but happy to hear she actually hadn’t sent it yet. Thomson-Shore managed to get things back online, Andrea sent the file, it was going to be published.  They promised a proof before Christmas!

The book finally arrived in a brown UPS envelope bulging at the sides.  My grandson Max brought it up to me, and started to waddle away in his diapers.   I went after him, “I can’t open this by myself, could you please help me?”

Being only two he couldn’t help much, but I was too scared to go into labor with no one around.   I imagined a small-sized paperback book buried in tons of bubble wrap.  My grandson helped me hold the package and carefully push the book out of the one layer of bubble wrap that encircled my favorite painting.  The painting made  up the cover of a beautiful book.

“It’s Real,” I grasped, so much prettier than I’d imagined. I cradled it to my bosom like it was a living breathing baby.  As went upstairs my eyes filled up with tears and laid on the bed sobbing, holding it close.  Then I finally sat up and started to  read it, I became so immersed in the story that I forgot I was the one who had written the book. It captured the essence of Sheila perfectly.

I want to thanks my publisher and everyone for helping create Visions from Two Continents,  The book is now available on line through Amazon or as an ebook or a paperback from Seattlebookcompany.org.  Direct link http://www.seattlebookcompany.com/vision-from-two-continents/)

I hope everyone can feel the joy Sheila brought into the world.

 

 

 

 

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