Saturday, July 1, 2017

What a difference a year makes

When I look back over the last 12 months, I realize I’ve been exceptionally busy, despite the fact that I retired in 2016 with plans to relax. I had vague notions of sleeping late, lying on the couch reading, traveling, and doing lunch with friends.

No, I didn’t plan to give up working out, taking yoga, or writing; I just wanted to start off doing some of the things I so often daydreamed about when I was working long hours. I continued my side job of writing columns.  We took a few short trips and a river cruise early in the year, and I read plenty of books but mostly at night as I always had. The difference? I had the newfound freedom to stay up as late as I wanted reading.

I also had a to-do list in my head to clean out closets, the basement, and more, but I had no deadline. I managed to clean out file cabinets, give away boxes of books, and even take cans of paint to a local recycling event, but that’s as far as I got.  Why?  Well, read on.

Since I’d been writing twice-monthly newspaper columns and a weekly blog, it seemed a no-brainer to increase the columns to weekly. I gave myself permission to write fewer blogs, but still, I wrote 30 last year because the more I write, the more I enjoy it.

Life might have remained leisurely had I not decided to publish a collection of my columns.  I thought, “Well, I’ve already written the columns; how hard can it be to pull them together into a book?”  Little did I know.

 I thought I’d get serious about it in the summer and have a book out in time for the Holiday season. Suffice it to say; there was way more involved in that endeavor than I ever imagined.  Oh sure, you can self-publish a book, but it’s not like The Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” If you want to sell your book, you have to market it, and when you’re self-published, that means YOU do it all.

From the August day I met with the publisher through the November publication date and on through yearend, my every waking hour was consumed with thoughts of how to promote the book. I approached local shops; I did book signings; I created posters, press releases, a Facebook Author Page, and website content; and I networked non-stop.  It was all fun but time-consuming. 

And then, I took a slight break in the New Year. I’d contemplated writing a book with my dog—he’s very talented—but decided instead to spend the year focused on marketing. I did a few book signings, helped organize an author booth at a local festival, and met other authors. Those new connections led to more ideas. If only I’d stopped there.

Perhaps I can blame my next decision on my corporate career where I  was accustomed to having a full plate. Who knows? All I know is that before I knew it, I’d decided to go ahead with the dog book. 

The result?  “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch” will be released August 31st.  Once again, Banjo and I had already written much of the book as blog posts, so we two only had to add the connective tissue, if you will, to make his stories flow.  Still, as you now know, there was plenty more work to be done.  And, yes, I’m still busy.  So I’m either a glutton for punishment or a glutton for fun. What would you say?

Write Kathy and Banjo Penn at inkpenn119@gmail.com