The Universe Always Trades Up

I have an dear old friend who I mostly connect with these days on Facebook. I posted a quote from Danielle LaPorte yesterday that said “The universe always trades up.” And my friend’s comment was “What does this even mean?” I told her it was a Buddhist koan. That was a joke. It’s a pretty straightforward affirmation: You want something. You don’t get it. Six months later you know why you didn’t get it, you’re happy you didn’t get, because something better came along. The universe always trades up.

Which brings me to my best friend, Ali. Ali would get the koan joke. And incredibly, I feel closer to her than any of my geographically close friends despite her living all the way across the universe. Well, England. Eastern edge! Until quite recently, Ali ran a website called A Woman’s Wisdom. It was my favorite place to go on the internet for author news and views, plus Ali would post her own delightful vingettes “Tales From the Manor” which I especially relished. They’re all still there for your reading pleasure.

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Recently, Ali decided to stop reviewing indie novels and start researching a project dear to her heart. The universe is trading up for Ali, I can tell you that much. We still communicate every day. We Skype and email and sent FB messages to each other all the time. I thought what Ali did on A Woman’s Wisdom was incredibly generous and kind. She gave all her time and talent to promoting other people. Including me, which is how we met. She’s still promoting me, but in a more personal bestie-across-the-sea way.

As sad as I am at the demise of A Woman’s Wisdom, I’m more excited about Ali’s next adventure. And my own. The universe is trading up for me, too. Ali had a lot to do with that. She encouraged me to expand my author platform and even did research about ways I could spend my time giving my books their due. This has always been my secret wish: to do better by my books. I write them but that’s about it. Ali promoted the heck out of them, and so did others I am so very grateful to…but I needed more. I needed to let go of my insecurities and let the universe do its thing.

It did in a WOW way.

I have, with Ali’s encouragement, hired Woodward Press. They help authors in many ways, but the first thing they’re doing for me is bringing out my first novel, Sister Issues, as a “real” book not just an e-book. Sister Issues has a special place in my heart and I always meant for it to have a print edition. I’ve been re-reading it to see that it holds up and so far so good. Whew.

I have the entire “book behind the book” here. I wrote about the successes and challenges writing it whilst writing and publishing Sister Issues, which was called Sugar Shack for a couple of years, right up until I went to load it into KDP. The blog was way more meta back then. I’d write my pages for the day, blog about what happened, terrible or inspired or somewhere in between. I gave resources I used to solve novel problems. Like that.

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Another reason I love Sister Issues and want it in print: the selfie of my darling daughter-in-law Jessica and her sister Meg. They capture the essence of the relationship between Cher and Ariel with their quirky pose and a hot burst of sun behind their lovely faces. Woodward Press is not daunted by turning an old iPhone pic into a cover that looks professional. They are trying something a suggestion from Jessica, who is an art chick. You should see her house, the way she decorates.

I cannot wait to see Meg and Jessica on the cover of my newest release,  coming out in just about a month. I’m not real sure on the timing as I have another book coming September 15 from Amazon Encore, also a reissue, this one of Blue Heaven. Then Love and Death in Blue Lake is also due this fall or early December. I am really hoping for November, first week. Because as Dora of Woodward Press says, once you get to Thanksgiving with book promotion, you might as well wait until mid-January.

So my hope is to have a bunch of placement of real books in real stores before the holidays. Also have a signing or two. Also do online things like a blog hop and also new things that aren’t same old/same old. Woodward Press has a PR person to help me with all that. And with three books out in three months, I will need all the help I can get. Today I have an appointment for a professional author photo session. No more selfies! I am partnering with Woodward Press, stepping up to do my part, which is integral to the whole idea that the universe always trades up. Yes, it does. But you have to do your part.

Happiness Encore

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Today seems a good day to review those ten happiness booster tips from Mindful magazine and UC Berkeley that I’ve been posting about:

1. Savor Life’s Joys

2. Drop Grudges

3. Get Moving

4. Give Thanks

5. Keep Friends Close

 I’ve been off the market for a few months owing to some injuries, and yesterday was my official day to release the crutches and walk unfettered in the world again. Yay! I had lunch with a group of friends, made plans with another friend to see an art exhibit tomorrow, and had a neighbor over for a glass of wine at cocktail hour.

Was I feeling cooped up? You bet. I’m so ready to be social and this is the weekend for it. We have a party with good friends on the 4th and then my Seattle family comes in next week. Al and I have been planning for a big party and some smaller “just us” time too. Then we’re going to visit his dad. Seems I’ll see almost every member of my family and some of Al’s in the next few weeks and all happy occasions.

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#6 “Get With the Flow” and I can see some of what that will mean to me beginning on July 15 when I receive my edits from The Wild Rose Press. I also have another book contract to sign with Amazon Encore, something pretty exciting I need to look more closely at today. With book contracts and edits come writing and promotion and this is the flow I’ll be entering after a long winter of writing, writing, writing. Of course I’m still writing…just needing to fit more of the big picture into my flow.

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#7 “Practice Kindness” is a big one for me. I always have love in my heart, but it doesn’t always translate into action in the real world. So I’ll be working on that too and letting you know next post some practical steps I took to practice kindness. And of course I hope to finish out those final three tips in my next few posts.

Happy Birthday, USA

Celebration Central

love.photoFinally opened my rusty heart. Hadn’t known it was closed, although all evidence pointed that way. For several years, I eschewed invitations to family holiday parties hosted by  friends because they made me miss my own family and the days back when, every holiday, my house was Celebration Central. Why did I say yes this year when Donna invited Al & me for Easter dinner?

I didn’t think about it, just did not shut down as per usual when the words “family” and “get-together” are mentioned in the same sentence.  As I filled an Easter basket with goodies, I thought about this new thing I was doing. How would it be, seeing grandparents, parents, children and grandchildren? Would I be sad? Would my heart seize?

Patrick.girls.I was not and it did not. I have known this family since my own boys were small. That’s Patrick and his daughters: Juliette on his lap and baby Lilianna in her chair.  Pat and my son Mike were great pals.

When I remarked to Donna’s sister that we hadn’t seen her in too many years, maybe since the cruise, her husband piped up to say they’d seen me up at the cottage not all that long ago. Yes, I remembered. That was the last time I danced on a chair. So it was a little while ago. We’d all matured, some more than others.

Dan had a devilish gleam to his eye. I blushed and shook my head at how silly I had been after one too many glasses of wine. Even full of wine, I remember walking after midnight with Donna to the dock. We settled back to watch the stars, Stony Lake pooling under us, surrounding us, stars from the sky reflecting on the water’s surface. So many stars. Like heaven opened up and shook out an extra handful just for us.

Yesterday, four generations gathered, two dozen in all. We knew every face, every story. These were friends who had turned into family a long time ago, without me noticing. But my heart noticed. And Celebration Central turns out to be located within the heart as well as around the dinner table.Easter.photo

Popular!

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When I was in 8th grade, the most popular girl in school approached me on the first day of classes and invited me to an event. My excitement must have showed because she kind of chuckled. It didn’t take long before we were BFFs and just like that, I was popular. In with the clique. On the fringes, for sure, but suddenly everybody in the school knew my name. One day, we were in my room, just hanging out, and she picked up my diary. “Where’s the key?”

I had written extensively about this girl and my thrill at being popular in this diary and would not allow her read about how much her friendship meant to me. Also, I might have said a few things I didn’t want anyone to know about my ever-changing love life. For whatever reason, I would not give her the key. She persisted. She got a little angry, even.

“Why can’t I see it?”

She was thinking the opposite of the truth. That I had written bad things about her. Nope. I had gushed out my gratitude for finally being accepted with the In crowd and my utter adoration of her. I thought she’d laugh at me and tell everyone all the details of my diary. That should have been my first clue that trouble was brewing.

I stayed semi-popular until I dropped out of that bitchy crowd to bond with a new group of friends who liked listening to music, smoking pot, and disdained the whole idea of “popular.” I stopped writing journalism and started writing poetry. In my head, I was beyond cool.

Something similar happened within the last few weeks. For ten years, every time I typed my name into Google’s search engine, there would be “A Writer’s Diary” right on top. Ahead of Virginia Woolf, from whom I’d borrowed my blog title. Ahead of a lot of people way more important than me. Just like with that popular girl suddenly deciding to befriend me, I couldn’t figure out “why me?”

But, again, like those feelings of old, it felt good. After awhile, I took it for granted, to be honest. I don’t know who follows my blog or how many or any of that stuff. I never wanted to know. But I got a little thrill when I periodically checked my name on Google.

Then a few weeks ago, I typed in my name and I was #5. After a film producer with my  name, assorted other Cynthia Harrisons had inexplicably leapt ahead of me. I thought about it for awhile and then shrugged. At least I was still on the first page. Then yesterday I checked again, typing in my name  as usual and “A Writer’s Diary” was nowhere to be found.

My Twitter handle was there, a few reviews of my novels, my Amazon author page. But no blog. I thought about why this had happened. I have no clue, just like I had no clue why I was #1 when there were no such things as tags, I knew a little code, and swiped photos and ran hot links with abandon.

Finally, I had reached the goal I set for myself when I started my blog. I was a published author with five books. But I was less, not more, popular with Google. Seems like an ironic contradiction. When I was in junior high, it took me at least a year to figure out I didn’t need the In crowd. This time it took less than 24 hours to realize that, for me, Google ranking is not a big deal. And now I am going to check Bing:)

Please Mister Postman

fall.dirt.photoI’ve been waiting patiently. Almost missed my BFN’s (best friend neighbor) birthday surprise. But, just in the nick of time, Mr. Postman came through. I live in a tiny town and everyone except me knows him by name. I think it’s Ron.

Love my dirt road even though Al refuses to wash my car anymore because I can’t help but drive down it. All the bright scarlet maple leaves have blown away after a windy storm, but’s it’s still so pretty.

I can’t get used to the fact that this is my town. And that these are my books. Every dream I’ve ever had and a few I never even considered has come my way. Well, there’s just one more thing. (There always is.) I want to finish and publish the book I’m working on now. It will happen. Just like everything else did, in its own good time.   print.books

After the books came, I quickly signed and wrapped a copy of Blue Heaven for BFN Jan. Her birthday was yesterday. We were both in the middle of cooking dinner, but I turned everything off for a sec and ran across the back yard to hand it to her. She took it and felt it and said “Is this your new book?” Jan has been reading my books since they were just manuscripts on typing paper. In fact, she read a few that were so bad I recycled them instead of trying to mend and publish. So of course I gift her my print books, even though she really needs a Kindle! In answer to Jan’s question, I said “You’ll have to open it and find out,” and then flew back across the yard to my own kitchen.

Another thing happened the same day the books came. I got an email from a fellow DWW member who invited any of us interested to take part in a book fair. So, I had bought these books pictured above as gifts for family and friends and now I am taking them to a book fair. Better get a new order in soon. And those of you who won my 11th Blog Birthday package, I will get the books out to you Monday. Better send my mom one, too. After I find the page with the consummation scene and warn her not to read it:)