Monday, September 28, 2015

The Lost Books: Found. The Culprit: Identified.

As I prepared to publish a different post, today, I noticed the last one I posted, Tell me, please. Most people are honest, aren't they? and am compelled to  reveal the outcome of the search for the lost (stolen?) books before I go on. I publish this explanation with joy—that my faith in humanity is restored, and chagrin—at having to admit that I, and I alone, am the guilty party.

The explanation may relate to my next post: Confessing and Accepting my Chaotic Mind, but, long story short, after giving up on ever finding them again, and seeking to replace the lost items, I found them, just in time to stop the order for replacements. Where did I find them? The answer, as is the case almost every time I lose anything, is—exactly where I put them. (The box of discs for the audio books in a basket of props covered with two tablecloths and the books I purchased for birthday gifts, on a cluttered shelf in my office underneath an old magazine.)

My apologies to the world for thinking the worst when I should have known the truth from my life-long experience with a forgetful and dissociative mind.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tell me, please. Most people are honest, aren't they?

Because I find it so hard to believe that anyone, especially in the small and lovely town of Ennis, Montana, would deliberately steal an item out of the back of a car, it has taken me this long to admit that someone did. The compact disks for eighteen audio books for the late Joan Bochmann's novel Absaroka, mentioned in my previous post, were indeed lifted from the trunk of my car as we were loading up from the authors' sale at the Madison Valley Arts Festival on August 8.

After searching thoroughly, asking others and at the bank, (on whose lawn the event was held) and running a want ad in the lost and found section of the paper, I’ve finally accepted the only possible explanation, someone walked by, lifted the box (and a bag of a half dozen or so books that I’d purchased from other authors at the event) from the trunk of my car as they went by. Why? I’ll never know. I suppose the open maw was inviting and the only two things in the car small enough to take in a hurry were carried off. I just couldn't think why anyone would want a box of 72 CDs (eighteen audio books without cases or covers) and so was very reluctant to believe it, although there was no other explanation.

When I finally realized that the books I bought for gifts were missing, too, I had to admit that someone intentionally stole them. Perhaps, on seeing what was in the box, the disappointed thieves dropped it in a trash receptacle somewhere. For if it had been found, it would have come back to me, as the shipping label was still on it. And most people are honest, right?

I'd like to believe that the thieves would sort through and find disks 1 through 4 of this book and listen to the velvet voice of Scott Tanner as he reads Joan's awesome story, and I hope they at least read the books they stole, but, it's hard for me to believe readers could also be thieves—the novel The Book Thief (one of my favorites) not withstanding. It’s disheartening to think of the kinds of people who would do this, but I’ve learned a lesson about trust. 

Or have I? I've learned to lock my car when I have something of value inside. And next time, I might close the trunk between loads, though it would be considerably less convenient. But I still desperately want to believe that most people are honest and respectful of others' rights and property. Please tell me that this is true.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The mystery of the disappearing audio CDs

When I sold the last audio book, four CDs of the magic voice of Scott Tanner reading Joan Bochmann's novel, Absaroka, I ordered more, hoping to have them here by my next book sale at the Madison Valley Arts Festival in downtown Ennis, Montana. They didn't get here on Friday, as I'd hoped, but there was still opportunity if they came the next day. From the festival venue on Saturday, I called my post office in a town 16 miles away. Yes they were there. Should I go get them, leaving my friend and fellow author to take care of both our tables of books? A tiny voice said, "no," but I immediately hushed it and said, "What the heck? It'll only take a few minutes." After all, I live in rural Montana, where we are accustomed to driving long distances to work, to medical appointments, to get groceries, mail packages, or to visit a "neighbor."

I got the package containing compact discs for 20 books, buzzed right back to our table, filled the two cases I'd brought with me, and had them on the table for display in less than an hour. Though rainy and cool, we had a fun and productive day. People were not discouraged by the weather and the park filled with visitors. We sold a lot of books—but no audio books.

At four o'clock we packed up to leave. After loading everything in the trunk of my car, my friend did a double check just to make sure we did not leave anything behind. All was well and good—until I started to put the rest of the CDs in the cases I had at home. I couldn't find the CDs. "Hmm, where did I put them?" I searched the house, the car, all around the car and the house dozens of times before admitting they are not here. They have to be, but they aren't. Via email, my friend verified that she had placed them in the trunk of my car and even told me just where they sat in relation to other boxes.

So, yes, they have to be here. But they are not. And what's baffling is that there is no explanation for why they are not. They couldn't have fallen out of a locked trunk. They were not left behind. We didn't stop anywhere else. I emptied every box we brought home and put everything away. That box of CDs is NOT here! I believed for a while that it would "turn up." I no longer have any such hope. They have disappeared. Vanished. Ceased to exist. There is no other explanation.

I will have to order and pay for more and in the meantime, as I'm prone to do, I keep running a different scenario through my mind. My rueful look backward as I desire to change what can't be changed. It's my realization of what I SHOULD have done. In this lovely scene, I listen to that tiny voice that always speaks the truth, and do NOT go to the post office and get the CDs. In this dream, I pick them up with my mail on Monday morning and they are now safely in my possession ready to tuck into the audio book covers. That's hindsight, where my vision is 20-20. Maybe next time I'll listen. But haven't I said that before?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Taking Stock and confessing my weaknesses, by Janet Muirhead Hill

--> Dreaming is easy. It's what I do best. Ideas are never in short supply. Now it's time to figure out how to implement the ideas in the time I have left in this world. All I know for sure is that it is going to take a lot more than just dreaming.

I've never been a very good planner. That I must admit. I'm an idealist wishing only to make the world a better place for everyone. Lofty? You bet. And overwhelming, too. So overwhelming as to be debilitating. The wheels spin and it’s like a heart going into fibrillation, and nothing gets done. Needing a defibrillator of the brain, I'm taking stock, prioritizing, and attempting, once again, to organize and vitalize a plan.

Raven Publishing, of which I'm CEO—and sole staffer, has some amazing authors who are also wonderful, genuine, and good people. Their talent is amazing, and my company is truly blessed to have had the opportunity to get their books into print. So first on my list is to get the published books circulated, distributed, better known, and widely sold—or to turn them over to someone who can do it better, namely the authors themselves.

Because we are shorthanded, here, (I only have two) I'm going to concentrate my limited marketing efforts on the works of the authors I already have, not taking on any new ones, (with the possible exception of a middle-grade novel whose manuscript, I already agreed to consider.) I will also consider new works of the authors whose books I've already published, if they choose to submit them. If they decide to seek another publisher, I'll support them in every way I can. And I will continue to publish books of my own, although I might submit them elsewhere first.

Raven must always stand for quality. We (I plus a volunteer acquisitions committee) choose content and writing that are topnotch. Quality construction and presentation are top priorities.

So, what is the future of Raven Publishing? That question is not answerable at this point. But my aim is to keep it as strong as I can for as long as it lasts and to have a good exit plan for when I am no longer able to keep it going—a plan in which the books already published will be left in the hands and under the control of the authors or the authors’ heirs and will hopefully remain available for the reading public. They are all good books, and each important in its own way.

Immediate plans include the introduction of our first picture book, a collaboration between myself and famed and talented artist Herb Leonhard. It will be published in 2016. It is my hope that Joan Bochmann, my departed sister’s book, Prism, will also come out either next year or the next. (It was begun before she died of cancer, and I finished it at her request.) Presently it is being reviewed by her children.

I plan to have a sequel to my latest book, The Horse and the Crow, written and published next year. It is called, Horses for Sale, A Miranda and Starlight Story (vol. 8) and I want to write and publish a spinoff, The Horse of the Rising Sun, Teddy Hungry Horse’s story, a continuation from his introduction in The Horse and the Crow.  I’m aiming for 2017 on that one. Books by other authors will depend on them. I encourage them to find a publisher with a greater reach, but, for those who know both my skills and my limitations first hand and still want to have their books published by Raven, I will continue to honor them and publish their writing, for I know its quality.

Looking further into the future, I have several other books either written and needing editing, or begun and needing to be finished, that I hope to publish before I give it up. They are:
Lorvi — first book I ever wrote, a fantasy adventure something like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in that the protagonists travels back and forth between a real and a fantasy world, but darker.
Return to Lorvi — sequel to Lorvi and my second book to write.
Fault Lines — an adult novel about a large, well-to-do family who suddenly find themselves homeless. (written and awaiting rewrites)

Fugitives from Planet Eden — my attempt at science fiction (written and ready for a serious rewrite and then a sequel. Either that, or I need to write more and make it just one book.

A Play (unnamed as yet) It could become a novel instead. It isn’t finished but has a delightful start, and is authored jointly by my granddaughter and me. I’d love to see it finished.

Then there are a couple more beginnings that my sister wrote, that I’d like to see finished. One, a mystery/legal thriller called By Reason of Insanity would make a terrific novel if someone (maybe me with help?) could finish it. The beginning is instantly gripping. The other is Uncommon Thread and could be turned into a short story. It may be my next short story attempt.

The Wind is a short story that I wrote and recently submitted to a contest. When the contest is done, I will seek to publish it elsewhere or publish it myself.

More to the Miranda and Starlight series after book 8? We’ll see. More for Teddy Hungry Horse’s story? Maybe. Let’s see, I need to live to be about 120. That might be enough time, if I work consistently and don’t have any more ideas. Oh, but the picture book I’m publishing next year will need some sequels. It’s called Billings and Jingles: The First Big Adventure.