by Danielle Champiet-Coronado
Two of my favorite things about the Last Tuesday poetry group are getting to meet the authors and the unpredictability of the events. They’re always chock full of surprises, from side-splitting humor to incredible poetry and everything in between. March was no exception for us. It started with a near last-minute change in features as John Brehm was not able to join us this month but will be here in May. Not to worry as David Hill puts the master in M.C. and the newest member of our hosting team, Cathie Padgett, did an excellent job sharing Mr. Brehm’s latest anthology, The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy.
This was Cathie’s debut as co-host and she was absolutely brilliant. Having met the author at a previous reading for one of his earlier books, Cathie delighted the crowd with personal bits about John Brehm, such as the incredibly moving family experiences that inspired a previous publication, Help Is on the Way. For me, half the fun is hearing the poems performed and the other half is being treated to the stories of what inspired them. It is those personal details that enrich a reading and create a more intimate connection between the artist and the audience.
Of his latest collection, Cathie called it a “journey of movement.” Aptly put as the poems are masterfully arranged to take you on a mental, spiritual and emotional journey to a peaceful, nay, Zen place. A compilation of contemporary and classic poets and a myriad of styles, it would be nearly impossible for anyone to not find something that connects with them. One piece that Cathie shared, The Inaction of Shoes by Ron Padgett, was one that particularly resonated with me. In it he talked about all of the things he had to get done and how great it was to see his shoes sitting on the floor at the end of the day with nothing else to do. I think that’s a view that all of us can relate to and appreciate.
The other portion of our “feature” time covered another journey; self-publishing. Not to be confused with the vanity publishers that ask for astronomical amounts to publish your book and will hound you ‘til the end of time. They should be avoided at all costs. Self-publishing is an option for indie writers to share their creations with the public on their own schedule. Traditional publishing is great and it’s a very heady experience to be chosen by them but not being chosen doesn’t always mean that your book wasn’t worthy. Publishing is about timing. You can have a great piece but if they don’t feel that it fits a current trend, you will most likely meet with a lot of rejection. Even their systems of selection aren’t perfect. I read some stories one publisher shared on their site of different books that they had passed on that went on to be successful with other publishers. The saying about kissing a lot of frogs also applies to the publishing world. Self-publishing isn’t a one-way option either. 50 Shades of Grey was self-published for a while before a traditional publisher picked it up.
If you do decide to self-publish, there are some great venues available. In my experience, Barnes and Noble Press has the easiest process for publishing your books and is a great one for those not entirely computer-savvy. Their program works well with word docs and gives you plenty of options in size, paper and design. You can use a book cover that you designed or use their templates to create one. Their fees come out of the book sales and they tell you what your royalties will be based on the price you set and are direct deposited into your account. There’s also a feature for sales reports. Their customer service is also very quick and helpful. Barnes and Noble Press publishes in both print and ebook versions and allows you to link them together making it easier for those viewing your book to choose. They offer free ISBN (for print) and EAN (for ebook) numbers or you can purchase your own and use that. Once published, your book is available on Barnes and Noble online and made available to their customers worldwide.
One huge difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing is the amount of work you do in sales and marketing. With traditional publishing, you do have to do some sales but they do a lot for you. Larger publishers have a broader network which is a tremendous asset. When you self-publish everything is all up to you and done by you including the time and expense of marketing your book. It takes a lot of perseverance, dedication and discipline in handling the business and sales end of things and it’s not always easy to switch hats from artist to agent. Editing your own books is also not an easy feat for most. I must have read mine 100 times each checking for mistakes in words and layout. Whether self-publishing or traditional publishing, nothing happens quickly. Even JK Rowling wasn’t JK Rowling right away.
The attendees of the Last Tuesdays poetry group, whether regular or sporadic, are like a poetry family. Come once and that won’t be hard to see. The first reader of the evening, Barbara Ford, paid tribute to her beloved friend and a dear member of our poetry group, Roberta Matthews Plummer. Roberta passed away this last December but what an extraordinary life she had lived. She lived a wide life and made the most of each day, taking pleasure in time with her family, friends, community, arts and nature. Even the simple beauty of a cherry blossom was something to behold. Roberta loved bringing people together and her joie de vivre embraced all she encountered. A great lover of poetry, I believe that when Shakespeare spoke of cutting out the stars to make the face so fine that the world will be in love with night, he was talking about Roberta. Her life and legacy of love will never be forgotten.
Please join us on April 24th at 7pm at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Vancouver, WA. Alicia Jo Rabins will be our featured poet and sharing pieces from her book, Divinity School. If you have a family-friendly poem or two that you would like to share during our open mic sessions, we would love to hear them. See you there!
All featured books are available for purchase through Barnes and Noble store and on their website: