Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Birthing a book

The joy of bringing a new book into the world sets my blood swirling and my lips spreading into a big old grin. I love being privy to the back story, to the formation, to the creator's frustrations and triumphs when writing a book. I've been allowed to view this grand event several times and each time I get giddy with joy at their triumph. The fact that I may have contributed in some small way makes me content that I've not lived this life in vain.

Once again I've been watching a gifted writer put his words together into a new book. Today I read a piece he's compiling from his memoir to offer to literary magazines. He has the heart of a poet with a touch of bawdy humor here and there. My kind of writing.

And yet, the subject of his memoir, it could be so maudlin and oh woe is me or he could bluster his way through and say 'it ain't so tough.' But he does none of those things, he gives the reader total honesty. Sometimes more than perhaps you'd want because the subject does make us face our own mortality. The author was stricken with polio at the peak of his young life, as he was stepping from childhood sandals into adult dancing shoes. Well, he could say it better. But by the age of 20 he had spent time in an iron lung, gave up his hard fought, almost achieved independence, and became totally dependent, even more so than old Blanche Duboise, on the kindness of strangers. His memoir takes us into a world where he travels by wheelchair 'boob high' to the world. I think that should be his title, by the way.

He's been struggling with rewrites for the past few months. Next he will face marketing and book signings and all of the things in between that writers rarely think of when trying to get one book sold. I hope he sells tons of books, makes the best seller's list, and sits down to write several more books. He is a voice that will add greatly to those already shouting from the bookshelves.

Watch for the name: Gary Presley. He has several items available to read online, his website and his blog site and his offerings to the Internet Writing Workshop blog as well as their book review site. Here are a few urls to consider:

Gary isn't my first encounter up close and personal with the pains of birthing a book. I worked for a year with Peggy Vincent as she labored over her memoir Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife. Another voice that needs to be heard. And her sense of humor. I snorted my way through that book. Spit coffee on my keyboard, laughed out loud and scared the cat. And then so poignant. A life well lived. But oh, the book she could write NOW about the life she's living AFTER Baby Catcher.

And Linda Swink, a dear friend, and lifelong member of Toastmaster's and the book "Speak With Power and Grace" that she wrote about public speaking. One of the best and most helpful books I've read on the subject. It would have been longer, but she allowed me to do a bit of editing for her. "She's currently finishing up a much needed reference on men who have had a military installation named in their honor, titled Lest We Forget: The Naming of Our Military Installations." It should be published in 2008. The heroes she uncovered in her research -- it is a litany of bravery that has for the most part been long forgotten. A must read even if you aren't into military history and research.

I've reviewed a number of books through the years for various venues from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus to Crescent Blues E'magazine and Gumshoe Review. I like to think that my reviews may have contributed a bit to the authors successes. Well, there might have been a few that I might have been a bit detrimental.... But several quote my reviews on their websites and on the back cover of their books -- those help me feel, again, as if I'm contributing something good and worthwhile.

And maybe, just maybe, after having reached my Nanowrimo goal ahead of schedule, maybe someday I'll get to go through this process with my own book. Keep your fingers crossed.

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