Monday, January 25, 2016

The Picking Bag

Before this January, I had never heard the term "picking bag." By this day in January, however, I not only know the term, but I can relate stories about it. I'm not a farm girl, but I can imagine workers in the field picking cotton and stuffing soft whites into the bags hanging over their shoulders.

The closest I came personally to a picking bag was my mother's (and later my own) clothes pin bag, back when clothes were hung on the line to dry. The diaper days. The clean sheets in the breeze days.

But that changed when I volunteered along with my friend, Sandra Warren to help a fellow children's author self publish a book. Not just any book, but a book titled, The Picking Bag.  Designed for the middle grade reader, this book speaks to all levels about determination and grit and overcoming odds. Getting it published was a lesson in determination and grit and overcoming odds for not only its author, Debbra Beecher Nance, but for Sandra and me. We thought we knew what we were doing. No, wait, I thought I knew what I was doing since I had earlier self published a children's picture book. And it all came back, after many days of trial and error. Doing something once does not an expert make. Lesson Learned!

Many lessons learned, as a matter of fact. Sandra and I spent hours on dead ends, and in that process we learned what not to do. Turns out, the "what to do" wasn't all that difficult. We were just uploading the wrong template option that createspace provided. Once that was dealt with, only small issues remained, like single vs double spacing, like font size to fit the page limit parameters, like widows and orphans left over text. The best message ever from createspace? No issues noted!

In the end, there is a beautiful faith based book about a Mormon boy in 1846 as he struggled to survive family tragedies as well as society's misunderstandings. This book is not for the faint of heart, but well worth the read for those who are searching for historical reality. Here, let the blurb on the back tell you more:

And now for the front cover:
Click here to read details on Amazon.

The Croaker Sack
The covers were designed by Tom Sjoerdsma of Art Attack Greetings.  Thank you Tom for your excellent creation. The bag is one Sandra found searching for "antique picking bags." There really is such a thing! We found it and used it with permission from a company called Peg and Awl that specializes in finding and restoring (or creating) treasures from past use. Recognize the bag from their website? It's called a croaker bag. And it was perfect for our cover. Thank you husband and wife team Margaux and Walter Kent. Check out what they have to offer!

What I learned most from this experience is that it takes a community to publish a book. This small community of authors, artists and craftsmen joined forces for a common good. Starting with an excellent manuscript by Debbra Nance, together we accomplished the near impossible. Good job, everyone!

Catch of the day,


Monday, January 18, 2016

Holiday for Remembering

Today is a holiday. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. For me, it's day to remember not only a man, but to also remember what once was. Outside the weather is frigid. No snow means there's less reason to venture out for the children who have a day off from school. I hope that sometime today they find a personal connection to this get-out-of-school reason for remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

Growing up in the south as a member of the white community I never thought about discrimination. It was the way things were, so I didn't have a name for it. The restrictions I encountered were imposed by my parents, filtered through the sieve of society, I'm sure. I rode the bus into the city on my own by the time I was twelve and never considered the feelings of anyone forced to sit at a particular spot. I rode the school bus past black children waiting for their bus to take them to their separate school and never wondered if their schools were equal to mine.

A quote by Maya Angelo says, "You did what you had to do. When you knew better, you did better." Now that I'm grown and put away childish things (somewhat), I look back and wonder what we were thinking. As I have been working on various projects, thanks to Dr. King, I can better recognize discrimination.

One project involves the Cherokee here in western North Carolina. Generations before those who I am writing about were born, the majority of their nation was forced to move to Oklahoma in a travesty known as "The Trail of Tears," a high form of discrimination. Those who hid in the wilderness offered by the surrounding mountains are the ancestors of the eastern band of the Cherokee Nation. My connection comes through the Fly Fishing Museum of the Southern Appalachians that is located in downtown Cherokee, directly across from the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. (More about that project in the coming weeks as it goes to press.)

In yet another project, I am assisting a friend of a friend to self publish a book about a Mormon child who experienced horrid acts of discrimination in 1846 as his family sought to find a life where they could freely worship as they believed. (More about that project also in the coming weeks. It's already gone to press, and we're waiting for the proof as I type.)
I guess this just about says it all.
Now that I know better, my question on this 2016 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is "Am I doing better?" Am I recognizing discrimination? Am I sitting by and allowing subtle discriminations to occur? A lesson for us all.

Catch of the day,


Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year 2016

There's something about a new year that brings hope. Today we have three hundred and sixty-six days of a blank slate ahead in 2016. I wonder what is in store.

When this penny postcard was sent in 1910 what was the sender thinking? Did he know what was coming for him in 1910?

How different was the world the day my husband's great, great grandfather stuck a penny stamp in the corner of the back of this card and walked to the post office on December 27 where it was stamped 11:20am. So much as happened since that day, the good, the bad, the common, the extraordinary.

Did Agnes have any idea they would be married before the year was out? Would they have ever imagined they would have dozens and dozens and dozens of descendants living throughout the United States? Did they imagine a world war that sadly wouldn't be the war to end all wars or a second world war that once again did not end wars? Did they foresee the flu epidemic that came a few years after this Happy New Year wish, or the polio epidemic that killed and maimed the children?

I doubt it. Because on January First of every year, even 2016, hearts become hopeful. Fears take a back seat for just that one day. The human spirit triumphs.

Happy New Year. 

Catch of the day,