Sunday, June 26, 2016

WRITE YOUR BOOK: FRONT MATTERS

WHAT’S UP FRONT COUNTS: DEDICATION, TABLE OF CONTENTS, ACKNOWLEDGMENTS, FOREWORD, PREFACE

This is dedicated to the one I love…” so began a popular song a few decades ago. That opening line caught the listener’s attention, and your Dedication page can likewise capture your reader’s notice.

Judy Axtell dedicated But…at What Cost, her memoir-plus-political-tract, “To Frederick Douglass and his deep understanding of human nature and freedom,” celebrating a great African-American and alerting her readers that she is not the stereotype they have when they think of conservatives.

The dedication of my Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion goes:

Offered with love to Tina Su Cooper, the light of my life
   
    Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
    Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

   Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping
   For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
–Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

   All that we love deeply becomes part of us.
–Helen Keller

From the dedication, the reader knows immediately that this is a story about a deep and long-lasting love that has endured, among other things, long separation.

The dedication to Kidnapped Twice: Then Betrayed and Abused, by Mary E. Seaman and myself, is simply, “To those who care deeply about the treatment of the least powerful among us: our children, our pets, and our wildlife.” It tells you a lot, favorably, about Mary right away.

One more example: novelist Mark Hazard (2015) dedicates his Corus and the Case of the Chaos: A Detective Mystery,For Rudy. Best dog ever.” It does not necessarily indicate Hazard lacks friends and family. Rather, it sets up the novel’s theme: a master detective struggling with depression triggered by the death of his beloved dog.

Your Table of Contents can pique the reader’s interest, help the reader know what to expect, make it easy to find material within the book if there is no index, and often will show up in brief descriptions of the book, such as Amazon’s Inside the Book feature.

Your Acknowledgments give you the opportunity to thank those who have contributed to your life and to your book. What a nice way to thank them! Whom you praise may add to your credibility and gravitas.

The Foreword should be written by someone who likes what you have written, says so, and has credibility because of position and accomplishments.

Your Preface lets you tell your readers why you wrote the book and why it is likely to be of value to them.

Not all books will have all these elements, but most should.

With these out of the way, we move on to your Introduction.

WRITING A COMPELLING NONFICTION INTRODUCTION

We’ll explore some options for your introduction, which options will be different for the different nonfiction genres.

First, “how to” book introductions are discussed.

Given that the popular topics of health, wealth, and personal relationships are all susceptible to the “how to” treatment, this approach covers a lot of ground. After the introduction, you will go into much more detail on why and how. Memoirs need a different approach, discussed after this.

          8 Steps to a Compelling “How To” Book Introduction

This is based on an excellent Amazon Kindle ebook, Book Launch, by highly successful writer and publisher Chandler Bolt and co-author J. Roper. The book is subtitled “How to write, market, and self-publish your first bestseller in 3 months or less AND use it to start and grow a six-figure income.” Modest claims rarely sell books.

Bolt notes that number-one bookseller amazon.com gives the first 10% of the book in its “Inside the Book” feature, so your Table of Contents and your Introduction need to grab the reader.

Here are Bolt’s eight steps:
1. Identify the problem. Let the reader know what problem you will be solving.
2. Present the solution briefly.  Your book will show how to solve the problem by….
3. Reassert your credibility. Tell who you are and why you wrote the book and why your advice should be trusted.
4. Restate the benefits. Tell reader what they will get, again, in more detail.
5. Give them proof. Tell some stories, briefly.
         6. Make a promise. Bigger is better, as long as you deliver.
7. Warn against waiting.  If they wait, they may lose out on benefits.
8. Get them to start reading immediately.  Read it now, to be ready whenever.

Chandler Bolt’s book is packed with useful information and serves as an effective advertisement for his training program: www.self-publishingschool.com. Adria Goldman Gross and I used this outline to introduce our book (Gross and Cooper, 2015) on reducing medical billing and re-imbursement errors.

          Writing a Riveting Introduction to Your Memoir

If you need some introductory material, perhaps it is best to place it in your preface. The introduction to your memoir should be something dramatic, something to engage the reader, probably a crisis in your life of some sort. Ideally, the reader would have to go farther in the book to find the resolution of the crisis, so this first introductory material ends with a natural cliff-hanger.


You are going to follow this crisis section with a description of what led up to the crisis. After that, describe the resolution, if any, and the lessons to be learned from your experience. You may choose to include added material, such as references that will be of help to the reader.


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Excerpted from my recent opus, Write Your Book with Me, published by Outskirts Press and available through OP and online booksellers such as amazon.com and bn.com. See also my site http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

You CAN Sell a Book by Its Cover (Almost)



Here I quote and paraphrase indie author Rayne Hall (2015), who has written about the 20 elements she believes may hinder your book from selling or may help it sell. First, you need an effective cover:

         Most book purchases – ebooks or print – happen online. The reader browsing sites sees a dozen or more books displayed on the page. Her eye scans over them, and unless one catches her attention, she clicks ‘next’…. Your book cover has a fraction of a second to arrest the eye.
  •                       What else? For one thing symmetrical designs, where the left side is essentially the mirror image of the right side, are not as attention-getting as asymmetrical designs. Hall gives several graphic examples, and it is clear that the more complex asymmetrical designs tend to be more eye-catching.
  •             Although you are not likely to do your own cover designing, it is good to know some basic principles. For example, Hall recommends dividing the front cover region into thirds, left and right, top and bottom, a pattern similar to the # or tic-tac-toe pattern. Arrange to have the main graphic element be off-center. Align the author name to one side and book title to another. “If possible, arrange the title on one of the two horizontal lines, and an arresting part of the picture where two lines cross.”
  •              Especially for online sales, where the cover is seen as a little “thumbnail,” simplicity is preferable to complexity, as much detail will be lost anyway.             
  •            People get our attention. “A character attracts the eye more than a landscape or an object. A portrait or half-body character (from the waist up) typically gets more attention than a full-body figure.” If consistent with your genre, use a single figure or object.
  •           Because of the size reduction for online display, much text will be hard to read unless the font size is quite large. Title and author, two elements, are generally better than three or four. If you’re not famous, making your name particularly large will not likely fool most potential buyers, however.     
  •           Make sure that your cover signals the reader what genre it represents. Look at other competitor covers to get a good general idea. Beware getting stock photos or illustrations already used by other book covers, as this can confuse the reader, perhaps annoying her.    
         Covers with few colors are more effective than those with many. Strong contrasts, in color, shade, and light-and-dark attract the eye.



Ebook maven Karia (2015) joins the chorus of those who stress the importance of an attractive cover. He changed one of his and tripled his sales rate by doing so. Actually, he got an artist to do it, as he warns “Don’t Do It Yourself!” That does not keep him from having opinions about what works, however:

·      Title: large, so as to be readable when in Amazon thumbnail
·      Contrasting colors: for legibility
·      Visual simplicity: again, consider what the “thumbnail” will look like

Karia joins others who recommend fiverr.com as a source for book-cover designers. Have several do several, then select one. You should search for images on shutterstock.com to indicate what you are seeking. He gives detailed advice on working with these graphic artists. “Remember that your cover is one of the most important parts of your book.”

Why, then, did I originally choose a plain cover for this book, WYBWM? The three paperback options my publisher offers that I was considering include various features, only some of which I care about. A plain cover with its big title and my name is part of the $400 package. Next more expensive, at about $700, would include a picture on the cover, and most of my writers get this one or the next more expensive at about $1000 that includes an artistic cover. Being married, I am spending not just “my” money, but “our” money, and I hate to waste it. The book may become popular, but may merely become a “thick business card.” I can handle only a limited number of new writing partners, anyway. If I make WYBWM into blog pieces or videos, the original cover won’t mean much. Finally, one would like to think, perhaps foolishly, that his book is bought for its contents not its cover. Oh, no, extinguish the ego!

Why did I finally go with the cover you see here, costing hundreds of dollars more than the simplest choice? It was too beautiful to resist. I hoped the readers would agree.

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Excerpted from Write Your Book with Me,  published by Outskirts Press and available from OP as well as online booksellers like amazon.com, where today (06.19.16) both the ebook and the paperback are on sale for under $1. 

My writing-coaching-editing site is http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com.



REFERENCES

     Hall, R. (2015). Why does my book not sell? 20 simple fixes.
St Leonards, UK: Scimitar Press.

Karia, A. (2015). How to write a non-fiction Kindle ebook in 15 days, Self-Published. Amazon ebook. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Literary Seduction: Choosing Your Nonfiction Title


CHOOSING YOUR NONFICTION TITLE

Authors understand that getting people to read our books is almost like seduction: we lure them in with a good-looking cover, capture their interest with our title, then we tell our story.

Let’s say you have chosen to write a nonfiction book. You have picked your topic. Next, you’ll want to have a working title, one that you may change in the future, but something that allows you to refer to the book comfortably.

Taking some time and effort to choose your title makes sense. This will help guide the direction of your writing. If you find later on that you have strayed, you can then decide whether to change the title or to bring your writing back in line with your original idea.

As you will see in what follows, there are some sound suggestions for developing a title that will help your book reach its audience. You’ll be balancing between what is creative and what is clear. In some cases your title may be a bit mysterious, but you will choose to clarify with a subtitle.

Your book’s formal title may be different from the “nickname” you started with, your working title. No problem.

Writing coach Kristen Eckstein (2013) has written a fine short book, a bargain on amazon.com at $0.99 for the Kindle version: AUTHOR’S QUICK GUIDE to Creating a Killer Non-fiction Book Title, one of her series of GUIDES. I’ll summarize some of it here, and explore how it applied to my own memoir, but I also encourage you to buy her book.
 
I titled my memoir of our 50-year-long interracial marriage Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion. Let’s analyze this in the light of Ms. Eckstein’s prescriptions:

1. The primary title is Ting and I. Unless you are well-known, you are advised to keep your title short, five words or less. Done. Who is “Ting”? My wife, born Su Tingting. “Ting” added a touch of mystery, a good thing, and perhaps echoed the familiar movie The King and I, another good thing. It sounded foreign, which is exotic to some and attractive, but off-putting to others, so the result is mixed. Women buy more books than men, so it would have been nice if this suggested that “Ting” is indeed a woman, but it doesn’t. Can’t win ‘em all.

2. My Ting and I’s subtitle is A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion. It tells you what kind of book it is, a memoir, which is good. Check. It does not exactly indicate what benefit the reader will get, though some might enjoy reading about love, courage, and devotion, and some may even be inspired.

3. The title does not indicate how to do something, and How To is a favorite category for book buyers. Perhaps reading the book will show you how a very lovable person (my wife, Tina) behaves, but the title and sub-title don’t indicate that. Oh, well.

4. The title lacks numbers, which are often very attention-getting: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, One-Minute Manager, 50 Shades of Grey. A number is specific, almost a promise.

5. The title and subtitle were not chosen for Search Engine Optimization [SEO], but sometimes one should do so. You can find lots of material on SEO, but you will have a real challenge to stand out, unless you have picked a very small niche.

Karen Eckstein’s handy GUIDE includes a link to her coaching site, UltimateBookCoach.com, and a link for a free set of instructions, “The 50 Ultimate Book Titles Template,” with suggestions for creating your own killer, ultimate, maximally effective title. Hmm, “The 50 Ultimate…” seems like she took her own advice.

         For fiction titles, you have more latitude, but some of the same rules apply. Moby Dick? The Sun Also Rises? Tender is the Night? To Kill a Mockingbird? Could you guess their themes? Talent trumps titles.

         Ebook success Karia (2105) gives the following advice, prefer:
·      Short title with explanatory sub-title
·      Keywords likely to be used in searches
·      Title that indicates benefits
·      Title that raises curiosity
I think Ting and I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion, fell short on promising benefits. How to Manage Nursing Care at Home, seems to fit all the above except “curiosity.”

         Karia (2015) cites Craig Valentine’s book World Class Speaking, for this mnemonic summary, EDGE, for benefits:
·      Esteem (more): gain prestige, confidence
·      Do more: improve your abilities and performance
·      Gain more: money, friends, time…
·      Enjoy more: be happier, worry less


        Your title should offer some of the above. Ask others for their suggestions. If you have a significant Social Media following (Twitter, Facebook, email), you can try “A/B comparisons,” soliciting votes on which title (A or B) they prefer. You can spend money on Facebook ads and make A/B comparisons with Click-throughs or Likes as the metric. Later on here, I discuss my generally successful experience with Facebook ads. 


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Excerpted from my most recent opus, Write Your Book with Me, published by Outskirts Press, available from OP, amazon.com, bn.com, and other online booksellers. Free ebook offered at my site, http://WriteYourBookwithMe.com.

Today, I downloaded an ebook with a near-perfect title: M.A. Grant's The Coaching Secret: The Ugly Truth. Pithy. People love secrets and myth-busting. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Writing Your Nonfiction Book


NONFICTION BOOKS: THE TRUTH, APPROXIMATELY

Books, even the best ones, only approximate reality. Not all details can be included. Not all details are correct. Even so, the nonfiction book author tries to include the important aspects and get these right. Ideally, the sources for the “facts” will be made clear, allowing some checking by skeptical readers and allowing others to follow up and get more information.

Experts have been shown to be wrong with surprising frequency (see David H. Freedman’s 2010 book Wrong), so you will be in good company if some of what you write turns out not to be correct. Try to keep that to a minimum!


CHOOSING YOUR NONFICTION NICHE

In his How to Write a Non-Fiction Kindle eBook in 15 Days, Karia (2015) recommends you first explore your interests and knowledge:
·      What do I know well?
·      What am I interested in?
·      What could I research effectively?
·      What experts can I access easily?

For Write Your Book with Me, I knew how to write, had written and published a lot, am interested in writing, and the Internet gives lots of opportunities for obtaining more information, as does amazon.com. I accessed the experts through their books. For my memoir, Ting and I, the answers were clear: I knew our life. For a third book, How to Manage Nursing Care at Home, I had over a decade of experience and co-authored it with Diane R. Beggin, a very smart and articulate Registered Nurse who had even more experience along with the requisite professional training and credentials. For a fourth book, SOLVED! Curing Your Medical Insurance Problems, I had a co-author who was an expert in the field, and I supplied some personal experience plus coaching and editing.

         But will anyone buy it? I didn’t care much about sales with my memoir, as it was largely a gift to my wife and my family and friends. I hoped this book on writing would be popular and helpful, but at least it would be useful for my writing students / clients, and it serves as a thick business card. One author claimed that books are the best business cards on Earth. Still, one would like to go beyond handing them out.

         Karia (2015) and others recommend using amazon.com to explore what is selling and where the opportunities are. He recommends noting the books that have sales ranks of 20,000 or less (where lower means more sales). A book of his that was ranked near 10,000 was selling 200 to 300 ebooks per month. A book ranking near 200,000 would be selling about one-twentieth as many per month. He notes, “If you can’t find at least three books with that low sales rank [10.000], it means there isn’t much demand for your topic.” Move on, unless you don’t care about sales. Karia also recommends checking with udemy.com to see what courses are most popular.

         Next, focus on “narrowing your niche.” My title here, Write Your Book with Me, is probably too broad. “Memoir” rather than “Book” would have been better, but it would not have reflected the title of my web site and narrowed the book’s scope greatly. “Bestseller” would have been even more attractive, but I cannot really promise that. “First Book” would have narrowed the field and indicated that I was going to help newbies who were not likely to get published by traditional publishers. Our How to Manage Nursing Care at Home seems both needed and manageable, though. Watch for it on the bestsellers lists…if there’s nothing better to watch on TV.


         More market research can be obtained by reviewing the Amazon reviews of the books you might have written.

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Excerpted from my magnum opus, Write Your Book with Me, available from online booksellers, including amazon.com, bn.com, and its publisher, Outskirts Press. The 200-page paperback and the ebook formats are currently about $1 at amazon.com, and the truly intrepid and parsimonious can get the ebook free at WriteYourBookwithMe.com.

Monday, May 30, 2016

On Writing Better, Based on ELEMENTS OF STYLE, II



      Bold-faced material is from Strunk and White's classic text, The Elements of Style. I've added some comments of my own [from my Write Your Book with Me.]. 

V. AN APPROACH TO STYLE

1. Place yourself in the background.
Unless, of course, you are writing a memoir or autobiography. Even then, try not to brag nor whine.
2. Write in a way that comes naturally.
Write pretty much as you talk.
3. Work from a suitable design.
An outline will help greatly. In a formal piece, your first paragraph should outline the presentation such that each sentence could be a suitable topic sentence for a paragraph in the body of the work that follows.
4. Write with nouns and verbs.
Use specific nouns and descriptive verbs.
5. Revise and rewrite.
You will always find something worth improving; however, don’t let perfectionism cripple you.
6. Do not overwrite.
Avoid grandiosity, flowery words, highly complicated and “literary” sentences.
7. Do not overstate.
Understate, rather than overstate. Suggest, unless you can justly claim. Occasionally, be subtle. Shakespeare wrote, “by indirections find directions out.” Don’t sacrifice clarity, however.
8. Avoid the use of qualifiers.
Specific nouns rarely need adjectives. Apt verbs don’t need adverbs.
9. Do not affect a breezy manner.
10. Use orthodox spelling.
11. Do not explain too much.
While good advice for fiction, much nonfiction does need careful elucidation. Others have advised writers to “show not tell.” My writing partner, Kathleen Blake Shields, does not write that her aunt Lila is a prickly curmudgeon; rather, Kathy gives two anecdotes about Aunt Lila:
Aunt Lila was taken out to a fancy restaurant in our neighborhood. She was served the usual courses: salad, entrée, soup, dessert. She was not wholly pleased, however. She called the waiter over and said to him, "Tell the chef that I make my soup at home just like he made this, but I add only one can of water."
Not-so-lovable Aunt Lila watched the firemen attack with hoses and axes a fire that had started in her house. She was unhappy with their methods. She told the Chief, "You can stop what you're doing now, and I'll save the foundation."
12. Do not construct awkward adverbs.
Don’t be adverbially challenged.
13. Make sure the reader knows who is speaking.
In fiction, the dialogue and attribution (“Jill said“) should make this clear. In nonfiction, your facts and opinions need to be distinguished from those of others.
14. Avoid fancy words.
Eschew sesquipedalianism. Keep your words simple, usually.
15. Do not use dialect unless your ear is good.
16. Be clear.
If “brevity is the soul of wit,” clarity should be the goal of wit.
17. Do not inject opinion.
Editorials and persuasive pieces of various types are allowed to violate this recommendation.
18. Use figures of speech sparingly.
Occasional similes and metaphors spice your prose, but they should not comprise the main course.
19. Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity.
U no wat ths means, prbbly.
20. Avoid foreign languages.
Having to look up a foreign term is my bete noire.
21. Prefer the standard to the offbeat.
This is the same advice I’d give my nieces about dating!


To repeat, get The Elements of Style.

Review of STIR UP THE GIFT WITHIN

         

Title of My Amazon Review: Inspiring and Level-Headed Advice

         The author, JaneNK Nwanne, is a success coach, a wife, a mother of four young girls, a busy woman, one who writes clearly, cogently and from her heart. She gently nudges her readers with her religion, but is not over-bearing about it, and she gives practical advice that is ethical as well.

         Her book’s subtitle, Discover Your Extraordinary True Self, is pitch-perfect for the audience that this book seems best suited for, high school or college students trying to decide how to order their futures and prepare for them.

         The following are the section titles of this short, informative book:

·      The Significance of Your Birthday
·      The Power and Significance of Your Name
·      What Are Your Talents?
·      What Do You Love?
·      Apply Your Talent
·      How to Pursue Your Passion
·      Live a Successful Life
·      The Spiritual Approach
·      Help Others Utilize Their Talent
·      Conclusion

As a retired scientist, I almost stopped after the first section, as I give no credence to the significance of our birthdays, except to the extent that we are born in a certain place at a certain era, where certain conditions and values obtain. The hint of mystical/astrological significance to our birthdates was a bit off-putting. UNICEF estimates that 360,000 babies are born daily…it is not likely that their lives are nearly identical from that point on.   

The power and significance of your name made somewhat more sense to me. Your parents can give you a silly name or a name that conflicts with your endowments or one that seems grandiose, and any of these choices will impede your progress. Certain family names might well open doors that others would not.

The next two sections rang true: determine what your talents, your gifts, are and then look at what you care about and love to do. Merge these to shape the choice you make about what occupation/field to enter. The author gives a thorough categorization of typical talents and potential careers/businesses/occupations that might be suitable.

I liked that she tempered “follow your passion” with the ethical requirements of considering family and friends and moral limits on pursuing success.

Wealth, fame, travel…these can be empty acquisitions, she notes, if you have not developed the spiritual side of your nature and have not maintained warm relations with family, friends and associates.

This is a well-written book, fine for someone much younger than I, though it seems priced a tad high for its 70 pages of material. It does serve as a clear, concise introduction to the thinking of this career coach, and it suggests that working with her would benefit many who are unsure of their goals and the methods to achieve them.


She comes across as a woman you would be pleased to know and to have instruct those you care about. 

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[4 stars, I liked it]

Saturday, May 21, 2016

How Things Turned Out, from HOME IS WHERE THE STORY BEGINS

VI. POSTSCRIPT (FEBRUARY 2015)

         I want to tell you just how life turned out for the people who played the most important parts in my life.

         I'll start with Grandma Blake. She raised us to become the people we are, and we even learned some things. She lived to see us all get married, but only knew of Doreen's baby. She was 94 years old when she died and has been greatly missed by all. It was strange to go into the house and not see her rocking by the kitchen window and humming "Rock of Ages."

         Daddy retired from the railroad and wanted to travel. Mom and he went to Florida two times, and then he got sick. He lived to see all five grandchildren---two girls and three boys---before he died in 1973. He was only 67. He would have loved and greatly enjoyed the grandchildren, and they would have enjoyed him, with all his stories and tricks. As I said, we had the best dad.

         Mom stayed in the big house for 10 more years before selling it in 1983. She also worked all that time. In 1978, Tom and I and our kids moved in, so she had help, but that didn't work out; perhaps two women cannot share the same space. After three years, we moved. Mom sold the house in 1983 and moved to senior housing. She loved it and had many friends and trips. We talked every day and went on many shopping trips. Mom died suddenly in 1990, and it was very sad not to see or talk to her daily.

         The house is now a business office and apartment house but is empty. It is sad to see the house and yard empty, when they were always so full of love, happiness, and activity.

         Doreen married her high school sweetheart and had two children – a boy, Greg, and a girl, Vickie. They built a home in Walden, where they live today. They have three grandchildren, and Doreen runs a day care center and takes care of husband Bucky, who has a muscle disease. We speak every day, and when I visit, we all get together.

         Nancy married Bucky's best friend, Bobby, and had one son, Kevin, born three months premature, weighing only 1 lb. 12 oz. He stayed in the hospital for two months, but now is fine. They have one granddaughter. Nancy worked full-time and was the Walden Village Clerk until she retired. In 2004, Bob found out he had colon cancer, and Nancy cared for him for a year at home. He never wanted to be in the hospital, and she made that wish come true for him. Bob died way too young. He was always healthy until that point. In the 10 years since, Nancy has become a runner, hiker, skier, bike-ridervery active. She has a new companion and is very happy, a great friend, sister, mother, grandmother, and aunt. My two grandsons live close to her and adore her. We also talk every day.

         As for me, I was the first to get married, at the age of 16, after meeting Tom on a blind date. We went to the drive-in to see Love with the Proper Stranger. How great was that! We married four months later, and we just had our 50th wedding anniversary. We have a daughter and a son and three grandsons. One grandson will graduate from high school in June 2015.

         Tom worked for IBM for 30 years, and after he retired, in 1993, we moved to South Carolina, where we have many animals that we love.

         Our daughter, Claudine, named after Andy Williams's wife Claudine Longet, one of my husband's favorites, is married and has two sons, Tom, 17, and Kiernan, 15, Irish redheads like their father. Claudine is taking college courses for gardening and landscaping, and is living in Walden, NY.

         Our son, Christian, lives in Greenville, South Carolina, and has one son.

         I go up North often to see everyone, but my husband won't fly, so we drive there once in a while. I talk to both of my sisters every day, and we are there for each other, in good times and in bad. They had been with me through my illness, as I've been with them in their bad times.

         Earlier, I told you about three crushes and one serious boyfriend I had in school. Then, after being unattached for almost four months, I was asked by a girl in my class if I would go on a blind date with her boyfriend’s brother, Tom. After a day of thought, I agreed…for just one date. Well, this turned into a marriage of 50 years to my best friend, companion, and care-giver.

         In February 2011, after being sick with I-didn't-know-what, and having gone to three different doctors, I had a lung biopsy and was told that I had a terminal lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis, a death sentence within three to five years. Dad said (I call my husband "Dad"), “Oh, hell no, you are not going anywhere.” I had been going to this doctor for two and three-quarter years but switched to one closer; on my first visit, she told me I didn't have pulmonary fibrosis, and it doesn't have to be a death sentence, anyway.

         My husband has been my support and cheerleader. Thank you, God, for that blind date!

         As I finish this, I am recovering from triple-bypass heart surgery and doing well. It has only been a few weeks, and I'm stronger. Tom has been a godsend to me, doing everything. I'm hoping this is a new lease on life, which I plan to use to the fullest. It was a dream come true.

         One thing I have wanted to do for a many years was to write this, and I finally did it, with the help of my new friend, Douglas W. Cooper, my writing coach and editor.

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This ends our serialization of Kathleen Blake Shields's delightful upbeat memoir about growing up in little Maybrook, NY, in the 1950s and 1960s. It is available from online booksellers like amazon.com and bn.com and from its publisher Outskirts Press. 

It was my pleasure to serve as Kathy's coach and editor. See http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com