So you’ve written a book…

So you've written a bookDay 30 in my search for an agent who is worthy of representing me.  As I learn the ropes of this second step (the first, being, writing the damn thing), I have avoided the urge of feeling rejected and sorry for myself.  Even though I am new to the party, I’m quite aware that the journey to traditional publication is a long one…

And worth every moment I’ve spent staring at the in-box.

I was reminded today as to why I decided to forgo self-publishing in lieu of going the traditional route – hoping an agent will represent me, praying for publication, and trusting that people will eventually buy my book. It takes gobs of time, oodles of work, loads of optimism, skillful writing (and I’m not talking about the book), passion, good timing, luck, and blah, blah, blah…

A friend of mine is feeling frustrated with the progression of her self-published book – or rather, the lack of progress. After hearing from others that the traditional route is difficult and takes  forever, she did what many writers are doing today – she went with self-publishing. “Pay for your books, sell them yourself, and make lots and lots of money.” Except she’s learning that nothing is ever that simple, and she has learned the hard way that self-publication can be very expensive. Not only is her self-publisher ala carting her to death, (Oh, you want a front AND back cover?) they have suddenly become quiet at her request that people have purchased her book on Amazon, and she has yet to see any form of royalties.

She is frustrated and tired, and I feel her pain. So, how am I feeling, after yet another day of silence from all of the agents in the universe that I am querying?

Pretty damn good.

Heidi McCrary / Author & Advertising Goddess

Who’s the New Face for Women’s Rights?

The woman who helped define the women’s movement recently paid a visit to our great city as a guest-lecturer of the Raise Your Voice series at Western Michigan University. As Gloria Steinem spoke before a packed house at Miller Auditorium, the energy was high with girlfriends and sisters, along with mothers and daughters – all celebrating Girl Power.

A self-described feminist and activist, Steinem has been the voice for generations of women and the face of women’s liberation. But ask your average 20-something who Gloria Steinem is, and you’re apt to be met with a guess that she’s one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta or somewhere. Not only does Gloria Steinem not represent the voice of most young woman today, she’s being trampled on by the next generation of Kardashians.

In 1970, a woman was not allowed to keep her job if she was pregnant, couldn’t report cases of sexual harassment in the workplace, or even apply for a credit card. While great strides have been made in the last 40+ years in the quest for equality for women in the workplace and in life, why does it seem like we’ve stalled? Or are we just not looking in the right places?

Following are just a few rays of hope that indicate that the quest for equality might not be dead after all. Maybe the power of one strong voice is simply shifting into the voice of many.

Patricia Arquette – As she took the stage at the Academy Awards to accept her award for Best Supporting Actress, Arquette gave a passionate acceptance speech that reminded all of us that women have a long way to go – even in Hollywood. “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” Arquette said in her speech. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

Other Hollywood women leading the charge include Reece Witherspoon whose film company pushes for female-driven material, and Jennifer Lawrence, who fights for equal pay alongside her male counterparts. And the credits go on…

Sheryl Sandberg – Many people credit this powerful business woman as being the driving force behind the continued success of Facebook. When she’s not tackling the massive job that comes along with being COO at the world’s largest social networking site, Sandberg is busy sharing her wisdom as a business and motivational speaker in the promotion of her book, Lean In. This New York Times Best Seller provides practical advice to help women achieve their goals – and to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what we can do

While we may never have that one woman who can pick up the torch from Gloria Steinem, I’d like to think that we have grown in power, requiring many more faces to carry the message. And as we go further into the year and elect our next President of the United States, that president could very well be a woman.

How ‘bout them apples, Gloria?

Heidi McCrary / Writer & Advertising Goddess

GO SET A WATCHMAN Review “What if Scout had worn pink?”

It should come as no surprise to the legions of fans of To Kill a Mockingbird, that on Tuesday, July 14, the much talked about, controversial follow-up, Go Set a Watchman, set sales records in its opening day at Barnes & Noble. Discussions prior to its release centered around the notion that this “new” novel is actually an initial draft of what eventually became known to the world as To Kill a Mockingbird. Many fans have doubts as to whether author, Harper Lee, really wanted to have this early edition released – brushing off the idea that Watchman is truly discovered lost treasure and a gift to the literary world, and more likely a cocktail of half-baked stories served up by HarperCollins Publishers in order to cash in on the Harper Lee hysteria.

But while others may struggle with the legitimacy of Go Set a Watchman, I am comfortable with what it is…an interesting character-study and a chance for us to catch a glimpse into Lee’s vision of the woman Scout grew into and the path she followed. While Watchman is not literary gold, it offers us the chance to “see” what the future held for Scout, and I am thrilled that Jean Louise (Scout’s grownup name) didn’t grow up to be a “proper lady.”

If we are to believe the publisher, as Go Set a Watchman turned into To Kill a Mockingbird, it could have been so easy for Lee to have taken a different turn – away from the tomboy that young girls could identify with and say, “she’s just like me,” and away from the free spirit that women everywhere could embrace as a literary mirror into the soul of their childhood, or at least a childhood that we could imagine. Instead, Lee sharpened her pencil and sharpened the story that became our nation’s most loved novel.

During the writing process, thank God no one asked Lee, “Umm…could you throw a dress on Scout? We don’t want readers to think that she’s a boy.” Thankfully, no one instructed Lee to tone her down and “lose the overalls.” And if they did, thankfully, she didn’t listen. When reading Go Set a Watchman, one needs to see it for what it is – an entertaining and promising first draft that was only the beginning of a greater journey, and a delightful sneak peek into what became of Scout. As she grew into Jean Louise, she may have lost the overalls but her free spirit remained delightfully intact.

And thank God, no one asked Harper Lee, “Can you make Scout’s overalls pink?”

By Heidi McCrary, Writer & Advertising Goddess