SelfPubCon in less than 15 hours! 4am for me!

Hello Friends,

I am not sure how many of you are in the Self-Publishing space or consider yourselves “indie” authors. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the Self-Publishing Advice Podcast from ALLi. For a reasonable annual fee that works out to be less than the cost of paperback book per month (at least the trade paperbacks), they have a treasure trove of resources for their members.

Free 3-day pass if you become a member of ALLi.

Since I’ve been working away at my first book, I have delighted in the idea of being my own book publisher. While I realize the final product will be different from something that Penguin Random House or HarperCollins would produce, I hope any neurodiverse folks like me (or anyone who feels like “cover” some aspect of their identity at work) receive it as an offering of love.

Though I realize the knowledge sphere (and the blogosphere) is a crowded and noisy space, but it excites me that past gatekeepers are so much less relevant than they used to be. I won’t give up reading the authors I love (of course) and enjoying books that are produced in a high quality way. I squeal with delight when Liz Gilbert, Martha Beck, Glennon Doyle or Celeste Ng publish anything new. And yet, how many undiscovered voices become discoverable when the (largely) white, male, neurotypical, ableist gatekeepers no longer get to bar the doors ?

I realize there is potential for right-wing scary types of people to publish as well. Hate speech is also increasing in this time of algorithms and weird amplifications of dangerous ideas (maybe that’s what led to the January 6th debacle at the U.S. Capitol). To me that makes it even more imperative that marginalized voices, whether they are BIPOC sisters and brothers, disabled, neurodiverse, non-binary or LGBTQ+, or any other flavor of human can connect and form communities.

Self-publishing is one of those means, and I think it holds the potential to amplify voices that publishers have scoffed at in the past: “There’s no market for that!”

Just because they cannot “see” or acknowledge our market does not mean we do not exist. And as the marketplace of ideas allows for more perspectives, it excites me to imagine the possibilities for the more sensitive and imaginative folks in the world to find their voice.

Okay, rant over. Anyone else joining me for this one? Or will I be alone at 4am central time with my coffee and in my pjs?

Cheers, happy writing & happy weekend, whatever is ahead for you!

cristy@wedefydefinition.com

Dear WordPress – I hate your block editor

Dear WordPress,

I hate your new block editor “upgrade”! It’s one reason why I post less often here, have started a blog elsewhere, and why I’ve accidentally deleted paragraphs and had to frigging copy paste my text elsewhere and re-copy it back. I still haven’t posted an entry that would have taken me 10-20 minutes, but has now taken 45 minutes because I keep inadvertently deleting a whole paragraph instead of just selected words!

Argh! If I could figure out how to go back to the other editor, I would. It’s not a complex post, and it only has one uploaded image.

Are other people having this problem? I guess I always assume it’s me, because I’m impatient with technology most of the time. But it really seems to be SO much less user friendly than the way I used to post, and choose a photos, etc.

It may be time for me to have lunch, take a break from my computer and come back to the other post I started an hour ago before I got too frustrated…

Deep breathing usually helps.

Struck Stupid?!?

I recall the Dean’s bearded face and twinkling Santa Claus eyes looking at me from across the lovely mahogany desk that guarded him. After my story and my tearful confession of worries he said, “It’s not as though you’ve been struck stupid!?”

But he was wrong. That’s EXACTLY what it felt like. I was a senior in college, a second year Resident Assistant (RA) for my dorm, considered one of the smart ones, the “together” ones. I was a biochemistry major and pre-med at the time.

And yet: when I tried to study the bacterial colonies for my independent study with a professor, my head swam in confusion. I kept mixing up the protocols and I couldn’t seem to figure out why. My lab notebook was a mess, and I couldn’t seem to follow basic instructions.

Physical chemistry class was like trying to make out an ancient obscure language without a translation dictionary or the faintest idea of grammar. Even the subjects I loved like developmental psychology were a slog to read and understand, while before I had lapped them up like a cat at the milk bowl.

What was happening in my brain? Did I somehow manage to fake my smarts long enough to get through three years at Swarthmore and now my hidden “lazy girl” identity was letting herself out of the bag? Had I hit my head in my sleep without knowing it?

Fortunately, I did not let the Dean’s denial of my visceral and felt experience get to me. I persisted in trying to find a trusted advisor to get help. When a friend suggested, “Why don’t you try Psych Services at the Health Center?” I quivered. Oh dear. I’m an RA! What will my hallmates think if their trusted advisor can’t figure her sh*t out on her own?

Nevertheless, I knew I needed help. The cognitive fog in my brain was not normal, and other physical symptoms like intense sugar cravings and sleep disturbances were not helping. We often think of depression as a mood disorder, but not everyone knows that it can have other effects beyond “feeling down.”

In only two or three sessions with my kind therapist, I started feeling great relief. I discovered how negative my self-talk was, and how viciously I attacked myself for not being able to achieve what I knew I could do (normally). I had not been truly aware of litany of attacks that had become my constant internal monologue. I did not know these regular self-loathing sessions would have such a detrimental effect on my body and mind.

Through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and a return to my journaling practice, I was able to identify thoughts that were not serving me. I started to question and “loosen” some of those beliefs that were causing me so much pain. Within 1-2 months, I was able to visit my adviser to request a change in my major. The choice of psychobiology served my passion for understanding behavior and people, and I had taken all the pre-requisites. I ended up graduating on time with high marks on my “comps,” the final essays required for the interdisciplinary major.

Later I learned that nearly all therapists have their own support or supervision from another therapist. In the helping professions it is wisdom to have this support, not weakness. In my late twenties my second depression required therapy and medicine. It also led to the end of my first marriage, when I realized being a wife did not mean being a martyr.

By my thirties after completing a master’s degree and having more experience in the work world, I began taking care of myself physically and emotionally as a non-negotiable practice. I learned more about what my neurodiverse brain requires to be balanced and productive, and I had befriended people who loved me for me, not because of what I could do for them.

Today I send so much compassion to the young woman that struggled to get help. I am so proud she didn’t give up, and that she learned that kindness to herself was always the first and best move.

After a successful career as an operational leader for a multi-country clinical research department in the medical device field, I speak openly about these struggles with mental health so others know they are not alone. We ALL require support from time to time. Whether it is from a kind friend, a Psych Services therapist, an Employee Assistance Program or a personal coach, the “go it alone” method does not work.

You owe it to yourself to receive the support you need for a fulfilling and healthy life. It is a sign of strength to recognize and pursue your wellness in this way. And I’ll be applauding you rather than denying the reality of your experience.

***

Cristy De La Cruz is an inclusion facilitator and mentor to leaders and teams. She is the author of “Unleash, Unlearn, & Enliven: Decolonize Your Hidden Identities and Embody Your Somatic Wisdom” (forthcoming release on Oct 31, 2021). This story has been modified from her book. To receive resources to help you along the journey and to win a chance for a free copy of the book, please email her at cristy@wedefydefinition.com with the subject header “book drawing.”

Shipped draft to my editor

Whew!

Even though my manuscript draft likely needs substantial developmental edits, it felt great to ship it out today.

About two weeks ago I got a strong impulse to find an editor. A couple of friends had volunteered to read the draft, but I realized after I had a few friends read the introduction the first time, that I really needed to have someone with experience to help me edit. I got great feedback, but it was not detailed enough to make decisions on the overall book.

About 15 years ago I finished the draft of my master’s thesis. It was only 40 pages, and it nearly killed me to write! I sometimes tell the story that it cost me my first marriage, my home and my job. But that’s probably an exaggeration. Just my marriage and my home then… 😉

This time around the book will likely be 110-130 pages. All in all, it’s a short book. But still, the number of decisions it takes to complete a project like this felt overwhelming to me. So I decided I would hire someone to professionally edit given that I am self publishing this time. Even if it costs me something, I want to spare my reader too much wandering from the main point.

So I posted a little ad on LinkedIn on September 10th for a freelance editor and in 2 hours I had 8 applications! Only two of the prospects actually read the posting carefully enough to see that I asked them to email me if they were interested. She reached out to ask about the budget and I told her I have no idea what I’m doing. But her quote (per word per round of editing) sounded very reasonable!

We decided on a small test project (an article for LinkedIn on the Shapes We Ask of Our Bodies) and I sent her $50 via Venmo for some accountability on that project. She gave me a wonderful edit and quick turnaround on that one. I was so happy, I Venmo’d about half of what I expected the next edit to cost me just to give myself the accountability to get it done by a week later.

So now my self-imposed deadline has been met. I expect I will also work with her on a second edit for line and copy editing and possibly a third for the proofread as well.

My relief is palpable. Nobody has read the entire thing, but I am confident that with her compassionate surgery on this project, it will turn out so much better.

Question to you: If you write books, do you work with an editor? Why or why not? And how did you find them?

Cheers,

Cristy

P.S. If you want to work with someone for an article or book edit, check out Kay Grey’s website. It may have been her amazing shot of her bookshelves that sold me… anyone that reads that much and has already improved my work is a great find. I just hope she doesn’t find the book-length project to be too scattered. I want to be worthy of the editor’s time!

Our writing helpers

Yes, this is a gratuitious cat photo. Willy decided in my hyper-focused state this morning that it would be extra important for him to be present in my work. I gave him some extra love and assured him that his contribution is appreciated.

In other news, I met with the friend who I hope will work on the cover art for this book and she seems excited to work with me! So I am happy about that, and we are both figuring out these details together. It’s fun to be working with people we really enjoy.

Hope your summer projects are going well!

Cheers,

Cristy

P.S. For more info on the book or if you want to support this self-publishing endeavor by pre-ordering, see this link.

On ISBN numbers and self-publishing

Hello Friends,

I write this post after researching ISBN numbers this week and getting jazzed about that process. I will likely go via the self-publishing route for my first book. I am not patient enough to wait until I find an agent or a publisher. I want to get my ideas out into the world, and my intuition tells me that it’s my second (or third) book that will make a bigger splash in the world, not this one. So while I take it seriously, I am not indulging in perfectionism, but rather taking steps each week to keep momentum.

This first book has been an exercise in daily self-discipline for me, in working in short, focused “bursts” of 25 minutes in the morning with a 5 minute break in between. Sometimes when I’m really inspired, I go for a third round. It is mentally taxing but also incredibly rewarding to watch this book take shape while also tending to other aspects of my life.

Yesterday I decided to play around with cover art and to update the tagline. It’s still a work in progress of course, and I aim to complete and release the book in October of 2021. I was playing with Canva in order to see a mock up of the cover, and I realized how empowering it is that these days we have the means to produce our work in this way. The art is not final, and I hope to work with a friend who is an artist to do the eventual design, but it sure helped me visualize to create a mock-up!

It was not too long ago that this sort of idea sharing was the province of a few, and now we have ways to introduce others to our brand of discourse. So I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude for that. To all of you who write here on blogs, or get to put your ideas in the world: Isn’t it grand that we live in a time where this is possible?

What’s your next creative project? When do you plan to be bravel and release it into the world?

Cheers,

Cristy

P.S. I actually sold the first copy of my book yesterday to a client who pre-ordered it! That was a shock. But it just goes to show you that you really must be ready to receive and to create the means to do this…