Monday, January 9, 2012

Self publishing is not so scary

So, I wrote this book - Paula Takes a Risk. I actually wrote a number of years ago and for many reasons held onto it for years. Sure I think Im hilarious and smart and can tell a story with flair - but would anyone else?  Who knows? Also - I LOVE my characters, Paula Tenenbaum, her mother Dorothy, Larry the slimeball, Brad the narcisist and especially the smaller characters Darla Merriweather, the dunce-y actress and Pricilla Van der Hoven, the celebrity colomnist. They were mine. My creation, my children, if you will. I was afraid to put them out there to be jugded. What if some knocked them down and stole their lunch money?

Then I thought - again (and again and again) how tired and aggeravated I was by working my day to day job in a field that parallels being on sleep aids.  I couldnt believe that I was put on this earth to do what I was spending 40 hours each week doing. 

I dont know if I was stung by something or it was something that I ate, but I had an epiphany - I need to be the ruler of my own destiny, I thought. If I dont take a risk and do something that will truly make me happy then I have no right to complain.  After all, poverty is a problem, cancer is a problem, people who drive with their blinkers on all of the time are a hazard (but I digress) - but being afraid of what people may think of my characters or the daunting task of getting a book published is NOT a problem - its a challenge, but not a problem.

In 2002 I searched and found an agent (for another book: The Grumblings of a Chronically Single Woman) - yet didnt get much traction because it was a humor book and I was an unknown. I ended up publishing it on a now defunct website called Enovel. So this time - I just cut out the middle man (for now) and found a publisher who I could partner with to publish my book - Friesen Press.

The process - so far has been straight forward for the most part - and a little time consuming. I submitted the book - thinking Im a genius - no edits necessary, this will be a breeze.  Well color me wrong - because it took a copy editor and three rounds of review and "adjustment" before I signed off on it.  With some direction I selected ISBN codes, pricing, cover art (not as simple as it sounds) - and now we're about ready to send it for printing.

Next step is some promotion planning .

Paula Takes a Risk is a humor novel, a fun read. Read the synopsis on this site to get more info about the story.
I look forward to sharing this journey with you.

So, now Im the ruler of my destiny...and book pricing - for the novel Paula Takes A Risk

After the book is wrtten and content approved - then comes the pricing.....

After three more rounds of review, rereading my book umpteem times, second guessing my choice of words and story direction, cursing myself for not being a better student and having a larger more impressive, expansive vocabulary,  I finally signed off on the book content for Paula Takes A Risk.  (In my own defense the book with all of the million dollar words has already been written - its called the Dictionary. However, Webster's storyline is weak) 
I added a pithy "About the Author" page.
A few months ago I selected, approved and licensed the cover art.  Now were working on the pricing - There are a number of things to consider - page count, trim size - the fact that its a virtual unknown... it can be daunting. Sure, to me its a priceless treasure...
There are hard copy prices, softcopy, and ebooks.  
There is one price from the publishers and another for SRP - then there is a difference in royalties based on where readers buy the book.

Im excited. I should be nervous about making these decisions - Will this decision make the difference between a well received book and one that sells copies only to my immediate family?  Im not nervous,  I am so thrilled. Paula Takes a Risk should be available in March 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Doctor’s Appointment - from The Grumblings of a Chronically Single Woman, by Randi Sherman, the author of Paula Takes a Risk, Available March 2012

The Doctor’s Appointment 

If you’re like me, the day that you are feeling sick and tired is the day when you want to see a doctor, not four weeks from then.  Why does it seem as if the doctor’s office staff is doing us a personal favor by fitting us into the appointment schedule?

It doesn’t matter what your symptoms are.  Leave the diagnosis to the professionals.  During the initial telephone call, it is Lorraine, the receptionist at your doctor’s office, who will determine the appropriate course of treatment, level of severity, and urgency of the complaint based on the answer to the most important question in medical science. “What type of insurance to do have?”

The last time I had flu symptoms, I thumbed through the book of doctors’ names and telephone numbers that had been provided to me by my insurance plan.  I selected one and called for an appointment.  After twenty minutes of pleading, I was granted an appointment time, and given a homework assignment.  “Bring your insurance card and insurance form, and your co-payment.  Arrive fifteen minutes before your appointment time.” 

I was hallucinating from a fever, but the first thing I was instructed to do entailed a scavenger hunt through my files to find an up-to-date insurance card and form. The faded, rumpled card in my wallet was the “temporary card” and I knew that it just wouldn’t do. I was pretty sure that I had the new, laminated card in an unopened envelope somewhere and the sample insurance form that came with the new employee packet in my filing cabinet.

When I arrived in the doctor’s waiting room, I tapped on the glass that separated the sick people from the office staff.  No response.  What is this about?  I heard voices and could make out figures on the other side.  I spotted the little bell that was just sitting on the ledge, begging to be rung.  Although the hand written index card that was taped to the glass had explicit instructions not to ring the bell, I rang it anyway. Lorraine slid open the miniature shower door and looked up from her subterranean receptionist area.  The expression on her face yelled “WHAT!?”

Apologetically, I reported my name and appointment time. She pretended to look for my chart and pushed a few keys on the computer keyboard.  With a heavy exhale, Lorraine growled, “Just a minute” and slid to glass shut again. 

Should I just stand here?  Go sit down?  I knew that I wasn’t guilty of anything, yet I was nervous.  I’ve had the same feeling while waiting to go through international customs at the airport.

The glass patrician opened again.  “Did you bring your insurance card?”  Lorraine held her hand out.

Nervously, I shuffled through my papers and then handed it to her. 

“I’ll make a copy for your chart.”  Without taking a breath she continued, “Your co-payment is fifteen dollars.  I’ll collect it when you leave.”  She pointed to the waiting area.   “Have a seat.”

When the glass window slid open again, everyone in the waiting room anxiously looked up, hoping that he or she would be the next one called.  When I heard my name called, I proudly perked up.  But, it was a false alarm.  Damn.  I wasn’t allowed to see the doctor yet.  Lorraine gave me another assignment, a pop quiz.

“Here.” She handed me a clipboard with questionnaire on it. “Have a seat and complete both sides of the form, sign it and bring it back to me when you’re done.”   A pen was attached to the clipboard with a string that was so short that it made it impossible to hold the pen upright, not to mention, reach the bottom of the questionnaire.

When I had finished, I handed the clipboard and questionnaire to Lorraine. She reviewed it for mistakes as if she was checking the answers on the written driver’s license test.  She motioned to the chairs behind me and told me to have a seat again. 

Forty minutes later, when Lorraine opened the door to the Promised Land of examination rooms and called my name, my heart leapt.  I nervously replaced the June 1971 edition of Hi-lights Magazine on the table, picked up my purse, and obediently followed her into the back office.  She opened a door, ushered me into a sterile looking room and told me the doctor would be with me shortly.

In order to speed the process along, I got undressed and hung my clothes on the hook on the back of the door.  When the doctor walked into the room and looked at me, his mouth dropped open.  He looked at me in disbelief.  I began to worry.  I must look very sick.

When I asked him why he looked so shocked, he asked me, “Do you know why you’re here?”

Oh my God!  Imagine my embarrassment when I realized that in my feverish hallucinatory state, I had mistakenly made an emergency appointment with a dentist.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Lunch with a Demon - from The Grumblings of a chronically Single Woman by Randi M Sherman, the author of Paula Takes a Risk, Available March 2012

Lunch with a Demon

A simple lunch with a friend can turn into the emotional roller coaster to hell for the victim of PMS demon.  The demon has a mind of its own and will do everything possible to have itself heard.  The victim is forced to keep the demon at bay while sorting through her erratic premenstrual thoughts and selecting the appropriate, socially acceptable responses.  She must also fight the desire to unbutton her skirt or kick off her shoes because of the pain due to premenstrual swelling.  All, while staving off an impromptu crying jag and trying to appear sane.

I looked at my watch.  Jonathan was fifteen minutes late. If he is not here in five minute, I’m leaving.  The hell with him!  My PMS mind was racing.  He hates me.  He’s doing this on purpose.  He does not have respect for my time.  He obviously doesn’t think that I am important enough for him to show up on time.  When he gets here, I’m going to give him a piece of my mind.

Just as my blood pressure had hit an all time high, Jonathan walked in.  “Hi.  I’m sorry that I’m late. I stopped to buy these flowers for you.”  He handed the bouquet to me and kissed me on the cheek.

My rage disappeared.  “Oh, are you late?” I melted. “I hadn’t noticed.”

He motioned to the hostess and indicated that there were two for lunch.  She grabbed some menus and asked us to follow her.  When we reached our table she smiled at Jonathan and said, “Here we go.  Is this okay?”

I thought, What the hell are you looking at!  But I said, “This is fine.”

When we sat down, Jonathan took my hand and gazed at me.  “You look pretty.  I’ve missed you.”

You’re smothering me!  “I’ve missed you, too.” I put my hand over his.

He smiled and asked, “How is your day going?  Have you been doing anything interesting?”

What the hell do you mean by that?  Don’t placate me!  You’re not the only person who has something interesting to say.  I’m very interesting.  “Oh, my day?” I said, “It’s fine.  Same ole’, same ole’.  Nothing’s new.  How about with you?”

Jonathan told me about a recent episode he had with his ex-wife and the expenses of maintaining the two households. 

I was hardly listening.  The PMS demons were annoyed by the conversation.  Me, me, me.  You’re so self-absorbed. No wonder she divorced you.  I forced a smile, “I’m sure that things will get better for you. You just have to remain positive.”

He looked at the menu, “Are you going to getting the Salad Nicoise?”

What in the hell do you mean by that?  Is this your subtle way of telling me I’m fat? 

He continued, “I hear it’s great here and I know how much you like it.  I think that I will have it as well.”

Nice try, Jonathan.  No one is going to tell me what to do or what I should eat.  Then I opened the menu.  There was too much to choose from.  I was in no condition to make a decision.  “I’ll have the same.”

He noticed that I was uncharacteristically quiet and asked me, “Are you all right?  Is there anything wrong?’

My hormones were raging and my eyes welled up with tears.  It’s about time you noticed. “Nothing.  I’m fine.” I sucked in my breath and tried to hold back but I couldn’t help myself.  I started to cry.  The more I tried to compose myself, the worse it got.  I got the hiccups.  After several glasses of water and five minutes of a relaxation breathing exercise, they subsided, and I apologized. “I’m sorry.  I’m just a little premenstrual.”

He smiled sweetly and patted my hand.  “Oh, I understand, honey.”

Honey?  Don’t honey me!  You don’t understand a damned thing!  “Thanks for understanding.”

At the next table a woman was trying to calm her child who was pounding his spoon on the table.  Jonathan turned to look at the commotion.  When he turned back to me he had a big smile on his face.  “Children are so wonderful.”  He motioned to the toddler, “Isn’t he cute?”

The kid is a brat and the mother should be flogged for bringing him into a restauant.  “He’s adorable.” I smiled.

Jonathan leaned in. “How do you feel about children?”

I was panicked. Aah! Get me out of here!  I calmed myself. “They’re wonderful.”  I changed to subject.  “Is that a new tie?” 

It seemed to be a safe subject.  That is, unless his ex-wife bought it for him.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Gym-nausea - from The Grumblings of... by Randi M Sherman, the authorof Paula Takes a Risk, Available 2012


It has been said that getting to the gym is half the battle.  I view the whole gym experience as a test of courage. The benefits of working out should outweigh the hand to hand combat with an exercise bra or the risk being killed in a stampede of people who want to get closer to the mirror. I want to be healthy and fit, but I’m not willing to get into a chick-fight over who got to the treadmill machine first. 

I’m the type of gym-goer who will circle the parking lot for twenty minutes until a space close to the door is available.  It’s considered a successful gym experience if I make it through an entire workout without the need for recitation.

When I arrived at the gym, I headed for the locker room to change into my exercise togs.  Making my way through the steamy room that was filled with naked women and high pitched hum of hair blow dryers, I located my assigned locker. It was a narrow opening in the wall that was designed to hold a maximum of one set of keys, a gym membership card and a wire hanger if its placed in the vertical position. Across from the lockers and bolted to the floor are balance beams that are supposed to be used as benches.  I knew that if focused my concentration on balance and form, I could make it through the entire dressing routine and land a clean dismount.  After which, I would jump up, arch my back and throw my hands in the air to await the judges scores.

It was time to change into my brand new gym-appropriate apparel.   The activity of putting on these clothes is an exercise in itself.  I thought of employing the assistance of a larger, stronger gym member to “spot” me while I squeezed into the rubber band that had been fashioned as an exercise bra.  The first step was to identify the front of the bra.  I took a deep breath and with all of my upper body strength, I stretched the elastic around my wrists and wrestled it over my head and shoulders, taking care not to dislocate a limb or pull a muscle.

Once the bra was in place, I looked at my reflection in the mirror. I adjusted my breasts to a level position and tucked any noticeable back-fat and excess lateral-chest-bulk under the elastic.  I was hopeful that the red marks from the struggle would soon fade.  At that point, I was a little light headed and needed to sit down, catch my breath and eat a mocha flavored energy bar.

There are two main styles of exercise bras.  One type is more utilitarian than the other.  The first presses the breasts so flat that by comparison, a mammogram seems comfortable.  It binds the breasts so close to the chest that they are, not only immobile, they are no longer distinguishable.  The other style of exercise bra is more fashionable.  It supports and lifts the breasts to give them a fuller perkier appearance.  Depending on the adjustment, this bra can lift the breasts so high that they might impede vision and range of motion. With the proper adjustment of this bra, the cleavage could be used as a hands-free water bottle holder.

Next, I tackled the spandex shorts. Could they be any smaller? Off of the body, they look like a pair of Capri pants from Barbie’s summer wardrobe. Once on the body, they look like sausage casing.  Using maximum shoulder and arm strength along with the contraction of my abdomen and butt muscles, I yanked and pulled the shorts up my body. So much for my upper body workout, I thought.  Once the shorts were in place, my thighs begin to swell out of the bottom.  And above the waistband, don’t ask.  The excess skin and weight around my mid section, made it look as if my spandex shorts had had an atomic explosion.  I covered it all with a giant T-shirt and headed out to the circuit training equipment.

The most daunting piece of equipment in the gym is the scale. Why is the scale located in the middle of everything?  I broke into a sweat as I approached.  Weighing myself has never been as simple as just stepping on the scale and sliding the balance weights to the “you-weigh-this-much” position.

No matter how lethargic or sluggish I was, the fastest and most coordinated maneuver that I made in the gym was stepping on the scale, measuring, and then stepping off of it without leaving any evidence of my true weight. I have developed a highly choreographed routine for using the scales at the gym.  I call it the “step-measure-sigh-step-slide.” Here’s how I do it. I concentrate on my breathing as I scan the room to see who is standing within eye-shot of the scale.  In one fluid motion, I step onto the scale, manipulate the balance weights, suffer from massive depression and then step off again.  While stepping off, I simultaneously slide the balance weights back to the zero position.  If by chance, I draw attention to myself with either a misstep or a whimper, I force a smile, wipe the tears from my eyes and announce, “Weight doesn’t matter to me. It’s the tone and muscle mass that I’m concerned with.”  If pressed, I may say that I’m retaining water.  If the gym-goers are still not convinced, I resort to the explanation, “I’ve been constipated for a week.”

The “regulars” at the gym are very territorial.  It is not a good idea to break into their circuit routine. I innocently approached the Butt Buster device.  I was just about ready to adjust the weights on it, I heard a high-pitched voice.  “I’m using that machine.” 

I looked at the machine.  I didn’t see anyone.  Was I hallucinating?  After all, my new exercise bra was very tight and might have been limiting the blood supply to my brain.  Then I heard the voice again, “I said, I’m using that!” 

I looked once more. Still, I saw no one. Gee.  I thought, This woman is very thin.  I can’t even see her. 

From the lounge area, across the gym, I heard the voice again. “Hey, I’m talking to you.”  I was startled.  I looked up and saw what appeared to be a walking make-up counter with a hair scrunchy, and a butt thong waving her arms, shooing me away from her machine.  “Don’t touch it!  I have the weight and height set just right. I’m just resting for a minute.  I should be done in a few minutes.  Geeze.”  Then she looked me up and down, rolled her eyes and returned to her power drink.

While examining the bruising on my body that was caused by the elastic of my exercise clothes, I was nearly trampled to death by a herd Neanderthals who were jockeying for position in front of the mirror.  I stood there in amazement.  I realized that mirror-posing is a serious business.  Evidently, once the right pose is selected, the posers are required to gaze at their reflections with love and affection.  They appeared to be flirting with themselves. “You’re so big and strong, handsome and courageous.” And that’s just the women.

Among the various gym-goers, there are those people who go to the gym just to be seen.  They don’t seem to exercise at all.  It was impossible to use several machines because they were being used a nightclub.  Clicks of the beautiful people were hanging over and leaning against the equipment while flexing, flirting and making dinner plans.

I approached the leg-lift machine where a woman was sitting.  She was talking into her cellular telephone.  She held up her hand to let me know that I was interrupting her conversation. 

I decided to skip the weight training portion of my workout.  I went to the cardiovascular area only to find a group of women who had set their treadmills on browsing-speed.  They strolled along for about thirty minutes. 

As I stood there waiting, I looked around the gym.  My attention was drawn to a group of red-faced men who were grunting and groaning as they lifted weights. Call me naive but, if something is so heavy that is could cause a hernia or an exploding aneurysm, put it down. 

There was a height-weight chart pinned to the wall.  Upon examination, I realized that I am five inches too short for my weight.  I became depressed and decided to go home. 

Later, I laughed to myself when I realized that fashions and the idea of beauty are forever changing.  I figured that ten years from now, the height-weight chart would be completely revised.  After extensive studies regarding the benefits of potato chips and glazed buttermilk donuts, scientist will discover that we were all fifty to one hundred pounds under weight.  Spandex will be outlawed.  It will be declared that the massive consumption of green leafy vegetables coupled with exercise, energy bars and butt thongs will have contributed to the early death of hundreds of thousands Americans. And because of the limited amount of fabric necessary to make clothing, less textiles and fewer garment workers will be needed. Which will result in the crippling of the U.S. economy.

An hour had passed.  I had gone to the gym.  Although, I never actually worked out, I did get points for going.  I had determined the future trends in beauty, healthcare and the economy.   I had worked up quite an appetite.  It was time for a snack.