Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What's The Real Deal On Self-Publishing?

I'm back home and feeling a bit behind, to put it mildly. "Miles to go before I sleep..."

But as promised, I'm going to answer the questions I've been asked a lot lately. Remember, these are only my opinions ...

I was recently approached and asked the question on the mind of some of my local writer friends. What's the deal on self-publishing? From a writer's point-of-view, self-publishing is a way to avoid rejection and the slush pile. But there's a price to pay. Not too long ago, the stigma of the self-published was pure vanity in the eyes of not only editors, but the public.

According to the agent Kristen who blogs at www.pubrants.com ... and I quote "... I really do look at the glass and see it half-full. There have been many a fabulous story told of an author who self-published and then later had the book picked up by a traditional house. (I think Laurie Notaro and Christopher Paolini come to mind.) Remember, those stories are amazing because they don’t actually happen often ... I do want you to know that I have yet to take on an author via this medium. I didn’t keep exact stats but over the course of 4 years (my agency opened in 2002,) I’ve probably considered about 50 or 60 self-published books. Peanuts really."

It's a crap shoot. Remember that ... if you want to impress an agent or an editor with your self-published work.

However, if you can stay away from Publish on Demand and other self-publishing houses, and do the work yourself, the pay-off in terms of $ to you is fantastic. It's all yours, baby.

Sure, you have the initial outlay costs of someone to convert your manuscript into a PDF file and then the cost of a printer, but Dan Poynter's book, The Self-Publishing Manual, is one of the best to show your next step in the process. He also sites references to contact for printers, etc.

Instead of the publisher grabbing the profit and then you getting your tiny royalty of what ... a dollar or two maybe every time you sell a book ... the profit goes in your pocket.

PROVIDING ... you're willing to work your ass off and get out there and sell it! Non-stop. Which means you don't die on the vine in three months as the typical book usually does. You control how much the public is exposed to you and your work. And there's the problem of finding a distributor. They don't like to take self-published books, so you have GOT TO SELL THEM YOURSELF!

There's the kicker for most folks. Okay, Pam, time to write is one thing, but marketing my work? You're kidding, right?

Nope. Not a bit.

Do you really think your publisher is going to put you in the spotlight? Do you honestly think the traditional publisher with his fancy publicist is going to get behind you 100% and give you all their energy to make you a success? Think again. Those dollars are reserved for Elizabeth Kostova, Dan Brown, Patricia Cornwell, and the rest of the mega sellers ... not you. And especially if you're a first time author ... ain't happenin', my friend.

Unless of course ... you breakout. But that's for another blog.

There are things you can do to insure your success; it's in your hands. You may need a speech coach, a publicist, or someone to edit your work professionally. It takes time, energy, and some money. But in my mind, self-publishing is not a mark of doom--not these days. In fact, you can create quite a platform. And if you write a hell of a story and sell a lot of books ... who knows who just might come knockin' on your door.

Any way you look at it ... self-publishing is not for the faint of heart. It's takes more courage and determination to self-publish than to lay your work at the feet of an editor. The pay off is bigger per book, but the work is endless, and you still have to find time to write your next book.

If you're thinking about it ... do your research and make an intelligent decision. Have a markeing plan. Also, don't rule out the big boys in New York, but as tough as the competition is ... you might have to get in their faces (big shot publishing houses) and sell enough of your own books first to make them sit up and take notice.

Hard to do? You're damn right it is.

Impossible? Not in my mind.

Think about it.

Blessings to you and yours.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Time Out

I took a Time Out. After spending a few days away, I'm on the road again tomorrow ... back to North Carolina ... home. I needed this time to regroup, read my stories, edit and get ready to publish.

I'm confident in SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN. It reads beautifully, the stories grip the heart, and yet leave the reader satisfied. So says my best reader, Tina. I smile and have to agree. They are quite good. My editor, Beth, was very helpful with the deadline right around the corner.

I'll be back to blogging full-time on Tuesday, after traveling all day on Monday.

My week was full of great food, fun, and time to think. Every writer needs time to think.

See you on Tuesday.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Heavy Hitting Subjects For Writers

The following questions weigh heavy on the minds of writers and in the coming weeks, are ones I plan to explore and tackle on this blog ... so stay tuned.

But for now, I'm on my way out of town for the week so this blog may trickle a little for the next several days. Doesn't mean I'm not working ... I'm taking a week to finish my edits on SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN, network, visit bookstores, and chill a little.

In the meantime ... I'll also be preparing to answer these questions:

1. What's the real deal on self-publishing from an author's point of view?

2. How perfect does my writing really have to be to land a book deal? In just one area or all of them? What kind of help can I really expect from an agent or editor?

3. Do I seriously need to attend a writing conference? I despise name-dropping, how critical is it to meet important people in the business? How connected do I need to be?

4. I loathe public speaking. How do I get around it? How much of my own publicity do I honestly have to do?

5. Do I need to pay attention to all the writer and agent's blogs on the Internet? Are they written for all writers?

6. Do I need a degree? Do I need an MFA degree?

7. I'm on a limited income and budget. How do I self-publish? What's involved? What about the Publish On Demand people, would that be a good route? What's the stigma if you're self-published or better yet, is there one? Should I just risk the slush piles?

8. Do I need to hire an editor, publicist, and do I really have to join toastmasters? And what the hell is a platform?

9. What do I do if I've worked hard on a piece and my critique group thinks it sucks?

10. Is there a point where I should just give up and face the fact that I'm too young to write, too old to write, I can't afford to take the time to write, or I'm just not that good?

Like I said ... stay tuned ... I'll be delivering these answers from a writer's point of view (which may surprise you.)

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Writing Process

I hesitate.

I don't think people will believe it. Although I take lots of breaks, sometimes I even do a Wal-Mart run, but basically my writing process is from 8 am to midnight. Seven days a week. Every day is a little different than the one before.

Some writers are so disciplined, they force themselves to write so many words a day, for so many hours at a time, and refuse to be disturbed. They have the exact same pattern for writing, rewriting, and submitting.

Not me. I mix it up a little. I'm anal and I'm organized, but I write constantly, so my days are dictated by my interruptions.

Between my writing, I eat my meals, shower, and talk on the phone. I have meetings with writing friends once or twice a week, attend networking meetings, and I go to book signings, meetings with my publicist, publisher, and I read blogs (sometimes spending too much time on Agent's blogs, like the Snark Agent ... but I learn, process what I want, and store the rest for later.) I study my Writer's Digest and Publishers Weekly. There are also a few projects (writing related, of course) that I'm working on. I do research, and some days I write only this blog. However, 90% of the time, I squeeze all of the above, in between my writing.

I don't squeeze writing in between my appointments.

Writing is my life. It's what I do. It's who I am. I'm not bragging about it. I don't care if anyone thinks I'm crazy. I realized a few years ago, this is what I was meant to do ... all my life. And finally, before I was too old to start, my journey began.

I also take time to read. And I'd love to start exercising more regularly again. In the future, I'm going to be speaking ... a lot. There's a great deal of work to be done selling my book, and I'm fortunate to have people who want to help me do it.

But, in the end, my life revolves around sitting at this computer and putting words on "paper." The stories in my head have to be written down. Just like I have to eat food to survive, I have to write, daily ... to feel alive.

There's no other way around it. So you want to talk about the writing process? There is none. It's not a process for me. It's a way of life.

Blessings to you and yours.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Borders Workshop

I'm volunteering to speak on a panel at Borders (in June) with a few published authors in my writers group. A workshop, if you will, on what books helped us as writers. I like this kind of workshop ... it's fun just to be with other writers and especially when they're your friends and people you care about. And I love to teach and mentor other writers.

All of us write differently. Our genres may not be the same. But the one thing we have in common ... is passion. And with passion comes the study of the craft. To study writing, one must read a lot. All the time, really. We give up many TV shows to read. (That's not hard for me to do.) We've read many books on the craft of writing by professionals in the industry.

For me, (if you've visited my web site,) you'll see I'm a huge fan of Donald Maass and his book, WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL. I've studied and underlined and dog-eared every one of his books. But I also like Noah Lukeman's THE FIRST FIVE PAGES, and a little book by Elaura Niles called, SOME WRITERS DESERVE TO STARVE. What a title. Actually, I have a whole list of books on writing that I've read listed on my web site. Some are more like text books, while others, like Stephen King's ON WRITING, reads like a chapter out of his life.

Everyone has an opinion. And you know the old cliche about opinions ... they're like assholes, everbody's got one ... yeah, yeah, you remember.

In the end, (no pun intended) you have to weed out who you want to aspire to. Orson Scott Card has a fabulous web site and lots of great material for the writer. He's also written several books, one I highly recommend, CHARACTERS & VIEWPOINT. Google Orson Scott Card.

There seems to be no limit to the help established writers give to the novice. And by the far, in my opinion, the best teacher ... is to read. Period. It's by far the best teacher.

I'm looking forward to the panel, I hope (if you live in my area or are traveling to Greensboro in the near future) you'll stop by. The authors on this panel have studied hard, and they have their favorite books, I guarantee it. You might just find a new one. If you're just starting to write, or getting back into it, you'll get tons of ideas.

Sharing the craft of writing ... it's a love affair with words.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Gall Bladder Blues

The results are in ... Michael's gall bladder is full of stones and has to be removed.

He's been feeling the twinges lately, nursing this thing for the past 15 years. But lately, he's been uncomfortable. Yesterday, an ultrasound told the true tale.

But do you think the doctor would call him back and refer him to a surgeon? I know doctors are busy, I've worked for them all my life. But to not call back a patient that's in discomfort when he waits by the phone all day? How about a quick call from a nurse or even a receptionist who might be kind enough to say "... sorry the doctor hasn't been able to call you yet, he's busy with patients, but we'll make sure he calls before he goes home." You think they would be kind enough to do that?

Not a chance.

Woe be unto this poor doctor's office in Jamestown. My husband, after waiting a day and half for a phone call, drove over and has parked his butt in their waiting room. "If they won't call, I'll show up in person ... eventually, they'll have to talk to me."

All we need is a referral to a surgeon, and a quick consultation. Not more than five minutes of a doctor's time. Gall bladder pains are nothing to mess with inside the body of an angry patient.

So, today we're singing the blues. The gall bladder blues.

It's not a pretty song.

Especially on Valentines Day. Which, in my opinion is hugely overrated. If you want a great idea for Valentines Day and all the holidays, go to Dena's blog. She and Blair have found the true secret to getting over this kind of commercialism. I love it. (Go to the Feb. 13th post.)

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Going Out In Style

If you write fiction, it's often the end of the story you write first. Not always, but once in a while you see an ending before you have a plot in mind. A writer' style dictates the type of endings he/she uses.

I've experimented with story endings. What I see from readers, people who like the type of dramatic fiction I write, is that they like a twist at or near the end, in addition to inherent conflict, and deep and complex characters they can fall in love with or hate. Readers can even appreciate a message. But I also find they want endings to wrap things up. They may love the book, but if the ending sucks, they'll throw the book in the trash. Pissed off, they stew for days and that kind of word of mouth, a writer doesn't need.

Even if there's a sequel, or the possibility of one, a reader wants to see questions answered, and feel a sense of a good ending. Satisfaction. The good guy doesn't have to win, but there has to be a hint that in the next book or story, he/she will win.

It's as hard to explain, as it is to write. I seldom wrestle with story endings. If I don't already know how I want it to end, then my characters figure it out for me as they go. But once in a while, I debate on different endings. That's when I discuss it with my critique group, or my husband, or my friends who read my work.

In the end ... it's usually one of my character’s who tells me how to wrap it up.

I just want to make sure they go out in style. My style. I think it's the best part of any story.

The End.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Getting Ready for Lincolnton

It's just weeks away now, but the March 4th International Women's Writing Guild Conference is weighing heavy on my mind. I'm praying for a total success. A call from an excited Hannelore Hahn (New York City) this morning rubbed off. We've rented a large, comfy room for this first meeting of women writers in the Carolinas. Lunch is included in the $30 price, but the networking and the relationships forged are worth far more than the cost of the event.

We have a nice size group already committed to attending, but we're hoping for more. I know there are women writers out there, especially in the South ... that need this. This isn't a how-to-write conference. We're not going to discuss grammar, contrive plots, or tell you your characters aren't sympathetic enough. This group is far more than that. The IWWG is inspirational. It puts you in touch with your senses and the deep recesses of your memory to dig up ideas and places and times not thought of in years ... perfect nuggets for storytelling or writing that piece of non-fiction you've been laboring on.

This isn't your usual "Jump Start Your Writing" conference. Oh no. This is far more. Sharing and listening to other women talk about their writing, you begin to spin ideas of your own, a fresh perspective comes into view about your own writing. It's an amazing process. No psycho bull, just honest, open conversation and support.

I'm excited. If you're enterested, here's the IWWG web site ... click on Events and scroll to the March 4th Lincolnton, North Carolina event, "Each Life Is Worth The Telling." www.iwwg.org.

Blessings to you and yours.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Are Writers Really Ready For Rocks?

NYT Bestselling author, Tess Gerritsen, writes in her blog: www.tessgerritsen.com/blogs.cfm

If you want to be a writer, get ready for editors telling you your manuscript isn't good enough, critics telling you that your book is lousy, readers whining that they wasted twenty five bucks on your opus, the bloggers saying they're appalled you got nominated for that award. There's no way to avoid it. You'll get rocks thrown at you, and you might as well prepare for it now by hitting your head against the wall a hundred times, just so you get used to the feeling.

I don't know about you, but I don't write to have rocks thrown at me. Tess's blog of 2/2/06 You Can't Be A Wimp is an uncomfortable, albeit true read. I agree with her and salute her for forcing authors to look at the tougher sides of publishing. Tess has umpteen books published and is widely known in her genre and otherwise. For her to write this, she's had to been hurt at some point in her career--been stung by a few rocks.

But then, when you think about it, the most criticized book of all time is the Holy Bible. So, who are we as mere mortals? Why do we think we should escape tribulation when God's own word has suffered much more criticism for thousands of years. Geesh ... I guess if you put it that way, a few rocks ain't so bad.

Makes me wonder though, why anyone would have the audacity to think their opinions are so superior that they have the right to "cast the first stone."

Tess winds up her 2/6 blog by saying -- But if you're a writer, you'll keep writing anyway, even if you disappoint your readers or your editor or your agent. You won't give up, because then you'll disappoint the one person you can't afford to disappoint.


I'm certainly not going to throw rocks at myself.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Networking is one thing ... but confidence in delivering the goods ... is quite another. Just because you've been to every writing conference in the universe, met and mingled with high-powered literary-types who've invited you to send them your work, and you've moved yourself into a competitive playing field by hiring a publicist, speech coach, and wardrobe consultant ... doesn't mean squat.

How much confidence do you really have in yourself?

I've been thinking a lot about the level of faith in my work, how much do I believe in myself? After all the bumps in the road of life, the successes and the failures ... what has it done to my confidence level? What makes me think I'm going to make it as a successful author? Do I believe I write quality books? Am I a good storyteller?

Oh sure, mom, dad and hubby and can tell you you're the greatest thing since Eudora Welty, but only the public and the test of time can really tell the tale. Just because I've studied for years, read everything I can get my hands on, and have written tons of material, does that make me a good writer?

So what is it that makes me think I'm going to beat the odds? What makes me think ... after all I've heard from agents and editors over the years about how hard it is to write breakout fiction and only the teeniest percent of the cream of the crop authors get noticed ... what makes me think I just might qualify? After all the discouraging articles online, all the books by "experts" who tell us we got about as much a chance as a cliché in a manuscript to make the best seller list ... why do I bother to get up every morning and start all over again?

Is there any guarantee the stars, moons, and planets will all be lined up when I submit my novel to the perfect agent? Do I think I'm the only writer with passion, commitment, a unique voice, raw talent? Am I like those contestants on American Idol that truly think they can sing, announce on nationwide TV they have "a trained voice," and then stand in front of Paula, Randy, and Simon and make absolute fools of themselves?

Where the hell do I get off thinking I'm as good as all the other authors out there that are not only published several times over, but are fighting to stay that way. Who the hell do I think I am?

Here's my answer.

You know when you look in the mirror and see your reflection, you know without a doubt that's you ... you can't say, "Hey that's not me." You know it's you. You've lived with the same face for years. (For better or for worse.) You know your body, you even know every time something isn't quite right with the way you feel. You know when you're catching a cold, or when you're finally getting over one. It's NOT a confidence level you have in believing your body belongs to you. It's a fact, it's truth ... and there's a peace in knowing your face, your arms, legs, and memory belongs to you and can't be taken from you. That's how I feel about my writing. Just like that.

When I get up in the morning, I know where I live, I know each room in my house, I know if my body feels good or not. And I know ... I write great stories. I write NOT because of a fierce, self-serving impulse in my own heart. But I consider the potential of my writing to communicate my stories, letting others in on the lives of other people I make up.

As a writer, I want to affect the reader’s mind –to educate them into my world and enlighten– but what I wish for even more is to jolt the reader’s heart. I want my words to open a portal through which the reader may leave the world they live in and be transported into the time and space I have laid before them.

Years from now, after I'm gone, someone will read what I've written and know I was here. They may not know or care who I was, but they'll hear my words in their head speaking for me.

It's the air I breathe.

Arrogant? No. Not for a moment. Confident? I guess you could say that.

Blessings to you and yours.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Is There Anybody Out There?

Hello … Hello … Hello … is there anybody out there?

Isn’t that a Pink Floyd song?

It’s my song this morning … I read on one of my Cyber Girlfriend's blog, that blogs sell books.

According to the DenverPost.com of February 7th, Bloggers Nudge Literary Fiction to the Presses--By David Milofsky ... Lauren Snyder, publicity director for Coffee House Press, ... says ... "I do think people are paying attention to blogs and that there is definitely a market," Snyder says. "Right now it might be a cult following, but it's a following just the same, and the reach is going further and further all the time."

Caitlin Hamilton Summie, marketing director of Unbridled Books agrees. "We're all excited about the blogs," she says. "But whether or not it's going to lead to a measurable sales bump in the near future, of course we can't know. The question is whether this kind of discourse will lead to greater interest in literary authors in the future. While we've obviously lost review space for fiction in print markets, the blogs provide an opportunity to create a larger community for books."

I’d like to know, what do you think? Is there anybody out there? Does anybody really read blogs?

For me, it's a journal, of sorts ... but does anybody care about a blog enough to read the author's book? I'm taking my own poll. Any takers?

Blessings to you and yours.

Monday, February 06, 2006

It's A Gas, Gas, Gas

I love the Stones. I'm such a mixture when it comes to music. I love blue grass, country, gospel, and pop, R&B is soothing to me ... and good ole' rock and roll has its place in my "top 40 countdown."

Yesterday, watching Mick Jagger girate all over the stage in the middle of the Super Bowl, I had to giggle. I still love those old songs. Start Me Up, Satisfaction, Jumpin' Jack Flash, and all the songs that our parents hated.

"Turn that devil music off!" I can still hear it.

What I love about my generation, is the appreciation of music I share with my children's generation. Athough I'm not fond of rap or heavy metal, I'm not so quick to discount it. I don't want to listen to it, but I don't condem those who do. Unless, of course, they force me to listen when they pull their car up next to mine at a stop light. But then, I just reach over and crank up my Beach Boys CD. "That'll get 'em."

At any rate, I do enjoy all types of music ... even at his age, Mick is still a gas, gas, gas.

Blessings to you and yours.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Speech Class 101

I used to think it was easy to get up in front of a room and deliver a speech. In all my years of working in corporate America ... I led meetings in board rooms, talked to hundreds of medical students at trade shows, spoke to malls filled with people at health fairs, gave the rah-rah speeches at company picnics and Christmas parties, blended humor and "let's get down to business" speeches at hundreds of monthly company staff meetings. Been there ... done that.

But yesterday, I moved into an entirely upper echelon of public speaking. I've "bam" kicked it up a notch! Thing is ... I'm not in the market to be a speaker. There are speakers who are authors and then, there are authors who speak about their work. That's me. The latter. I never joined Toastmasters or other speaking groups (although I highly recommend you do, especially if you have no experience in giving a quality speech) ... but in the end - I don't want to be "a speaker." I know my first love is writing novels. And yet, I'm going to speak to America about my work.

So, do I want to be ordinary and "just an okay" speaker? No. I realize ... there's an art to speaking well and delivering a well crafted speech. A formula to interesting and memorable presentations ... a better way to reveal my heart and me.

I'm excited about this next phase. I'm going to work with a speech coach. I compare it to taking singing lessons. Even though I've spoken to groups, and have always been nothing less than professional and inspiring (in my humble opinion,) I recognize there is something more I'm looking to do. Find that special fairy dust, the element of touching emotions and bring down the house ... that's what I aspire to perfect. To touch the raw emotion in each and every person within the sound of my voice. To uplift. To be more than just a "feel good" speaker. Who wouldn't want to be memorable and change lives? I wish to deliver a charismatic presentation without preaching! Deliver the goods ... and yet, just be me.

No kidding, it's a tall order. I also realize there are men and women who have worked on their speaking careers for years - but in a very real sense without knowing it - so have I. All I'm wanting, is to connect with my audience in a very real, honest, and powerful way. Whether it be 4 people, with one of those my husband, or 4 thousand people ... it's how I want to deliver my work to the public ... by speaking about it.

So in a sense, I guess I'm going to be "a speaker." I respect people who choose this as a career path. Boy, do I. They have great presence and their attitudes must be up every time they get in front of a crowd ... even if they got a speeding ticket on the way to the meeting. They know how to balance acting and being real.

In today's world of publishing, an author must have a platform and an edge. My edge ... is me. When someone sees me, hears me, they'll get a real sense of my stories. I'm thankful for my new speaking coach. He's coached the careers of Tony Award winners and a Golden Globe winning actor. Sure, I could do it without him ... I could travel around and speak and do a good job. People would be happy and go away with a great book. But I want more than that. I want to give people more than that, so when they hear me they never forget me. And a year or two from now, when they see my novel on the shelves at their favorite bookstore, they say, "Hey, it's her new book! I got to have it!"

All because I connected with them on some level months before.

It's a process, and a great speech is a part of it.

Blessings to you and yours.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Gratitude and Attitude

"Mom! My ship has come in!"

That's the phone call I received last night from my son, Aaron. A young man with high hopes and simple dreams. He's of pioneer stock, I've always said. Aaron is a hard worker and a guy with a big heart. But most of all, he's kept a good attitude about his circumstances from one year to the next. (For the most part.)

If you look at him, you see my grandpa as a young man. He's got Troy Jennings King running all through him. In fact, at my grandma's funeral, people knew who he was before they were introduced. "You related to Troy King?" Oh sure, he's got a little of his dad ... his voice, his laugh, and his legs, but he's a King from the waist up.

Leaving for the Marine Corp. right out of high school in 1994, Aaron recognized his need for direction. The Marines steered him in the path of aeronautics and stationed him at the Marine Air Base in Cherry Point. After his time in the Maines was up, (of course you know, once a Marine always a Marine) he headed back to Ohio, to Columbus, where he studied and received his degree and/or Air Frame and Power Plant license to be a jet mechanic. A major airline hired him over six years ago ... and he's been there since.

He's a young man with a few simple passions. Hunting, his family, and wanting one of his own. He's a devoted man, to his employer ... to his country ... to his family. For many years, Aaron was the man of the house. A protector of little sister ... and of his mom. He's not perfect, Lord knows. But he has a great attitude. His integrity is impeccable.

It's not a secret; the kids and I had struggled through the last fifteen years. We've each one found our paths leading to peace and fulfilled dreams. Mine led me to North Carolina, to Michael and Christopher and a fulfilled dream to write books. Jillian's academic career and degrees have created a potential for greatness. And yesterday, Aaron's path was made a little clearer. His attitude has always been that if he was a good man, worked hard, loved his country, his family, and his God ... he would be rewarded. And now he is. Last year, he found Annie. Yesterday ... he was given a big break that will lead to many more blessings. When my child is blessed, than so am I.

His gratitude is immense. And so is mine.

Blessings to you and to your children, ... you know who you are.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Blubbering Woman

Yep, that would be me.

Yesterday, I attended the wonderful Women's Business Expo & Symposium "Empowering Yourself" at the Emerald Event Center in Greensboro. Actually, I was blessed with the opportunity to take over the Writers' Group of the Triad Exhibitor table for my friend, Dena, who could not be there.

Meeting many of the wonderful professional women in the area was just plain fun. There was tremendous interest in the writer's group, as well as my book, SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN ... of course, I had my information proudly displayed.

But I think the highlight for me was the lunch speaker, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, President of Bennett College for Women. She talked about women's rights and how we all had to take responsibility for our actions and thoughts. She also spoke of the past and how we as women, who remember what it was like to suffer in a male dominated society, should not allow racism to creep into our lives. (Made me think of when I was 20 ... in 1975 ... and I was forced to quit my job at 7 months pregnant.) She said a lot of things that made me think.

And ... the room grew quiet as she spoke of the late Coretta Scott King who had passed away that very morning. It was a solemn time. But I couldn't help but think (when I heard the news driving to the event that morning) what a homecoming she and Martin were certainly having.

So later, after lunch, I walked up to Ms. Cole (maneuvering myself around the other women who were taking pictures with her or trying to speak to her) and ... I caught her just briefly as she was walking out. "Ms. Cole," I said. She turned to me and smiled, then she held out her hand, and the moment I touched her ... I began to cry. Don't ask me why, the tears flowed down my cheeks and dropped like fat blots all over my nice white jacket. I was able to quickly squeak out about my feelings for the King family and for Martin Luther ... relaying to her my maiden name was King ... and she smiled again. Then she said to me, "He was for all of us." She gathered me into her arms and hugged me.

It was a spiritual experience. There's no other way to explain how I felt. Of course, later ... I felt silly and stupid for breaking down like this in front of such an influential woman ... and I hoped nobody seen me blubbering. But I think somehow, she saw the raw emotion and honest feelings I had inside. It was cleansing.

So the Business Expo was more than just an opportunity for me to network. I felt like I'd been to church.

Blessings to you and yours.