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A personal story that’s personal to many

The Dunwoody Crier has published its last issue and we are a community in mourning. Here’s my story and a copy of this week’s final publication.

http://www.thecrier.net/eedition/page_a88dcdbc-880f-55d5-a984-d71db1e90027.htmlh

The wind brought me to The Crier but this isn’t a personal story.

The truth is, the horrific winds of April 9, 1998, brought a lot of Dunwoody citizens to The Crier. For those whose homes were damaged or destroyed on the night of the Dunwoody tornado, The Crier became a lifeline. The newspaper in the familiar blue bags that landed on our driveways every week took on a new meaning as the newspaper covered issues that touched each victim as personally as any news coverage ever had. For many, it was more than a year before insurance settlements could be made, contractors secured, homes rebuilt and life returning to normal, and it was The Crier that provided the glue to hold us together and the proof that our community cared.

I joined The Crier staff a few weeks after the tornado to cover the recovery with a weekly column. I filled 500 words every week for a year with news, opportunities and encouragement in “Recovery Update.” And when the year was up and the stories were finally dwindling, I transitioned to a more widespread column of community news with “Over the Picket Fence” that appeared every week for 16 years.

I was new to Dunwoody in 1998, and the fact that one of the country’s most experienced and respected journalists was at the helm of its community news escaped me initially, but it didn’t take long before I understood that value and Dick Williams became a true and consistent friend and mentor.

The Crier’s tornado coverage won journalism awards, and for many, turned the paper into a must-read, as much for its coverage as for the sense of community it forged.

The Crier helped build my business but this isn’t a personal story.

The fact is, there are loads of businesses that can directly cite The Crier as the conduit for connecting their business to the community it serves. Long-time residents can no doubt flip through their contact lists of go-tos — whether it’s a favorite jeweler or plumber, doctor or insurance provider, restaurant or garage door repair company— and realize they were first introduced via The Crier.

My husband Tom and I have advertised in The Crier since we began our residential real estate business almost 14 years ago. More, I advertised my graphic design work in the classifieds for many years. Our client lists are filled with lovely people we connected with through its pages.

Crier advertisers are loyal and the community has been loyal to them. The opportunity to promote our community’s businesses via print in a respected and well-read local publication may have been a luxury that perhaps we all took for granted.

The Crier made me a writer but this isn’t a personal story.

Indeed, the opportunities to report the news or weave a feature story have been afforded to many by Dick Williams in The Crier. And it’s because of that chance that many of us have unleashed a passion for the pen that we never knew we had.

Dick has given opportunity to students for first-time reporting of their high school sports teams and many have gone on to make it a career just as many of its earliest reporters. Many early reporters cut their teeth on Dunwoody stories and now report in feature magazines and larger market publications.

I’ve published two novels, and without question, the courage and passion that led to that dream came directly from my experience writing from The Crier. Dick gave me the chance to spread my passion for community in my weekly column that led to a fervor for writing that continues to bring me much joy. And I’m not alone— there are half-a-dozen or more published books that have come from current and former Crier writers, and I trust they feel the same way.

The Crier made me a part of this community but this isn’t a personal story.

Dick tells me that he feels that every community deserves a newspaper, and I know he means it from the depth of his soul.

He’s sad to close the doors of The Crier, and what this all means for some of us who have lived and loved it here is only just beginning to sink in.

I’m proud of my 21-year affiliation with the little community of The Crier staff led by a man I’ll always love and admire. For me, it’s that little community that made me a part of the much bigger, but still-small Dunwoody community.

But this isn’t a personal story.

The Crier was a conduit for an entire community to feel a part of itself. We’ll find our way, I suppose. But it will never be the same.

Kathy Florence’s “Over the Picket Fence” column ran in The Crier from 1999 through 2015.

I’ve pushed the button, y’all.

Red Button
Done. It’s happening. We have liftoff.

I’ve been talking about this so long, some of you may have lost confidence that I’ve really written a book, but the time has come and I’ve sent my novel to print. Soon, very soon, it will be available as a paperback, as a Kindle download and/or as a simple pdf download.

All via Amazon. And I’ll have copies if you’d prefer a personal delivery or mailbox drop with a copy signed by the author (or arthur, if you pronounce it like Tom.) But don’t check yet: I’ll send you the link in a day or so. Maybe my website will juice you up in the meantime.

It’s been love-hate with Jaybird.

I’ve loved writing this book (all 10 years I’ve been working on it) but the thought of actually sending it out into the universe has been scary at times. So scary, in fact, that I freaked out around Thanksgiving (my self-imposed deadline) and tabled the project. I knew I’d come back around but I needed a break (and a confidence boost gratefully supplied last week by my book club’s final review, discussion and encouragement for a little more at the ending.)

I’ve decided to self-publish and here’s why.

Self-publishing simply means I’m doing this without a traditional publisher and without a  literary agent. I attended two writers’ conferences last year to learn more about the process and I met and pitched the story to three professionals. One wanted to publish it but wanted me to pay for them to design a cover (and I already like my cover) and their loose marketing plan (and I can at least do my own loose attempt myself). One took four months to tell me, “Great potential, but I don’t think I’m the right agent for this book.” And the third has yet to respond.

I’m not bossy. My ideas are just better.

I also heard horror stories about how long the process takes and about how once I did find and agent and publisher it could be years and they would most likely want to change the name of my book, my characters’ names and maybe the whole story itself.

So I’m loojaybird-frontcoverking to make this happen the crazy-ass way.

With luck. And LOTS of help from my friends.
So, I’m respectfully requesting (Read: begging) you to buy the book, read it and review it, please!! Moving a self-published book into the stratasphere (or even in to a moderate category of sales) is rare, but it’s happened. (Think: The Martian; Fifty Shades of Grey; Still Alice.) It often begins with attention via Amazon reviews: Positive reviews leads to more attention from Amazon to promote it and more chances that a traditional publisher might take notice and want to pick it up.

If you like it, please tell your friends. And ask them to tell their friends. If you see a post you like, please share. If you read and like, please offer a review. (You’re welcome to review if you don’t like too, it’s just not a goal for my loose marketing plan.)

I’ll send you the link as soon as it’s ready.  Meanwhile, take a look at this. Please bookmark it, memorize it, share it, or just click and look around. It’s another way you’ll be able to purchase a copy of “Jaybird’s Song” when the ink is dry.

Most gratefully and sincerely, K

Misplaced drama.

Here’s a newsflash that’s news to no one: It’s been ugly out there for months.

I’ve watched close friends, relatives and six-degree acquaintances rant, insult, recklessly post, plea, beg, hate and prematurely spread nonsense from both sides of the aisle. And like each of you, I’ve seen friendships fizzle over our country’s presidential scurry.

Personally, I’ve opted to zip my lip, though I’m solid, content and more confident than ever with the mid-life clarity of my convictions.

Here’s what’s bugging me since Tuesday night though: The melodrama. The name calling. The tantrums… All bad. But bigger than all that: The “how can I possibly explain this to my children” nonsense.

Easy.

I applaud any parents’ prerogative to educate their children of the political process. Likewise to teach their own convictions as means to direct. But what’s to explain when the vote doesn’t go your way, other than the other team won this time?

If you’ve taught that opinions are opinions, there is nothing to fear. Because one opinion is no more right than the next and that’s an important lesson for children in all aspects of life.

If you’ve taught that America’s system for electing a leader is based on a democratic system that seeks to determine the wishes of a majority of its citizens, there should be no fear in the explanation. The electoral college system was uniquely designed to measure the voices of all citizens, so reassuring your kids of its merits and keen design can simply parlay into a great lesson in American civics.

But if you’ve taught your children that those with opinions other than yours are wrong, or evil, or something to be feared, shame on you. If you’ve fed your children with ideas that bad things will happen to them and their friends if the other candidate wins, triple shame.

If you’ve described the other team to your children by placing all in a single box and tagging it with stereotypes, your teachings are as injudicious as your understanding of platform.

Let’s move past the ill will and misguided drama and set some unity into motion. And may God bless America and our newly elected officials.

And may God bless the children.

So which one would you buy?

Much love to the loves-to-be-incognito artist Alice Moore for these designs.

jbcoversHere’s my latest update: “Jaybird’s Song” is in another round of edits — looking for those unclosed quote marks, missing words, typos and comma splices.

I attended the Broadleaf Writer’s Conference last weekend and learned quite a bit more about the publishing world, including more pros and cons between self-publishing vs. finding an agent and publisher for the book. I pitched the book to two agents at the conference and both have asked for pages, so now I guess I wait a little while to see if I get a positive response.

But the truth is, I’m really ready to let her fly, so I’m only going to give it another week or 10 days, I think. If neither responds by then, I’m going to make this happen on my own.

Here’s a little bit about the story; an early draft of what might be the back cover description:

Affectionately called “Jaybird” by the father she adores, Josie Flint’s idyllic childhood in 1960s Atlanta is defined by her role as the oldest of the three Flint sisters and crowned with the presence of her grandmother, Annie Jo— the maypole that centers the Flint family. 

Surrounding their world, however, is the turbulent South as Jim Crow laws come to an end. As Josie’s school desegregates and the country meanders through new ideas brought about by the Civil Rights movement, a personal tragedy shatters — and embarrasses — that perfect childhood.

Josie’s story is told from her early teenage years and 35 years later when her beloved grandmother dies. And when a long-kept secret unfolds for the Flint family, a new kind of heartache begins.

Would you read it based on that?

Which cover would you be most inclined to pick up?

 

Dropped.

Looking for health insurance (again.)

Seriously, Humana?

Got a notification that our uber-expensive, high-deductible insurance plan that we avoid tapping into at all costs because of that second adjective is no longer available in our area.

What? In our area? As in, our address is not 2778 Moon. Or, is the moon the only area they can now service?

We just went through this 15 months ago. The Affordable Care Act is mis-named, so we settled on this personal policy. Now we’ve been dropped. I understand Aetna customers are getting the same notification this week.

What a messed up system. #venting

 

Girl crush.

I made a new friend today.

We drove around for an afternoon in search of a new home for her and her fiance as they embark on new jobs and a cross-country move.

We didn’t find their house, but we did find about 4 million things we had in common. And just like with all my best girlfriends, we got each other whirling with excitement for both the passions we share and the new ones we introduced one another to.

It’s my favorite thing about being a woman: Fueling my soul with the energy of other smart, exuberant, savvy, impassioned, creative women.

I am uber-fortunate. I am surrounded by lots of smart, exuberant, savvy, impassioned, creative women. More, I have built-in fortune with a mother, mother-in-law, two daughters, two sisters and three sisters-in-law that also fit in that category.

It’s the best lift ever.

Thank you, my girl crushes. You know who you are.

 

 

 

Another novel idea.

unknownA Dream Team to focus on the story.

So, I put a beginning, middle and ending to my story, “Jaybird’s Song,” and liked it. But I found it really hard to sense whether or not my story was compelling, whether the “reveals” happened at the right times, if the storyline was predictable or just the opposite — too far fetched for a reader to guess the unfolding story to the point of frustration.

So, I put together my Dream Team: Six wonderful ladies who love to read, have tons of smarts and are fun to be around — Erin, Wendy, Melanie, Shelbe, Paige and Eleanor. I sent each of them the first 35 pages of the book with the assignment to read, and if they were up for the challenge, to join me for a 24-hour focus group at the LeMeridian Hotel on a Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

After the first 35 pages, all six commited to the rest. (Phew. How many books have I flung to the side because they didn’t capture me in the first few pages? I took that as a good sign.) I gave each a list of questions with a Strongly Agree/Strongly Disagree type of scale and then asked specific questions about the first section. Once satisfied, I handed out the next 85 or 90 pages and sent them poolside, or to the hotel’s fabulous lobby with wonderful little reading niches. After sunning and some lunch, we met again in the hotel’s Analysis conference room (Perfect. A triangualar table and two giant walls of windows.) at 3 p.m. where I had each rate more questions and issues and we discussed the progression of the story to that point. Two more rounds of this and we finished the novel and discussions at 7:30 or so and we walked over to California Pizza Kitchen for dinner. After that, we all retired to one of the lovely suites connected to the rooms I’d reserved and enjoyed a 4-hour chatfest with wine in our PJs.

Such fun and so helpful to me. The Dream Team validated the ‘was it compelling issue?,’ pointed out a couple of inconsistencies that I’d missed, marked some areas that needed work and confirmed that one component of the ending was just a little too far fetched and weird, and gave me lots of ideas to where I re-wrote it and am much happier.

I reviewed all of their notes and made re-writes in places throughout. Then I sent it to Wayne, my writing coach for a full read. Loved his ideas, too, and made more re-writes in more places. My sister read it last week and gave me a few spots for changes. And Tom got a personal read in audio by the author to and from our trip to Hilton Head last week. Reading it outloud pointed out still more areas I wanted to polish. Now it’s with yet another talented friend who will do a line-by-line read looking for missing words, missing quote marks, grammar issues, etc.

It’s almost ready for prime time and I’m so excited!

“Jaybird’s Song.” More to come…

How to write a novel in 3000 days or less

jstitle2

 

1. Write the first sentence.

2. Erase the first sentence.

3. Write a chapter and convince yourself you’ll win a Pulitzer.

4. Re-read it and throw into trash.

5. Dig through the trash after it’s covered with greasy leftovers to think about it some more.

6. Think about it for a couple of years.

7. Resurrect the idea and drop all other commitments and interests.

8. Convince yourself that it’s total crap.

9. Give it a middle and ending and rewrite the beginning.

10. Send it into the universe.

I’m almost to #10!

Sliced through the heart.

The perfect microcosm of community I have happily whirled myself around in for 20 years is no more.

A giant butcher knife just cut through an entire section of prime+ and flung it to the scraps pile.

It was the best part: The part with dreams and means, courage and perseverance. The part that pored out its freakin’ soul for nothing more than the time to make something amazing happen.

Instead, we’ll implode with nary a look back. With nary a care.

RIP Brook Run Theater

brt

Never forget?

So how does that work?

If you’re watching the commemoration ceremonies happening this morning in New York and Washington, D.C., the emotions of that September day 15 years ago are bubbling again. The profound prophecy of someone’s  “We will never be the same… this is terrorism” comment is a sobering, ugly reality.

imagesBut, what if you weren’t born yet? Or young enough to have been sheltered from the horror of that day? Or, God forbid, you have cold, dark soul like some people in this world evidently do.

Will it feel as distant, disconnected  and impersonal to the Ys, Zs and whatever the next generations are called as moments like D-Day and Pearl Harbor do to me? Will the chronicles of 9-11 get shorter and more compact with each edition of the US Social Studies books? Will there even be Social Studies books that will authenticate the horrors wrought on thousands of innocent Americans and spread to every single American soul on that day? Will terrorism itself be lumped into a subject that becomes as benign or commonplace that it’s covered in the same category as economics or world literature?

No doubt, ‘Never forget’ is the right plan. Will it work that way?

Side note: I’ve upgraded my WordPress account so I can add videos and more things to my new blog. Here are a couple pages from my book ” You’ve Got a Wedgie Cha Cha Cha” — a column I wrote in September 2001.  busyhands   And here’s a video I think works for today, too.