I’m honored to be part of a project author Stacy Juba has been working on for quite some time – 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back. I mentioned this unique essay collection in an earlier blog post, and also sent the information out in my newsletter last month. Two of my own essays are included, which, of course, makes this collection extra special.
Stacy Juba, editor and mastermind of the anthology, is here today to kick off the Rearview Mirror Blog Tour. The ebook is $1.99 for Kindle, Nook, and other retailers, but if you leave your email address in the comments by September 16 and tell her what you were doing twenty-five years ago, Stacy will send you a code for a free Smashwords download! Also be sure to visit her website for two fun contests: you can win a free download of My Memories Suite scrapbooking software; and mystery authors can enter for a free ad from All Mystery E-Newsletter. Visit: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/25-years-in-the-rearview-mirror-blog-tour to follow the blog tour schedule, and scroll down for the Rafflecopter entry forms.
Now over to Stacy:
For two years, I was working on a book and didn’t even know it. Seriously. My new anthology, 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror: 52 Authors Look Back, evolved like this: after my mystery/romantic suspense novel Twenty-Five Years Ago Today was released, I invited my author colleagues to write a guest post for my blog reflecting on what they, or their characters, were doing 25 years ago. I published several over the span of a couple years, and then stopped the blog feature because few readers were leaving comments and I felt as if the posts were disappearing into Internet limbo. I even questioned whether I had spent too much time on my blog and not enough time working on my books.
Then out of the clear blue sky, I went to sleep one night this past April. When I woke up, I had an idea – to compile the 25 years essays and some of my own essays into an e-book anthology, a format that would allow me to showcase the stories in a much better way and help them to gain the attention that they deserved.
Actually, it was more than an idea. It quickly became a “drop-everything-and-do-this now” goal to accomplish by the end of the summer. As a publisher and longtime journalist, I knew that this was a book that people would enjoy reading and that the concept of looking back 25 years was fresh and unique. The personal essays were a mix of humorous, touching and inspiring, and the character sketches were creative and fun.
As a longtime publicist, I knew that publishing an anthology inspired by my book Twenty-Five Years Ago Today would help new readers to discover this mystery novel. As an author, I knew that my fellow writers traversing the publishing highways are always looking for new and easy ways to get their names and books out to readers. I had a winning project. All I needed to do was put it together.
I started by e-mailing the authors who had written posts for my blog and asking for permission to reprint the articles in exchange for lots of publicity and exposure for their books. Most were very interested and supportive of the project, and were even agreeable to making a few revisions. Since I wanted the number of authors to equal 52 (the reverse of 25), I put out one last call for submissions to round out the book. Once I had my fifty-two authors, I organized the essays into categories: School Days; The Jobs That Shape Us; Remembering the Romance; The Ups and Downs of Family Life; Hard Times; The Writing Journey; Characters Have Pasts, Too; and Further Back in Time.
Then, I finished the editing. The hardest part was editing the commas. Ugh. When you put 52 authors together, half of them use a comma before the “and” in a list and the other half don’t. Even worse, some, (like myself,) did it both ways. After some headaches, I was able to make the punctuation style more consistent. Next, I collaborated on a cover with my talented graphic designer husband, and distributed the book to several retailers including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Smashwords. I also put together a marketing tool kit made up of sample blog posts, a list of tweets, and other tools for the participating authors to help promote the book, and set up a couple of contests for the book launch.
In addition, I created the 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror Yahoo group, a forum where readers can connect with the authors, share their memories from the past, and be inspired to create a positive future. Many of the authors have been uploading stories, excerpts, and articles to the Authors Corner section of the Yahoo group, so that readers can get to know them better. Lastly, this amazing group of authors put together a fall Blog and Radio Tour that boasts over 65 stops between September and December. The blog tour would not have been possible without their enthusiasm and willingness to host one another. (Thanks, Darcia!!)
Since writing is such a solitary business, it has been a pleasure to work so closely with these talented authors and I’m grateful for how supportive they have been of my project. I’m proud of how the book came out, as it allowed me to use my creative juices in a different way. Writing fiction is my first love, however, I come from a journalism background and this project gave me a chance to put my organizing and editing skills to use.
Here are a couple excerpts from the book:
From my essay Literary Friends:
Twenty-five years ago, I was an introverted young girl approaching sixth grade. Suddenly, girls started “going out” with boys, bullies grew bigger and gym class got rougher. Even though I had dedicated teachers and a few good friends, school often felt uncomfortable to me. One particularly bad day, my eyes filling, I scribbled all over my paper bag book covers, “I hate sixth grade.”
From Darcia’s character sketch looking back twenty-five years, from the point of view of Nick Donovan from Miami Snow.
Twenty-five years ago today, I was sitting in my backyard sandbox with Sara from next door. She was a year older and far more worldly than I. She had these long blonde ringlets that fascinated me. I’d yank them down and they’d spring right back up, sort of like the Slinky toys we played with.
For a list of participating authors and essay titles, visit http://stacyjuba.com/blog/25-years-in-the-rearview-mirror-52-authors-look-back. Don’t forget to leave your email address and what you were doing 25 years ago in the comments for a free Smashwords download of the book!
And if you’d like to chat with more of the authors and read some of their stories and excerpts, then head over to the 25 Years in the Rearview Mirror Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/25YearsRearviewMirror/?yguid=403568634
Thank you, Stacy, for all the work you’ve put into this project, and for being here today to share it with us!
Here’s a look at the book:
This collection of poignant and uplifting essays is the perfect book to enjoy over your morning coffee. The stories will warm your heart, raise your spirits and compel you to examine your own life. As a tie-in to her mystery book Twenty-Five Years Ago Today, novelist and award-winning journalist Stacy Juba invited her author colleagues to answer the question “What were you doing 25 years ago?” Read about school days, quirky jobs, romance, raising a family, hard times, the writing journey, and find out what makes your favorite characters tick. This 30,000-word book will help readers to discover new authors for their to-read list, and inspire them to reflect upon the small defining moments that have shaped their own lives. As a bonus, readers are invited to interact with the authors and discuss the past and the future in an online forum, with details in the Appendix.
Includes a foreword by Elaine Raco Chase, award-winning author of seventeen paperback novels with over 3 million books in print. Publishing credits of the contributing writers include New York Times bestselling, USA Today bestselling and Amazon bestselling. They also include recipients of the Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award, Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award, Mississippi Author Award, Benjamin Franklin Award and Eppie Award, as well as nominees of the Pushcart Prize, Agatha and Shamus Awards, to name a few of the many honors.
The following sections are included in the book:
School Days: Literary Friends by Stacy Juba, The Red Man by Maria Savva, Rocking in the ’80s by Susan Helene Gottfried, Seniors are Wimps by Matthew Dicks, Prom Night by A.W. Hartoin, Friend in Need by Alina Adams, A Life-Changing Decision by CJ Lyons, Oldest Campus Editor Looks Back by Sharon Love Cook.
The Jobs That Shape Us: Lieutenant Pink Shoes by Laura DiSilverio, Training the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers by Gwen Mayo, The Biggest Job Shift Ever by Ann Littlewood, Long Live Rock by Loni Emmert, The Cost of Doing Business by Stephen D. Rogers, Life as a Singing Telegram by Monica M. Brinkman, The Pipe Bomb by Kenneth Weene, School for Sleuths by Carole Shmurak, Driven Bats by Sarah E. Glenn, Can One Beer Change Your Life? by Mike Bove.
Remembering the Romance: A Special Anniversary by Steve Liskow, California Magic by Mike Angley, Drummer and Dumber by Cara Lopez Lee, Paving the Road to Conscious Living by Lillian Brummet.
The Ups and Downs of Family Life: The Elephant in the Living Room by Mary Anna Evans, Baby Steps by Tracy Krauss, Finding the Right Balance by Barbara Ross, Climbing the Mountain of Single Parenthood by J. R. Lindermuth, The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same by Donna Fletcher Crow, A Busy Mom’s Dream by Deanna Jewel, Family Fun at the Dinner Table by Maryann Miller.
Hard Times: Finding the Right Direction by Michele Drier, The Scent of Lives Changed Forever by Beth Kanell, Surviving the Killer Tsunami by Cherish D’Angelo (Cheryl Kaye Tardif), Christa’s Legacy by Jaleta Clegg, Weathering the Storm by Red Tash.
The Writing Journey: Unit-Lessons in Composition by Stacy Juba, Traveling Down the Writing Path by Patricia Gulley, Sticking With It by J.E. Seymour, Detecting the Humor by Marja McGraw, Never Give Up by Karen McCullough, An Early Computer by Velda Brotherton, Choosing My Destiny by Peggy Ehrhart, The Tuesdays by Bonnie Hearn Hill, Cropdusting the Way to a Series by R.P. Dahlke.
Characters Have Pasts, Too: Diana’s Promise by Stacy Juba, The Sandbox by Darcia Helle, An Empty Nest by Suzanne Young, Misfortune’s Daughter by Mary Deal, The White Widow by Norma Huss, The Policeman by Vicki Delany, Miranda’s History by Leslie Wheeler, Meeting Sam Fullerton by Ellis Vidler, The Gas Chamber by Douglas Corleone, Storm Shadow Eyes by Caitlyn Hunter.
Further Back in Time: A Long Look Back by Norma Huss, The Ghost of Mr. Stetson by Darcia Helle, Finding My Voice by Stacy Juba.
Readers, I hope you’ll all take advantage of Stacy’s offer. This is a unique collection that I think will give hours of pleasure! Now, go ahead and tell us, what were you doing 25 years ago today?
Thanks for reading.