Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Prayer Wasn’t Enough

Today, my convent memoir—Prayer Wasn’t Enough—becomes available on Amazon. My eldest niece has worked hard to ensure that this happens for me, and I am deeply grateful. She is, as you will appreciate, a blessing in my life. I'm also excited; my stomach continues to somersault!  I’m hoping that this book will enjoy the kind of success that will enable me to self-publish other books in the next few years.
Here’s an introduction to the memoir: Despite years of Catholic education, I never once considered becoming a nun. I grew up on a farm with a creek running through it and with the whisper of wind playing the fields. Nuns didn’t go barefoot, pick blackberries, or weed vegetable gardens. I thought their life had to be boring.

Then in college, a transcendent experience changed everything for me. After graduation, eager to pray, I entered a Benedictine convent certain that there I’d become a saint. Except for meals, evening recreation, and communal prayer, I lived in silence. That didn’t faze me: Life was new; perfection seemed possible.

For the eighteen months of the novitiate, during which I was given the name Sister Innocence, I studied The Rule of Saint Benedict, a document nearly 1,500 years old. Daily I gathered with other nuns for prayer and performed the tasks that demanded obedience. Laughter, good will, and a sense of purpose permeated my life as a postulant and then as a novice.

On January 1, 1960, I made first vows and went out on mission to teach. Five months later, I returned to the motherhouse on the verge of a physical and emotional breakdown. As the years passed, I taught, studied, and prayed, but dwelt in confusion as the vow of obedience became increasingly difficult. I wanted all nuns to be perfect; they weren’t. More importantly, I realized I couldn’t will myself into perfection.

In Prayer Wasn’t Enough, I describe my crippling hunger for perfection, my flawed misconception of sanctity, and my emotional immaturity. I also describe my deep love of prayer and how it became a thread that held me to the convent.

That’s the story in a nutshell. I think it will appeal to four groups of readers: those curious about why young women enter the convent; those who have endured their own struggles with perfection; those who have embraced a life committed to someone or something beyond themselves; and those whose dreams for the future have been shaken or derailed.

I hope you will want to read Prayer Wasn't Enough, and if you enjoy it, that you'll tell others about it. Click here to view the paper book. Click here to view the ebook.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

Cats: Bullying, Intimidating, Traumatizing

In the Ready household, I feed the cats, scoop their litter, hold them while I read, run my hand over their furry backs, scratch beneath their chins, make sure their water bowls are refreshed daily, and talk to them about our lives together. They rule; I serve.


Ellie, Maggie, and Matthew live not only with me but with each other. From the beginning of our sojourn together, when I brought them home from the animal shelter in December 2009, Matthew and Maggie have often ostracized and bullied Ellie. It all began with Matthew, who traumatized Ellie. She displayed this in the nervous habit she developed of pulling out her fur and hiding in every dark place she could find.


That went on for three years. By then Matthew had gotten over the abuse of his own early life and had accepted Ellie. Occasionally, the two played together, but mostly they simply ignored one another. Meanwhile, Maggie watched the two of them, biding her time.


During their fourth year together, Maggie began her reign of terror. Like a CIA agent—which I’m sure she was in a former life—she spied on Ellie, stalked her through the house, cornered her, kept track of everything Ellie did. Meanwhile, Ellie tugged at her fur, leaving tufts of it all over the house.

Ultimately, I don’t know why, Maggie ceased her intimidation.

It took five years for Ellie, who’d been left at the shelter when her human went into a nursing home, to trust that I would protect her. Slowly—ever so slowly—she permitted me to scratch her back and brush her fur. She never wanted to lie in my lap, but she wanted to be near. For this, I felt deep gratitude. The cats seemed to have accepted one another. Peace reigned in our kingdom.

However, Ellie continued to avoid Maggie, the CIA agent who cast a wary eye on her. I never knew how Maggie treated Ellie when I was away from home or even at night when I was asleep. How often did CIA threaten her? This week I’ve experienced the result of just how tenuous their relationship is for there’s been a falling out between them, and I may have been the cause.

The story of how Maggie has recently traumatized Ellie is too long for this posting, but I hope next week to share it with you. I’m also hoping that by next Sunday, the issue will have resolved itself: no more misplaced poop; no more pee on furniture and bedding.

Now for a detour: This week I was going to write more about self-publishing, but none of the comments indicated interest in that. So I’ll simply say that my niece has completed the process for getting a paper book and an ebook published through Amazon’s two subsidiaries: CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. Just three days remain until Prayer Wasn’t Enough is available. The e-book is now ready for pre-ordering.

If this memoir is successful, I’ll be able to publish another book this summer. And what does success mean for me? It means I earn enough to pay my niece for all she does to produce the books during her spare time. If what I write is for my good and the good of the Universe, I trust it will be published. Peace.
If you’d like to see my tweets and Facebook postings about the cats, the convent, and my writing, here are the “addresses.”


Twitter: @dee_ready36

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Double Whoopee! Just 10 Days!

Last week I announced that Prayer Wasn’t Enough, my convent memoir, will be available from Amazon on Wednesday, March 21. That date was seventeen days away last Sunday. Today, it’s just ten! O ye jigs and julips! I’m both excited and a wee bit apprehensive.

Excited to share with readers a time in my life when I was so immature—both emotionally and spiritually—that I made perfection my goal. The failure to achieve it became my Waterloo.

Apprehensive because reaching an audience interested in this coming-of-age memoir is no easy task. Why? Because I’m self-publishing it. So no big New York publisher will be pushing the book via ads and reps in the field.

Today I’d like to share with you some things I’ve learned about self-publishing. Some of you will publish in the future, and you may choose this same route. If I can make self-publishing easier for you, I want to do so.  

Let’s begin: A number of companies now do print-on-demand publishing. That is, you simply submit your manuscript, and when someone wants to read it, the company prints it.

The most well-known of these sites is CreateSpace, a subsidiary of Amazon. The company provides a range of services, all of which are listed quite clearly on its website. Because I am technologically so inept, I asked my oldest niece to use the site to publish Prayer Wasn’t Enough.

Because we wanted to keep the project within my financial means, my niece decided not to use all the options offered by CreateSpace—from formatting to the application of an ISBN. What she then needed from me was the following:

·      the line-edited and copy-edited manuscript
·      a book cover—front and back
·      any advance praise—from first readers and published writers—that I had for the memoir
·      the credits for anything I quoted within the book
·      the dedication
·      the epigraph
·      the table of contents
·      the list of other books I’ve had published
·      a brief bio
·      the acknowledgments
·      my social media outlets
·      a self-photograph

My niece and I both read three books that proved helpful in understanding the self-publishing tasks. She became responsible for the actual publication of the memoir; I took on the responsibility of promoting it. The three books that helped us understand our roles were the following:

1.     CreateSpace & Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass (latest edition) by Rick Smith.
2.     How to Publish Your Book by Jane Friedman, who also has a fine website about all this.
3.     How to Market a Book (third edition) by Joanna Penn.

Of course, many other fine books on writing and self-publishing are available. These just happen to be the three we used. In addition, my niece goggled many subjects necessary to self-publishing. For example: the cost of an ISBN for the copyright page for both a paper and an ebook; the cost of barcodes; how to copyright the memoir; how to get a Library of Congress listing for the ISBN page; how to lay out the book in the right order of contents.

All this seemed formidable to me. That’s why I asked my niece to partner with me on this. She is technologically savvy, has a younger brain than I, and has mastered the vocabulary of technology.

Once the paper book is formatted on CreateSpace—the company we used—the book is then ready to be uploaded on Kindle, which is another subsidiary of Amazon. Thus, the paper book becomes an ebook available on Amazon.

I can see that I need another posting to finish explaining all this. Would you like me to continue next week? Or is there something else about all this you’d like me to share?