Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rite of Passage

My father-in-law Anton Stepec, 10/18/1933 - 9/6/2012, was born in Sentvid, Slovenia and emigrated to America with his family from WWII internment camps. 

 Sentvid held a special place in his heart, and three elder brothers are buried there in the church cemetery, but America was his home since his teens. He embraced everything American as the framework of his life. He may have longed for that remote village nestled in the Julian alps, but he made his home in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio and spent his days working in machine shops and factories. 

His accent remained thick and his conversations were peppered with Slovenian, German and Italian words, but he was always working to improve his English by learning new words and using them in sentences - often with hilarious results.

His eulogy could have focused on his work in a machine shop, the lush vegetable garden he created every year, or his strong opinions regarding whether shoes or food were allowed in the carpeted rooms of his home. Instead, the legacy of his life was portrayed with stories of his smile and laughter, his devotion to his family and friends, his participation in games like table tennis and bocce, his tendency to chat with strangers; and every store clerk and bank teller. But it was his encyclopedic memory for every date of significance that was his shining talent.

He knew the name, location, and date, of every current and historical event, including the births of every family member. This was notable as there were lots of births and events of importance within his family and a very active Slovene community in the Cleveland, Ohio area.  Any question regarding the date and participants of an Olympic event, or cultural celebration, the man in the know was Anton. Any debate of when, where, and who, was instantly ended at his word. Research had proved he was always right.

It was his attention to these details of importance in the lives of everyone he knew that made him beloved. He saw the people in his life, he listened to what mattered to them. He remembered and made others feel good. That's why over 800 people made an effort to honor his passing.

The story of my father-in-law's life is a turbulent saga interspersed with decades of peace. Wars and refugee camps were short term experiences for his life, spanning horrific events. But they did not define his life. He was renown for his smile and his ability to remember what mattered to others - including the correct date. We know a lot of dates regarding his life, like the day he arrived in America, got married, had children, and celebrated the births of grandchildren. We know when he was diagnosed with numerous cancers, and when he died.
At this time, I feel the most important lesson I've learned from my father-in-law is - that my life experiences do not define who I am. They only portray the journey I've chosen to live.

I will treasure this lesson because it means I am forever a work-in-process.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A good "what-not-to-do" marketing example

I assume many of you are here because of the  Author Marketing 101 blog I coauthor with Morgan Kennedy. It was a bit of a surprise to suddenly see activity in my stats for this site even though the links at AM101 direct readers to my primary blogThis site was created as a static website back in 2008 and was transferred last year from the tiny webhosting service to a GoDaddy domain, and blogspot hosting. 

This site is a good example of why we advise authors not to market a book prior to it being available for sale. 
This site is also testament to how promoting something not available is uncomfortable and generates a lot of - "Well, when can I read it?" The answer is, when I can give my memoir the attention it deserves, which may be soon, or not. No one wants this project complete and being read more than I do - see the third bullet point.
  • Therese Patrick . com was created for the friends and family who were excited to know I was working on a memoir about my parents. 
  • Therese Patrick . com was created to be a "Value Added" location for all kinds of cool things that did not belong IN the story of my parents and childhood, but were relevant TO the story. 
  • Therese Patrick . com was created after I had written THE END to my memoir. I was blissfully unaware that I would encounter more life experiences that would be personally relevant to not only the story of my parents and childhood (I was almost 50 - wasn't I done yet?) but also to the writing style of how to present this memoir.
So - Author Marketing 101 lesson:

If you do have anything in cyberspace, know it may have been a good idea at the time to:
  1. Create a placeholder for your Author Persona . com
  2. Get your name out there in social media land (which didn't exist then as it does today) so agents and editors will see you are cyber savvy 
  3. Have a plan but be very clear to readers that your product is In Process
Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Some excerpts have been posted

This site has finally been updated with a little bit of polish and some excerpts. These are not the opening chapters but a few vignettes as the main part of the memoir is chronological vignettes that span 33 years of our very normal family life - in spite of being raised by saints.

I do hope to work on this memoir again soon, as I'd really like to have it done. But I often notice that other activities and writing projects make me feel I am supposed to complete them to be able to make this memoir better than its current state. My emotions and life activities also need to be in a calmer place for me to give the project the attention it deserves.

There's enough information on this website to read the excerpts, and if you do, I'd love to know what you think.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Wow, life.

I've recently been doing all kinds of upgrades and maintenance regarding my writer career and presence on the web. So it's amusing to see this one site, and this story which initiated my entrance into the websphere, is the one most neglected. This amuses me because once I had "finished" the memoir of my parents and started putting it "out there" was when I began traveling a whole new life/career path.

Often, this past year, I've had reason to pause and notice that I'm on a path where the destination I've reached "now" is what was needed for inclusion in this memoir. I can't really explain it other than to say it's sort of a 4th dimension wheel of reconnection with my ancestors, and also defining my individual path that is my present. The 4th dimension as defined by Einstein is - time.

So while I will not apologize for being remiss on putting my memoir forth as is, I'll instead share some of the really cool stuff that's transpired.

Author Marketing 101 is dear to my heart. I love writers, story tellers, authors, artists. I hate seeing them flounder in the mystery of marketing and not put their best foot forward.This project is my cooperative effort with my marketing partner, Morgan, to be of service to all of the above.

On my main blog, there's been a lot of activity and one of my posts has been chosen by an online magazine for a repost. This is a big deal to me. There's been a lot of synchronicities regarding the events in my life and they are happening on important dates, or in tandem with other interesting stuff. There's a very nice and comforting feeling that my parents are still participants in my life, on a close and personal esoteric level, instead of a long distance phone call.

It's significant to me that the day before my birthday, this year, it will be seven years since my mom transitioned through the death process, and Dad joined her three months later. It was to be his first visit to Mom's grave sight, but Dad drove past the cemetery and instead was in an accident where everyone should have survived.

No worries, I will get this memoir ready for prime time. I really want to see it in high school and college family study courses. The parental relationship is not all about wounds and wolves. The majority are about light and love, that include lessons to learn. It's really empowering to learn something then put it in practice.

That's what parents are to facilitate. The next generation is always the new hope, and deserve the best tools we can provide from our stories of what was before in relation to what is promoted today.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Life Happens

Excerpts are not posted yet because what is polished and readable are the middle pages of the memoir and not the opening chapters. I've found my intent to put a goal or deadline on this book has been the best way to assure life will create a pause for me to learn something more. But it is 2012 now and many behind the scenes aspects to complete and produce this book are falling into place. I have begun the transfer of my website domain as of today.

There has been a flurry of activity in my persona as an aspiring novelist and extensive forward progress in my marketing partnership with C. Morgan Kennedy. Since September, when I last felt in control of my process with this memoir, interruptions and learning experiences have come from my personal life as a mother, wife, sister, friend, committee member, homeowner, and occasional caretaker for others pets.

So I will give no dates or time lines but I will accept the lesson that it is bad marketing to promise something and not deliver as stated. Instead, I hope the final progress will begin soon. Six years ago when I began this project, I saw a potential full color magazine format for this story. Innovations to the reading and publishing experience have transformed during these same years. I'm excited that when I explain in text the operation of a phone with a rotary dial, there can also be a picture of how verbal connection was made in the recent past. The message will remain, it was the connection that mattered, only the tools have changed.