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Karen Loucks Rinedollar » children

There is a lot of grumbling that today is a difficult time to be a writer yet was it ever easy? The publishing world is definitely in an evolutionary period and it’s never been a better or easier  time for an author to get their word out. No longer does a writer have to be a slave to the whims of what a publisher deems to be good writing. If a story is good, it will sell. If it starts off as independently published and makes a big enough splash, it will attract the attention of a publisher. Yet, is that really the direction an author wants to take these days?

I have been told repeatedly that traditional publishing in not the way to go anymore. Sure, if you are lucky enough to land a plane successfully in the Hudson, win an Olympic gold medal or run any flavor of presidential campaign- publishers may line up at your front door waving money like stock traders and their Wall Street trading sheets. However, as the yet to be discovered writer, even if a publisher does pick up your work, it will probably be years before your story makes it to book form. Will there even still be book stores by the time the finished published copy is available to the public? The image of your precious story being properly placed at eye level in a store is almost as likely as being signed to play in the NFL.

The treasured “Advance” is rumored to be shrinking proportionally to the national debt rising, and is just a loan on future earnings. More and more, writers are expected to do their own marketing and public relations and with a publishing contract, they may sign their rights away or may feel as if they are selling their souls. Without the right agent, they may have waived their rights for cover designs and even book titles.

In one sense, it would be great to have a big company taking care of all the little details. It’s like the days of the mighty record companies. The best bands aren’t necessarily the ones that were being played on the radio- those were the ones who were lucky to have someone paying off the record execs for air time. Such is similar with the “Best Seller” lists. Got money (yours or publisher’s)? You too can get on that list even if the book is of little talent. There are enough lemming readers who base their entire reading selections from those Best Sellers lists.

It seems that the “Go Green” and “Buy Local” attitudes that are starting to catch with consumers, have yet to evolve to supporting local writers. There are amazing stories in our midst whatever large or small community we live in. Just because a book doesn’t contain a label from a publishing company doesn’t mean that it’s not worth your time. If the subject is something that you find interesting, take the leap and jump off the lemming train. Support a local writer! It keeps money in your community and may be helping that writer evolve to evenen greater heights.

I can honestly say that one of my proudest moments was while extricating the first copy of my book Working for Peanuts: The Project Linus Story out of its Createspace packaging. The thrill of seeing it in print and actually holding it for the first time has to be similar to that of cradling one’s precious baby. It didn’t leave my side for the first 24 hours. I was overjoyed to share it with my friends and family. Like raising a child, writing a book, takes a village. There were so many who helped make it all possible and were every bit as as excited as if I had just returned with a cutie from the labor ward- possibly more!  It would still be years, if ever,  that I would be able to experience that magical moment if I’d gone through a traditional publisher.

Until that big call comes from a reputable publishing company, I’m more than happy to put my time, talent, money and name on the line to let the world know about my unique adventure and empowering others to make a positive difference in this world. My baby, Project Linus, has been featured on the likes of Oprah, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams & People Magazine.  Publicizing a great story will be anything but a walk in the park but I’m not afraid of a little hard work.  It’s said-” It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” For now, I’m happy to have my story published in my time and in my way. There’s a lot of satisfaction to be had in that.

Where were the Children this Halloween?


Last night was a gorgeous evening as Colorado Halloween’s go. The children didn’t even have to hide their precious costumes under layers of parkas. They were free to be their cute selves. Yet through the evening, we had a mere half dozen knocks on the door. For the record, we are not living on a remote ranch in the country. We are on a cul-de-sac in a very kid friendly suburban subdivision. Where were the children?

My husband, Gary, and I get very excited about the prospect of trick-or-treaters. It used to be such a magical time when we were growing up. He annually insists on accompanying me to stock up on the cool candy- popular chocolates and sours to delight the most discriminating pediatric palate. Gary had mixed the selection of the seven various bags of sweets with the same kind of tender loving care that might be used by Willie Wonka’s Umpa Lumpas.  Although our expenditure fell far less than the average American stat of $40 per household, we seemed to have enough candy to feed an army!

Halloween is also our cat’s day. Zuma, is a black domestic short hair and tends to get extra spookish on the 31st. She takes up position each year in front of a sidelight windows by our front door watching the neighborhood goings on. Kids giggle with glee as they spot her silhouette from the flicker of pumpkin light. It’s as if she was trained to be a professional Halloween decoration.

We dressed in costumes. Although my husband would rather attend a funeral for a friend than a costume party, he voluntarily went up to our closet and climbed into his annual getup- German man in lederhosen. Although I’d been out and about during the day in a Malice in Wonderland outfit, I decided to don my complementing German dirndl.

Last prep item to attend to before the kiddos arrival was to carve the pumpkins. Each year, one of my garden’s pride and joys is a pumpkin patch that would make Linus proud. This year we had a bumper crop of small to medium sized curbises.  Newspapers were spread across our kitchen island. Within an hour, with the help of surgeon sharp knives and quirky imaginations – pumpkin juice was flying almost as prevalently as creative juices. Stems were turned into tousled hairdos, some were laughing, others looked horrified, one winking and of course the obligatory “Barfing Pumpkin” . Seven pumpkins were strategically placed to guide the children up to our front door.

Each time the door bell rang, we sprang from our places- most of the time I had hands covered in pumpkin goo as I was trying to extricate seeds to be baked. They are high in protein, vitamins and minerals and above all- taste great! I’d have to race over to the sink for a quick rinse then join Gary at the front door to welcome the kids. Unanimously the Barfing Pumpkin was voted as their favorite with my tousled haired Smiley Face as a far behind second.

Costumes this year were also a bit bland. I keep a camera by the front door for the especially clever ones but everything seemed to be store bought and classic- cowboys, Harry Potter, dog, a candy corn- nothing racy like the bride/divorcee Kim Kardashian, Sister Wives, Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Osama swimming with the fishes, an unmanned drone or one of the presidential candidates. Perhaps those are all a little too mature for the trick-or-treat audience. I’d loved to have seen a Charles Schulz character with his Project Linus blanket.

To say the kids were in a candy seeking frenzy would be a great overestimation. They were polite, subdued and usually reached for one piece. We’d always throw some extras their way and as the night progressed, encouraged the children to take handfuls- helping them with our larger mitts. Usually we turn out the lights at 9pm to signal the candy giving had ended yet it was as if someone had put a sign out early. Not a single knock or ring after 8:30. Even our neighbors CJ and Allison had time to stop by to share a Halloween hi.

Besides many pounds of leftover candy, the only tragedy of the evening was a two inch burn that occurred when CJ stepped too close to the seed laden cookie sheets as they were being removed from the toasty oven. Being the good hostess, I took one for the team and politely singed my skin instead of his. Fortunately is hasn’t been painful and will be a reminder of a fun evening.

Perhaps celebrating Halloween trick-or-treating has become one of those memories from the past like candy cigarettes and cars without seat belts. Halloween fell on a Monday this year so maybe most of the celebrating had been done over the weekend. Play dates and trunk-or-treats may be the new norm. From my vantage point, we adults seem to be having more fun with this holiday than the children!