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Martha’s Big Adventure

Potluck CelebrationI just got a great answer to a book rights question from marketing guru John Kremer.  Take a look at

http://askjohnkremer.com/how-do-i-sell-mass-market-paperback-rights-to-my-new-thriller

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  • Martha Carr and Tym Moss smallerI’m on Artists Exposed with Tym Moss this Saturday talking about The List, thrillers and how to be happy without needing to be right. Fun times! Join us:
  • www.BearRadio.net, www.TalkRadioX.com
  • MARTHA CARR… Author of The List: 1st in the Wallis Jones Series…

    Martha Carr is my wonderful guest this week. This nationally syndicated writer, cancer survivor and author talks about life, spiritual understanding, her books and so much more…

    I adore this woman…

    ARTISTS EXPOSED WITH TYM MOSS SCHEDULE

    SATURDAY
    10pm www.BearRadio.net (Click on icon under Player in ‘Bear Radio Network Tuner’)

    SUNDAY
    6pm www.TalkRadioX.com (Click on HD Radio.com)

    MONDAY
    2pm www.BearRadio.net (Click on icon under Player in ‘Bear Radio Network Tuner’)

    All times are Eastern Time (New York City time!)

    Thanks for all your support…..

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The advent of the internet has changed the way the world operates with the same powerful ripple that the printing press caused in 1450 and for the same reason. The average citizen can once again more easily find out that a lot of other people were thinking the same thing.

Finding out you’re not unique can fuel courage to get up and do something.

Librarians have known for a long time that books, even works of fiction, can transform lives no matter where the reader lives. They can teach us not only that we’re not alone but that there’s more than one way to look at any given situation.

The world opens up to a million possibilities and that business idea that your entire family hates suddenly has a receptive audience.

However, for the average author the advent of the internet at first looked like it might be the end of a viable career-choice and not a new beginning. Publishing houses were slashing their mid-list authors, the writers whose books sell reasonable numbers but never break out into the territory of bestseller. During the height of the Great Recession many houses closed altogether.

But something else was happening at the same time that was going to change everything. In 2007 the first e-reader, the Kindle from Amazon was introduced on the Oprah show by Jeff Bezos and writers got a new, economical way to deliver a book.

The book market was about to become a democracy with all of the loud voices, terrible covers, great new writers and unedited manuscripts that usually go with an open door to a lot of wannabe writers.

Fortunately, reviewers have stepped into the fray and become the new gatekeepers to help the estimated 12% of all U.S. adults, according to Pew Research who now own an e-reader, figure out what’s worthy of downloading. There were 14.7 million sold worldwide just last year and the numbers are rising.

That’s opened up an opportunity for bloggers who love to read and want to tell all of their friends about the new author they just found. Bloggers like Cathy at Kittling Books, www.kittlingbooks.com whose motto is “Fire burns. Birds fly. Dogs bark. I read.” Or Ana and Thea at The Book Smugglers, www.thebooksmugglers.com who explain right out front that they needed a healthy outlet for their obsession with reading and thought they’d share. All the rest of us are better off because they do.

There was a time when book reviewers were confined to newspapers or magazines and it was difficult for a new, unknown author to get noticed. A self-published author would not even get considered and it was assumed they were self-published because the book was turned down by mainstream publishing.

But e-readers eliminated a lot of the upfront costs and made it possible for some authors, particularly those mid-list ones, like myself to break out of the old system and try our hand at self-publishing where the profit margins are more decidedly in the author’s favor. There still needed to be a way to distinguish what was worth reading and how to find them.

Bloggers who review books are the other part of that equation. They make it possible for book clubs and other avid readers to notice a good book, regardless of how they arrived on the scene. Suzi, who bills herself as SuziQOregon from Portland, www.whimpulsive.net and Wendy, who’s also an author, www.caribousmom.com, and posts on her site that she receives 50 or more requests for reviews every week, have built large followings online reviewing books.

There are now hundreds of reviewers, most of them focusing on a specific genre such as romance or western, sharing what they loved as if we were all sitting in a giant, virtual coffee shop. None of them had to wait for permission from someone else to start their blog and many of them have watched their following grow into thousands of other readers. All of this is turning out to be a renaissance of reading and that has to be good news. More adventures to follow. Tweet me @MarthaRandolph about your favorite blog.

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batgirls2My big summer project has turned out to be redecorating my Chicago apartment. It all started because I told my landlord I was moving in order to gain a dishwasher and a vent above the stove. He countered with an offer to put both of them in and then some. That has created an interesting discussion among my friends about women and comic books that has been more disturbing than you might have thought possible.

By the time the renovations were done the kitchen was taken back to its foundation and that made my old furniture suddenly seem a little shabby. Before I knew it, I was updating everything else. What emerged was a more accurate picture of me that as it turns out is a cross between a little science, a lot of DC comics and some sci-fi for good measure. I already knew that but apparently most of my friends were caught off guard.

bat ironThere’s a few classic DC comic posters, an amazing bat signal an artist cousin of mine cut out of iron and a few insects suspended in glass that are hanging in the kitchen. There’s more but you get the idea.

Any nerd girl would feel right at home.

Several friends have commented that I had created every ten-year-old boy’s dream home but they missed the point. This place was a celebration of the nerd girl.

The nerd world at large is just starting to catch up with the women’s movement from forty years ago. All of a sudden, women who are into gaming, science, sci-fi and graphic novels are speaking up about being ignored or even put down by their male counterparts.

I’m one of those nerd women and it’s about time we defined ourselves instead of always standing in the background. It’s about time because frankly we’ve been here all along. I not only watched the original Star Trek series in its first run, I dreamed of being Captain Kirk, not Lieutenant Uhura. Gene Rodenberry felt he was being ground-breaking by having a multi-cultural cast and including women in bigger roles, and he was but that doesn’t mean that his female audience in the 1960’s wasn’t dreaming about leading the charge.

We aren’t a new creation just catching up with all of the guys. Think Marie Curie, the pioneer in physics and radiology or even Sally Ride, the youngest and first woman astronaut in space. We’ve been around for awhile and we’ve been making contributions in environmental science, biology and even comic books, although that’s been an even harder glass ceiling for us to break.

Gail Simone, former lead writer for DC Comics’ Batgirl was fired last December and many believe it was because of her outspoken comments about the disproportionate number of women who are maimed, raped, beaten and murdered in comic books and movies. She called it ‘women in refrigerators’ and was even roundly chastised in social media, which is a disheartening comment about how male readers may see women in general. Largely disposable accessories.

A population that was most likely bullied during their formative years ought to have a little more compassion for a similar group. Nerd-boys ought to stick up for us more but if they continue not to, we can become our own super heroes more and keep speaking up for ourselves, and use our purses to get our point across in a way that has proven to be effective.

Comic Con was this past weekend in Chicago and my entire family was there, as usual. There was artwork I would have liked to buy but the ridiculous portrayal of the women isn’t something I want to display in my home. It’s been reported that Simone will soon be the lead writer for a new Tomb Raider series, which is good news for not only my older generation but little girls who can grow up with a better idea of what’s possible that goes beyond the label survivor. Maybe we can start to look for the super heroes we admire and support them by buying their stories and artwork and just rescue ourselves. More adventures to follow. Tweet me @MarthaRandolph and tell me your own super heroine story.

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What the Campaign is About: I’m asking for help to raise $2,500 to self-publish my next book, a thriller called The List.

There are two ways to live a life – in theory or in practice. One involves talking about what might happen and the other requires taking risks and letting go of the outcome. I was stuck in the first camp for a long time, which meant I preferred to turn over most of the work, the rewards and what I saw as the risk of failure to a traditional publishing house. The results are Wired, The Sitting Sisters and A Place to Call Home – three great books that have been well received. It seemed like enough.

But then in 2009 I was told I had cancer and only a one percent chance of living longer than one more year. I walked out of the doctor’s office shaking, trying to come up with something comforting to say to my 21-year-old son, Louie. Instead, he looked at me and said very firmly, “You weren’t listening. They said there was hope.” Something clicked and I realized that I was going to have to figure out how to be present for every day I had left rather than stare at my death.

It turns out that for now the doctors were wrong about the year but I’ve had four more operations for cancer since then. I’ve had to learn how to live with cancer without making it the focus and to be grateful for the rewards that come along with being reminded that life isn’t a guarantee.

The biggest reward I’ve gotten so far is learning how to ask for help from friends and family. At times I’ve really needed it because I couldn’t walk very well or because my face was bandaged and I couldn’t speak. I’ve learned that help can also be about just needing comfort and company like watching a scary movie with friends or throwing together a potluck or learning how to ride a bike again. That one took four spectacular spills but eventually I stayed on the bike. This past year I even started acting like I plan to live a long time and lost 86 pounds.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

So, I’m doing my best to let go of old ideas about everything and learn to live in the moment. To make writing more about why I started – to share something – including the journey to get the book in your hands as well as every conversation afterwards. If you want to join in you can take a look at the different things you can get by making a donation. You can even be a part of what is turning into an amazing journey just by letting your friends know about The List Campaign. Share the link www.igg.me/at/MarthaCarr-TheListCampaign.com. Or use the share buttons at the site.

Thank you so much for your ongoing love and support. I am really looking forward to seeing what comes next, whatever it is – and to walking through it, to enjoying it with all of you.

What the Book is About:

The List is a novel of suspense about a happy family caught between two old political powers that have always existed behind the scenes, invisible to most of the public. The two sides have battled over control for hundreds of years actively recruiting new members at a young age to groom them for politics, Wall Street, Corporate corner offices and the military. Good Old Boy networks, private clubs and political action committees were all formed with the same idea in mind to grease the wheels of life because we all want to ensure a nice, fat piece of the American pie, especially for our children. However, families find out a little too late that once they’ve joined there’s no out clause.

 

What You Can Do & What You Can Get*:

  • First Level: $25 – You receive a signed copy of The List.
  • Second Level: $35 – You receive a signed copy of The List and your name in the dedication.
  • Third Level: $50 – You receive a signed copy of The List, your name in the dedication AND a password that lets you read the next three chapters of the sequel, The Keeper.
  • Fourth Level: $100 – You receive a signed copy of The List, your name in the dedication, a password that lets you read the next three chapters of the sequel, The Keeper AND a Skype visit from me to a meeting of your book club.
  • Fifth Level: $250 – You receive a signed copy of The List, your name in the dedication, a password that lets you read the next three chapters of the sequel, The Keeper, a Skype visit from me to a meeting of your book club and a character in The Keeper named after you. (Only two available at this level.)
  • Sixth Level: $500 – You receive a signed copy of The List, your name in the dedication, a password that lets you read the next three chapters of the sequel, The Keeper and a Skype visit from me to a meeting of your book club, AND an appearance by me, to speak at an event** for the local charity of your choice. All proceeds from book sales on that day will go to your charity.

 

*All rewards will be processed after March 31st at the close of the campaign.

**Event to be organized by the person or group who chooses this level.

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Photo by Jarod Carruthers

I’ve lost 86 pounds and have only five pounds to go, which is only half a dress size. It’s not like I’ve never been here before, in fact I’ve been here many times. However, all of the other times, it never occurred to me that it would take the exact same amount and kind of work as it did to lose the weight. I’m not sure how that nugget of knowledge eluded me for so long. I’m 53 years old after all. But in the past every time I lost the weight and got to a goal, I slowly went back to my old habits.

The real slide back toward being overweight began when a crisis occurred and I lost interest in eating. That’s right, lost interest, not gained interest in eating more. What I’ve discovered this go-around is that when I’m under stress I want to eat less and bother to cook even less than that and will reach for the easiest possible solution. That translated into processed food that came in a bag. Junk food in neon colors covered in varying amounts of sugar and salt.

A few interesting things to note this time in the weight loss phase. I’m actually eating more in terms of volume, a lot more and less in terms of calories, a lot less and the weight, even at 53 has come off easily and without the obsessions of the past. I’m not longer eating lunch while wondering what I’ll have for dinner. Food is in its proper perspective.

But maintenance is an entirely new topic and I’m a little freaked out. If you’ve been reading my column or blog for awhile you already know that any kind of big change unnerves me at first until I settle in, so no surprise. This is where I’d often sabotage things by procrastinating, or in general trying to fix something that didn’t need fixing.

Instead, I’m allowing myself to just be uncomfortable and approaching maintenance with the same kind of plan I had to lose the weight – a sensible and balanced food plan.

I’m sure there are people out there who can eat without having to figure out how much or exactly what to eat but I’m not one of them and I probably never will be. There are worse things to come to grips with and I’m letting that part go. In fact, there’s a certain amount of comfort in having a plan and knowing that will help me, this time, to stay within the range my body needs and to fuel my ever-more-promising future. More adventures to follow.

 

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Every year, for the past five years, I’ve tried to adopt a new attitude at the start of the calendar year, instead of making up a list of ‘ought to’ that will only haunt me long after I’ve give up on them. It dawned on me one New Year that focusing on a word, like courage or abundance leaves more room for God and offers me the opportunity to be open to His plan instead of my need to fix, manage or control the bejeebus out of a situation.

So, for this year the word that has kept coming up is ‘Believe’ with a capital B. It’s a big word and comes from the notion of believing for everything good, which in my case takes a lot of faith and a willingness to be uncomfortable.

I like control, a plan, knowing what’s coming next and none of that is possible if I’m opening my life up to big growth, positive change and a much larger Master Plan.

So why do it?

That’s when I can feel my shoulders relax just a little because I remember that my methods have never, ever gotten me very far and have often left me feeling lonely and discouraged talking way too much about me and ignoring the blessings right in front of me.

If my closed fist, squeezing as hard as I can around the events in my life has failed, I have nothing to lose by relaxing and trying it God’s way instead. That is going to require me to let up on myself just a bit and be okay with the pace that comes out, fast or slow, on any given day. Frankly, to be okay with big events actually turning out right and without my intervention or manipulation. They just go right. To even be okay with making mistakes and they still turn out well.

A short recap of everything that’s gone right lately easily shows me that sticking with God’s plan has been worth my learning to let go. In the past year, I’ve lost 86 pounds and soon, I’ll be starting out on Maintenance, which is brand-new territory. Updates to all of the photos on the site will be coming soon.

The last of my old debt is getting paid off and my entire financial life is becoming healthy. Yeah, new territory. There is interest in the new thriller, which means a new book in 2013 and traveling across the country speaking to different charities. There are even two different movie companies interested in two different books of mine. A lot of change, one day at a time.

It’s like I can feel these deep shifts from within my spirit and I have no idea what to do with all of it except to hang on and Believe. Happy New Year Everyone! More adventures to follow.

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From left: Mary, Katherine, Mimi, me, Linda, Libba and Tammy. Great women who are part of the Class of '77. Go Green!

It took me 35 years to get back for a high school reunion at my alma mater, St. Agnes School, class of ’77. In the intervening years the school merged with our brother school, St. Stephen’s and has become known more by its initials, SSSAS. A rose by any other name is still a rose and I owe a lot to my high school, like my profession.

Miss Meyers, a history teacher, took me out into the hall and gently taught me how to take copious notes. When I got there in 9th grade I had no idea how to do that and that talent would serve me well, years later as a journalist. Mrs. Fuller was the first person to tell me I was a good writer and submitted an essay I wrote to the school magazine and then told me about it. She correctly gathered that left to my own devices I’d have stuck to the middle of the pack and not sent in a single word. Her faith in me would come in handy years later when I sent my first novel, Wired around and would get all of those letters of rejection. Miss Levins taught me about Fitzgerald and Hemingway and her favorite, Faulkner and set me on the road to being a published novelist.

All of the teachers at St. Agnes never gave out multiple choice questions and instead we had to work out math problems by hand and write essays, a lot of essays. The answers had to restate the question and then build a concise argument that led to a logical conclusion, every time. Not only did that make me a strong writer, I became good at looking at a problem or an opportunity from every angle looking for solutions.

My favorite moments this past weekend, though are the ones where I realized 35 years can go by but in the end it doesn’t matter. Time compresses and suddenly I realize these women are a part of my family and I really need to do a better job of staying in touch with many more of them. More adventures to follow.

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