*Scroll down to read about my most recent attempts to “F” myself… If you are in the same situation and crave that status, read on, and you may just learn along with me! And if you want to know what I mean by the “F” comment, scroll down to the end to read my first Introductory post! : )
Saturday, May 28th, 2016
It’s been over a month since my last entry. A LOT has happened, and I regrettably did not update this page as it all occurred. Paradoxically, though, maybe some of the events would NOT have happened had I not taken a step back from this blog… So, here’s some of the developments… hold onto your hat!
- My book came out! It’s on Amazon and Ebay… just search for my name, Jennifer Ozgur, or the title, “One Million Kisses.”
- I was a featured speaker at a local high schools for a “Power of Identity” assembly.
But the BIG news is….
I AM TAKING A PROFESSIONAL SABBATICAL!!!
Yes, that’s right; a whole year off from the classroom to work on literacy and writing initiatives!
It all started about a year ago when I discovered that one of my colleagues in the ELA department was granted one for writing about rugby statistics on his blog.
I thought, well, heck, if HE got approval for something like that, I should surely be able to do it, as well! Previously, I was under the impression that you were only awarded one if you were taking classes- a cost I just couldn’t afford financially. But this was a potential game changer. However, there was also the issue of not getting one’s full paycheck.
About a month ago as I was beginning to think about making plans for this summer and the future school year, I researched our school board policies, and I learned that we actually get *50%* of our salary and there was also a half-year option. So I could essentially take 4.5 months off if I could just cover 15K- something not completely out of the realm of possibility.
I began pestering my husband about trying to make that 15K so I could take off. What if I waited tables all summer; could he try to get a side job… what if (I’ll admit it- I did think about this!) my 98 year old grandfather died and I get my inheritance… It was so overwhelming of a prospect to my husband (or maybe I was just a little too intense) that he told me that I needed to chill on the subject.
Simultaneously, my publisher/publicist was really ramping up his expectations for me to promote my book. He had asked me where I saw myself in two or three years… What would it take for me to stop teaching and just write full time? I told him that I’d have to not go backwards in pay and still retain my benefits. So he quoted a conservative number of 120K. Um, yeah… that would do it!
Once somebody puts that thought into my head, it’s impossible to get it out. I mean, what was he thinking? Where die he see me in another two or three years?
So in a half flippant/half sincere proposal, I said something to this effect:
You know, I could be at your beck and call if I could just afford to take a sabbatical!
So he asked me how much it would take. When I told him the figure of half my salary, he was shocked and responded with, “Well, if that’s all takes… I have 15 people on my payroll already making more than that… No problem. Apply for it today.”
A few forms, a prospectus of my intentions and a school board meeting later, it’s official.
I’m going to be a full-time reading/writing/literacy guru from now until the start of the 2017-2018 school year!
I may have to rethink how I’m going to spend my time regarding 153Promise Trauma-Free Parenting Movement and how it aligns with all my reading/writing goals, but I’ll be sure to keep you all in the loop.
In the meantime, let this update be inspiring to you… dream big and create tons of opportunities. If you are passionate and vocal about it, someone’s bound to share your enthusiasm and help you along the way.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
On Tuesday night, a former student and I were the featured poets for a “Mad Poets Society” series.
She and I spent some time beforehand preparing our line-up. We both had identity poems to introduce ourselves to the audience, followed by poems about our grandmothers, some found poems, miscellaneous poems, and finally some meta poems.
I got a chance to read my “One Million Kisses” poem and two MS for future children’s books. It could be due to the fact that I could look up at the people more often when reading the kids’ poems, but I thought I caught a vibe from them that they seemed to enjoy them the most.
There were not many in attendance, but those who did show up were former professors and people I knew from a few years ago whose appearance really touched me.
I managed to get a few people to sign in with their contact information so I can update them with information of how to purchase my book once it comes back from the printers.
It must have gone pretty well, because I got an email from a teacher at another one of our district’s high schools, asking me to be a guest speaker at an assembly next month! WOW! Me- a guest speaker!
I’m thrilled and honored and wonder if this could be an appropriate venue to also have a book signing- over 1,000 students. I’ll have to see what my publisher says.
All in all, I’d have to say that my first reading as a professional poet was a success!
Next event: this Sunday, I’ll be appearing at a literacy event!
Monday, March 21, 2016
It feels like these updates are coming closer and closer together as the “Big Day” of the arrival of “One Million Kisses” nears its arrival date- “due date,” if you will! ; )
About a week ago, my publisher sent me the illustrations paired with the stanzas of the poem… pretty much the digital final draft before going off the the printers. I had caught two mistakes, despite the meticulous checking and re-checking countless times before. One was a missed period; the other was a potentially HUGE mistake in the math of the poem! Thank goodness for that!
My husband and I also ordered silicone bracelets as merchandise and for an order of only 25.00 more, we’d avoid shipping charges… not that shipping would be 25.00… but we took the bait and also ordered tattoos! The came in on Friday- with a printing mistake. Grrrr! 85 out of the 300 had the very end of the logo cut off. Plus, we tried out the tattoo on our son and most of it greyed out and began to rub off in less than 24 hours’ time. I’m hoping we get reimbursed for the tattoos… or at least try with another design and hope for better results.
We also set up a “gofundme” site to try to get money in order to help defray the setup costs of all this promotion. We’ll see if it goes anywhere…
We also need to incorporate and set up a 503(c) status… but I found out that we’ve got 27 months from the time we officially declare ourselves a nonprofit to apply for the tax-deductible classification.
My next big thing is to promote for April 12th. That’s the night where I’m a featured poet in a poetry series. My hope is to start to get some followers and begin to establish myself as somewhat of a “local celebrity” within the literary community. My publisher seems to think that I’ll be able to help him sell books.
He wants to “brainstorm my branding.” That’s kind of surreal… I’m a “brand?”
I also will be selling my books at the YMCA’s “Healthy Kids Day” on Saturday, April 30th and I’m doing the very next day the “May Fair” on May 1st at Everhart Park.
I’m getting excited and stressed all at the same time.
Having a book come out really is a lot like giving birth!
No wonder why all those male authors are always so moody- it’s the closest thing they’ll ever get to giving birth! ; )
Wednesday, March 10, 2016
On Saturday, I had a marathon phone conversation with my publisher. We spoke for over an hour about how he thinks I will fit in with his book company. He’s been saying for a while that his main mission is to sell books. While I want to be a best-selling author too, another goal of mine is to help support families in making positive parenting choices that promote mental health and wellness.
We finally came to an agreement on how we can accomplish both of our wishes: by writing a series of books that deal with children and their feelings.
He also said that he wants his Rotary Club to essentially sponsor me as their “local celebrity writer,” so to speak. That patronage would give me access to events under their non-profit status.
The last big item on the agenda was to pick a few local charities that could benefit from some of the money I make from sales. That way, I could do some good, motivate people to buy my book (since it will benefit a good cause) and maybe even get some press exposure. I polled a mom’s group on FB and got some great suggestions… in addition to the request that the group itself be a recipient. I’m still waiting to hear back from the owner of the FB group. I’m hoping she can help to put together some massive booksigning event since she has over 3K members!
Yesterday, I got word that I’ve been accepted as a vendor at the YMCA Healthy Kids Day on April 30th. That’s great, but they said that I’d have to put them on my liability insurance??? I suppose it’s time for me to really get on the ball with making my writing an official business or declaring 153Promise as an official non-profit status so as all the money comes in (and the expenses go out!), I can keep track of what’s actually going on financially.
Now if only I can get my hands on a mock copy of the book before it goes to the printers, that would be great… I’m trying to get the book into local businesses when it comes out, but it doesn’t make for a very good pitch if I don’t even have something to show the potential buyers…
It never seems to end… And I’m loving every minute of it! : )
Monday, March 7, 2016
On Saturday, I spoke with my publisher/editor/publicist/therapist/friend/guru over the phone for about 1.5 hours. He’s currently in Florida and my book is still slated to come out some time next month.
Since my last post, I got some shirts made up and they came in the mail on Friday. I wore mine all weekend! My family went to a museum yesterday and my daughter noticed that a family was pointing at my shirt and making the logo with their hands, noticing that the pinkies make a heart! I went over to them and gave them cards and explain what this site is about.
The conversation with my publisher on Saturday confirmed that the books should be out by the end of April. This is important since April 30th is a big family day at the YMCA and I hope to be there to do a book signing.
I told him about a lot of other big events in our town over the spring and summer (all run by Parks and Recreation), and he said that if I’m willing to appear at his Lions Club table, he can secure a spot at all of these festivals. (I had previously done the leg work/research for an earlier pipe dream I had involving a food truck…)
We also got on the same page (pardon the pun) regarding further writings. We agreed that I’d do a series on “feelings” books. The formula will be 4 lines on each page for 11 pages. Cool. I can do that!
Finally, he wants me to partner with local charities so I can donate some of my profits to help people. I agree. It can be a win-win all the way around. People will come to my book signings to help good causes. I get more book sales. I get support and press. I learn how to set up a non-profit. My book can help causes that matter. Yay!
I decided to poll a Facebook moms’ group I’m on, asking about what charities I should consider, and I have some leads when it comes to ways to help. It was also more responses I ever got from previous attempts to generate interest in “One Million Kisses.” Even better, the leader of the 3,000+ group suggested that I use that group to donate money, since she runs many fund-raisers. Boo-yah!
Car magnets are due to arrive today.
I’m hoping that the proofs go out by the end of the week so we get the books by the YMCA day… But the printers have a flu outbreak…
I’ve got a poetry reading where I’m featured in the second week of April. I wonder if I could take orders that night… Would that be tacky to take their money without the product??? Hey… maybe if I had business cards and the silicon bracelets by then… and I could sell at the next poetry night… Double the exposure!
Better stop writing now before my brain explodes!
Friday, Feb 26, 2016
Over the past few weeks, my husband (bless him!) helped me to finalize the logo, get tee shirts and car magnets made, and put me on some more social media- Instagram, Tumbler… we also got more people to “friend” my FB author page.
Got off the phone with my publisher on Thursday night. He said the illustrator will be finished with the artwork by the end of February… that’s Monday. The publisher is in Florida until the end of April, so I guess he’ll be doing this remotely. I wonder how long it will take for him to add the rest of the body copy and send it off to the printers… I hope to see a proof before it finally goes… He says it takes about six weeks for the printers to get it back to us as the hard copy… I was just wanting to get it by April first for Poetry Month…
I’m kind of bummed that he won’t be here in person when it comes in…
He had some last minute questions about the ms- issues about if a comma or the word “and”should go a certain place. I’m a purist for grammar and consistent meter in a poem; he is more of a pragmatic person. “The general public won’t care or notice about that… your way will only confuse them.” He’s allowing me to have the final say, but now I’m second guessing myself. I also worry about hurting his feelings or regretting not taking his suggestions.
Hey- at least I have a say with this publisher. That would NOT be happening if I went with another house.
I’ll update you as soon as I see the artwork!
We’re almost there…
Sunday, Jan 24, 2016
This week, I got a few different proofs of logos for 153Promise. I had worked with a former student and she gave me a few rough thumbnails, but nothing beyond that. Luckily, my husband has some connections and a friend of his came through. I’m very excited because having a professionally done logo make is more real for me.
In about three weeks, the illustrator should be giving my publisher his drawings. I’m very nervous because I gave feedback about some preliminary styles, and I’m not very confident they respect my opinion.
I also had to sever a relationship I had with a magazine I’ve been writing for over the past four years. It’s a long story, but I created and maintained a column about taking your kids out and about our local town. Not the most exciting byline, but it kept me writing and people would recognize and approach me saying they enjoyed my last topic.
Well, I wanted to branch out and write for another local magazine to add to my writing CV. Their focus is to support local business, and since I am a local writer, they were willing to support me by letting me write for their online magazine and they’d also promote this site. They don’t pay (not that the other one did, either!), but it comes with some great fringe benefits like access to certain events.
Bottom line, by first editor felt betrayed by the second publication and he put me in the position to have to choose. We left on good terms- he even let me write a farewell post and promoted this site. He also said I can contact him if I have any newsworthy topics for his magazine, like future booksignings. I just never dreamed that he’d get jealous and expect me to be exclusive! After all, it’s not like I signed a contract with him… Live I learn, I suppose.
So now I have to send my new editor my first blog post. I don’t know why, but I’ve been dragging my feet. I need to figure out what’s my issue with that, no pun intended.
Saturday, Jan 16, 20016
Happy New Year!
I’ve been writing for the past month, generating content for this blog. I’m trying to find my voice… get the pulse of the public… promote myself.
I wish I had the time needed to dedicate myself fully to reading other people’s writing, engaging others and gather a following. But it’s almost impossible to do that, have a full time job and also be an active part of a family.
I’m hoping that summer gives me that chunk of time. Or maybe my DH will decide to take our DS back to visit his home country again for the Spring- just in time when my book is supposed to come out. I hate admitting that, but it’s true- you can’t be a mom and a writer at the same time. And if someone’s found a way, please- take me under your wing!
For now, my tactic for the progress on my book has been hurry up and wait.
I am hurrying as I dash of tons of posts, comments on others’ posts, replies to comments… I hurry to jot down ideas before I forget them. I hurry to find possible contacts for future writings, future venues for book signings.
And I wait for the illustrator to finish the drawings. I wait for my graphic designer to finish the logo. I wait for my publisher to get back to me on the progress of the body copy.
It’s a bit of a Catch 22- my publisher wants me to work on promoting my book, but how can I promote my book if I don’t actually HAVE one yet???
As a result, I’m feeling a lot like this guy:
I tell myself that it’s the middle of January. That means I’ve got two and a half months to put together some sort of plan.
I’m winging it… I’ve got no agent. I’ve got no publicist. But at least I’ll own it all- the successes along with the failures… and the wisdom I’ll gather along the way.
Keep following to learn right along with me!
Monday, Dec 14, 2015
I’ve been talking to my publisher because two weekends ago, we worked a literacy even together and he heard me pitch my book to about 30 moms… to which they all said, “Awwww… I can’t wait to buy it!”
He’s now very motivated to get this book out ASAP. I can only think it’s because he saw all the reactions. Maybe not, but I’m telling myself that because it’s motivating and encouraging me.
Over the past week, I received several proofs from the illustrator he wants to work with. I’ve been giving feedback about getting just the right look. I’m happy they are willing to entertain my opinion, but it’s also a tightrope walk since I know I’m lucky to have this much input… yet not have the final say.
I never really considered myself a control freak, but maybe I am. It’s also a personal trigger of mine to not be validated. So it really bothers me when people don’t heed my words. But just because people don’t agree with me doesn’t mean I’m not being validated, right???
I need to stop interpreting others doing THIER own thing as an affront to my sensibilities.
This publishing adventure is teaching me a lot about other people and myself. I just wonder how it will all turn out and what will be the final message in this subplot.
Boy, does my blog description sound pretentious and ego-inflated: I want to become “famous.” When I hear that “f” word, images of 1940’s black and white Hollywood- ermine coats, diamonds and gloves, High Society and high hair.
No, I don’t fantasize about supper clubs or having an entourage. What I truly crave is what I felt I’ve never truly acquired… validation. I yearn to put something out there into the universe and have people — a lot of people — say, “That’s really, really good. YOU are really, really good.” That’s my motivation for pretty much everything I do, and I’m okay with that. It’s my driving force behind my teaching (I’ve been doing that for the past 16 years), my mothering (daughter born in 2005; son in 2012) and writing. For me, they are all intertwined.
After teaching English for a while, I began to feel like a bit of a hypocrite. I had dictated to over a thousand students the correct way to write, but who was I to be the “expert” when I hadn’t written anything of consequence? Sure, I was able to crank out an “A” paper for my professors, but there I was, trying to inspire the joy of writing to young people, when really, all I was doing was perpetuating a ritual of composing assigned responses for an audience of One. I wanted to shatter that saying, “Those who can, do; those that can’t, teach.” I wanted to be able to say to my classes, “I practice what I teach.” I wanted students and parents to say, “She must know what she’s talking about- she’s published.
With the birth of my first child came an overwhelming desire to be the parent I never had- protective, loving, accepting, and supportive. It pains me to say that I don’t feel that I had much of that in my childhood, but that’s my truth. I think most of us spend our adult lives compensating for the impression our family of origin has made on us, and I am a glaring example. As a result, my main goal as a parent is to remind my children how much they are loved, are special, are valued… along with their thoughts, feelings, ideas, and dreams.
Reading the above two paragraphs, I realize that mothering and teaching are pretty much the same thing- nurturing a child to realize their full potential and leading by example. I remember one time as a new teacher, I was asked if I had children of my own. I found that to be very insulting and, quite frankly, irrelevant. But now that I am a mother, I understand the reasoning behind that question. When you have children of your own, something inside you changes. You are no longer the center of your universe- your life then begins to revolve around your babies. Yes, you still need to nurture your own inner child and take care of yourself, but it’s still so you can be there for them. It’s quite ironic, really: once I had a child, being a good mother became my top priority, yet that also made me a better teacher to my students.
So here I am, writing about educating parents on how to effectively love their children. Writing, educating, and parenting… A trifecta of concepts that are all intertwined.
I suppose if I get “Famous” in any of these areas, I’ll finally feel that I somehow set the universe back in balance through making helping people to make positive changes in their own families’ lives.