Archive for the ‘My memoir’ Category

Every experience is valuable. Even if the outcome is different than your expectations, there is always something to be learned so that you can be more successful next time.

IMG_1947A few weeks ago, I participated in the Payson Book Festival with approximately 60 other authors.  The planning committee was hoping at least 300 people would show up.  I never heard a final total, but by mid afternoon, more than 500 people had walked through the gate.

This was my first event as an author.  I was nervous.  But I wasn’t alone.  I was sharing a table with other authors from the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers, the local writing group I belong to.  That helped ease my fears; some of them had done this before.

It was a long day.  I met many wonderful people.  I watched other authors and looked at their books and displays.  I even sold a few books and won a book basket in one of the raffles.

Without a doubt, I will participate in this event again next year.  But while I thought I was prepared, I didn’t sell as many copies as I thought I would.  So, I took the time and energy to pay attention to what was working for the successful participants.

  • Presentation – book displays, signs/banners, take-aways, promotional materials
  • Taking advantage of opportunities – radio interviews, engaging everyone who walks up to your table
  • Gimmicks – a unique hat, unusual table decorations, friends in the crowd wearing book promoting t-shirts
  • Payment options – have the correct change, accept debit & credit cards

I am excited for my next event.  I have a lot to do so that I am prepared for success.


Writing the book was difficult, opening old wounds to bleed onto the pages.

Editing the book was easier, because my friends helped me.

The second edit was expensive, but worth it.

The third edit was frustrating; the legalities of memoir making every decision a tedious process.  Something as simple as changing a character’s name and appearance took careful planning and research.

Uploading the files to CreateSpace was exciting.  Resizing the cover image was not.  Waiting for approval made hours feel like days.

And then it was time to proof the final files.  I couldn’t sit still.  It was finally happening.  I was about to publish my memoir.  More than ten years in the making, it was ready.

Except it wasn’t.

The first batch of books had a horrible error.  Chapter Four was duplicated and Chapter Five was missing.  Thankfully, a friend told me about it.  I rushed home to fix it, and cringed when I saw twenty copies had been sold on Amazon with the error.  I quickly offered to email or snail mail the missing chapter to the people I had personally sold copies to, but how could I fix the Amazon purchases?

I posted a note on this blog.  Thankfully, several readers responded.  The offer stands until I reach every one of those first readers.  I am sorry for the mistake.  The fault is my own.

Looking back, other than the one mistake, the publishing process was a delightful journey.  I’m thankful it wasn’t a smooth ride.  Learning sometimes takes bumps and shakes.

The $35 Wife is available on Amazon.  Click HERE to purchase it.


My memoir, The $35 Wife, is now available on Amazon.


If you bought your copy of The $35 Wife before March 28th, you probably have duplicate chapters Four and Five.

Please send me your email address and I will send you Chapter Five.

Thank you for your understanding.




Wait for it…

on November 19, 2014 in My memoir No Comments »

Hello dear friends.  It’s been a long time since I wrote to you and I’d like to explain.

Life got in the way.  We’ve been busy battling (and not always winning) health issues.  I changed jobs and went from being a know-it-all to a student of everything.  It took me six months to learn to love my new position and I’m still in training!  New friends have stepped into the picture, joining the old friends that I will never let go of.  Kids have boomeranged home and out again.

Almost There

But the biggest reason for avoiding my blog is because I didn’t have any news to share with you.

Until now.

My memoir is finally finished.  And all it took was thousands of hours at the computer, countless revisions, dozens of critique group meetings, a handful of meltdowns, thirteen beta readers, two lengthy legal discussions, and gallons of blood, sweat, and tears.

Finished is such a strong word.  I’ll always find something I think can be improved upon.  But I’m working on the proposal I’m going to send to the agents that requested them (and for the agents that don’t know they want it yet).  My query letter just needs polishing.  I’m pitching to another agent on Friday.

More to come…

Proof copies of my memoir are being printed as we speak.  The publishing process is confusing at best, but I think I’ve got my ducks lined up and because I’ve chosen to self-publish there’s a strong possibility that The $35 Wife will be available before the end of the year!  I’m so excited.  And petrified.

Copyright, cover art contract and photo session, proofing, edits, and formatting; my head is spinning from the whirlwind of things to do IN ADDITION to taking care of a family and a home with a small zoo and working a full-time job that I’m still learning.

In The Wizard of Oz, the witch cackles while she rides her broomstick in the tornado. She’s not fighting the winds, she’s just enjoying the ride.  That’s how I’ve felt lately.

I’d like to think that I’ve only been busy these past few months, but I can’t remember a time when I could just drop everything and enjoy the company of friends and family.  I promised myself that I would take time for myself this year.  Life had other plans.  I’m not complaining, just vowing to do some things differently in the remaining months of 2014.

I’ll still be riding the tornado, because that’s just the weather of my life right now.  The rainbow is on the horizon and I’m headed in that direction!

Some people have asked me why it is taking me so long to write my memoir.  I don’t have just one answer.

  • Life gets in the way.
  • Writing is hard work.
  • Bringing up those memories is painful.
  • The legalities are confusing.
  • I’m scared.

I’m scared.  That’s the strongest reason.  I can’t just pick and choose who reads my story.  I’m writing it because reading about a strong woman helped me gain the strength to leave my first husband.  If reading my story gives just one woman the courage to leave an abusive relationship, it will be worth it.

But anyone will be able to read it.  Family, friends, enemies, strangers.  I will be judged.  That’s a tough decision to stand tall and walk into.

My first husband hit me.  He hit me before I married him.  He continued to hit me throughout our marriage.  He threatened to kill me if I ever left him.  So I stayed and he tried to kill me anyway.  But I survived.  I escaped.

I looked over my shoulder for years, expecting him to show up.  And he did.  He proudly showed me his new girlfriend.  He pointed out that she was prettier and skinnier than I was.  But he didn’t hurt me.  I didn’t give him the chance.  I just smiled to show him that I was better off without him. And I walked away, knowing that he was hurting her.

Like me, she stayed.  I’m sure he filled her head with the same lies he told me.  I do not know her story, but I know that she’s the strongest woman I have ever met.  Neither one of us knew that when we met all those years ago.

Why did I stay?  Why did she?  Why do millions of women (and men) stay and allow themselves to be abused?  I don’t know the answer to that.  But I do know that it will never happen to me again.

I did not deserve to be hit, to be called names, to be controlled, to be locked up, to be laughed at, to be abused.  Once was more than enough.  I often wish that I had left after he hit me that first time.  I would not have the same story to tell, and I would not be the same woman I am today, but I would leave.  The first time.

If you live in fear, it’s time to move.  There are agencies out there to help you.  I had help.  I had to learn that it was okay to ask for help.   Once is more than enough.  I promise you, you are worth more than you know.

I didn’t win.

For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is… It’s a global sensation where writers put down 50,000 words in the month of November.  Check it out at

In the thirty days  of November, I wrote 18,405 words.  While that’s no small feat, I think I could have, and should have, done better.  But I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

I wrote those 18k+ words while working a full time job, taking care of my wonderful husband, cooking, grocery shopping, washing dishes, doing laundry, writing critiques for the women in my critique group, feeding and picking up after 3 dogs and 6 cats, losing my six year old Beta fish, getting a new Beta fish, cooking all day on Thanksgiving, writing and delivering a Toastmasters speech, running errands, planning and taking a day trip, spending time supporting my friends, reading and listening to 3 books, walking for exercise, watching 4 movies, writing the December issue of our Toastmasters newsletter, and still managing to get enough sleep to function.

When I look back over November, I see little pockets of time that I could have spent writing.  But life doesn’t stop just because I want it to.  It’s not like I was playing games the entire time.  Months ago, I deleted Candy Crush and I’ve never looked back.  But I also haven’t stopped having fun.  Life is meant to be lived, and I’m living it.

It is important to have realistic goals and while 50,000 words was attainable for many, it was unrealistic for me.  As I look back, I can see two big reasons why.

I’m still learning that perfectionism in my writing isn’t necessary.  Although it’s difficult, I’m trying not to edit as I write, and to just get the words down.  I’ve already written and deleted so much in the name of perfectionism.  I literally started over on November 1st.

I am afraid.  Family love is supposed to be unconditional, but sadly, that’s not my reality.  I accept that I will be judged because of the things I am writing about in my memoir.  Susan Brooks, a beautiful and powerful woman who spoke at a recent SSWW (Scottsdale Society of Women Writers) meeting, told me that not only do I need to let my mother read my memoir, I must give her a copy.  She’s right.  It’s the only way for the healing to begin, or to end.

My goal is 75,000 words, or as many as it takes to tell my story.  I have a feeling that 75k will be just about right.  If I break it up into 20k per month objectives, that means I’m more than a quarter of the way there.

Where do I go from here?  That’s easy.  Back to work.  If you need me, I’ll be at my computer, or at work, or at the grocery store…  But I promise you, and I promise myself, that I’m going to get to the end of this journey, one month at a time.

My palms were sweaty, my throat was dry.  I stood up straight and sucked in my stomach.  First impressions are important.  Finally, the girl seated at the table stood up and shook the agents hand.  She briefly glanced my way, then bolted toward the door.  The agent sighed, then turned to me.  I exhaled the breath I didn’t know I was holding and said, “Good morning.  I’m Kitty Kessler.  Thank you for meeting with me today.”

Thanks to The Desert Dreams Writers’ Conference, agents and editors had come to my town and wanted to meet with authors, both new and previously published.  There were writers of all genres, from science fiction to romance.  I met a sweet young librarian and a tiny lady in her 80s that writes instructional manuals for office equipment.  I hugged a kind ghost writer and traded cards with a playwright.

My weekend was filled with workshops and I learned more than I thought I didn’t know.  I filled a notebook with priceless tidbits of information and advice.  Traditional Publishing vs. Self Publishing.  What exactly does an agent do for the author?  E books.  Owning the rights to your book.  Formatting.  Marketing.

On Friday, I hastily rewrote my pitch and then was chosen to practice in front of crowded room.  The feedback and suggestions I received were invaluable, and after dinner I went home with a new, unpolished pitch.  Tim listened to my excited rambling far into the night, until his soft snore told me to quit.  The puppies curled up under my desk as I sat down at my computer.  Two hours later, my pitch was ready and I tumbled into bed next to a now loudly snoring Tim.

Saturday morning was a blur, and all too soon I heard my own voice starting the conversation.  We shook hands as the agent introduced herself and said, “Tell me about your book.”  My briefly rehearsed and not quite polished pitch sounded rushed so I paused several times, expecting questions.  I was not interrupted.  My notes sat unseen on the table; my eyes were focused on the agent.  When I finished, she waited a moment, then quietly said, “You have an incredible story.  It’s a shame you aren’t famous.”

She went on to tell me that celebrity memoirs sell millions of copies because readers want a glimpse into a life they can only dream of living.  For a debut author to do well with a memoir, the story has to be captivating and powerful.  Then she said, “Even if you self-publish, your memoir is going to do very well.”  I couldn’t hide my excitement.  She gave me her card, and a short list of exactly what she wanted me to send to her and when.  Her next interviewee had appeared, nervously fidgeting just to my left, but she continued to talk to me about trying traditional publishing before self-publishing.

I thanked her again for her time.  After years of pouring my past onto page after page, I finally heard from someone in the publishing industry that my time was not wasted.  I had heard it before, from friends and family, but coming from someone who has the power and resources to make my dream come true… I was trembling with excitement and validation.

My additional agent interviews went similarly, and all but one asked me to submit something or another to them.  I was sad to see the conference end on Sunday afternoon, but anxious to get home to start polishing my “requested submissions.”  I’m not even upset about the agent that wasn’t interested.  One agent asked for more than the others, but insisted I polish my manuscript and have at least two friends read it before I send it to her.  She also wants to see their comments.

One of the things that was repeatedly discussed at the conference was internet presence.  As a debut author, I need to be out there so people can find me.  Blogging was highly recommended.  And so I have.  And will continue to do so.  Thank you for listening to me brag.