HERE IN THE RAINFOREST, 2006

The ongoing saga of “Here in the Rainforest”continues.  Looks like 2006 was kind of a funky year. . .

April 2, 2006

Despite world-wide concern about drought and global warming, the first quarter of the year here in the rainforest has been extraordinarily cold and wet. I have been waiting since January for a sunny day to repaint the big gates on the driveway and the guest house, but it’s as if were living in a permanent dome of mist and gloom.

Forget about tropical style and fashion. In the last three months, I have unearthed articles of clothing that I never thought I would wear in the Caribbean– turtlenecks, sweatpants, and athletic socks are layered under my hooded Gore-Tex raincoat and tall rubber boots. The mud gets deeper every day, and neither the house nor my body is a shining example of cleanliness. Facing a cold shower in this kind of weather is no picnic, and taking a dip in the pool is out of the question. Yesterday morning, as I headed down the mountain with a wet head, the air blowing inside the open windows of the transport was so cold that I actually got an earache before I reached town.

The house dogs have shunned sleeping on the veranda to pile on top of one another close to my bed on the mounds of extra blankets that might have slipped onto the floor. The dogs in the kennel howl all night long and the chickens in the coop sleep with their backs to the wind. Carrots are rotting in the ground, cabbages are slimy, peppers and green beans are dropping their leaves, and okras are moldy. 

Maybe this is the year to consider growing mushrooms!

June 14, 2006

The guesthouse has been completed. The guest has come, gone, and not come back again.  I shouldn’t worry as I was paid a year in advance, but I hope it isn’t because of something I did or said? Maybe it’s the lousy weather. In an event, I don’t think I’ll take it personally.

More worrisome is the fact that my friendly bats have deserted me. No more fluttering velvety wings above the head of the bed just before dawn, no more bat babies squeaking during the early evening, no more “Walters” as I affectionately call them. It’s true that I have been busy giving the house a general cleanup after all the wet weather. As I carefully dusted and scrubbed and painted around their main indoor habitats during the day (behind a big guided mirror, a watercolor painting under glass, and an expensive stretched canvas), I discretely monitored my little friends. Each time I looked there seemed to be fewer bats and more and more mosquitoes.

One night, when I found their habitats empty, I took down the mirror and the artwork and cleaned their rather stinky domain. After sweeping up two dustbins full of bat poop, and carefully spreading it in the pots of  my favorite houseplants, I washed the walls down with diluted Clorox, and applied a light coat of paint hoping it would dry before  morning.  I set the alarm and  leaped from my bed right before dawn to hang back the pictures so the bats would have a place to stay. I was relieved when one or two of the tiny creatures settled back in like nothing had happened.

But now they’ve vanished—upstairs, downstairs, and behind the outside shutters. The entire valley, which is usually teeming with bats of all descriptions (Dominica has 12 species) in the early evening, is deserted. Surely a bit of house cleaning on my part couldn’t have disturbed the entire population of bats at River Ridge? Where have my friends gone? Do they know something I don’t? Perhaps there’s a hurricane on the way.  Maybe I’m batty, but this one I do take personally.

December 31, 2006

Another year in the rainforest has come to a close. There was never anything like a hurricane, but I can’t say it has been the best of years. For example: While struggling to complete the guest house early in the year, I took a couple of nasty falls, and was forced to spend a good deal of time recuperating.  I also got involved breaking up several dogfights during the spring. Then my eighteen year old transport gave up in June, and I begged for a ride for months before I was able to purchase a used pick-up truck. In the meantime, my computer broke down, putting a serious damper on my aspiring writing career.  Lucky, my foundation Rottweiler, died of Leptospirosis in October.  I had to have Wanda, my darling castaway pit bull, put to sleep, and Hillary, another foundling, got hit by a car.

On the bright side, my oldest son paid me a long overdue visit in November. It was great to see him and receive the gifts that he bore, but the new computer he brought down has already developed a glitch. Likewise, the boom box refuses to play CD’s, and the solar spotlight, which was exorbitantly expensive, doesn’t work. One of the best gifts was the emergency radio which is cranked by hand. I was able to enjoy AM, FM, and shortwave without investing in expensive batteries right up until the crank broke off. My new hiking boots are taking me where I want to go, so  as long as I can keep them away from the dogs’ teeth. 

I bought two stands of Christmas lights in December, but when I plugged them in, the generator blew up! Jeesh! I sure hope the New Year of 2007 is a bit brighter!

 

HERE IN THE RAINFOREST, 2005

Selected entries from my journal “Here in the Rainforest” continue. . .

Oct.10, 2005

It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since the last entry in my journal. So what have I been doing?On the home front, I have built a swimming pool, a proper kennel, a picnic pavilion by the river, and am about half-way finished with a small guest cottage. Concerning the dogs, Tootsie the circus dog was poisoned, Lucy the Rottweiler had another set of puppies and then plunged over a cliff to her death while chasing an Agouti, and I picked up two pathetic mutts, Karma and Wanda, by the roadside. I found a lovely female Doberman to replace Lucy, and a brindle mongrel puppy to almost replace darling Tootsie. Then I was gifted with a male Doberman who attacked me. (I gave him back.)  All toll I have eight dogs and the Doberman is supposed to be pregnant. In regard to transportation, I have sold my horse and my Land Rover. For food, I still have chickens and eggs, a vegetable garden, and plenty of other grub sprouting from the soil and falling from the trees. On the literary front, I have written the first draft of a second novel, some short stories, and am working on a documentation of women living in cross-cultural, bi-racial situations, all of which remain unpublished. In the meantime, my Dominican boyfriend I have split up and then gotten back together. I have done some artwork, restored a few antiques, healed my broken arm, and re-injured my knee.

The cottage at River Ridge

Whew! No wonder I needed a break.Hence, I have just returned from the States where I saw my sons, their women, and my two-year-old grandson, Jake. I also visited with several old friends who are as amazed that I still live in Dominica as I am amazed that they continue to believe in the American dream. Yeah, man. The States was great, but trust me; I couldn’t wait to get home.

Nov. 21, 2005

Having grown up in the precise and often melodramatic world of Accuweather as broadcast on TV, one thing I’ll never get used to in Dominica is the lack of a proper weather report. According to island mentality, it’s a waste of time to try to analyze anything that can’t be controlled by humans, the only exception being two drunks arguing in a rum shop. Beyond the occasional threat of a tropical storm or hurricane, “partly cloudy with scattered showers” is the standard forecast. Technically, I can understand the vagueness. It’s very possible that it could be cool and pouring down rain here in the mountains, yet hot, dry, and sunny on the coast. Without dividing the island into zones (Has no one ever thought of that?), it would be impossible for a meteorologist to compile an accurate forecast for the entire island. Still, I wish there was a bit of advance notice of impending natural disaster so a person could plan ahead.

Today was a perfect example. I had intended to go to town to pick up a set of baby chickens that I ordered from the feed store before the clerk sold them to someone else. But plans are one thing and Dominican weather is something else. Early morning was sunny before sheets of horizontal rain began to fall. By afternoon the dog kennel, hen house, garage and most of the downstairs were flooded.  Just as I finished mopping up, a gust of savage wind whipped down from the mountain and threw down several trees—most spectacularly the avocado tree close to the house, which landed on my jeep, and the cinnamon tree that took out the phone line and blocked the driveway.

Now there was no ride, no road, and no phone. Defeated, I decided to cook some nice, warm, nourishing food while I waited for salvation. But when I ventured into the garden during a temporary lull in the storm, the lime tree and most of the bananas were uprooted, the aubergine was drowned, and cabbage and seasoning pepper plants shredded. I waded back to the house and turned on the radio. “Today will be partly cloudy with scattered showers,” I was cheerfully informed by the weather reporter.

Dec. 17, 2005

But enough of this drippy rainforest! It’s time for a change! That’s the beauty of living on an island like Dominica—no matter how deeply cleaved into the bosom of the interior you are, the sea is never far away. As an early Christmas present to myself, I grabbed my water bottle, a half a dozen oranges, and a piece of fruitcake and headed down south to my former stomping grounds, the gorgeous Soufriere-Scott’s Head Marine Reserve to celebrate.

Though experienced in sailing and canoeing, I first discovered kayaking when I settled on the island ten years ago. For someone born and bred in Ohio, cruising along the surface of the blue Caribbean Sea was a brand new experience. l imagined I was gazing into some alternative  dimension as I stared into the aquamarine depths of the crystal-clear water. As  I studied the endless expanse of the glittering horizon,and felt like I was floating on the seam between planet earth and outer space. I took my legs out of the cockpit, and dangled my toes in the warm, transparent waves. Curious little squid came up to investigate the apparent bait while frigate birds gamboled in the clouds, and flying fish soared all around me, kissing the air. Overcome by a sense of wonder, I stowed my paddle and dipped my hands in the holy water. 

Paddling again, I passed the century-old Catholic church and felt a sense of humbleness—not so much in response to that massive stone building topped with a gleaming cross, but in reaction to the mountain range that presses down on the caldera of the bay like an all-pervading God. Imagine: Hundreds of years before Columbus “discovered” and renamed the indigenous island of Waitukubuli Dominica, Amerindians worshiped the very same volcano while gliding in their canoes. I was lost in a wave of déjà-vu and jolted awake as the kayak drifted up on the beach of “Champagne,” a mystical place where bubbles of sulfuric gas rise from the bottom of the sea. After unloading my snorkeling gear, the oranges, and the fruitcake, I dove recklessly into my next grand adventure.

HERE IN THE RAINFOREST, 2004

2004 is the second installment of a series of selected excerpts from the journal “Here in the Rainforest” that I kept from 2003-2013.

Jan. 6, 2004

What a relief it is to be back in the rainforest after two months in the States! Not that the time was wasted. A tour of friends and family in the good ole U.S. of A. ended with my getting my hands on my first grandchild. Jacob Wright Eckert was born on Sept 25, 2003, the same year that also celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the first flight by the Wright Brothers. Little Jake was named for my father, Big Jake, Orville Wright Jacobs. My dad was so christened because of his father’s close association with the pioneers of aviation in Dayton, Ohio. According to the number of U.S. patents James Madison Harrison Jacobs filed, it was him who really invented the modern day airplane. Although Grandpa Jacobs is the most interesting side of Baby Jacob’s pedigree, there were many other remarkable players–artists, poets, woodworkers, candy makers, athletes, nurses, and farmers all contributed their unique part to our family tree.

But the real headline, of course,  is little Jake. He was born healthy, wealthy, and also looking pretty wise. But what about the society he was born into? Will he be a product of his heredity or his environment?  California, the most paradoxical of States, was his birthplace, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was his governor. George W. Bush was his president, and the war in Iraq his legacy. Consumerism, arrogance, and xenophobia are bound to be part of his cultural dream. The question is will he swallow it? Or, like his grandmother, will he ruminate and postulate until he finally discovers his own personal dream: the one that he believes is his true identity? And when he does, will he have the courage and faith to follow it? In any event, welcome little Jake. May you find the wisdom to laugh at the follies of nature and fate, the grace to hold your head high and humble yourself simultaneously, and the independence to come and visit your Island Granny as soon and as often as you’re able.

March 29, 2004

Compared to a continental rainforest like the Amazon, which stings, bites, and scratches any and all intruders, our little island-based counterpart is relatively gentle and innocuous. There are few noxious plants, and no venomous snakes. The huge centipedes that loved to sink their fangs into me when I lived along the hot, dry coast are rare here in the rainforest, thank God.

Lurking around the edges of my paradisaical retreat here at River Ridge, however, there is a man-made poison that’s much more sinister. In Dominica, rainforest cultivation often involves deforestation and then spraying unwanted vegetation with Gramoxone, a deadly organophosphate herbicide that’s a brand of Paraquat banned in the developed world. In the ten years that I have lived on the island, I have heard of several human suicides and have lost several good dogs to the stuff. The prognosis for this kind of poisoning is almost always terminal, and it is neither a quick nor an easy death. Why would anyone intentionally subject themselves or an animal to such torture? I suppose it has something to do with flexing territoriality, or exhibiting the power to destroy things.

When ingested and then vomited, Gramoxone first burns out the lining the esophagus, mouth and gums. Reluctant eat, drink, or swallow, the patient grows weak as the poison migrates throughout the body. The liver, the lungs, and the central nervous system are all affected causing intense pain, labored breathing, involuntary trembling and neurological damage. The patient usually dies of renal failure. I waited a week before I had my first Dominican mongrel, the intrepid Ophine, put to sleep. And unfortunately she wasn’t the last. Right now I’m nursing Kali, a castaway street dog that I adopted about five years ago. She’s taking milk from a syringe and swallowing capsules of activated charcoal, but I’m pretty sure she won’t make it. After a week on my hands and knees in an attempt to save her, she seems a bit better, as they often do… just before they die.

May 31, 2004, approximately 6:30 p.m.

I am just back from the hospital in Martinique, having had surgery on a badly broken left arm. Delighted to be home, I am resting comfortably in my own sweet bed. The sun is about to set, and as I gaze dreamily out my bedroom window, the edges of the high cumulus clouds are tinged with green and pink. And then I see them!  Squadrons of what I assume to be mostly red-necked Jaco (Amazona arausiaca) parrots are flying high overhead. A few might be Sisserou (Amazona imperialis), but since they’re so far up it’s hard to tell. (At least they’re not in a cage!)

I suppose the birds are passing from their feeding grounds on Morne Trois Piton in the south and going to roost on Morne Couronne. Instinctively, I begin to count groups of 9, 13, 5, 2, 3, and finally 2—a grand total of thirty-two parrots! This is the first time hat I have witnessed such a grand event!

Parrots mate for life and I am accustomed to seeing them in pairs. A single parrot is usually a juvenile or a widow or widower. My Dominican bird book says that they lay their eggs between February and June. It’s the end of May and these birds all look the same size. So where are the babies? Due to an extremely wet and cold spring it’s possible that they are just now settling down to nest. Or maybe parrots are so grand that they actually have nannies!

Rolling over to try to get more comfortable, I chuckle to think of the early morning expeditions I have joined in the past to get a fleeting glimpse of Dominica’s endemic parrots. Now here they are flying right over my house, flashing their red and emerald green feathers as if to welcome me home! I am happy to have them on my side of the mountain for the summer. I will look forward to their reverse migration this fall, hopefully with plenty of fledglings in tow.  So what if they eat a few of my grapefruit and oranges in the meantime? I’m delighted to share with them.

HERE IN THE RAINFOREST, 2003

In a recent interview, I was asked when I first began writing.  I seriously picked up my pen after my mother died and was free to tell MY story without feeling guilty. The emotional and physical changes I initially went through after I moved to Dominica were described in my first novel, A Face in the River, which I wrote after I bought the land here at Dèstiné. Unfortunately, the original manuscript was destroyed in a house fire, and not only did I have to rebuild my home, but I also had rewrite the damn thing. In 2003, I started keeping a sporadic journal, Here in the Rainforest, and continued on for the next ten years. The entries became fewer while I wrote three more adult novels, two for young adults, and a slew of short stories. The other day I dug the journal out of the bottom drawer and wondered what to do with it. Hence this series of selected entries intended to transport us back, one year at a time.

Sept. 23, 2003

When I first moved from Ohio to Dominica over ten years ago, I naturally settled on the coast. Day after day, I watched the puffy white clouds float above the sparkling blue sea.  A parade of indifferent ships marched along the horizon while seabirds soared and dolphins cavorted. Sunsets were predictable and green flashes were commonplace. Other than the odd hurricane or tropical storm, drama was scarce. Living in such a lackadaisical environment, it was easy to lose track of time as well as myself.

The signs of the seasons are much more remarkable here in the rainforest. I know the rainy season has arrived in earnest when thunder rolls off the massive mountain called Morne Trois Pitons like giant bowling balls and lightning cracks so violently that nervous dogs leap into my bed in the middle of the night. In the morning, when the sun comes out, the ridges that lead up to the backside of Dominica’s tallest mountain, Morne Diablotin, are bathed in clouds of steam, and the foliage glows in a thousand shades of green. Ah, the pleasure of living in the really real world.

At times, however, the weather is just plain inconvenient. The humidity is often so high that my eyeglasses fog up, making it impossible for me to settle down to my writing before noon. Sometimes it rains so hard that telephone conversations must be aborted due to the clamor on the galvanized roof. A quick check of the garden reveals that the cabbage plants have already been shredded to slaw.

But this morning the air is crisp and cool. The summit of Diablotin is glowing with crystal-clear details. Every nook and cranny of the slumbering volcanic giant is highlighted with translucent light. Noisy parrots coming back down from their vacation on the higher side of Morne Courrone squawk joyously, and the Mountain Whistler, that rare, elusive bird, carols from the forest behind the house. Dogs are frisky and the horse has started to grow her winter coat overnight. Consulting the calendar, I discover that today marks the autumnal equinox.

Oct.13, 2003

Today is my 56th birthday. Even though roadwork isn’t exactly the kind of celebration I’d envisioned, I spent the entire day shoveling gravel out of the back of the Land Rover in an ongoing attempt to repair the mile-and-a-half-long feeder road that leads from the main road to my home. We’ve tackled this project each year for the last four years. The problem, of course, is the rain: approximately 250 inches falls annually.  Multiplied by four years of living at Dèstiné, that’s 1000 inches! No wonder the road can disappear overnight! I’m not exactly complaining. It was my choice to live deep, deep in the interior. Obviously it would be much more convenient to turn off the interstate into a gated community of air-conditioned condos in the States than to safari through miles of tropical bush to reach home.

But here in the rainforest we don’t deal in convention or convenience as our main priority. We are blessed in many other ways. No need to worry if the pantry is bare; there’s always vegetables in the garden, eggs in the hen house, and plenty of fruit falling from trees right above our heads. No hot water? We bathe in the river; our skin is smooth and our hair is silky soft. No electricity? We dine by candlelight and go to bed early. In an unstable world were the lack of sustainable resources and portable water is a critical issue, we drink clear spring water, breathe clean mountain air, and enjoy the fresh, natural food. Lucky us!

Oct. 14, 2003

Elizabeth “Pampo” Israel died in Dominica today at the age of 128 years. The granddaughter of an African slave, she was born in 1875 in a thatched, mud-paved hut on the Tibay estate near Portsmouth. Although proper documents to satisfy the Guinness Book of World Records were never located, vigorous extraneous research recognized that she was the oldest human being on earth. Ma Pampo’s long life spanned three centuries, and she was given a state funeral.

The first of six children, she joined the labor force at the Picard Estate at age twelve, and worked there until she was over 100. Ma Pampo, who never married and had only one child, attributed her prolonged existence to hard work and clean, simple living. She didn’t drink alcohol, although she admitted she smoked a pipe for a time. Her diet consisted of traditional local foods: fresh fruit, ground provisions, fish, crabs, and frogs washed down with pure natural spring water.

At the time of her death, Ma Pampo was one of nineteen recorded centenarians living here on the Nature Island, quite an amazing statistic for a “developing” Third World country with a population of around 70,000. Who knows? If I work hard and live as clean and simply as possible, maybe I, too, will join the ranks of distinguished Dominican old-timers.

The Dilemma of *Cultural Appropriation

*Cultural Appropriation: Taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission.

Its not often that I editorialize, but this is a topic that has been on my mind and apparently also on the mind of Lionel Shriver, author of We Need to Talk about Kevin.In a speech given by Ms. Shriver at the Brisbane Writer’s Festival Sept. 8, 2016, she said  she hoped the current obsession with cultural appropriation was a passing fad. What follows is the short version of that speech as edited by me.

…’Who is the appropriator par excellence?Who assumes other people’s voices, accents, patois, and distinctive idioms? Who literally puts words into the mouths of people different from themselves? Who dares to get inside the heads of strangers, who has the courage to project thoughts and feelings into the minds of others, who steals their very souls? Who swipes every sight, smell, sensation, or overheard conversation like a kid in a candy store, and sometimes takes notes to better understand? Who is the premier pickpocket of the arts?The fiction writer, that’s who.

‘This is a disrespectful vocation by its nature – prying, voyeuristic, and presumptuous. And that is fiction writing at its best. As for the culture police’s obsession with “authenticity,” fiction is inherently inauthentic. That is the nature of the form, to write about people who don’t exist and events that didn’t happen. The name of the game is not whether your novel honors reality; it’s all about how much your reader empathizes with your make-believe characters and fairy tale story.

‘A certain literary reviewer said: “When a white male author writes as a young Nigerian girl, is it an act of empathy, or identity theft? When an author pretends to be someone he is not, he does it to tell a story outside of his own experiential range. But he has to in turn be careful that he is representing his characters, not using them for his plot.”

‘But of course he’s using them for his plot! How could he not? They are his characters, to be manipulated at his whim, to fulfill whatever purpose he cares to put them to. This same reviewer recapitulated the obligation “to show that he’s representing [the girl], rather than exploiting her.” But of course he’s exploiting her. It’s his book, and he made her up. Yet the reviewer chides that “special care should be taken with a story that’s not implicitly yours to tell” and worries that “The author pushes his own boundaries maybe further than they were meant to go.”

‘So what stories are “implicitly ours to tell,” and what boundaries around our own lives are we mandated to remain within? I would argue that any story you can make yours is yours to tell, and trying to push the boundaries of the author’s personal experience is part of a fiction writer’s job.

‘But in the world of identity politics, fiction writers better be careful. If we do choose to import representatives of protected groups, special rules apply. If a character happens to be of a race or nationality other than themselves, they have to be treated with kid gloves, and never be placed in scenes that, taken out of context, might seem disrespectful. But that’s no way to write. The burden is too great, the self-examination paralyzing.

‘Especially for writers from traditionally privileged demographics, the message seems to be that it’s a whole lot safer just to make all your characters from that same demographic, so you can be as hard on them as you care to be and do with them what you like. Availing yourself of a diverse cast, you are not free; you have inadvertently invited a host of regulations upon your head. Use different races, ethnicity, and minority gender identities, and you are being watched.

”The spirit of good fiction, however, is one of exploration, generosity, curiosity, audacity, and compassion. Writing during the day and reading when I go to bed at night, I find it an enormous relief to escape the confines of my own head. Even if novels and short stories only do so by creating an illusion, fiction helps to fell the exasperating barriers between us, and for a short while allows us to behold the astonishing reality of other people. Efforts to persuasively enter the lives of others very different from us may fail: that’s a given. But maybe rather than having our heads taken off, we should get a few points for trying…’

Okay. Call me pandering, call me a cultural ventriloquist, but I, Kristine Simelda, couldn’t agree more. My first published short story was “Brother,” a piece of fiction modeled after a half-naked man who lives under a blue tarp on the mountain ridge above my home.Then there was Johnny in Nobody Owns the Rainbow, a young Rasta man who struggled with the dichotomy between traditional island ways and contemporary temptations until he found true love. And lately there’s Mercy in Rise Up Sister, a Jamaican reggae artist with a heart as big as the whole wide world.

As a person who has lived in and written from a culture that I wasn’t born into for the past twenty-five years, I believe that there are three ways to borrow identity on the page—sympathetically, ignorantly, or, God forbid, with disdain. Long live the former.

Guest Post, Interview with Kristine Simelda

Want to get to know me better?  Here is and interview that I did with Ari Meghlen,Writer | Blogger | Entretrepreneur

Website: www.arimeghlen.com

Writing Blog: www.theeternalscribbler.wordpress.com
Email:
arimeghlen@gmail.com
Twitter:
twitter.com/arimeghlen
Instagram:
instagram.com/ari_meghlen/

APRIL 25, 2017 / Kristine S

imelda

Q01 – When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?

I wore many caps—daughter, wife, mother, artist, florist, horse trainer, gallery manager, and restaurateur before I started to write. But when I took the giant leap and moved from the States to the Eastern Caribbean island of Dominica twenty-three years ago, I was so fascinated by the change in environment and the diverse characters I met that I felt compelled to describe my cross-cultural experiences in writing.

Continue reading →

Antioch Writers Workshop – One Day Spring Seminar March 25, 2017

Yeah man! I’m safely home on the Nature Island after visiting my family in Ohio and attending the Antioch Writers Workshop, “How to Get the Most Out of Your Writing Life.”

The lovely Cathy Day www.cathyday.com was the keynote speaker. She talked about various ways to earn capital (not necessarily monetary) from your publishing experience whether it be trade, university, academic, small press or indie/self generated.  According to Ms. Day, economic, human, social, intellectual, and symbolic capital all have value, and she sighted Merchants of Culture by John K. Thompson as a reference.

She also discussed literary citizenship www.literarycitizenship.com where authors are encouraged to become part of a literary conversation—share what they are reading and express interest in other writer’s work via the internet, twitter, offering reviews, and by becoming guest bloggers on other author’s websites. As a member of the fledgling Dominican group Waitukubuli Writers, I was especially interested in this approach. It’s easy to be put off by the Buy my book, buy my book attitude that prevails on social media these days. Hello! It’s not all about you!

Another helpful suggestion was to find a simpatico writing partner with whom you can trade work. Any volunteers?

As far as getting noticed by agents and publishers, she agrees with my editor—submit, submit, submit. Compile a list of 20-30 literary magazines per Duotrope, Poets and Writers, The Review Review, New Pages, Brevity  and start with the most difficult. Follow the submission guidelines exactly and keep your fingers crossed. The powers that be do indeed read these magazines and after a while might recognize your name. Meanwhile, scour the Association of Authors’ Representatives data base (aaronline.org) according to your genre and highlight new and hungry agents.

*Warning. Be prepared for rejection* But, hey! Lightning does strike and you’re writing and learning in the meantime.

The afternoon session “Finding Your Writing Tribe” was kicked off by Ryan Ireland. www.ryangireland.com  He talked about platforms and brand building with your website as your hub, the point being that “You” should be instantly recognizable via voice, feeling, and iconic photograph that are literally bursting with hype about you being an interesting, dimensional human being. (Of course most Indie authors inherently introverted and busy writing, so this is a bit of a problem. Wouldn’t it be great if we could afford someone like a PUBLICIST to do it for us?) If all else fails,  put out a consistent blog on the same day of the week.

According to Cyndi Pauwels www.clpauwels.com , who quoted The Social Media Guru: Jane Friedman www.janefriedman.com , there are endless do’s and don’ts when it comes to promoting yourself. At www.writerswrite.co.za   Amanda Patterson shares 9 Habits You Need for Social Media Success.” I was especially interested in Sharon Short’s www.sharonshort.com take on how to pitch your book to a publisher or an agent one on one, let’s say at a writer’s conference. You get approximately eight minutes—2 to say everything you need to say and 6 minutes of interaction. I also had the pleasure of meeting Fred Marion, who puts out a newsletter www.daytonlit.com . Check it out as an example of what one committed person can do!

Meanwhile, keep writing and dreaming of a nod from the publisher in heaven.

Best, KS