A Tribute to a Precious Friend

A Tribute for My Sherri, My Friend

On a bright day in ‘74, a resplendent friend walked through the gym door.
The first thing I saw was her infectious smile, I knew quickly we’d be friends for a while.
Forty-five years to be exact; I’ve never had another friend like that.

Our teen years were a rocky lot, most shenanigans are best forgot.
But oh, the joys of our high school loves, reaching out to all because
We were children inquiring, reaching, seeking, to try everything and keep on breathing.

Post graduation brought its own new time
More shenanigans would suit us fine.
Sitting by the fire at Steak and Ale
As we made our plans to leave and sail
Around the world like buccaneers
Way back then we weren’t ruled by fears.

Twenties were another thing, finding husbands and wedding rings
Settling down wasn’t easy though,
We had to cool down and take it slow
But changes came anyway, as we embraced new days
From here on out we had grown up ways.

Middle years we drifted some, but that never stopped us from being one
Of a set of best friends I’ll ever enjoy, as we waited for our careers to deploy.

I had a few kids but Sherri did not
Rather she would have thousands that she never forgot
Oh, how fortunate were those in her care
Sherri cherished her kids like a Mamma Bear.

In 2012 I joined her in teaching, watching her magic
As she just kept reaching
Out to those students who needed her most
She transformed lives, sometimes even to host.

In the last few years we’d meet up for a bite
Catching up with our families and laughing despite
Getting older and slower as we waded into
Ages and stages we expected to get through.

Our friendship was such that no matter how long
Time between us transpired we’d reconnect like a song
Whose melody was in our DNA
We’d just sit down and then hit “play.”

We even had a pipedream that if we ended up
Alone and homeless we just might set up
A Golden Girls home where we’d live out our days
With friends and cats and set in our ways.

I will never forget you, my Sherri, my friend
One day I’ll stop weeping and just pretend
That you’ve gone up to school to pick up a stack
Of Teacher Editions, and you’ll be right back.

Dorothy Hagan
September 22, 2019

A Post Poe Pondering

A Post Poe Pondering…

 

What, oh What, shall this Year bring?

A nominal nothing or a Mighty Thing?

 

So what is real and what is crap?

Lying wasted, I’ve had my nap.

Need to wander, ponder, saunter

Get my move on and really want to

Give the gift I have inside me

Need my muses to please guide me

Bradstreet, Poe, Dickinson, Thackeray

Though, am I worthy or full of quackery?

 

Nearing sixty and still no lasting

Works abound but still no passing

Into glory and recognition

Exiting from my field of vision

Of lasting on beyond my existence

Writing steady and with consistence.

 

Oh, Twain and Dickens, how’d you do it

Never ending, and rushed to do it!

 

I, who endlessly am lazy

Collect my thoughts yet still am hazy

Perhaps this now will be my year

To leave a tome, an atmosphere

Of something useful, mighty, keen

To once and for all fulfill my dream

 

Of leaving a mark on the earth’s blackboard

Of standing out amidst the horde

Of countess lives who all have meaning

Yet mostly silent and some left screaming

For the glory few will ever possess

Left out of history and steadfastness

Gone tomorrow and missed by none

Die in silence and no glory won.

 

Will I waken now and beckon

Will I finally face the reckon

Or still in cloud will go to sleep

And will not care if soul to keep?

 

Oh, these fates, they leave me breathless

Will I stand or still be feckless?

Grab the morrow!

Be brave and daring!

Quit the sniveling

And start preparing!

 

For the grandeur that awaits thee

Go get your glory, and let the fates be

Yours and only yours, you’re earned your places

Into history and bookcases!

 

Dorothy Hagan

December 30, 2018

Speak Those Goals

It was the end of a brutal year. I found myself facing a divorce, single-parenthood, a draining job and pretty much the loss of everything I thought life had set out before me. But for the wise advice from a life-altering therapist, there’s no way to predict how things might have turned out.

But alas, that life-altering therapist was there. I sat before her awash in tears, despondent, hopeless. She gently suggested I set out some new goals for myself. I must have looked at her as though she had sprouted confetti from her forehead. The conversation went something like this:

Her: Let’s think about some new goals for you.
Me: Goals? You’ve got to be kidding.
Her: No, I mean it. Not resolutions. Those are never effective. I am talking about goals. Short and long term. Some you will hit, some you won’t hit this year, some you may never hit. But that’s okay. Because they are goals. They are desires that you have and are giving a voice to. So what are some short term goals?
Me: God. Breathing? Not driving my car off an overpass? Not setting my ex and his girlfriend on fire?
Her: Beyond the obvious. What are some things in say, the next six months, that you would like to accomplish?
Me: Well, I need to move out. I need to deal with legal crap. I need to find another place to live. My son and I have to move back in with my mother. In Pasadena. Jesus, save me.
Her: Okay. So what about after that? Longer term. What about a year from now? What about five years from now?

So at this point I had no earthly idea. Or so I thought. Again, with her gentle prodding, I began to move forward in my vision.

Me: Well, someday I would like to own another house. A place of my own. A place of peace and safety…Ah, hell. A house with a neighborhood swimming pool! (Okay, NOW the energetic visions were popping!)
Her: What about relationships?
Me: What do you mean?
Her: Relationships. What about another marriage someday? More children?

I was stunned. In my abyss of grief and loss, the notion of having another life, actually living the life of mother with kids with husband with happiness…could those things possibly even be imaginable?

Her: I want you to go home and write down everything you want to accomplish. Big and little. Great and small. Call it your Goals List. Do you want to travel? Add destinations. Different relationships? Add names. Believe me when I say You have the Power to Speak Things into Being.
Me: Okay.
Her: Times’ up. Leave a check with the receptionist. I’ll see you in a week.

So…that’s now been well over two decades ago. And you know what? I DID accomplish nearly everything I set out on those early goals lists. I DID move out. I DID get another house. I DID remarry. I DID have more children. I HAVE had the Life I dreamed of and thought was lost forever.

For the life of me I cannot remember that therapist’s name. I remember her face and the resolute determination she had to help me. And I thank God for her and for therapists and encouragers like her.

So fellow travelers…Speak your goals. Claim your future. Accept years with little change. (The Lose 30 Pounds goal has yet to be realized. But, hey, I’ll put it on this year’s list again!)

Here’s wishing you the best possible life for 2016 and beyond.

The First Thousand Words…Are on the Page

The first thousand words have given birth to…no…

The first thousand words have been launched into…eh…

The first thousand words have…maybe…taken flight…total bleh…

The first thousand words…are on the page. There we go. That will suffice.

There are few experiences in life as daunting and exciting as beginning a new novel. I know this to be true because this is the beginning of Novel Number Four. (Five if you want to count an uncompleted half novel, which I don’t.) This little announcement will be succinct because I am driven and anxious to get back to the story. The characters are all alive, new ones being born every minute, and they are having conversations in my head so fast it is challenging to get the notes down, before they jump headlong and escape from the creative bowel of alphabet soup.

Many things will be different this go-round. First, I am twenty years older than I was since I began novel writing at thirty-five. A lot of Life happens in twenty years. Likewise, I have already made the hundreds of greenhorn mistakes that a writer simply has to make. There’s no short-cutting the the writing ropes, and I know this now. Finally, being older and wiser (and frankly, a much better writer) I will be pursing this venture with vastly different end goals in mind. Fame and Fortune are still distant sirens, but ones calling from near the bottom of the Lists of Things To Do.

And with that declaration, this indie writer will announce this to the world: it will be my focused and complete intention to submit this fourth novel for traditional publication upon completion of the polished manuscript. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I am writing because I love to write. And I will share it because I want to share.

So here we go. The first thousand words…are on the page.

Sue Grafton: H is for Hubris

The indie-published crowd is in a deservedly righteous dither after Sue Grafton and John Green tossed the lot of us into the “isolated” and “lazy” slush heap of artists. This author will not even validate their positions with a rebuttal. My only response would be the following: Gertrude Stein, Walt Whitman, Virginia Wolff, Beatrix Potter, Edgar Allen Poe, Rudyard Kipling, Henry David Thoreau, Anais Nin, Deepak Chopra, Bernard Shaw, James Joyce, Zane Grey, William E. B. DuBois, Strunk and White, E.L James …self-published…every one. I could keep going but my indie-published, short-cutting fingers are tired. If this is the “lazy” and “isolated” conglomeration of authors of whom I am a part, well, I humbly accept my position within their indolent midst.

The publishing paradigm has shifted. To those on the “traditional” side, my sincerest good wishes and congratulations. But to those of us with the pluck and mettle, the tenacity and persistence, and the temerity to launch our best efforts into the hallowed realm of publication…kudos to you all, my thick-skinned brethren. Keep your chins up and your pens a’ penning.

Dorothy Hagan is the indie-published author of The Offshore Triumphs of Karla Jean, (2012) seven years in research, writing and publication. (Not a lot of books written about women working in the gritty, offshore world of men. Honest. Go try and find one.) Oh, yeah. And Lazy Hagan also published The Edge of the Grace Period in 2000, POD with IUniverse, before most “traditional” people had even heard of such a thing. Ms. Hagan’s books will never go out of print and will be entirely available when Oprah calls up for the Book Club.

Creative Writing Workshops: Houston, Texas

Come and join us for some informal creative writing workshops this June. These sessions will be Saturday mornings, June 2, 9, 16 and 23, from 9 am to 12 noon. Details below. Come to one workshop or enjoy all four. Each session will include writing activities, assignments and in-class critiques. Sessions promise to be informative, creative and boatloads of fun!

Session One: Are You a Writer and If So, What Kind?

Has the time come to embrace your inner writer?

Is it time to determine if there exists within you a novelist, a playwright, a poet, a biographer or a journalist? How do you get started? What is the process? Can you get published?

 

Session Two: Embracing Your Story

 

How do you begin the process? What’s the secret to writing? What are you going to write?

Do you need to do research? Where can you get information? What’s a copyright?

How many pages? What’s the structure? Should my family read it?

 

Session Three: Honing the Craft for Writing Excellence

 

What is your passion? Fiction? Non-fiction? Poetry? What are some types of each? What is point of view?

How are characters developed? How are settings created? What is denouement? What is a draft? How many revisions are necessary? What are critique partners? What about rejection?

 

Session Four: Can I Get My Work Published?

 

What are the avenues of publication? Do I need an agent? What is a query letter?

What is indie publishing? What is traditional publishing? What is an ebook and POD technology?

What kind of marketing will be involved? What is a serialization?

 

Time: Saturdays 9:00 a.m.-12 noon

Dates: Saturdays, June 2, 9, 16 and 23, 2012

Location: University of Houston-Clear Lake

Bayou Building: Room B1104

Cost: $20.00 per session, materials included

Note: These are non-credit, informal workshops. This program is not endorsed or affiliated with UHCL or the LITR program.     

 

Dorothy Hagan is the author of The Edge of the Grace Period, 2000, and its companion novel, The Offshore Triumphs of Karla Jean, 2012. Hagan earned a BA in the Humanities from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. She has taught Pre-K to 12th grade and is currently teaching GED and ESL classes to adults. To reserve your spot please send an email to: dothagan@aol.com

Some News You Can Use

Today it was my absolute pleasure to lead a session on indie publishing at my fabulous university. Called Small Talk, Big Ideas, University of Houston-Clear Lake held a networking breakfast and invited me to host a table. Below is the handout given to my participants. Hope it is helpful.

In the Company of Walt, Beatrix and Benjamin:

Indie Publishing Then and Now

An informative session prepared by indie author

Dorothy Hagan

www.dorothyhagan.com

dothagan@aol.com

Welcome!

Today we will explore the publishing world in transition from the traditional/legacy process to the exponentially exploding world of indie publishing. We will discover the indie authors, blogs, publishers, book sellers and experts in the field. Come and find out if indie publishing is the route for you to share your gifts with humanity.

Author Bio

My name is Dorothy Smith Hagan. I am a former merchant mariner, and currently a teacher and author. I received a BA in the Humanities from the University of Houston at Clear Lake. I indie published The Edge of the Grace Period in 2000, and have recently published a companion novel, The Offshore Triumphs of Karla Jean, 2012. Currently, I teach GED and ESL classes to adults. I am passionate about helping others achieve their goals, whether they are literary, academic or otherwise. Originally from the intoxicating hills of Pennsylvania, I now live in the warm cuddliness of suburban Houston.

Agenda

Once upon a time, in 1996, Dorothy Hagan finished her first novel. Immediately, she shared what she whole-heartedly believed was the brightest literary genius since Gone with the Flipping Wind. Soon but not soon enough, she learned in wonderment about little things like the critical importance of editing, face-saving critique partners and that constant nemesis called professional rejection. After hundreds of rejections and five short years of industry angst, she ponied up $600 and self-published her first novel using POD technology. She is now enjoying what they call in the business an HEA. Yes, she’s living happily ever after. Rich no, happy…quite.

  1. Important definitions regarding publishing:

Traditional, Big Six (HarperCollins, Random House, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Macmillan), Legacy has over time become

Vanity, Self-Publish, Indie

Two kinds of indie publishing:

POD: From Wikipedia “Print on demand (POD), sometimes called, in error, publish on demand, is a printing technology and business process in which new copies of a book (or other document) are not printed until an order has been received (which means books can be printed one at a time). “Print on Demand” developed only after digital printing began,[1] because it was not economical to print single copies using traditional printing technology such as letterpress and offset printing.”

Ebook: From Wikipedia “An electronic book (variously, e-book, ebook, digital book) is a book-length publication in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, and produced on, published through, and readable on computers or other electronic devices.[1] Sometimes the equivalent of a conventional printed book, e-books can also be born digital.”

Indie Authors of Old:

Beatrix Potter, Walt Whitman, James Joyce, John Grisham, Gertrude Stein, Zane Grey, Upton Sinclair, Mark Twain, Ezra Pound, Virginia Wolff

The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White

Indie Authors of Late:

Amanda Hocking: http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-02-28/tech/29960359_1_kindle-store-book-sales-publishing)

J.A. Konrath: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/

Victorine Lieski: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2011/02/guest-post-by-victorine-lieske.html

David Dalglish: http://ddalglish.com/wp/

Aprill Hamilton: http://aprillhamilton.blogspot.com/

James Altucher: http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/05/why-and-how-i-self-published-a-book/

  1. 5.    Indie Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing: Pros and Cons

Comprehensive discussions of this found at:

http://www.publetariat.com/think/rise-indie-authors-and-how-helps-publishing and

http://internspills.blogspot.com/2012/03/indie-vs-traditional-publishing-notes.html

Indie:

Pros: control over content, control over time table, control over rights, no rejection

Cons:

Financial investment, on your own, legitimacy curve

Traditional:

Pros:

Advances, marketing and promotion, industry acceptance, newspaper reviews

Cons:

May never get published, required to perform to contract, still required to do massive editing yourself, little marketing help, still no certainty of presence in bookstores

  1. 6.    During the process of writing:

Use Word files, format and punctuate correctly, no weird, fancy stuff

Be consistent as you word process. For example tabs and hard returns should be used the same way throughout the manuscript.

Critique partners are an absolute necessity. Find some.

Possible strategy if manuscript is a real mess: Re-type entire book during the pre-publication/revision process. This will fix a multitude of errors.

What can you publish? Just about anything. See FAQ at IUniverse.com as one example. Fiction and non-fiction should have 10,000 words minimum. Poetry books should contain at least 20 poems. Compilations of novellas, short stories, poetry are possible.

  1. 7.    Indie publishing range of costs:

Publish to Kindle Direct Publishing for free, also publish ebooks to Smashwords for free, Begin around $600.00 for POD with IUniverse, other potential expenses include copy-editing and seller’s return policies

  1. Indie publishing companies: Author Solutions, Inc. IUniverse, Lulu, Xlibris, Kindle Direct Publishing, there are many more and more emerging every day. I have published two books with IUniverse and am very, very pleased on all levels.
  2. Book Sellers:

Brick and mortar like Barnes & Noble, all online retailers like Amazon, dozens of hits on Google.

  1. 10.  The Absolute Worst “A” Word Ever:  A M A T E U R

The biggest, most constant criticism of indie publishers is inferior composition of their literary work. Poor grammar, punctuation and sentence structure are the most obvious. Those in the industry, traditional and indie alike, will take one look at your book and push it aside if these amateur mistakes scream out. Writing is a craft. It is an art. It is, in fact, a professional undertaking. Give it your absolute 100% best effort.

The Absolute Be-All and End-All to take away from this session… for the sake of indie legacy and yours, NEVER allow yourself to be dismissed as an industry amateur. Publish like a professional or not at all!

 

  1. 11.  Videos, blogs, articles and websites:

My personal favorite author’s blog is Boxing the Octopus.  The authors are first-rate, profoundly experienced, and their archives contain just about every subject you could imagine. Visit them at www.boxocto.com.

Other helpful sites:

http://www.publetariat.com/

http://selfpublishingadvisor.com/  http://beyondthemargins.com/2011/12/brave-new-world-the-stages-of-indie-publishing/,

http://indiebookwriters.com/

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2011/12/11/indie-reader-amy-edelman/, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/why-you-cant-find-indies-in-bookstores_n_1418839.html, http://indiereader.com/,

Ask yourself, do you have a story that needs telling? Or do you know someone who does? Indie publishing may be the vehicle to share your gifts with humanity.

Thanks for joining me today. Hope it was helpful! Please join me for a book signing and Powerpoint presentation right here at UHCL on Tuesday, May 8, 2012, from 6:30-8:30. Fun, informative, free event! Tell your friends!

In the Company of Walt, Beatrix and Benjamin and…You?

Imagine a world with no Leaves of Grass. Or The Adventures of Peter Rabbit. Or Poor Richard’s Almanack.

Or imagine further, that after you wrote that first draft, of the first attempt, of your first real writing adventure…imagine there was no tome of instruction called The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr., with his student E.B.White. Yes, imagine if this first response in writing instruction, had not been available.

That could very well have happened. Because along with being great contributions to our literary existence, all four of these works have something else in common.

They were all…dare we say it? Self-published. Every one.

On Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at 7:30 in the bright, early morning, I will be leading a session discussing the very topic of self-publishing, or indie publishing, as it’s called today. Technology now allows virtually anyone to be published. For some folks that’s not a good idea. But for others it is a duty to humanity to share their gifts. Depending on your contribution, self-publishing is not vanity. I would go so far as to call it duty. It is incumbent upon you as an author to find out if the world will benefit from your contribution.

Walt Whitman. Beatrix Potter. Benjamin Franklin. Legacies we have to enjoy because they were bold enough to publish their own work. Who among us is being called to join them?

If you have not registered to attend the Tuesday session, watch this blog for further announcements. More sessions are in the works. Thank you as always for stopping by.

Announcements:

Do you have an organization and need a speaker? How about some hot topics?
Would you like to know what Karla’s offshore world really looked like? How about a PowerPoint presentation to find out?
Or would you like to know the latest about indie publishing? And what that might mean to you?

I would love to come and join you! Just drop me a line here or at dothagan@aol.com

And did you know…

The Edge of the Grace Period is now live on Kindle! Check out this companion novel of The Offshore Triumphs, also on Kindle for $3.99!!!

Events Scheduled:

UHCL presents Small Talk/Big Ideas
In the Company of Walt, Beatrix and Benjamin:
Indie Publishing Then and Now

Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 7:30 am to 9:00 am
University of Houston at Clear Lake,  $15.00 admission
To register go http://prtl.uhcl.edu/portal/page/portal/ALR/roundtable
Seating is limited. To reserve your seat in the conversation by phone, call Kris Thompson at 281-283-2040.
This event is presented by the UHCL Alumni Association. For more information on the association, please visit www.uhcl.edu/alumni.

Southern Belle Book Club
Saturday, April 28, 2012, 10 am
Bayou Vista

UH Clear Lake Official Book Tour Launch: Book Signing and PowerPoint Presentation
What would Karla’s offshore world really have looked like? The rigs? The helicopters? The gritty work?
Come join us for a PowerPoint presentation to have a look at just that! Stick around for a free reception and
book signing. Enjoy fabulous nibbles created by the inventive Cindy Smith!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012, 6:30pm to 8:30
University of Houston-Clear Lake
2700 Bay Area Boulevard  Houston, TX 77058

Garden Room and Atrium I