Book of Snark is my first published work of satire.
It is a collection of anti-affirmation feminist satire. It is a parody of motivational self-help books, pages of punchlines that describe the day to day life of an unimpressed, middle aged female professional, who commutes by bus.
Book of Snark will be published October of 2020 on Amazon.
Choosing the cover for a book is a really big deal.
It is the primary marketing tool that remains with the book at all times… at least until the kids rip it off or hopefully it falls off from being read over and over. Despite the old idiom, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, people do.
Readers take under 3 seconds to decide whether they are going to spend any time with your book based solely on its cover. So, it must spark interest. It must be attractive enough to look like you cared, that you took the time to think about it. Because a sloppy cover promises a sloppy book and who wants to bother with that?
Book of Snark, Wit & Wisdom for the Angry Professional Woman on the Bus.
(see photo above)
It is not my first self-publishing project. In 2017, I edited the post-humous memoir Popcorn from the Void by my friend Todd Park about leukemia and what it’s like to undergo a bone marrow transplant. I knew no publishing house would touch it because it was based on his blog. The book received a lot of praise, both for content and construction. I submitted it to the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards and though it got 30/30 points from its judge, it didn’t win or even get an honorable mention. Todd was a great man and it is a wonderful book with a lot of good stuff in it but the topic turns people off.
There is a lot of myth and romance around the dream of being a published author. The common belief among those who don’t know is that if you write a great book, success will follow. The truth is, if you write a great book, you are issued a lottery ticket and then you wait with thousands of other great books to see who gets picked. Continue reading →
“The fact that we both have umbrellas and ride the same bus does not reveal some deep kinship between us.” -Book of Snark 3.3.3
I work at a large metropolitan university. Parking on campus during the regular semester is an expensive nightmare at best and impossible at worst. There is staff parking designated at various surface lots and ramps. The monthly cost and length of the waiting list for a spot varies based on its proximity to campus. So, for slightly less money, staff can opt for a monthly unlimited bus pass. I live in the city, not the suburbs, and at times have even gone without owning a car. So, I choose the bus for my commute.
I have laughed at people who expressed concern for my safety over riding the bus. For one thing, this is Minneapolis, not Chicago. And not all buses are the same experience- not the routes or the days or the times of day. If you really want to get a sense of a neighborhood, ride the local bus. See who gets on and how angry they are. The areas of economic depression/ suppression become obvious. But mostly, folks are just trying to get through life and want to be left alone. Continue reading →
I bought my first home February 28, 2020, a condo in a building built in 1912. I moved my possessions two weeks later on St. Patrick’s Day. I left for Peoria, IL four days later on March 21, to help my mother at the end of her life. She died on Mother’s Day and we buried her a week later. I returned to my home in Minneapolis, May 23.
Although I have owned my condo for five months, it does not feel like home yet. In my mind, my home is still a one-bedroom apartment in an old house off an ally behind a hair salon about five blocks from here. It was my refuge after my loft apartment burned with my belongings in May 2013. I lived there alone and rebuilt my life.
I trained for and rode RAGBRAI twice while living there. I traveled domestic extensively for work and pleasure and even internationally once to Turkey. I published a posthumous memoir by my friend Todd about leukemia, the disease that finally took my mother. I started this blog, wrote the material for the book I’m publishing this fall, and started attending poetry open mics around the Twin Cities. That’s where I met Loren, my partner who I live with now.
My last two moves were in the midst of major crisis and upheaval.
Loren Niemi has been an innovative professional storyteller performing, directing, collecting, coaching, and teaching stories for over 40 years.
August 1, 2020 marks the release of his latest book: Point of View and the Emotional Arc of Stories: A handbook for writers and storytellers (written with Nancy Donoval).
The New Book of Plots: Constructing Engaging Narratives for Oral and Written Storytelling, completes the set of his instructional books on the craft of storytelling, both written and oral.
Inviting the Wolf In: Thinking About Difficult Stories (written with Elizabeth Ellis), is the theory behind these two companion books.
And his genuinely disturbing ghost story collection What Haunts Us is the winner of the 2020 Midwest Book Award in the ‘Fantasy / Sci-fi / Horror / Paranormal’ fiction category. It is an example of the application of the three other books.
If you know me only from my blog or have met me in passing at poetry readings, it may come as a surprise that I have a wicked sense of humor. Afterall, it is a natural antidote for pain and anger. I have decided to give up trying to be a serious literary author and play to my strengths. But more on that later.
Though I write poetry, short stories, and have several unfinished novels, by default I am a blogger. But not a very good one. Oh, the content is good but I lack focus and marketing and followers and blagh blagh blagh. My website isn’t optimized. Isn’t that what they tell us we are supposed to do? FYI: I’m not selling anything so lighten up. This is my own very public, private writing space, with some online lurkers that I know and some that I don’t.
It is Fall 2018 and I sit alone at a table in the back of what was then the Underground Music Café in St Paul, MN, attending one of the last meetings of Chris Title’s long running open mic series ‘Barbaric Yawp’. Across the room sitting alone at another table is Loren Niemi, who I do not know but had met at another reading series Summer 2018. I ask how he is. He tells me he is about to have a collection of ghost stories published. I congratulate him. We get on with our lives.
It is Winter 2019 and I stop attending open mics. I am glad to have met other writers in those communities but realize the open mics are taking time away from my actual writing and provide just enough encouragement to have me fool myself into thinking I am accomplishing something. But I stay in touch with my new community via social media and my blog. I see the news that Loren’s book, “What Haunts Us”is published on February 1, 2019 by Moonfire Publishing. He has a book launch and a reading but I miss it. Continue reading →
At least, it would have been. She died on Mother’s Day. She was 79 years, 10 months, and 23 days old. Leukemia took her or rather the malfunction of the body that leukemia causes. Near the end, I took an armpit temperature of 103 degrees because she was unconscious and her jaw was clenched. You can add 1-2 degrees to that for her actual temperature. Children’s cherry liquid Tylenol was no match for it. Systemic infection probably ended her life.
And it was a fast, peaceful death in her own bed, with her family. We were able to have a COVID-19 social distance visitation at the funeral home. There were so many beautiful flowers and quite a few people came to pay their respects. Her funeral was a private, gravesite service, followed by a family luncheon afterward. We even had a cake and candles for my nephew whose 35th birthday was the same day as the visitation.
My mother turns to me as we sit in the transfusion center, IV pumping platelets into her vein, to say “This will probably be the last time.” That was Friday May 1st.
On Monday May 4th, I check on her at 4am and she insists she needs a shower. I foolishly and half asleep agree to help her. She seems lucid. I have not yet learned to expect high fever and recognize delirium first thing in the morning. It is a disaster in which I am able to help her into the shower, begin to wash her, then have her tell me to turn it off and insist she is not in the shower. “I’m pretty sure you’re in the shower, mom.” Moving her out and putting her back in bed is a struggle and she almost falls to the floor. She can’t walk. Her knees give out and she is slippery. I put her in bed, give her meds, and tell her I will return.
At 7am, the fever is gone and I feed her. When my sister Maureen arrives to help me dress her and take her to the appointment, mom says, “I don’t think I can do it.” But I am determined. Whatever it takes, come hell or high water, we will get her to the cancer care center for her labs.