May of 2017   

And Speaking of Friendship, 
Consider this Invitation 
To Share Your Story
The May Greetings column considers one of life's treasures -- friendship. My first book, She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes, was a simple story about how events can slowly and patiently transform two strangers into friends. The artichoke becomes a visual analogy: As you peel away the petals of an artichoke, you come to the heart of the plant. And as we peel away our protective layers, we cometo the heart of the person, where friendship resides.
As always when I settle in to write the column, I have to wait for the topic to present itself. This time, after our road trip to Indiana, the subject of friendship bubbled up to the surface and, eventually, my "Liz story" emerged. 

I know that you also have 
friend-stories worthy of sharing.
So, consider writing your story or a poem (225 words or less) about a friendship journey. When you're sick to death of fiddling with the copy, send it to me, with "Friendship Story" in the subject line. If your piece appears in Greetings, you won't receive a monetary reward because Words is truly a non-profit endeavor. But sharing with others enriches all of us. And that is reason enough to write. 

About the Business 
Of Promoting 
Your Book
The following is part of a larger article, I'm Published! Now What? by author Jeffrey Copeland, who writes everything from nonfiction books to textbooks.It ran in a recent Authors Guild Bulletin.
Unless a book has incredible advance sales or the audience is very well known (and many times, not even then), bookstores are not going to contact an author to do a book event.
How then, do you get yourself into the stores? The answer is self-promotion. You must take the initiative by contacting bookstores directly and inquiring about the possibility of doing an event.
  • First, send a short query letter or email to the event coordinator.
  • Express your interest in doing an event.
  • Be specific about what kind of an event you have in mind: a reading, a signing or a special presentation.
  • Explain why the event would be beneficial to the store and/or the local community.
  • Ask the event coordinator to contact you to discuss the possibility of an event and provide your full contact information.
  • If you don't hear back within a few weeks, I recommend a follow-up call. You can remind the coordinator of your earlier correspondence to break the ice and move to a conversation about doing an event. 
This method won't always result in an invitation but it will let the bookstore know that you and your book are out there, and the coordinator might have suggestions about other venues/groups in the area that you might approach.


Every friendship begins small.

Years ago, I scribbled that quote on the back of a business card and dropped it in my desk drawer. To join other scribbles on the backs of envelopes, shopping receipts and paper napkins from many a restaurant. (Some notes were marked "Urgent.")

Occasionally, I clean out that desk drawer, a futile attempt to get organized. Everything gets pitched except the Scotch Tape, Post-Its, Office Depot highlighters, a ruler, an external hard drive, stray staples, a fancy pen - and that business card.  

After a road trip this spring to visit friends in Fort Wayne, IN, the quote on that business card slipped into my mental musings while I was walking the dog one noon. (Trey is 15, so there's plenty of time to muse.)

I found myself back in Fall 1994, when we belonged to the Newman Center on the Drake University campus. Our mission was to support the Catholic students. We were already feeding the out-of-state kids on Sunday evenings when a member suggested families "adopt" students for the year. Invite them into a real home for a real meal, drive them to/from the airport, drop off cookies in the dorm room when they're sick. We signed on.
We were paired with Liz from Fort Wayne, a freshman studying magazine journalism. She was quiet, we were busy, and while common ground didn't rise up to meet us, the year was okay. So why not do it again. Conversation that second year came a bit easier. When Liz earned an internship with Meredith Publishing Company in Des Moines that next summer, she lived in our girls' bedroom. It felt good to have a "border." Plus, she took care of the house and the dog whenever Dennis and I traveled. Decades later, she said, "I spent more time with the dog than you did."
In March of junior year, Liz was with her family on Spring Break when her mother called. Liz had been shot in the head. A God-awful call. A God-awful accident. And with it, an immediate realization that our friend was in danger.

Her recovery was amazing, her senior year concluding with Indiana family and friends celebrating graduation on our patio. Her mother had insisted on hiring a caterer, so Dennis and I helped out in our own kitchen. 

Then Liz began her career in Chicago. There followed an engagement party in Des Moines, reading at the wedding
The Schwabs
Our Fort Wayne Friends 
Mass in Fort Wayne, celebrating at the christening of Godson Daniel, and getting together every couple of years, here or in Chicago, New York and, now, Fort Wayne. Who'd a thought?

When we saw them this spring, Daniel proudly pointed out that he was taller than I; Katelyn shepherded us through two Harry Potter movies, and we finally met Joseph, already 2 but not yet terrible. We spent one whole morning in a bookstore, explored Indiana Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) where husband Abe professors in philosophy, approved of the newly-renovated kitchen in Liz's parents' home, played games, read to Joseph, played more games. When it wasn't raining, we sloshed around the school playground. Then we drove back home.

In a note thanking us for coming, Liz said simply, "We cherished our time together doing ordinary things - but having extraordinary conversations." (Philosophers compel you there.)  "We are so grateful that the Newman Center brought us together, and consider you to be our chosen family."

The journey from 1994 to today is not fodder for a best-selling book or blockbuster movie. In fact, after we got back home  and people asked where we'd been, we said, "Fort Wayne," and they said, "Oh."

The point is that all of us have these journeys. Each one begins when you meet a stranger - and once in awhile, one of those journeys rewards you with friendship. A gift that almost always begins small.
In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter,
 and sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things
the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.     
Khalil Gibran