#1 New Release: Wedding Planning for Spoonies

An Amazon product page for the book Wedding Planning for Spoonies: Tips and Inspiration for Chronically Ill and Disabled Couples Kindle Edition with #1 New Release in Weddings circled in blue

The last 48 hours have been a delightful blur. Like when you’re a kid and the cotton candy at the baseball game is larger than your head. Everywhere you look is sugar. It’s sticking to you. You literally ARE sugar.

Yesterday I learned that my book, which published a week ago during the terrible Texas ice storms (AKA Snowvid-21) managed to sell without me trying. It was amazing. And it was a #1 New Release!

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you everybody. Thank you Jesus, thank you Lord, thank you Universe, thank you Love.

Want to feel the love? The book is available at Amazon,  Barnes and Noble,  Walmart and Apple Books.

Tips & Helpful Links for Future Authors

A book opening upwards with the text "Tips & Helpful Links for Future Authors"

Writers help writers! As I sold my first preorder yesterday, I wanted to pass on some useful information on the publishing process and share some helpful links that guided me on my journey.

First, let’s go over some definitions.

A traditional publisher is a publisher that charges you absolutely nothing throughout the process. When they acquire your book, they pay you an advance, and help distribute, sell, and promote your book. You have a certain percentage of royalties from books sold and do not usually retain rights to your book, thus relinquishing the creative process.

A hybrid publisher makes you pay a fee, but helps promote your book. It’s halfway between a vanity publisher and a traditional publisher. An example of this is Greenleaf Publishing.

A vanity publisher makes you pay exorbitant fees to create an inferior product. They make you pay for copies of your book that you must sell yourself. You do not have rights to your book. Vanity publishers do not help promote your book, nor do they have no connections to distributors or retailers.

Self-publishing is the DIY route. The most famous is Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. There are some vanity publishers preying on writers as self-publishing firms. Save your money and hire a freelance editor and book designer, have a beta reading team, and social media. There is out of pocket for self-publishing, but it is significantly less than hybrid or vanity. There is only out of pocket depending on your skill set (for example, you are a graphic designer, work for a PR firm, etc.) but always hire an editor. This route can also be completely free if you completely DIY with Kindle Direct Publishing.

Agents are people who pitch your book to traditional publishers. Most of the time an author will need an agent to get inside a traditional publisher. Legitimate agents do not charge to read your work.

Beta Readers are people you trust who routinely read your work before you send it anywhere to critique it. The more Beta Readers you have, the better off you are.

Query letters are like cover letters about your book sent to agents and publishers. They are one page and contain a synopsis of the book and your marketability.

Book proposals are documents including the book’s synopsis, market research, your author bio, and a few sample chapters. These are typically for nonfiction books only.

ARC Readers read your book once finished before it launches with the expectation they will leave a review.

Never pay to have someone publish or read your work!

The Big List of Links for First Time Authors

Writer’s League of Texas

A professional organization of writers who gather to discuss the craft of writing and the publishing industry. This is useful for self-publishers as well as those going the traditional route. They do charge fees, so check out the link below.
Writer’s League of Texas Free YouTube Videos

Search Engine for Finding Legitimate Agents and Publishers
QueryTracker is a powerful tool that sorts through agents and publishers. Under each profile are more links to further your research. Always do your research before submitting to a publisher!


Good Writing Advice on the Publishing Industry, Craft, and Query Letters

Writer’s Digest is a treasure trove for those out on the hunt. You can do market research, learn new writing techniques, and figure out how to draft the perfect query letter or book proposal. They offer a query letter editing service for a fee. This is the only time I suggest paying someone to read your work, other than hiring an editor.

Self-Publishing

Kindle Direct Publishing
The world’s biggest self-publishing hub. It’s a little clunky and hard to use, but they have a 24/7 helpline that calls you in one minute after you submit a help request.
Editor
For a high quality, affordable editor I recommend Liz Dexter at LibroEditing. She is UK based, but is fine for US based writers too. The biggest issue with self-publishing being a money pit is the editor. Liz went through my manuscript fast and did a great job at a price I could afford. Many freelance editors may put your book on the back burner and not get to you for 3-5 months, if at all. If you desire quality, speed, and a low price, I recommend Liz.
Cover Designer
Jasmine Lopez-Hipolito has a great design background. She is a recent grad working at the very affordable rate of $10/hr and will negotiate with you. Her artwork is gorgeous, as I linked to her portfolio above.
How to Sell Your Books
Kindlepreneur is a fantastic resource for drafting a marketing plan. They are a treasure trove of information. It’s worth it to give them your email, download PublisherRocket, and get VIP access to articles and videos.
ARC Readers

ARC Readers are people who read your book for free before it comes out with the promise of leaving a review. ARC stands for Advance Reader Copies. I use BookSprout, which you can use for free at the 20 ARCs level, linked above. You will have to advertise and gather your 20 ARCs, so as soon as you begin your marketing campaign and the book is complete, take thyself to social media and emailing lists. There are other ARC websites where you can pay to guarantee someone reads, and this is the only other time I suggest paying for a reader if you can swing it. However, I’m keeping a budget in mind as I put this listicle together.

I hope you all found this helpful, and happy writing!


Preorder Wedding Planning for Spoonies

Rainbow and purple watercolor wash with two spoons, one in a bow tie and the other in a wedding dress, holding hands. Above them is a wedding bell and a green and red garland. Scrolling delicate white hearts are in the middle of the book cover with the white all caps MEARA BARTLETT: Wedding Planning for Spoonies: Tips and Inspiration for chronically ill and disabled couples.

The book is officially up for preorder here!

I will be doing promos during the preorder. Regular price after launch will be $10.99. Right now the discount is down to $4.99. During preorder, I will vary the price every two months until launch date of February 14, 2021.

The book has a lot of narrative in it, telling how to plan a wedding through story. I interview several people and tell my story. Then there is the data I gathered from the interviews and the practical side of it.

Final, Professional Cover for Wedding Planning for Spoonies! Woohoo!

Purple front and back book cover with swirly white font. The front is two spoons getting married under wedding bells. it is a water color. The back is simple hues of purple with my author photo.
Look how gorgeous the paperback will be.
This is the front ebook cover. It is a watercolor that reads "Wedding Planning for Spoonies: tips and inspiration for the chronically ill and disabled. It has white flourishes and hearts."
Look at this gorgeous Wedding Planning for Spoonies Kindle will be.

I worked with someone at my wedding, who I’ve known a very long time who graduated from an art program at my alma mater, to do my book cover. And she swung real hard and made it happen. I love what she did with Wedding Planning for Spoonies. It’s gorgeous.

Wedding Planning for Spoonies also made it through an editor, and I’m basically ready for launch except I’m going through a marketing phase that will last until the last week of April, right before everyone gets engaged. I need ARC readers, so if you’re interested, give me a shout. Throw your hands up and shout! Don’t forget to say “I do.”

On Positive Attitudes

Every time I say something I think is a positive breakthrough to a therapist or other mental health professional, I get shot down with a “Why are you so negative all the time? We need to change this negative attitude that you have.”

I’m currently in an intensive outpatient program, and let me tell you, I just didn’t want to take this for the millionth time. My response was lengthy, rambled, and something like a disjointed rant.

I pretty much said I was inherently negative, and no amount of therapy or medication could change that. I was a Negative Nancy. Every morning I wake up on the wrong side of the bed in the negatives, and work my way up to zero with three cups of coffee and three cups of matcha, along with meditation, prayer, and scripture reading.

Maybe it’s because I hide my emotions so well, even my positive ones, that even if I’m happy, I don’t necessarily show it the way other people do. I don’t really smile that often. It actually hurts my face to smile because it takes so much effort. I remember my grandmother telling me not to frown so much because it would make me ugly when I’m old. But I didn’t really care.

I do smile quite often, but it’s not really noticeable. Since we’ve gone into the zoom age, my smiling looks like a neutral, even lip, when I feel my cheeks working full force to turn upwards.

My husband, Positive Polly that he is, is the same way. He has a big ol’ frown quite often, then a huge, exuberant smile. I call him my golden retriever. He’s the optimist of the two of us.

So, I have to say, if God made you a Nancy, it’s okay to own it. You don’t owe anybody yourself but God. It’s good to have gratitude. I make gratitude lists and I have people tell me I don’t seem the type to make them. But alas, I do.

Be you. Go rock it, even if people throw well-meaning, self-improvement shade.

Wedding Planning for Spoonies Update

Hi everybody,

I understand I’ve been missing these past few months. I’ve been struggling to find a way to be useful and not self-destructive with this blog while suffering from difficult emotions, and I have to say that while my posting regularity may not be up to speed yet, I’m happy to interact with people again.

I am working with an editor on the book, Wedding Planning for Spoonies, and an old family friend with a degree in design is working on my final book cover. Both iterations of the project should be done by January and I hope to release the book six months from that time (with preorders!).

I’ve also created a Facebook page for the book if you’d like to give it a like and a share.

Happy and blessed holidays!

Post-Wedding Depression is Real

When I first became engaged to my husband, I ordered all the wedding books, researched, and meticulously planned until I ended up in the ER with nerve damage. I was also pulled in all sorts of directions by my in-laws and family, who paid for the event. My planning season was an emotional rollercoaster, but I loved the planning part. I designed so many things and perused so many websites I can now call myself a wedding connoiseur.

After my wedding, in the 12 hour timeslot before I left for my honeymoon, I felt despair. I didn’t get exactly what I wanted. I didn’t even have a real wedding dress, but a white prom dress, because of low funds due to my medical situation. During this time I had become obese, and I felt I was no longer beautiful. I dreamt of being beautiful on my wedding day. Instead, I had a pixie haircut, a round face, acne and pale skin. There was, also, well, my new walking stick. During my planning season I had gone from abled to disabled.

The honeymoon provided another high, but immediately after coming home things turned south. Why didn’t I get to be gorgeous on my wedding day? Why had my husband never told me he thought I was beautiful during the wedding? Where was the romance? And most importantly, why couldn’t I walk on my own?

Growing up I was the little girl who played wedding in diapers. I was the ultimate wedding dreamer. But the bubble popped and here I was, married, unemployed and disabled. I was going to grad school in the fall after having to drop out due to developing lupus three days before my wedding. I felt worthless as a housewife.

When COVID hit I had a giant brain worm: a wedding planner for disabled couples. I wrote about 100 pages of it in two weeks, then fleshed it out with interviews from the community.

In trying to cope with the post-wedding blues, I turned back to weddings (one of my favorite things) to try to help people. It works best when I’m coming hard at it on the weekends or discussing it with my professors, who have taken an interest in the book.

The beauty, purpose, and creativity involved in weddings lit my brain up like a live wire. To see it POOF out of thin air, after its most important culmination, drove me to writing more seriously. I wrote about fashion, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and my experiences as a newly disabled wife facing an unknown world.

If you found this because you’re feeling guilt about the post-wedding blues, you aren’t alone. You’ve definitely got a friend in me.

Back in the Grad School Saddle Again

On Monday, I will start grad school at a flagship university. This is a step up reputation-wise than my previous university for grad school last year. The program is entirely online so I will not have to worry about travelling, unlike my previous program.

I am very excited about this. Because I want to become a better writer, I loved my previous program. My classmates at my new school seem kind and helpful. Hopefully I will be better able to network.

The school is a technical university, so I hope I will learn more technical skills. I am very good at social justice theory, however, I am seeking a job in big tech.

I will work on grad school most of the time and supplement my free time with yoga school.

Wishing you all the best,

Meara

I Am Not My Illnesses

Sun shining through an up close enlarged pink lily flower in a green field with a blurred blue sky. Text overlay: "I am not my illnesses: how the concept of a soul helps me. Spoonielifestyle.com"

In yogic philosophy there is the concept of the known and the knower, or the field and the farmer. You observe your body, your mind, and your thoughts, but you know that is not who you are. The knower, your true self, is a soul with an inner, divine light who sees your body, mind and thoughts. Then, you cultivate and care for them.

The concept of a soul, or my true identity, was something I always struggled with. As a bipolar person, whenever I was going through a depressive episode, I was always told “that’s just part of your personality” or “that’s just who you are.” And that always hurt. I didn’t want I be the dark sides of “me,” whoever she was. If I was this monster I would certainly be doomed to my personal hell forever.

I discovered Speaking Bipolar and Bipolar Hope, then began sending articles that resonated with me to my friends and loved ones. After sending one article to my mother, she explained she did not know that what I was experiencing as a “negative personality trait” or a “negative personality” was actually a symptom of bipolar, or an illness. It was not something that I was, like having fibromyalgia.

None of my family would define me as a “fibromyalgian” or a fibro, but they would probably all say I’m bipolar and not a person with bipolar. Chronic pain may have a huge grip on my life, but it is not something others define me by, let alone experience with me. Bipolar has been more damaging due to its impact on my relationships and led to developing medically induced lupus. So, yeah. The body follows the mind.

But my body and mind are not who I am. Who I am is the unchanging essence who comes from the Divine God who created the universe. I am God’s child. This is who I always was and who I will always be. The concept of this gives me great peace. Now, I can tend to my field better.

Namaste: The Light In Me Recognizes and Admires the Light that Shines in You

A woman in a cross legged position with a relaxed face in a forest.
Image by feelgoodjunkie from Pixabay

I finished my first week of yoga school yesterday, and already it has been an enlightening experience. For one thing, it expanded on the idea of what the path to a higher consciousness is/heaven/God is — and that is love. Love for yourself, devotion to love, which leads to love for others. This is largely self-care, which doesn’t necessarily mean mani pedis and bubble baths. It’s getting to know yourself and learning to love what you find. You seek and find.

This also means that I can feel gratitude for my body as a vessel, which helps me to deal with my chronic pain better. Saying thank you to my body for however much it can move helps me to move even more. It is true I am in a pain flare, but I am still moving through it.

One thing I have found is that everyone is an embodiment of light, or love, and we all deserve to love ourselves and be shown love. This means I treat everyone the same, from my husband to my dog, and have love towards myself when I inevitably mess up. I should have been able to learn this from my upbringing alone, but sometimes looking at pretty much the same thing from another angle helps to absorb the message.

I have a few Christian followers, and I assure you what I have learned largely lines up with Christian philosophy. You cannot love God without feeling love yourself. There is a teaching of grace and works towards oneself and others in yoga philosphy.

I am writing this as a reflection of the history of yoga and yoga philosophy that I have learned on my first week of class. I found it to be extremely interesting and worthy to pass on.

Namaste,

Meara