#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.”

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!

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 Started Yoga School: My Longtime Yoga Teacher Training Goal Realized as a Spoonie 200 YTT Yoga & Ayurveda Center

A woman on a pink mat with a white background extending her body into the cobra yoga position - shoulders back, head tilted upward, feet pointing downward, hips and legs hovering above the mat.
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Before I developed chronic pain, I had a host of mental health disorders. Two biggies were dissociation and anxiety. I would bump into people walking around in public, duck out of hallways to be met by a face too flustered to apologize (and not sure to apologize). Not to mention my health was poor in general. I lacked stamina and self-esteem (problems which came back later).

My university offered 200 level and 300 level kinesiology courses in yoga for a required fitness credit. I took three of these required 200 level courses because I loved it so much.

Gradually, through learning savasana and deep breathing through poses, I became more in tune with myself. I began to see the world around me and my place in it. It was easier to not bump into people in public and my posture improved — because I was now aware of how my physical body felt.

Outside of my kinesiology classes, I took yoga at the recreational center daily, and purchased a yoga mat (which has now been destroyed by cats, and I badly need a new one).

I fell out of yoga when I graduated college due to working the night shift, but journeyed back once I developed chronic pain. I found I still remembered many of the asanas and my yoga textbook from college. Surprisingly I was still limber — although the philosophy of yoga is so much more than that.

Right now 45 minutes a day of yoga is helping my pain flare, any more than that is damaging me. I am hoping I can pull out of this okay. Right now the Yoga Alliance is letting online students register with them upon completion of a Registered Yoga School’s program by December 30, and I intend to do just that.

I can throw myself really hard at things, and I’m trying not to do that. Pacing for me is very difficult. Currently I’m reading the Bhagavad Gita as an audiobook and copying my notes from the past two days.

Should you wish to become a registered yoga teacher, check out the Yoga Alliance’s Rating on the Yoga & Ayurveda Center, my school. I am taking the 200 level RYS and loving it so far!

My goal of becoming a yoga teacher is to help other chronically ill people with chronic pain like myself, and to also heal myself: body and mind.

The light in me recognizes and observes the light inside you,

Meara

If You Can Be Anything, Be Inclusive

I wrote an article for URevolution a while back and was paid in the form of a T-Shirt via a $30 gift card. As my weight fluctuates I always need new clothes, so I welcomed the opportunity to amp up my wardrobe. The designs URevolution has are also cute and minimalist.

The shirt I received was this:

White shirt with black text "if you can be anything be" with rainbow text "inclusive"

I ordered a 2XL, and it fits me like a T-shirt dress, which is what I wanted. I especially like this shirt due to pride month.

When I was in high school, in my tiny rural town, I had a gay friend, out of the two gay people in that entire village. His dad found out and he had to run away. He’s doing great now, but at the time I was really upset and full of righteous indignation.

If I write for URevolution again, I plan on getting this shirt:

Grey shirt with rainbow "inclusion" text

I really like URevolution’s disability focus and intentional inclusivity of all types of disabled people across races, genders, and sexual orientations.

They are new and a little disorganized, but they will communicate with you should you have a problem receiving your gift card like I did. I found them to be cordial and kind.

URevolution also ships fast. I had my shirt in 3 days.

If you’re interested in branching out and getting your first paid gig, I recommend writing for URevolution.

Product Review: Acupressure Mat & Pillow

Disclaimer: there are affiliate links in this post. If you click on them, some money may go to me, at no extra cost to you.

I love acupuncture, but with the current state of the world I unfortunately can’t receive it. My pain flares are ever changing and varying in experience – for some I will be crying in bed, others it’s sleeping all the time, and still others I will be functional but unable to move very well.

In the past I heard about acupressure mats, and recently saw a functional medicine doctor who recommended an acupressure pen. The pens are more expensive than the mats, and so to get out of my current pain flare I ordered the ProsourceFit Acupressure Mat & Pillow. It’s $15 if you follow the link.

It came in the mail today, and I was beyond excited to try it. Admittedly I was a bit worried about how it would work on my hard stone floors, but I had no problems. With the acupressure mat comes a manual, and I started out at beginner – 10 minutes. I could have gone longer, because it was so relaxing!

I focused on my back, neck, and shoulders. The manual that comes with the acupressure mat provides different positions for different kinds of relief. There is even a way to use the mat while working in a chair! My lower back is in pain all the time, so this provided needed relief.

This mat feels like a rollercoaster of soothing sensation, which is kind of how real acupuncture is. I could feel the tension relief sensation move around my body.

After the 10 minutes, I found I was very chilled out, like after getting a good massage. As someone who would get weekly massages, but can no longer due to budget and dystopian America, I highly recommend this for fellow fibromyalgia folks (or anyone with chronic pain, especially sciatica) for that nice “ahhh” pleasant sensation.

I highly recommend the ProsourceFit Acupressure Mat & Pillow for anyone needing relief on a budget.

This product will make you sleepy, so I recommend using it at night before bed, instead of starting your day with it!

My recommendation: The ProsourceFit Acupressure Mat & Pillow

Unlearning Internalized Ableism

Rainbow painting with broad strokes. Title: Unlearning Internalized Ableism. spoonielifestyle.com

While writing my book, Wedding Planning for Spoonies, I realized how ableist I was despite having a disability. Even the subtitle of the OG cover shows that.

I have had a debilitating mental health disorder for 17 years, and chronic pain for 1 followed by extreme GI issues for 4. Each night I would vomit. But the doctors all said that nothing was wrong.

Because I had experienced discrimination throughout my life, I assumed I wasn’t ableist. But I slowly recognized, especially in the past few months, how I had internalized that prejudice and let it define myself and others.

For example, the word “crazy.” I had always adopted this moniker to try to mask my severe mental health problems instead of addressing them. I very badly wanted to be a “normal” person. Later I realized that disabled people, mentally ill included, are normal. We are our own normal. Disabled people are human beings like everyone else.

Maybe I never stopped to question what a human being was. It isn’t someone who drives a car or has a career. I was so focused on achieving that I never stopped to think that all people get sad and angry sometimes. We all get hurt. Maybe we don’t all have identical experiences, but we all feel the same feelings. There isn’t a person on this planet who never felt anger or grief.

In this regard, perhaps I was lucky to end up disabled. I had to slow down and reevaluate myself and work hard on myself to change bad thought patterns that blinded me to fundamental truths. I’m not saying I don’t want things to change – I would love to be healthy again – but this season of growth was spurred by losing total control of my life.

Perhaps when we are forced to “let go and let God,” we find ourselves and others in the eye of the storm.