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Season of Dreams-come-true

December 12, 2018


NOTE:  Since we are in the midst of the season of “dreams-come-true,” I am sharing with you this week more about one of my “dreams-come-true”–my holiday book.  In August, I wrote the following article which was published in the fall/winter issue of the online literary magazine Magnets and Ladders.

For this posting on WORDWALK, I have slightly updated and revised the article which is 2468 words.


Book Dreams Can Come True


(with Ten Tips to Help Your Book Dreams Come True)


by Alice Jane-Marie Massa



After decades of hoping and wishing, after months of pondering the idea, my book dream actually started to take shape in late August of 2016.  Although I realized in second grade that I loved writing poetry and I wrote the meager beginning of a novel in fifth grade, I was really not on a serious writing path until after retiring from teaching writing at Milwaukee Area Technical College.  Filling my retirement years with all the writing that I had never had time for while I was teaching full-time was and continues to be my goal for my golden years.


On January 19, 2013, I initiated my weekly blog; and WORDWALK remains the literary force that gives structure to my week.  Since I always post a poem, memoir, essay, or short story on each Wednesday, this endeavor gives a writing deadline to my weekly schedule.  One of the many benefits of writing a blog is that in 2016, I realized that I had accumulated enough writing pieces in my “blog portfolio” to give me plenty of material from which to choose for my first book.  Essentially, the book was already written:  I just had to decide on a theme, select the pieces for my collection, determine a title, organize the pieces into an appropriate and appealing order, write an introductory essay and bio, write the acknowledgement page and the dedication–my impetus for making my book dream come true in 2016.


Since my third Leader Dog, Zoe, had given so much to me, I wanted to honor her memory by dedicating a book to her.  Due to Zoe’s passing being extremely sudden and unexpected, I had to turn to a more positive project as I was introducing my fourth Leader Dog, Willow, to our neighborhood in Milwaukee.  Later, I expanded my dedication to also honor the memory of my parents.  This dedication page became my motivation and strength to bring my book project to fruition.


After exploring various options for publication, I jumped into the opportunity  of self-publishing during the first week of September of 2016.  Although I had edited all of the six poems, five memoirs, five short stories, three essays, and two how-to pieces numerous times for prior publications, I continued to edit and proofread, edit and proofread because I had been an instructor of English and had taught MLA Style for many years.  I wanted my book dream to float on a perfect cloud.


One of my favorite parts of this book endeavor was selecting and organizing the pieces for my collection.  Ultimately, I chose three Thanksgiving, nine Christmas, two post-Christmas, one New Year, and three January pieces.


Eventually, during that autumn, I wrote the blurb for the back cover; and with the help of others (all of whom are happily detailed on the Acknowledgements pages of my book), I found the perfect cover photo and three other wonderful photos for my book.


This entire process of working toward my dream book was thrilling and was what I had awaited so long.  If teaching was the satisfying and rewarding sentence of my life, the book dream was the exclamation point at the end of that sentence.


On November 28, 2016, Leonore Dvorkin, of DLD Books, called to inform me that my e-book was available.  Reality!  A couple of days later, I received my first two boxes of copies of my print book–The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season.  Although I could not at all see these beautiful print copies of my book, I cried tears of joy as I opened the boxes and felt the book dreams in my hands.  Book dreams do come true!


My first goal of being able to give copies of my book as Christmas gifts to family and friends on my holiday card list,  as well as to neighbors and acquaintances in Milwaukee and to others as holiday thank-you gifts was most gratefully met.  As my Leader Dog Willow and I made many trips to the post office, I realized that Christmas of 2016 was the most memorable holiday of my adult life.  The feedback which I received about my 101-page book made me smile into the new year.  I was most appreciative to bring forth this holiday book to honor the memory of Zoe, my third Leader Dog, as well as to honor the memory of my parents.  (Please read the dedication page of my book.)


The book which I affectionately call “The Little Book that Keeps on Giving” did live up to its nickname as the pages of the 2017 calendar turned.  I will share with you only some of the highlights of my “Book Year 2017.”


In March, I ordered and promptly received my first set of VistaPrint book cards each of which is the size of a postcard and features my book cover on the front and information about ordering my book on the reverse side.  Although I had made my own bookmarks for the initial mailings and distribution of my books in December, these VistaPrint book cards (glossy on the photo side) make much better bookmarks and promotional cards.  Since my initial order, I have purchased several additional batches of these useful and attractive cards.


Having contacted Audio and Braille Literacy Enhancement (ABLE of Milwaukee, Wisconsin) in December I was enormously pleased to receive word from Cheryl Orgas, executive director of ABLE, that my holiday book would be both recorded at the recording studios of ABLE and produced in braille before the upcoming autumn.  However, I did not have to wait that long:  on July 15, 2017, I was delighted to receive in the mail the audio version of The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season.  Hearing one’s book read by a trained narrator for the first time is an overwhelming experience.


Then, on August 5, 2017, without any preliminary notice, I found in my mail a braille book–my own book in braille!  As my hands first touched the braille dots that formed the words of the title of my book, I was filled with emotion;  as I read on, my hands periodically had to leave the page to wipe away tears.  Yes, dreams do come true.  To order my book in braille or audio, please visit the ABLE website:


Finally, the “cherry-on-top” was the phone call which I received at 5:15 p.m., on August 15, 2017.  The managing librarian of the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library, Linda Vincent, informed me that my book was officially on BARD as an audio download (DBC 08305).  Reading the information about my book on BARD and downloading my little book from BARD were more memorable moments of my book-dream-come-true.  With the help of ABLE and the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library, I did meet my second goal of having my holiday book available in accessible formats.  I must confess that my book’s being available in four formats is more than I ever dreamed.  I found “Cloud Nine” and enjoyed floating there for a long while!


During the four days of Labor Day weekend of 2017, at the Little Italy Festival in Clinton, Indiana (near my hometown of Blanford), my holiday book was sold at five locations:  on the main festival grounds, at the Italian Market, at the gift shop at The Wine Museum, at the art show, and at the Clinton Public Library (where my book was the focus of a special display for the genealogical exhibit).  Since the Clinton Public Library was the library in which I had grown up and which was so special to me, having my book prominently displayed and sold there was an extraordinary treat for me.


As autumn and winter of 2017 progressed, I enjoyed giving presentations about my book and being part of an interview for the radio-reading service in Ohio (Voice Corps).  I am grateful to authors and bloggers Lynda McKinney Lambert and Abbie Johnson Taylor for each of their reviews of my book.  Besides speaking to my two book clubs about my first book, a book club in New Jersey and one in Utah selected my book for their December read.  I contacted Christmas shops and museums about selling copies of my book.  I sent complimentary copies of my book to several locations, including the coach and carriage company whose horse-drawn carriage inspired the title story of my book. I participated in a four-week blog tour for my book.  Since my book is a holiday book that is not dated, marketing plans for upcoming holiday seasons can continue.


In addition to all the excitement and memorable moments of my book-dream-come-true, I learned from this experience.  Through this first endeavor of having my book published via CreateSpace (now KDP) and DLD Books, I share with you the following to help your book dream to come true as easily as possible.


  1. As you plan a timeline for your book project, start early to meet your goals–especially if your book, like mine, is time or season sensitive.


  1. For your first book project, you may wish to consider a shorter book or “gift book” so that you will perceive the project to be more easily doable for you than a lengthy tome.


  1. While you need to be true to your own talents, traits, and dream, you may wish to consider a topic and/or theme for your book that will be more easily marketable–if having higher sale numbers is extremely important to you. (For example, while writing a book about the holidays was suitable for me, I also anticipated that the book could be marketed for a number of holiday seasons.)


  1. If your book includes poetic lines, be certain to know the acceptable line length before finalizing your poetry and other such writings. (For example, you will also want to know the line length to determine the line break of a lengthier title of a short story.)


  1. You will need one or more photos that are of high resolution. I was lucky to find the perfect photo for my book’s cover:  a professional photographer took the photo.  On my author’s web page, you may read the story of my finding the cover  photo:

A photo taken on a phone may not be of sufficient quality.


  1. Between the various stages of your book project, take the time to plan the marketing of your book: make lists, type address labels for later use, write drafts of promotional letters and press releases, write ad copy, do marketing research, check out blogs that may promote your book, etc.


  1. Keep a journal to preserve all the dates of special happenings in regard to your book project. Later, you will use some of these special dates and happenings in your presentations and promotional materials.  Additionally, the “book-project journal” gives you a way to savour the good times.  Such a journal can be inspirational and motivational for you and your fellow writers in the midst of a current writing project or in planning the next book endeavor.


  1. Please try to have your book made available in accessible media. I believe that having your book made available in various formats is much easier today than in earlier years.  Begin by finding and contacting the organization that is similar to Audio and Braille Literacy Enhancement and that is located in your region or state.  After you pay this organization only the cost of your print book, you may have one copy of your book in braille; then, for the same cost, your book may be recorded by a trained narrator in a recording studio.  After these initial “master” copies are made, you and others may purchase additional accessible copies.  Most likely, this non-profit organization will work with your cooperating library (such as the Wisconsin Talking Book and Braille Library).  After contacting your regional library of the National Library Service for the Blind (NLS), you may hear that your book will be formatted for downloading from BARD.  Of course, uploading your book to Bookshare is another option.  Exploring options for commercial recording is a relatively expensive choice that is growing in popularity.  Prior to your book’s being recorded, make a list of proper nouns with a pronunciation key for the narrator of your book.  If possible, you may wish to request a particular narrator.


  1. Writing the acknowledgements pages and dedication page for my book were among my favorite parts of my book project: enjoy giving gratitude to all who help you in achieving your book dream.  One of the many individuals and groups to whom I give thanks is Behind Our Eyes.  If members of this writers’ group had not shared their blogging experiences, I would not have begun my own blog.  If writers of BOE had not shared their experiences of having their books published, I am not certain I would have realized my own book dream.  Find a group to inspire you to realize your book dream!


  1. Dream! Yes, you, too, can have a book dream come true! Perhaps, you can make your book dream a part of your new year’s resolutions.


In conclusion, I am pleased to share with you that I surpassed my third goal for my little book.  While my third goal was to sell and/or otherwise distribute at least five hundred copies of my book, as of this writing, I am delighted to announce that the running total has surpassed six hundred when I include the 45 times that my regional library has mailed digital-cartridge copies of my holiday book to library patrons (as of August).  The total does not include copies downloaded from BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download).


This article is not intended to be a boastful series of paragraphs: the purpose of this article is to convince you that making your book dream come true is possible.  Good luck, and best wishes!


The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season is available in print and e-book from Amazon, and I give you my special yuletide thanks if you are among the more than six hundred people who already have copies of my book.


Hoping each of you has a dream-come-true this holiday season,

Alice and Leader Dog Willow


December 12, 2018, Wednesday



From → Uncategorized

  1. Dear Alice,
    I am so thankful that your dream of publishing a book came true for you, because all of us who read and enjoy your special book, “The Christmas Carriage and Other Writings of the Holiday Season,” benefit from your talent, creativity, and dedication. Congratulations and best wishes for another publication in the new year!
    Love, Mary

  2. What a wonderful description of your book project d the manifestation of your dreams, Alice. I am a believer in Dreams-Come-True!

    • Hi, Lynda–Many thanks for your comment, and I am so glad that you also have had book dreams come true.  Additionally, I am delighted that a “puppy dream” of yours has come true.

      Enjoy that beautiful German shepherd, and give him a big hug from me–Alice and Willow

  3. Paula J. Lumb permalink

    Alice, this is a wonderful read as i journeyed through your writing, publication and marketing time line. I appreciate the ten steps in moving through your thinking and planning toward achieving a book-dream. I’m sharing these with my husband, who publishes on Amazon, toward a very different audience, but nonetheless I think he will appreciate seeing how your master marketing plans were executed so smoothly. I also appreciate your book. You have a writing style that invites me in and allows me to feel like I’m on the visit, at the table, in the family home with you and your loved ones. What a rich collection your holiday book truly is. May it live on and on and spread farther and wider than it already has in the years to come. Congratulations on such amazing accomplishments, Alice, and for inspiring we ‘wanna be’ authors to have the belief that we truly can do it. Thanks for your guidance!

    • Hi, Paula–What a surprising and splendid comment from you!  Many thanks for taking the time to read this long post and to comment!

      Hoping to read a book of yours someday, Alice and Willow

  4. Carole permalink

    ‘Tis the season for your lovely book to rest on our coffee table and invite guests to enjoy your gifts of creativity. We have shared many common desires through the decades, so I am happy to celebrate a 2017 dream-come-true with you. Heartfelt congratulations and best wishes, dear cousin, for another year of publishing your literary efforts!

    • Christmas Greetings!  Carole, Tim, and Bebe–Many thanks for having my holiday book on your coffee table!  How nice!

      Talk with you tomorrow!  Merry Christmas!

      Alice and Willow

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