Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Heart of a Father -- Latest Update


I am so excited to announce that The Heart of a Father is almost ready to send to the printer. The ISBN has been assigned, as has the Preassigned Control Number for the Library of Congress. All of the paperwork with the printing company has been filled out, signed and received. The book has been edited multiple times and changes suggested by our Advanced Readers have been taken into consideration. The book has been sent to 20 Advanced Readers and almost half returned their surveys and gave me plenty of material to choose from to create the back cover of the book. Speaking of the cover . . . Sue Dove, designer extraordinaire, has done a wonderful job putting the covers of the book together. She has even been extremely patient with me as I've asked her to make certain changes and adjustments only to discover that we had to start all over with our printer's cover template! It worked out fine, and our first attempts just made everything else come together more smoothly.

After over seven years of contacting men about the book, it's finally ready to go to the printer. So many times I was embarrassed to look at the Baby Hearts Press homepage where we had a book with The Heart of a Father on the cover and the words "coming soon!" next to it. I remember thinking that "soon" was certainly a relative term!

Now that the time is upon us, I feel such a sense of peace. I didn't want to publish the book without having certain essays and I held out until I received the kind of essays I wanted. I wish I would have had more submissions by fathers of children with less severe CHDs, but I guess those fathers don't feel the same urgency to contribute to a book like The Heart of a Father that the actual contributors felt. After receiving communication from over 120 men who stated an interest in contributing to the book, only 50 followed through and sent me something to work with. But what a rich array of stories I received! It has been an honor and a joy to work with these 50 contributors and to act as their Developmental Editor, Copy Editor and Line Editor. All along the editing process I grew to understand these men's stories better and became better able to help them tell their stories to others. It's been quite an enriching process.

I've also been with some of these contributors for over 7 years -- especially husbands of wives who contributed to The Heart of a Mother. Through our correspondence we've shared news of marriages, graduations, births and deaths. I feel I can honestly call many of these people my dear friends. Some of us have had the good fortune to meet face to face. I've talked to almost all of them on the telephone. I used a relay service to communicate with our one deaf contributor. I believe we've probably shared more of ourselves -- our feelings, fears and experiences -- with each other than we have with just about anyone else. We understand each other in a special way since we're all members of the heart community. We rejoice in each other's triumphs and weep at each other's tribulations.

I hope that all of the readers of this special book glean the same sense of community, sense of belonging and understanding that I have come to appreciate by working with these remarkable men. I hope that all of you who choose to read this book better understand the unique challenges facing fathers of children with congenital heart defects, grandfathers or men born with congenital heart defects. Each group has a unique set of challenges. Each of these groups of men has a special chapter dedicated to their experiences. There are even two unique chapters for bereaved dads -- one for dads who have lost a baby or young child and another chapter for fathers who have lost an adult child born with a congenital heart defect. We have so many lessons we can learn from these fathers.

Thanks to all of you who have been patient with me over the last many years. Thank you for believing in me. So many of you sent letters of support, notes of encouragement and words of praise for my other books. Those kind deeds kept me energized and motivated to complete this project.

Special thanks, most of all, to the two men in my life who not only contributed to this book, but who also made its birth possible by helping me in so many ways. Thank you Frank Jaworski, my husband, father of my children and life helpmate. Without you, I would never have made it this far. Without you I would not have had the confidence that I could do this. Thank you, Daddy. Without Bob Daigneault, my father, and grandfather to my heart child, this book would still be on the back burner. It took us over a year of hard work, Daddy, but we finished it. In the midst of working to complete this book, we lost Florina Jordan, my grandmother (Daddy's mother). That tragedy set the book's calendar off track, but I think it was Divine Intervention. Had we not been set back a year, we never would have met the Greg Myers, Steve Catoe, Max Gerber, Gary Tucker or Kevin Kilkeary, Jr. The book is much richer for the detour we took working to finish the book.

I couldn't end this update without singing the praises of Sue Dove. Sue has been my CHD partner for about nine years! She has been my webmistress, my confidante, my idea lady. Whenever I've needed a colorful handout -- I've sent the boring text to Sue and she's waved her magic wand over it and madesit marvelous! When I wanted a new pin for our new website, she created it. When I needed someone to help with the interior book design, I researched my options -- local and across the Internet. Then I wised up and realized I already knew the best designer for the project! When Sue agreed to help create the interior design of the book and the covers, I knew the project would be done right. She hasn't let me down. If anything, our combined vision has been much greater than what either of us would have created alone. It didn't hurt that Ian Berry sent us a fabulous photo to use on the front cover. It made me go "Wow!" when I saw it. It's a pity we had to put identifying information on the cover because with just the photo and the title, it was breathtaking. It's still a cover to be proud of -- thanks to the combined effort of many helping hands and hearts.

So there you have it, my friends. We have been on a long journey together and we're about to send the fruit of our labors off to the printer. This isn't the end of our journey. We've just come to a fork in the road. Before we know it, we'll be holding fresh, off-the-press books and presenting them at booksignings, talking about them at conferences and sharing them with everyone we know. Thanks to the permanence of the printed word, these stories will become legend. They will last for generations. The lessons we learned will be shared with other heart families. We can ease the loneliness and fear associated with the phrase "congenital heart defects." We can replace those feelings with a sense of belonging, with true appreciation for what we do have and with a grateful heart for every day, every moment, every breath our loved ones take.

Life is good.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Catching Up

Dear Friends:

It's been a crazy month since I last wrote on the blog. So much has happened! First, the book -- I cannot begin to say how excited I am about the book. It took forever to finish the back matter -- the Index, Glossary (that was really a bear because I did it for the printed book and the eBook which meant finding good websites to send readers to for more information) and the Bibliography. Since I made such an extensive Glossary, the Bibliography had to be extensive, too. I'm so happy it's done, although I know most people don't bother reading the front or back matter of the book.

Review copies have been printed and mailed or emailed to almost 20 reviewers. I've already received some of the Advanced Reader surveys and I'm delighted to see that people really like the book, but more importantly, they find it valuable. I knew that fathers had a valuable and unique story to share, but it's good to hear from others that they regarded the essays special, too.

I'm still waiting on more Advanced Reader Surveys in order to complete the back cover of the book. Otherwise, the only 2 things I need to completely finish the book are my Catatogue-in-Print information and the Colophon. I've never had a Colophon in a book before, but I wish I had! If I had put that in the back of The Heart of a Mother, I wouldn't be trying to remember exactly what quality of paper I had used, what fonts I had used, etc. like I am now. It doesn't look like it's going to be possible for me to make The Heart of a Father look quite like The Heart of a Mother. Now I'm seeing there are certain obstacles that are making the last decision I have to make even more difficult.

When I printed The Heart of a Mother I wanted it to be keepsake quality. I chose a special Japanese paper that would not turn yellow over time and that would display the photos in the book optimally. I chose to have the book scored -- you can see an indentation all the way down the book so that the covers don't curl up with the heat (really important since I live in Texas!) and so it lays flat. I've decided this time around to be a more "green" publisher. Instead of printing 5000 copies of the book, I am only doing a short run of about 1000 books and then making it available via Print-on-Demand. Print-on-Demand printing is "green" but it's not fine printing like off-set printing is and doesn't seem to offer quite as many niceties.

Then there's the price to consider. When you print 5000 books, the price per book is much less than when you print 1000 even if you have nicer paper and binding techniques. So how do I be "green" and reduce the amount of stock to carry while still having the quality of book people have come to associate with Baby Hearts Press? That's the dilemma I find myself facing right now.

But more than that, I would like to make my books more available than they are right now. Right now I'm only on and some other online bookstores and selling books through my website. I'm afraid it's time to go back to Ingram so that my books can be available to bookstores. My experience with Ingram in the past was less than ideal and I'm hesitant to jump into a relationship with them, yet Lightning Source seems like a good option for the printing of the books.

I'm really impressed with what I've seen about BookMasters and last night my dad sent me a link to a publishing company I've never heard of before called Outskirts Press. Their website is interesting. I like the fact that they (really all 3 of the aforementioned companies) allow you (the author, or in my case, the editor) to retain all rights to the work. I also like the fact that I can use my own ISBN instead of having to use theirs (which is not the case with so many other companies out there). And it looks like Outskirts Press helps with marketing -- which is my greatest weakness. But I've really taken steps to work on that by having my dad come on board as Vice President of PR and by hiring a publicist. So I am hopeful we will be able to successfully launch The Heart of a Father to great fanfare. :-)

Other news:

Alexander's robotics team, the X-Bots, were invited to attend the FIRST LEGO League World Festival in Atlanta, Georgia! Last week our team was in the Georgia Dome and the Georgia World Congress Center. Opening Ceremonies were in Centennial Park. It was an amazing experience and quite humbling. There were teams from 27 countries and most states were also represented. In all, there were 84 teams from around the world at the competition.

Joey's One-Act Play (Anna Karenina) continues to advance. Tomorrow he will be at Baylor University for the Regional UIL competition. It's been exciting to watch his play over time. It gets better and better as people help to improve the play.

That's all for now!