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Showing posts with label Untying the Knot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Untying the Knot. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Marketing/Selling a Poetry Book: 3 Ideas

Unfortunately, poetry can be a hard sell...

especially to audiences who don't read it because they think it is stuffy or impossible to understand. 


My book, Untying the Knot (Aldrich Press, 2014) came out 19 months ago, but it is just now picking up speed from a marketing perspective. What have I learned? Here are three ideas you might try:


1. Belong to special interest groups on Facebook or other social media. I don't really know much about social media except Facebook (FB) and LinkedIn. But I have found FB to be invaluable. I belong to poetry groups where I've made connections with poets and editors who have blogged about my book/poems and/or published reviews or interviews with me. See number 2 for other opportunities that resulted from FB. 

Me at a reading from 

Stone, River, Sky: An Anthology of Georgia Poems


2. Grab every opportunity to read from your book. Besides the usual poetry reading opportunities and open mics, I have read at a senior citizen's residential community, a women's event at a synagogue (a connection made through my neighborhood's FB, though I'm not Jewish), and a professional women's networking luncheon (also a neighborhood FB connection).

3. Promote yourself as a subject matter expert, and as such, find opportunities to guest blog for national publications. Your subject could be writing, which would be fine. But because my book is the story of my divorce and healing, I wanted to reach a broader audience, one that doesn't necessarily read poetry. I was prompted to do this because people kept telling me that my book helped them and that they bought it for friends who were going through divorce.  I found a way to reach non-writer audiences by connecting with divorce groups on FB and reaching out to the editors with my idea of sharing my story -- each article I wrote would include a poem and the true story of how the poem came about. DivorceMagazine.com said yes, so I have posted three articles now. They were the first divorce related publication on the internet -- 17,000 people follow them on Twitter, and their FB page has 6300 likes. 

And... the exciting thing is that my last article was picked up by Huffington Post and re-published in the divorce section of their online news site. Their site has 79 million unique monthly users. I don't know how many book sales this will result in (I know of 2 that happened immediately), but I'm happy for the wide reach, and if I can help people who are suffering, that's a wonderful thing. Secondly, if I can promote poetry (in general, not just mine) to an audience who thinks they don't like poetry and change a few people's minds about that... then I've done a good thing for all poets, and that makes me very happy.

Here's a link to the Huffing Post article: Forgiving the Other Woman

Good luck to you with your writing and the promoting of your work!
________


Untying the Knot by Karen Paul Holmes is a "courageous, deeply human" book, according to internationally known poet, Thomas Lux, told with "grace, humor, self-awareness, and without a dollop of self-pity." Available on Amazon 

 

Karen's website

 

Karen's poetry Facebook page


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Poetry class with Karen Paul Holmes on November 7, 2015, 1:00 - 4:00 PM, Hayesville, North Carolina



Karen Paul Holmes, the author of Untying the Knot, and many other published poems in literary journals, will teach a writing class on November 7, 2015, 1:00 - 4:00 PM, at Writers Circle, in Hayesville, NC. The class is called: Borrowing from Your Favorite Poet.

Attendants should bring a poem inspired by a favorite poem. using a line from the favorite poem as your title, an epigraph, or a line within your poem.

Your poem will be allowed to take on its own life -- it does not need to be about the same subject as the original. You’ll also receive some prompts inspired by other great poets, so you can go home and write even more great poems of your own.

Don’t miss the opportunity to study with this award-winning poet and teacher. For more information, contact Glenda Council Beall, at: www.glendacouncilbeall.com.



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

News News News

Hello, Karen Paul Holmes here. I've been saving up news items, so here is a mishmash:

Give yourself the gift of time to write: Come to my all-genre writing class at the wonderful John C. Campbell Folk School, May 3-9. Locals may qualify for half-price tuition, so get on the list today! Bring a friend for any number of other arts/crafts classes offered that week -- it's like summer camp for adults.   https://classes.folkschool.org/class_details.aspx?pk=17708

Writers' Night Out will resume in April. We may be switching back to Friday nights, so please let me know your preference.

Some of you know that my dog Watson loves watching TV.
Well, he loves looking at my laptop screen as I type too,
and he's pretty good at grammar.
Have you Googled yourself lately? Recently, I was surprised to find that the poem "Rug" from my book, Untying the Knot, was included in a list of the Top 10 "Red" Poems by Tweetspeak Poetry on Oct 14. Go figure! You an read it and the other top poems using the color red here: http://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/2014/10/16/top-ten-red-poems/

I've been busy doing readings from my book and workshops, including the Georgia Poetry Society meeting in Gainesville, the Decatur Public Library (as part of the Georgia Center for the Book), and an upcoming reading with Michael Diebert (editor of the Chattahoochee Review) at Callanwolde Arts Center in Atlanta on Feb 11 at 8 pm. My book is available on Amazon in Kindle and paperback. If you'd like a personalized copy, please let me know. I'm running out of my supply, which is a happy problem for poets.

A new publication is accepting submissions: Sling Magazine. My poem about my mom and dad meeting in Australia during WWII is in the second issue (page 7) here: http://www.slingmag.com/
My mom and dad in Australia, WWII


As It Ought to Be featured two poems on their Saturday Poetry Series, November 15. You can read "Drawn into Circles" (my most published poem) and "Teaching Mozart in Stone Mountain Prison" here:  http://asitoughttobe.com/2014/11/15/saturday-poetry-series-presents-karen-paul-holmes/

OK, folks, I think that's it for the new news. Hope your writing will flourish in 2015.




Sunday, August 17, 2014

Interview with Karen Holmes author of Untying the Knot

By Glenda Council Beall

Karen Holmes gave me an e-mail interview recently. I appreciate her taking time from her busy schedule to answer some questions for our readers.


GCB: Your book tells the story of someone who has suffered a tragic loss, the ending of a thirty year marriage. The poems are deeply honest and real. Did you set out to create an entire book of poems on this subject?

KAREN: Thank you, Glenda. In my grief, poetry just poured out of me, one poem at a time. I did not know it would turn into a book. I think I wrote “Help Interpret the Symbolism in Mrs. Why’s True Story” the day after my husband left. It was inspired by the dream described in the poem, which was actually kind of a funny dream, so the poem, even though written in the midst of such fresh grief, has some humor in it.

Most poems in the book were written while the topic of the poem was happening to me. I guess that’s why people say the poems are honest – they were written in the moment. Others were written later (but still while I was grieving) with notes from my journal, often jotted down in the middle of the night, when I’d wake up with sudden thoughts. Once I sat straight up at two in the morning and wrote, “I want to be married to a happy man for a change.”

It was quite therapeutic to write, to get all those thoughts and emotions out on paper. At some point, I had the idea of putting together an anthology of divorce poems. I knew how to do a call for submissions for poets around the country and how to get a book like that put together and printed. The thought pepped me up for a while, but then I realized I really didn’t have the energy to do it. After about a year, I was having lunch with poet Scott Owens, who was saying that it’s good for poetry books to be built around some sort of theme or story. I thought, “Well, I’ve got a theme, all right!”  I went home and pulled together all my poems about my marriage ending—surprised to find there were about 60 of them—and realized I had a whole book myself. It was cathartic: to  see something whole come out of my fractured life; call it a “work of art” or whatever, but it was a “something,” a “creation.” Whether or not anyone would ever read it, it felt good. I started playing with the order and sent an early draft to a non-poet friend just to feel her out. She called the next day, saying, “This needs to be on Oprah!”

GCB: The loss of a marriage causes a grief not unlike the loss of a spouse. In fact when the marriage is over, you have lost a spouse, but not from death. Mourning a loved one takes us on a journey with the deepest lows and the most difficult soul- searching moments. You lost your beloved mother, your husband and the life you had enjoyed for many years. How did you focus on writing poetry at that time?

KAREN: Yes, losing a marriage is like a death. For almost a whole year, I expected him to come back, so there was hope, but there was also a delay in closure and moving on. Then there was an attempted reconciliation.
My mother’s illness and my brother having cancer also piled on the distress. I wrote poems about them too.
I didn't set out to write those poems, nor most of the ones in Untying the Knot; they just happened. One of my friends said, “Oh now that you’ve had a tragedy, your poetry will get better.” I wince at that, but it’s probably true. My poems definitely got deeper emotionally and darker in tone. However, I also believe in trying to stay positive, so many poems have a positive spin. Some are even funny. Like I said, poetry was therapy.
When I kept writing divorce poems two years later, I said to a poet friend, “Oh no, another divorce poem,” and he said, “That’s fine. Many good poets are obsessed with one topic.” Then I read Sharon Olds’s Pulitzer Prize winner, Stag’s Leap, also about the end of a 30-year marriage. It blew me away with its grief and honesty, and it inspired a couple more poems, including “Telling My Mother.”

Even after my publisher had accepted my manuscript, I felt the need to add two more poems, both for my therapy and for rounding out the story. The publisher said okay. One was “And So It Comes to This,” which takes place sitting at the divorce table with Ken and the lawyers. That moment needed to be described. The other was, “Komodo,” a poem about forgiving the other woman. It was work-shopped by Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate of Great Britain, at the San Miguel Poetry Week in Mexico in January 2014. When I asked whether I should add it to my book, she said, “Absolutely. Many people will relate to it.”

GCB: Why did you feel you should publish this book, and who do you find to be your most appreciative readers?

KAREN: Many poets start out with a chapbook first, but I had had the thought in my head long before this book, that maybe I’d jump right in and try to get a full-length book published. So there it was: a book. Wow. Friends responded positively to it. It took on a life of its own. I submitted it to two contests but didn’t win. Then submitted it to a publisher who took it. That was very lucky. I’m happy to report that the book seems to be viable poetry that poets appreciate, while also being a story—simply and honestly told—appreciated by even those who think they don’t like poetry. It seems especially to touch people who’ve experienced some kind of loss of a beloved partner.

GCB: Every poem in Untying the Knot hits hard with the pain and uncertainty you went through. It is one of the most personal books of poetry I’ve read and I appreciate that because I am a believer of “bleeding on the page” in order to communicate deeply with your reader. Do you find discussing these poems at readings brings back the hurt you endured?

KAREN: No, I actually don’t think the hurt comes back in that way now. It took me a long time before I could read these poems in public. The book was accepted by a publisher about three and a half years after my ex left me. Knowing then that the poems were going to be out there in public when the book was published six months later, I decided to start sharing some at readings. I found audiences related to me more than they had when I read my other work. I believe that showing my vulnerability makes me more “real” to my audience, and thus they feel a kinship. People often approach me afterward to say the same thing (affairs or divorce) happened to them. Both men and women tell me this.

GCB: Was this book written and published out of spite or to get even with anyone? Did you think long and hard as to whether you should publish such an openly candid view of your divorce?

KAREN: I never had any thoughts of revenge or spite. My thinking was that the book might help people going through a similar situation. Also, by the time Untying the Knot was put together, I felt removed from the story, almost like it happened to someone else. The book became a thing rather than “my story.” However, once it was published, I suddenly got shy, thinking, “My gosh, I have opened my kimono to the world, and even if I close it back up, people will remember what they saw.” It’s an odd feeling knowing that your very intimate thoughts and feelings are out there in the world. When Poet Tom Lux wrote the blurb for the back of the book describing it as, “a courageous, deeply human book,” I thought “courageous?” but now I know what he means. I was naively courageous, I guess.

GCB: You and I were going through serious loss about the same time. My husband’s death ended my long marriage. We must go through various steps as we try to rebuild our lives. Is the finding of another person, who loves you and that you can love, a healing step in recovery?

KAREN: My prayer during the separation was, “Please help me end up with the man I’m supposed to be with, whether it’s my husband or someone else.” I knew I wanted partnership, but I also knew it had to be with the right person. I consider Chris an answer to that prayer. I knew him for about six months, but didn’t start dating him until just before the divorce was final. By that time, I was in the acceptance stage of grief. I had successfully put my life back together and was doing fine living alone. So I never felt like I fell into Chris’s arms on the rebound. Experiencing unconditional love from him made me realize that I’d never accept anything less again.

GCB:You seem to be happy these days with your new guy. Do you still have moments when you feel sad about the divorce?

KAREN: I’d say I feel sad about the loss of 31 years of life as I knew it and loss of my little family: me, Ken, our daughter and our two Welsh Terriers. In the end, I knew the divorce had to happen. I was ready to move on. But it is a sad thing to end a relationship, and I’ll probably always carry at least a smidgeon of that sadness of loss. However, I have a wonderfully fulfilling relationship with Chris now and do not harbor any hopes that Ken and I will get back together. He and I don’t communicate regularly, but when we do it is friendly, and I don’t feel sad.

GCB: You have been a loyal and active member of NCWN and Netwest for a long time. You were very involved in the publishing of the anthology, Echoes across the Blue Ridge. You began the Writers Night Out monthly reading and continue to facilitate that event. Your participation in the Atlanta literary community is extensive. Why do you continue to volunteer and support NCWN and NCWN West?

KAREN: For a long time, I felt a need to do volunteer work and did do some with the children’s hospital in Atlanta. But that wasn’t my thing. When I realized I could do something for writers and audiences, I lit up.

The NCWN, and especially Netwest, had helped give me the encouragement and know-how to become a published poet, and so I wanted to give back. While it’s not “charity” work, it is bringing people together. Writers so appreciate the support and connections: They are constantly thanking me. Yet I get support from them too.
In Atlanta, I missed the connections I had to other writers when I was in the mountains. So I started a poetry group in Atlanta, and most of us are now dear friends, just as I have dear writer friends in the mountains. Wonderful things happen when a group of like-minded people get together. Hosting the open mic gives writers a venue to read their work out loud and for audiences to hear the work firsthand. People are happy at Writers’ Night Out, and that makes me happy!

GCB: Tell us anything you want our readers to know, anything about your book that you want us to know and where they can buy it.

Karen: Untying the Knot is a memoir in poetry about the end of a long marriage and the healing. Most people recommend that the book be read cover-to-cover because it reads like a story. According to Poet Thomas Lux, “it is written with grace, humor, self-awareness, and without a dollop of self-pity.”

GCB: Thank you, Karen, for giving us this insight into your writing and for your genuine comments about how you came to write Untying the Knot.


Karen’s book, Untying the Knot can be purchased in paperback and Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/Untying-Knot-Karen-Paul-Holmes/dp/0615998984/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407440890&sr=8-1&keywords=karen+paul+holmes.
Also available at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, NC. Until Aug 21, you can enter to win one of 10 free copies on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22599734-untying-the-knot
Read a poem from the book below:

Help Interpret the Symbolism in Mrs. Why’s     True Story

 She stares at a pile of her husband’s dirty laundry
while he spends a trial weekend with “Mrs. X.”
The wife has suddenly become “Mrs. Why.”
There can be a fine line between doing the noble thing

and being a push-over. Does she take this heap
of obvious symbolism, wash it, dry it, leave it
in a neat little pile for his return?
He believes Mrs. Why is a good woman.
That’s why he’s loved her for 31 years.

Now, she has bowed aside for this tryst, hoping
fervor will burn out. He believes it might,
but he’s not sure.  X, by the way,
was Mrs. Why’s trusted friend until last week.

Mrs. Why feels a hurricane pounding her.
Knowing she should care for herself,
she blends a protein shake,
anger whirs on high as she tries to forgive.

Last night she dreamed of him with X:
He’s paying for a hotel, $500 a day.
Suddenly, Mrs. Why is on the toilet, but X demands,
Get up! It’s my turn. The bathroom fills with people;
Mrs. Why asks, Am I on Candid Camera?
Yes! And you’ve won fabulous prizes!

Months later, Mr. and Mrs. Why continue to receive
bags of onions they won. The promised cash
never comes. Of course, there’s allegory here,
but what do the onions mean?
An old and useful ingredient?
A taste that stays on the tongue?


—Karen Paul Holmes
from the book, Untying the Knot.






Friday, August 8, 2014

"Writers on the Writing Process," an Interview with Karen Paul Holmes

A chance meeting on Facebook results in a San Fransisco writer interviewing a Netwest member. 


Writer, Laura E. Davis, who lives in San Fransisco, and Netwest Rep for Georgia, Karen Paul Holmes, met through an international women's writers' group on Facebook. Learning of Karen's new book, Untying the Knot, Laura offered to interview her for the series called "Writers on the Writing Process."  Read the interview here

The Lake Chatuge view that inspires Karen Paul Holmes to write
Untying the Knot is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle, and also at City Light Bookstore in Sylva, NC.

On August 9, Karen Paul Holmes and Co-Netwest Rep, Rosemary Royston, will be the featured readers at Writers' Night Out in Blairsville. Rosemary also has a new book, Splitting the Soil (available on Amazon and from Finishing Line Press). The two poets plan to try a new approach to their reading: They will pair their poems in some logical/artistic way and read them alternately, rather than each poet reading alone. The event takes place at the lovely Union County Community Center at Butternut Creek Golf Course (map here). Food and beverages (including alcohol) are available for purchase at 6 pm during the social hour. An open mic follows after the reading. Sign up at the door to read 3 minutes of prose or poetry. Writers' Night Out takes place on the second Saturday of every month.