I am so pleased to introduce my third summer guest, Renee Howard Cassese. Renee has been a participant in two of my virtual classes over the last couple of years. It is a privilege that many of my class participants continue to fill me in on their writing lives. Thanks for the update, Renee and congratulations on your move to self-publishing, which I've asked Renee to discuss in today's post. You can take a look at her self-published paperback I am my Mother's Only Poem
To self-publish or not to self-publish, that was the question. Though I rejected the idea of self-publishing because I thought it would brand me as an incompetent writer and unattractive to agents and traditional publishers, over the years I gently but surely changed my mind. When it comes to novels I still believe traditional is the way to go, but I am considering looking for small presses to send my fiction to.
On the other hand poetry, short stories and my mixed media art seemed to lend themselves to self-publishing and as luck would have it an opportunity came along I couldn’t resist. I didn’t want to spend the money for the course “Your Life in Poems” with Lorraine Mejia-Green, but I’d taken a number of online poetry classes with Lorraine and she was a wonderful teacher and sharp but encouraging critic. Her classes challenged me to write more and better poetry and pushed me to add art to my poems when I began sharing my mixed media pieces with Lorraine and the other women in our online classes.
“Your Life in Poems” was a fabulous five month long course that focused me on creating a collection of poems, rather than random unrelated verses. Through the course I also learned how to revise better and how to order poems for a collection so that the final product was coherent and powerful.
A segment of the course included working with Cherri LaMarr, a book designer who formatted my poetry collection and art for publication on CreateSpace on amazon.com
. I tried once, through another online course, to learn how to do this myself, but I am technologically challenged and prefer to take pen to paper and write. I want more time for that, leaving the computer technical craft to others. I found it is worth the price.
It was an amazing event to hold copies of my own book in my hands and to see it offered for sale on amazon.com
. Today I went to a fundraising luncheon for the Boys and Girls Club of Oyster Bay and East Norwich where I had a table at their boutique to sell my book. What a thrilling experience. And next week I am holding another book signing while await the release of my second book, a short story collection called “Looking through Windows” which is also being formatted and designed my Cherri LaMarr.
I feel as if I have launched into a new stage of life. I have a million ideas in my head about where I want to go with my art and poetry but they will take off slowly until next year when I retire and I can devote all my time to my writing and art career.
I encourage every artist and writer to follow your dreams. I believe you can achieve whatever you wish to achieve no matter if you self-publish or go the traditional route. Give it a try!
Renee Howard Cassese is a poet, short story writer and mixed media artist. By day she works as an Assistant Principal in a special education preschool. She has an MS in special education and is a certified school administrator and a certified journal writing instructor. She is a member of, the Haiku Society of America, the United Haiku and Tanka Society, Tanka Society of America, the Foundation for Poetry, International Association of Journal Writers and Story Circle Network. She also belongs to Tapestries, a local critique group of women writers who have been meeting monthly for over 12 years. You find can find Renee onlineatwww.amarriageofpoetryandart.blogspot.com, andwww.facebook.com/reneecasseseShe lives in Hicksville, New York with her husband Frank who takes care of dailyhousehold chores so she can make her way