Category Archives: About our Book and Writing

Station Identification

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The term Station Identification probably ages me a bit. It was the term frequently used when live television shows were going to a commercial break. But really, who did they think they were fooling? Everyone knew those words were just code for they were going to try to sell us something. It was time to freshen our beverages or get a snack. When you think about it, what would be the sense of stopping a perfectly good TV show just for the station to be identified? Back then there were only three or four stations and you always knew which one you were watching.

Nowadays, all such pretext has been eliminated. Shows just break at numerous seemingly random times for commercials. Some seem clever the first ten or twenty times you watch, but then just add to the ever growing buzz of meaningless information in your brain. It’s no longer a good idea to get a snack during each commercial break unless you want to end up on “My Six Hundred Pound Life”. Instead, we long ago discovered the wonderful mute button. While I find the silence a refreshing change, Crystal frequently uses the time for one of her own commercials. (television inspires her to talk to me.) She generally has so much information to give that it sometimes spills into the returning program. Fortunately, there is a pause button for that. Oh, sometimes I get to say something too.

No matter how you have adapted, about a third of your viewing time is filled with sales pitches, more if you are watching Dr. Phil or a show where twenty-five men pursue one woman (or as I like to call it “Last Woman on Planet Earth”). By the way, while there are many good suggestions in both our book and on this web site about seeking your lifelong mate, appearing on some dumb reality show wasn’t included (for good reason).

At any rate, all of that has nothing to do with today’s topic. It has been a while since we have given a progress report on “One Hundred Fifty Years of Marriage”. Our roughly 200 page memoir was completed over a year ago. When I say completed, I mean researched, written, rewritten, and reedited about four times. The whole process took the better part of five years. The hardest part wasn’t the interviews or research or even contacting our government for military records (fun with a capital F). It was my typing. Picture Andy Dufresne tunneling out of Shawshank Prison with a small rock hammer (ps. that took 19 years). My next book will be “Two finger, Stare at Keys Typing”. It will have to have a chapter on changing the computer key pad as this typing method is apparently hard on them (I went through two of them).

So where are we now on this project? Crystal and I are in total agreement. We can go no further without some expert direction from our future agent or publisher.

As far as our publication efforts, first we want to assure our ever growing group of discerning, brilliant, and sophisticated blog readers (Yes, You!) that, eventual publication will happen. Self publication is a final option. We still believe that the right agency is our best bet. Crystal has done a great deal of research. We have also completed a rather extensive proposal of over thirty pages. The handful of suitable agents we have contacted, while positive, have other commitments or lack resources. Yet the few comments have been very positive. Some of the agents have been unresponsive (discouraging, but apparently normal).

Another factor, not to be overlooked, is timing. We believe that this work of historical nonfiction is timeless. So there is no rush. While we have no promise to give readers, we continue to research and wait for God’s direction and timing. However, from a practical point of view, this may not be the right time. We currently spend a lot of time with my dad in Columbus, our kids/grandkids and occasionally visit Crystal’s dad in Cincinnati. We also are getting ready for Michelle (#2 daughter) and Alex’s wedding. When the book publication actually occurs, we want to be 100% dedicated to its launch. This could involve travel, book signings, radio interviews, etc.; Oprah will probably want to meet us; then there is the Pulitzer Committee. I may be exaggerating slightly, but you get it.

At any rate, for now we will be patient, continue to do research and wait for time and opportunity. In the meantime, Crystal and I are enjoying working together in putting together a continuing body of quality work in the form of this Web site. We have also been writing articles and trying to get them published. Now that this break for “station identification” has come to an end, we will return to your normal programming.

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I have no pictures of station identifications, but sunsets and old barns, I got a million of them.

Take the Bronte Sisters, for Example

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Crystal has been in a love affair since long before I met her. No it’s not another man. Her affair is with books and literature. I knew Crystal was an avid reader the first time I met her. When I introduced myself at that 50’s party in 1975 she talked about her love of literature and why she was an English major. My vain attempts to impress her with bits and pieces I remembered from my high school literature classes sounded thin even to me. She left that night totally unimpressed. I was relatively unphased, figuring I would probably never speak with her alone again. She thought I was a phony and I thought she was too intense.

Today, a number of decades later, I realize the depths of her obsession. Our house contains at least ten book cases full of books. (She won’t agree to this.  She says she has a library and also that she is a writer.) Some have additional books stacked on top. In the attic, there are easily another twenty boxes of books and more in the garage. The best gift I ever gave her was a Kindle. I believe by now she has another sixty plus books on it.

I guess if you are going to have an obsession, or as she would insist passion, literature and book collecting aren’t the worst. Part of being happily married is allowing your spouse to grow in their interests. For nearly forty years, I have listened (although at time less than attentively) about the brilliance of the Bronte sisters. Now it’s your turn.

Crystal’s Corner

I read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte when I was in Jr. High School.  My mother made me read it. It is a classic book, a mystery, somewhat Gothic and a love story.  The three Bronte sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne wrote novels in the 1800’s under pseudonyms.  Emily and Anne had to pay to get their first novels published.  Charlotte’s novel, Jane Eyre, was purchased by a publisher and was very successful from the start.

What is amazing about their books is that they illustrate woman’s history in a fictional form.  In Wuthering Heights, it is understood that Cathy Earnshaw had to marry well if she wanted to have any kind of a decent life.  After her father dies, her brother, a drunk and a tyrant, is losing their fortune.  Emily’s brother had a terrible drinking problem and gambling addiction.  If her brother survived her father, he would inherit everything because at that time period women did not own property or estates. This was one of the reasons why the Bronte sisters wanted to make money.  None of them were married or engaged to be married before they wrote their novels.  Charlotte and Anne had worked in the only professions available to women: teaching and being a governess.  Neither of those professions worked out for them.  As children who were kept away from society other than their father’s parish, they wrote tales for years.  Their poetry was published before the novels. (They had to pay for the first printing.)  The book, although it had gotten excellent reviews, was not successful.

Wuthering Heights was the only novel Emily wrote before she died from TB.  Her oldest sisters had died in childhood from the disease and from being at a boarding school.  The boarding school described in Jane Eyre was similar to the school that Charlotte and her two oldest sisters were sent to when they were children.  It was a brutal school for minister’s daughters.  Their father had never set foot in the school when he took them there and had no idea that they were being starved and abused at the hands of the staff.  Charlotte mainly survived because she was stronger and also did not stay at the school as long as her sisters.  So that put Emily, Anne and Charlotte to be educated at home with books that they read and discussions which they had with their father.

What is interesting about Jane Eyre and Wuthering heights is that the main characters are motherless girls. Jane had also lost her father and was staying with her Aunt and Uncle.  Cathy lost her mother very young and then her father before she was grown up.  The problems with being an orphan or poor relation are emphasized in Charles Dickens books: Oliver, David Copperfield, and others. The Bronte sisters were raised by their Aunt who came to live with them after their mother died.

Many people think that classics like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are just old dusty outdated books, but they have excellent characterization, plotting and some timeless truths in their pages.  If you haven’t read them or haven’t read them for a long time, try them.  I don’t think you will regret it.  These two classics like Jane Austen’s books have been made into movies and TV series over and over again.  Obviously, even today’s audiences are entertained by their magic.  I know I am.

Sky

Not the Bronte sisters, but three pretty special sisters just the same. Unfortunately I’m fresh out of pictures of English moors.

The End of Another Year as a Writer (Crystal’s Corner)

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As a writer, in December, I always take a look at my progress during the year.  Many writers get depressed in December, especially at the end of the month, if they did not get published or accomplish very much during the year.  I am not an exception to this problem.

This year I did send out some of my short stories and they were rejected.  I still want to send them to other publications, but haven’t done it yet.  Possibly, I will send some of my writing out this month.  We did put together a proposal of more than 30 pages, together with a cover letter and sample chapters, and send it to a publisher that we like.  Hopefully, we will be moving forward with this publisher. If not, I will be sending it out next year to agents and other small publishers.  I consider putting the proposal together to be a major accomplishment which took months to do.  Actually, I have been working toward writing a proposal for our memoir for more than a year. I have learned a great deal from books, webinars, magazine articles, and online articles.  I give credit to Brooke Warner’s book about Selling your Memoir and the National Association of Memoir Writers.  I have learned so much from this wonderful organization and am still learning from them.  They are very supportive of writers with their webinars and articles. The organization is helpful to writers of essays, articles, short stories and novels as well.

Many memoir writers write other types of writing.  The publishing industry is so complicated.  There are more opportunities to get published – like this blog that we write every so many weeks or so.  I also give credit to Shewrites.com., Writers Digest Magazine and website, and Poets and Writers Magazine and website  I have learned a lot from Shewrites.com and when we get a contract, I will be able to put some of our memoir on their website.  Over 22,000 writers from all 50 states and many countries are members of Shewrites.com.  It is amazing.  I am connecting with some of the other writers on that site.

I belong to the Write-on Writers organization that meets in the basement of the Coshocton Public Library.  We had a wonderful workshop in October and the speakers were all members of our group.  It was a very informative and successful workshop.  We are having one next year in October.  I gave a talk about publishing today.  I made posters to go along with my presentation and also brought some books with me that have been published.  This presentation may become a class that I could teach at libraries and for writing groups.

This year I also read and am reading many memoirs, novels, articles, etc.  Reading memoirs and biographies helps you to grow in your own life.  It is so personal and yet the themes in these books are universal.  I am really glad that memoirs are being written today.  It is a very popular genre.  Our memoir covers our childhoods, our courtship and our wedding.  I could write several more books about the 36 years that we have been married.  I am considering writing about the ten years we lived in Indiana.  Many significant events happened in those years. There were many hard times and some very good times.  God helped us get through them

So if you are a writer, don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t been published or accomplished your goals this year.  We can be our own worse critics.

I am disappointed that my writing did not get published this year, but I have hope and determination which I will use next year.  I did write several blogs this year.  I hope you have enjoyed them. I enjoyed writing them.  Maybe we will be compiling some of our blogs and putting them into book form next year.  There are many possibilities. “Tomorrow is another day.” (Scarlett O’Hara said this over and over again in Gone with the Wind.)

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My wife and co-author chilling after one of our walks.

We attended the Buckeye Book Fair 2014 (Crystal)

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On the 1st Saturday in November every year there is a Buckeye Book Fair in Wooster, Ohio at the Fisher Auditorium.  This year Ron and I went there and it was marvelous.  100 Ohio authors had tables and their books set up.  We talked to many of the authors and learned volumes about their writing, publishing, marketing, etc.  I was able to talk to Brandon Marie Miller who wrote Women of the Frontier. I purchased the book and she autographed it.  She has done tremendous research on this book and it has been published by Chicago Review Press.  She told me a lot of detailed information about the publisher. I explained what our memoir was about, and she immediately recommended that we send in our proposal. We have sent it and will hopefully hear something positive and exciting soon.  Also, I talked to many women writers including Shelley Costa who writes Culinary Cozy Mysteries and has written great stories for mystery magazines and Amanda Flower who writes quilt shop mysteries that have to do with the Amish, and some history writers.  It was such fun.  I didn’t want to leave.  Ron talked to some of the authors who were also photographers and listened to part of a lecture/presentation in the auditorium.  It cost $2 to get in and if you purchased any books you didn’t have to pay sales tax.  People were buying bags and even boxes full of books.  Ron and I watched as one lady kicked a box of books along the floor toward the check out. It had become too heavy to carry. We are definitely going next year and hopefully will be one of the authors there eventually.  If you are interested in books, all types, including wonderful children’s, fiction, historical, Ohio history, etc. you have to go.  If you are a writer it is a great place to learn about writers who have gotten published and marketing.  We also ate a local Greek restaurant not far from the book fair and enjoyed great Greek food in a lovely atmosphere. The restaurant was not far from the large library.  I want to go there sometime also.  I hope everyone who is a writer has had good luck getting published this year or will in the year to come.  Also, keep writing.  We are working on articles, fiction, essays, poetry, etc. and I am trying to send more of my writing out to get published either online or in print.  We will let you know about our progress.

We would like to hear from you if you are writing or if you have gotten published.

Ron’s Corner: I too loved the little Greek restaurant. The food was great and it was decorated with hundreds of pictures from a local play company in which the owners participate. While Crystal went from table to table extracting information, I sat in the auditorium and watched several authors talk about their books. The most interesting was Dav Pilkey, who wrote the children’s comic book series Captain Underpants. He had a trivia game for the attending children. Those who answered correctly would win an autographed picture which he drew right in front of us. After the contest he spoke with great passion and conviction about his childhood. He, much like me, was not a conventional learner. At an early age teachers didn’t understand this and were very discouraging. Supported by his mother, eventually he overcame his deficits and excelled at more creative pursuits. He also listed a number of other well know people, who similarly struggled with conventional teaching methods. His list included Einstein and Edison, actors, authors, and others from various fields.

What impressed me post was that he was using his popularity as a platform to encourage children and their parents. I can definite see Crystal and I doing the same thing someday. Marriage is a suffering institution in this country. It definitely needs spokespeople. I see now that our book’s publication is only a first step. Crystal and I work well together. That’s why we work and our marriage works. I foresee a lot of work and a lot of fun in our futures.

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Face Book: You’ve got to be kidding!

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The sacrifices you make for your craft. I recently joined face book. How old am I? I thought it was just for thirteen year old girls. It’s Crystal’s fault. She told me that we need to be more active online. We need to build a platform for our book. Why Me?!? I don’t really care what everyone had for breakfast. Most days, I don’t even remember what I had. I have nothing to offer.

O.K. flash forward. It’s been a couple of weeks and it’s not horrible. I have over fifty friends. I didn’t think I even knew fifty people. And guess what. They’re not all thirteen year old girls. If they were, I think I would be in contact with family services by now. The list includes many of the elders from my church, my daughters (all significantly over thirteen), and even some of my old classmates from college that I have known for forty years. To my surprise, I get a new list of posts every day. Some are actually interesting and even encouraging. I have even found the occasion to participate and give input. My perspective and corny (my daughter’s word not mine) sense of humor often appreciated or liked (face book term).

Who would have thought it possible? I’m sixty years old and growing. We now have an author page. So we are set for publicizing our book. However, in the mean time, I have a new interest. Well, if you’ll excuse me I need to go and check my Face Book. Oh, by the way, if you want to check us out, our author page is Ron and Crystal Meinstein, and my personal page is just Ron Meinstein.

Sky

Recent Facebook Picture. I think she likes me!

 

 

What about the Book?

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I know it’s been a while since I’ve given an update about our efforts to get “One Hundred Fifty Years of Marriage” published. Just so you know, we have not just been sitting around watching the grass grow. However, the grass has been growing very well. I think it’s the combination of abundant rain and sun shine. But that is beside the point! The point is the publishing industry is just nuts. You need an agent to talk to a publisher on your behalf. The agents are very limited. The traditional methods of publishing are changing as I write this. There is no good guide book for how to deal with the changing publishing world. Fortunately, I have Crystal. She reads articles, listens to webinars, and talks to people at her writer’s club. She tells me that, while a lot of other options exist, with E Books, self publishing, etc., we need to first build a platform. In the good old days the writer would just write the book. If you ask me that’s enough in itself. The agents and publisher would read an excerpt and decide whether to proceed with the publication. Today, apparently, you not only need to write the book, but provide a platform, or as I believe it to be, marketing plan. Finally you need to fine an agent willing to read and accept that plan. To me, on so many levels, this is just frustrating. It feels like I just invented sliced bread, and no one will stop cutting open their roll long enough to consider an easier approach. After all, who would want pre-sliced bread, when everyone has a knife?

All I have is a book about family, history, war, peace, love, marriage, and life in general. Who would want to read about that?   Everyone! But that is not for me to decide. We will continue to build our platform. If you haven’t noticed, the web site is slowly evolving. We now have someone to help with our computer based media issues. I am also working on getting articles published in some periodicals, not to mention a second book. It’s all part of this platform building.

I guess the bottom line is that, Crystal and I believe in this project. We won’t give up. I believe this book will have a huge market, with best seller potential. The only question is, is anyone in the business smart enough to see it?

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This is the full picture of the background picture on our site. It is from our Colorado trip a few years ago.

In case you haven’t noticed, there have been a few changes to the site lately. We are using a more professional theme, and check out the videos!