Self-Publishing Update — November promotion and sales

November Promotional Activities

In November I continued to do a little grass roots promotion. As I mentioned previously, I spoke at the Cincinnati Author’s class at the College of Mount St. Joseph. I contacted Hospice of Dayton who has graciously offered to put an excerpt from Dancing in Heaven, with a link to where it can be purchased, on their website once their redesign is finished.

For the most part I am still mostly focused on getting online reviews and interviews. One place I contacted looking for a book review was St. Anthony Messenger. Several years ago they published a story I wrote about my parents and Annie, so I thought they might consider reviewing the book. I was told they would contact me in 2012 if they are interested.

As a result of initial email inquiries, I’ve arranged for two ebooks to be delivered for reviewers. I also have interview questions to fill out for two different blogs hosts.

I guest posted at The Idiot Speaketh, and have written a guest post for another blogger that has yet to be published.

I signed up for a promotional event, the Indie Book Blowout. More on this next week.

Featured Promotional Activity – Goodreads

I initially joined Goodreads several years ago as a way to connect with other readers, find book recommendations, and generate and keep a life list of the books I’ve read. Now that I’m a published author, I’m learning that Goodreads is a great platform on which to promote my book. First of all, as an author, I am entitled to an author page where my book is listed.

Goodreads also offers a comprehensive walk-through of how best to use the Goodreads Author Program and learn more about how to promote your books with special tools on Goodreads.  Although I am aware these tools exist, I need to spend some time here figuring things out.

One thing I did do on Goodreads, was hold a book giveaway. I put up five books for the giveaway that ran from November 7 until December 7. Six hundred and ninety-six people entered to win my book. The way I look at it is at least that number of people have been exposed to the title. The winners live across the continent in Texas, California, North Carolina, New York and Florida. So my book is getting exposure in different areas of this country. I thought this was fun and will likely put a couple of books up for a Giveaway again in a few months.

Goodreads recommends that authors hold a Q&A on their book following the giveaway. I need to learn more about this and hope to work on it in the next couple of weeks.

November Sales

My sales for November were comparable to October (33 total). These sales probably reflect the number of people I know who wanted to buy the book. The challenge will be in the coming months to continue selling the book to other people who know nothing about me or my journey. One thing I noticed was that the print book sales are down this month from 21 last month. But the ebooks are up: Kindle was only 5 last month and I only sold 1 Nook in October.

Bookseller Number sold
Createspace/Amazon(print) 14
Amazon Kindle 11
B&N Nook 5
Smashwords 1
Smashwords/Sony/B&N/Kobo/Amazon/Apple/Diesel not available
Handsold 3
November Total 34

I want to thank everyone who has supported me by buying and reading Dancing in Heaven. Even if I never sold another book, I would do it all again.

“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.”
Robert H. Schuller

Something to Celebrate – a guest post at The Idiot Speaketh

Today it is my great honor to be a guest blogger at The Idiot Speaketh (otherwise known as Mark). When I first started reading Mark’s blog, he was in the middle of his virtual trip across the US and Canada on his stationary bike. I was enthralled by his energy, commitment, and creativity. His humorous blogs, admittedly 90% fiction at times, keep me smiling at the Idiot’s antics. What kind of a warped mind would think of doing that? I often wonder. Mark also blogs about entertainment in the 70’s and 80’s and has refreshed my memory on many of my favorite musicians, movies, and television shows. Mark also blogs about his disability due to a spinal surgery gone terribly wrong, and the resulting law suit. Well-worth reading. As I’ve gotten to know him better through his blogs and comments, I realize that even though at times I shake my head at the antics of the Idiot, there is a kind, gentle, and very support man behind the curtain.

I hope you’ll take a minute to read my guest post, Something to Celebrate, at The Idiot Speaketh. Then I hope you’ll click around a bit on Mark’s blog where he says, “I do this blog because I like to hopefully make people smile or laugh a little bit each day in these otherwise tough and depressing times.”

Thank you Mark.

The Idiot Speaketh (Mark) in front of the Empire State Building with his stationary bike.

Lisa Kramer gives Dancing in Heaven a heavenly review

I wasn’t going to blog today, but I wanted to thank Lisa for her review of Dancing in Heaven on her Hub page, and give you all a chance to read it.

Lisa Kramer or Lisa Wields Words
Lisa Kramer

Book Review: Dancing in Heaven a gift of love
by Lisa Kramer

“The world of publishing is changing, as more and more people take advantage of technology, bypass traditional publishing houses and either self-publish or focus solely on e-publishing. While many people view this change with trepidation, after reading a few too many poorly written books published by so-called “vanity presses,” I see it as an opportunity for some truly talented writers to share important stories. I have been the victim of reading poorly written books published by traditional publishing companies, and have come to realize through blogging and reading that there are incredible writers out there who simply couldn’t find their way through traditional means.

“So, I was not worried when I opened Christine M. Grote’s memoir Dancing in Heaven since I had shared part of her journey to publication with her on her blog. I already know that she is a talented writer. I had already read some sections of this memoir, and recognized the poignancy and beauty of the story. I knew that she cared too much about this story and agonized too long on every detail to make something not worthy of having hundreds of readers.[…]

“I was right.”

Near the end of the review Lisa writes,

“While this may seem ultimately sad, I can’t help but rejoice in being allowed to share a little bit of Annie’s story. When I started reading I had a flashback to a childhood memory, of visiting a friend’s sister who, like Annie, never left her bed without help. I remember being a little afraid as I entered that room, and not knowing where to look or what to say. Now, I wish that I had taken time to know her better, and to discover the true gift that I am sure she was to her family. I only hope that woman, who passed long before Annie, is somewhere out there with Annie, dancing in full-bodied joy!”

Thank you for this image, Lisa. Thank you for taking the time to read and review Dancing in Heaven.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Read complete review here.

In addition to her Hub page Lisa also blogs at Lisa Wields Words, and tweets @LisaWieldsWords.

An instinct to die — An excerpt from Dancing in Heaven

I don’t have an audio file for this short excerpt. After three failed attempts, I gave up trying. I can’t seem to get past the line, “But it presses on me . . .” Instead, you could start the Celine Dion video and listen to her song as you read. This song was often playing through my mind as I spent time by Annie’s bedside.

I know that people tell stories about encouraging their loved ones to “Go to the light,” when they are dying, or to “Let go.” I’ve been telling Annie the same. I tell her, “Go to the light, Sweetheart. Look for Grandma. Look for Uncle Mike and Aunt Nancy. Do you see Grandma? You go when you’re ready.” But it presses on me that she might not know what that means.

I turn to the hospice nurse Joanne who sits silently in the pink recliner by the little light that throws the room into a soft glow. “What can I tell her?” I ask. “I don’t know if she evens knows what it means to go to the light.” Joanne reassures me that it is instinctual to know how to die. “Tell her it’s okay to die,” she says.

I turn back to Annie with my head resting against hers and I whisper, “It’s okay to,” but I am unable to say the word die.

Dancing in Heaven is now available at: (Print and Kindle)
Smashwords (Multiple ebook formats)

A responsive and captive audience — Excerpt from Dancing in Heaven

circa 1970

I was at home babysitting Annie, and we were listening to the radio, when the song “Windy” by the Association came on.

“Annie! It’s our favorite song,” I yelled as I jumped up, grabbed an imaginary microphone, and started singing out loud along with the radio, in front of her chair. I replaced the name “Windy” with “Annie.”
I started marching to the beat of the words, “Da da, bum bum bum bum.”

Annie got excited and started waving her right arm up and down. She had a big grin on her face. I had a captivated audience, and now I was in full swing. I ran over and jumped onto the sofa, still holding my imaginary microphone in my right hand and using big dramatic arm motions with my left. I was singing out loud. Emphasis on the loud.

I jumped back off the sofa, got behind Annie’s chair, and twirled her in a circle as I sang. Annie was laughing all the while. By the time the song was over I was short of breath, and I had worked Annie into state of utter excitement.

“We love that song, don’t we Annie?” I said. “Whew!” I collapsed to the floor, arms and legs flaying out from my sides in an exhausted position, going for one more chuckle from Annie.

She complied.



Dancing in Heaven is available at: (Print and Kindle)

Regrets — an excerpt from Dancing in Heaven

“Do you have any regrets?” I asked.

“My biggest regret,” Mom said and stopped to think for a minute. “I don’t really have any regret. I get frustrated. I got frustrated a lot more when she was younger than I do now because I was also trying to deal with you and your sister. You know what I usually tell people when they ask me that, or say ‘I couldn’t do that’? I say, ‘Oh yes you could. Yes you could. You were never faced with it.’ I’d be willing to bet most of the people I’ve talked to would have done the same thing.”

Dad said, “All I know is that very early on we were both quite young and had no idea what was down the line. We made a decision. She’s the way God gave her to us, and we agreed to take on that responsibility. There was no pressure from anybody else to do it or not do it. We chose to do it.” After a moment he added, “She’s been a major pleasure to me on a one-to-one basis.”

“And she has been a major pleasure to a lot of other people, some of whom do not even know her,” Mom said. “I think it’s because she just smiles. She has some kind of charisma there that doesn’t have to be spoken. She’ll look up at people and just smile. And they’ll melt right there. They don’t remember our names, but they’ll remember her name.

“You can take her to the store; you can take her anywhere, and the way she’s sitting back, she can see people’s faces good. And she’ll just look up and smile, and you’ve got everybody in the place smiling at her. But I think any ordinary person could do that too, I just don’t think we do.”

Dancing in Heaven — a sister's memoirDancing in Heaven is now available at: (Print and Kindle)

Dancing in Heaven — Chapter one

Watching in the night

October 5, 2009
It’s 1:45 in the morning and I’m having trouble sleeping again. Vivid scenes from August play unbidden through my mind on an endless loop.

I abandon the effort to sleep and get out of bed to retrieve my robe from the bathroom hook, stopping for a moment to search out the window and into the darkness. I stand motionless watching the night, listening, waiting, hoping. I see only our still front yard and its massive oak tree, the early autumn colors illuminated by the porch light below my window. I hear nothing.

I do a quick calculation in my head. Seven weeks. Almost to the day. Since Annie died.
I tiptoe around the bed to get my glasses from the nightstand, trying not to wake my husband or our seven-month-old, little, white peek-a-poo Arthur.

I surrender to the insistent memories that disrupt my rest and walk downstairs directly to my computer desk. The glow from a light left on in the family room that filters down the hall isn’t bright enough to illuminate where I sit. I can’t see the keys on the keyboard. Even so, I am reluctant to turn on a light and disturb the darkness.

Arthur is crying upstairs. His radar on my every movement must have issued an alarm. I go back up the stairs, open the door to his cage where he lies beside my bed, pick him up, and return downstairs to take him outside to his fenced-in area.

The silence, solitude and darkness outside bring a tingle to my skin although the air is still warm. Again I stand very still to search and listen—but nothing.

Arthur has finished his business. I pick him up, return inside, and lock the door. I settle him on the folded blanket beside my desk where he often sleeps as I work.

I’ve known I needed to write this story for a while now. I would tell my sister Annie’s story in her own words if I could. In fact, there is nothing I would like better than to tell her story from her perspective. But I don’t know what she was thinking or how she felt. It wasn’t possible while she was alive and any remote hope that someday, somehow she might be able to communicate that to us has died with her.

I know I need to write this story, but I am afraid I have waited too long and won’t be able to remember it clearly. I am afraid it is too soon and I will remember it too well.

Dancing in Heaven is available at: (Print and Kindle)

Writing Dancing in Heaven

A note to my loyal, and greatly appreciated, readers:
I’ve decided to generate a few behind-the-scenes posts about Dancing in Heaven to use on my website as part of my fledgling marketing plan. I did manage to get a one-page website up yesterday. It is not perfect and basically is a landing page to send people back here to the as-yet-unfinished “Dancing in Heaven” page tabbed at the top of this blog. I designed my web page around one of three images Anna created when she was brain-storming. It’s not likely we’ll stick with this design, but it beats a blank. If you check it out, I hope you’ll let me know here if there are problems. The text on the right should be contained within the dark rectangles.

Dancing in Heaven — a sister's memoirIn the spring of 2005, while taking a creative writing class at a local college, I wrote a short story memoir about my sister Annie. It was in a collage format and my teacher loved it. She said, “I think you’ve found your genre.” She encouraged me to revise it, polish it, and seek publication. I put it in a drawer.

Talking about, or writing about, Annie has always been emotionally draining for me. I carry deep-running, ill-defined, emotions about her, and likely always will.

Some of Dancing in Heaven was written on the day it happened. When Annie got sick in the early summer of 2009 and later died in August, I wrote bits and pieces, snippets really, of what I was experiencing and what I observed my family members were experiencing, as we walked through these uncertain, frightening, dark, and sad days. Some of these writings took the form of e-mails to friends. One writing was scrawled on a napkin I found in my car after I pulled into a rest area on my way home, crying too hard to continue driving, needing to put down on paper the events I had witnessed that day at my parents’ house.

Seven weeks after Annie died, I considered the collection of materials I had: my initial short story, the e-mails and journal entries at the time, and memories flooding my mind. I decided to write a story in journal format of the days leading up to Annie’s death. I wanted to fill in as much as I could about the person Annie was and what she meant to us, so I added a vignette or explanation at the end of the chapters. I acquired Annie’s medical records from her doctor, which included her hospitalization records. My parents gave me an envelope that contained records of Annie’s initial testing and diagnosis. I asked for and received the notes from Hospice.

I worked pretty well on this for a while, reconstructing Annie’s illness and creating vignettes, until I got close to the last few days of her life, and then I stopped writing. I put it away.

All along, I thought of this project as something I was doing for Annie, to give her a legacy.

As the first anniversary of Annie’s death approached, I committed to finishing the story by writing each day what had occurred on the day the previous year. My mind fully cooperated, without fail, waking me by 4:00 am with scenes nearly fully composed. I would get up, go to the study, and write with a box of tissues close at hand. It was a difficult task, but I kept Annie’s picture nearby and the idea that I was doing something for her helped me continue.

Gosh, I just made myself cry again. But then, I do it easily.

Once everything was written, then it was just a matter of sorting and arranging the pieces to make sense. I couldn’t tell you how many times I rearranged things.

Now that I am so close to publishing Annie’s story, I have mixed feelings, especially in light of the fact that two of my siblings opted out. More on that tomorrow. But overriding a sense of insecurity that encroaches at times, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction. I’m telling Annie’s story. And if only five people, or 10, or a couple hundred,  read Dancing in Heaven, well that’s something.

To rephrase words my dad said in his anguish after Annie died, it won’t “all have been for nothing.”


How about you? Are you working on a long project? How do you keep going?

Self-Publishing Update— round two of proof copies

Monday night I sat in my study in Cincinnati with my marked-up proof copy of Dancing in Heaven talking to Anna, over the phone, who sat in her apartment in Columbus, Ohio in front of her computer. We incorporated the corrections and changes into the InDesign document of Dancing in Heaven. I had 24 pages marked with corrections and this was after extensive reading, re-reading, and revising.

“On the back cover, in the summary paragraph, get rid of the extra space between the words ‘back’ and ‘for,'” I said.

“Yeh.” Anna said. “You had a lot of those in the book. I did a search and replace and got rid of them.”

“Why didn’t I notice that?” I ask. “Thanks. On page 22, fifth paragraph, change ‘My dad was back home with the rest of us’ to ‘My dad was back home with Carol and me,'” I said. I must have missed that change I needed to make when I had to rewrite to remove my two siblings from the memoir.

“On page 38, change ‘Day 5’ to ‘Day 6.'” We already had one Day 5; I didn’t think we needed two. Probably would be better to add the ‘Day 8’ which was missing. How did that happen?

“On page 65 the paragraph has a blank line in the middle,” I said.

“Oh,” Anna replied. “I missed that one.”

“Page 80. Get rid of the orphan quotation mark.”

“Page 118. Put ‘the’ in front of ‘cabinet.'”

So many mistakes, still. With self-publishing no one has my back.

Anna made all the changes I requested. “Okay,” she said. “I’ll upload the revised copy to Createspace.”


“Wait a minute,” she said. “On the back cover, do you see an apostrophe between ‘Annie’ and the ‘s’?”


“Probably should be one there.”


We both laughed. It’s never going to end.

Self-Publishing Update—The Proof Copy has Arrived

So many of you have supported me through this journey of writing and then self-publishing my memoir, Dancing in Heaven. I wanted to share this special moment with you. The video is about six and a half minutes long and includes short clips about my writing process.

Admittedly, my cinematography skills need a little improvement.

But I hope you enjoy the moment with me.

I did cry.

To make YouTube videos load faster, pause the video to allow it to completely load before playing, fast forward the video to a certain point, or download the video from YouTube to a computer.” Watch video by Gabriel Bahiru.