Strength through adversity at 90 shines through in June Clark, Belle of Steel # 3

June Clark, age 90 and still perking along!

What would you do if you were widowed with eight children in 1979?   June Spitler Clark knows . . . find a way to survive.   June Clark was born as a child of the Great Depression in Tecumseh, Michigan on January 31, 1922.  In June of 1940, she married the love of her life, Jim, who became a dashing young pilot of the United States Army Air Corp.   Head over heels and ready for adventure, they embarked on a life of military service.

June was originally raised a Quaker, but then became Episcopalian.  She bore two sons under that religion.    She became a brave young pilot’s wife and boarded a ship to Japan with her two young sons.  The time was just post Hiroshima.   Countless lives lost from the bombing.  What a site it was to see the gorgeous country of Japan leveled.   She was called a round eye by the Asians, as she was one of the few Anglo women in that part of the world.   Despite the culture shock, June immersed herself in the traditions of this strange land, desperately trying to understand and relate to the differences during countless hours alone, while her husband flew missions.

They returned for a brief time to the United States and were at Spokane, Washington.   Her third son was born there.   But Jim’s overseas assignment then brought them to Guam.  During her travels as an expat with her pilot husband to these faraway lands, June was introduced to the concepts of Catholicism.  So distant from home, June began to embrace the staunch and solid beliefs of Catholicism, finding comfort in the rigors and rules of the faith.   She became a convert in 1956.   Dutifully following the Catholic traditions of natural family planning, June subsequently produced another five children,  two boys and three girls.  Interestingly enough, all of June’s children are have a middle name that is of an Air Force base.   She chose their first name and her military husband their middle names.

The family were then off to Spain.    It was exciting to be in Europe, but the first of several tragedies loomed to burst the bubble of her idyllic, exotic lifestyle.   In 1962,  one of her young daughters was stricken with spinal meningitis whilst being cared for by a Spanish maid.   In a matter of months, not only was the three year old’s life threatened, but her brain permanently damaged.   June’s previously healthy, beautiful, blonde, baby girl would live mentally retarded for life.  It knocked June to the core.    Could she?   Would she?  Ever forgive herself  for leaving her child with a caretaker?

Devastated, she turned to her faith;  resolutely determined to carry on for her other children.     By that time, her oldest became a Coast Guard communications expert.    Upon their return to the states, her second son, was sent off to Vietnam.   The 1970s were rife with unrest.    June experienced the horrors of the Vietnam conflict first hand, when she received her brilliant second son home as a shell-shocked, Vietnam vet,  suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.    Not only that, but her ill daughter was in a state of massive decline.   At the same time, her husband’s military service became illusive and secret, with him becoming part of the CIA and cold war conflict.   Again, her husband’s assignments took him away to foreign lands.

June was left to care for her severely crippled daughter by herself.    Jim was away much of the time.    June’s children were now mostly teenagers;  all trying to find their way during the turbulent 1970s.    The burden of the care became too much, and her daughter had to be institutionalized.   One would think that life had brought her enough tribulation to endure.  But there were two more tragedies hidden in the wings.

In November, 1979, June’s young adult son was killed in a flying accident while joy riding in a small plane.   Her husband flew home from his distant and clandestine overseas assignment.   The family was photographed, symbolically as one, planting a tree in the young man’s name.   But there was more sadness to come.   Just one month later, June became widowed on December 14, 1979 when Colonel Jim Clark was fatally wounded in a terrorist attack while on duty as a government contract engineer in Istanbul, Turkey.   It was almost more than she could bear.    Abject and lost, it nearly did her in.   Christmas presents remained untouched.    A dark depression loomed.

She relied on the strength and fortitude of her third son, who was devoted to his faith within the Catholic church.   John and the rest of her children became her rock.   Her only source of survival.  She cottoned onto John’s mature strength of character as he navigated the complications of a CIA agent being murdered overseas.    Not willing to succumb to life’s devasting blows, June turned to inward to her talents.   At the encouragement of John, June enrolled in university and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education.   By rekindling her cognition, she overcame her desperate grief.

Unfortunately, there was one more funeral in which she had to attend in 1983.  The demise of her brain-stricken daughter.     Bittersweet relief was realized.   June wrote a poem, entitled Tiny Tita about how her daughter, who once loved to dance, now finally could in heaven.   Her child’s pain was over.Yet again, June turned to her faith.    The power of prayer got her through.

Donw the lane book

Published at age 80!

By this time, her children were grown adults, navigating their own trials and tribulations.   June continued with her art and creativity.  In the early years of the millenium, around 2000, June wrote and published a book.  Down the Lane is about her childhood, describing the Great Lakes legend of the Ogo Pogo.   That book is still in publication today.  June’s large family has grown.  She is now is the grandmother of  10, great grandmother to 11, and has one great-great grandchild on the way.  Just this month, at age 90, June was the featured author at Benbrook Library, doing a special reading to children on her book.   She still attends Catholic mass each week at St. Peter’s in Fort Worth with one of her children in attendance.

For her strength and fortitude; sheer determination and courage. . . AgeView Press names June Elizabeth Clark as Belle of Steel number three.    To read about Belles of Steel number one and two, click the link Belles of Steel in the category margin to the left.

Mea culpa, mea culpa for a sincere apology

Mea Culpa is is defined as:Mea culpa spelled in blocks

Spelling it out

“An acknowledgment of a personal error or fault.

Synonyms:  “eating crow”

It just won’t go away.    The #lendink debacle continues.   In a recent post, I apologized for my own misinformation and asked for understanding from the mob threatening authors who were misinformed.    I am flattered that my lil’ ‘ol blog seems to carry any weight   Judging by my stats, I still don’t think I really have that many facebook or twitter or blog followers.  However,  an apology is an apology.   Fascinating how one can write it in black and white and yet it is still not accepted.  The written word is read in the frame of mind of the reader.  Anger begets anger.   When I am wrong, I am wrong.   At this point, after much more information has surfaced, it is clear that I jumped to conclusions about my own book, FLYING SOLO, being included in the books on LendInk.   I sought information from the owner of that site, Dale Porter.   I received no return emails from him.    I asked author groups, bloggers, and fellow writers.    The rage of angels ensued.  If I was a party to that, mea culpa.

I wrote a blog about piracy, which does exist.   It appears that LendInk is a legitimate site.   My apologies to LendInk if I was misinformed.  My sincerest mea culpa for including LendInk at all the my post.   Clear and simple.   Let’s all move forward now.

Humility has been extended.    Let’s show some courtesy and dignity amidst our community.    End the slamming.    Let’s all be kind, but vigilant.    #showthelove4authors  

As an Author, are You a Peacock, a Mockingbird, or a Hawk?

showy peacock

All show and no substance?

As an author, think about this question.   Are you a peacock, a mockingbird, or a hawk?  You might be asking yourself what birds could possibly have to do with being a writer?   But let’s take a closer look at all three.  See if you can identify with some of these characteristics, because their are more similarities than you might imagine.   Bet you will be surprised.

Peacocks are pretty, to be sure.   Colorful, flamboyant, and decorative.   But even though they are showy, if you look closely at the feathers of their brilliantly, vibrant tail; there is not much substance there.    Peacocks fan out their tales to be noticed.   At first, it is impressive.  Then you realize that underneath all that show,  is nothing but air.    Is your writing all showy?   Are you writing darkness and gloom because of the popularity and success of Twilight or Amanda Hocking?   Are you running raggard to attend every literary event?  Facebooking and twittering all over social media without anything real to say?  Or are you writing what you are good at writing?  Great stories with substance.   Tales that have a beginning, middle, and end.   Characters that have depth.  Locations and plots that have been researched and carefully plotted out.    Good covers are great, but it is the quality of the pages inside that count and will make people come back for more.

Mockingbirds, on the other hand, never stop squawking.  They twitter, and tweet a variety of chirpy tunes.   Short, loud, bursts in every possible call song.  Never sticking to one, just repeating what ever else they have heard around them.   If you listen to them, it becomes apparent  they are trying to attract attention from every angle.    From anyone who will listen.  First this tune, and then that.   Frustrated and fragmented that no one is paying them heed.    So, they change tunes, mimicking some other melody.  Some new authors know they want to write, but can’t find their own voice.   They chirp from this to that, trying to find their niche.   Slow down.   Find your true voice.   Then, sing it to the rooftops joyfully as your own brand.   Your unique author platform.    And stick to it.

Hawk sizing up a mockingbird

Sizing up meaningful tweets and twitters.

Now, consider the hawk.   Eyes on the prize.    Quiet and still as he calculates just the right moment to seize and capture.    The hawk sizes up the situation, calculates the risks, and strikes to take action.    At first glance, he may appear to just blend in, but on careful inspection, you will notice this intricate, exsquisite patterns woven within his feathers.   All aligned and symmetrical in attractive patterns.   Breast full of sustance with dynamic, sharp looking wings.  Proud, confident, and sure of who he is,  no need for overt showy-ness.   The hawk takes his time, hons his skills, and strikes with near 100 percent accuracy when ready.    Isn’t this the writer we all want to be?    Savvy about the business, sharp in our craft,  eyes on the prize, confident and patient, but fearlessly ready to strike when the moment is just right.     On some days, you may feel as an author that you vasilate between all three.    But try to stay focused.   Educate and train yourself on the literary world.    When you are ready,  be a hawk!

The dreaded M word . . . .

Talking about FLYING SOLO

Talking, talking, talking FLYING SOLO

The dreaded M word for most authors is marketing. Marketing, marketing, marketing! And I don’t mean the cute Mother Goose tune about “taking a pig, giggety gig.” Some authors believe that the hardest job is the writing. The writing is easy. Great marketing can make your book into a NYT best seller. Poor marketing can relegate even the most well written book into oblivious resale shops. Marketing is not something that is taught by the publishing houses.   It is encouraged, but not taught.   If you are self published your book will remain unknown unless you are a marketing champion.  If you hire a publicist, make sure they are savvy about today’s book market.   Gone are the days when 20,000 copies will sell themselves.   But don’t shy away, one can learn to market.   You must embrace it with shameless self promotion.   Babble about your book.   Let’s break it down with some tips to make it easier:
M   Make the most of every opportunity to talk about your book.  Don’t shy away.  Tweets, blogging, and facebook are all your friends.

A   Advocate for your book.   Whenever you around anyone, have fliers, business cards of your book, and information to readily hand out.  Make it easy for people to find and read your book.

R  Research, research, research.   Look at the type of customer who seems to be attracted to your book and zero in on where you can find those people.  Bookclubs, meetups, church groups.   Find where they are hanging out and plan to be there.  Consider public speaking.   Dave Lieber the Yankee Cowboy is the champion on this.  There are online communities like Createspace and forums, like Indie Publishers in your own towns to discuss these topics for authors.

K Kismet.  Sometimes the starts align and put you in the right place at the right time to meet a person who loved reading your book and writes a great review.    Not all the best reviews are paid for!    Many are free.  Look for Amazon top reviewers.

book signing FLYING SOLO

Book Signing at ARealBookStore May 2012

E Educate yourself on how to go about self promotion.  Dont’ shy away from the experiences of other authors.   Take a few workshops on book promotion through meetup groups.  Read, read, read the outstanding free publications all over the internet.   A great example of that is Author Media.  Learn the trick of the trade on how to link your tweets, blog posts, and facebook postings to make them synergistically bring in more followers and fans.

T Take the time to learn the ins and outs.   Be patient.  Start a momentum and build it.  There are no secret tricks to marketing.   Be ready to learn from what works and what doesn’t.   Collect ideas and test them to see what gets the best bang for you buck.   You don’t have to spend all the profits from your books on paid services to market.   Great quote from one author, “make sure you get some promo copies of your book into the hands of the reader.   Remember your slogan is not ‘buy my book’ but read my book.   Word of mouth in this business is everything!   One reader who share with another and another and another.   Best example of this, The Help.

So, don’t get frustrated or have a panic attack when someone in the industry asks you about your marketing plan. Follow the tips here, make yourself a list of activities and like NIKE says. . . . just do it!