Birthing a book

Done, done, done. I’ve released my book, A Heart for Selma, 12 Stories of Activate Selma NC.

It was soooooo like giving birth, complete with two Artist’s Way writers supporting me on Zoom like a midwife and doula during the past few months, reminding me to breathe in peace, breathe out fears (thank you, Angie and Evelyn). When I hit the submit button it was a welcome delivery. A labor, yes, but I so loved dancing with my interviewees.

A Heart for Selma shares 12 personal stories of Selma, North Carolina residents, volunteers, and business owners who are revitalizing and uplifting their beloved rail community and all it has to offer. 

My project was supported by United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County and the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Writing a book under a grant is a long haul in a short amount of time. The manuscript quickly ballooned to 40,000 words, cellular to cosmic. One minute I was describing how a woman jack-hammered plaster off brick to renovate her dream coffee shop during the pandemic. The next, I was opening a small window on the courage of a Black educator to fight decades of micro-aggressions and run for local office. As an editor, Dr. Stephanie Andrea Allen challenged me to go back, pull it apart again, ask myself new questions, and polish it for clarity. At the crowning moment I stared at the stack of papers marked with red ink and sticky notes and green sheets for additions and felt truly insane. What was I thinking, taking this project on in just six months? And then, page by page, I finished, producing a clean and neat package for Victor Rook, who formatted and produced the book.

Katja Jentes, Proverbs Photography

When the photographer I wanted to hire fell through, I took a chance on Katja Jentes, a 17-year-old artist and coffee shop barista who was building her portfolio as a professional photographer. I paid her a pro rate and she delivered more than I asked for. Before she even met her subjects, Katja studied their draft stories. Her final gallery reflects her research and details.

Victor Rook has guided many first-time authors through the book production process. I deferred to his advice (don’t jump the gun on publicity until you have a book in hand) and now wait patiently for my first printed copy to arrive. I plan to send a news release out in two weeks, and begin ordering books in bulk for the September book launch event after that.

I’m busy building my platform now – updating social media, filling out author pages on Amazon and GoodReads, populating with photos and book excerpts. For every plank I add, I find two more that need to be nailed down.  I have a lot to do in the next two weeks.

I’m grateful to the people who made themselves vulnerable and shared their stories.

I’m grateful to two national experts who willingly sent me endorsements of Activate Selma’s work:

I’m inspired by Activate Selma and all they are doing to take a Strong Towns approach. They are a model for others to follow. – Charles L. Marohn, Jr., President and Founder of Strong Towns,

I’m thrilled that you are taking the lead in making downtown Selma your Community Living Room. This is an absolute top priority of ANY and every community that hopes to remain a sought after sustainable destination. Downtowns are back and more important than ever. Every community – especially Selma – has the potential of becoming and remaining a thriving, sustainable and desirable place to live, invest in, and visit. Your book, A Heart for Selma and the 12 stories you are sharing are so vital for the continued success of Selma – and for generations to come. Thanks for doing all that you can to keep Selma strong, successful and vibrant. – Roger Brooks,,

I’m hoping A Heart for Selma, 12 Stories of Activate Selma NC is just a beginning, and that there are many more stories to come!

#ActivateSelmaNC #12StoriesofSelmaNC

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