Monday, July 5, 2010

Happiness collage

Many years ago, before I met my husband, before I became a writer, I went through some not so happy times. I remember making a collage on a large poster board of things that made me happy. I smiled every time I looked at it, and I looked at it frequently. It helped keep me going.

I don't remember everything on that collage, but I remember a few things. A smiling woman in a flowery sundress, a man holding an infant, a barbeque. These images meant something special to me and probably wouldn't mean the same to you--but we all have our happiness collages.

Around that same time, I began collecting letters of recommendation. Nurses tend to change jobs frequently (every 2 years was the average back then,) so I figured instead of going back and bothering these past supervisors time and again, I'd just keep a letter from them on file. There were days I wanted to quit. If it got bad enough, I dug out those letters and reread them. It reminded me exactly why I had become a nurse, and that I was a good one.

I ran across something the other day that could have been called a more recent happiness collage--or letters of recommendation. It was a print out of my old review snippets. These were reviews of my old books in a different genre published under a different pen name. Reviews are, in a way, letters of recommendation.

I didn't have to reread them to convince myself to keep going. I'm happy writing and publishing. But it gave me the push I needed to republish these old friends.

Suspense is no longer my genre, but I had four successful published paranormal romantic suspense novels that readers loved, according to these reviews. I have the rights back and even though I was asked not to mess up my brand (hot romantic comedy) I will still offer these books under the old name on Amazon. It's not a career move. I don't want to revive that pen name. It took too much time, effort and expense to change it. I simply want to share those stories with fans of that genre.

I'm letting a friend help me with the technical part of making these old books available, so don't ask me how to do it! I have no tech skills whatsoever! This isn't about my happiness or about making a few more bucks. This is about offering a few hours of happy, healthy escapism to anyone who needs it.

Meanwhile, I have new review snippets. There are words like "laugh out loud funny" in these reviews that make me smile each time I see them. And I share my happiness collage or my letters of recommendation on my website now. You can read them on my "raves" page if you like.

It might not make you as happy as it makes me, but these snippets make me extremely happy. They remind me of why I became a writer and that I'm a good one.



  1. Congratulations, Ash!!! That's great about your fun reviews! You should be proud of them! Hope you're having a super Monday! :) Wonderful post!

  2. I have a self-published book written under a different name, and there's a link to it on my website. I haven't sold millions, but, a while back, I sold 5 copies to bookstores, so it isn't a total loss. I say go for it!

  3. Hi, Ash - nice post! One of my friends just got the rights to her books back - she published a lot of historicals back in the nineties, and she's going to make some available as e-books. They're wonderful, and I'm so glad readers will be able to rediscover them! New technology is doing great things for writers.
    Stay happy!

  4. Ash,
    The good thing is that as long as you have the rights back you can re-sale them at a later date. I have the rights back to all but 4 of my Gloria Dale Skinner books. Publisher will remain nameless but they have been difficult. I had three books out under Charla Cameron and I have those and last year re-sold my Amelia Grey titles to Sourcebooks, so good news might be just around the corner for you. Keep the faith!

  5. So glad the reviews make you happy. Even good reviews make me worry I'm not quite good enough for whatever reason. But to each her own, right?

  6. Shana,

    I'm sure you're your worst critic. Most of us are. Obviously, if you're published, you have something worth publishing and that didn't happen by accident.


  7. Reviews and reader email - sometimes that's exactly what you need when you hit a tough spot.

    Best of luck with Amazon!

  8. I think making a happiness collage is a wonderful idea. It reminds me of an exercise we did in a college class. Our final assignment in our last class before we were set upon the world as teachers. Each person in the class was given a large index card and we were instructed to write our name on it. We then passed the cards around the room in succession and everyone wrote one nice thing about the person on the card. When we got the card back, it had about 25 nice things written. I kept that card in my coat pocket for a couple years. Those are always the hardest when establishing yourself in any career. It always made me feel better. Some days, I really needed that.

    I hope your re-publishing venture goes fabulously!

  9. Love the idea of a happiness collage!

    Many moons ago when I had just started a new job, I was in a big meeting with maybe 100 other people in it. They divided us into smaller groups of about 10 and gave us each a card with our name on it. We were instructed to pass the card around the members of the smaller group and everyone had to write something they appreciated about that person. I was nervous about it at first since I'd only been working there a couple months, but I was so touched by the very personal and kind things people wrote.

    That was nearly 10 years ago, and I'm pretty sure I still have that card around here somewhere.

    Thanks for sharing your stories!


  10. Ash, I think it's great that you're focusing on the positive things in your life. There is so much negative to distract us.

    Thanks for sharing!


  11. Ash--what a great post! I love the idea of a happiness collage, and know you have so much more to add to it after the month of June! :)

  12. Your "happiness collage" is a darn good idea. I used to have something similar and ought to make another one.