Friday, November 5, 2021

The Joy of Writing or A Story About Ash McGrath and Writer's Digest


This is a story about what I might have missed without Writer’s Digest and the kind of authors it inspires.

It is a story that might have never been told—or at least a story I might never have heard. It is a story about the great feeling of winning. It is a story applauding the kind of loyalty Writer’s Digest inspires (including me for I have been reading it for decades!) But mostly it is a story of just one of those readers.



My memories of this event are a bit fuzzy. It happened at least a year after I had entered my latest book of poetry, Imperfect Echoes, in a Writer’s Digest contest and probably a month or two after the Writer's Digest issue announcing winners had disappeared from the newsstands. I had received a beautiful critique from one of the contest judges and after that...well, nothing. I have learned not to mourn losses but to look for the positives in them. So, I excerpted a lovely blurb from the critique and moved on.

Enter Ash McGrath. She is a friend I have seen only in online images. I think she knew me because I have displayed my how-to books for writers in a book fair sponsored by Valerie Allen's AuthorsforAuthors group for years. As an author of marketing books, I understand that frequency is important to any campaign; as a realist, I know that one can't expect marketing for a series of nonfiction books for writers to cross genres for a book in another genre. So when I received a tag on Facebook from Ash that offered me her copy of the issue that announced winners of the contest I had entered my book in...well, I was puzzled. And thrilled. And appreciative.  I gave her my address but didn’t dare to expect to see it in my mailbox any time soon. These are busy times. Online friendships are often fleeting. Ash's writers group is mostly made up of writers who live 3,000 (at least!) miles from me. I had never presented at their writers' conferences--or even attended.

Shame on me! I underestimated the generosity of authors. I underestimated not the reach of Writer’s Digest but the loyalty of its readers. I underestimated the connection we writers often have with one another based the simple fact that we write. When I asked Valerie Allen, the director of several book fairs and conferences in Florida I mentioned before she said, “We call Ash our ‘Conference Ambassador’ because she volunteers at all of our events.”

I call her my writing angel. Her copy of Writer’s Digest is now my copy of Writer’s Digest. It means more to me because the memories it holds are layered. It lives on a bookshelf in my office I keep for writing successes. It’s a little like a vision board. I sometimes peek at what I have stowed on that shelf to keep me moving forward during my most discouraging times.

Let me introduce you to Ash.
She signs her emails: “Ash” Ashley McGrath

And then—to make us all aware of one very important thing in her life, she adds:
“UnabASHed by Disability”

I shall never underestimate the ties that bind author-to-author again. Or to include those ties among the many joys of writing.

My best to all Writer’s Digest’s grateful authors out there, And special thanks to Ash McGrath.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson



Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers have won multiple awards. That series includes The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor which won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and others including the coveted Irwin award.  


Share on LinkedIn
https://www.linkedin.com/
And more via the icon bar below:

4 comments:

Karen Cioffi said...

Carolyn, what an interesting story, and how kind of Ash McGrath to actually send you her copy of the WD issue. Authors are usually a helpful bunch!

deborah lyn said...

Thank you Carolyn for this wonderful story. Talk about customer/writer care--Ash is tops!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Thank you, @Karen Cioffi Ventrice and @Deoborah Lyn! I agree. My Ash McGrath story is a wonderful example of one of the very best parts of being a writer!
Hugs,
Carolyn

Dr. Valerie Allen said...

Hello, Carolyn - one of our many California Girls! Each year we get a few more books from
CA writers to have on display at our events - all because you help us get the word out! At our Writers' Conference in the Spring and our Meet the Authors Book Fair in the Fall, we offer a very "frugal" opportunity for authors from all over the US and Canada to have their books on display. Our events are a BIG success due in part to our wonderful Ambassadore, Ash McGrath! Ash keeps things running smoothly and always offers a smile. Thank you, Valerie Allen, AuthorsForAuthors.com

How Authors Can Learn to Love Amazon

 I get ideas about stuff to talk about in unexpected places. I assume that is not unique to my writing experience, but today something poppe...