Showing posts with label handicapped authors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label handicapped authors. Show all posts

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.  


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