Libbie the Lobster

To purchase the children's book "Saving Libbie the Lobster" go to


Marketing Blues


My head is buzzing and my feet are stuck in clay! My fingers are poised on the keyboard but my eyes keep drifting from the computer screen to the ocean outside my windows and I’m trying to think. Thoughts come in words and phrases and follow one after another in a circle. I think you, my readers, may recognize some of these. You know the ones that keep streaming in with no action behind them because they’re circular!

target audience, holiday book signings, tweet, post, blog, write, sell, promote, follow, join groups, comment, like, apply for awards, hashtags, tags, guest blog, email, call, search, watch tutorials, learn more, do more, ad infinitum


I know the target audience for our book, Saving Libbie the Lobster, is children but young children don’t buy books so how do I appeal to the adults who can’t wait to purchase an awesome, based-on-a-true-story, signed by the authors, one of a kind, fun, funny, educational, artist illustrated, children’s book? “All of the above words in red” you may respond. But which ones work the best? There must be a way to do less and accomplish more — an easier, softer, smarter way that doesn’t include an “Upgrade to Premium” which costs money which is what I’m trying to bring in, not put out.

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I think if I can just finish this blog, I’ll be doing well. But the moment I stop writing, the litany of words starts over again. And too, what about my novel, The Jumping Off Place? It is finished or just about and after it’s finished, there is a whole new target audience!

Maybe there is a solution after all. I haven’t found it yet but there must be one. It’s not rocket science I’m sure, although I think I understand rocket science better than that terrifying word — marketing!

If you can relate, please leave your comments below. If you have solutions, please leave comments below. If you have funny stories or anything that will stop this circular stream of consciousness, please write in the comments below.

And as always, thank you for reading.



The Agony and the Ecstacy of Writing

I am a writer. At least that’s what I call myself. I write. That’s what writers do — we write. Right?

I have been telling people I am a writer for a couple of years now, which is not very long I know. Each time I hear the words leave my mouth, I wonder if I will ever finish my novel, The Jumping Off Place. Write-and-keep-on-writing

I love the experience of writing once I begin. It’s the starting that is torturous for me. I can think of a thousand unimportant things that simply must be done before I can sit down and immerse myself in a wonderful, timeless journey into the world of my story. Am I filled with self-doubt to the point that I choose to ignore those around me who consistently tell me I write well? Or am I perhaps afraid I will actually succeed after all?

Certainly at the end of a day of writing, I feel quite accomplished and even energized. I am closer to the end of the story than when I began. In fact, the end is in sight. I can see it! It is so close I can taste it. So what keeps me from sitting down for as long as it takes to write 2,500 more words, the last two being, THE END?

For the last two years I have been climbing a mountain, a very high, rocky mountain with several difficult obstacles. There have been times when I thought I reached the summit. It was beautiful there. Maybe that was good enough, I thought. Did I really need to go on climbing? I could sit back and enjoy the success of the climb to that point couldn’t I? But climb on I did. I went on with trepidation and doubt, but go on I did. Little by little, one step at a time, I climbed ahead.

My attempt at metaphor may have been flimsy but nonetheless, it describes my uphill journey as a writer. The beautiful place I spoke of, was the publishing of our children’s book, Saving Libbie the Lobster, of course. But meanwhile my novel sat unfinished. I had a yearning to tell the story I had inside of me, the one I had begun to write. After all, I  want to leave a legacy in some small way that I have been here.

I look forward to the day when I can look back on this time with my novel in hand, in awe, and wonder how I could have struggled so.

Many thanks to my readers. I would love to hear if any of you experience these same struggles and if so, how you overcome them.


So How Do You Write a Children’s Book Anyway

When Heather Chalmers and I decided it would be fun to write a children’s book about our adventure of saving Libbie, the rare yellow lobster, from our local supermarket, we had very little idea what the job would entail. We were still speeding along on the roller coaster which had lifted us into the air in a very short time. The dizzying heights were clouding our minds with grandiose ideas of writing a book that would become famous because of the enormous amount of press that had already been done about the story. But in our hearts, we cared little for becoming rich or famous. We wanted to make kids happy by reading a book of our amazing journey with Libbie the Lobster. unnamed (3)

Because Heather is a former first grade teacher, she  had a myriad of supplies to begin our project and a plethora of children’s books from which to define a plan of action. And so we set forth with excited determination to write the true tale of our beautiful yellow lobster, named Libbie.

Heather and I were not new to the writing world. Heather has written poetry and I had begun work on a novel a year prior. However we were new to each other, having only met briefly twice before we joined forces to rescue Libbie. Therefore brainstorming about our book was often interrupted with intermittent getting-to-know-you sessions. We liked each other instantly and became fast friends. If anyone had been listening in on our conversations in those first few days of planning our book, they would have heard much laughter interspersed with quite serious discussions about our lives. Overall there was a sense of having met by design for a greater purpose.

Looking back, I recall that there were moments when we doubted we could actually produce a children’s book we could be proud of but we forged ahead, encouraging each other when doubt crept in. Neither one of us could have imagined the incredible children’s book we were going to produce. And it all began in what now seems a flurry of activity to find our way.

That first day, we had decided to meet early in the morning and keep going until we thought we had made a good beginning. Heather had stacks of children’s books for us to go through for ideas. We soon realized we had many questions: How long should our book be? What age group are we writing for? Do we want words and pictures on every page or pictures on one and words to follow? Should the pictures run across the center of the book or be different on each side? What is the moral of the story? Do we want the words to rhyme? What type of illustrations and colors? And who will we get to illustrate our book, anyway? How much will all this cost????

It was a daunting task but we had the experience of working tirelessly to rescue Libbie and get her to a new home, so we pushed on. At times we were tackling several things at once, seemingly haphazardly but within a few days, we began to see results. Within one week, we had an illustrator and a publisher and our story boards were laid out around a large table to tell our story. We were learning the process of creating and producing a children’s book at lightening speed.

We solicited help from our author friends and began making several difficult decisions, i.e. self publishing vs. indie publishing, cover designer, web design, graphic design, contracts (between Heather and myself too), hard cover vs. soft cover, size of the book, printer, bios, and photographer. We were making important decisions together and we were only two weeks into our project.

All the while, Heather and I were working hard and having fun. We were motivated by the desire to “strike while the iron was hot!” People were talking about Libbie the Lobster everywhere and we were building quite a following. My fondest memory of those first two weeks was of Heather and I standing around the table writing the words to our story. Because I have been far removed from children in my later years, Heather had to remind me that the words I suggested would not be understood by little ones. The wonderful rhymes in our story were entirely Heather’s doing. She later told me that she read Dr. Seuss books before going to sleep. She would awake in the morning with rhymes for our book. I loved the rhymes and laughed heartily when we added them. (I am laughing as I writing this.) photo (6)


The entire process was not without its difficulties. We did not always agree but our respect for each other deepened and our friendship grew even stronger. Looking back on it now, I can only speak to the incredible joy we both felt when we finally received our book from the printer a mere four months after I first laid eyes on that special, rare yellow lobster in Publix Supermarket. We were both so very proud of the children’s book we had created together. And the best part is that children love our book!!!

Feel free to comment and ask questions. And thanks again for reading.



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Writing: Seeing It Through to the End and Beyond

My days were going along as usual procrastinating about writing and filling my time doing everything but writing, other than those few short bursts of fluid creative thought that seemed to pour from my mind as though someone had taken me over. typewriter_quote You know the feeling when after writing a few hundred awesome words that flew through your fingers onto the page, who wrote that?

For over a year my apartment was cleaner than ever before because I had to clean before I could write, right? Then I had to go to the gym because if I didn’t keep up my strength, how could I ever finish my book? And of course keeping up with friends, the myriad of unnoteworthy emails I received needed to be seen, and generally enjoying beach-life all served to distract me and provide excuses for not writing.

But the truth is, I didn’t believe in my heart that I could write well. quotes-about-writing-writers-block-doubt (1) Somehow I thought I had to write the novel of the century! Growing up I learned that if you can’t do a thing well, don’t do it at all. Somehow I heard, “If you can’t do a thing ‘perfectly,’ don’t do it at all!”

Despite friends and strangers who have heard me read excerpts from my book, telling me I write well and exhorting me to complete it, I continued to struggle. What if I did complete my book? What then? I knew nothing of how to publish a book, where to get it printed, who would do the cover, or how to market it. A few good friends who are accomplished authors promised to help with those things but the job seemed monumental.

Somehow I think I am not alone in this dilemma. I hear many who say they would like to write a book–far more than those who actually do. Perhaps they struggle like I did with the daunting task of seeing the work through from beginning to end. To those who feel as I did, I say, do it anyway! The help is out there! If you can write a book, you can learn to do the rest. And honestly, if I can do it, almost anyone can.

Having experienced the labor of love seeing our book, Saving Libbie the Lobster, through to it’s completion and beyond, has taught me much. I see once again in my life that I am my own worst enemy. I alone will stop myself from fulfilling my highest hopes. So back to my novel I shall go. I will see it through to the end and beyond.


A Year in the Life of Marybeth

Every year about this time, I become introspective. No matter what I busy myself with, the thoughts intrude and feelings are stirred up. But never before has it seemed more important to give a voice to my ruminations. Perhaps it is my age. This year I became 63 years old. I am wiser now I think, and as I look back I understand how every experience, every choice I have ever made has led to who I am in this moment. find_create_yourself

All of my experiences over these many years have been characterized by extremes. Raised by wonderful parents in an upper class suburb in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, educated in private schools, a high school drop out, a hippie and a rebel, married at age 17 and a mother at the same time, divorced, an addict on the streets of Center City and a life in the underworld, entered recovery at age 37, college and a master of arts degree, a career and a relationship, physical illness–close to death, loss of freedom, freedom gained, health renewed, and more.1977158_642036509247493_9030602463521013173_n These are the things I brought with me to 2014. To have lived though it all is a gift. To have the drive to survive is my nature. This year saw me 27 years in recovery, 19 years cigarette free, 2 years vegan, and 4 months cured of Hepatitis C. And in this year, I suffered with ill-health, extreme depression and some of the best, most exciting moments of my life when a new adventure as an author began, all because I laid eyes on a rare yellow lobster.

I realize that I see things differently these days. My life is simpler now and my mind is peaceful because I no longer have the incessant need to understand deep existential matters. I think that for the first time I have an understanding of what contentment is.

I was supposed to write! Everything in my life has led to this one thing! My experiences and my interpretation of them pour from my very being to tell a story. This will be my legacy. I will leave something of me behind and others who find my writings will perhaps know they are not alone.

A quote from my beloved son, David, sums up this year for me. He said, “I bet it wasn’t that long ago that you thought you’d never even see 2014, and now look how amazing it’s been for you. That suggests near-limitless possibilities for 2015.”

I look forward to it!



Christmas Nostalgia

Dressed in a black velvet dress with a white furry collar, white leggings and black patent leather shoes, I demurely awaited Christmas dinner. Mother and grandmother clearly approved of my lady-like disposition as I sat in the thickly upholstered chair with my feet far from touching the floor. Next to me the crackling fire raged in the stone fireplace and warmed my feet. As I gazed at the Christmas tree that reached to the high ceiling, I became mesmerized by the colored lights shining on the red and green ornaments and silver tinsel. The scent of pine filled the room. Newly opened boxes in many sizes and shapes remained under the tree. On top of the baby grand piano sat candelabras whose shimmering light sent flickering shadows around the large room. fileDespite the warm fire, the room felt cold, or perhaps it only seemed cold because the snow was piled high on the outside windowsill and the oak trees swayed in the blustery wind.

Having spent the day excitedly opening gifts and receiving everything I had asked Santa for, I was content on the outside but inside, I wanted to run and play with daddy and grandpop. I was bursting with energy but was relegated to the living room to await the evening feast. I felt uncomfortable in the crinolines under my dress that made my legs itch and the shoe straps across my feet would have cut into my skin save for the perfectly turned down white socks.

But I was so much younger then. I remember those years with sad fondness. The people are gone and the old-fashioned ambiance of my family’s traditional Christmas is gone with them. The little girl I was is much older now and my ideas of this holiday are tainted by what I see all around me. The general disregard for the problems facing the future of humanity as evidenced by the demands for more of everything, is more apparent to me now.

Although the luster of Christmas has dimmed for me, I believe that Christmas is still magical for children. I could not be more grateful to be able to be a part of children’s joy this year for the holidays. Many people have been buying our books as gifts from Santa to their children. I can picture their faces light up when they see the colorful illustrations and they read the story of Libbie’s rescue from the supermarket tank. I would like to think Heather Chalmers and I are like Santa’s elves who worked happily to bring joy to children. 75696088ec7e30b36947ba739c2c9d01

Now instead of snow laden oak trees outside my window, I see regal palm trees with Christmas lights snaking up their trunks against a backdrop of blue ocean.  I could not be happier. It has been said that with age comes wisdom, so wiser now, I can enjoy making new memories of holidays with friends and their little ones.

What are your earliest memories of Christmas? And how has that changed for you?

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I’m going crazy! Who wants to join me?

This is exactly how I feel today, and yesterday and oh yes, since the day I found Libbie the Lobster in Publix! I never imagined I’d be sitting at my computer almost every waking moment of almost every day for almost three months reading, writing, and I love to learn new things but does it have to come so fast and furious! I guess that’s the kind of person I am. Bring it all on! I don’t have to eat, or go to the beach, or see people in person, or even sleep for that matter. I’ll just keep tapping these old fingers on the keyboard and hope it sells a book or two. So far I’ve got two pages on Facebook, a Twitter page, Google+ business page and WordPress blog page. The best part is I put them all on HootSuite and I can post to all of them or one or two at a time and I can even schedule them so I only have to go absolutely mad a couple of times a week! Jeez, I really am pretty good at this. Heather Chalmers just come and get me when it’s time to pick up our books.
Oh and By the way, this picture is of me and it is in our children’s book, Saving Libbie the Lobster. Join the fun!