After all, I’m the one who chose to move to a small town in the Midwest, plant my feet, and stick around while I raised my children. I know this is hard to understand for those of you who live in large cities and enjoy their resources and lifestyles.
However, my small town of 10,000 people is home, and I have reaped a great many benefits from coming as an outsider and moving toward an insider status among people whose families have been here for generations. I’d like to think that I’ve added a little bit to the town too. Like my protagonist, Grace Kimball, in my new Endurance series of mysteries, I see former students almost every day of my life in our small town. Thinking about this idea caused me to create a new project I’d like to call The Bookmark Brigade.
Unlike some authors, I have a very small budget. I taught at a public school with a good-sized poverty percentage for my entire high school teaching career. Three children through college and myself through grad school added to the current state of my marketing budget.
So I have to think creatively to move my little mystery, Three May Keep a Secret, from this small town to other parts of the country. [I think this last sentence might have been a direct quote from my younger son, the sales expert.]
This creative thinking stems from a little history. Back in 2005, I began writing a teaching memoir that I later self-published in 2010. Through the internet, I reconnected with former students who contributed their memories to my research in The Education of a Teacher (Including Dirty Books and Pointed Looks.) This project was a blessing in many ways because it brought a lot of fondly remembered people back into my life, often former students and colleagues I had not seen in years. Over thirty-four years of high school teaching, I taught between three and four thousand students. Many of them are gone from our little town now, spread out over the country and even to other continents.
Now that last sentence was one that made me sit up and take notice. My over-taxed brain hooked onto that idea and added another one.
One of our local printing firms, Kellogg’s Printing Company, made bookmarks to advertise my mystery, and they did a spectacular job. So far they have printed 750 of these bookmarks and I only have a hundred left. Needless to say, I’m reordering…a lot. I thought to myself, “Maybe some of my former students, colleagues, and friends who live in bigger places would be willing to distribute some of my bookmarks and information about my book to their local libraries and/or independent book stores? What if I ask some of them?”
I did. I started with twenty-two people and now I’m up to thirty-four who are kind enough to spread the word.
Right now I have three hundred bookmarks winging their way to various stores and libraries throughout the country. So far, of the people I’ve asked, not one has turned me down. Again, I am amazingly blessed by a career that I loved, and one that continues to remind me of the extraordinary nature of my ordinary life.
So thank you to my bookmark brigade: all of you people—former students and friends and colleagues—who are still making a difference in my life. In fact, I’m becoming quite busy for a retired person.
Thanks to Cynthia in Corvallis, OR; Barb in Champaign, IL; Pam in Plymouth, MN; Susan in Topeka, KS; Michelle in Chandler, AZ; Mike in Oshkosh, WI; Christie in Highlands Ranch, CO; Brenda in Valdosta, GA; Greg in Lincoln, NE; Paula in Chicago, IL; Sharon in Loveland and Denver, CO; Dee Dee in Oklahoma City, OK; Seth in Berkeley, CA; Dawn in Iowa City, IA; Chuck in Hutto, TX; Erika in Bowling Green, KY; Kyle in Memphis, TN; Beth in Madison, WS; Laura in Cincinnati, OH; Sara in Minot, SD; Jason in Salt Lake City, Utah; and Brian in Tallahassee, FL; Stef in St. Charles, MO; Andrew in Aurora, IL; Amanda in Liverpool, NY; Darren in Ames, IA; Johanna in Leander, TX; Becky in South Elgin, IL; Ann in San Antonia, TX; Dina in DC; Lori in Granby, CONN; Karen in Normal, IL; Kate in Humble, TX; Suzy in Ames, IA., and Ann in Chicago, IL.
It’s a small beginning, but I still have about 3,786 contacts to go, give or take a few, and I think we’re having a good time covering the country in bookmarks.
I am so proud of you Sue ! This is my first visit to your blog so I had a lot of reading to do!
Thanks, Linda, for visiting. Please, spread the word.
This is awesome. Nice work!
Thank you, Tara. I’m working hard at thinking about all this.
What a stunning idea! Teachers make such a difference in the lives of their students. I know I’m a writer today because of Sr. Marie Therese. I’ve looked all over the diocese to find and thank her, all to no avail. Have you considered writing a wee story, very much like your blog, for a teacher journal or two? There may be far more avenues open than you’ve uncovered and you may be able to connect with even more students. I bet a lot followed your example and became teachers.
Hi, Kait, Thanks for the good thoughts. I have a book I originally self-published of teaching stories, and I’m thinking about doing a new edition and making it more textbook friendly.Two universities and a jr college have been using it for a text. It is stories from my teaching days. And so I went in the opposite direction…started with a wee story and wrote a book. I’m working on it! My former students are the best!
What a great story! Love it that you made all this happen. Good luck for continuing success!
Thanks, Kaye. See, we small towns in the Midwest do some remarkable things. I know you probably remember that!
Hi Sue, Excellent post! It’s my first visit to your blog–I’ll be back!!
Thank you so much, Joanne. I appreciate your comments.
Great idea. I’m taught college students in my former career and am in touch with a few of them. This might be a place to begin for me. Thanks for sharing.
You’re welcome, Lesley. Hope it works for you!