How "Backstroking" came to be ... : Passing Notes with Nancy
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How "Backstroking" came to be ...

by Nancy Rose on 04/13/16

Last spring I got a call from a Kentucky editor, Steve Allen of Chestnut Hill, asking to publish my poems.  He explained to me that Chestnut Hill was a small publishing house, anonymously funded to publish non-stereotypical Appalachian writing.    My response was, “But I live in Montana.”  His response was, “Yes, but we’ve read your poems.”  Chestnut Hill published the amazing historical novels of my good friend, Justin Turner, and I knew Justin and Judy had read and had copies of some of my poems.  So, the work began. 

Since I have been writing for a long time, I had enough poems for the book, and working with them seemed to prompt me to write more.  In October, I went to Lexington to meet with the publisher, editor and graphics people.  Then came the layout, the formatting, and what seemed like endless editing in November to remove any errors and make sure the design looked good and read well.  When I sent my manuscript to the publisher for what I thought was the last time, I decided to order bookmarks to celebrate.  Created by Mishelle at InstyPrints, they resembled the beautiful Backstroking … cover design by Paul Osborne, CEO of Chestnut Hill, cost 22.5 cents each, and I like them. 

The printer’s proof was reviewed in early December and the book was printed the end of December, not quite in time for Christmas.  I thought my work was done, except for mailing copies to family and friends. 

Then came another phase of learning, about media mail, tracking numbers, and dealing with address changes.  I had a stash of bubble wrap mailers that I was able to recycle and it felt good to use them.  I thought that by the end of January I’d be through with book business, and had no idea a book could take on a life of its own.  

Backstroking All Night in the Starpool  has been mailed or carried to the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, California, Washington, Florida, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Indiana, Maryland, Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, Alaska and Hawaii, and to the countries of China, New Zealand, Chile, Antarctica, and Burkina Faso (that I know of), as well as to the Blackfeet and Salish Kootenai Reservations in Montana. 

In a little over two months, 30 copies were sold on Amazon.   Some orders from me have been for five or ten copies; others have returned for more books more than once.  I have been asked to read poems over the phone and to individuals and groups, and have been delighted to listen as others read from the book. Some have asked to use poems in presentations.  One person posted “My Old Failures” on her laundry wall. 

When I sent my last edited draft to the publisher, I suddenly thought, “What have I done?  That’s my life!”  Then I thought, “Oh well, it’s done, and I stand behind it.”  And then I just let it go.  

Beautiful and touching responses to the poems show up in cards, notes and emails.  It is so neat to see individuals resonate with lines that prompt their own memories.  It is neat that people like the book, that so many resonate with the poems in ways that are meaningful for them, and it is lovely that they let me know.   So, a lot has happened really fast and I had the privilege of working hard, then watching the unfolding of this experience.  There has been much encouragement and cheering from family and friends, and this amazing website created by Terri Rasmussen and Dave Stone.

But I am not the book.  I am me.  I am here hoping to get some yard work done before traveling to Kentucky for a book tour.  So, I have concluded that the book really does have a life of it’s own, and I am a handmaiden, sort of, trotting to the post office with packets, and going on a book tour where I’ll get to talk poetry with a lot of neat people.  So, being a handmaiden has its rewards, too.  But I’ll get home to more yard work and hiking, and the book will just keep on truckin.’

Comments (2)

1. Marsha said on 4/14/16 - 11:46AM
You are a wonderful handmaiden to the exquisite voice that comes from your soul. Can't wait for the next installment, be it poetry, hiking or yardwork.
2. Ruth said on 4/22/16 - 10:52AM
So many of these works speak to my heart, especially the ones about growing up in eastern Kentucky, a background we share. I have mailed copies of this elegant book to Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, and Oregon.

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