Published Xlibris Corporation
Genre: non fiction, self help
Price: from £18.80 (paperback). Hardback edition also available.
What is your book about? Widowhood Happens is about preparing for widowhood.
Why did you write the book? A friend of mine was recently widowed. Knowing that I am a writer, she said, "Gene, you HAVE to write a book about widowhood. There are so many things that aren't anticipated. Women don't know what to expect." Actually, I didn't want to write the book. I made a list of pros and cons. The cons turned out to be the longest list:
1. Nobody wants to read about a spouse's death.
2. It will not be a best seller, or come anywhere near it.
3. It will be difficult to find a publisher.
4. It will be difficult to sell.
The more I thought about it, I gradually changed my mind.
On the pro list I wrote: "I want to do it." That was my final decision.
Where did you get your inspiration from? My inspiration came from my friend Margaret, especially after she told me all the odd things about her bereavement.
How does your book differ from others that are similar? It differs greatly in the way I chose to write it. Twelve widows and two widowers told me their stories, starting with Margaret. They were all different in their personalities, education, circumstances and ages. One widow's story after another can get to the point where they begin to blur into each other, and since I try not to give advice, I interviewed professionals who deal with problems of the bereaved.
The solicitor (attorney) had the expected list of papers you should immediately be able to put your hands on, but she also had some very intimate stories about women and men who couldn't cope well. These examples show the reader what to avoid as well as positive things to do. A psychologist said that it is not very often that a widowed person needs help with his or her emotions. A sign of needing that kind of intervention is if the bereaved blocks out ordinary life by never opening the curtains, not answering the phone, not going out — avoidance.
I interviewed a priest about a therapeutic weekend, led by lay leaders (not officials of the church) who had been trained to ask key questions and listen to the bereaved air his or her distressful thoughts. This is amazingly helpful for both the widowed and divorced. They say goodbye to their former spouses, and start a new beginning. This does not mean that they will forget them. A minister said that churches generally are not very helpful to the bereaved. Friends and relatives often say hurtful things to the surviving member of a couple. I told him about the therapeutic weekend, and he agreed that that was an exception.
One bad example of people who say the wrong thing is the lady who said to a young, grieving wife, "Don't worry, you had six years together, you'll get married again." Horrible, awful — and stupid! Bossy, argumentative relatives are another cross to bear. Maybe friends and relatives will take a few hints from the bereaved and be careful of what they say. It's better to give your attention to the person in need of it, but it's no time to give your opinions. I did give two pieces of advice, but it wasn't to the bereaved. It was to the friends and relatives: LISTEN and DON'T JUDGE! That is so important.
The book is neither religious nor non religious. If a widow or widower wanted to talk about religion, they did. If they didn't that was fine. I wasn't pushing any particular belief. In fact, some women were angry with God. Some were angry with their husbands for leaving them. One woman was relieved when her former husband ran into a tree and died. She was in an abusive marriage for 30 years before she divorced him.
A chapter that surprised me was the result of a question I asked friends. I asked them because I didn't want to approach a stranger with this question: What have you done to prepare for widowhood? There was such a variety of responses. Many made me smile. This book is not all doom and gloom. It's honest and revealing and, I hope, helpful to readers. I've been told so.
Why did you choose POD? I chose POD for the same reason that my other books have been published that way — to save time, have control, get it out to the public, have it on record.
What do you see as he advantages and disadvantages of this method? What I saw as a disadvantage early on was the lack of distribution. That has recently been improved. Amazon.com helps with that and one of my POD companies has worldwide distribution. Another disadvantage is that some newspapers refuse to review books by POD publishers. That is not good. The advantage to writers is that they can see their books in print even though the large traditional publishers won't touch them because they won't be best sellers.
How do you market your book? I have several books that I market the same way — websites, newspaper announcements, radio interviews and talks to groups. I'm open to all kinds of ideas, except the ones that cost money.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome? It is getting people to realise that they really SHOULD prepare for widowhood — even if they're young and healthy, and don't want to give a thought to dying.
What would you say to others considering POD? It takes more effort to be a POD writer, but it saves time, and you get your book published. Just make sure it is as professional a job as the ones published by traditional publishers. Maybe you should start with magazine articles. That's what I did. I was a features articles writer for a local magazine for 20 years, and am a freelancer. The pros judge my work.
Where can I get a copy of your book? In Britain I would choose amazon.co.uk. It can also be ordered at xlibris.com in the U.S.