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Guest Blogger’s Self-Publishing Saga #2

From Randee Russell Bieler:


Ahh, the power of saying things out loud.


Now that Peggy has posted my first blog entry, people are beginning to get back to me and I’m nudged by the reality of my decision.  I spent a few hours on the phone and poring over research I had been noodling over for at least a year.  And guess what?  I am maybe a month away from having the book for sale on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle as an e-book. Takes my breath away. 


And frees me up to work on the “limited edition.”  Let me give a little background:


My book  is about Mattie, a slave during the Civil War, who goes looking for her seven children who had been sold away and FINDS THEM.  I was a new Mother when I  first heard this story and it hit me like a ton of rainbows.  As I was researching and writing about Mattie, my closest friends experienced heroic odysseys with their children.  Their experiences seemed to me cut from the same cloth as Mattie’s.   I sewed them all together – these mothers' stories.  The name of the book is QUILT.


It took years and years to research and write Quilt.   But in that time, a lot of information came to light about the fact that there are more slaves in the world today than  there were in the Ante Bellum South.  (A good place to find out about that is  Many of the modern slaves are girls and women trafficked from their families and forced into brothels.


All over the world people have formed organizations to fight slavery, again.  Some have set up workshops where freed slaves make beautiful handicrafts. (A good place to find out about that is  


When I found out about these workshops, I started wanting to offer a limited edition of Quilt that would somehow include materials made in survivor’s workshops.  I tried a number of times to explain this idea to New York publishing persons but they looked askance.  And I suppose talking about limited editions when you don’t even have a publisher is putting the cart before the horse. 


But the horse has now left the stable and so I’m working on the limited edition.  In Nepal they make a lovely, strong-as-iron paper from the bark of the Daphne tree. (It doesn’t hurt the tree.)   Women who have been freed from forced prostitution in Indian brothels make this paper and the stationery they create is so beautiful that they are able to make a living wage from this work.  (Anuradha Koirala who won the CNN Hero Award this year for her anti-trafficking work places women in this workshop.)


So the Survivors Workshop in Nepal will make the paper.  And in Orange County, California, I met a woman who was trafficked into this country for prostitution but who escaped.  She works with other freed women, and she is organizing a small workshop to fabricate my limited edition.


So, the book is about American ante bellum slavery.  It is bound in paper made by freed slaves in Nepal and fabricated by freed slaves in California.  I just like the way those dots connect.  Our first workshop, a training workshop for the Orange County crew, is June 7 – my birthday.  I am so grateful to be alive in this day and age. 


{  Randee Russell Bieler is the author of a short story collection, Bombs, Carolina Wren Press, and has had movies made from her scripts, including Graffiti, a short, which was nominated for an Academy Award  . Contact her at [email protected]

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Categories: bold writing, publish, self-publishing


  • June 7, 2011 at 10:34 am Reply

    I applaud your decision and look forward to hearing more about this adventure as I intend to follow in your footsteps later this year.  I'd especially like to hear more about the paperback edition and how that works — i.e., page layout, costs of printing and shipping, etc.  While going this route involves a sense of loss for writers of our generation (New York publishing has always had such power to validate!), I believe that a feeling of empowerment and even greater rewards lie on the other side.

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