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Local authors sign books

You're The Boat by Pam Belding (click for larger version)
January 30, 2013 - Brandon Twp.- Two local women have achieved a dream come true by becoming published authors, and will sign copies of their books at the library this month.

Pam Belding will sign copies of "You're the Boat: Charting a Course Toward a Life Worth Looking Forward To," from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 5, and Jill Stodola will sign copies of "Cadavers and Cocktails: A Collection of True Stories From Dark to Light" from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 13. Both events take place at the library, 304 South St., Ortonville.

Belding's book was born from panic, while Stodola's book literally came to her in a dream. Both came to fruition through self-publishing.

In 2008, Belding, a Brandon Township resident, began preparing for a move to Brazil with her husband by homeschooling their son. The process was misery for both Belding and her son, however, and as she walked around the lake near her home one day, she found herself wondering how she would get through the next year in Brazil.

"My next thought was, 'My attitude is a lot like a rudder on a ship and as long as you can keep your attitude adjusted, you can get where you need to go, but if you get stuck, you're just driving around in circles and frustrating yourself and everyone around you,'" she said.

Cadavers and Coctails by Jill Stodola (click for larger version)
With the boat analogy and the realization she retained power over her own life, she felt hopeful. She continued to think about herself and her life as a boat, walked home, took out colored pencils and drew a boat, thinking about the different parts and what they meant.

"Your heart is the ship's wheel, your strength is the mast, your soul is the sail, the crow's nest is your forethought, the flag is your influence, the figurehead is your faith, the keel is your responsibility and it's heavy because it keeps you balanced and stable," she explained.

There are 19 different parts to the boat, Belding added, and in her book she does her best to explain them and how they fit into your life. She calls "You're the Boat" a personal development book, a voyage of self-discovery.

"The book develops you by giving you a fresh perspective," she said. "It helps you to see your life in a different light and gives you an opportunity to see how truly powerful you are in your own life. It offers guidance so you can chart a course toward your own vision."

Belding actually began writing the book in 2011, well after her family had returned from South America. Last April, she called a graphic designer, ready to put her writing into a book. Her next step was to obtain an ISBN (International Standard Book Number). Since one number would have cost $200, she decided to buy 10 numbers for $250, as she has "more books in me, waiting." She then went to the Library of Congress website to register her book's ISBN online. She was sent a Library of Congress number and made sure it and the ISBN were accurate on the title page before sending to her graphic designer. She also contracted with a photographer friend for the pictures in her book. The photo on the cover is of the boat Belding made using mixed media.

Belding needed funding for the printing of her book and used a website called She chose a printer in Fraser after googling Michigan book binders. While it cost her $2,100 to have 500 of her 55-page books printed, she will be able to keep all of her profits. She decided against traditional publishing because although these publishers have an advantage in marketing, they wanted 80 percent of any profits and it could have taken 2-3 years to have it published.

Now she is doing the marketing, but she didn't have to wait and the profits will be hers.

"You have to be very self-motivated to do this," Belding notes. "You have to believe in yourself and your product."

Belding plans to submit her book to bookstores, do local signings and market directly to people and through people she knows. She also plans to use a tutorial to put the book on

"I had a dream come true, I have a book published, it's in the Library of Congress," said Belding. "If you have a book burning, don't sit on it, write it a little every day and give it a try. Someone needs it, most importantly, you need it. Feed those dreams, because they will feed you back."

Stodola's book literally came to her in a dream in which she was in a morgue and a medical examiner proposed they meet after work for "Cadavers and Cocktails."

"I woke up and said, 'What a novel idea' and wrote the title down," said Stodola. "The book is stories from my life, a life worth sharing. The cadavers represent life's extreme trials such as death and destruction and the cocktails are life's yes moments, such as travels around the world, accomplishments, victories."

The book is composed of non-fiction short stories, with some similar to poems. The goal of the 94-page book, the Atlas Township resident said, is to help people talk about their lives and as they relate to the stories, use the book as a guide to help get them through their tough times.

One of the short stories, "Toe Tag," relays Stodola's gratitude to be alive and being given a second chance— spared from what she said could have been a horrible death after an accident in Alaska.

It took Stodola about two years to write "Cadavers and Cocktails," while printing it and getting it "out the door" took about two months. She had 1,000 books printed, with the first rolling off the press one month ago.

"I was so excited, couldn't wait," she recalled. "I had one of the shippers take a picture of me with the book, I could barely talk. It's like the birth of a first child kind of thing… Write your book, don't give up, keep notes of every story you write, and follow through with it. Everyone has a story to share, it's not insignificant, it's a part of you."

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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