Nan DeVincent-Hayes, Ph.D
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Literature by Mouth
Literary artist Mary Cox-Bilz starts out her book, At the Gate Called
Beautiful, (At Your Service, Inc Books, 2001) with the words,
“I was born crippled. My arms and legs are deformed.”
By the photo of her on her book covers, we see that though
this is true, that she is a quadriplegic, but that it is her smile
that cuts right through all sorrow.
Perhaps that’s due to her faith.
In her 2001, At the Gate Called Beautiful, Cox-Bilz invites
readers to go on a spiritual journey with her where the inner part
of ourselves is jolted, awakened en route to reaching “the
Gate.” Along the way we meet different people with different
problems. Her central
character is Aeneas with whom she identifies: “And he found a man
by the name of Aeneas, who was bedridden and was paralyzed for eight
years” (Acts 9:33). She
does a fine job of making her point via supportive information as
well as a sense of her own feelings and those of others. In Chapter
Three titled “Lame,” she writes, “Powerless: Raging with fear,
Aeneas longed to be somebody...yet for eight long years his
shell of a body had laid as still as death.”
Just as his body is immobile, so is Cox-Bilz’s who writes
pieces with her lips. She
is a versatile artist, creating
not only inspirational book-length works but also greeting
cards, poetry, broadsheets, and prints of her original art
“suitable for framing.”
This is not her first book; she has four others to her credit: Your True Friend Always, Louisa; 1861-1865 is a treat for Civil War buffs, especially those who enjoy journaled entries, such as: “September 20th ‘63: Life has been a nightmare...I’ve been too depressed to write....My earthly days have been turned upside down....Who can prepare for the loss of one’s mother?”. Louisa comes to life for us just as the author describes her on the book cover as “a frightened young woman whose battlefield lies within the four walls where she lives” with her mother who we later learn through the diary is dying while Louisa’s brothers and father are off to the war. Equally entertaining is Cox-Bilz’s other work, Love, Aunt Alma, which is another journey for readers who visit with a widow during the Great Depression, as she struggles through frustrating and dismaying times. Both of these books are published White Oaks Creations.
Cox-Bilz’s most recent co-authored nonfiction work, How to Promote,
Advertise & Market Your Published Book, is a promising read
for the thousands of wannabe writers who desire to pen “The Great
American Novel” but don’t realize they have to promote it in a
world gobbled up by six corporations who own all the media, and in a
market where publishers seldom set aside an advertising budget for new
writers. But Cox-Bilz manages to zoom in on the problem and offer
step-by-step ways to get the word out about one’s literary baby.
She discusses such major issues as how to sell one’s books
through the mail, online, or in public, along with the best ways to
schedule and do book tours, join Internet circles, and deal with the
major media. This is a
woman who’s been there, done that; and her advice is topical and
useful. In fact, her words could well serve anyone needing a strategy
to promote anything. It’s
a good buy for $9.95, and is published by Cambridge Books, 2001.
Considering the author’s professional background in
marketing, it seems normal to trust her judgment on this topic.
Additionally, Cox-Bilz is a graduate of Woodrow Wilson Business School
in Virginia, with a diploma in accounting; Salisbury State University
with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology; along with studies in the Bible
from various sources. Recently,
the author moved to Maryland where she now works on writing through
the use of a mouth stick.