I’m hopeful in spite of everything…

This year some bad things have happened, quite a few of them, really.  We’ve lost beloved performers, we’ve heard some truly odious lies told by politicians, and the national media has done its usual job to try and twist our perceptions outside the realm of reality.

Some good things have happened as well.  For me, I have had some personal successes, and kept chipping away at a couple personal challenges that have galled me for years.  We as internet users continue to reap the benefits of parallel communication so we can get an idea of what’s really going on, no matter what the media might say.  I have improved my art and this blog and I’ve published two books and two short stories this year.  I’ve also dipped my toes back into traditional media and had one of my drawings published in a magazine, so that’s a great thing to remember for me.

It’s been a mixed bag but there’s hope.  Some friends of mine have revealed to me that they are terrified of what’s going to happen because Hillary didn’t win – to me there’s a glimmer of hope because she didn’t. I didn’t like her opponent that much, but when you get past the media lies he’s not quite the ogre everyone seems to think he is.  So I have a little room for hope in politics.  At least our current Anointed One won’t have the chance to catapult the US into World War 3 and make energy so expensive no one can afford it.

I take my hope in small doses.  For another example, right now I make $2.79 above minimum wage.  Come the new year, I’ll be making $0.79 above the minimum wage, and I’ll have to deal with higher prices and such as businesses find ways to pay their employees up to that rate.  I work at the lowest paid call center in the city.  But, there’s hope!  Because I moved to a place that’s cheaper to live in, has lower utility bills, and has the most awesome landlord I’ve ever even heard of.  I feel bad for all the families who will have to tighten their belts even more, but at least I, personally, will have hope, even as I watch my dollar grow weaker.

My books are starting to make a little money, so there’s a glimmer of hope there too.  I’ll keep on writing, and drawing, taking pictures and doing what I do, and who knows?  Maybe my audience will find me.  Hope springs eternal.  The important thing is, if you want to have hope, never give up, no matter what you do.  If you stop, you can always start again.

As Winston Churchill said,

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Hopeful

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/hopeful/

Resilient Flowers

If you want to see resiliency, visit the Sonora desert.  Even the flowers, that look so delicate and beautiful, are tough survivors.

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They live through blistering heat, monsoon rains, cold temperatures and animal nibbling only to exuberantly bloom again.

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Usually, no matter how pretty the flower, you must mind the thorns –

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They are there, whether you see them or not!

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via Photo Challenge: Resilient

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/2016/12/30/resilient/

Discovering new foods

At this point, I haven’t had much chance to travel.  But I’m still a person who’s curious about the rest of the world, so much so that I love roaming around on Wikimapia, and using Google Street view to see places I’ve never been!  How to feed this desire to experience new things?

I travel to different international stores!

Not only do they have really interesting packaging in other languages, but I get a taste of different cultures, I see different ways of doing things.  The sounds, sights and smells are different.  I love that!

I’ll travel to Asia, by going to the international supermarket in the rich part of town – their prices are amazing, the staff is friendly, their meat and fish are well prepared, and I love exploring all the odd snack foods.  What exactly does that fruit taste like?  Let’s try!  Why does dried squid make a good snack?  What exactly is that cut of meat used for?  Is refrigerated udon better than the dry stuff?  How do you open a bottle of ramune, anyway?  And what in the world is that huge purple flower bud that’s a foot long, and how do you cook it?  So many questions, so many delicious answers.

Then there’s the utensils!  Why are there five or six different types of mortar and pestle?  What is that knife used for, specifically?  How about that pot?  The wonders don’t stop.

Other times I’ll head south, to the Carniceria, and get my favorite marinated meats, either to have them grilled (right there outside the store) or to take them home to bake.   I’ll get some taijin powder to put on my apples, maybe a chunk of candied sweet potato, or maybe I’ll get some pumpkin empenadas.  I’ll certainly pick up some thin, lovely, handmade tortillas and some real Coke with real sugar in a glass bottle.

By the time I get home, I feel like I’ve traveled!

via Daily Prompt: Discover

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/discover/

Self Publishing – Selling Your Work

Now that you have a book, you want to sell it, right?

CreateSpace does some limited marketing even if you don’t pay for the marketing package. I remember how happy I was when I had just bought some Joel Rosenberg books and got an email saying “If you liked Joel Rosenberg, you might like The Dice Of Fate by Rohvannyn Shaw!” That was truly awesome.  Recently I randomly found an ad for my new comedy book on a Hubpages post about customer service!  Not sure who put the ad there, Amazon or the writer, but so far it’s found me about ten customers.  If you put your work out there, it’s entirely possible that others might find it and decide to promote it.  There’s a lot you can do to improve those chances.

 

Basic Marketing Steps:

Announce on your social media.  That one’s pretty easy to guess.

Create a website or put a new page on your website for your book/s.

Fill out your author page on Amazon, or your profile on Lulu.

Join Goodreads, get an author page, fill it out.

Blog about it if you have a blog.

If you join Goodreads, check out the author communities. Often you will find people willing to host author interviews or feature new books on their blogs.

Do a promotion – CreateSpace lets you make coupons and do giveaways.

Don’t stress over reviews too much, but if you can get them, great.

You can do a Goodreads Giveaway too, they are pretty helpful. They only cost the price of whatever book you are giving away, plus postage.

Make little placards and leave them up places where readers gather. Bulletin boards at coffee shops, libraries, bookstores, etc. I make mine when I see those promotions for penny prints at Snapfish, Shutterfly, or similar photo sites.

Buy a few books and sell them on Ebay or Etsy. You might be surprised at who wants one, and it helps put them in front of more people.

Go to craft fairs or holiday bazaars with some copies. There aren’t many authors at craft fairs, so you will have less competition.

 

Note about blogging:  If you have a big following, it can be perfectly fine to say “hey, I have a new book, come check it out!”  But if you’re still trying to attract new readers or you’re starting out, try to think of some really interesting angle to write about.  Offer a chapter of your book, write an article about something you learned while writing it, something like that.  Give people a reason to click into your blog and then let them know the book is available within that posting.  Let them see why they should put down money to read more of your work.  It really helps!
There are a thousand other ideas out there, some of them quite creative, but I think you get the idea. Notice that most of these ideas are cheap or free!

Check out my page “self publishing” for the other parts to this series, and more.

Self Publishing – preparing and uploading your work

As I mentioned  in Part 2, don’t let anyone tell you that you need to pay for an ISBN, or for submitting things to the US Copyright Office to “protect your copyright.” Keeping the file on your own computer is fine.  That will show the time stamp on it in case anyone doubts your ownership.  I do recommend backing up your work on a thumb drive or external hard drive, though!  If you publish a book, putting the copyright notice near the front of your book protects you as well. You know the one, “this is a work of fiction… ” etc, etc.

 

First steps

I like to set up the title and author info on CreateSpace (or Lulu.com) first, so the service gives me the ISBN, then I put it into my formatted file, convert it to PDF, and then upload it.  After that, CreateSpace asks you to briefly describe your book, say who wrote it, and asks you how big you want your book to be. 6″ by 9″ is a good size to work with, that’s the standard trade paperback size. If you need templates for covers or interior pages, CreateSpace provides those too. Google “CreateSpace templates” for more information.

 

Your Blurb

Your short description is often called a “blurb.”  It’s best to keep this relatively short, maybe a few short paragraphs, because the idea is to entice the reader in and tell them what’s special about the book in a short amount of time. You can use your cover description for this, or something a little longer. Your book may have really great points about it, but a text wall is not inviting to readers.  Just reading the descriptions of a lot of books online will start giving you ideas about how to do this and what it needs to say. Notice what you like, what you don’t, and what works for you with what you see.

 

Setting up your book

While you are setting up your book on CreateSpace, there will be a place where it asks you to set up a BISAC Code. That’s really easy. Basically, you are giving the two main categories that your book fits in. That will affect who sees the book, and who Amazon tries to sell to, as well as where it would be shelved if you get into a bookstore or library. For example, my comedy book might be in fiction: comedy, as well as comedy: business. Play around with it to see where you might fit, you can change it later.

Also, they will ask you to set up five to seven keywords. A keyword can be a short phrase. This makes your book easier to find in net searches. For example, my comedy book might have “comedy, humor, business, customer service, advice” as the keywords. Note that “customer service” counts as just one keyword. Again, you can change those too.

Next, CreateSpace will ask you where you want to sell your book. They will give you the opportunity to market your book worldwide! No extra fee is needed for that. You will also learn what the basic price is to print your book, so you can choose how much profit you get. There are certain guidelines to this but everything is really clearly explained.

Finally, when you have your cover uploaded, your interior text uploaded, and everything filled out, it will let you do a final review, and you can submit. It takes about a day for final approval. When the files are ready, they will email you and you can give your final stamp to it. You can either use their interior reviewer to check the final proof, or buy a proof copy. It costs three or four dollars plus about four dollars shipping. That step is optional, but at least look at the digital copy before submitting.

Then, feel free to publicize all over, put it on your blog, brag about it, and pat yourself on the back! You’re an author! I’ll give tips on marketing in the next post.

Bonus tip about covers: Make sure and leave space at the bottom or to one side of the back cover for the barcode. If you don’t leave space, or if your art wraps around the whole book, they will overlay the barcode somewhere on the back, so it’s best to leave a spot for it. You can leave a three inch by two inch gap if you want, or use a barricade generator and put it in yourself. Then they won’t add it because it’s already there.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Dice of Fate Cover Final.png

 

The Story of Orion and Cassiopeia – Part 1 — Katzenworld

I was a college student when I met him. We were in sage country, near the town of Moses Lake. My Mom and I went on a walk one sunny afternoon, at a wilderness area. It was a beautiful day. The red-winged blackbirds were warbling in the cattails surrounding a little stream. We’d eaten at […]

via The Story of Orion and Cassiopeia – Part 1 — Katzenworld