Is a Galley Worth It?

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Another publishing update.

I decided on a whim to order a galley copy of Blue Gentian.  Kindle was telling me that my cover photo was too small for the book, and I wanted to see (and maybe better control) what readers would have when they purchased my title.  At the bargain price of whatever it costs Amazon to print the book ($4 in this case), how could you go wrong?

You can’t, basically.

I’m THRILLED I decided to go that route and shell out the bucks for the galley.  It wasn’t the photo on the front that was the problem so much as the lettering that looked a little pixely.  I fixed that and we’ve moved on.

But honestly, that’s not the real reason I’m so relieved that I decided to order a copy.  The real reason was twofold.

One: there were a TON of typos that I just didn’t catch in the e-copy proof of the book.  There’s something about holding the item in your hand and reading through it that makes you catch those stupid periods that are duplicated, or the five times you’ve used “the world” in a single paragraph.  There were so many issues that I think it would have been pretty obvious to someone that the book was self-done.  By getting the hard copy, I was able to remedy that.  There may be typos I still didn’t get, but they’re not GLARING now.

Second: the book didn’t FEEL like a real book.  I was using the same document for the Kindle version and the print version, and so I had done all the stuff you’re supposed to do for the Kindle version – no extra pages up front, many links to my sites, etc.  By putting everything in the back of the book, I made the print version seem like a fake book, I think.  I now have formatted the print version to feel correct.

So, in case you were publishing a book and wondering if it was worth shelling out the bucks for the hard galley copy, I would 100% recommend it.   We’re looking at approximately 3 weeks until this thing is officially released.  I can’t wait.

And in case you’re wondering, I AM ordering a new galley of the updated book.  You know, just in case.

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Baby Days

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a post about life in general.  Largely, it’s been good.  Although I will say that it’s a bit strange to be a stay-at-home mom sometimes.  I find that most of my day isn’t terribly interesting; always repetitive, even while it’s extremely rewarding.  All I need is a baby grin and I’m a happy mother.  Bonus points for one of those shrieking giggles he gives sometimes about unpredictable things.

Being a mother is also surreal, though.  Asher doesn’t look exactly like me at his age, but he’s close enough that things get strange in my head.  Especially when I’m sleep deprived.  I often get the sense that I am outside of time, scrubbing my own elbows in the whale-shaped bath, cajoling myself to eat peas, pulling my tiny self close at 3 am when I’m having a hard time sleeping, singing show tunes to calm my younger nerves.   I know logically that he’s not me, but the lines still blur.

It feels sometimes like I traded everything that made me interesting for a suitcase full of baby snuggles, but it never feels like it wasn’t worth it.  Baby snuggles are pretty great. Besides, I know it’s a temporary condition.  My mother and grandmother, both stay-at-home moms, are/were VERY interesting women.  And I sneak in interesting whenever I can, between the cracks of bottles, naps, and routine.  Brian, wonderful Brian, helps.

It’s summer, so Brian and I have been taking Asher on an adventure once or twice a week – hiking, to the Redlands Bowl, swimming… It messes up the baby’s schedule but I think it’s worth it for the way it breaks my monotony.  After all, if Mom isn’t happy no one is happy, right?  That’s what I’ve been told and I don’t intend to test the theory.  That and books are my saving grace.

I don’t know why motherhood is this oxymoronic bundle of easy, boring, and the hardest thing ever, but it is.  I’m continually looking forward to whatever this baby is going to do next, though.  That’s all I really wanted to say this week.

Also, just for kicks, I’m going to write down our daily schedule for posterity:

  • 6:00 am ish – Baby wakes up.  Brian or I feed him a bottle (whomever is more sleep deprived gets to sleep).
  • 6:30 am – Brian gets up and gets ready for work while I corral the baby.  He usually squirrels around and plays with his Totoro plush while I sing to him.
  • 7:00-7:10 am – Brian finishes getting dressed, so he corrals the baby while I get dressed and eat breakfast.
  • 7:40 am – Brian leaves for work and the baby is MINE.  I feed him and sing songs to him until he either gets fussy or finishes his tray.
  • 8:00 am – Asher plays for about an hour, doing mostly his own thing except that every 10 minutes or so he wants to climb into my lap and get kisses for a second before moving on to the next thing.
  • 9:00 am – Bottle and nap time.  This kid usually falls asleep while he’s eating, right on top of me.  I read quietly on my phone until he wakes up. He used to have another nap later but for the past few days this one has just been epically long.
  • 10:30 am ish – Baby wakes up and plays again, but this time I MUST BE RIGHT THERE for him to stand on or hug him.  He wants to be touching.  Unless he doesn’t.  But no really, he does.
  • 11:00 am – This kid gets another bottle, though he stays awake and hums at me through it. He plays when he’s done, crawling around the living room from toy to toy.
  • 12:00 pm – Brian comes home for lunch.  We swap out watching him, and I get Asher a tray when I’m done eating so he can have lunch himself.
  • 12:45 pm ish – Depending on the weather, Asher and I walk Brian back to work.  The baby usually falls asleep sometime during the walk, and (depending on the weather) I just park him under the shady tree in the front yard until he wakes up while I sit on the bench on the porch and read some more.
  • 1:30 pm ish – This kid wakes up and we head inside.
  • 2:00 pm – Baby gets another bottle, to which he usually falls asleep.  This one’s his long nap, and I can usually count on 1 1/2 hours from him.  Yesterday he slept for 2 1/2, though… When he wakes up, he plays.  He doesn’t care at all about me now, just wants to do his business on his own time.
  • 4:00 pm – Another bottle for baby.
  • 5:00 pm – Brian gets home.  After Brian’s changed out of his nice work clothes, I get a small respite from being “in charge.”  And if there’s anything I need to do on my own, I can do it.  I also often make dinner.
  • 6:00 pm – Everyone has dinner together, Brian and I at the table and Asher in his high chair.
  • 7:00 pm – The baby bedtime routine commences.
  • 8:00 pm – Asher is (usually) asleep by now.  The adults collapse in exhaustion in front of the TV.
  • 10:00 pm – The adults go to bed.  Or at least pretend to (if my book isn’t too diverting).
  • Sometimes Asher will wake between 3:00 am and 5:00 am in which case he’ll get a bottle before going back to bed in the pack-and-play in our room.  Sometimes he doesn’t.  It’s kinda a crapshoot. And that’s it!  Are you tired yet?

 

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Book Advertising Update

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I’ve done a little digging on how to get people reading Blue Gentian, and it looks like I can’t offer a free promotion until the book is officially published on August 1st.  Amazon also limits free books to 5 days, although I can do a “Kindle Countdown” deal for a low price for 7 days more.

So, the plan is to come right out the gate with a free title from August 1-5.  I’ll remind you that it’s happening so you can pick up the book for free and see what you think.  If you don’t manage to get the book within the 5 day window, don’t despair.  I’ll be running it for 99 cents from the August 6-13.  Only after the first two weeks will the price go up to the regular one of $6.99.  If you’re interested in adding the book to your wish list or just checking out the fancy pre-order listing, it’s here.

Why free or cheap?  First, I want to thank you all for following me and a free book seems like a good way to do that.  Second, I’m hoping you’ll think about giving me a little review in return.  The magic number to hit for Amazon to start promoting your book on it’s own is 50 reviews.  I think that’s a little optimistic for my first week (or several months, even), but any dent in that number helps. And any quality of review helps (kinda).  If you tell people you hated it, it still gets me closer to 50.  Just saying…

I also had a great talk with a friend who helps his mom with her self-published stuff.  He was amazed by Amazon ads, swears they’re the way to go, and gave me a couple of books to read on how to do it.  I’ll undoubtedly be running some ads, too, once I figure out what I’m doing.  I’ll report back and let you know how that went.  All this is new and exciting, and hopefully the stuff I’m learning will come in handy to someone else.

Lastly, There was some confusion about Blatantly False in the first few days, so I want to clarify… if you’re keen on reading this thing but don’t have a Kindle, you still can without shelling out hundreds of dollars for the actual Kindle equipment.  Kindle has an app that will go on any computing device you have (from laptop to tablet to smartphone) that you can download for free. I read most of my books with it on my phone and like it lots. Not thrilled with gunking up your devices with another app?  There will also be a print version available at $9.99.   Unfortunately, I can’t run this one under any of the Kindle sales, though, because of the cost to print.

Nano is still going well! I’ll be in touch…

 

 

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Blue Gentian

Blue Gentian Cover - Final -

Well, thanks to Camp Nanowrimo, I finally have my act together on something.  It’s only been four days, but so far it’s given me the bit of a push I need to prioritize at least some of the writing.  Some days I don’t get much done, but it all adds up, right?  And at least I’m DOING something now…  We’ll see if that continues.

After much ado, I have some amazing news:

Blue Gentian is all formatted and ready to go.  I tweaked the cover a little bit font-wise, as you can see above, and the book will be available for pre-order on Amazon in a couple of days with a release date of August 1st.  I’m going to try and do a thing where at least one of those weeks is a week you can get the book for free (please consider leaving me an honest review if you do download for free). I decided a long time ago that I’m making writing career decisions based on getting lots of people to read my stuff and not based on monetary concerns.  After all, I have a day job.

To say I’m EXCITED would be an understatement.  I’ve been working on an iteration of this book since high school, and it’s finally here and as perfect as I can make it.  Those who have read it for me have been excited about it too.  I hope you’ll consider picking up the book when it goes live.

And thank you for following me here and paying attention to my writing.  It’s you as much as anyone that gave me the courage to get this book into the world.

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The Annual 4th of July Post

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I’m going to preface this entry by saying that I’m a closet rampant Christian.  Or, not closet exactly… I just believe that there’s many ways to reach God and that Christianity is a good one, but I know it doesn’t work for everyone as amazingly well as it works for me. So, I tend to keep quieter than some.  I mean, it’s not like you’re NOT gonna hear the message of Jesus in America today…

I’m putting in this preface because I’m going to get a little religious on you at the end.

I’ve been feeling like a big fuddy-duddy this year about the 4th of July, and if I’m feeling it you better believe it’s bad.  I’m usually all about breaking out the tricorn hat and ’76 flag while humming Stars and Stripes Forever and carrying a sparkler. But America IS NOT living up to what it should be in ways so profound that I’m not even sure we qualify as a democracy at this point.  A fascist oligarchy? Maybe.  Democracy?  I don’t know.  I’m hoping we can get back to a semblance of democracy soon.

I’ve always been a proponent of the fact that the 4th of July is a day to revel in the promise of America, the US that never actually can be because it’s an ideal.  It’s a day to party it up, think of freedom and founding fathers, listen to a little fife music, and gain stamina for the fight to make the actual US match the fantasy US.  If we bathe in the America that could be for a day, we can better work towards that actuality in the coming year. A little bit closer, the years bending toward justice.

I just didn’t want to do that this year.   I see the country standing for so much hatred to the point where we’re not even acknowledging the humanity of children.  Where do we even go from here? Is there a bottom lower than this one?  I don’t want there to be.  I didn’t want to ponder or celebrate America at all right now.

Still, in church this morning we had a little America celebration.  We sang My Country ‘Tis Of Thee and America The Beautiful among other things.  The sermon was on making apologies for deep wrongs.  I sat in that sanctuary, sang all the verses, and found that maybe I did feel okay about celebrating the 4th after all.  Because the Founding Fathers knew that this was a fraught experiment with potential for abuse, but they also knew their scrappy citizens who cling to liberty with both hands.

I want to point you to two verses in each of the songs from this morning:

O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee.
Till selfish gain no longer stain, the banner of the free!

Our fathers’ God to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing. Long may our land be bright, With freedom’s holy light, Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King.

I think that this 4th is going to be more of a religious holiday for me this year.  I’ll be praying for everyone to be crowned with brotherhood, for selfish gain to no longer stain the banner of the free, for God to protect us with freedom’s holy light.  I’m hoping that the fireworks will shine like a benediction on these prayers on Wednesday night as they light up the firmament.

And then on the 5th, I’m going to fight like hell again to secure the blessings of liberty for myself and my posterity.

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I’m probably crazy…

Thank you to everyone who participated in the cover poll. The results are in!

Forest: 20

Caped Heroine: 9

Sparkly Face: 4

So, it looks like I’m going with the forest one. I’ll play around with the fonts a little more and see if I can’t get something better, though, since there were a lot of comments on that.

I’m a little nervous about it. Everyone I know who does design liked the Caped Heroine best, and honestly that sort of thing is what I’m seeing from most self-employed published authors. Still, Forest has my heart, and evidently the heart of everyone who has read the book (thanks to everyone who beta’d, too!).

That’s the great thing about self-publishing, though. If Forest isn’t selling the way I’d like, we can replace with Caped Heroine and see if it does any better. Yay for total control!

Aside from a few minutes faffing around with stuff that’s already mostly done, I haven’t done any real writing in a VERY long time. In a bid of desperation, I’ve decided to sign up for Camp Nanowrimo this month. Yes, I’m crazy.

I’m trying to take it easy on myself, though. I’m calling this project “be a writer” and I’m giving myself 1000 words for every day I do something writerly. Updating the blog, editing, creating Blue Gentian’s cover, formatting, outlining, actually writing fiction, plotting, random notes and penguins and iguanas lists; anything counts.

It will be hard, especially since I’m so out of the habit and in summer school. But I have faith in me.

I want to get ready to put my next book out, now that Blue Gentian is all but finished. It’s about 1/2 way through draft 2 right now, and I have at least two more drafts before I can put it though Auto Crit and then show it to Brian. Major rewrites usually follow any Brian input, and then there’s beta reading… Basically I’m saying it’s a WHILE off, even if I do manage to get my act together. It’s called Easterbay, it’s set in Maine during the 1940s, and it features creepy fairies.

I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going. Stay tuned for more. Also, I’m Caseykins over at the Nanowrimo site if anyone wants a writing buddy.

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A Cover for Blue Gentian?

Dear internet,

Please help me decide on a book cover?  I will buy the stock image when I know which one I want, so please ignore the watermarks temporarily.  Genre is Young Adult Fantasy. Thanks!

Synopsis:

Salya’s life is made of simple things; a dance around a bonfire, the small blue flowers that grow by the road, a pledge to become a healer like her grandmother before her.

But then she finds the man, half dead, in the bushes by the stream.

“Bren,” he tells her before succumbing to blood poisoning, and his disease is not the only thing Salya and her small band of traders find they are fighting. Where before the nights were quiet, there are secret police. Where before the forests were filled with birds, now there is a dark figure following the wagon train as it wends through the cold mountain passes.

When Bren awakes, he has a story to tell. He is a spy with information about an assassination attempt on the queen of the white city, and now he is too injured to take the news across the mountains alone. Salya must choose: let Bren journey to the kingdom of Kwed, alone, hunted, and wounded; or abandon her family in the scant hope that together they will be able to save the kingdom before the assassins strike.

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On Mother’s Day

Mother’s day is coming up, and it’s my first true one. I was barely pregnant last year, and certainly felt like I deserved a little recognition for how horrible the pregnancy was. Not much, maybe, but a little. But now that I’m actually doing the mothering, I feel differently about it.

I didn’t expect to. I expected that I’d want recognition for the sleepless nights and the spit up all over every pair of pants I own. And the screaming. We can’t forget the screaming.

The thing is, it feels like accepting accolades for eating brownies. The gift has already been all mine. The giggling and shrieking for joy; the way he chats to his feet in the mornings; his little velvet head; the way he grins when he sees me… All of it is wonderful. Even the bad moments have their magic – like when he finally tucks his face into my neck with a desperate sigh after screaming for one reason or another. I get to be the one he clings to.

It feels weird to accept praise for something I enjoy so much. It feels like I should be the one recognizing this boy for making me a mother in the first place.

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’ll take it. But I’ll be feeling weird about it as I do. I know I always appreciate the chance to thank all the people who have mothered me and mine, though, so I’m sure I’ll find my way through it. Maybe. I guess.

I mean, accolades for eating brownies is a pretty great concept. Just saying.

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School

I am officially a stay at home mom these days. At least for the next year or so. How am I managing that on our pared-down lifestyle? I’m going to school.

I have been thinking about babies and careers for a long time now, and when it all came out in the wash, it came out English teacher. Not only are the benefits great and the hours conducive to kids, but I really couldn’t think of a better way to spend my days than surrounded by books and writing. I’m hoping my enthusiasm will be infectious.

I got my fieldwork assignment, though, and I panicked. Because somehow in the middle of all this, I forgot how much I loathed high school. Like, I hated it so much that I graduated in three years just so I wouldn’t have to be there anymore, only allowed because I threatened to drop out. And now I was going back? Voluntarily?

Careers and I have always been uncertain bedfellows. I have worked the longest at Disney costuming, and it took me years to realize it wasn’t going to work. I could put up with bad pay, lack of advancement opportunities, and the horrible commute. What tipped me over was the hours – 12 hour days, midnight parade rehearsals, never a break. In short, no room for children.

I remember feeling, on my last day, not exactly sad, but nostalgic. I looked back through the white steel gates to take it in one last time, the yellow swoop of the Team Disney building, the boxy windows of the Eat Ticket, the gray concrete parade building, where I worked, beyond. I watched dozens of people in different uniforms scan their passes and go though the gates. ‘you’ll never be a part of anything if this scale again,’ I told myself, not unhappy with the prospect but still lingering. Eventually I turned and drove home.

My first week returning to high school just ended. And it was ALMOST just as I had thought it would be, with one major difference. It was like attending your very favorite class in high school all day long. The kids were smart little assess. I enjoyed myself.

As supervisory teacher was showing me around the campus, the quad full of trees and planters, the tan cinder block buildings tucked under the mountains and the blue California sky, I found myself returning to that last day at Disney.

And I realized… I might be embarking on something of that epic scope again. I’m looking forward to the rest of it.

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Songs and Rain

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It’s a strange combination of spring and winter in California right now.  The Roger’s Red, which I measure the seasons by, has begun sprouting silvery leaves again.  The lavender is blooming in my front bed, and the giant Maple in the front yard is all dappled with fresh green leaves as well.  But it has been raining a dreary drizzle for days now.

It reminds me of the winters when I was a child.  Our house was mostly windows back then, and the loudness of the rain falling made you feel like you were out in it while simultaneously being able to cuddle up under a fluffy comforter with a book.  Sadly, I can no longer cuddle up under anything and expect to read.  I have a small boy who needs constant holding and attention.  He already grabs my phone when I’ve been reading on my kindle app too much.

He’s surprisingly coordinated now.  Meaning that when he tries to put things in his mouth he gets them within an inch of his target, hitting his cheeks or his nose most times.  That isn’t what I would call coordinated at all a few months ago, but the fact that he could reach for something and grab it was a revelation, let alone put it mostly where he wants it.  He’s like a little birdy with his mouth, too, opening it wide for a pacifier, a plush toy, a fist, or a nipple.  He’s putting the whole world in his mouth.

I have discovered that if you put me alone in a room with a small child long enough, what results is silly songs.  I’ve been singing “He’s got the whole world in his mouth” to the tune of “whole world in his hands.” You can substitute the verse for whatever he’s currently eating.  “He’s got his mother’s knuckle in his mouth,” is a popular one.  So is “the sleeve of his onesie,” and “his green knit blanket.” But really you can substitute almost anything.  We’ve been trying to avoid “the sudsy washcloth” with more success than not.

I also have been singing him this song, to the tune of “I Hate to Get Up In The Morning.”  It’s based on true events.

Oh how I hate to get up in the morning/ oh how I’d love to remain in bed/ But when your son pees on all your fancy clothes/ you’ve got to launder all of those/ Or spend the rest of your life na-ked. 

Add that to the bevvy of things we’ve all pulled out of nowhere to sing him, and he’s going to have the strangest musical vocabulary ever.  Brian sings him “I Feel Pretty,” (he likes the “la, la, las,”) and my mother has been singing him the theme song to Daniel Boone.  I’ve been singing him Alan Sherman tunes amid musicals, hits from the 40’s and 50’s, girl scout camp stuff, and my own silliness.  He babbles back with smiles.

It’s harder being home with a kid than it logically should be.  I mean, feeding, changing, and playing aren’t theoretically difficult things, it’s just that they never end.  But being home with him is also more rewarding than I expected.  All I need is to launch into a version of “Look to the Rainbow” and feel this kid snuggle into my chest to feel like it’s all worth it.  Maybe days of bedding down in the rain with a book just got more social…

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