Thursday, May 26, 2011

Through the Eyes of a Soldier

His eyes demanded attention; looking away was not an option. Something reflected there told me he had seen things the rest of us could never begin to imagine.

Through the eyes of a soldier I live each day. They haunt me each time I look into the mirror, my breath catching as cold gray steel glares back at me.

When I dream, I see only what he has been through while serving two tours. I do not know the names of the men that have tried to kill me or those that I have killed in order to survive. I am haunted by the faces of the men, women and children encountered in war.

Each day I felt more of my own identity slip away as Sergeant Eli Stevens crept deeper into my mind. If I had known what accepting this transplant would mean to my sanity, I would have chosen to go blind.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Short Stories: Inspired by the Paintings of Marilyn Knell

Jungle Night...Inspired by the paintings of Marilyn Knell

As the sun sets, the moon and stars take their places high in the sky. The purple glittering glow of the jungle night creates a rather magical sight.

The lion, tired from his busy day, lies down under a tree in the tall grass and watches out over the land. His mane shines as the sparkling stars reflect on the watering hole nearby.

The elephant's massive size as he huddles with his family makes it hard to tell one from another.

The zebra keeps a watchful eye on the night, paying close attention to his surroundings as he prepares to rest.

Baby gorilla takes one more glance at this magical sight before she cuddles up to her mother for the rest of the night.


Surprise for Leo

Hunkered down in the tall grass, the king of beasts closely watched the herd picking out the weaker one. He was in no mood to hunt; the lioness should be out here, not him. He yawned and settled waiting for the right moment to pounce. If he was lucky, maybe the weakling would move closer. As far as Leo was concerned, the less running he had to do the better.

He preferred to be laying in the shade of his tree. Usually, on hot days, he would be napping not stalking prey. Leo looked around, careful to move slowly, so as not to give away his presence to dinner. Taking his eyes from his target for only a second, he looked back to find the herd had suddenly went on the move.

So much for a simple kill, Leo sprang from his hiding place giving little thought to what had spooked the herd. He stopped in his tracks. Accustomed to fearing nothing, it was not often that he was caught off guard. Seeing the irony in being taken by surprise a slightly amused yet stunned expression crossed his face.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Marketing And Self Promotion

"Carly's Wish" has sold 55 copies to date!

Marketing has to be one of the most challenging parts of self-publishing but it can also be very interesting and even fun! So far one of the best marketing tools I have found has been use of the social networking sites. Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are a few of the most popular.

By keeping active on these sites I have seen authors build an unbelievable fan base in a very short period of time. The more people following you, the more sales you can generate.

For "Carly's Wish," I have started a Facebook Page called "Concepts with Carly" where I plan to post daily preschool related games, activities, recipes, and tips. I also have included fun facts about caterpillars, butterflies, and insects from the book; which I plan to expand on in the future. Everything on the page is written from the perspective of Carly the Caterpillar the main character in my series of children's conceptual picture books.

I am also getting ready to have my first book signing at the John McIntire Public Library in Zanesville, Ohio on Saturday September 26th from 11:00 to 1:00. This is something I need to work on advertising in order to draw more people to the signing. Books will be available for sale at the signing for $8.00 each.

Self promotion is not easy and I would recommend networking and even taking a promotional workshop to help in this area if you are entertaining the idea of self publishing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Marketing Challenge

Well its been about two months now and I have sold over 40 copies of "Carly's Wish."
The marketing for the book has proven to be a challenge so far. I have taken copies to a couple of public libraries and gotten them onto the children's department shelves and have been offered the opportunity for a book signing. I have established a website and tried promotion through outlets such as Amazon, Facebook, MySpace, Craigslist, and Ebay. So far the only of these to have resulted in any sales is MySpace and Facebook.
Where do I go from here, I'm not sure. I will keep you posted once I have talked with a few other authors to see how they have done it.
When all is said and done, I am not unhappy with the results so far. The work I've done marking the book to date has not been that difficult and I have learned a lot along the way.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I've Finally Done It

Well all the deed is done. After lots of hard work, some of which I expected and some that was very unexpected, "Carly's Wish" is on the market.

I promised that once the process was complete I would disclose my choice in publishing along with a honest review, so here goes. I decided to go with a print on demand company associated with Amazon called Createspace. I made the decision for several key reasons: the first being the cost factor, the second being ease and quality, finally and most importantly maintaining all rights to my material.

When I decided to do this I checked into many self-publishing options and found that it can be very costly and in most cases you have to buy 500+ books in order to keep your cost down. With very little start up capital and a fear of thousands of books drawing dust in the attic I continued the search for another option.

The ease of the process was another big factor I had to consider. With limited time I needed to work with a print on demand that was easy to understand and follow and one that didn't have a lot of hidden costs. I found the Createspace site easy to navigate, information well explained and straight forward, and in general very helpful. The quality of the final material also impressed me. One of the things I liked most was that you receive a proof of your work to go over and approve of or make any changes you would like, and until you are satisfied and give the go ahead nothing is printed.

Finally, my main factor in this choice was the fact that I maintain all rights to the material. I didn't want parts of the story changed or for someone else to illustrate it. This allowed me to have full control over the finished product. I am also free to do with the material anything I choose even selling it to another publishing house.

Marketing the book is proving to be the only drawback to this type of publishing. Although Createspace comes with the added bonus of both having your book placed on and in the Createspace e-store, selling the book is up to you. I am just beginning this process so I'll fill you in as I go along. I can tell you that, since hitting the market on May 7th, 2009, to date I've sold 32 copies!!

Overall the process has went very well for me and hopefully will continue to, but I'll be sure to let you in on any issues that arise in the future. Anyone considering the self-publishing route should really look into Createspace. It may suit your purposes and it may not but in my opinion it is definitely worth the time to check it out.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Brief Update on My Progress

I can not believe how quickly time can get away from you. I have been so busy trying to get this book ready and in print that I haven't taken care of anything else. Things are going well now. It was touch and go on my end for awhile.
Let me begin by giving one piece of advise: if you want to self publish learn all that you can about PDF, DPI or PPI, and ABC's (just kidding on that last one). The old illustrations posed a problem for awhile but all is well and I have a proof of the book in hand. I am so excited, it looks great and I only want to make a couple of minor changes before going to print. Hopefully by this time next month I will have a book for sale.
So far throughout this process I have had a good experience. I have had minimal cost and good quality of service through the printers. I am still reluctant to mention who I am going through until I can provide complete information on my experience with them. At this point, SO FAR SO GOOD!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

It's Not All About The Writing

I've been behind on writing, my children have been ill and I am not getting much in the way of sleep so I may ramble a little. Please forgive me.

My first attempt at self-publishing is in the works. I submitted to the printers only to find out that I had made a few errors in my PDF file. At first I was discouraged that I had to start from the beginning with the art work, but this has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I had submitted the material although I was still not 100% satisfied thinking that I had done all that I could do with such old files. I've been working with an ADOBE Photoshop program and my new illustrations are turning out much more appealing, in my opinion.
I am now very thankful that I didn't print my first submission. The revisions in artwork and a few other suggestions made by the printers have also led to some structural changes that I had not considered. I have been learning a lot through this process. Writing is not something to be taken lightly, it is a lot of hard work. There were times when I thought that getting the story down just right, crossing all the t's, and editing a dozen times would never end. Now I realize this is only the beginning.

I have always enjoyed reading as much as I enjoy writing and I find that to succeed as a writer you have to love to read and research. Lately I have been researching printers, editors, and agents; business proposals and writing platforms; children's magazines, programs, and educational needs for preschool age children; not to mention query letters and business plans. Believe me when I say the list goes on and on.

So, you want to be a writer and progress to published author! You have an idea for a story, you write it down and decide it's pretty good. Don't stop there! Read it, and write it again, and again and again. Now that that is done; edit, edit, edit, and then write it again! Research not only where to submit your material and how to promote it but how to sell yourself as a writer that should be read. Decide on your writing platform and marketing strategy or at the very least find those that can do this for you. Network, network, network. Finally, your ready to submit your material, be prepared to wait, and if your lucky enough to sell be prepared to wait some more. If you don't sell this time around be prepared to start the process over again, maybe from the beginning or at the very least somewhere in the middle. No one said it would not be work!

Bottom line: Love to write, love to read, enjoy research, and never stop learning...then you might have a chance in the world of the published author.