Kid Lit Author and Advocate

Category Archives: blogging


I would like to reach out to kid lit authors and book bloggers to get quality books into the hands of deserving kids.

Featured Image -- 1290

Throughout the month of March, I am collecting new children’s books to benefit children of incarcerated parents. Authors, I hope you will consider donating signed copies of your books. Book bloggers, please help us by sharing this information with your readers.

I am a children’s author, teacher, and mom who is passionate about children’s literacy and the power of children’s books. When I learned nearly 2/3 of children, living in poverty, DO NOT own books, I was moved to act. I founded the literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On, to raise awareness for literacy issues and get books to kids in need.

Three years ago, the Picture Book Pass it On initiative grew to include a month-long book drive called MARCHing Books to Kids.

Throughout the month of March, MARCHing Books to Kids collects books (ages birth-17 years) for the VNS of Iowa Storybook Project. https://www.vnsia.org/mothers-children-families/volunteer-to-help-children/

VNS of Iowa volunteers travel to The Iowa Correctional Institution, in Mitchellville, once a month. With the aid of volunteers, mothers select one book per child to read via a digital voice recorder.  The audio CD and book are mailed to the child to keep. The mission is to strengthen the bond between parent and child, during incarceration, while promoting reading and literacy.

Since 2015, MARCHing Books to Kids has collected more than 1,500 books.                               Over the years, the drive has received signed donations from notable children’s authors such as    Robert Munsch (Love You Forever) and Nick Bruel (Bad Kitty series). Last year, more than 30 children’s authors donated signed copies of their books. Owning a book, let alone a book signed by the author, is a joy most of these children have never experienced.

girl wagon

I believe that every child’s Bill of Rights should be indelibly inked with the right to have books read to him/her and to own their very own books.  Many of us take for granted the sacred ritual of cracking open a book and cuddling together while the words and pictures collectively take us away.  You can probably recall having been read to by your parents or caregivers.  You likely hold a special book, from your childhood, close to your heart.  And, until now, you’ve probably not given much thought to how profound that experience can be…

Imagine, never having that.

To participate in MARCHing Books to Kids, please follow the 3 calls to action:

#1 Pledge to donate a new book/s to Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.  Authors are invited to sign their books.

When packing your book/s, please include a note stating that your book is part of the MARCHing Books to Kids initiative. Books may be mailed to:

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl

1111 9th Street

Suite 320

Des Moines, Iowa 50314

#2 Post your pledge on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO .  Share it on your blog and on social media.  Please include our badge and tags #PBPiO and #MARCHingBookstoKids

#3 Pass it on.  When you post about your pledge, challenge one or more friends to join your #MARCHingBookstoKids giving chain.  Encourage them to take the pledge and keep passing it on…

I appreciate your help spreading the word. Thank you for making the difference in the lives of children and families in need.

pbpio-and-marching-2017


I posted this many moons ago, but I thought it was worth repeating…

I am a writer.  I have met a lot of writers.  Most of us are very hard on ourselves.  Working in solitude affords us the time to self-reflect, which often leads to self-loathing.

stick

For many of us, our goals start small…finish a novel, get a book published, get a review, etc.  Unfortunately, rather than savoring the small fruits of our labor, we are compelled to reach for the next branch.  The following New York Times article is a fitting reminder that those clusters of fruit, we take for granted, are a delicacy some will never taste.

As the Eagles proclaimed, “…Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get
Desperado…”

Don’t quit your day dream.  Pull up a chair, heap your plate full, and enjoy your fruit-no matter how small.

Thanksgiving Weekend Blues

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — THANKSGIVING weekend in 1990, I spent two hours at the loneliest place in the world for an obscure novelist — the book-signing table at a Waldenbooks in a suburban New Jersey mall.

I sat at the table smiling like a game show host. Store patrons scurried past me, doing all they could to avoid eye contact. I kept smiling. I straightened out my pile of free bookmarks for the umpteenth time, though so far none had been taken. I played with my pen. Authors at signings like this get good at playing with their pens. I pushed it to and fro. I curled my upper lip around the pen and made it into a makeshift mustache. I clipped it to my lower lip, pinching said lip in an almost masochistic way, and was able to click the pen open by moving my jaw and pressing it against my nose. You can’t teach that skill, by the way. Practice. At one point, I took out a second pen, rolled up a spitball, and then let the two pens play hockey against each other. The Rollerball beat the Sharpie in overtime.

During the first hour of my signing, a grand total of four people approached me. Two asked me where the bathroom was. The third explained his conspiracy theory linking the J.F.K. assassination with the decision by General Mills to add Crunch Berries to Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal. The fourth asked me if we had a copy of the new Stephen King.

I kept smiling. Four copies of my brand-spanking-new first novel — Waldenbooks knew not to order too many — stood limply on the shelf behind me. I missed the Barcalounger in my den. I longed for home and hearth, for stuffing my face with leftover turkey, for half-watching football games in which I had no rooting interest. Instead I slow-baked under the fluorescent Waldenbooks lights, the Early Hipster booksellers glaring at me as though I was some kind of pedantic squatter. I had become the literary equivalent of a poster child — “you could buy his book or you could turn the page …”

Time didn’t just pass slowly. It seemed to be moonwalking backward.

Then, with maybe 15 minutes left before I could scrape up the scraps of my dignity and head home, an old man shuffled toward me. He wiped his nose with what I hoped was a beige hankie. His eyes were runny. Odds were this was going to be a where’s-the-bathroom question, but this guy had all the makings of another conspiracy theorist.

The old man’s gaze drifted over my shoulder. “What’s that like?”

“Excuse me?”

“That’s your novel, right?”

He gestured at the four books on the shelf behind me.

“Right,” I said.

He shook his head in awe. “That’s my dream, man. Seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore.” He lowered his gaze and met my eye. “So what’s that like?”

I paused, letting the question sink in, but before I could reply, the old man lifted his eyes back to the bookshelf, smiled, and shook his head again. “Lucky,” he said, before turning and walking away.

He didn’t buy a book. He didn’t have to.


We know what happens “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie”…but what happens when you give a mom a blog?

If you give a mom a blog, she’s going to sit for hours, staring at a blinking cursor.

She’ll probably realize that she needs some help.

Then, she’ll venture out into cyberspace looking for advice.

When she looks for advice, she’ll notice that there are some really cool pins on Pinterest…

3 hours later, she’ll remember that she was supposed to be looking for advice on starting a blog.

When she remembers that she was supposed to be looking for advice, she’ll realize that 9:00 am has become 2:30 pm, and it’s time to pick up her son from school.

When she looks in the mirror, she might notice that she’s still in her PJ’s and hasn’t bathed…again.

Which means, she’ll need a quick change, a spray of perfume, and a Diet Pepsi for the road.

And chances are, as she passes by the computer, she’ll notice, from the corner of her eye, the blinking cursor.

When I began the journey to self-publish my own children’s picture book, I had no intention of starting a blog.  But, start one, I did.  My foray into blogging and social media has introduced me to a wonderful community of like-minded Indie authors. I am grateful for their advice and support, especially when the cursor is blinking, and we’re out of cookies.

How did your blogging journey begin? How’s it going?


I wrote this post over a year ago, but it seems as timely as ever…

punch

Authors, indie and otherwise, are some of the most resourceful, tenacious people I know. They are also among the most generous, and kind bunch of folks you’ll ever find. I am one of those people, so why am I so freakin’ mean?

To myself, that is.

cat mean

Brain research tells us that we have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day, and up to 80 percent of those thoughts are negative. Why are our brains such Debbie-Downers? Apparently, they are wired to pay more attention to negative experiences. It’s a self-protective characteristic. We are scanning for threats from when we used to be hunter and gatherers.

hunt brain

Okay, I get that. I understand that it is human nature to focus on the bad stuff. I also get that I can’t really help myself for wondering what Donald Trump is thinking with that hair.

hair

I also get that writers are self-critical beings. We spend a lot of time in our own heads and a lot of time alone. We are our work’s toughest critics.

writer ape

But, can a girl catch a break once in a while? Can I learn to be a little kinder to myself?

I can try…

nice

Donald Trump aside, I’ll leave you with this anecdote about a young woman who woke up one morning and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

“Hmmmm,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” She did, and she had a great day.

The next morning she woke up and saw that only two hairs remained on her head. “Well,” she said, “I’m going to part my hair today.” She did, and she had a really fun day.

The following morning she awoke to only one hair on her head. “Oh,” she said, “I think I’ll wear my hair in a pony-tail today.” She did, and her day was wonderful.

The next morning she awoke to find that she did not have single hair on her head. “Yea!” she said. “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

bully

A big part of what keeps me sane on the days I’d like to pull my hair out is the company I keep. I am blessed to be a part of this online community of bloggers, authors, and other creative people. Your encouragement and support is ever-present and contagious. Thank you!


I would like to reach out to kid lit authors and book bloggers to get quality books into the hands of deserving kids.

Featured Image -- 1290

Throughout the month of March, I am collecting new children’s books to benefit children of incarcerated parents. Authors, I hope you will consider donating signed copies of your books. Book bloggers, please help us by sharing this information with your readers.

I am a children’s author, teacher, and mom who is passionate about children’s literacy and the power of children’s books. When I learned nearly 2/3 of children, living in poverty, DO NOT own books, I was moved to act. I founded the literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On, to raise awareness for literacy issues and get books to kids in need.

Three years ago, the Picture Book Pass it On initiative grew to include a month-long book drive called MARCHing Books to Kids.

Throughout the month of March, MARCHing Books to Kids collects books (ages birth-17 years) for the VNS of Iowa Storybook Project.

VNS of Iowa volunteers travel to The Iowa Correctional Institution, in Mitchellville, once a month. With the aid of volunteers, mothers select one book per child to read via a digital voice recorder.  The audio CD and book are mailed to the child to keep. The mission is to strengthen the bond between parent and child, during incarceration, while promoting reading and literacy.

Since 2015, MARCHing Books to Kids has collected more than 1,500 books.                               Over the years, the drive has received donations from notable children’s authors such as    Robert Munsch (Love You Forever) and Nick Bruel (Bad Kitty series). Last year, more than 30 children’s authors donated signed copies of their books. Owning a book, let alone a book signed by the author, is a joy most of these children have never experienced.

girl wagon

I believe that every child’s Bill of Rights should be indelibly inked with the right to have books read to him/her and to own their very own books.  Many of us take for granted the sacred ritual of cracking open a book and cuddling together while the words and pictures collectively take us away.  You can probably recall having been read to by your parents or caregivers.  You likely hold a special book, from your childhood, close to your heart.  And, until now, you’ve probably not given much thought to how profound that experience can be…Imagine, never having that.

To participate in MARCHing Books to Kids, please follow the 3 calls to action:

#1 Pledge to donate a new book/s to Visiting Nurse Services of Iowa, Storybook Project.  Authors are invited to sign their books.

When packing your book/s, please include a note stating that your book is part of the MARCHing Books to Kids initiative.  Books may be mailed to:

VNS of Iowa, Storybook Project

c/o Tabby Kuehl

1111 9th Street

Suite 320

Des Moines, Iowa 50314

#2 Post your pledge on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO .  Share it on your blog and on social media.  Please include our badge and tags #PBPiO and #MARCHingBookstoKids

#3 Pass it on.  When you post about your pledge, challenge one or more friends to join your #PBPiO  giving chain.  Encourage them to take the pledge and keep passing it on…

I appreciate your help spreading the word. Thank you for making the difference in the lives of children and families in need.

pbpio-and-marching-2017


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,800 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Okay, so I have been blogging for about a year now. But, most days, I  feel as clueless as when I began-still bumbling my way around this curious space.

old.jpeg

I’ve tried a few times to develop a weekly theme or topic. So far, I have not hit on one that has stuck.

stuck

One thing that has remained constant is the positive, inspiring community of bloggers I’ve come to know. Your talent, generosity, and openness is incredible.

than

 

So, with that in mind, each Thursday, I’ll share a favorite thought-provoking quote, and a thank-you to someone in our online community. Here are my “Thursday Thoughts and Thanks” for this week:

Thought:

quote-flying

Thanks:

My thank-you goes out to blogger Send Sunshine who always seems to find time to do just that.

My Thursday Thoughts and Thanks would be even better if you joined in the fun. Please feel free to share a favorite quote and/or tell us about a blogger who you feel grateful to know. Thank you!

 

 

 

 


To say the past year has been a whirlwind would be an understatement.

cat

I self-published my first children’s picture book around this time in 2014. Aside from my first year teaching, I have never worked so hard, or felt more inept. But, in both cases, I was determined to learn what I needed to know in order to be successful.

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

I set out to learn the best way to publish my book, but I gained much more than that. I started this blog, fumbled my way around Twitter and a few other social sites, and met a lot of truly wonderful people along the way.

Success is a relative term. And, for me, it has been a dichotomy. I have enjoyed many successful moments. But, for whatever reason, I still beat myself up about my shortcomings (not sure if that is an indie author thing or just an all-around author thing).

bully

They say success breeds success, and despite my attempts to sabotage my own, I’ve managed to publish a second children’s book. I was blessed to work with the same illustrator on what we both feel is our best work to date.

I’ll host the book launch party for my second book tomorrow. And, I’ll also celebrate the one-year anniversary of the book that started me on this wild and winding path.

To mark the event, I am offering both books for $.99 on Kindle from December 4-11.

I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to all of my online friends and colleagues. Being part of this community has definitely been one of the best aspects of becoming an author.

than

I wish each of you joy in the things you love to do. I’d love to hear about your experiences. Please feel free to leave a reply about your joyful moments.

Here are some of the moments that have brought me joy:

 

 

 


You know what happens when you assume things, right? Well, I ASS-umed all of the comments left on my posts come to me via my email box (again).

98028807

Clearly, this is not the case as I have just discovered some of your comments from weeks ago (again).

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So, I apologize if our ships passed in the night (again).

aye aye

I appreciate all of you, and your comments mean a lot to me.

images

Happy Blogging to you!

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books


I have been blogging for nearly one year. In that short time, I have met some incredible people, many of whom are authors. We’ve shared laughs, frustrations, celebrations, and advice.

weird hat

I’d like to solicit some of that advice.

boy bird

I am currently self-publishing my second children’s picture book. I am happy to say the manuscript is finished, and the illustrator is making great progress with his sketches. So, I should be galloping a victory lap on my unicorn…

unicorn

BUT…I am stuck. What is holding me back? It’s the short blurb I have to slap on the back of this puppy to let readers know what my book is about. What’s the big deal? I wrote an entire book, and I can’t come up with a few sentences to sum it up? No, it seems I cannot…

getty

SO…I would be delighted to hear your opinions about the latest draft of my blurb. Any input is welcomed and appreciated. I also welcome your advice and tips for writing book blurbs. Thank you!

Thank you written in hands

Here is what I have after 12 pages of drafts:

Fairies, music, and dust! Oh my!

Messy house? It’s not your fault. The Dust Fairies are a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who delight in making messes while hidden from sight. And when the band strikes up the music, the dust really starts to fly.

When Aggie tries to join the fairy band, it doesn’t go as planned. Now, she is faced with a tough decision. Should she change who she is to fit in, or embrace who she is and stand out?

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. I am blessed to be part of such a supportive group of bloggers. Here’s a revised “blurb” based on your feedback. I also added some of Kevin Richter’s latest sketches.

Fairies, music, and dust! Oh, my! Aggie is a little Dust Fairy with a big problem. She wants to join the fairy band, but they don’t approve of her offbeat style. Now, she’s faced with a tough decision. Should she change who she is to fit in or embrace who she is and stand out?

KevToon_Aggie_v2aggie runblowaggie worry


Let books cover you from the clouds of stupidity

Maybe it’s an indie author thing, or perhaps the highs and lows are just part of the writing game. I’m typically a glass half-full kind of gal; I try to see the silver lining in each cloud. But, I have fallen into a bit of a funk.

Oh my!!

No, not that kind of funk.

This one…

Pug laying on laundromat floor

How do you de-funk? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Don’t be shy-leave a reply.


Traveling the indie publishing road can be a daunting and lonely journey. For the novice, there are plenty of opportunities to take a wrong turn, stumble, or lose sight of your destination. The entire experience practically begs you to throw yourself an occasional Pity Party, or two, or three.

Birthday boy having a tantrum

I have hosted some killer woe-is-me celebrations. Instead of a hangover, these blow outs always leave me in a funk. My last, and most impressive, fete was a month-long celebration after the rush of my book launch abruptly came to a halt. I won’t liken it to post-par tum depression (not out loud anyway), but it was pretty miserable.

Sad Pink stick figure sitting on a white chair

Everything leading up to the launch of my book was exhilarating. I had the launch party to plan, books to order, swag to buy. The launch party was a huge success. I sold hundreds of books that month and scheduled a handful of author visits. I received scads of 5-star reviews, and my book was featured on a few blogs. People were buzzing about my book, and I was on cloud nine. Then…crickets. Nothing happened. I went from living and breathing my book to staring at a pile of them. Cue the Pity-Party music and back-up dancers.

Revival

Gloom and Doom became my BFF’s. I beat myself up for not selling more books. I couldn’t think of anything to write. And, to make matters worse, I had spent a lot of money on self-publishing a book I was sure would never again see the light of day.

185050413

Since I couldn’t write, I read. I went to the library. I started reading picture books again. I found solace in the kid lit community. I read blog posts and articles, tweets and memes.

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

One of the articles I stumbled upon helped me kick those heifers, Gloom and Doom, to the curb.

sci fi

The author’s message helped me alter how I perceive my success and allow myself to appreciate the little moments as much as the big ones. That paradigm shift removed a huge roadblock in my writing career-a roadblock constructed by me.

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.

My Pity-Parties are now (mostly) Pinch-Me Parties.

pinch

Instead of complaining that only 5 people showed up at my Barnes and Noble author event, I pinch myself. I look around and think, “OMG! My book is on the shelf at Barnes and Noble!” Rather than beating myself up that my online sales are not in the thousands, I take pride knowing a book I wrote is in the hands of hundreds of people around the world.

Not that I’m a masochist, but I kind of like this whole pinching thing. It seems the more I do it, the more “pinch able” moments come my way. My book is on the shelves of several book stores and libraries (pinch). I’ve been interviewed by our local TV and newspaper (pinch, pinch). The Horn Book Magazine reviewed a collection of indie books for the first time in the history of the magazine, and my book was included (bad pinch on that one-Roger Sutton is not a fairy fan). School children in the UK chose to dress up as Dust Fairies (complete with matching dust bunny dolls) for World Book Day (pinch). My book has been a #1 Kindle on Amazon (pinch). I started a successful literacy initiative, and we’ve collected more than 300 books for children of incarcerated parents (pinch).

But, the best “pinches” by far, are all of the incredibly kind, gifted, generous people I have met on this journey. Thanks for your inspiration, humor, and support.

I love hearing from you. Tell me your best pity or pinch party story!

Thank you written in hands

Here’s my original blog post from last December:

Embed from Getty Images

I am a writer.  I have met a lot of writers.  Most of us are very hard on ourselves.  Working in solitude affords us the time to self-reflect, which often leads to self-loathing.  For many of us, our goals start small…finish a novel, get a book published, get a review, etc.  Unfortunately, rather than savoring the small fruits of our labor, we are compelled to reach for the next branch.  This New York Times article is a fitting reminder that those clusters of fruit, we take for granted, are a delicacy some will never taste.

As the Eagles proclaimed, “…Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get
Desperado…”

Don’t quit your day dream.  Pull up a chair, heap your plate full, and enjoy your fruit-no matter how small.

Thanksgiving Weekend Blues

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — THANKSGIVING weekend in 1990, I spent two hours at the loneliest place in the world for an obscure novelist — the book-signing table at a Waldenbooks in a suburban New Jersey mall.

I sat at the table smiling like a game show host. Store patrons scurried past me, doing all they could to avoid eye contact. I kept smiling. I straightened out my pile of free bookmarks for the umpteenth time, though so far none had been taken. I played with my pen. Authors at signings like this get good at playing with their pens. I pushed it to and fro. I curled my upper lip around the pen and made it into a makeshift mustache. I clipped it to my lower lip, pinching said lip in an almost masochistic way, and was able to click the pen open by moving my jaw and pressing it against my nose. You can’t teach that skill, by the way. Practice. At one point, I took out a second pen, rolled up a spitball, and then let the two pens play hockey against each other. The Rollerball beat the Sharpie in overtime.

During the first hour of my signing, a grand total of four people approached me. Two asked me where the bathroom was. The third explained his conspiracy theory linking the J.F.K. assassination with the decision by General Mills to add Crunch Berries to Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal. The fourth asked me if we had a copy of the new Stephen King.

I kept smiling. Four copies of my brand-spanking-new first novel — Waldenbooks knew not to order too many — stood limply on the shelf behind me. I missed the Barcalounger in my den. I longed for home and hearth, for stuffing my face with leftover turkey, for half-watching football games in which I had no rooting interest. Instead I slow-baked under the fluorescent Waldenbooks lights, the Early Hipster booksellers glaring at me as though I was some kind of pedantic squatter. I had become the literary equivalent of a poster child — “you could buy his book or you could turn the page …”

Time didn’t just pass slowly. It seemed to be moonwalking backward.

Then, with maybe 15 minutes left before I could scrape up the scraps of my dignity and head home, an old man shuffled toward me. He wiped his nose with what I hoped was a beige hankie. His eyes were runny. Odds were this was going to be a where’s-the-bathroom question, but this guy had all the makings of another conspiracy theorist.

The old man’s gaze drifted over my shoulder. “What’s that like?”

“Excuse me?”

“That’s your novel, right?”

He gestured at the four books on the shelf behind me.

“Right,” I said.

He shook his head in awe. “That’s my dream, man. Seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore.” He lowered his gaze and met my eye. “So what’s that like?”

I paused, letting the question sink in, but before I could reply, the old man lifted his eyes back to the bookshelf, smiled, and shook his head again. “Lucky,” he said, before turning and walking away.

He didn’t buy a book. He didn’t have to.


lighting-another-candle

I am blessed to be part of the online community of writers who share as much as they shine. Thank you!


WARNING-Shameless Plug to follow…

200381425-001

I’m celebrating the 6 month birthday of my first published children’s book. The whole experience has been more than a bit surreal. I never dreamed I’d see my self-published book on the shelves of libraries and bookstores, let alone that people would ask me to sign copies. I also never thought I’d come up with another idea for a book. But, Kevin Richter and I are currently working on book #2 in what has now become a series of Dust Fairy books. Needless to say, I am blessed.

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The star of our newest book is Absolutely Aggie. She longs to join the fairy band, but she is too loud, too bold, and just too much for the more dainty fairies in the group. Aggie follows her heart, and she eventually discovers you don’t have to be perfect to find your perfect fit. You can read the latest Dust Fairy updates on Facebook.

KevToon_Aggie_v2

I’m also blessed to enjoy the company of my awesome blogging buddies. Your support and encouragement means a lot to me.

monkey

So, here comes the plug.

Drain Plug

In honor of the 6 month anniversary of my book, I am offering the Kindle version for 99 cents for 6 days. If you enjoy picture books with colorful pictures and subtle, yet sincere take-away messages, you won’t be disappointed in The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale.

Thanks to Chris, The Story Reading Ape for pointing out that I previously did not include the Amazon link. Be sure to check out his blog. It’s like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for Indie authors! He is amazingly generous (not sure he’ll let you eat his dishes, though).

Featured Image -- 1083

Here is the US Amazon link to get your .99 cent Kindle book:

The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NT6MXM0/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_awdm_KZKvvb1XC9JFF via @amazon

Here’s a preview of the book I created using Animoto:

Happy reading!

Are you celebrating something special? I’d love to hear about it. Don’t be shy, leave a reply!

elephant asleep on rug


aye aye

An Indie Author Looks Back, 6 Months Into the Journey…

Michelle Eastman Books

I officially began my self-publishing journey nearly six months ago. Not long before that, I clumsily made my way onto WordPress. Navigating both realms has been incredibly rewarding. Am I a success? Hmm…Have I sold thousands of books? No. Do I have thousands of followers on my blog? Nope. But, I am a richer person and writer because of the connections I’ve made and the opportunities that have come my way since I became an author and a blogger. I am grateful to be part of the kid lit and blogging communities. Here’s a “Throw-back Tuesday” post from a while back. The quotes and sentiments ring even truer as I reflect on the past six months.

What’s the secret to indie publishing success? It depends on the course you chart, and it rarely involves smooth sailing.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist…

View original post 110 more words


Writing is a solitary vocation. I spend a lot of time alone, pondering and reflecting, constructing and connecting. Most recently I connected my life, as a writer, to a well-known poem by Robert Fulghum. http://www.robertfulghum.com/ In the poem, Fulghum reflects on his days in kindergarten and how those lessons prepared him for life.

kindergarten

As I read his words, I began to ponder how becoming an author has enriched my life. I may not have learned “All I really need to know”, but I am constructing my journey one keystroke and lesson at a time.

All I really need to know…I learned writing kids’ Books

Quote- Flying

Share everything-

Give back to your fellow writers. Share articles and resources. Share your failures; they matter too. Lift someone up; show him the way. Give your books away to kids in need. Give back to your community.

Play fair-

I have dues to pay, like everyone else. There are no short-cuts or secret formulas to getting your books published or noticed.

Don’t hit people-

over the head with book promotions. It’s a fine line we walk when we promote our books. When in doubt, less is ALWAYS more!

Put things back where you found them-

Being an organized writer leads to being a productive writer (took me a long time to accept this one). This rule also applies to cats sleeping on your lap while you write. If you must disturb them, return them to your lap immediately.

Clean up your own mess-

I am a better writer when I can see the top of my workspace (fought this one for years). Cats sitting on your workspace are exempt.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours-

Whenever you quote or reference someone else or his/her work, give him/her proper credit.

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody-

For me, this pertains to my husband. He is often on the receiving end of my writer’s block crankiness and endures my need for isolation when the block gives way.

Wash your hands before you eat-

A good practice on those rare occasions when I pry myself from my WIP to eat.

Flush-

Sometimes I have to let go of an idea that is not working to create space for a new one.

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you-

And they make for delicious refreshments at book signing events.

Live a balanced life-learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some-

Okay, I’m still working on that one.

Take a nap every afternoon-

My cats handle this one for me.

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together-

I am blessed to go out into the kid lit world, holding hands with some of the best people I know. Winding our way through the streets of the publishing world; we stick together.

Be aware of wonder-

Without this, how would we create anything new?

Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup; The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup-they all die. So do we-

The wonderful thing is that, as writers, we can make these moments matter. And what we write can matter to someone in a profound way.

And remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned-the biggest word of all-LOOK-

My greatest joy, as a children’s author, is seeing my words reflected through another person’s eyes. In that book, for those few moments, we look at the world together.

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What has your writing journey taught you? I’d love to hear about it. Don’t be shy, leave a reply.


If you are an author, you’ve heard it a thousand times, “Show, don’t tell.” So, why not go one better and let a video do the talking?

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One of the best things about being a children’s author is visiting schools. I love reading to the children and answering their questions about my book and about being an author. One of the most common questions is, “How did you make the book?” As a self-published author, I had a hand in every aspect of the publishing process, so my answer to their question could get pretty involved. Since most of us have an attention span of a…”Oh, look, glitter!” You get the idea. I decided to create a video to give kids a peek inside the book making process.

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I am not a tech-savvy gal, and I am not made of money. So, imagine my delight when I discovered I could create a video for FREE! Yep, free. And, wait for it…EASY!

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I used Animoto to create a short preview video. It is free to create a video that is 30 seconds long. It doesn’t seem like you can get much out of 30 seconds, but I was able to create a trailer to suit my needs.I later upgraded to the $30.00 per year plan to create a longer preview and the “Making the Book” video seen below.

No, I am not getting a commission from Animoto (although, that would be nice). I am just excited to tell people about it, because I was intimidated by the prospect of creating a trailer for my first book. That changed when I found this site.

Yessss!

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I love sharing things about my self-publishing journey with others. I hope this information is helpful, and I wish you well as you forge your own path.

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

I also love to hear from you. Don’t be shy, leave a reply. What cool things have you learned as a self-published author?

Tah-Dah…Here is my “Making the Book” video:

And, here is the preview trailer:


Thanks to everyone who was kind enough to indulge me in my shameless Easter Plug (re-posted below). We have a winner! I am happy to send a copy of my book and a dust bunny adoption kit to Clarike Bowman-Jahn. Everyone who “liked” or commented is welcome to a copy of the PDF version of my book. I’ll contact you to send that along.

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Little more than a year ago, I was working to get my first children’s picture book published. At the same time, I was making a clumsy effort at starting this blog. Social media was a completely uncharted territory for me. Millions of clicks later, I am blessed to have made many friends online. I am grateful for the connections, laughs, and knowledge we share. I wish you all the very best in your endeavors.

Okay…another shameless plug…

I am currently working on the second book in the Dust Fairy series. I am pleased to introduce “Absolutely Aggie”.

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WARNING-

This post contains a shameless plug for my new children’s picture book…

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Something DUSTY is going on!

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Head over to my Facebook page for the details. https://www.facebook.com/michelleeastmanbooks

I am offering a special Easter GIVEAWAY. You can enter for the chance to win The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale and an official Dust Bunny adoption kit. In this book, dust fairies come out at night and create all sorts of messes in our homes. The naughty nymphs hold crumb-spitting contests and fire soot from their slingshots. And they have a “fairy” good time doing it!

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To enter to WIN, simply LIKE my Facebook page, and ANSWER the following question in the FB COMMENTS.

What messes do you blame on dust fairies?

Or simply like or comment below to win a PDF version of the book.

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I was both nervous and delighted when Matthew Winner, The Busy Librarian, and all-around great guy, invited me to come on his Let’s Get Busy Podcast.

I was excited, because I had never participated in a podcast. It sounded like a lot of fun.

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I was nervous, because Matthew typically interviews folks such as New York Times Bestselling Author, Ame Dyckman (Wolfie the Bunny), and Nick Bruel, author of The Bad Kitty Series. I’m just an indie author, from Iowa. Someone pinch me!

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We talked about my strange journey into self-publishing The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale, investing time in building a presence on social media, and how connecting kids with books absolutely can make a difference.

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If any of those things interest you, check out the podcast at http://lgbpodcast.blogspot.com/

Meanwhile, I will be doing this…

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I write books for children. I’ve actually managed to get one published. But, I have a LOT to learn about the craft. The ReFoReMo Challenge was created by, children’s book writer, Carrie Charley Brown. You can learn more about it here http://www.carriecharleybrown.com/reforemo/the-reforemo-challenge-is-coming-soon

As Brown puts it, the basic idea is: “As picture book writers, it is necessary to read heaps and gobs of picture books to truly understand the form, the market, and the craft of writing them.  This challenge will be a place to build your reading background with current widely recommended picture books, research, learn how to use mentor texts, and share GREAT picture book models.”

The challenge begins March 1 and ends March 31. So, I am a little late to the party. To add insult to injury, I am not exactly following the guidelines. Instead of researching picture books, I am researching the writers. My search today resulted in some mind-blowing (to me) facts about Shel Silverstein, author of The Giving Tree and numerous poetry books for children. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a peek into the weird and wonderful life of a true Renaissance Man.

  1. He served in Japan and Korea for the United States Army.
  2. In 1957, Silverstein became one of the leading cartoonists in Playboy Magazine.
  3. Silverstein’s editor at Harper & Row, Ursula Nordstrom, encouraged him to write children’s poetry.
  4. He wrote the lyrics and music for many hit songs for artists such as Dr. Hook, Johnny Cash, and Loretta Lynn. He wrote most of the Dr. Hook songs, including “The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone
  5. Silverstein composed original music for several films and displayed a musical versatility in these projects, playing guitar, piano, saxophone and trombone.
  6. He had a popular following on Dr. Demento’s radio show. Among his best-known comedy songs were “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout (Would Not Take The Garbage Out)” and “The Smoke-Off” (a tale of a contest to determine who could roll—or smoke—marijuana joints faster).
  7. Silverstein’s “A Boy Named Sue” won a 1970 Grammy. He was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for his song “I’m Checkin’ Out” in the film Postcards from the Edge. He was posthumously inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.
  8. He believed that written works needed to be read on paper—the correct paper for the particular work. He usually would not allow his poems and stories to be published unless he could choose the type, size, shape, color, and quality of the paper. Being a book collector, he took seriously the feel of the paper, the look of the book, the fonts, and the binding. Most of his books did not have paperback editions because he did not want his work to be diminished in any way.
  9. In January 1959, Look, Charlie: A Short History of the Pratfall was a chaotic off-Broadway comedy staged by Silverstein, and he went on to write more than 100 one-act plays.
  10. Silverstein’s estate continues to control copyright permissions on his work.

I am re-blogging this humorous and enlightening look at publishing. I hope you enjoy it. Please feel free to share your favorite number in the comments section. Mine is #22!

24 Things No One Tells You About Book Publishing

Ten years ago, my first novel Prep came out. Three novels later, here’s what I’ve learned about the publishing industry and writing since then.

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1. When it comes to fellow writers, don’t buy into the narcissism of small differences. In all their neurotic, competitive, smart, funny glory, other writers are your friends.

2. Unless you’re Stephen King, or you’re standing inside your own publishing house, assume that nobody you meet has ever heard of you or your books. If they have, you can be pleasantly surprised.

3. At a reading, 25 audience members and 20 chairs is better than 200 audience members and 600 chairs.

4. There are very different ways people can ask a published writer for the same favor. Polite, succinct, and preemptively letting you off the hook is most effective.

5. Blurbs achieve almost nothing, everyone in publishing knows it, and everyone in publishing hates them.

6. But a really good blurb from the right person can, occasionally, make a book take off.

7. When your book is on best-seller lists, people find you more amusing and respond to your emails faster.

24 Things No One Tells You About Book Publishing

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8. When your book isn’t on best-seller lists, your life is calmer and you have more time to write.

9. The older you are when your first book is published, the less gratuitous resentment will be directed at you.

10. The goal is not to be a media darling; the goal is to have a career.

11. The farther you live from New York, the less preoccupied you’ll be with literary gossip. Like cayenne pepper, literary gossip is tastiest in small doses.

12. Contrary to stereotype, most book publicists aren’t fast-talking, vapid manipulators; they’re usually warm, organized youngish women (yes, they are almost all women) who love to read.

13. Female writers are asked more frequently about all of the following topics than male writers: whether their work is autobiographical; whether their characters are likable; whether their unlikable characters are unlikable on purpose or the writer didn’t realize what she was doing; how they manage to write after having children.

24 Things No One Tells You About Book Publishing

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14. If you tell readers a book is autobiographical, they will try to find ways it isn’t. If you tell them it’s not autobiographical, they will try to find ways it is.

15. It’s not your responsibility to convince people who don’t like your books that they should. Taste is subjective, and you’re not running for elected office.

16. By not being active on social media, you’re probably shooting yourself in the foot. That said, faking fluency with or interest in forms of social media that don’t do it for you is much harder than making up dialogue for imaginary characters.

17. If someone asks what you do and you don’t feel like getting into it, insert the word freelance before the word writer, and they will inquire about nothing more.

18. If you read a truly great new book and feel more excited than jealous, congratulations, you’re a writer.

19. Fiercely, fiercely, fiercely protect your writing time.

24 Things No One Tells You About Book Publishing

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20. It’s OK to let your book be published if you can see its flaws but don’t know how to fix them. Don’t let your book be published if it still contains flaws that are fixable, even if fixing them is a lot of work.

21. Talking about how brutally difficult it is to write books is unseemly. Unless you’re the kind of writer who’s been imprisoned by the dictatorship where you live and is being advocated for by PEN American Center, give it a rest.

22. Books bring information, provocation, entertainment, and comfort to many people. You’re lucky to be part of that.

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23. Sometimes good books sell well; sometimes good books sell poorly; sometimes bad books sell well; sometimes bad books sell poorly. A lot about publishing is unfair and inscrutable. But…

24. …you don’t need anyone else’s approval or permission to enjoy the magic of writing — of sitting by yourself, figuring out which words should go together to express whatever it is you’re trying to say.


Here are some random and non-random things that make me happy. Please feel free to add your happiness to the list!

This beautiful baby boy will join our family tomorrow (he enjoys ladies’ boas, don’t judge).

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I survived spending the entire spring break week, at home with my son. Mother of the Year Award, forthcoming.

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School begins again on Monday!

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I launched the MARCHing Books to Kids Book Drive to benefit children of incarcerated parents.

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I finished my 2nd picture book manuscript.

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I met the star of my 2nd picture book, via illustrator Kevin Richter.

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Spring has finally sprung here in Iowa…temps in the 70’s today!

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Received my first negative book review…I feel like a real author now.

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I have met wonderful people through this blog. Your international array of posts make me happy!

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It’s the weekend, people! Party on!

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Print the t-shirts…My friends all went away on fabulous spring break holidays and all I got was this lousy pet rock.

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It’s spring break in our neck of the woods. Springtime, in Iowa, means nearly 80 degrees one day, and 40 the next. Typically, it’s the latter-so most sane people head for sunny destinations (and post their exploits on Facebook every chance they get). Not that I am at all bitter about that…at all.

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Being the spouse and spawn of an accountant, spring break getaways are not in the cards for us. So, mom and son are left to make the most out of spring break…homebound-style. Correction, mom is left to plan a week’s worth of homespun fun.

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Aahh, the joys of motherhood are many. But, the guilt gremlins are ever-lurking, waiting to suck the life out of you!

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I was feeling pretty Facebook worthy on the 80 degree day-picnic in the park with my own mom and my son-winning!

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Day two, attempted a bike ride. Ears nearly frozen solid after 3 minutes (that was a way below 40 degree day)-not winning.

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Day three, eye doctor and dentist appointments back-to-back. Hey, I figured he wouldn’t miss any school time this way-mom-fail!

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Here comes the guilt…Every day this week, I have allowed my son to gorge himself on Sponge Bob while I slept in. And there may have been some iPad abuse as well.

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Perhaps that’s where the pet rocks came into play. So, Martha Stewart would be sickened at the sight of this motley crew, but I think they are pretty cute. And we actually had a fun time together. Maybe it’s not Facebook worthy, but that didn’t stop me! Sure, you are frolicking on a beach in Mexico, but not with these bad boys!

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Guilty or not, I strive to be a good mom. Some days I succeed, and others…I sleep in. I just hope my son thinks of me and occasionally says, “My mom rocks!”

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You have to spend money to make money, right?

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How much money do you spend to sell your book?

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How much time do you spend?

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I self-published my first children’s picture book in November, 2014. I am happy to say that I have sold enough books to make back my initial investment (money that is-don’t know where the time went). To date, I’ve sold over 6 times the number of books in person as I have online.

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Although my online sales have been low, I have benefited greatly from my time spent online. I have met many talented, funny, kind, people since I began blogging last year. I have also learned a lot. Surfing for articles and information about the writing world is daunting, but it’s rewarding. I have been able to share what I’ve learned about self-publishing and have, hopefully, helped some people along the way.

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The best part of writing books for kids is the kids! It has been my pleasure to visit libraries and schools to share my book. Success? It’s relative. And when you are looking at 25 smiling faces, while you turn the pages of YOUR book, that’s the money shot!

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I am interested to hear input from other indie authors. What is working for you? What isn’t?


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You know what happens when you assume things, right? Well, this ASS-umed that all of the comments left on my posts come to me via my email box.

Clearly not the case as I have just discovered some of your comments from weeks ago.

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So, I apologize if our ships passed in the night.

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I appreciate all of you, and your comments mean a lot to me.

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Happy Blogging to you!

From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books


1.  Deadlines, Schmedlines…

My deadlines are self-imposed…sort of like my flexible rule about the acceptable number of days clean clothes may remain peacefully at rest in their basket.

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2.  The opportunity to relentlessly stalk work closely with my super-talented illustrator…

I’m not sure this one would be on Kevin Richter’s Top 5 list. But, he has the patience of a saint and has agreed to travel this road with me one more time. Allow me to introduce our newest Dust Fairy, Absolutely Aggie.

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3.  I can give my book away for free…

I don’t mean KDP Promotions. I mean I can give my book to any charity, school, library, or organization I choose. In fact, I started my own literacy initiative to get books to kids in need. Since November, over 30 authors have joined me to get books to kids in need!

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4.  Even though I’m self-published, I get invited to “real author” events…

I love visiting schools. I recently had a Skype visit with my first group of out-of-state children, and it was awesome!

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I am not exactly proud of it, but I did autograph a girl’s arm (seriously, I tried to decline, but she was eerily persuasive).

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5.  I was able to find a high-quality Print on Demand service that did not suck…

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I am really happy with the quality of my final product. It passed muster and earned the right to sit with “real” books in libraries and bookstores (it’s even on the shelves at our local Barnes and Noble store). Bonus-people, not related to me, actually bought copies of my book!

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What things DON’T suck about your self-publishing story? I’d love to hear about your journey. Don’t be shy-leave a reply!

 


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Has this happened to you?  Just when you carve out a tiny little online niche for yourself (in my case, extra emphasis on tiny), you realize your avatar is not exactly the mug squinting back at you in the mirror these days.  To change or not to change?  That is the question.  Will my online pals accept the new me?  Does anyone care?  If you drop your old avatar on the internet, does anyone hear it fall?  Is this whole musing a pathetic excuse not to go downstairs to exercise?  Ah, now I may be onto something…

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Okay, so I am waaay behind this week.  But, I really want to participate in this week’s WRAD Blogging Challenge-so I’m improvising a bit.  If you’d like to play along, just leave your answers in the comments section.

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World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creates a community of readers taking action to show the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people. By raising our voices together on this day we show the world’s children that we support their futures: that they have the right to read, to write, and to share their stories.  Learn more at http://www.litworld.org/wrad/

The World Read Aloud Day “Speak Your Story” Blogging Challenge, created by Matthew Winner, begins February 9 and runs through March 8. If you choose to take the challenge, each week you will be asked to write a post in response to a prompt or question, for a total of 4 posts counting down to World Read Aloud Day.

If you choose to take up the WRAD Speak Your Story blogging challenge, make sure to tweet your weekly posts to @litworldsays and use the hashtag #WRAD15 so that we can retweet your wonderful read aloud stories! Happy blogging!

Week 2: February 16 – 22
You & Someone New

Answer the following questions with someone you haven’t spoken to about reading before. The person might be a student or a family member, a colleague or a sales clerk. The focus here is on starting a conversation and sharing the joy of reading aloud. Make sure to exchange and enjoy answers with one another before sharing them with us.

Okay, this is where you come in.  I got busy this week and did not find time to partner with anyone to be my “Someone New”.  If you’d like to be that special someone, just post your responses in my comments section.  Come on, it will be fun!  If you don’t want to be my huckleberry, please share the challenge on your own blog with your “Someone New”. 

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1. I think everyone in the world should read…

Me: Yikes!  Everyone in the world? No pressure there…I’d have to say The Lorax.  I think the overriding message of taking responsibility for our actions and our planet is universal.  And, the Lorax is just too darn cute!

Someone New: Please share your answer in the comment section.

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2. If I could listen to anyone in the world read aloud to me it would be…

Me: Am I allowed to say Brad Pitt?  Okay, just kidding (sort of).  I love reading with my son.  So, he’d be my first choice.

Someone New: Please share your answer in the comment section.

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3. When I read aloud, my favorite character to impersonate is…

Me: Sadly, I don’t do much of this anymore.  I used to have a lot of fun exaggerating the narration in the No, David! books by David Shannon. Improvising and adding our own list of No’s was always great fun (insert 6 year-old boy gross-out humor).

Someone New: Please share your answer in the comment section.

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4. The genre or author that takes up the most room on my bookshelf (or e-reader) is…

Kids’ books-Shel Silverstein My books-biographies and old-school science fiction (circa 50’s-60’s). Please note-those are not my feet and I wish that was me in the other photo, meow!

Someone New: Please share your answer in the comment section.

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5. My favorite part about reading aloud or being read to is…

Me: I was not read to as a child, so I probably live vicariously through my son when we read together.  You can read more about what I love about picture books here: Top Ten Reasons Picture Books Rock (sneak peek-#2 Picture books are funny.  Where else can you laugh, out loud, about a pigeon begging to drive a bus or a “crack-up” over a dog, who despite his farting habit, becomes a hero?)

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Someone New: Please share your answer in the comment section.

Thanks for playing along.  Remember, If you choose to take up the WRAD Speak Your Story blogging challenge, make sure to tweet your weekly posts to @litworldsays and use the hashtag #WRAD15 so that we can retweet your wonderful read aloud stories.

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What’s the Dollar Store have to do with launching a book?

Isn’t that where books go when they die?

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I write kids’ books. Okay, I have written one picture book. I am an indie-author (sounds much hipper than self-published). So, other than myself, no one is making the rounds to promote my little gem. After spending a pretty penny to bring my book to life, I didn’t have a lot to spend on its launch. So, what’s a gal to do?

Go shopping!

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Let’s back up a little. Location, location, location-right? I had to choose a venue for the party. I reached out to our local animal shelter, and they graciously lent me their banquet room. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa recently underwent a major remodel. It now feels more like a community center than a shelter. It was an ideal spot for the event. I donated a portion of my proceeds to the ARL, which came out to $456.00 that night.

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Now, on with the shopping. I knew I wanted to serve cookies at the event. I also wanted to give out some swag.  But how?

Ta-Da, The Dollar Store.

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Do you know you can get a package of 16 chocolate chip cookies for $1? Do you know a child who does not like cookies, or a parent who doesn’t like free?

Me-winning!

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I was also able to score 6-packs of bottled water for a buck! Napkins? Yes, please. Another buck. Fancy, silver serving trays? I got those too (I don’t think anyone suspected they were plastic).

Cha-ching!

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What about the swag? Even at $1 each, I could not afford to give out unlimited freebies. So, I advertised that I was giving out free fairy wings OR bunny ears to the first 50 kids (my book is about fairies and dust bunnies). Guess what I found at the Dollar Store? Yep, strap-on fairy wings and headbands with bunny ears.

Score!

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The party was a huge success, and one family went home with more than a book-they adopted a pet that night!

Can’t find that in The Dollar Store!

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Authors, indie and otherwise, are some of the most resourceful, tenacious people I know. They are also among the most generous, and kind bunch of folks you’ll ever find. I am one of those people, so why am I so freakin’ mean?

To myself, that is.

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Brain research tells us that we have anywhere from 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day, and up to 80 percent of those thoughts are negative. Why are our brains such Debbie-Downers? Apparently, they are wired to pay more attention to negative experiences. It’s a self-protective characteristic. We are scanning for threats from when we used to be hunter and gatherers.

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Okay, I get that. I understand that it is human nature to focus on the bad stuff. I also get that I can’t really help myself for wondering what Donald Trump is thinking with that hair.

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I also get that writers are self-critical beings. We spend a lot of time in our own heads and a lot of time alone. We are our work’s toughest critics.

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But, can a girl catch a break once in a while? Can I learn to be a little kinder to myself?

I can try…

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Donald Trump aside, I’ll leave you with this anecdote about a young woman who woke up one morning and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

“Hmmmm,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” She did, and she had a great day.

The next morning she woke up and saw that only two hairs remained on her head. “Well,” she said, “I’m going to part my hair today.” She did, and she had a really fun day.

The following morning she awoke to only one hair on her head. “Oh,” she said, “I think I’ll wear my hair in a pony-tail today.” She did, and her day was wonderful.

The next morning she awoke to find that she did not have single hair on her head. “Yea!” she said. “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

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This is an update to a post from a while back.

I officially began my self-publishing journey nearly six months ago 2 books ago. Not long before that, I clumsily made my way onto WordPress. Navigating both realms has been incredibly rewarding. Am I a success? Hmm…Have I sold thousands of books? No Not yet. Do I have thousands of followers on my blog? Nope Not even close.

But, I am a richer person and writer because of the connections I’ve made and the opportunities that have come my way since I became an author and a blogger. I am grateful to be part of the kid lit and blogging communities. The following quotes and sentiments ring even truer as I reflect on my journey. Thanks for being a part of it.

What’s the secret to indie publishing success? It depends on the course you chart, and it rarely involves smooth sailing.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”-William A. Ward

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Fellow authors, I hope you hold tight to your dreamsAfter all,

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”-Erma Bombeck

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Sail on, writers, full dream ahead…

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
– Mark Twain

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You are welcome to re-blog or share any of my posts. I’d love to hear from you. How long have you been at it? What has been your biggest writing challenge or success?


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I’ve been running on fumes for a while now.  But, today, I have officially hit a wall.  I cannot think of anything to write.

The gears have ground to a halt.

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If I’m a good girl, maybe Santa will bring back my mojo…

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In the meantime, I’ll take this time to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  May your wheels keep turning!

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nerd

Are you, or someone you love, a book nerd? If so, how did it happen? Was it nature or nurture?

My son has always been surrounded by books. Even before he was born, his bookshelves bore the weight of the legions of titles I had collected for him. With few exceptions, he has been read to/with every day of his 9 years on this earth. Each week, we visit the library and heap our bag to the top with books. He receives books at Christmas and on his birthday, and for no reason at all. He delights in choosing titles from the Scholastic book order forms sent home from school. We are regulars at Half-Price Books. Books are ever-present in his day to day operations. In theory, he has all the makings of a book nerd. But, he’s anything but that. He will, on occasion, crack open his copy of Ripley’s Believe it or Not, or his Guinness Book of World Records to entertain himself. But, rarely does he deliberately choose to read for pleasure. Where did I go wrong? Why isn’t my boy a book nerd?

I, on the other hand, grew up with no books in our house. I, honestly, don’t know if I laid my eyes on a book until I was in school. We were poor, and my parents were teenagers. I was raised on reruns of Batman and Gilligan’s Island. I was also a PBS junkie (we had only 4 channels back then). In my parents’ defense, books were not as readily available as they are today. They were not crammed onto the shelves of Target and Walmart (we didn’t even have Walmart back then). For whatever the reason, no one read to or with me. Nevertheless, I sought out books. I couldn’t wait until the Book Mobile pulled up, in my neighborhood, and I could climb aboard and select my 2 book limit. I read whatever I could get my hands on. I read books beyond my years, and books I probably shouldn’t have read. I was not “nurtured” to love books-but I did, and I do.

So, I ponder the question: Are book nerds born or made? Clearly, despite my efforts, I’ve not nurtured a book nerd. And, despite my parents’ lack of effort, I am a book nerd.

I welcome your thoughts on this topic.  Leave a comment, nerdy or not…


Top 5 Things Indie-Authors Should Avoid (or How to Avoid the Trappings of Indie Fame and Fortune)

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No one can deny that self-publishing is a glamorous vocation. If you are an indie, you know what I mean. But, I urge you not to get caught up with the trappings of the indie-author lifestyle; try to remain humble. The following is a list of general suggestions. I am an indie children’s book author, but the guidelines can be tailored to suit your own needs.

  1. Do NOT do this when your Amazon sales reach double digits.

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  1. Resist the urge to wear your fur coat when opening rejection letters.

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  1. It’s probably best not to eat caviar while cutting out your home-made bookmarks.

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  1. Your hair and make-up team is not necessary when posting selfies of you and your book.

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  1. Don’t forget the little people; kids are the best fans!

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I try my best to stay humble, despite my oh-so-glamorous life as an indie kids’ book author.

But it is hard…

when I work in a place like this-

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with assistants like these-

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So, my indie friends, enjoy the fame that comes with what we do.  You are rock-stars!  Embrace it!  Write on!

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I am a writer.  I have met a lot of writers.  Most of us are very hard on ourselves.  Working in solitude affords us the time to self-reflect, which often leads to self-loathing.  For many of us, our goals start small…finish a novel, get a book published, get a review, etc.  Unfortunately, rather than savoring the small fruits of our labor, we are compelled to reach for the next branch.  This New York Times article is a fitting reminder that those clusters of fruit, we take for granted, are a delicacy some will never taste.

As the Eagles proclaimed, “…Now it seems to me, some fine things
Have been laid upon your table
But you only want the ones that you can’t get
Desperado…”

Don’t quit your day dream.  Pull up a chair, heap your plate full, and enjoy your fruit-no matter how small.

Thanksgiving Weekend Blues

RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — THANKSGIVING weekend in 1990, I spent two hours at the loneliest place in the world for an obscure novelist — the book-signing table at a Waldenbooks in a suburban New Jersey mall.

I sat at the table smiling like a game show host. Store patrons scurried past me, doing all they could to avoid eye contact. I kept smiling. I straightened out my pile of free bookmarks for the umpteenth time, though so far none had been taken. I played with my pen. Authors at signings like this get good at playing with their pens. I pushed it to and fro. I curled my upper lip around the pen and made it into a makeshift mustache. I clipped it to my lower lip, pinching said lip in an almost masochistic way, and was able to click the pen open by moving my jaw and pressing it against my nose. You can’t teach that skill, by the way. Practice. At one point, I took out a second pen, rolled up a spitball, and then let the two pens play hockey against each other. The Rollerball beat the Sharpie in overtime.

During the first hour of my signing, a grand total of four people approached me. Two asked me where the bathroom was. The third explained his conspiracy theory linking the J.F.K. assassination with the decision by General Mills to add Crunch Berries to Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal. The fourth asked me if we had a copy of the new Stephen King.

I kept smiling. Four copies of my brand-spanking-new first novel — Waldenbooks knew not to order too many — stood limply on the shelf behind me. I missed the Barcalounger in my den. I longed for home and hearth, for stuffing my face with leftover turkey, for half-watching football games in which I had no rooting interest. Instead I slow-baked under the fluorescent Waldenbooks lights, the Early Hipster booksellers glaring at me as though I was some kind of pedantic squatter. I had become the literary equivalent of a poster child — “you could buy his book or you could turn the page …”

Time didn’t just pass slowly. It seemed to be moonwalking backward.

Then, with maybe 15 minutes left before I could scrape up the scraps of my dignity and head home, an old man shuffled toward me. He wiped his nose with what I hoped was a beige hankie. His eyes were runny. Odds were this was going to be a where’s-the-bathroom question, but this guy had all the makings of another conspiracy theorist.

The old man’s gaze drifted over my shoulder. “What’s that like?”

“Excuse me?”

“That’s your novel, right?”

He gestured at the four books on the shelf behind me.

“Right,” I said.

He shook his head in awe. “That’s my dream, man. Seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore.” He lowered his gaze and met my eye. “So what’s that like?”

I paused, letting the question sink in, but before I could reply, the old man lifted his eyes back to the bookshelf, smiled, and shook his head again. “Lucky,” he said, before turning and walking away.

He didn’t buy a book. He didn’t have to.


As a self-published author, I have to find the humor in my daily existence, or I would go insane. Each morning, I sit down and commence work on any number of projects, in various stages of development. As my eyes drag my brain from one work pile to the next, I try to determine which hamster wheel I’ll climb into today. As with most things in life, the squeaky wheel gets the grease (in my case, elbow grease). Most recently, this hamster has been doing laps on the book promotion wheel. And, I can tell you, promoting a book is no walk in the park.

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I released my first children’s picture book in November. I hopped on my wheel and convinced several stores to host signing events, and I scampered my way onto the shelves of local bookstores and libraries. Since then, I’ve sold around 600 copies. I am self-published, so that means I have to hustle and work for every single book I sell. I am up for the challenge, and I actually enjoy cultivating these local connections.

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It’s when I venture out into the online world that I feel the pressure of the rat race. It’s easy to get caught up in Amazon rankings, Goodreads reviews, Twitter, Facebook, and the like. Ironically, I find myself becoming the squeaky wheel, vying to be greased, “Buy my book. Review my book. Get my book for free.”

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Despite my best efforts, my online sales are slow moving (only around 100 books sold). But, I lick my paws, and hop on the wheel for the next go ‘round. And, a little elbow grease never hurts.

Don’t be shy, leave a reply. There’s plenty of room on this wheel. How’s your publishing journey rolling?

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.


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It’s Picture Book Month.  And I am celebrating my favorite genre all month.  Throughout the month of November, I’ll post tips, links, and articles pertaining to my favorite genre.  I hope you’ll discover something to enhance your family’s shared reading experiences.  I’ll also be participating in fellow-bloggers’ PBM events and challenges.

I am thrilled to count myself among the ranks of children’s book writers.  I shared a little about my self-publishing misadventures in a previous post, Pinterest Devoured my Soul, and All I Got was This Lousy Bookmark  In that post, I reveal the hidden horror behind self-publishing…BOOK PROMOTION!!!!

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Yes, I must try to convince other people that my children’s picture book,The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale, is worth their consideration.  I invite you to sign up for my  Goodreads Giveaway but I’d also like to celebrate Picture Book Month by thanking the awesome bloggers who bless me with their posts and sense of community.

For the month of NOVEMBER, anyone who leaves a comment, on this post, sharing a a favorite picture book memory or quote, will be entered to win a copy of my book.  I will also donate a copy to a local children’s charity.   Oh, I almost forgot.  Promoting a self-published kids’ book makes a person do some cray-cray stuff.

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At the top of my cray-cray list is “adoptable Dust Bunnies”.  I created the “Dust Bunny Rescue Club” to raise funds for our local animal shelter. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa is hosting my very first book signing event, on November 13. The margin on a self-published book isn’t great, and I was determined to give the ARL more than $1 per book.  So, I’ll be donating 100% of the $5 Dust Bunny adoption fee to the ARL as well. The winner of the WordPress drawing will receive a copy of my book and an adorable Dust Bunny, complete with adoption certificate and pet carrier.  The book and bunnies are featured in my super-professional  iPhone shots below.  Be sure to leave your comment about your favorite picture book.  Thanks everyone, and Happy Picture Book Month!

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As I make my way through the self-publishing world, I continue to be amazed at the kindness of strangers.  I have been touched by individuals I call “Cyber-Samaritans”.  From gestures as small as a website “like”, to those as grand as spending their hard-earned free time tutoring me…I am blessed.  As I stay the course, I hope to pay my blessings forward and back.

My first shout-out went to fellow indie kids’ book author, Aaron Peters. This time, it’s a two-fer. I’d like to recognize the dynamic duo, Judy Voigt and Karen LoBello. This sister team forged a path, as indie authors and self-publishers, while creating The Great PJ Elf Chase, a Christmas Eve Tradition. I ran across their blog very early in my self-publishing journey. I was on a mission to learn everything I could about self-publishing. I’d make my way from post to post, site to site, in search of knowledge. I’d dive into one “online haystack” after another, hoping to find that needle (in my case a compass needle to direct my path).

Typically, I’d dive in and 27 clicks later, I had found no practical advice for self-publishing a children’s picture book. Instead, I’d wind through a labyrinth, ending in advertisements for vanity presses and/or a push to buy a how-to book on publishing a novel or an ebook.

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So, imagine my delight when I stumbled upon The Great PJ Elf Chase site. There it was, a blog about self-publishing a children’s picture book! More than a blog, it read like a personal diary, chronicling their every step and misstep. I couldn’t read through the posts fast enough. Suddenly, I believed I could do this. I could publish a bookstore-quality picture book. Like me, both women are teachers and moms. So, I felt a connection with them. I found their comments page and left a note thanking them for their inspiration and information. I also bought a copy of their book.

Since that time, I’ve corresponded with Judy a few times. She’s been kind enough to answer questions and offer her advice. I continue to read their blog and learn from them. You may want to check out their latest blog post Website Design Tips for Authors: An Interview with Jessica Zeigler.

I truly believe reaching out to helpful, knowledgeable, people like Karen, Judy, and Aaron helped pave the road to publishing my first children’s picture book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. I hope to pass on what I learn about the crazy and beautiful process of bringing a book to life. I keep this thought in mind: We can’t help everyone, but we can ALL help someone. I can’t buy every indie book, but I do buy as many as I can. My collection is growing as are my connections in the indie publishing world.

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“Write a book, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.” It all started innocently enough. A children’s picture book, about fairies…what’s the worst that could happen? No, the fairies didn’t transform into zombies and begin eating children. It’s much, much, worse. I self-published a children’s picture book. Not scary, you say? Try promoting it.

Yes, book promotion is the dark underbelly of the kiddy-lit world. It makes seemingly normal people do very un-normal things (like make their own bookmarks). If you are at all squeamish, it may be best to change the channel. The ending is pretty graphic.

You might assume, as I did, that a children’s author lives in a land filled with only rainbows and butterflies (yes, once in a while a unicorn pops by). Clicking away at the computer, she releases musical notes with each keystroke. That’s how it started (except in my story, the unicorn is actually a hairless cat perpetually curled up on my lap). Anyway, it was all good; I birthed that first story in record time. I connected with an illustrator, who brought my story to life in a way words alone could never do. I found a “publisher”. No, not a real publisher. I am self-published via a Print-on-Demand service called Lightning Source. So, I am able to order print copies, and my book is available on Amazon. It’s actually a pretty cool thing. But, I digress.

Was it scary to approach a complete stranger, online, and ask him to illustrate a book about dust bunnies and fairies? Yes, yes, it was. Was it frightening to reveal to him that I am just a mom, from Iowa, with absolutely no experience writing or self-publishing? Abso-freakin-lutely!  But that’s nothing compared to the horror that is book promotion.

(Insert Twilight Zone intro music, Rod Serling voice, optional) Imagine being born prior to 1970. Now imagine your only experience with social media has been email and Facebook. I know, freaky, right? You’ve just written and self-published a pretty darn good kids’ book. The good news is that people like it; they actually really, really like it. The bad news is that you are related to, or acquainted with all of those people. The walls begin to cave in as you realize YOU have to convince other people that THEY will really, really like it. Yes, you have to promote it, “duhn, duhn, duhn” via the internet.

Thus began my horrifying journey into the realm of social media. Remember, I am a child of the 70’s. When I hear the word troll, I think of the fuzzy-haired, bubble-eyed dolls we all collected back in the day. You charge me with the task of creating a blog, website, and Twitter account…and I’m instantly transformed into one of the crappy tributes from the Hunger Games-the ones who get picked off in the first battle. But, crappy or not, I must fight to survive.

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Finding my way around building a web site was a bit like an ape teaching herself how to tie her own shoes (not pretty to watch, nor is it necessary, but it can be done).   With shoes tied, Gorilla-girl went on to create a blog (imagine the ape teaching herself to tie her shoes, blindfolded). Twitter, I’m still trying to figure out that whole mess.

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Fast forward a few months. I’m blogging away, dutifully updating my website, and haphazardly tweeting. Oh, and I’ve got my book as a giveaway on Goodreads to boot (shameless plug, self-publishing made me do it). I’m so busy bopping around, online, that I lose sight of the fact that I have my book launch party scheduled for November 13. I am thrilled to be holding the event at our local animal shelter. I want to make it special, and I want it to be a fun night for the kids and their families. Oh, and I want to give out some freebies. Reality check…I just spent a small fortune to get this book made. Sorry, sister, no money for freebies.

What’s a girl to do? Here comes the scary part…”Go ahead”, says one of the voices in my head. “Check out some ideas on Pinterest. It won’t hurt, it’s just a look.”  I know, I know, I should have known better. I’ve been sucked into the Pinterest vortex too many times to mention. But, like the clueless chick in the horror movie, I wander into the darkness.

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What’s the worst that can happen?  It’s not like Pinterest can devour my soul.   I know I can never duplicate the absolute perfection I see proudly displayed on the Pinterest boards, but I’m drawn to them, like a moth to the flame.  Each time, I enter, it’s the same routine.  I flit from one pin to another, soaking up the warmth.  Hours later, I extract myself, feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. But, with slavish-trust, I repeat the cycle again and again.

Yes, Pinterest devoured my soul, and all I got was a lousy bookmark….and a few other crafty ideas for my book launch party.


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We know what happens “If you Give a Mouse a Cookie”…but what happens when you give a mom a blog?

If you give a mom a blog, she’s going to sit for hours, staring at a blinking cursor.  She’ll probably realize that she needs some help.  Then, she’ll venture out into cyberspace looking for advice.  When she looks for advice, she’ll notice that there are some really cool pins on Pinterest…3 hours later, she’ll remember that she was supposed to be looking for advice on starting a blog.  When she remembers that she was supposed to be looking for advice, she’ll realize that 9:00 am has become 2:30 pm, and it’s time to pick up her son from school.  When she looks in the mirror, she might notice that she’s still in her PJ’s and hasn’t bathed…again.  Which means, she’ll need a quick change, a spray of perfume, and a Diet Pepsi for the road.  And chances are, as she passes by the computer, she’ll notice, from the corner of her eye, the blinking cursor.

When I began the journey to self-publish my own children’s picture book, I had no intention of starting a blog.  But, start one, I did.  My foray into blogging and social media has introduced me to a wonderful community of like-minded Indie authors. I am grateful for their advice and support, especially when the cursor is blinking, and we’re out of cookies.

How did your blogging journey begin? How’s it going?


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So, I’m driving in my car, listening to an old Harry Chapin song (thank you Pandora Radio-yes there is actually a Harry Chapin Station).  If you’ve never listened to Harry Chapin, he’s “The Cat’s in the Cradle” dude.  So, I’m driving along and Chapin’s Story of a Life comes on. His words strike a chord…

“And the wind will whip your tousled hair,
The sun, the rain, the sweet despair,
Great tales of love and strife.
And somewhere on your path to glory
You will write your story of a life.”

“So you settle down and the children come
And you find a place that you come from.
Your wandering is done.
And all your dreams of open spaces
You find in your children’s faces
One by one. And all the trips you know you missed
And all the lips you never kissed
Cut through you like a knife.
And now you see stretched out before thee
Just another story of a life.”

It hits me, we do, all of us, write a story of a life.  Some of us literally, but all of us write one.

“Now sometimes words can serve me well
Sometimes words can go to hell
For all that they do.
And for every dream that took me high
There’s been a dream that’s passed me by.
I know it’s so true
And I can see it clear out to the end
And I’ll whisper to her now again
Because she shared my life.
For more than all the ghosts of glory
She makes up the story,
She’s the only story
Of my life.”

I think about my story…

“And all the towns that you walk through
And all the people that you talk to
Sing you their songs.
And there are times you change your stride,
There are times you can’t decide                                                                                                                                            Still you go on.”

Right now, it’s unfolding one sticky-note at a time.  Sometimes a sticky-note on top of a sticky-note, just for good measure.  What I see “stretched out before me” are reminders and to-do’s, don’t forget’s and be sure to’s.  But, each note tells the story… of a wife, a mom, a want-to-be-writer, chasing her dreams while making grocery lists and Dr. appointments; squeezing in an occasional date night and dye-job.  Which reminds me…I need to buy more sticky notes!


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I don’t know why the Row your Boat song popped into my head. Truth be told, I don’t know why any of the random thoughts pop in or out of that squishy blob. But, pop in it did, and the next thing you know I’m off on another one of my metaphorical musings about how the lyrics reflect my self-publishing journey. I have been rowing the “S.S. Self-Publisher” nonstop. She and I have not necessarily gone “gently down the stream”, but we’ve had one heck of an adventure. Just when I think I can’t dig that oar in one more time, I close my eyes and envision the “dream”. Life is but a dream, and we each chart our own course. My dream is to publish a beautiful children’s book, and I’m looking forward to my “merrily, merrily, merrily”.


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I like to look back at old posts from time to time. I find it gives me perspective on just how far I have come on my journey to become a published author. This is a post from the way, way back…

In his poem, Langston Hughes asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?”  Most of us have dreams we’ve put on hold, or have given up completely.  No dream, however, completely leaves us.  The edges curl, and the colors fade.  But, they linger in that secret holding place…hoping to become real.  My dream was boxed, taped, and shut away.  It sat in a dark, forgotten place.  Every great once-in-a-while, I’d peel back the weathered strips of tape and try to breathe life back into its dilapidated remains.  With each botched attempt, I added a few extra strips of tape, and pushed the box back into the darkness.  My dream sat in that box for more than 20 years, enduring the cycle of my crude attempts to revive it and the negligence that followed.

My dream was to become a children’s author. I wanted to write books that find warmth in the laps of children, and inspire them to dream. I was moved to write my first children’s book for my 8 year-old son, who sees the beauty in even the smallest wonders. His penchant for spotting and collecting random objects, and hording them away as if they were museum-quality treasures, inspired the main character in The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Artie, the Dust Fairy, has a habit of collecting tidbits from people’s houses. His fellow Dust Fairies have a knack for dirtying people’s houses. They fire soot from their slingshots and enter crumb-spitting contests. While we sleep, they spread dust everywhere. The other Dust Fairies don’t appreciate Artie’s collection of tidbits, so he spends his nights alone. One cold night, Artie’s loneliness leads to inspiration, and he creates something legendary. His story will have families looking at Dust Bunnies in a new light and may actually give kids an excuse NOT to clean their rooms. It is my hope that Artie’s story helps kids realize that we all have unique gifts and not everyone fits in with the crowd.

Update:  I officially launched The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale on November 13, 2014.  The good news is that I’ve sold over 300 copies.  The bad news is that only 11 copies have sold on Amazon!  I am happy to have my book on the shelves of our local libraries as well as our indie bookstore, Beaverdale Books.  I am also excited that our local Barnes and Noble book store has agreed to stock a few copies of the book.  I am glad I finally dusted off my dream to write a children’s picture book.  An unexpected benefit of my “dilapidated dream” is meeting so many awesome people via social media.  A year ago, my only online presence was an occasional Facebook post.  I now enjoy lively connections with fellow writers from countries throughout the world.  I am grateful for their support and inspiration.  May your dreams never get dusty…

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You know that awkward moment when you realize that your blog feed reads like a loop of, “me-me-me-me”? I’m new to the bogging scene, and I started my blog in hopes of introducing people to my self-published, children’s picture book. Like any expectant mother, I can’t stop talking about my “baby”. My book hasn’t even been released, but, like most expectant moms, I can’t resist the opportunity to share my ultra sound pictures, and hope you can make out the features.
I may be the new kid in blogger-town, but, I’ve been here long enough to realize that I need to branch out and write about something besides my book or myself. So, to expand upon my previous post about “Cyber-Samaritans”, I’ll post links or information about some of the cool people I’ve met on my self-publishing journey.

I met author/illustrator, Mark C. Collins, via an authors’ group on LinkedIn. He was working to self-publish his own books, but he still found time to offer a tip, or a hand-up to many of the group’s members. He has been an inspiration and a blessing to me. You can learn more about Mark at

http://mcillustrator.blogspot.com

www.markcollinsillustration.com

www.amazon.com/Mark-C.-Collins/e/B00HZCULXM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1411578761&sr=1-1



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