Kid Lit Author and Advocate

Category Archives: writing


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

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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.

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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.

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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.


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.

hamster

I released my first children’s picture book in 2014 and my second in 2015. With both books, 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 a thousand 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 (under 150 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.


The traditional road to publishing can be long and winding. Do it yourself, and you’d better have a good pair of shoes.

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I often share stories of my self-publishing journey; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

old clown

The ugly moments came mostly from my own misconceptions about the process.

Myth #1 Build It and They Will Come…

Once you publish your book, it will fly off the shelves!

fly

One of the biggest misconceptions I had when starting out was that if I could just get my book published, the hard work would be over. Little did I know it had just begun!

I wanted to try something different in this post. I am hoping you will join me to build an unofficial list of self-publishing myths or things you’ve learned along the way that may be helpful to others. Please feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.

 

 


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.

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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.Tah-tah ladies.

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.

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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 books are on the shelves of several book stores and libraries (pinch). I’ve been interviewed by our local TV and newspaper (pinch, pinch). I was a guest on Matthew Winner’s “Let’s Get Busy Podcast” (turbo-pinch, he typically interviews NY Times Bestselling authors).  And I was one of KidLitTV’s Featured Members. 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, #PBPiO #MARCHingBookstoKids and we’ve collected more than 350 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


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 posted this piece a few months ago…

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. Here’s what I know…

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

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 work space (fought this one for years). Cats sitting on your work space 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 wonder, 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.

dream

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


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!


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.

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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!

 

 

 

 


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.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/curtissittenfeld/things-no-one-ever-tells-you-about-the-publishing-industry/

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

Summit Entertainment / Via Tumblr

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

NBC / Via buzzfeed.com

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

Fox / Via Giphy

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.

Comedy Central / Via Tumblr

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.


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?


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.

laundrey

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.

aggie pic 2KevToon_Aggie_v2

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!

PBPiO badge

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).

tattoo

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

dead

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!

 


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


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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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.


I recently wrote and self-published my fist children’s picture book. As a self-published author, I also act as my own booking agent. I was able to weasel my way, I mean I was invited, to read my book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale during pajama story time at our local library. I was pretty pumped that I was able to find adult-sized bunny pajamas and slippers (don’t judge).

I know a few children’s authors who are a bit nervous when faced with reading aloud to a live audience. I used to teach sixth graders, so nothing scares me! I was definitely pumped to share my book with kids and their parents.

Although authoring a children’s book has always been a dream of mine, I have to say that the whole experience has been surreal. I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that my book could be sitting in someone’s lap at this very moment, and that my words might touch them in some way.

Anyway, back to the library. I was sitting in my rocker, awaiting the arrival of my captive, I mean enthusiastic audience. A few pajama-clad kids began to amble in and make their way to the carpet squares arranged before me. From the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of the whirling dervish as he bounded into the room. My book was propped up on the table next to me, and he zipped right to it. Clutching it to his chest, he stammered, and struggled to find the words fast enough, “I want to take this book, I want to, I mean, can I, please borrow this book from the li-bary today?” “I really like those pictures”, he said.

So, I leafed through the book with him, showing him the best parts. I explained that I wrote the words and that Kevin drew all of the pictures. “I want to be an illustrator when I grow up.” I told him how wonderful that was, and I told him he could do that for his job one day. “I am working, I am trying, I have been doing really better at coloring inside the lines at school.” At that, my heart dropped. All I could think to blurt out was, “You know, coloring in the lines is really overrated. The best part about being an illustrator is you get to make your own lines, and you color them however you choose.” Although he was only 4, my words seemed to find him, he got it.

My mind immediately began playing a Harry Chapin song, Flowers are Red. If you’ve never heard the song, you really should give it a listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6viDG7Qp_-U/

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin’ young man
I’m paintin’ flowers he said
She said… It’s not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There’s a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You’ve got to show concern for everyone else
For you’re not the only one

And she said…
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There’s no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said…
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

I have to say, the whole encounter with the little boy was pretty awesome. I am not an artist, but writing and publishing my own book/s certainly gives me the luxury of coloring my words in or outside the lines, and most of the time, coloring inside the lines IS overrated.


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Too many picture books? That’s like saying there are too many flowers.

I am thrilled to count myself among the ranks of children’s picture book writers. I believe, whole-heartedly, in the power of picture books. It’s Picture Book Month.  And I am celebrating my favorite genre all month.  I am offering a Goodreads Giveaway of my new children’s picture book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Throughout the month of November, I’ll post tips, links, and articles pertaining to my favorite genre. The following recommendations were adapted from Reading Tips for Parents, developed by the National Center for Family Literacy .

I hope you’ll discover something to enhance your family’s shared reading experiences. Please note that although children may be ready for early readers and chapter books, I implore parents to continue reading picture books with/to your children. There is no better way to connect at the end of a hectic day than to get lost in a picture book together. This ritual is one you can continue well into their teen years (yes, really, I promise). A child should not be denied this sacred time with you, just because he has “grown up”. Reading and/or revisiting picture books is a comforting ritual for children, and picture books have a magical way of opening dialogue and accessing feelings that older children may not otherwise share with you. So, crack open a picture book and enjoy!

Happy Picture Book Month!

An Age-Appropriate Guide to Books:
Your bedtime reading routine will evolve as your child develops physically and intellectually.

Birth to Toddlers

  • Developmental Stage: As babies, children learn by using their five basic senses to explore the world. By age 2 years, a child can use his oral language skills to identify objects and communicate ideas.
  • Bedtime reading suggestions:
    • Sing lullabies and songs.
    • Choose picture books with 1 or 2 pictures per page that are clear, simple, and filled with vivid colors. Repetition with these books helps foster language development by creating familiarity and associations.
    • Use board or plastic books and allow the child to explore the pages.
    • Help the child discover her senses through textured (e.g. Pat the Cat), scented (“scratch-n-sniff”), or squeaky books.
    • Play with rhythmic activities like clapping rhymes and knee bouncing.
    • Relate story time to nighttime/bedtime through simple “good night” books.
  • Recommended books:
    • Time for Bed, by Mem Fox (fosters early language development)
    • In the Small, Small Pond, by Denise Fleming (uses language that rhymes and repetition)
    • When Mama Comes Home Tonight, by Eileen Spinelli (introduces rituals)
    • Hush Little Baby, by Sylvia Long (details and reinforces the parent/child bond)

3 to 5 Years Old

  • Developmental Stage: Children in this age group learn that words represent objects and things. They are able to understand shapes, numbers, colors, and seasons. This is a time when children see themselves as the “center of the universe.”
  • Bedtime reading suggestions:
    • Read stories that repeat catchy phrases, inspire creativity and make reading enjoyable (rhyming, nonsense words).
    • Look for sturdy, pop-up and pull-tag books to help coordination.
    • Choose short stories that relate to everyday events.
    • Introduce books focusing on the ABCs, counting, colors, and shapes.
    • Kids this age love non-fiction. Read books about dinosaurs, trucks, and farm animals.
    • Select simple folk tales to expand a child’s world.
    • Begin to introduce longer stories and more detailed pictures.
    • Look for stories that can be acted out, such as The Three Little Pigs.
  • Recommended books:
    • On the Day You Were Born, by Debra Frazier (story includes nature)
    • The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Relant (creates an association with family)
    • Cowboy Dreams, by Kathi Appelt (includes repetition, rhythm, and word play)
    • Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney (encourages different and new ways to express an idea)
    • There’s Something There!, by Mercer Mayer (ideas that center on the child)

6 to 8 Years Old (Beginning Readers)

  • Developmental Stage: This age group is “grown up” and has many capabilities. They have a good command of language, have well developed imaginations, and are able to describe feelings and events. They like to read about things and events that are real. This is when children start to be able to see things from another person’s viewpoint. Parents and teachers of this age group should encourage children to read on their own as well as with a parent.
  • Bedtime reading suggestions:
    • Choose short stories with more words per page, pictures that match text, simple chapter books, and big print in chapter books.
    • Let the child choose books with subjects that interest her.
    • Begin to read real-life stories, simple biographies, and mysteries.
    • Have fun with joke and riddle books.
    • Introduce simple magazines.
  • Recommended books:
    • The Patchwork Quilt, by Valerie Flourney (story involves multi-culturism)
    • The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter (one of the longer editions; introduces fantasies that seem real)
    • May We Sleep Here Tonight?, by Tan Koide (plot that focuses on fear and resolution).
    • The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss (story that involves stereotypes and encourages conversation)

Adapted from Reading Tips for Parents, developed by the National Center for Family Literacy


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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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“Is it hard?’
“Not if you have the right attitudes. It’s having the right attitudes that’s hard.”
Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values

Is writing a children’s picture book hard? It depends on your attitude.

Are you up for the challenge of telling a great story? You get 32 pages and 500 words.

Can you capture a child’s interest, and get him vested in the story and the characters, right away? You get 32 pages and 500 words.

Is the conflict quickly defined and played out, while the anticipation mounts? You get 32 pages and 500 words.

Is the resolution a compromise or an absolute? Does the reader see it coming? Is it delicate, or deliberate? You get 32 pages and 500 words.

Building a picture book is hard. But, it is also an honor and a privilege to write for children. So far, I’ve built one picture book. And with a little Zen, there is a persistent, profound, certainty that I will build another one.

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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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It’s Raining Books, Hallelujah It’s Raining Books!  At long last, the first shipment of The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale books has arrived!  Is it wrong to dance around, in the garage…in my pajamas?  The doors are closed, so what the heck?  I am dancing with joy, and a whole lot of relief, since I scheduled my book launch party before I actually had books in hand.  The hardcover books are still in route, so I am not entirely out of the woods.  But, the paperback books are beautiful!  Please check out my free book giveaway on Goodreads or get your copy at Amazon

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If you’d like to learn more about my self-publishing journey, check out this short book preview video:


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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 am thrilled that my first children’s picture book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale is now available at amazon.com

The book turned out more beautifully than I could have ever imagined.  I am grateful that artist Kevin Richter had faith in my project and agreed to join me on my maiden voyage into the indie-publishing realm.  It was a pretty remarkable leap of faith for an established illustrator to collaborate with a never published, stay-home mom, pitching a story about crumb-spitting dust fairies.

It can be tough to get an indie kids’ book noticed.  So, here comes the “pretty please with fairy dust on top” part.  Please take a peek at my amazon page or my website.  If you like what you see, please spread the word about my book.  I am offering a free Goodreads Giveaway as well.

You can learn more about the book and the story behind how we made it by watching the preview video.

Thank you!


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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 goes to fellow self-published children’s author, Aaron Peters. http://www.heavenisblue.com

“I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ books!”

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Prissy, from Gone with the Wind, didn’t know nothin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies, and a year ago, I certainly didn’t know nothin’ about self-publishing a book. I also didn’t know nothin’ about twitter, blogging, tags, categories, hashtags, trolls, or the true value of caffeine.
I thought once I had my manuscript polished, I was on my way to realizing a lifelong dream of being a children’s author. I quickly discovered that notion is like finally getting pregnant and expecting to hold your baby a few weeks after. Well, a baby typically takes two people to create, and the woman’s body takes care of the rest. A book, not so much. I created this new being, but I needed a heck of a lot of help to get from conception to delivery of my book.
First, I had to figure out how most picture books are put together. It turns out there is a pretty standard format as far as length and layout. But, there’s a slight problem…I can’t draw. Kind of hard to put out a picture book with no pictures. Mission Impossible…find an illustrator. Mission made Impossible-er…find one who will work with a first time, self-publishing, stay-home-mom, from Iowa, with a budget barely breaking 4 digits.
Time to throw in the towel.

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Not an option. I’ve already told my 8 year old son that his mom is going to be an author. Time to consult YouTube, the all-knowing Yoda/Oprah of everything. Search for self-published children’s authors who have actually survived the process and are willing to tell their tales.

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Enter Aaron Peters. I found and watched his You Tube video about how he self-published a kids’ book for his niece, Proof that I’m a Princess, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hflNjz-HZfI After watching his video, I’m thinking: What a cute book. I sure wish I knew this guy, so I could ask him some questions. Hey, look at that, below his video it says,If you have any questions send me a comment or check out my website for other cool stuff.” http://www.heavenisblue.com I’ll type him a note, but I probably won’t get a reply.

Well, I was wrong about that. Aaron did reply. Not only did he answer my questions, he provided the framework for what would become the path to getting my book published. Oh, and remember my Mission Impossible-er? Aaron helped me solve that problem as well. Thanks to him, I connected with illustrator, Kevin Richter, via a service called Elance. How does a mom, from Iowa, team-up with a South-African guy, living in Great Britain, to create an awesome children’s picture book?

To be continued…


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Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and the co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules (Wiley, 2012)

8 Writing Rules for Entrepreneurs by Ann Handley


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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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Remember the story, The Boy Who Cried Wolf?  Well, my book’s release date has been pushed back so many times that I am beginning to feel like “The Girl Who Cried Book”.   Self-publishing for the first time has been an awesome and exhausting experience.  Initially, I had hoped my children’s picture book would be launched around Easter.  Unfortunately, I told people.  Spring leaked into summer, and still no book.  While I diligently posted book updates to friends and family, summer slipped into fall. Nope, no book yet. Oh, I’ve had 3 rounds of proofs, but no “real” book. Today, I’ll order what I hope and pray is the final, final proof copy. I’m so looking forward to trading my “Girl Who Cried Book” status for “The Lady Who Worked Her #@* off and Created this Awesome Kid’s Book” moniker.

UPDATE!!

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It took much longer than anticipated, but my very first book is finally published.  Self-publishing has been quite a balancing act.  As a first-time author, I had to teach myself each aspect of the process, then I had to go back and complete each step.  All the while, countless stumbling blocks cluttered my path.  Exhausted, but undaunted, I forged ahead.

It turns out that writing and building the book is just the beginning of this crazy journey.  Book promotion and the business side of things is a whole other marathon.  Most days I feel like I am climbing a waterfall, but once in a while, I find the perfect rock.  I regain my footing, take a breath, and press on.

I was looking forward to trading my “Girl Who Cried Book” status for “The Lady Who Worked Her #@* off and Created this Awesome Kid’s Book” moniker.  But, since I am gearing up for my next publication, I’ll have to stick with crying book!

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Writing a book is a lot of work (understatement of the century). But, self-publishing that sucker makes writing it look like a walk in the park. I was recently trying to explain the process to a good friend of mine. She and her husband are renovating an old Victorian home. As we were swapping “sweat-equity” stories, it dawned on me…the two endeavors are not that dissimilar. The only difference, I told her, is that self-publishing for the first time, is like building your own house, but with no experience, no blueprints, and no tools. Here are my top-ten reasons that self-publishing a book is like building a house:

  1. It always takes longer than you planned
  2. It always costs more than you planned
  3. It’s really exciting at first, then it begins to consume your entire life
  4. Agonizing over the simplest detail seems normal
  5. You wake up, at least once a night, and add one more thing your to-do list
  6. Everyone has an opinion on how it should be done
  7. People keep asking you, “So, when is it going to be finished?”
  8. No one truly “gets it” unless they’ve done it
  9. You vow to never do it again
  10. You eventually give up the notion that it is going to be absolutely perfect and enjoy the ride
  11. You forget about #9 and do it again!

 

Become-a-writer

I love hearing from you. Please feel free to share your experiences in the comments. Happy writing!


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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


As I make my way though 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 time tutoring me…I am blessed.  As I stay the course, I hope to pay my blessings forward and back.

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