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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.

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.


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.

cog

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.”

openreg

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.

tatoo

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.

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.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.

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 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.

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!

 

 

 

 


The term, “fair” brings to mind celebrations, hustle and bustle, excitement, and fun (sometimes creepy clowns are involved).

old clown

For authors, a fair is the opportunity to mix and mingle with fellow writers, meet book lovers, and get your book into the hands of new readers.

fly

In our mid-western city, author fairs are few and far between. So, when I saw the opportunity to participate in one, I jumped at the chance.

rope

Ticket in hand, I began preparing for the big day. Coffee in hand, I tackled my to-do list. My must-have list includes: my books, book stands, business cards, a credit card reader, pens, a table cloth, and some cash to make change.

cat

My want-to-have list is much longer and mostly unnecessary (except, I am a children’s book author, so a gal’s gotta have something for the kiddos). This list includes freebies like: bookmarks, coloring sheets, and candy. Since I write books about fairies, I figured I’d throw in some plastic fairy bracelets, mini fairy dolls, and some bling for my table top (thank you Dollar Store).

yes free

And while I’m at it, why not order a 3 foot tall stand-up display of my main character?

big aggie

The big day finally arrived. I packed up my gear and headed to the fair. After several trips to the car and a lot of zhushing, I was ready. I anxiously waited for the crowd to file in…and waited…and waited.

table

The author fair got much less traffic than I expected. I sold a whopping total of 4 books that day. Although I met some really great people, I was feeling pretty defeated.  But, just as I was getting ready to pack it in, I ran into this guy.

bagpipe dude

Some would call this synchronicity. I am at a book fair, selling copies of my book featuring a bagpipe-playing dust fairy, and this guy is out in front of the venue playing the bagpipes. He was kind enough to pose for a picture, and he even bought a copy of my book.

I may have come away from this less-than-fair author fair only 4 books lighter, but this parting encounter brought the experience back into perspective. This man’s joy comes from sharing his music with others. I don’t imagine he measures his success in album sales. I write fun books for kids. People like my books, and that brings me joy. Selling books or not selling books should not get in the way of that.

And on a lighter note-It’s fall in Iowa, so I did NOT shave my legs for this!

legs

You are welcome to share or re-blog any of my posts. I enjoy getting to know you, so please feel free to leave a comment. Thank you.


I am delighted to be featured as the Author Spotlight on Fairy Tales Imagery blog this month. I talk about my writing process, the challenges of marketing, and what success means to me. Be sure to scroll down to enter Sondra’s featured giveaway.

Sondra Rymer is a talented visual artist and fairy tale fan. In addition to being incredibly creative, Sondra is also extremely generous. She actively pays it forward and back, by promoting and supporting her peers. If you enjoy whimsical, enchanted images, be sure to visit her site http://www.fairytalesimagery.com/

sond

girl


I can certainly brag about this guy!

kev

Kevin Richter is the talented illustrator of my very first children’s picture book, AND he is currently working on the second book in the Dust Fairy series.

Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie should be ready for release this fall. If you are not familiar with Dust Fairies, they are the little sprites responsible for the dust, crumbs, and other debris we try so hard to remove from our homes. Yep, they come out while we sleep and hold crumb-spitting contests, sprinkle dust, and leave behind their dust bunnies. It’s true-I read it in a book!

Aggie would love nothing more than to join the fairy band and play music while the Dust Fairies frolic and play. But, she has a hard time fitting in with the more dainty, girlie, Dust Fairies. Will she ever be good enough? Can she fit in AND stand out? Oh, did I mention she plays the bagpipes? You can follow Aggie’s progress and all things Dust Fairy at https://www.facebook.com/michelleeastmanbooks

KevToon_Aggie_v2

Waiting for the illustrations is both torture and bliss-I am like a little kid at Christmastime. Thankfully, Kevin is kind enough to let me peek into his creative world before the book is finished. Here are a few of his whimsical designs.

whisperband blow fairy spit

Don’t be shy, leave a reply. What are you bragging about? I’d love to hear about your work.


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.


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…

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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.

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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

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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.


I’d like to share an interesting article about the many hats self-publishing authors wear.

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http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2015/04/the-3-hats-every-indie-author-must-wear/

Don’t be shy-leave a reply. How many hats do you wear? What is your favorite or least favorite?

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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 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.

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?


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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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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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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.

hamster

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.

cog

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.”

openreg

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.


“Fortune and glory, kid. Fortune and glory.”

Indie authors are some of the most resourceful, tenacious people I know. We are not seeking fortune and glory; we are just trying to carve out a place for ourselves and our work. When I set out on my self-publishing adventure, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Like Indiana Jones, I could not successfully pursue my passion, until I educated myself about it. I had to learn everything I could about publishing and constructing a book. Next, I had to enlist others (crazy enough) to help me. “Hey, guys, I’m publishing a children’s picture book. Experience, uh, no, I’ve never done this before. Want to come along anyway?” Along they came, and together, we made our way through the doom, and the delight, that is self-publishing. We didn’t get shot at or crash a plane, but it was an exhilarating and exhausting journey just the same.

Fellow Indies, I tip my dusty fedora to you. As Dr. Jones discovered, sometimes our quest requires “a leap of faith”. May your self-publishing adventures lead to what you seek, and may X always mark the spot.


“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.

Embed from Getty Images
Embed from Getty Images

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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