New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Arizona Sunset and CreateSpace

Anyone who knows me knows writing is a big part of my life. Although I don't promote my books in this blog, I do other places. You must if you want to be seen, as nobody will be doing it for you (okay, a few do). Sometimes it's been hard not to write more about what I am working on or the marketing issues. On the other hand, there is always enough going on without getting into that (I don't even want to get started on politics right now). Not to mention that I felt many Rainy Day Thought readers were not exactly romance novel fans ;).

But there is a new aspect to the books which could be informational to other writers or would-be writers. It's been interesting as well as educational as we made the decision to bring the western historical romance out as both a paperback and an eBook. Both aimed for Saturday the 31st of August.

I suspect among my readers there are more than a few who have thought of putting out their own books whether that would be fiction, art, or a memoir type. CreateSpace is where we opted to create Arizona Sunset as it's an adjunct to Amazon. There are reasons for offering paper and eBook. I went into that in Rain Trueax-- Paperback as well as eBook.

CreateSpace makes it easy to submit a book; and if the writer is not handy with tech issues, they will do the work for a range of fees from $247 for a basic book on up for those more complex. They also offer free templates to create covers if someone isn't into that (That's my department and I am into doing those).

However, with their instructions, it's not that difficult to do the paperback-- or so the more techie savvy Farm Boss assures me... Even though it took him hours and three proofs to get it all figured out (they mail you the proofs for which you pay a reasonable price for the book and shipping).

The beauty of this approach to self-publishing is you aren't stuck, as some of my self-publishing friends have been, with a garage or attic full of books that you cannot sell. CreateSpace doesn't require any outlay or purchase of your own work. Books are only created as they are sold. You set a price for the book that you agree it will be in stores or through Amazon to avoid unfair competition. Your price has to cover CreateSpace charges, Amazon's percentage or the store's if you opt to sell books on consignment-- as well as leaving you something.

You have the choice of letting CreateSpace purchase (and own) your ISBN or doing it yourself and they will use it. For someone like me with a lot of books, the logical approach was buying my own and getting the package of ten because we do plan to bring the other books out as paperbacks.

The price for me to purchase a book like mine with a jacket, two black and white images inside, was very reasonable and not outrageously high for potential readers (eBook is of course cheaper by far). It would be more for a photo book full of images, and I've heard some of those can have to sell for as much as $60. That's not really an unusually high price for a quality picture book but probably a hard sell for new writers. Still it's a thought.

Basically, other than paying for the Proof which you would want to do, they charge you nothing else. The proof is critical as even seeing it online, which you can do, it's seeing how the paper looks, whether the chapters came together, that's important before putting a book out to sell. If it doesn't look professional, only family or close friends will be buying it and even they won't be happy.

-Arizona Sunset-
 Kindle

I just want to add on a personal note that I have so appreciated the help and encouragement from friends in all that has happened since I began bringing out my eBooks but nobody has contributed as much as my publisher, editor and partner in the whole operation. Writing might be a solitary pursuit but getting a book out, that takes teamwork; and I sure appreciate his dealing with the techie end.  He's had some frustrating days, but he's stuck with it and I value his support very much.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Daisy

Because we sometimes need to feel good--

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

dog days of summer


When the dog days of summer come along, it takes a lot of effort for me to get creative or actually want to accomplish much even if I am feeling great. This year, I will, for maybe the first time, be welcoming fall with hopefully some cleansing rains and a reduction of dust, smoke and pollen in the air.


As I look back on it, my August was overall good except for an ongoing bout of sinusitis which between the meds and the discomfort has me without much energy. Still I much enjoyed the new garden area and observing the foxes (who we haven't seen for a couple of week; so they definitely left for better hunting grounds). We had some great family times (fortunately before my sinuses became an issue), lots of sunny days with a few light rains, a wonderful vegetable garden which was especially appreciated since last year we didn't plant one.

This spring we expanded the garden into a second fenced area for corn and sunflowers-- not to mention more string beans. We may have gone a tad overboard on string beans. We bought heritage seeds; so we can save seed for next year. Hopefully that will work since we haven't tried it before, but we got the instructions for doing it and a place the seeds will store (we hope). Next year we are thinking of building a root cellar for storing food further into the winter.

To finish off the month, Farm Boss and I set August 31st as the day to release my historical romance, Arizona Sunset, in paperback and Kindle. I suppose I could have checked to see if that was a good date astrologically, but I don't follow astrology for anything else; so why do it for this. On the other hand, a writer (self-publishing or not) can use all the luck and positive energy they can amass. I have decided I wanted this book to come out in this month that was good for us. This is the time of harvest and publishing a book is much like a harvest-- as you never really know how it will go...







Monday, August 26, 2013

a guest author


For anyone interested in historical romances, Yellowstone National Park, or just more about the process authors go through in putting together their books, author, Peggy Henderson is guesting on my Rain Trueax blog this week; so check it out:


One of the neat things about the romance authors, that I have met so far, is how supportive they are of each other. While Peggy guests on my blog, I guest on hers. If you want to get the URL for that interview, you have to go to the above link where you can find the questions I had for Peggy. ;) Wednesday will be a snippet from one of her books.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

From the Sky

Although we've had a busy summer, the sky has provided some of the most dramatic shows. There was the blue moon of late August, called blue moon not by the second full moon in one calendar month but based on astronomer's designation:
The last Blue Moon that we'll see until 2015 is up in the sky until Wednesday morning. It's not really blue. The phrase "blue moon" for many people commonly refers to a rare second full moon in a month, although the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, while noting disagreement among the public, describes it as, " ... the third full moon to in an astronomical season in which four full moons fall." This kind of moon appears only once every three years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
So call it what you will-- blue corn moon works for me-- it was spectacular.






And then to finish off August with a sky show, we got one of those spectacular sunsets which is fairly rare in our part of the Pacific Northwest.  This sunset kept revealing new dimensions. As we looked across our farm to the west.

The explanations for why we get a gorgeous sunset once in a 'blue moon' are many, but it doesn't seem obvious to me other than the right amount of smoke or dust in the air as well as interesting layers of clouds to reflect the colors. That air quality has played havoc with my sinuses in August but gotta say it was beautiful when the sun got hold of it.








 Sometimes we just have to remember to look up! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

foxes in June

The foxes had been living under our porch for almost two months when I suddenly realized I'd never taken a video of their activities. One day I saw them out and grabbed the little camera, set it on video and took some shots. It turned out to be a lucky decision as the next night they all were moved out. By moved out, I mean some of the babies went on their own-- one ran out in the video if you watch carefully to follow its mom. Some though still required being carried.

As soon as they were gone, the space under the porch that had been their den, got boarded up sufficiently to keep them from returning. It took a little longer to get the individual videos into one. I wish I had had the window open for any possible sounds but I didn't think of it and maybe they would have been less natural if they had suspected I was watching.

Here it is-- from June.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

growing up and out








 
Finally two weeks ago I got one of all five foxes. The parents are the clearest and you can tell the babies by shorter snout. Coloring is now like their parents. What appears to be a bubble is because in shooting through our fence, the sun reflected in dots of light and hence that almost painterly effect.

We think the fox family has moved which is what they needed to do once their three little ones began looking more and more like the adults. We watched them for weeks as the babies would play with games honing the skills they would need to get their own food. The last photo that we got of all five was maybe a week before we think they moved to another area.

We've seen the adults watch a rodent hole for hours. We've seen the rodents around the barns act more jumpy-- with good reason. We worried that the farm didn't have enough rodents to support five adult foxes -- who will also be breeding eventually. We knew we were supplementing their food by our birdseed which we now keep out of the fenced yards and by the blueberries; so sheep don't eat it but the foxes could. We began to do less of that as the babies grew closer to being self-sufficient.

If they had to head south from here into neighboring fields, that's where the young coyotes are growing up, where we hear them yelping at night. They have to eat too, and sometimes they kill foxes who are so much smaller. I've written about it before-- a predator's life is not an easy one.

Their temporary home was under what used to be my mother's mobile home. It's across the garden and a small field from our house. We kept it there for years because her feral cats needed it for protection as a place to live out their lives. When the last one of those died, I wanted to find a way to get it off the property; but now, weather-beaten though it is after years with no one living there, under it provided a temporary haven for our foxy neighbors. It couldn't be permanent.

We are also considering keeping it and repairing the floor, making it more secure and Farm Boss would eventually use it for his lab when he no longer wants to work from town. We had permission to keep it as a studio which is what that would equivalently be. If the foxes have moved, they will be happier than if they hung around and had to listen to construction overhead-- though they did not mind living under our porch for those weeks of small babies.

I guess the lesson here is enjoy the moment, and our time sharing a piece of land with the foxes was beautiful. The future is uncertain for us all and most of all for small predators. For awhile I worried about their future but once the babies became near adults, it seemed to free me from concerns. It's time for them to move on, and I was then ready for them to do it. We don't want foxes on welfare here-- that could turn very unpleasant when the next generation bred...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

It's not a human right to live?


Once in awhile I just gotta go political. I try to avoid it because life is about so much more than being angry all the time but sometimes the attitude of some in the world just so amazes me that I can't hold back. What the hell are some people thinking! was what I'd have named this post except I don't swear in titles.


Basically what he's saying is nothing is sacred about life except the dollar. And don't bother telling me he's a Christian. He probably does attend a church or mosque or temple but somehow his religion hasn't carried over to the human part of his life-- assuming he has one that isn't connected to his bank statement.

Normally I don't urge boycotts but it's time we boycotted the big corporate food manufacturers and we can do it. Nestles puts together many products for people to buy. What if people say as long as you have a yahoo like this running your company, we're through purchasing your products. 

What if those who own stocks looked harder at what their stocks are doing and not just how well they were impacting their bottom-line. It isn't all about the Dow Jones. Oh I know it is to those who need to live on their investments but what are those investments doing to others around the world. Genocide is okay when it is done through starvation and not guns?
If all some people care about is how 'well' their stocks are doing-- others of us need to care about 'what' our stocks are doing!
 

Saturday, August 03, 2013

the tracker and the muse


 When the dream came, it was a full moon and such times are rich for dreams. I am not sure why that would be because when the sky is so bright at night, it can make sleep uneven. Maybe that's the key that more waking during the night makes for more remembered dreams.

This dream was about how creativity happens. It was in a story form but the story didn't matter. What mattered was two words-- muse and tracker. That was the key according to the dream to creative work and when I woke I knew it to be so. Not one or the other but both-- working together or sometimes in conflict before they come to terms with making 'it' happen.

Muse is something I write about once in awhile and exactly what it is I leave vague in my own mind. Some would say it's a spiritual entity who helps us when we need it. They might be quite certain what that entity is.

To me the muse is not someone but more something. It's that unexplainable impulse and idea that comes seemingly out of the ether. It's the art of the writing. It's the instinct. It's what happens when you are writing a story and suddenly you know there is something you missed-- something facts alone don't explain but it's what takes the story to a dimension that goes beyond the mundane to something special.


Hence, the muse is the art.

The tracker though, well that is craft, research, structure, and the work in the work. At the essence of any idea has to come the ability to get it across to someone else. Without that, the idea remains within and goes nowhere.

This is true of painting, sculpture, writing, and any art form. The tracker is the practical aspect to even research into the sciences. It isn't alone or the work is mundane and plodding but if it isn't there, the work is so flighty it cannot be shared beyond maybe a few or possibly nobody.


So tracker is the craft.

Both are essential for the arts or any creative work. Leaving oneself open to the muse is where ideas originate that don't appear to have any logical beginning. But, without the craft, they stay right there-- in the mind.

Some put down the craft aspect as beneath them to consider. True art must remain pure and unfettered. Great, just be sure you do keep it to yourself as nobody else will understand it with a structure that makes it available to more than one.

Tracker and muse can get into conflict, hence came the idea for using these photos of our cats playing. Tracker tells muse that it is fanciful and it's not possible what it wants. Tracker ridicules the dreamlike quality and believes only it is needed for quality work. Muse accuses tracker of stomping on genius, of taking the heart out of a work. They can work together but with mutual respect and an acknowledgement that they are both needed-- even when they seem for a time at cross purposes.

In painting, there are those cases where some would claim only the muse is important. An example would be Jackson Pollack's huge splatter paintings. They are called great art and people buy them at high prices. They appear to be all muse and have no craft to them. My guess is if their appeal lasts, even though their form was new, the craft is underlying them more than it appears. It's just a guess-- though the muse told me it was so...

(In the photos are Blackie and Pepper. They actually do get along pretty well and only once in awhile does Blackie get too rough and she has to tell him off in no uncertain terms. Otherwise, she likes the interaction between them and sometimes is the instigator.)