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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"Stained Glass Symphony"


SILLY Dreamers : Wild Love of Art, Poetry, Spirit: The Romantic Gyspy Life posted this image:
To my knowledge, these pictures belong to SILLY Dreamers; my use of them is educational and editorial if not creative.
and invited people to write a poem about it. My friend Michael shared the challenge with me, knowing I am a sucker for such things. What follows is what I created; I hope you enjoy it!
 

"Stained Glass Symphony"

Stained sky in hues of yellow and dark.
Bare limbs ignite the muse's spark.
The sun fades fast but not all's lost,
A melody to melt the frost.

Stained glass flower holds the sun
Rays of light echo and hum
Across the petals and raise the sound
Crackling ice beats on the ground

Last rays pluck violin strings
Clouds blow smooth and clear air brings
Soul and jazz in nature’s hymn
Dusk renews, begins again.

You never heard a sweeter song
In time between the dark and dawn
Heard through a flower with stained glass petals
Trees dance and quake and shake – none settles.

To my knowledge, these pictures belong to SILLY Dreamers; my use of them is educational and editorial if not creative.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Looking for a Children's Book Artist/Illustrator: An Open Letter to Visual Artists

Dear Artist (who takes pity on poor writers like yours truly),

I'm looking for images to replace clip art in my book.

I also want to add avatar tags to the text. See an example of what I mean.
(Page 5 of YCCMM, with Avatar tags)


I want to replace pages one and two with images of the artist's choice that show a play date and one mom and kid leaving.Then, as you can see from the story, the rest of the conversation can take place anywhere -- a park, a car, or a home kitchen. I want the artist to have fun with different backgrounds if s/he wants.

If I buy your work, you retain the rights. I know I can't draw!
I would like the artist to have an "about the illustrator" page with photo or illustration and bio. I am good with words & can write the bio if supplied information.

My finished book will be available on Amazon.com in print & ebook. Cheap(er) art will allow a cheap(er) book that can be sold to more people & promote your art. Promoting yourself with my book will help me sell books. Win-Win. I'd like us both to be rich and famous!




I am also looking to work with someone who has more technical skills than I do. The artist for Martha's Chickens & the Pirates was/is wonderful, but I had to do all the formatting and someone in the business or having better tools in pursuit of his/her hobby might save me a lot of time and frustration, resulting in a better book for the consumer.

So I am contacting several artists to see their rates, and writing open letters like this one. I am hoping to find someone willing to provide art for $5 to $10 per page. I know good artists are worth more, but writers like me can't afford it!

With so much appreciation and respect for your talent,


  



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bubblews






Yes -- I've done it again. I'm trying out a new site to earn income. It is called Bubblews, and on that site I am Phylc_author -- the same as my Twitter Handle.


If you'd like to connect with me there, please do so. If you want me to connect with you without following me in return (why, I'm not sure, but) leave your handle in a comment so I can take a look at your stuff.
The pictures were all from MorgueFile, and I chose them so I could say the following:
Speech Bubbles, Beach Bubbles, Tub Bubbles, Oh My!!

Now that they are broken links, and I just deleted them, I'm not sure what to think. But given the age of this post, who really cares (besides me), anyway? But I don't like broken links on my page, so editing comes in handy.

Monday, October 20, 2014

House on Haunted Hill farce!!

My son was part of the backstage crew in a parody of House on Haunted Hill that just wrapped up this week. The backstage crew were ghosts who engaged in pranking the actors on and off stage. I knew this young man would be a great prankster.



And was not surprised that he got to be a funny-man.


However, to avoid even the pretense of being "One of THOSE" stage-moms, I didn't read the script. When I went to see the play, I had little idea of what to expect. Normally I have at least helped my son go over his lines -- not speak too quickly, that kind of thing. With no lines, there was no need for me to do that.

J in a production this summer. We BOTH knew all his lines for this one!
Staged parodies aren't really my thing. Puns really only work well for me when fresh and in the moment. A play that has been rehearsed for months is neither. That is not meant to be disrespectful to the writer, a 17 year old member of the troupe, or the actors, who filled their roles very well. Only that, like slapstick and other many forms of comedy, it really isn't my can of Dr. Pepper.

My laptop, my WIP, and MY can of Dr. Pepper. ;)     


But my son responsibly conducted himself through five performances in four days -- even though he was "done" after the second show. I am so very proud of him.

J enjoys a plate of spaghetti between shows on Saturday. 

And I'm proud of myself. I DID manage to step back and let him do what he needed. He did not disappoint me. And the next time, he won't disappoint me, either. He will make me proud. My little boy is growing up. May the village help me!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cheap Book LOVE this week!

I love cheap books. And when I go to the "other" local library in town, I have to check out their 75% off section, since most of their books are only a buck or two to start with.  Here were my finds this week:

Silver Door(II) and Ruby Key(I) by Holly Lisle
Holly Lisle is something of a mentor of mine. She teaches a class How to Think Sideways that I have used many many many of the free parts of. She celebrated her birthday this week, and is doing all sorts of cool stuff. She revealed that it took six years to get her first acceptance letter. That is both comforting and extremely frustrating. I have been writing much longer than I've not been writing. But I've only been "published" -- and not traditionally -- for a few years. And I still don't know, especially being self-published -- how much harder I need to work or how much more patient I need to be to make things go the way I want them to. But Holly was one of the first traditionally published authors who taught me about the problems of big trad publishers and the importance she felt in making the switch to being self-pubbed. It IS all a big gamble, and the not-knowing part is very tough.

Two books by Jennifer Weiner
Love me some Jennifer Weiner chic-lit. And the first one mentions a heftier girl having to get comfortable with her own skin. Gotta love those feel-good vibes, and Weiner's always good to give them to readers.


Two books by Patricia Cornwell
My friend recommended Patricia Cornwell to me because I love Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, Mary Higgins Clark, and James Patterson. I still haven't ventured past front covers and first pages (so many books, so little time), but the best thing about these books is if I don't care for them, I have a gift for my friend! Win-win!!


Patrick O'Brian and DJ MacHale
And for the men in my life. Dear Hubby is working on the Patrick O'Brian collection, so to pick up a book that still retails for $11.95 for 75% off $2? Priceless. My brother reads Pendragon, and I think my son will have an interest at some point. These books retail for $8.99 and I picked it up for $.25.

The bad thing about picking up books this cheap is that the author does not profit directly from this sale. But the library does -- and many of these are either donated by previous owners or library discards. Poor readers and readers on a budget benefit. And blog readers do, when they hear about great books because a giddy author, blogger, and person like me is excited to share. If they check out the recommendations, they discover the writers, and then everyone wins. Book love -- it's important stuff!!


*Images are from the actual books taken with my camera phone. Cover images are property of their respective authors, illustrators, and publishers.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Being Remiss -- My week in Review

Oh Goodness!

In the attempt to keep up and not overwhelm readers with content, either, I have neglected this blog again. How tragic! Let me recap the last week:

I did publish a few book reviews on Wikinut. Two reviews were books by Margaret Peterson Haddix. One I liked; one I didn't care for. The third was an animal rescue plus dragons book by Chris D'Lacey.

I also posted about a new business venture in social media marketing. You can read more about that here.


Saturday I participated in the third annual Author Festival put on by the library in my area. I had prime placement on the front row between another children's author and a YA fantasy and science fiction writer. The author list was cut in half from the year before -- but whether that fewer people requested to come or if there was actually a bar people had to meet is unknown. The event was poorly attended, and I'm not sure why. The summer events for children that this library hosts fill three classroom areas and spill over into standing room only. Many times, there is no place to park on a Saturday -- which may mean that the neighboring park is full. So was it the date? The time? That the authors aren't giving books away free?

In addition, two authors I traded books with had work I did not feel was ready for publication. Which makes me wonder if I am the wheat or the chaff. And that's not a good place for my head to be after three years at this. (More positively, four authors I have met there had books I enjoyed, and one had a decent book that just wasn't my thing. I don't usually trade with Western writers, Christian writers, or poets -- and in my area there are a lot -- these are not my genres and unless those authors asked to trade me, I'll keep thinking my work won't appeal to them -- with no hard feelings.)

So at the end of it all, I'm taking away that I'm grateful for the free advertising, but my time also has value.

Three years I have done this event and in that time, I've sold three books. Not three each time. Three books. In three days over three years. Of those, ZERO reviews*. Goose egg. Nada. What's worse -- the library that host me at this event will not shelve my books, because I'm an indie author. So their patrons can't go the the library and check out my work beforehand. There isn't a place for me to leave my card or ordering information. They won't tell those who buy my books when I'll be around to sign them. But I can get a John Grisham (who was born in my state) novel from another library in their system with a couple of keystrokes. I know even he struggled like I did, but he wasn't a writer before.

So I think a clear message is not being sent. How difficult would it be to have a book club devoted to local authors? To establish a local beta reader group? To have a reading panel to determine which authors should be invited to the festival -- each author sponsored by someone familiar with the body of work that would speak positively of it (besides the author) at something called a "Festival." If it's a festival of locals, they shouldn't be authors meeting the staff and each other for the first time. Age differences aside, they should have grown up together, preferably in that library. Or they should be bringing their families to that library, if a job, school, or other Arkansas opportunities moved them here. And people in the community should be excited to rub elbows with this local talent before the talent takes some major deal that removes them from Arkansas and moves them to New York or California or Canada.

Three YEARS. I've been a participant for THREE YEARS, and yet the new (for a little over a year) head librarian did not know me. To what extent is that my fault? To what extent is that hers? This is the same library where I completed summer reading lists as a child.This was the place where I felt loved and was happy.

It is not the library's fault. They are doing the best they can with available resources. I check out a lot of books and DVDs that I don't have to buy.

Now the people who work there are people hired by an outside firm. They're generally new to the area. And maybe it's a sign of the times, but they don't know things. There are wonderful exceptions, of course, and I'm not saying any one of them is bad. They're all completely competent employees. But it's difficult to talk books with them. They smile and nod at me like they smiled and nodded at the book lover in front of me and like they'll smile and nod at the book lover behind me. The majority aren't secretly writing their own books when they think no one is looking. They don't have ten books each on the staff hold shelf waiting for them to have a spare second.The people employed as librarians are not by definition readers -- and I find that very sad.

I need an invitation elsewhere. I need a library or group that actually supports indie authors and holds them accountable for good quality work.  Bookstores are dying, but people are still reading. So authors need to be able to connect with them -- the way that John Grisham did years ago. It isn't safe to sell door-to-door, though I know some people do. Still, there ought to be a better way.

Clearly, I've been stewing about that. Thanks for bearing with me while I got that off my chest. Moving forward --

Sunday I rode along as my husband took our son fishing for the first time. We met some friends at the lake and made a day of it. Caught nothing, but that's OK. I did some world-building for Archer's Paintbrush and a prologue for CONfidence Woman. I solicited help for an awards database so I can start applying for things. Perhaps outside validation would help me reconcile ridiculous doubts and help me sell fiction.

Wednesday I was diagnosed with an ear infection -- Labyrinthitis. Thursday night I had a flat tire. 

I've got so many articles and fiction angles I'm working on that it's disgusting. If I could concentrate my focus on one project at a time, I'd complete a novel a month for the next year and a half (unlikely, but one can dream). And that's been my week in review.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on directions I should go -- anything I've done or mentioned that you want to hear more about? I write with the intention of feedback and a dialogue -- and that can't happen without your input.



*I have to take that back. No customer reviews. I did receive two reviews from other authors with whom I exchanged books at the second event. One of the authors I reviewed in return, and the other who's work was, in my generous opinion, not ready for publication. And I felt so guilty that the second author gave me a glowing review that I could not return a poor one. So I said nothing. At the first event, I exchanged books with a different author whose work was not up to par. And I did review that, but only after I had messaged the author privately asking if I could help. I received no reply.