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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Finding Pink Elephants

The new scene with the ferris wheel in ‪#‎AMuseMeant‬ came together beautifully last night. Handwritten. Three pages. I knew right where I wanted it. I went to the electronic copy of my book to type it this morning -- and the passage where I wanted to enter it WAS NOT THERE.
I panicked, and started searching my docs for a phrase that would help me identify this chapter from the others. I laughed when I found it: "pink elephant." But I couldn't find the file with that phrase.
I didn't IMAGINE typing it. It was typed and printed out in front of me. I checked the flash drive -- other copies of the document, but no pink elephants. (And man do I make a lot of drafts!)
I had to stop looking for my pink elephant to get my son on task for the day/hour/minute, pay a bill, find a card, talk with my husband about our budget, collect air mattresses, and yes, go to the bathroom. In the last place on that list, I remembered that I had another flashdrive. Finished my business, found the other flash drive and popped it in -- Wah hoo! There was my beautiful pink elephant. 
In #AMuseMeant, the pink elephant symbolizes Samm's epiphany that with belief in herself, she can do anything. But with this belief comes the responsibility of not ignoring problems in her life, hoping they will go away or be solved by someone else. (Sometimes it's hard to tell a blessing from a curse in this regard, just ask my 12 year old!)
My larger question, worry, and concern over the next week (besides prepping for the BIG SALE and book launch May 2, of course), is in how to determine how many more pink elephant passages exist between the draft that is on the flashdrive and the one that I had stored in the cloud. If ink, paper, and time were no weights in my decision, I'd probably print out both, bamboozle a friend (or a son), and compare the drafts page by page. How I'll actually handle the situation -- well, I'll tell you when I figure it out. 
Until then, here's the newly designed cover for #AMuseMeant:
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and a hattip to the old classmate and new friend who reminded me that returning to my roots and approaching a problem in the simplest way possible CAN yield the best solution. In the meantime -- I see pink elephants that you can't stop thinking about. You're welcome!

Author Photo by Tori Brunson

Phyl Campbell is Author, Mother, Dreamer. She writes on a variety of topics: Parenting, How-To, Grammar, Women/Feminism/Equality, Book Reviews, Work in Progress and Reflections. Her books are available on Amazon and she's pursuing her dreams as a motivational and professional speaker. If you'd like to see her speak at an upcoming function, contact her through her website or Facebook page.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Updated Goodreads Author Profile

Since Amazon now owns Goodreads, I don't often post book reviews anymore. But I am fortunate to have fans, friends, and fellow authors who have friended me on Goodreads and may wish to submit reviews on Goodreads. As a result, I have updated my profile with the new books I have published there.

Here is the link:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

#25Reasons to Celebrate!!

After ten years of writing, not writing, and hitting walls, #25Reasons is finally approved by CreateSpace (had some formatting issues) and should be available (live) on by this weekend.

The official launch date is May 2 at the WACO fairgrounds in Fayetteville, AR. At that time, I will also be launching Confessions of a Grammar Enthusiast*, which came out last month.

I don't know whether #AMuseMeant will be ready in time for a triple-threat launch. On one hand, hitting that final PUBLISH key always leaves me feeling very high. On the other hand, fixing formatting issues is both exhausting and brain frying. I sat outside yesterday (it was beautiful) -- rain was threatening, not too hot, windy -- and reattached the bumper pads to my son's trampoline. I need to spend more time outside (not counting time spent in a car). I've been wanting to get my publishing "to do" list knocked out, but sharpening the saw is also good for the heart, mind, and soul.

Next week is my 13th wedding anniversary, my son's 12th birthday, my son's birthday party, and the local Renaissance Faire. Time to get out and enjoy them!

*Since I don't know how long it takes CreateSpace and Amazon to fix things -- I found an error in the "About the Author" online section. Read at face value, it alludes that I jet-set between active teaching in Arkansas and working in a library in Lexington, KY. The Lexington library and ESL teaching experiences were vital contributors to the path that led me to Confessions, but I left Lexington in 2006 and am a full time NWA resident and muck-raker.

Phyl Campbell is the author of all the books you see above. She writes and teaches (privately or in workshops) in NWA. She is easiest to contact through Facebook: Phyl Campbell Author Page.

Monday, April 6, 2015

How to Monday: Quick and Dirty Book Publishing Guide

My way is not the only way to publish an Indie book. These steps are my best advice for creating a print book (paperback) that can be made available on Amazon or purchased wholesale by the author for resale at book buying events.

1. Create a manuscript using a word processor.

  • Use sections (Page Break, Section Break) for each chapter or section
  • Use Headers and Footers to create page numbers and to write your book title and author name on each page (I keep another published book in front of me as a guide)
  • Create the front matter (title, copyright page, dedication). Again, use a previously published book to see the industry standard.
  • Create the back matter (acknowledgments, author note, about the author, preview of next book)
  • Front matter and back matter should not have page numbers, headers, or footers. I use section breaks to do this, but my brother recommends applying white text boxes where text should be hidden.
  • Use Styles to establish one font and font size for chapter headers and a different font and font size for basic text. You can also use it to select indents, spacing between lines and other text features. It’s tricky to learn, but will save any many steps.
  • In my word processing tool bar, there is a paragraph mark symbol. Select it to see all hidden formatting symbols like spaces and hard/soft returns.
  • Learn how to use Find and Replace. Especially MORE/FORMAT
  • Save document (OFTEN!)

2. Create an account for or log into CreateSpace (

  • Under the My Account tab, select Add New Title
  • Follow the instructions to select book size, paper, and other attributes
  • Skip the step of adding an interior file
  • Create a Cover (Create and upload the PDF, or use their template and images – I do a combination)

3. Go back to your word processor document.

  • Adjust paper size or margins to fit the selected book size.
  • Add the CreateSpace assigned ISBNs to the copyright page
  • Export to PDF (sometimes this is “print to PDF” or “save to PDF”)
  • Open the PDF file to check for correct placement of headers, footers, and page numbers. Select “view two page” with “separate title page” (2 boxes to check)
  • Without a PDF editor, make changes to the PDF by making the changes in Word and repeating the Export to PDF/Print to PDF/Save as PDF option.

4. Go back to CreateSpace

  • Go to the Title created in Step 2.
  • Go to the step of uploading an Interior File.
  • It is possible to upload files from a word processor without the PDF step. I don’t think the files come across as cleanly --- some formatting is lost (fonts, margins, page breaks). This has been my experience.
  • Choose sales channels and set book price(s)
  • Submit files for review

5. The file review check takes 24-48 hours. It will determine whether all the content from the submitted file fits within the margins of the selected layout.

  • Make changes to the review file until CreateSpace (and you) are satisfied, either by making changes to the CreateSpace review file (when applicable), changing book attributes in CreateSpace, or making changes to the PDF/ word document.
  • Repeat the file review steps each time changes are made.
  • When the review comes back without errors, and the book is acceptable to you, select Publish.

Published titles are available immediately on CreateSpace, and within 1-5 days on Amazon (if Amazon was selected) or other channels.

6. My way is not the only way to publish an Indie book. Some people buy their own ISBNs (See LightningSource instead of CreateSpace), hire out cover artists and layout designers, formatters, editors, etc.  Some people only publish to Kindle. These steps are my best advice for creating a print book that can be made available on Amazon or purchased wholesale by the author for resale at book buying events.

7. Timeline. On average, creating the manuscript takes me a year. Preparing a cover takes me two weeks (over a month with reader input). Formatting the interior (for me) is a two-week job minimum. I try to format as I go, but best laid plans sometimes go awry, and I have to undo formatting to add pages, delete pages, or fiddle with margins. Can someone else do it faster and better? Undoubtedly. I encourage people with tips or tricks to share their knowledge.

Coming Soon: #25 Reasons Why Charlie Should Never Read Jane's Books to Jane

Also Coming Soon: A Muse Meant

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Review of the Book of Life

Today is Thursday, where I'd normally do book reviews. Yesterday was April Fool's Day, So I didn't do my typical Women Wednesday posting. Last week was Spring Break, so on the whole, I've been a slacker. I could write a book review today, but I'm working on #25Reasons and that's what I need to be doing to meet my goal there.  Here's the latest cover -- the ink is still drying on the page I printed:

But if you connect with me on social media (FB), then you'll know I have been very busy with something I'm very passionate about -- supporting people who are being abused by people who don't realize they are in positions of privilege.  I know something about this. Two years ago, I wrote When I Say I'm Unchurched, and it means just as much today as when I wrote it. (I just put the title into a search engine, and mine's the first article that pulls up. That's a pretty awesome feeling.) At some point, I need to update that article to direct people HERE and not Wordpress, but that's minor.

Before I was a mother, and before DOMA, I was pretty happy calling out damned liberals from my safe space as a feminist in the Republican camp. I had great respect for Barbara Bush and Elizabeth Dole. I really thought that education and hard work could help anybody become as wealthy or successful as they wanted to be.

Now, more than a decade older, and I hope wiser, I have seen the outspoken powerful minority of the conservative party do things to offend reason -- in the name of a set of religious ideas that I don't share -- while a much quieter majority looks on without stopping the madness. People should be free to celebrate their religion. As someone no longer in practice, let me say how many churchgoers have many privileges they do not even realize they have. My fifth grader was supposed to do a research project on the culture of his family. One fifth of the project was supposed to have been about his religion. I'm not comfortable sticking a label on him for an assignment. He wasn't raised in a church community to know how damning it is to be without one. It was the tipping point reason (not the primary or only one) to take him out of brick and mortar school and enroll him in public school online -- so his grade wasn't affected by leaving out a fifth of his "research project." But then we get into the literature class online and one of the units is "Stories From the Bible." As it turned out, my son enjoyed the stories. David and Goliath. Daniel in the Lion's Den. The Loaves and Fish. Seeing them through my son's eyes helped me see them differently than the way I was spoon-fed them in my religious education classes. I could equate them with the Tall Tales and Legends we had read, and the stories of Roman and Greek gods. Reading the Bible stories did not demand that anyone declare himself Christian or Protestant or Atheist.  

People aren't getting how HATE isn't part of the Christian doctrine. Jesus surrounded himself with women, with lepers, with tax collectors, with PEOPLE. All sorts of people. But the stories in the Qu'ran bear striking similarities with the Bible. Many religious texts mirror stories I recognize from the Bible. So I don't like well meaning Christians telling haters to move to Iran. I have Muslim friends. They assume I'm Christian. They're still wonderful to me -- they're wonderful people. I have Asian friends who are forbidden religion. They assume I'm Christian. They're wonderful to me -- they are wonderful people. What most of us can agree on is that the people are fine -- it's the power that corrupts. My decision to remain outside of a religious faith stems from my need to not be corrupted -- to continue to see things in the pure way my son does. It is very humbling to be taught by your child, but it is also very important.

So my Book Review Thursday post is perhaps a book review of the Bible: what it is, and what it isn't. We know that attending church or reading the Bible is not a license for eternal reward in the next world. We can see that child abuse is still abuse. We can see American jails full of people -- many more Christian than any other denomination.We can see that the highest rates of teen pregnancy and divorce are both found in the geographic area recognized as the Bible Belt.
Information belongs to the Census Bureau and used only for the purpose of providing evidence of my claim.

Information belongs to Gallup and used only for the purpose of providing evidence of my claim.

So I hope my unapologetic self will be forgiven when I laugh at people who invite me to their churches while asking me to respect their right to discriminate. I hope they will one day understand why when I hear them say "your post offends me" I want to do more than post to cause them to be offended. Sometimes, I want to punch them in the nose -- but I won't. I want to remind them that I'm still married to the only person I've ever had sex with -- and I'm still married to that person because we mind our own business. We don't judge others. We don't lust after our neighbors or their spouses. We don't care who is sleeping with whom -- we just want to know who's picking up their kids after a playdate or school function -- and if there's a fighting dynamic we need to be sensitive to. It's insulting that they don't care enough about my child not to talk about him or his heathen parents in front of him -- yeah. It's happened. It's bizarre that there are children my son can't play with -- because his parents' (MY) religious views are not acceptable and they aren't (I'M NOT) "good people" -- yeah. It's happened.
I want to rub their collective noses in their privilege -- because they don't understand it. Because of their "deeply held beliefs," they're same people who don't understand feminism. And they can't understand why their deeply held beliefs are so offensive to me. They're a hard group to love.

This month I celebrate 13 years of marriage to the only sex partner I've ever had. So that Bible passage about the stone throwing? I think some people should think about it. And if they claim they have, and maintain their religious right to bigotry, they should think about it HARDER.