Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Africa's Beauty Being Strangled / One Person Making a Difference


I'm doing something today I should have done A MONTH AGO, and I feel terrible it slipped through the cracks, but my schedule has been crazy-impossible . . . so I'll make it short. 

A dear writing friend from Santa Barbara, Lori Robinson, leads Safari's in Africa when she's not writing.  Last year, she read a piece in class called "THE BAG LADIES," where she describes a current plight in Africa. It seems they have the same problem there, that we have in the United States, too many plastic bags. 

Her story showed that plastic bags are littering this majestic landscape by the thousands, hanging from trees, intertwined in bushes, covering the terrain like confetti.  Worse yet, the MAGNIFICENT ANIMALS that inhabit this country are dying because they end up eating these bags and are choking to death!! 

Lori's passion for this country and its' animals have led  her to do something about this travesty . . . proving ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

She came up the idea to exchange ONE CLOTH TOTE for every 25 plastic bags returned.  Last year, she collected these totes from friends and neighbors locally, and the program was a huge success.  Some of these women in Africa walked 10 miles with the plastic bags they gathered to collect a free tote.  Lori shows this in the attached video . . .

I know this is a busy time of year with the holidays upon us, but I'm asking if you can gather any extra totes you may have laying around, and send them to the address below . . . EVEN ONE TOTE would make a difference.  The problem: Lori needs these by EARLY DECEMBER, which is just around the corner. Think of it as HELPING THOSE IN NEED . . . those magnificent animals that live in this far away country, few of us will ever travel to and see face-to-face.

I graciously thank you in advance for sharing your time and money to do something EXTRA SPECIAL this year, by helping to protect these beautiful animals that share our planet . . .

Needed by early December.  They can be sent to: 

Where's Your Bag?
c/o SBCK
714 Bond Avenue
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Below is the email and video I received from Lori the end of October . . . I'm sorry for the rush.  (Lori is the blond speaking).

FYI, I am again collecting canvas totes (ones that you no longer want) for Africa. 
I hope you will help by spreading the word, sending out this email to your network, donating totes and/ or money (for shipping), and commiting to using totes for your own shopping needs. 

A short video was made about the project in Africa.  To view it please go to:

Lots of love,

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Self-Publishing? Galley and Reviewer Quandry . . .

It's my final week of craziness and I feel like the gibbering white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland . . . "I'm late!  I'm late!  For a very important date!  No time to say Hello.  Goodbye.  I'm late!  I'm late!  I'm late!"

This fall, I bit off more than I could chew!  I signed up for too many classes, what with working part-time, doing a weekly blog and trying to publish my first book.  I've learned my lesson!  Gemini or no Gemini, I'm not twins and I won't do that again . . . I hope!

The whole life of man is but a point of time; let us enjoy it.              - Plutarch (46 AD - 120 AD)

My book cover is my main focus at this point.  It was pure joy to see the sample cover Tom Carey brought to class, and KNOW that my 96,000 words are REALLY going to be a book!  I'm no country mouse, but the reality was beyond words.  I still want to play with a few more ideas, once life settles down a bit, but I've decided SIMPLE and SYMBOLIC is best for my memoir.  There's also fonts, but that's for another day.  


I always thought a GALLEY was the compartment of a ship, train or airplane where food is cooked and prepared.  But this month, I learned a GALLEY is also a term for a pre-production copy that PUBLISHING COMPANIES send out to reviewers and people of the press.

Does a book's SUCCESS depend on favorable and widespread book review coverage?  And what about self-publishers?

Self-publishers have EVERY RIGHT to this favorable and widespread marketing tool . . . but you must plan in advance!

 In theory, there are usually 2 printings; your galley run and your main print run.  A GALLEY is also known as an "advanced uncorrected proof," these words should be printed on the front and back covers. (Galley is also a synonom for ARC, advance reading copy).

KEY REVIEWERS need to see your book well before your release date, 3-4 months prior, giving them the time to read and review.  This is to collect advance endorsements, "blurbs," for your final edition.

A GALLEY run can be simple, or they can  look identical to the final version . . . which is strongly recommended.  (The Well-Fed Self-Publisher - Peter Bowerman)

I've tentatively set July 4th, 2012 as my book release date for Diary of a Vet's Wife, my memior, inasmuch as Chapter One begins on July 3rd.  If this doesn't happen, my next preference is Veterans Day 2012.

My book will be in it's final version before sending it to a KEY REVIEWER.  Will I have "advance reading copy" printed on the front and back?  Probably not . . . an added expense.  In researching the key reviewers listed, some want an ARC from the PUBLISHER, not a self-publisher.  For this battle I must super-charge my TENACITY. . . you never know unless you try.  Are you game?

These First-Line Reviewers can get the word out early, if you can get your foot in the door, and they end up selling lots of books.  The main ones are:
Note:  Reviews should be FREE!!

There are endless BOOK REVIEWERS on the Internet.  Remember, there should be NO CHARGE!  The DIFFERENCE with these reviewers - Once a good review is posted, their followers may want your book in their hands . . . it must be available for purchase!  Books are impulse buys, don't lose a sale!

The best free resource I've seen on indie book reviews:
  • - has a list of over 101 reviewers and growing.  All have followers.  Check comments, as a few try to charge for a review.
  • Also, - seems like an endless list. - The First Word on the Book Publishing Industry - Stay on top of the publishing news by signing up on their website.  Good info.

I could go on and on . . . but this is a start and will keep you busy for a while . . .

Food for thought:  If you're self-published (or POD - print on demand) and ready to go . . . why not start your research and contact a few new reviewers each week?  And watch the MAGIC happen!

Lesson learned . . . my two cents

Last week in my writing class, I learned that a SELF-PUBLISHED book can now be SUBMITTED to an agent or a small publishing house in lieu of a Book Proposal!  Once you've stepped out on your own and have established a track record . . . you may want to PLAY with this idea.

Do you have favorite book reviewers you would like to share?

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Survived Main Speech / A Book Cover Quest . . .

The way you overcome shyness is to become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid. ~Claudia Lady Bird Johnson

My TOPIC SPEECH is over, and I'm GLAD! How can we, intelligent mature adults, be so daunted by a 5-minute speech? After all, it's not like we're running for office! It seems absurd . . . unless it's stalking you like the paranormal abomination residing in your attic. 

Writing my speech was PAINLESS compared to the APPREHENSION that followed. A general speech consists of "a HOOK," THREE MAIN POINTS, and a STRONG CONCLUSION. As soon as my speech was proofed, my PAUSES highlighted, and then printed . . . my pulse kicked-up a knotch. Now I had to PRACTICE! 

The full-length mirror behind my bedroom door, served as an audience. A tall stool acted as my podium, and my new digital-recorder was the microphone. I was coached to "leave the podium," and walk from one side of the stage to the other. This was DELINITELY out of my COMFORT ZONE! Closet writers are not gregarious . . .

My coach recommended I MEMORIZE my "OPENING and the CONCLUSION," speaking from my HEART. I could read THE BODY, if necessary, as long as I maintained EYE CONTACT with the audience. I practiced until I wore a footpath in my white carpet . . .

I soon knew most of the BODY by heart, but my problem was the ticking clock. The speech was to last 5-minutes or less!  A time-keeper with green, yellow and red cards in her lap, would FLASH them at different intervals, allowing a 30-second GRACE PERIOD at the end. If exceeded, you're clapped off! Which would be EMBARRASSING! This was a concern as I continued to exceed 5 minutes when I practiced without reading . . .

Thursday evening, our Master of Ceremonies introduced me, then handed me the microphone. I thanked her, placed my notes on the podium, took a deep breath, and looked around at the audience.  Then I began to speak as I glided across the stage . . . holding the cord in my other hand.

"IMAGINE . . . you're sitting in your car . . . the doors and windows are LOCKED . . . the gas pedal's pushed to the floor . . . the engine is RACING . . . the horn is BLARING . . . and YOU CAN'T GET OUT!" I stated firmly.

"This is what POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER feels like as was told by one young veteran to his army doctor . . ."

At the end of my speech, I still had time left. Everyone clapped and my PRESENTATION EVALUATIONS were extremely complementary. This time I didn't shake, and I knew I had just stepped OUTSIDE-OF-THE-BOX where I normally reside . . . I felt the wind in my face!! 


Last week, I mentioned that Tom Carey, a classmate from my writing class in Santa Barbara, brought in a sample cover for my book that he had graciously developed . . . which I never got to see because I was home memorizing my speech . . .

I was determined not to let that happen again, even though I was giving my Main Speech that evening.

When Tom arrived at class, he quietly took a seat at the desk in front of me, and within minutes, he set his artwork on my desk, then turned because Cork, our teacher, was starting class. 

During the 16 years I spent writing Diary of a Vet's Wife, I never once conjured up an image for a bookcover. Not once! Up until now, my book was only words in my head, on paper, and spoken out loud.

When Tom first offered, he asked for my ideas . . . I had none! All I could give him were words:  LOVE, MARRIAGE, FAMILY, WAR, VIETNAM VET, POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER, CHURCH . . . but nothing concrete. The only thing Tom had to go on . . . he heard me read a few chapters from my book on different occassions.

When I FIRST SAW his concept. . . I was STUNNED! Good? Bad? I didn't know. I had no idea what I wanted in the first place, so I had no idea what to expect! I put it away in a folder.  A little later, I looked at it again. Still unsure. I did this a number of times. Tom and I talked some at break, but I believed he understood what I struggled with. HIS ARTWORK was COMPELLING!  I won't go into detail because I may want to keep it UNDER WRAP until my book release  . . . but I vascillated for days.

I can only describe the feeling as a woman who is pregnant for nine months . . . She knows she has a child growing within her, she can feel it move, but she has no idea what it looks like. The day her child is born is the first time she SEES her baby. A tiny stranger who will be with her THE REST OF HER LIFE . . .

A cover gives my book a life of its own! This is the first time MY WORDS HAVE A FACE! The reality is startling and wonderful at the same time. It's HUGE! It's been 4 days and I've grown to LOVE IT! So much so, I've asked Tom to join me on My Journey into Publishing My First Book . . . I'm waiting for his answer.

You can visit Tom Carey @ AndAwayWeGotheDyslexicWriter Artist and Traveler

Lesson Learned . . . my two cents

A book cover should SHOW what your story is about and GRAB the readers attention!  This can be difficult . . . but it's most important!

Remember: Covers sell books.  Also, ask your designer to generate a variety of iterations of the image: large, small, hi-resolution (for print publications), low-resolution (for web-based publications), and even black and white.  When it comes time to promote your book on other sites, it will make their job easier if you're able to send them the right size artwork.  (Well-Fed Self Publisher - Peter Bowerman)