Time for a website-I think

Been doing lots of research into the best way to present myself online and it seems clear I am ready for a website. Cool huh? It’s about time to stop relying on Facebook so much (I’m pretty much over FB anyway.)  My Twitter page is building nicely, and I know if I continue with Facebook it will be my author page only, which I have linked to my other social media.

Here’s my dilemma: I know nothing about setting up a website to give book updates, give readers a place to shop, and getting a mailing list going. How do I get my domain name, what is a reasonable price, and should I hire someone to do this or is it a matter of reading “Setting Up A Website For Dummies” book?

Oh jeez!

I would love to hear how others made it happen successfully. There are so many options that come up in a Google search, but personal experience seems to be easiest for me to find the best workable tips that I can adapt.

So all you writers/authors out there with successful websites I covet your input.

Cheers!

-N

 

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I’m learning

This self-publishing thing is kinda crazy for a person like me who’s brain is always going hundreds of directions and a hundred miles and hour.

I published my first book on Amazon KDP first as an ebook, then published it as a paperback on Create Space and learned the hard way that it’s full of pitfalls in linking them. I did the next novel through Create Space as a paperback first and then converted it to an eBook – but there were still things I missed.

Create Space and Amazon KDP support have both been awesome. They have cleaned up things for me and clarified processes, so now I have made a check list for myself as I go through this process for the next book which will be out this year.

I have also read lots of tips from other self published authors and I have two writing coaches who offer help with wonderful tutorials and webinars that give me confidence in my efforts and confirm I am not the only writer facing these issues.

I am wondering if other writers have used sites that offer to market your work? Some are through Twitter and Facebook, and others through their own websites. Another question is about selling rights to a group in China who will release my book in that country. Is this legit and why would I need to do this to sell in China? If I sell the rights to them does this eliminate my ability to sell in any other country? It sounds very iffy.

Don’t forget your Valentine on the 14th.Image result for valentine's day 2017

Cheers!

-N

 

 

 

A day to experience

Yesterday morning, after coffee and a bit of getting the day started Chuck and I decided to drive to Tombstone Arizona. We got the idea after a fun and informative conversation Sunday afternoon with my wonderful and creative friend Scott Taft who has agreed to do the cover art for my book. We were talking about what I was visualizing and what he imagined after reading some of the story. Chuck also had a really good idea for it and once a date was set for the photo shoot I got very excited to do my part of the prep.

The point of going to Tombstone was to find some props for the shoot, and get a feel for the time period of the book-1886. I’ve lived most of my life in Tucson and have been to Tombstone a lot, starting in the 1960’s. On this last visit I realized how it is changing. In my memories Tombstone is a dusty old town, with old buildings full of the old west spirit and characters who seemed to come right out of history.

The Tombstone I saw yesterday was spiffed up, cleaned up, painted and very touristy. They have even made a place called “Old Tombstone Western Town” on the outskirts to the south. Bizarre. The outside of “The Bird Cage Theater” was painted freaking pink! I never, ever remember that place being pink. It was a faded white-washed adobe building, a bit crumbly but maintained it’s essence. The inside still held onto the old stuff. The ghosts of the ladies and the gamblers moved there. 20160307_131808 The host, dressed in appropriate attire found an old whiskey bottle for me to photograph. It was authentic to the period, blown glass and had a beautiful amber color. Most of the bottles of the day didn’t have labels, instead they were etched or embossed with the makers name and what it contained.

I went across the street to “T. Miller’s Tombstone Mercantile & Hotel” to look around and found two books with some helpful material and a beautiful black Victorian cravat! Woo hoo, one prop down. The woman who worked there, CC, was so helpful in directing me to some places to look for my other items so here is a shout out to her.

We stopped in at “Big Nose Kate’s” for lunch and to get strategic on what was next. Down a tiny metal spiral staircase was “The Shaft” and there is supposed to be the ghost of “The Swamper”. I left Chuck to wait for our food and went down there and looked into the gated off area where he is supposed to be. It was where he lived while he worked there in the Hotel that was originally there. I asked the woman working the gift shop if she had seen him come out of there. She laughed and said, “I haven’t seen him come out,” then smiled. Hmmm, so maybe she’s seen him go in? I left it there, we finished our lunch and moved on.

We stopped at an amazing place called “The Killer Bee Guy” and discovered the most amazing honey and honey blends ever. We sampled and bought some really good stuff, because Chuck is a real big time honey eater. If you ever get to Tombstone go to this shop on 5th and Toughnut. We found it by accident when I was looking for the location of the “Russ House” which I mention in my book. Buildings and history are perfect bedfellows and to kno20160307_151604w this place was part the culture and touched by the people of Tombstone gives it history energy.

Nellie Cashman, the owner at the time my story is set, knew the Earps-she was there when the OK Corral went down. She walked the floors of this building, served food and helped many people who were in need. She was called “The Irish Angel of Mercy.”

We walked to our car to drop off our honey purchase and just before we walked back Chuck pointed to a Land Rover next to us. It’s plates were from the UK, it was covered in stickers and it had a blogger named on the side. I looked it up and am now following her blog. She is a traveler.20160307_151104So here’s a shout out to janetdowle.wordpress.com who was in Tombstone when I was. A very cool co-incidence.

We wandered into “Russell’s Roadrunner” and after much searching and a very helpful Cheryl Honeycutt, we found a perfect replica 1880’s gambler’s hat for the shoot. Boom, that’s two props!! Chuck spied the smoke shop across the street so it didn’t take long for him to find a cigar. Walking slowly back toward our vehicle we said a see ya later to this town. I hope they don’t do too much more fixing up. Leave some of the ghosts of the past to wander through whats left of the old adobe of 1870.

As we drove home I looked over to the west toward the Huachuca Mountains, looking across the landscape where my fictional people live. The light was soft, there were storm clouds with scattered rain and winds blowing up dust swirls. I know these characters well and as we rode on I spoke of them as real people who experienced life in such a place.

Cheers!

-N

I’m cruising

This has been a day for writing. The thoughts are flowing and I am loving these people I am finding. I have a glass of wine and great music playing. Perfect writing atmosphere. I have laughed at their conversations and look forward to finding out their story.

Humans are strange and interesting. How they become who they are is the best part of developing a story-line. I know they come from me but they are people with their own loves and hurts. Experiences mold us. I have personal knowledge of them based on what has gone on in my life. That is all I can give them to start with and then they grow like flowers in a well tended garden. I write and then I re-read what I wrote to know more of their minds. This is the cultivation.

Teasing out their reactions can be the best part of this cultivation. Writing a scene that has nothing to do with me personally is exciting. This means they are forming into individuals. They are real to me. One thing that is fun to create is the town they inhabit. In the case of this story it is fictional but I know it already. I know what it looks like, which way the roads run and where the business and home are located. I took some time to draw the town on paper. This gives me a reference in the same way my notes about the characters flesh out who they are. I make notes along the way. I love finding names for them. They must fit the character. In my office/library I have hundreds of books that I will refer to for names. What a thrill.

The conflict I already know about, but giving voice to this and when to do it is a process in revealing it in a natural way. Deeply felt conflict doesn’t jump out and grab you. The story is learning its way into this, at least that is what is happening now. My mind runs in circles sometimes. Is it strong? Is it real? It is there, but what is the defining act?

My heart is happy and my fingers are getting tired. It’s late and I’m at that point of reflection on the words.

Cheers!

-N

Writing research

I have been spending lots of time doing research on how to improve my writing . Topics have included agents/editors, Beta readers, query letters, improving plot lines and POV, and self-publishing. The more I search the more I realize how much I don’t know. I just know I like to write.

I have two notebooks with plots for two stories. Do most people work on two stories at the same time?

I have also been reading a lot more. My Kindle has been working overtime.

I have so many questions about being a published author. Is the best route getting an editor or agent first and then breaking into that area or going the route of self-publishing to get my work out there and hope for the attention of a publisher? I have two complete manuscripts, and the genre seems to be very popular but in looking at agents accepting queries my genre isn’t on their lists. What does this tell me?

The two stories I have in process right now are different from the two other works. Does this say I’m changing or growing in my interests? I know that I read the books I like to write.

Blogging is turning into a very fun outlet for me. I see it as a side of me growing directly from the messy thoughts rushing around in my brain that have nothing to do with the fiction competing for my attention. I can compartmentalize them both because I know where they come from. My imagination finds a home in both. I will continue to tease them out and hope there will be a place for them in the literary world.

-N

Travel, it’s good for you

One of my favorite programs is Rick Steves travel programs. His experiences and the way he gets involved with locals is right up my alley. My father was in the Air Force and we were fortunate to be able to travel to Japan and the Philippines. My husband and I have also visited Mexico, Canada, the Virgin Islands and Lesser Antilles. I love to go places I have never been before.

One of the things we do when we travel in the US is to take along our National Parks Passport.  It is very cool and has introduced is to sites we would never have tried or in some cases even known about. It is cool because you visit one of the places-a national park, monument, historic site, etc., listed in the passport. At the visitor center you will find a station where you can get a dated endorsement stamp for that location and a special sticker for your passport. It cracks me up to see little humans clutching their books and racing each other to the station. I think I would be a great host for a TV program featuring the passport program. Just saying.

When I travel one of the best things to do is find a local and make friends and then you find out the really great places to have the best food and drinks, the place to mingle with the people who live there and know what the travel people don’t.  You end up having the most amazing and rewarding experience. Off the beaten path is the way to go.

Another important aspect to going local is you begin to understand the differences in culture and perspective and you can reveal yourself as well. Communication is accomplished without prejudice and judgment. Just how it should be.

We are humans, and underneath the color of our skin we are the same. No debate, no question and no argument. We are made the same with the color of our skin and shape of our eyes is based on where our ancestors came from.

For several years I worked at the University of Arizona in the athletic department. I made friends with so many athletes and it was so fun to understand them as they opened up to me. One of the African American athletes was an especially good friend. I saw him nearly everyday. We would laugh and share and we hugged when they won or lost. Once he was a passenger on a motorcycle when he brushed his leg against the muffler. He had a nasty burn that took a while to heal. At one point the scab was nearly off and the skin underneath was whiter than mine had ever been. I laughed and told him he was a latent white person! Gosh we laughed about that. When I heard many years later he had died from diabetes complications my heart broke.

I guess what I am trying to say is everything is skin deep. That is as deep as our differences should ever go.

Traveling is a great way to expose yourself to the myriad of ways we humans are the same. Our differences are because of what we are taught. There is a song in the musical “South Pacific” which says it better than I every could.

YOU’VE GOT TO BE CAREFULLY TAUGHT by Rodgers and Hamerstein

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

-N

What a feeling

I just finished my edits on my manuscript. I had several scenes to rewrite and after completing those they flowed well and the scenes had much more power and added to the story. I had held off writing one chapter since it was very important to the development of the characters and plot line.

The feeling I had once all of it was done was great. I wandered around the house saying out loud “I finished!!” Yet it isn’t really finished. I know need to have some objective critiques done before I feel it is actually done. But right now this first step is made. As I looked it over, stopping in different places to read and absorb what I have written I felt good about it.

Turning it over to someone else to critically pick it apart is a bit of a troublesome thought. Of course I think it is what I want it to be yet I know I am not objective. My biggest concern is the POV. These are still my words and I know these characters as if they are real people. To me they are. I have had some help from my husband. He is an avid reader and his male perspective is valuable. It was also my first step in having another person look at a work I consider a part of me.

I guess my feelings are pretty common and I know I want to share it with readers. The time will come when I give up the words to the world and wait to see what others think. In the mean time I will continue to push it through all the steps to make it the best work it can be.

-N