Showing posts with label Tips for Writers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tips for Writers. Show all posts

Sunday, May 23, 2021

What I've Learned on My Self-Publishing Journey So Far

 


I'm not a self-publishing guru, just someone who decided to jump in with both feet and give it a try.

In October of 2019, I self-published my first book on Amazon. The book features a collection of 50 years of my personal poetry.

After that, I went on a tear and self-published seven more books in approximately twelve months; two are sayings for cards, and the other six are personally written riddle books. I'm currently writing my seventh riddle book. When I look back, I still can't believe I accomplished all that in such a short time. I get tired thinking about it!

My self-publishing journey involved teaching myself every step along the way. It wasn't easy. 

A Quick Summary Review of What I've Learned About Self-Publishing Non-Fiction Books So Far:


1. Pick a Niche

After writing a poetry book and two books about "What to Write in Cards," I decided that I needed a niche topic. Since I have this crazy ability to write riddles, I decided riddle books would be my niche. However, if you're a fiction author, you can write a series or individual books. 

2. Why I Wanted a Niche Topic for my Books

Of course, you can write on any topic and self-publish on multiple topics. That's perfectly fine. However, I wanted to select one area to build a website and social media platform to tie into that topic. For fiction writers, an author website is all you'd need, no matter the variety of topics you write about.

3. Pick a Name for Your Niche Topic That Can Tie Into Your Social Sites, Books, and Website

I chose #Stumped Riddles, which I use in some form or another on all social media sites. I found it best to tie everything together.

Check out the links:

StumpedRiddles.com

Facebook.com/stumpedriddles

Twitter - @stumpedriddles

Instagram.com/riddlechallenge

4. Set Up Your Amazon Author Page

Here's the link where you can set up your Amazon Author page. You can take a look at my completed Amazon Author page here.

5. Market and Advertise Your Books

Unless you already have a huge fan base or following, you'll need to advertise. I use KDP Advertising and Facebook Advertising at the moment.

6. Set Advertising Goals

Do you want to build traffic to your website or simply sell books? I send my advertising links to my website, and from there, customers can link over to the associated amazon page. I choose not to link directly to Amazon as my goal is to build authority and traffic to my own site.

7. Converse With People On Your Social Media Posts

I post individual riddles on my website and all my social media links. The riddle answers link back to my site. When people take a guess at the answer, I always respond to each person who posts. When the volume becomes too much, I plan to get a helping hand in that area. 

8. Check the Negative Reviews on Other Books Similar to Yours

I read multiple negative reviews on books like mine. Those comments give me ideas on what to avoid and add to my books to make them better. 

9. Don't Be Afraid to Change the Design of Your Book

Based on input from others, or sales volume, don't get stuck with a design that turns out to be ineffective. I redesigned my books at least three times before settling on the final layout and content structure. I'm currently revamping all of the riddle eBooks. 

10. Your Book's Cover Design is Key

Pretty much all the gurus stress one particular point over and over ... 'Hire a professional to design your book cover." Of course, I didn't listen, lol.  However, I did re-do my covers multiple times and do have a knack for creating graphics. If cover design is not your thing, consider paying a professional to do it.

11. Watch Self-Publishing Tutorials on YouTube

There are many self-publishing gurus (actual gurus) who create useful instructive videos. I've probably watched 35 videos or more. You'll pick up little tidbits here and there from each one of them. 

Additional Self-Publishing Articles:

Basic Tips for the Newbie Self-Publisher

Matte or Glossy Book Covers

Confessions of a Newbie Self-Publisher

5 Helpful Self-Publishing Tools

3 Tips for a Newbie Self-Publisher

How to Get Started on Your First eBook





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Sunday, February 21, 2021

A Handy Pinterest Tool That Predicts Future Trends

Review of a Pinterest Tool That Predicts Future Trends

Most of us don't choose what to write about based on what is popular. However, there are specific exceptions. For example, if you have a Home Decor website (as I do), you may want to feature trending products or ideas that are projected to be the current year's rage.

I have to admit, I rarely approach selecting a funky home decor item to write about based upon its popularity. However, I also don't just select items willy-nilly either.

When I'm featuring a product on Funkthishouse.com, it's because:

  1. It's different, funky, and something everyday decorators would not consider.
  2. It's a home decor item loaded with color, design, and style.
  3. It's a product that a select group of home decor junkies tends towards.
  4. It's a creative item or idea that can be added to existing decor.
  5. It's through the roof expensive! For the shock value alone.
  6. It's through the basement inexpensive! Shock value savings.
  7. It's bright, cheerful, and, most of the time, not a neutral color.
  8. It's popular, but only for its originality.
  9. It's a common item, with uncommon prints and designs.
  10. It's bizarre but very cool.
However, there's a particular Pinterest Tool that I do use once in a while to see what future trends for the year will be. After all, who better than Pinterest to be able to compile shopping trends and data?

Pinterest Business - Pinterest Predicts

Have you ever taken a look at this part of Pinterest?


It's interesting to read their stats on a projected year-over-year increase in trends.

When you're over there, you'll notice that the categories are broken down for you: Fashion, Beauty, Travel, Food, Home, Parenting, Well-Being, and more! You'll be able to see each category clearly.

What Information Are You Provided on Each Category?

Click the category you're interested in, and you'll see some easy-to-read information on the popular trend(s) for it. 

You'll be provided with a previous year versus current-year estimation of the global increase in stats/searches/interest items within that category. You'll see easy-to-read and understand percentages broken down by category for items/products/interests.

Since my niche for Funkthishouse is funky home decor, obviously, I had to check out the "Home" category. The projected popular item for 2021 is "Vibey Lights." 

Pinterest points out that Gen Zs (born in the late 1990s to early 2000s) are very much into mood lighting for their rooms. As soon as I read that, I thought, yep, bang on! I have a Gen Z'er in my house, and he's been into LED ambient lighting for several years now. His room features LED lights; behind his piano, behind the bed headboard, and behind his desk; it's lovely.

You can view a collection of vibey-mood lighting here. Most of the products featured at that link are popular LED strip lights.

My son recently purchased these 'vibey' LED strip lights. I highly recommend them. They went up easy, and so far, work perfectly. Oh, and they're not expensive!

Have You Used Pinterest Trends - Another Handy Tool

Pinterest Trends (trends.pinterest.com) gives a breakdown of the top weekly trends by country. You can search by item or category - whatever you want.

I use Pinterest Trends to find popular pins. I like to share a variety of pins, and of course, that includes popular pins. 

Go take a peek at both tools; they're a bit addictive!






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Sunday, January 24, 2021

His Gift Was Knowing - A Short Story



I've had the privilege of reading and reviewing many short stories by friends of mine. Being a writer of poetry and riddle books, I've never tackled a fictional short story online. As a young girl, I wrote many. However, as an adult, nope, never fictional.

Fiction wasn't my thing. Maybe it's this whole getting-older-stuff that gets us stepping out of our comfort zone? That's exactly what propelled me to write and publish my first poetry book in 2019, and since then, six riddle books. For some unknown reason, I had and still have a sense of urgency.

I blame time for my bravery to try new things. Time is knocking on my door, and my sense of it passing by too quickly is front and center these days.

So today's review is about jumping in and doing that one thing you've been hesitant to do. For me, it's writing a fictional story. So judge away, lol.


His Gift Was Knowing - A Short Story by Barbara Tremblay Cipak

His Gift Was Knowing - A Short Story About Love and Light

She stood at the bottom of that radiant sun-soaked hill sobbing from a pain that she didn't fully understand. 

This kind of suffering was beyond anything Kathleen had ever experienced.

It hurt more than when her father unexpectedly died in his sleep from an unknown heart condition when she was only eighteen; and even more than her mother's difficult passing from dementia three months ago.  

At the top of that hill, Kathleen could see Jeffrey, dressed in a lovely black suit. Her heart could feel his soul as if he were still that precious two-year-old rusty haired boy she rocked to sleep every night for years. She wondered how he grew up so quickly into the dapper twenty-year-old she was looking at today.

Kathleen could see Jeffrey comforting his sister. Holly's strong independent nature couldn't console her on this day. At eighteen, Holly needed her brother's shoulder. Kathleen was grateful that her children were there for each other.

Then it hit her. 

Kathleen suddenly realized why she was feeling this indescribable pain. Her children were grieving, and she could feel every part of their anguish. The tears she cried were a combination of all her love, as well as theirs.

Kathleen remembered how it happened, how she died. 

Two weeks ago, life took a turn that led her to the road she was on today.
_________

It was a bright, beautiful Tuesday. With spring in full bloom, she remembered feeling like anything was possible. As she headed downstairs that morning, she had an unexpected moment of knowing that everything would be ok. It was so profound that it stopped her on the steps. She paused to inhale the gift and felt fortunate to be in tune with something that always felt personal to her, something cosmic.

While sitting in her kitchen, waiting for nothing, Kathleen was enjoying a fresh cup of morning coffee. Life had always been a struggle, but Kathleen managed to find rays of sunshine. She called them 'her moments of bliss.' 

Being a single mom, she tried hard to maintain an uplifting attitude. She couldn't afford to slip into hopelessness. She often said, 'my children save my life every day.' To her, that was the greatest gift, and being a good mother was the least she could do for what they gave to her; hope.

Doing everything and expecting nothing had been Kathleen's motto. "Just do," she used to say; the rest will take care of itself.

While sipping that coffee, her phone rang. It was a number she didn't recognize and almost didn't answer. But being a believer in chance, she thought maybe today good luck would shine upon them and send the money they desperately needed for Holly's medication. 

Holly suffered from a rare auto-immune disease and required expensive anti-inflammatories to keep her frequent seizures under control.  

She answered that unexpected call.

"Hello, Kathleen speaking." 
"Hi, is this Kathleen Summers?" 
"Yes, it is."
"Hello, this is the office of Brander and Dorval. We handled your father's Last Will & Testament."

Kathleen was confused. Her father didn't own anything; he didn't have anything. How could there possibly be a Will, and why would someone be contacting her thirty-seven years after his death about a Will!

"What?" Kathleen said sharply

"Yes, there is a Will, and Mr. Brander needs to speak to you about it. Could you come in today, how's 1:00 pm?"

Although nearly speechless from shock, Kathleen agreed. 

Kathleen could hear both her kids shuffling upstairs as they readied themselves for their day. Jefferey loved animals and worked to save money to go to school to become a Veterinarian. His determination alone woke him daily for his job. Never late, always dependable. That was Jeffrey.

Holly never let her health stand in her way. She was about to finish her last semester of High School. Her curiosity about her auto-immune disease led her to want to study within that field. Maybe a doctor, perhaps a researcher; she hadn't figured that out yet.

Kathleen was proud of their determined spirit. It hadn't been easy for them; lack of money was always the mountain they had to climb, but her kids never let that stop them from dreaming. 

Kathleen headed upstairs to ready herself for her unexpected appointment and let the kids know she would be out for the afternoon. She didn't tell them about the strange call since she wasn't sure it was real.

Hugging both kids as they left for the day, Kathleen reminded them she wouldn't be working from home this afternoon, and not to worry, she had an errand to run. "Love you both," she shouted. "Love you back mom, bye, have a great day!"

The Law Office was grand. This company had been in business practically forever. As she walked into the ornate building, she wondered how on earth her father could afford this caliber of a lawyer. "Nah," she said to herself, "This has to be a mistake."

A lovely, tall, dark-haired lady led her into Mr. Brander's office.

Mr. Brander proceeded to introduce himself and encouraged her to take a seat. 

Kathleen exclaimed, "this is a mistake; you must have the wrong Kathleen Summers."

"I'll get right to it, Ms. Summers." He pulled out a large brown envelope. Inside the envelope were instructions given to the law firm.

Mr. Brander pulled out a photo and asked Kathleen, "Is this your father?"

Almost fainting, Kathleen nervously answered in question format, "Yes?"

"Ms. Summers, your father left you an inheritance, not to be opened until this day."

Mr. Brander proceeded, "In these instructions, we're asked to give you this black notebook along with this key."

Mr. Brander informed her that the key was to a safety deposit box at a bank not too far from here and that he would have to accompany her to access the box. However, she would have to read what was in the black notebook first, as those were her father's instructions. 

"It's private, only for you." Mr. Brander led her to a boardroom where she could quietly process the unexpected gift that was left to her thirty-seven years ago. 

Kathleen opened the cover.

"To my darling Kathleen and her children."

She gasped out loud, "how was that possible!"  She hadn't had children when her dad had died. 

She turned that first page and began to read.
__________

My Dearest Kathleen:

You have the same gift I do. From the moment you were born, I knew within you was the gift of knowing. You always seem to understand that in the end, everything would be ok. 

From as far back as I can remember, maybe back to when I was two or three, I could see significant events coming next. Everyone else calls it psychic; I call it life. I don't know why or how I have this gift, but it is a part of me. 

I'm writing this letter because, in less than a week, I'll be gone. I know I'm destined to die in my sleep. Rest assured, it will be from natural causes. You'll later find out I had a heart condition. I've seen several doctors about it, but all tests showed nothing substantial. However, I know I won't live. It's the same knowingness you carry about life.

You'll have two kids, and I know one of them will have a medical condition. I can't tell you any of this now, at eighteen. You wouldn't understand or believe me. But mostly, you don't need to know about this blessing and burden at such a young age. So I decided to handle things this way.

My grandchildren needed to be taken care of, so I started early in life making sure they would be alright. You'll eventually understand why this is so important and why I did things this way.

Go with the lawyer to open that safety deposit box. Please pass all its contents along to your children. I promise you; it will eventually make sense.

Love you more than you could  know - until we meet again,

Dad
_________

Kathleen felt both grateful and fearful, but a part of her was angry. 

"Why would dad leave something for children I didn't have and never think to leave things to me?" She wasn't jealous about the gift for her kids; she was baffled. 

Mr. Brander opened the boardroom door and asked her if she was ready to go to the bank. On the drive there, Mr. Brander informed her that her father and his father had been good friends and that it was his father who initially worked on her dad's Will. "Before my dad died, he filled me in on your dad's wishes and the Will our firm was holding for you," I promised him I would take care of it when the time came.

Inside the little room, and in her father's lawyer's presence, Kathleen opened the safety deposit box.

There were two large brown envelopes.

Printed on one envelope was "Open this one first," and on the other, "Open this one last."

Kathleen opened the first envelope to find another letter from her father.
_________

Dearest Kathleen; 

To help your children, my grandchildren achieve their purpose in life, I've taken steps to ensure they would have the resources they needed to achieve their goals and complete their contribution.

You'll find in the next envelope that I've invested $20,000 in a safe stock portfolio held by this bank. By the time you open this letter, it should be worth between 140,000 and 200,000 dollars. The bank can help you with those details.

Please ensure your children get all the documents and my letters.
__________

Kathleen felt more than loved. She began to get that cosmic sense she was accustomed to, that there's still more to this story. It both scared her and comforted her.

Mr. Brander handed her all the documents, including the little black notebook with her dad's initial letter, and they hugged and parted ways for the day. They planned to meet at the bank in the coming days to establish the value of the inheritance her father left to her children.

Kathleen arrived home at about 5:00 pm. Both Jeffrey and Holly were preparing dinner. "Hi, mom," they cheerfully blurted. "Where were you?"

"Well, you aren't going to believe my day; you both better sit down." Kathleen then proceeded to tell them the entire day's events.

The kids were beyond shocked. Like their mom, they were a bit confused about why their grandfather would wait all these years to give them this inheritance and why it would go to them. 

Later that night, as they were all preparing for bed, Kathleen hugged both of her kids, told them she loved them, and said, "Let's sleep on it tonight; maybe things would be clearer in the morning."

Kathleen died in her sleep that night.
__________

She understood the purpose of her father's Will now. As she stood at the bottom of that hill watching her kids at the top, she knew they were visiting her grave. She noticed something tucked under Jeffrey's arm; it was that little black notebook.

Suddenly Kathleen's tears stopped, and beside her stood both her father and her mother. Her first words were, "Mom, you knew all this time." "I did, dear, I always trusted your father's gift of knowing. We both planned this for you.

The three of them walked towards the children at the top of the hill. As they stood beside them, they heard Holly speaking. "Thank you, mom, for all you did for us. Grandpa's $20,000 investment is worth over $300,000 today. That's enough for Jeffrey and me to go to school. I'm going to be a Doctor, mom, and Jeffrey is going to be a Veterinarian. We promise to make you proud.

Kathleen, with joyful tears, had no doubt they would.

Kathleen's father let her in on the biggest secret of all. "Do you know why we did this?" Kathleen answered, "Yes, to help the kids achieve their dreams." 

Her dad said, "That was one reason, but not the main reason. Holly will be part of a global discovery on how to help those who suffer from auto-immune diseases. It will be the breakthrough of her time. She's going to help a lot of people. And Jeffrey won't just be Veterinarian; he's going to be a major contributor to one of the largest animal rescue facilities in the country."

"And you knew this when you were little, dad?" "Yes, I did," he replied.

"How?" she asked. "I don't know, we all have a gift; we just have to open our minds to see it and believe it.

As Jeffrey and Holly walked away, Kathleen asked her mother and father, "where are we going now?"

"Home Kathleen, we're going home."

__________

I had originally written this story to enter a contest but then decided against it. So there you have it, one more step outside of that familiar comfort zone.

Have you ever stepped outside of your comfort zone?





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Sunday, November 29, 2020

Why I Love Grammarly Premium and Why It's Worth the Investment

Why I Love Grammarly Premium

Last year I decided to tackle several bucket-list items. One of those items was writing and publishing a poetry book, which led to self-publishing a full series of originally written riddle books. Yes, I know, it's crazy that I can write riddles - but, yah, it turns out I can. Weirdest skill ever.

At any rate, this article isn't specifically about my books. You'll find several articles I've already written on that topic posted below. Instead, this article is about one of my favorite paid premium tools, Grammarly. 

By the way, Grammarly doesn't have a referral program, so everything I'm typing here has nothing to do with receiving a commission from them - This is just a straight review of what I love about it.

Grammarly Premium - Your Own Writing Assistant

I originally used the free version, but after writing several books, I decided the Grammarly premium features were worth it. Grammarly's ability to capture wordiness and make alternate suggestions is one of the most useful writing tools. It gives you a better-worded sentence to choose from. It's my favorite feature. 

Here's a brief video explaining Grammarly's artificial intelligence: Viewing Via Mobile? Here's the Link.



When your brain is tired, Grammarly Premium is like having a personal assistant. Grammarly installs on your browsers and shows up on everything you're typing online, even Facebook posts. In fact, as I'm typing this right now, there's a "G" at the bottom of this post tallying up better writing suggestions.

Grammarly Has a Tone Detector

This is a fantastic feature. When writing, the mood we think we're conveying may not actually be conveyed on the screen. Grammarly's mood detector lets you know how your writing is coming across; confident, joyous, formal, friendly, optimistic, and so on. This video provides a brief outline of the tone detector: Viewing via mobile? Here's the link.



Install Grammarly on Your Phone, Microsoft Office, and All Your Browsers and Other Devices

You can also open Grammarly and post passages, paragraphs, and so on directly into the program. That's very handy indeed: When I'm writing a riddle book, I always copy each riddle into Grammarly (opened on a second screen) to double-check for typos or other errors. Since I use Libre-Office to write my riddle books, I haven't installed Grammarly directly into it yet. However, I'm sure that's coming. 

You CAN download Grammarly directly into Microsoft Office. Also, if you prepare documents using Google Documents, Grammarly automatically works there as well. Essentially it provides you with the ability to correct anywhere on any document on your device. Are you viewing via mobile? Here's the link.



If you haven't used Grammarly yet, give the free version a try, then upgrade if you feel it's something that would serve you well. In terms of pricing, as of this date, the annual fee for Grammarly Premium is $139.95. Here's a link to Grammarly Premium outlining the service and features.

If you're thinking about self-publishing your own books, here are additional articles I've written on the subject to date.

Introducing My Latest Self-Published Riddle Book - Volume 6 Released November 24, 2020

By the way, I ended this article by checking Grammarly's tone detector; it said the post sounds 'friendly'. :)





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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Basic Tips I Learned on My Self-Publishing Journey

Self-Publishing Tips for Newbies

Let me start by saying that I'm NOT a self-publishing guru. I'm just a work-from-home-self-taught woman who decided to jump in and tackle some of those dreams left dying on the table.

I've written quite a bit here on ReviewThisReviews about self-publishing books. You'll find a list of the links below.

To date, I've self-published eight books and am currently writing the ninth. 

The topic of the books are Riddles, Poetry, and Sayings for Cards. Currently, I'm focussed on building a series of Riddle Books. There are five riddle books in the series and the sixth should be published in one to two months.

A General Overview of What to Do When You Self-Publish (According to my Personal Journey)


Note: To date, I've only published via Amazon's KDP self-publishing platform

  • Amazon Author Page: Once you've published your book, complete a detailed page about yourself on Amazon's Author Central Page. Here's Amazon's author central page for the USA. When publishing my books, I had to create author central pages for the UK and USA separately. Perhaps, Amazon will amalgamate things at some point, so we only have to do it once. Here's the UK author central page in case you need it.

  • Amazon Author Page Photo: Decide whether your Author Central page will feature a Logo or your personal photo. At first, I put up my logo but changed it to my personal photo. I prefer to emphasize that I'm just a regular person, not a 'big company.' 

  • Build a Website that Relates to Your Books: If you've never built a website or can't, you can hire someone or just build a blog related to your books. I've built websites (I'm not a website building guru either!), so I was able to create a website to coincide with my Riddle Books. You can take a look at my StumpedRiddles.com website here. Think about how you want people to navigate your site before you build it; write it out, give it a lot of thought. The ease at which people can work their way through your website is important. The top navigation bar on my riddles website features these tabs: Home, Riddles, Answers, Riddle Books, About/Contact. Within those headings are subheadings. Don't forget to include all the legal jargon you need on the site.

  • Facebook Business Page: Build a business Facebook page that features a Shop with your books. It takes a little learning, and you need a certain amount of products before you can build a shop. I chose to link my books back to each of their product pages on my website; that way, when you publish your book on multiple platforms (not just Amazon), you don't have to worry about changing links - since each product/book will direct back to your own product page on your own site.

  • Social Media Main Photo & URL Names: Create social media pages for your business/books. Decide whether you want to use your logo or your personal photo. I decided to use my Riddles logo for my social media pages, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. However, I created a Promo-Video and included that video at or near the top of each social media site: It features my personal photo and personal story. You'll have to choose your social media URL based on what's available; I wasn't able to get "Riddles" - it was taken. However, I choose URL's that were close: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

  • Promo-Video: Create your promo video using your favorite video platform. I used Animoto. If your book/business dictates it, I would suggest being personal while describing your books' purpose. You can take a look at the promo video I created here.

  • Your Tag Line and Book Purpose: If you're able to establish a "purpose" for your books, create a consistent tag-line that describes your purpose and includes that tag line on your social media, website, and books. The tag-line I came up with is "Turn the World Off With a Smile." It's a twisted variation of a lyric line in the Mary Tyler Moore theme song. I know, I'm aging myself! That lyric was "she can turn the world on with her smile." Given the craziness of the world today, I decided my riddles are created for the distinct purpose of helping people to "turn the world OFF with a smile."
Here are some additional articles I've written relating to self-publishing - Again, I'm not a guru, just learning as I go!

As I learn more, I'll add more articles here on ReviewThisReviews. My next learning journey will be how to self-publish on platforms other than Amazon. That should be challenging.

Here's the first riddle book I created - I went through several cover designs before finally deciding on this one:

#StumpedRiddles - Riddle Book
#Stumped - Riddle Book - First Volume






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Sunday, November 1, 2020

Success After 60 - Is It Possible?

Success After 60? Yes, You Can Do It - Many Have

I'll start off apologizing in typical Canadian fashion because, yah, this review about age is a bit self-serving; I turned 60 this year - and - I'm just getting started. 

I personally live by that famous quote we've all heard: "It ain't over, 'til it's over." Actually, older-me believes it's never over; we keep growing and learning even after we transition, but that's for another day.

Are you familiar with some of the famous people who built their dreams after the age of 60? Here are just a few to inspire your aching bones.

Three Outstanding Souls Who Exemplify the Cliche "Age is Just a Number"

  • Grandma Moses: She was born Anna Mary Robertson on September 7, 1860. She began painting at the age of 78. She was known for her rural scenery paintings. In 2006 her painting, "Sugaring Off," sold for 1.6 million dollars. Yep, proof right there, "it ain't over even when it's over!" She also lived to see her paintings sell for substantial amounts for her time (the 1930s) before passing on.

  • Harry Bernstein: He enjoyed fame very late in life as a successful published author. On June 30th, 1910, he was born in Stockport, England, living 'til the ripe young age of 101 when he passed away in Brooklyn, New York, on June 3, 2011. Do you know when he wrote one of his first published successful books, The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers? The loneliness of losing his wife of sixty-seven years was the catalyst of this book. He started writing it at 93 years old! The book was published in his 96th year in 2007. He wrote and published The Dream in 2008, The Golden Willow in 2009, and What Happened to Rose was published posthumously in 2012

  • Fauja Singh: His absolute tenacity has garnered him the nickname the Sikh Superman. He's the oldest living Marathoner. He was born on April 1, 1911, in British India, and at the age of 109, continues to reside in the United Kingdom. The terrible personal family losses he suffered in the 1990s redirected him back to his first passion, running. In the over 90's bracket, at the age of 93, Singh completed a marathon in six hours and fifty-four minutes.
Hidden Dreams by Barbara Tremblay Cipak
In the Poetry Book - We Will Have Morning Smiles

What I've Personally Done For This Older Body, Mind, and Soul:

Last year, for whatever reason, at the age of 59, I felt "time." What I mean by that is I felt a powerful urge to do the things I've wanted to do in life but hadn't gotten off my butt to complete. So from last year, and now into 2020, I jumped in with both feet and committed to self:
  • I self-published a 50-year collection of a book of my personal poetry work.
  • I published a series of personally written riddle books and created the website StumpedRiddles.com. I'm currently writing book six in the series.
  • Keto saved my health. I lost over 60 pounds from 2019 to 2020. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at the age of 56 - and I was sick. Almost immobile. Today at 60, I feel ten years younger than I did at 56. Proper food and mild exercise are a part of my life every single day. It has taken a great deal of discipline, but feeling healthy is more important to me than eating the wrong foods and being sick.
  • I work very hard on body, mind, and spirit. Spirit (soul work) is just as important to my day as eating and exercise.
I'm not trying to be self-righteous - like I've had a perfect life or something. I haven't. Life has been filled with almost endless challenges. The difference for me at this age is accepting what has happened and moving forward. Always, always moving forward. After all, our time is limited.

The last page of my poetry book features a closing message to my kids. This message includes a quote that I feel perfectly describes life when times get difficult:
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete" by Buckminister Fuller (1895-1983) American Architect, Systems Theorist, Author, Designer, Inventor and Futurist

  



15 Personal Life Lessons I've Learned During These 60 Years of Living:

1. Don't give up.
2. When we're tired, rest. 
3. When we need support, seek it from the safe arms of friends and family. 
4. Love with all our hearts. Tell those who matter that we love them.
5. Find the good in others. 
6. Live a life of service to others, big or small, it doesn't matter. Even the smallest contributions to another can brighten a day - something as simple as a smile or a kind word. 
7. Guard our souls. There's a saying, "don't become that which you rail against." 
8. Watch our thoughts and choose our words wisely.
9. Forgive. Forget about grudges and vengeance; they're a complete waste of energy and ultimately damaging to our soul. Accept that people will make mistakes, just like we'll make mistakes.
10. Find a way to reach our kids. Stay connected. This can be the toughest task. Do it anyway.
11. Read and advance our learning. Never stop.
12. Tolerance, compassion, kindness, and empathy are essential to the human condition. Live by those principles most or all of the time.
13. Fight temptation. Fight it hard. Dark/negative energy (whatever you decide to call it) is hunting us down every second of every day. It doesn't let up. We mustn't let it have our thoughts or our actions. We need to train our minds daily to recognize when we're slipping and put ourselves back on track as quickly as possible. We need to be proactive and kick that useless darkness out of our life-field.
14. When we need to cry, cry. Get those issues out; put them on paper, talk to someone, music, lyrics, art - whatever helps us release the pain.
15. Accept responsibility for our lives and for where we are in our life. Be honest with ourselves.

I'm currently advancing my soul by reading the best selling book gifted to me by a friend, "Your Second Life Begins When You Realize You Only Have One" by Raphaelle Giordano

I'll end this article with this moving song, inspired by the famous Paradoxical Commandments, "Anyway, by Martina McBride." If viewing this article via mobile, you can listen to the song on YouTube here.



"You can chase a dream that seems so out of reach, and you know it might not ever come your way, dream it anyway" - lyrics.

"This world's gone crazy, and it's hard to believe that tomorrow will be better than today, believe it anyway" - lyrics.

"You can pour your soul out singing a song you believe in, that tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang, sing it anyway" - lyrics.

All the best to you, do it anyway.



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Sunday, July 26, 2020

12 Step Summary of Preparation Tips for Creating a Niche Book Series

Preparation Tips for Creating a Book Series

In October of 2019, I decided it was time to tackle one item on my bucket list: To publish a book featuring a collection of my personally written poems.

I've written several articles on my experience as a newbie self-publisher. Here's my most recent article that talks about Glossy versus Matte Finish Book Covers.

In the beginning, self-publishing wasn't easy! In fact, it took perseverance, patience, and a bit of holy water followed by soap to wash my mouth out with!

Creating My Series of Riddle Books

Once the poetry book was under my belt, I decided to create a series of Riddle Books. I have this crazy knack for writing riddles, so I decided to use this quirky ability for books.

My driving force for writing riddle books is to create something light, fun, and distracting. It turns out 2020 needs a lot of that!

I started with one book, then decided to create a series under the same topic. I'll keep adding to this series until my mind runs out of ideas.

To date, I've written and self-published four riddle books. I've just completed the content for Riddle Book number five, Halloween Riddles, which is scheduled to be published in August 2020. I also have a sixth riddle book halfway completed but don't have a date planned for that release yet.

Although I'm not a guru-self-publisher, I'd like to share my own process for creating a series of books for a niche. Note that as of this date, I've self-published via Amazon's Self-Publishing platform; however, I plan to expand to other writing platforms in a few months. I'll write about that learning process later.

Note: These are summary tips. I didn't delve into the detail of each. The tips are meant to give you a mental picture of the entire thought process before you dive into the process. In other words, things to consider if you're truly serious about your endeavor.

My Personal Twelve-Step Summary Guide to Creating Your Own Niche Series of Self-Published Books:
  1. Choose a topic for your series of books.
  2. Write and self-publish your book in both eBook and Paperback format. 
  3. Don't rush, take it one book at a time and don't limit yourself to a specific number of books.
  4. Decide if the format for each book will be the same: For example number of chapters, introductions, closing pages, and structure.
  5. Be willing to change your covers several times in the beginning if needed - I did this a lot.
  6. Create a website that reflects your book's topic.
  7. Design and decide upon a Logo for your series.
  8. Create a business Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter page for your book's topic.
  9. Create engaging posts about your book's topic on these social media business accounts.
  10. Create a video that speaks about who you are and put that video on your website and your social media accounts.
  11. Include your social media links and website links at the back of your ebooks and paperback books. Be sure to follow Amazon's rules on links in eBooks.
  12. Create and set-up your Amazon Author page - be sure to link to your website's RSS feed to your Author Page so that the new posts on your websites are updated automatically to your author page. 

Here's a Four eBook Series of My Riddle Books

Amazon automatically created an eBook Series for me. In other words, I didn't have to create the amazon page that offered my eBooks as a series. They put two and two together and created the page. However, for a paperback series, I'll have to assemble that offer to the public myself. I'll let you know how that goes - I still have to learn how to do it!

My About Me Video

Here's the video I created for my Website and Social Media Websites. It's intentionally not 'guru-professional.' My goal was to introduce myself to my followers - to be real - to be who I am, nothing more. There are several video services you can use online, I used Animoto.


Again, these tips are meant as an overview to help you consider the big picture before you start writing your book series.

Happy Creating!


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Sunday, June 28, 2020

Matte or Glossy Covers on a Self Published Book? Which One To Choose?



That is the question, matte or glossy?

Let me start off by admitting that I'm not a self-publishing guru! The entire self-publishing process has been self taught.

In 2019 I made a decision to tackle a bucket list item; publish my personally written life's collection of poetry. Since then, and to this date, via Amazon Self-Publishing (KDP), I've self-published a total of seven books, and am in the middle of writing my eighth and ninth book.

I've written multiple times about the learning curve to self-publishing. I have to admit it wasn't easy. However, now that I have a few books under my belt, I'm learning more about the nuanced details that make a difference in a book's appearance and presentation.

As an example, I learned how to create professional-looking book covers, and have changed my covers multiple times to what they are as of this date. I actually made another slight modification to one of them again today! I'm planning on stopping these changes soon - Nah, probably not lol - but hopefully I'll get the covers to a place where I'm completely satisfied! Building book covers from scratch is tough at first, but after you get the hang of it, it's a ton of fun and very addictive!

A Matte or Glossy Finish on the Cover of Your Self-Published Book - Which Should You Choose?

I googled the crap out of this. Watched videos - you know, the usual stuff we do when we have questions. However, I didn't get a suitable answer. So, when I published the first editions of each book, I decided to go with a matte finish for the covers.

Guess what? For my books, a glossy finish is much nicer and more practical. So, I'm in the process of changing them all to glossy. I'll do all future books in a glossy cover format from now forward.

Why a Glossy Cover Works for This Genre of Books

I write riddle books, books about sayings for cards, and of course, a poetry book. I haven't written, nor plan to write novels. Novel covers may be better in a matte finish, but honestly, I can't give you advice on that.

For Activity Books (Like My Riddle Books & Saying Books and Poetry Books), Here's Why I Believe a Glossy Cover is Best
  1. These types of books are picked up and put down often, and a glossy cover is more durable. The matte cover actually ended up with smudged fingerprints on it from too much handling. 
  2. They look way more professional with glossy covers! My husband put it this way - he said, 'the matte finish made it look like it was purchased at the dollar store, and a glossy finish gives it a bookstore feel' - Yikes!
  3. A glossy cover feels nicer to hold in your hands (a personal thing)
  4. The shiny cover helps the colors to pop more. With fun activity books, the colors are essential, so yah ... glossy all the way for that reason alone.
  5. The matte finish looks more like a school book, the glossy finish gives it an 'author feel.'
The Cellphone Photos of the Books Below Don't Really Capture the Difference Between Matte and Glossy However There is A Big Difference:


Both of These Riddle Books Have a GLOSSY COVER
 #STUMPED - A Party Game

The Book on the Left is a MATTE Finish
The Book on the Right is a GLOSSY Finish
Boredom Buster Riddles - #Stumped Volume 4

The final vote of approval came from my adult kids and my husband, they all agreed that the glossy covers were superior to the matte covers. Sorry matte.

My Non-Guru Self-Publishing Journey in Articles:
1. How to get started on that eBook you've been meaning to do for decades
2. Confessions of a Newbie Self-Publisher
3. 5 Helpful Tools from a Newbie Self-Publisher
4. 3 More Tips from a Newbie Self-Publisher


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Sunday, November 24, 2019

How to Write a Riddle? Six Basic Tips

A Review of 6 Tips on How You Can Write Your Own Riddles

Have you ever written a riddle? It's a crazy knack I happen to have. Today I'll share some of the riddles I've created with a few tips on how you can write your own.

Why Riddles?

Along with sayings for greeting cards, I've been writing riddles for most of my life. The ability to toss out one-liners seems to be a genetic anomaly in my family. My dad could make people laugh on a dime; he was hilarious! That chip landed on my brother, and he too can toss out funny lines anywhere, any time.

It seems the verbal skills possessed by my dad and brother transferred to me in writing form.

So why riddles? Here's why: This world is too serious right now, so to break-up the constant barrage of negative coming at us, I decided to create books about riddles, quotes, and sayings. But in this article, I'll be sharing some tips on how to write a riddle.

An Example of One of My Personally Written Riddles:

I am a word that has three letters,
but I'm actually six letters long,
I'm used when thinking or trying to figure
what may have gone wrong,
here is a clue that may help you,
four of my letters are the same,
and the first three letters spell a body part, 
or an animal's name,
What word am I?

(Take a guess in the comment section - try not to peek at other comments in case they've guessed the answer correctly!)

How to Write a Riddle

1. Choose the Answer First

Start with the answer. Pick the word you want to write the riddle about, then go from there.

2. Choose a Word that Has Multiple Meanings or can be Expressed Multiple Ways

It's easier to write a riddle about a word that has more than one meaning (spelled the same, or spelled differently). For example, Aunt/Ant, Fly, Park, Plant. These types of words give you the ability to create the riddle from various angles.

Here's an example of one of my riddles with an answer that has multiple meanings:

It's said we all have one
those who believe never doubt,
that everyone is included,
no one is left out,
we also say it to mean
"there's only one,"
and when it's spelled differently
we use it to run,
wait, don't be confused because
I'll give you some pity,
when spoken out loud
it's the name of a city,
What word am I?

3. It Doesn't Have to Rhyme

Some people can rhyme anything, and others, not so much. Your riddle will work either way. If you're not great at rhyming, think about writing the riddle with a rhythm.

Here's an example of another of my riddles using rhythm:

You write them
you get them
you give them
you hate them
you love them
you dread them
you need them
but you probably
never ever want them
What am I?

4. It's Easier to Write Riddles About Things You Can't Physically See

Try writing a riddle using a word that represents the unseen such as, thoughts, ideas, gravity, love, grace, nasty, and so on. Think 'invisible' - You get the picture.

5. Think About What People Can Relate to with the Word/Answer

When you're writing your riddle, think about how people relate to the word. As an example, the riddle in point number three above is obscure and can technically have more than one answer (although there is a specific answer to it).

In riddle two, the meanings are different, the answer is spelled multiple ways, and the clues are more specific. As an example the specific clues are; everyone has one, it means just one, you use it to run, it's the name of a city.

6. Test Your Riddles Out on Your Friends and Family

See how difficult it is for your people to answer; if they never solve any of them, they're probably too complicated. Mix it up, create both easier riddles and more challenging riddles. For Thanksgiving, my family used my riddles for a fun after-dinner game. The game was to see who could solve them the fastest. It was quite comical to hear them yelling over each other.

If the above riddles are frustrating you, there's more where that came from here, and you'll be guided to the riddle answers from that page as well.

Your Assignment:

Write a riddle that has the answer, "Park" - have fun!

By the way, in my book (A Party Game #STUMPED), you'll find my riddle for the word "Park" on page 70 (it's riddle 56).


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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Roget's Words for Writers Reviewed

Saying it differently

Today I would like to review something I have put on my Christmas Gift List. The Roget's Thesaurus of Words for Writers is something I could utilize on a daily basis. I have a very worn copy of a general Thesaurus but I think one specifically for writers would my new go to reference.

words for writers
Looking for synonyms: a writer's task
image courtesy of pixabay.com

Anton Chekhov once said, "Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." An author needs to paint the scene for their readers using words. We can have a dull canvas with a lot of the same colors (words) or we can look for colors that are surprising and much more descriptive. Synonyms often assist with our choices.

For instance, I could write this:
Anton wasn't prepared for the man's rude response.

So, we know a man was being rude to Anton. What if I found a synonym for rude and changed the sentence to:
Anton wasn't prepared for the man's truculent response.

I don't know about you but I envision two different things that basically mean the same thing. Rude makes me think of something that is crude, rough or abrasive. Truculent seems harsher, more scathing, meaner in a way.


Writer's Tool


Roget's Words for Writers is a thesaurus but set-up differently. It isn't the simple word list in alphabetical order that we are used to. Instead it is compiled by meaning with a sample of words that emote the same meaning (such as rude) in more descriptive and emotive choices. It even gives samples of the synonym or antonym in a sentence for you. There are over 2300 words featured in this tool for writers.

I've put this reference book on my wish list hoping one of my girl's will give it to me for Christmas this year. If they opt for something different, I'll just purchase it for myself. I think it will come in mighty handy as I start working toward my goal of publishing a book a month in 2020.

What do you think? Would you use a tool like this? It doesn't have to be for a novel, it could be helpful in several types of writing. Perhaps there is someone on your gift list who would benefit from a reference book like this.



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Sunday, November 3, 2019

3 More Tips from a Newbie Self-Publisher

3 Additional Newbie Self-Publisher Tips
From a Fellow Newbie's Experience
In the previous few articles, I reviewed my newbie experiences with self-publishing. Since I've published my third book, and still have some hair left, there's more to share.

Again, I'm not a publishing guru, I'm just sharing tips as I go through the process.

If you've published paperbacks, you understand that your book can then be uploaded in digital format as an eBook.

I started in reverse. My first book was an eBook. After publishing an eBook, I learned to publish paperbacks.

However, once I mastered (yeah right) the ability to publish a paperback, I changed the order I publish books in:

  •  My books are written for Paperback publishing first
  •  Then that same book is uploaded as an eBook

I prefer doing paperback books first. The physical copy is usually more detailed and takes a bit more care in its design.

When doing an eBook, you upload your completed book document to KindleCreate. Again, read this article for a little bit about KindleCreate and eBook preparation.

Three Tips to Pass Along: 

1. Kindle Create - What I learned the Hard Way with the Third Book

If your manuscript/book document has anything in List Format, as an example, 1, 2, 3, etc., when you upload it to KindleCreate, KindleCreate doesn't let you modify Lists. You have to have it exactly as you want it before uploading, or don't use a list format. 

My book had 160 items in List Format. To get around the lists for the eBook version, I typed the numbers in brackets and put them above the typed item. I didn't use the auto-format of 1.2.3. in the toolbar. However, beware; even if you type 1. versus using the word processing numbering format in the toolbar, you still won't be able to modify that list in KindleCreate.

Oh, and the same goes for Tables in KindleCreate: They can't be modified once uploaded to KindleCreate.

Maybe KindleCreate will change these restrictions down the road?

2. Get Your Amazon Author Page Completed

To get started, read the general instructions on the Amazon help page here. It's easy to understand.

I decided to wait until I had three books completed before doing my Author page. However, there's no need to wait. If you only have one book, go for it.

The Author page has five key elements:

  •  Upload your photo, or any photo(s) you prefer for the page
  •  Add your books to the page (easy, automatic process)|
  •  Write a Bio on yourself - Take some time to do this (see the tip below)
  •  Upload any videos you have that relate to you or your books
  •  Add an RSS feed from your blog, or Pinterest or another place that connects to your Business


Regarding the Amazon Bio, don't miss this article, it's filled with excellent tips. It provides guidance on how your Bio should sound, and what you should say. You can follow me on my newly created author page If you prefer a video tutorial on how to complete an Author Page, this one is helpful:




3. The Size of Your Book as it Relates to the Book's Spine

I haven't used a professional graphic artist yet to create covers. For now, Amazon's Cover Creator is still my go-to tool. What I learned with this third book is that size matters. If you would like your book to have written details on the Spine, you need to ensure it's approximately 100 pages. This last book was less, about 65 pages, and thus couldn't have the title on the Spine. 

To avoid this, I'll be keeping most of my books to at least 100 pages. You don't have to if you don't want to, it's up to you.

Here are my article tips to date:


Here's my completed third book, and yep, working on the fourth.

Note: I'm an Amazon Associate
But my Associate ID is not in the above Link





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