365 photo challenge: mountain

Mount Rainier over Tacoma, Washington, USA.

Image via Wikipedia

It’s probably taken me the last 24 hours to climb a “mountain.” Not just any mountain, for it felt as though I was scaling Mount Rainier, what with the monumental effort I had to exert to get to the summit. My friend Sylvia, and perhaps other like-minded seniors, will understand how ominous it is to undertake any task that involves technological lingo.

Reading the book and writing its review for my previous post “the daughter’s walk”…spokane to nyc, were easy. Figuring out the remaining components required to publish my post on Blogging For Books and retailer Amazon.com was excruciatingly painful. My back still aches from the stress. But my mind is still doing cartwheels and handstands from the phenomenal exercise it got. I’m positive I grew trillions of new brain cells that are building new networks even as I type.

Through the many hours that I labored to copy and insert images from Blogging For Books to my blog with the corresponding URL links, and then go through a whole other process with Amazon.com, I probably racked up enough miles for a frequent flier’s trip to Europe, or maybe even Australia. But just as journeying to either destination would require a lot of preparation, so too it was necessary for me to jump through hoops to get everything perfect for publication of my review on Blogging For Books and Amazon.com.

Lesson learned? “Free” doesn’t really mean “free.” Getting a free book required not only writing a review, but having the wherewithall to publish it on 2 other sites besides my own. That is certainly a “no brainer” for someone with the wherewithall. But even though I’m a couple of months shy of my blog’s one-year anniversary on WordPress.com, I still don’t know it all…technologically speaking. I know just enough to publish my posts, and include some pictures. Except…

i did just climb…a “mountain”…so take a hike…alzheimer’s…hugmamma. 😉 

(Note: So now that you know the “behind-the-scenes” story, won’t you read my post “the daughter’s walk”…spokane to nyc and click on “rank my review.” My arthritic back thanks you…as do I!)   

published guest author: B.C. Young

I’m very excited to share the following interview. I’d seen a piece, “Persistence Pays Off,” written by B.C. Young as a guest author on another blog, Woven Strands, and liked what he had to say about writing. I visited his blog, The Time Capsule, and saw that he had published several e-books, Copy Bird, Going Home, and his current work in progress, The Miscorrection Novelettes, of which three pieces are completed, Sunrise (Book 1, Story 1), Arrogation (Book 1, Story 2) and Felix Culpa (Book 1, Story 3). Additionally, Young offers free reading of some flash-fiction stories he has written, based upon the Wordpress weekly photo challenge. And finally, his most recent post requests reviewers for his books, which he will, of course, provide. You can visit his website at http://the-time-capsule.com.

I asked Mr. Young questions I thought relevant to those among us who have ever contemplated writing for publication. I’ve seen a number of well-written blogs throughout the WordPress community, so I know there are many who  would love the opportunity to have their words appear in printed form, and be paid for it. I think this published author offers wise counsel, and is a positive voice for persistence if you’ve a passion for writing, like I do. I intend to take his advice to heart.

Without further ado I give you author B.C. Young. I know you’ll enjoy what he has to say.

1. Who should seriously contemplate writing a book for publication?

In this day and age, I think anyone who has a story that has bounced around in their head or information on a subject they know well, should write a book. So everyone should write a book for publication if they are moved to do so. My philosophy is that anyone can write. This wasn’t how I thought in the beginning, but I’ve learned it over time. It’s a common misconception that you must be educated to write a book. While I use to think that exact same way, I totally disagree with that idea now. If you have passion for the story or subject you want to write, write it! If you stick to it, you’ll learn a lot. And as with any art form, you can only get better at it if you practice. So believe in what you want to write and know that you will continue to improve. A person should never let himself or herself become discouraged because they feel what they have to say is not interesting or up to the standards of other well known writers.

2. How realistic is it to think one’s book will, in fact, be published?

It’s extremely realistic. This is because traditional publication is not as important as it was in the past. It used to be that the only way an author could be published and allow for a large market to find what he or she offered, was to have a traditional publisher approve your manuscript for publication. This is no longer the case. Now, the writer can take the publication of their book into their own hands by self-publishing it. If they want a printed version of their book, you have print-on-demand services out their like CreateSpace, Lulu, and more. If they wish to offer their book as an e-book, that’s a very good option, too. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords make it very easy for you to get your e-book published. Some would say that you aren’t truly a writer unless you have been traditionally published. But this couldn’t be further from the truth! If your works are out there for people to buy and read, no matter what the format, then you are published. It’s a new way of thinking, and in a few years, I believe everyone will not differentiate between traditional and self-published books as they do now. 

 

3. Given the current flux in the publishing industry, with e-books gaining a stronger share of the market, how should beginners…begin?

They should begin by writing. Write, write, write! There’s no better way to improve your skill. If you have a blog, be consistent in writing on it. Find ways to challenge yourself. This is what I’ve done on my site. On a weekly basis, I write flash fiction. Most of it takes a minute or less to read. But I’ve been using it as a means to teach myself how to say more with fewer words. The practice pays off. If writing a large book seems overwhelming, start small. But whatever you do, do not stop writing. If you do, then you’ll procrastinate. You’ll find excuses not to write. And in the end, your writing will go nowhere. And remember that you have the control over whether or not your writing gets published. When it comes to writing and beginning, you can be your own best friend or your own worst enemy.

4. From beginning to end, what would you consider the average amount of time it takes to get a book to the point of looking to be published?

Because of e-books and self-publication, you have the ability to write a short story and have it published very quickly. This is what I did with Copy Bird and Going Home. I spent about six hours in total on each of those stories from writing, to cover art, file creation, and publication on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Granted, there’s a learning curve to knowing how to do all those things properly. In the beginning all those steps may take longer for you. But as you become familiar with the process, it will go much quicker, as it does with any new process you might learn. So, the length of what you write is a determining factor. After the writing process, proofreading, and editing, it’s highly possible for you to have your book available for sale within one to two days – sometimes less. It’s really amazing when you think about it, because in the traditional publication of books, it could be a year before an author’s book can be purchased at a local book store. Which would you prefer, make money immediately in one to two days or wait a year to start making it? I think the answer is obvious. 

5. There are so many good writers, from what I’ve seen of other blogs on WordPress. What sets those apart who might be marketable, whether by magazine editors or book publishers?

I think originality and consistency are determining factors. If an author has one book published and that’s all they do, how likely are you to buy something they wrote? Probably not very likely. However, if they have a lot of books they’ve written, now what will you do? No doubt you’ll browse the catalog they have to offer and find what interests you and read one of their books. From there, you might decide to read another book, if you enjoyed the first one you read. If you think of yourself as a writer, keep writing, and get your stuff out there by any means necessary, and you’ll get noticed. Will it be a magazine or book publisher? Maybe. But does that matter? What’s the point of writing? To have other people read what you wrote, and hopefully they enjoy it. If you reach the reader, it doesn’t matter how you’re published. So if you have a blog, write. If you have a story in mind, write. Set a goal to reach the reader and not the publisher. Then, you might just find the exact thing for which you are searching.

 

  Click on any book to view it on b.c. young’s website.

let him know hugmamma sent you…and that you enjoyed this interview…i did!

365 photo challenge: around

As I was preparing for bed last night, electric toothbrush buzzing around inside my mouth…POOF!…the light went out. And, of course, so did my toothbrush. Thankfully, I was not going to be up much longer, so being without heat, let alone lights, was not going to have me shriveling up like a ball under the blankets, and everythingelse I could heap on top of the bed, including the kitchen sink! Been there; done that. Not the kitchen sink, of course…no hot water.

Pulling out flashlights from wherever we could remember stashing them, hubby and I went about our business as usual. He climbed into bed with a small flashlight, and continued reading his e-book. I lit a huge candle, sporting 3 wicks, which permanently sits on the bathroom shelf, waiting for just such occasions. It’s like a good guard dog, which I’ve often thought of giving to Goodwill since it collects dust when not performing its duty, the candle, not the dog.

An almost burnt-down lit candle on a candle ho...

Image via Wikipedia

By the light of the flickering flames, I quickly jumped in and out of the shower. Well, maybe not so quickly. It actually felt luxurious being warmed head-to-toe by the hot water. But maneuvering around in the dark afterwards was not so easy.

Thinking I was clever, I brought the lit candle with me and set it upon the dresser next to my bed. Crawling into bed with my book, I settled cozily into my side of the bed to read a few pages before going nighty-night. Well, duh? The pretty ceramic holder was too tall for the candlelight to shine on what I was reading. Grabbing a bulky flashlight instead, I propped it on my shoulder so that its light shone directly on my open book. Problem solved. But before long, my shoulder ached, so I had to switch the flashlight to the other side. I eventually gave in to Puget Sound Energy, and gave up on my battery-powered light as well.

next time AROUND…i’ll be reading by “my itty bitty light”…hugmamma. (i’d better go out and by one today!)

vanishing books

Image by jenny8lee via Flickr

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal reminds me of a fear I previously expressed in “books, extinct?” on 8/13/10. I maintained then, that e-books may be sending physical books the way of the dinosaurs. The news article, written by Stu Woo, “E-Book Lending Takes Off… New Online Clubs That Let Readers Share Have Drawbacks but Worry Publishers” suggests that books, hardcover and paperback, might be on a quick rocket ship to outer space, as we speak.

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

E-book lending libraries such as Book-Lending.com and Lendle.me “ have gathered thousands of users, (and) allow strangers to borrow and lend e-books for Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble Inc.‘s Nook free.”Another site, eBook Fling is slated to begin offering its services on Monday. The lending procedure is as follows.

1. Lender joins lending website, agreeing to share e-books. Each title is shared once.

2. Lender tells website which Kindle book she owns. The site determines which e-books are eligible for lending.

3. Lender is notified when a borrower requests one of her e-books. Request includes borrower’s name and email.

4. Lender instructs Amazon to send the e-book to the borrower.

The borrowing procedure is as follows.

 

A Picture of a eBook

Image via Wikipedia

1. Borrower searches lending website for e-books that others have made available. 

2. Website sends borrower’s name and email address to the lender.

3. Lender tells Amazon to send the book to the borrower.

4. Borrower has 14 days to read the book and the lender cannot access it. After that time, the borrower loses access to the book and the lender gets it back.

The 3 lending websites mentioned are free to users. When books aren’t available for borrowing, users are referred to Amazon.com. If the references result in purchases, the sites receive commissions. The sites also encourage users to lend their books by offering them incentives.

Lendle requires users to make at least one book available for loan before starting to borrow, and the site has an algorithm that improves users’ chances of getting a book they want if they lend frequently. BookLending has a similar algorithm, though it has no requirement to make books available for loan first.

There are some drawbacks to e-book lending. Selection is limited. Most major book publishers haven’t made their e-books lendable, and the books lent by site users can only be lent once and for only 14 days. So with every successful loan, the sites’ lending library shrinks “unless new users with books to lend join.” Borrowing books is neither guaranteed, nor quick. A desired book must first be available for loan, and if a request is made to borrow it, the lender gets an email request, which she can accept or deny.

The Hunger Games

Image via Wikipedia

But that hasn’t stopped avid readers like Marilyn Knapp Litt from signing up with BookLending. “I really like the idea of being able to borrow a book the way you might borrow a book from the library,” said Ms. Litt, a 58-year-old retiree in San Antonio. She has so far borrowed the first two books of the “Hunger Games” trilogy from BookLending. But she hasn’t offered to lend any, she said, because the books in her collection can’t be lent.

While publishers fear e-book lending deters people from buying physical and digital books, e-lending sites disagree saying “they are helping publishers because their users, after borrowing books, can purchase other books in the same series or by the same author.”

“People are saying I borrowed a book and I bought it because I didn’t finish it,” said Jeff Croft, who created Lendle. “That seems to be happening a lot.”

It’s an undeniable fact that electronic books are here to stay. It’s probable, though unfortunate in my estimation, that they will replace physical books as the primary access to literary works. The statistics tell the story.

Consumers spent $1 billion on e-books in 2010, and that number is expected to triple by 2015, according to Forrester Research. It added there were around 10 million e-readers in circulation in the U.S.. at the end of 2010.

 

The Last Lecture, a book that Pausch and Jeff ...

Image via Wikipedia

as for me…i’ll just keep hoarding my beloved hard and softcover books…hugmamma.  

books, extinct?

Entering one of my favorite local haunts, Barnes and Noble, my eyes surveyed shelves and table tops that looked noticeably depleted. The nearby magazine racks on the other hand, were full to bursting with all manner of glossies. Walking alongside the long tables, I saw only handfuls of stacked books. But I felt better as I wandered through the next several aisles. The book shelves seemed well stocked; there were no empty spaces. 

There is speculation that the giant book store might be downsizing. The cashier helping me check out explained that an investor who owns 31% of the stock, may be purchasing more shares in an effort to take Barnes and Noble private. She thought the bigger stores might close down, but that our branch would remain intact. “Great news!” I said. “If it closed, where would my husband and I go on Saturday night?” We both laughed as I left.

With more and more people flocking to the internet to make their purchases, and the introduction of the e-book, print material is on its way to becoming archaic. Maybe because I had to walk a long distance to borrow library books which provided a welcome escape from my impoverished childhood, I still treasure them to this day. I take pleasure in perusing the covers, looking for a title that catches my fancy. Reading the description on the inside jacket may, or may not, clinch a sale.

Biographies are my favorite reading. Not only do I learn about the individual of whom the book is written, but I get a history lesson thrown in as a bonus. Events of the day provide the backdrop against which the story of a person’s life unfolds. Historical facts are so much more interesting when written around a central character. At least I think so. My husband thinks differently; he prefers history in its purest form, all facts.

For his birthday a couple of years ago, my daughter and I gave my husband a Sony e-book. It has become his constant companion, even resting by his bedside. (At my age, I don’t mind the competition.) As a result books, once beloved by him, are but a scant memory of olden days. Even driving to work my husband listens to audio books. I am proud to say that I still live in the literary past, for I love my collection of books:  medical, travel, biographies, novels, self-help, how-to and so on. Some were printed in the 30’s and others, even earlier. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.

I’m passionate about antiques and vintage collectibles, so it’s not far-fetched that I would favor reading the old-fashioned way…books.

what’s your preference?…hugmamma.

may be my best year yet

I awoke to a “new” year, my 61st. My husband reminded me, indicating that he’d forgotten until he saw my sleepy head come into the living room. He’s an early riser, unlike me. On the weekend, he enjoys his favorite pastime, reading his e-book. I enjoy mine any day of the week, any time of the day, writing on my blog.

As “empty-nesters” our lives have settled into a comfortable routine. There’s work; there’s play; and there’s the in-between time. Forty years of wedded bliss and 3 years dating prior to that, can make the passing of years a challenge. How do we keep life together interesting? Fun? Getting into a rut happens to the best of us. We’re probably “middle-of-the-road. “We’re not jumping onto roller-coasters (I know I’d throw up my innards.) But we aren’t lying around in hammocks either (We’d never get up.) We enjoy similar interests, like visiting Barnes and Noble Bookstore or Half-Price Books, shopping at Lowes and Home Depot, going to an occasional movie, and spending time with our daughter. As we’ve become more comfortable with each other, however, our individual likes and dislikes have made their way from the “bottom of the heap” to the top. Funny how that happened, without our realizing it.

My husband abhors dancing. When we first met, he had “2 left feet.” He made no secret of it. But I didn’t think it was a permanent flaw; I thought I could fix it, with a tweak here and there. Not until our 38th anniversary, give or take a year or two, did I realize he really DOES have “2 left feet.”

The story of our first date is one my husband loves retelling. I was 17 or 18, he a year older. Living in Honolulu at the time, we headed to Waikiki Beach for some fun in the sun. I was so awestruck by his movie star good looks that I was speechless most of the time. (Can you believe it?) Furthermore, I was sensitive to the fact that he was the oldest of 12 children. With so many mouthes to feed, I didn’t think he had money to feed mine. Visiting the nearby zoo, he asked if I wanted some lunch, perhaps a hot dog, popcorn, soda? Lying, for I was starved for food, I replied that I wasn’t hungry, that I’d had a big breakfast at the dorm’s cafeteria. In disbelief, he pointed out that it was hours since I’d eaten. His protestations fell on deaf ears. Adamant that I didn’t need a morsel, I did give in to his offer of a soft drink. Not until 8 hours had passed, when he drove me home, did I fly down the dining room steps just before it closed. I ate like a truck driver who’d fasted for a week. I scarfed down everything I could lay my hands on. My husband left me that day thinking I was the quietest girl he’d ever met (not that he knew many since he’d been a Catholic seminarian before we met), with the appetite of a bird. Well, it didn’t take too long for him to learn the truth. He’d married Lucille Ball who ate like Ethel Mertz.

I enjoy shopping; my husband waits patiently, e-book in hand. My husband “saws wood” when he sleeps; I use ear plugs and lay a pillow between us, partially covering my head to muffle the sound. I enjoy tuning in to “Bethenny Gettin’ Married?”, “Say Yes To The Dress'” and “The Bachelor;” my husband can’t stomach reality TV, so he leaves me in peace and heads to the lower level family room to watch the History channel. I find pleasure in talking with people, including total strangers; my husband doesn’t interrupt, but he doesn’t hang around either, preferring to wander off.

Laughing over inconsequential, silly, little things at one point today, my husband and I agreed that he rarely speaks a whole paragraph. His reason, “Why should I say a paragraph when a word will do?” I replied that it might make him more approachable socially. Not skipping a beat, he merely smiled back at me. He is a man comfortable in his own skin, never personally needing the approval of others. I have always admired that quality in him. I, on the other hand, am like most who need to know that we are loved. Into my 6th decade, I am finally seeing my husband’s point of view. I am who I am.

We make our marriage work through give and take, neither of us doing all the taking or all the giving. It’s a balance that requires daily effort. It helps to think “Would I really want to start all over again, bringing a total stranger ‘up to speed’ about me and my likes and dislikes?” And more importantly, “Would someone else love me as much for the person I am, and not the person he’d like me to be?” So growing older with my husband of many years is a gift for which I am very, very grateful.

As I advance through this decade of my life I find myself happily reinvigorated. Writing has enabled me to get my creative “juices” flowing once again. I’ve always favored the left side of my brain. For most of my business career I sat behind a desk, watching a clock. I relished my “free time” when I could do cross-stitch or other handiwork, prepare a gourmet meal, decorate and then re-decorate my house. But transitioning from career to motherhood didn’t allow much time for self-fulfillment. Not that I minded for being a mom has always been my favorite job, hands down. But now that I’ve regained use of my own life, figuring out what to do with it has given me pause. There were the “fall back” options, volunteering, part-time work, full-time work, ramping up my exercise regimen, spend more time cleaning house or tending the garden. None of these possibilities caught my fancy, my creative fancy that is. So I bided my time and continued doing whatever it was I was doing, until now.

Fleshing out ideas, thoughts, opinions and feelings in my blog posts has grown new brain cells for sure. Writing has given me a youthful outlook that is couched in the experiences of a 60 year old. I’m rediscovering my past, reflecting upon my present, and pondering my future. With my mind leading the way, I’m sure my body will strive to keep pace. Writing makes me process my thoughts, then attempt to formulate them into words. It’s like going back to school, without having to go there. I’m motivated to live life large, in the moment. It may be that I’ve found my own “fountain of youth.”

hope you find yours…hugmamma