Blog Award, and Note about Why I Haven't been Posting Much Lately

First, lovely Shellie at Chapter Writer gave me an award. Thanks, Shellie!

Shellie also has some great news of her own. Her MG book, The Last Station Master, which is a blend of past and present, and for all children but especially children of color, will be published in 2012, in honor of Martin Luther King's birthday. Way to go, Shellie!

As to the award, I must recognize five bloggers, so here goes--five awesome blogs:

Scheherazade's Journal
Pam at So I'm Fifty
Dominic at Writes of Passage
Margo at Writing at High Altitude
Carole Anne Carr

The second part of the award is to say something about myself. I'll tell you why I haven't felt much like blogging, the past couple of weeks. My mother, who's had Alzheimer's for about 15 years, is in her absolute, final days. She's getting Comfort Care only at this time. I feel like I haven't truly had a mother for many years, but even so, it's not easy.

To honor Mom at her memorial, I'm making a scrapbook of her life. Let me say, it's an incredibly bittersweet thing to do. She was the planet, the incredibly beautiful, vivacious woman that our entire family orbited around until we had no choice but to put her in an adult family care facility in 2005. Her loss to us has been profound.


Amazing E-book Success Story: Colleen Houck and the Tiger's Curse

With the rise of e-publishing and POD (print on demand), the publishing industry today really is in a brave new world. Brick and mortar bookstores are closing. Increasing numbers of people are getting their books electronically and reading them off various e-reader formats.

What I want to call to your attention today is the phenomenon of Colleen Houck.

Here is a Publisher's Marketplace announcement of a deal her agent made with a traditional print publisher after Colleen had originally, and very successfully, self-published her manuscript as an e-book:

Colleen Houck's self-published e-book TIGER'S CURSE, about a 350-year-old Indian prince cursed to spend eternity as a tiger and the Oregon high school girl who is destined to save him, to Cindy Loh at Sterling's new Splinter imprint, in a six-figure deal, in a pre-empt, in a three-book deal, to be published in 2011, starting with TIGER'S CURSE in January, by Alex Glass at Trident Media Group. (Publishers Marketplace)

She got this deal after spending $25,000 of her own money to self-publish The Tiger's Curse. As an e-book, it was the recipient of some extraordinary luck. Read the story below:

The article above directs readers to Colleen's amazing website, where readers can watch the book trailer, read Colleen's blog, discuss the book, download the first seven chapters, make a Tiger's Curse e-card, sign up for a newsletter and, should anyone love the book enough to want to, you can download Tiger's Curse wallpaper. (Although, what a great cover! Maybe not so bad as wallpaper?)

Colleen Houck is a marketing trailblazer, and definitely an indie author to watch.

A final note, you can now find this book everywhere ... Walmart bookshelves, you name it. Did I buy it for my library? Indeed I did, long before I knew of the very interesting story behind it. It was, after all, published by Sterling, an important traditional book publisher. So, ultimately, I guess I cannot say that we do not have self-published books on our shelves.  ; ) 


How to Have a Kindle without buying one (sort of)

As a librarian and a gatekeeper, I don’t buy self-published books for my library. Until now, the quality of self-published books has been not-so-great. Though we have over 100,000 items in our library collection, shelf space is limited, and growing more limited all the time. Thus we buy books, and will continue to buy books, only from good old New York publishers, the first gatekeeper who vets them for us.

However we are, I will admit, in a new Wild West of publishing. Some people are self-publishing e-books, building enormous writing platforms through which to sell them, and making lots of money. Then, some of those same people are selling those same books to traditional publishers for huge figures.

 Colleen Houck is one of many examples, and probably the best known example in children's books. You’ve probably read her success story, but in case you haven’t, I’ll post about it soon (probably tomorrow).

 But back to the Kindle itself, or e-readers in general, I’ve personally never had much interest in owning one. Though a librarian, I seldom read library copies of books (and I buy about $60,000 worth of books each year for my library). Instead, I like to OWN my own books. But why buy an electronic version of something, when I can buy the same book from one of Amazon’s many affiliates for a fraction of the cost? The e-books just aren’t discounted enough for (practical) me. Especially as I love the old technology—a book in my hands. The one place where I can see an e-reader as an advantage would be if I were taking a trip. I wouldn't need to pack a bunch of books.  

But in my blog reading lately, back to self-publishing, I was running across so many discussions on successful self-publishing, I decided I needed to check out this thing called e-books and e-book readers.

 I discovered I could go to Amazon and download what’s called Kindle for PC, for free. I now own the essence of a Kindle, which I downloaded to my netbook computer. The netbook’s screen is about the size of a Kindle. The difference, of course, is that there is also a keyboard. But who cares? I saved at least $139, and I still have most of the functionality of a Kindle. I can highlight, make notes, use the OED, change the font size and color, and have single or double columns (if I want to do any of that). It’s kinda fun, although it’s still not the way I want to read any book that I hope to fall in love while reading it.

 It's passable, though, for the nonfiction e-books that I bought. I'll be reading the following over the next week or so. Two by Kristen Lamb: Are you there, Blog, it's me, Writer, and We are not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media. I also bought Becoming an Indie Author by Zoe Winters and the one that someone told me I HAD to read, which was the e-book that started this whole new little adventure of mine, by John Locke: How I Sold a Million E-books in Three Months.

So here I am now with a free Kindle for my netbook PC, and my first introduction into e-books, e-readers and self-publishing.

I really have little interest in self-publishing, as you might guess, with my background as a librarian. But I'm aware also that I can't be a writer and not be as aware as possible of what's happening in the industry. Aware of what my options are as a writer ...

Do you own an e-reader? E-books? Are you thinking of going the self-publishing route?

If you want to try the Kindle for PC, it's fun, free, and worth the couple of minutes it takes to download it. You also get a Jane Austen book for free (Pride and Prejudice), and Aesop's Fables.


The Long and Winding Road

This was taken at our River Ranch. The dirt road winds around about 750 acres, up hill and down. In most places, there's an awesome view of Steptoe Butte, approximately 20 miles away. In other areas, there's a breathtaking view of the Palouse River canyon.

It's a timeless place.

From November to March, the road is closed. Even when open, the county does not maintain it. Sometimes, the ruts are big enough to swallow a car. (That's an exaggeration, but they do get huge.)

Once when I was helping the crew to move machinery, I came across a deep, water-filled rut. I thought I'd need a boat to cross it. The ground all around it was soft as well. If you think you'll get through a rut by driving a little to either side of it, you are sadly mistaken. You will get sucked into the mud, and you'll need to be hauled out by a pick-up. Sometimes, a tractor.

Sure that I would get stuck that day, I didn't want to drive through the rut. My husband instructed me to go right through the center of it. When you do that, the tires cross the hardpan dirt at the bottom, and the truth is, you won't get stuck. You'll sail through to the other side, where you want to go.

But, metaphorically speaking, sometimes the other side is not where you want to go. You want new vistas. To do that, it means finding a new way to get there. You need to take risks. Somewhere along the way you will, inevitably, get stuck. Probably, you'll get stuck over and over again.

I finished the line edits on my manuscript this morning.

It's a contemporary young adult novel, only 225 pages, and whether or not it ever gets published, I am in awe my accomplishment. It's not my first completed manuscript, or even my fifth. But it is the first one that I grappled with at a level that was completely unknown to me before. I had in mind what I wanted to accomplish, and I stuck with it. There were times where I was sure I could never make it work, and I might as well just stop writing. Hang it up. Go do some scrapbooking instead. Or take up jogging in a big way again. Run a marathon. Running a marathon would've been easier. But I stayed with it, and I am now, in terms of my writing skills, at a completely new vista for me. It's worthy of a moment's reflection. It's worthy of a few pats on my own back.         


A Farmer's Creed, and Happy Independence Day!

This isn't our barn, but I'm pretty sure it's in our area. I love its display of patriotism.

I hope you're having a wonderful 4th of July with friends and family, barbeques and fireworks. We'll be spending ours with some friends with a second-to-none backyard view of their town's firework extravaganza.

Prior to that, it's supposed to be a wonderful day, and so we're toying with the idea of flying to McCall, Idaho. We often go there on the 4th. McCall is a little tourist town, about a 2-hour flight from us, that does the 4th of July up big. Or we might fly over Grand Coulee Dam. We heard that all of the spillways are open to allow for this year's heavy mountain runoffs. We hope our friends, who built an RV-8, will join us.

When I was a young bride, I ran across the following creed hanging on my father-in-law's refrigerator. It was written for New Holland machinery and published in October, 1975. Formerly from the suburbs of Seattle, I was a city girl who didn't fully appreciate the sentiments it expresses. Over the past (almost) 37 years, I have truly grown to.
I believe a man's greatest possession is his dignity and that no calling bestows this more abundantly than farming.

I believe hard work and honest sweat are the building blocks of a person's character.

I believe that farming, despite its hardships and disappointments, is the most honest and honorable way a man can spend his days on this earth.

 I believe my children are learning values that will last a lifetime and can be learned in no other way.

I believe farming provides education for life and that no other occupation teaches so much about birth, growth and maturity in such a variety of ways.

I believe many of the best things in life are free: the splendor of a sunrise, the rapture of wide open spaces, the exhilarating sight of your land greening each spring.

 I believe true happiness comes from watching your crops ripen in the field, your children grow tall in the sun, your whole family feel the pride that springs from their shared experience.

 I believe that by my toil I am giving more to the world than I am taking from it, an honor that does not come to all men.

 I believe my life will be measured ultimately by what I have done for my fellowmen, and by this standard I fear no judgment.

 I believe when a man grows old and sums up his days, he should be able to stand tall and feel pride in the life he's lived.

 I believe in farming because it makes all this possible.
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