Exploring: Kindle Free Downloads – Lots of free books, why not?

Mt. Rainier reflected in Lake TappsSince I’ve been pushing my free kindle download all week, I decided to go explore the free kindle download offerings. I was pleasantly surprised.I now have an eclectic library on my Kindle Cloud Reader. I found children’s picture books. I found books on social media marketing. I found cookbooks. I found an exercise motivation book (which I needed). I found books on speed reading (so I can read all these books really quickly) and of course Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise. Last day, folks. Don’t miss your chance to download it for free!

So with all these fabulous free kindle offerings out there, why aren’t people’s libraries exploding? I have to admit, the kindle cloud reader and library weren’t exactly straight forward to use at first.

When you download a kindle book, it opens in kindle cloud reader while you’re at amazon.com, but when you go back to amazon.com, your kindle cloud reader isn’t on the menu. It is at https://read.amazon.com/. Also, when you search free kindle ebooks in the amazon.com search box, you don’t get the nice selection of kindle ebooks. I finally found them here.

Have fun exploring all the fabulous free books!

Happy Thanksgiving

Herman rides on Gator McBumpypants' head next to their book.

Herman is thankful that Gator McBumpypants doesn’t eat flying things.

Gator McBumpypants wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. And to the turkey he says,

I don’t eat flying things if that’s what you’re worried about.

Don’t forget to pick up your free kindle download today to share with the whole family!

And for more fun Gator and Herman now have their own theme song and it is now on their video

Revision: Adding Videos to Your Blog

You can see why I put this under the revision topic, I’m revising my post of Gator McBumpypants’ first movie. Why didn’t I think of this yesterday? So, how did I do it? It was much easier than I thought.

When I clicked on Add Media above my draft’s text box, like I usually do to add pictures, I looked around and in the column on the left I clicked on Insert from URL. In a new tab, I went to the Youtube page for Gator’s video and copied the URL. When I pasted it into the box, TADA!, the video is now playable on my blog. So fun.

Now that Gator McBumpypants and his friend Herman have a youtube page, they wanted to find some fun videos to share. First they subscribed to other children’s books about alligators. Hear are a couple fun book videos:

I tried to change the video sizes so they were about half as big in this post, but assigning height and width in the html didn’t work (I turned off mobile in theme settings as per instructions) Any one know how to change the video size?

This morning I had an idea for other content to add to Gator and Herman’s YouTube page: Alligator crafts! First I thought of origami, but to Herman’s happy surprise, the Pterodactyl origami video was WAY cooler.

The best video for alligator crafts (Gator forgives the artist for saying he drew a crocodile) so far was this one:

One thing I have yet to figure out is how to get the videos I’m following to come up in the right hand column of my video. Does anyone have any advice? I’ve made a favorite videos playlist, I’ve picked out kids book channels to follow, but none of these things are showing up when I play my video. If you’d like to see Gator McBumpypants and friends favorite videos playlist, it is a tab on their YouTube channel here. I’ll keep working on this and update when I figure it out.

While I was searching for fun Pterodactyl kids books, I happened upon this great video and learned something I think I don’t want to know– Pterodactyls Aren’t Dinosaurs!

Of course, I had to immediately do some research and if you wanna listen to Science then hears a link

However, if you wanna keep believin’ hears some info here

I’m not facing facts yet, and I’m not ready to share this with Gator and Herman, so sadly the great video did not get in their favorites, yet.

Another thought on revision– Learn from my mistake. Make sure to pay attention to current events before launching your marketing campaign. Planning my big push the same week as the Ferguson decision, could have been avoided if I was paying attention to current events. I had no idea this could be a factor, but it is what people are talking about and paying attention to (as they should). The story of a cute bumpy stuffed alligator is a bit out of place in that discussion, except for the theme of not being afraid of people different from you. Perhaps that could be part of the discussion with children. That said, when planning a marketing campaign, give yourself enough time to see what else is  happening during your time frame that could eclipse your efforts (again, as it should in my case).

Anyone have other video suggestions for Gator and Herman to add to their YouTube Favorites?

Marketing: A little outside the box.

Gator and Herman's first movie on youtube.com

Gator McBumpypants and Herman’s First Movie is on Gator McBumpypants’ Youtube.com channel.

Since my writing life is completely consumed with promoting Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise this week, I’m jumping off schedule and continuing to talk about promoting your book. I announced my kindle free days everywhere I could think of yesterday, so how do I keep the internet’s attention today?

I stepped away from writing today and explored a couple other art forms. I took some pictures that didn’t get used in the books (book 2 coming soon!) and made a little youtube movie. One of the fun things that you can do with google+ is create a youtube channel. I made one for myself and a separate one called Gator McBumpypants and Friends.

Making the movie in Windows Live Movie Maker was pretty straight forward once I figured out that I could speed up the picture rate by using fractions in the duration box. The hardest part was picking some music since the program didn’t include music editing and just started the music choice from the beginning. Luckily, I have a large library of music I wrote, so I don’t have to infringe on anyone’s copyright.

This first film is just a quick, fun promo. I plan to do more with pages from the book and perhaps reading the first few pages. I’ve seen some really nice book promo videos online. I think video is a great way to get people excited about your book. Check out Michelle R. Eastman’s promo video for The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale. Andy Mulberry did a really nice interview with Michelle R. Eastman on her blog andymulberry.com/blog

I also went over to RedBubble,com and made some Gator McBumpypants merchandise.

Gator McBumpypants baseball shirt from RedBubble.com

What about a fun T-shirt?

Gator McBumpypants tote bag from RedBubble.com

or a lovely tote bag?

A Gator McBumpypants coffee mug from RedBubble.com.

or enjoy your hot beverages with Gator McBumpypants and his friend Herman the baby pterodactyl.

RedBubble is a great site where I’ve set up a portfolio of my photography. They will put my photos on a variety of merchandise including t-shirts, sweatshirts, stickers, cards, pillow covers and the adorable items shown here. All would make great gifts! It is also, yet another social media site with a nice journal entry space where I’ve been letting people know about my kindle free days.

So, to sum up, book promotion doesn’t have to be hitting people over the head with your book and free kindle days announcements, it can be fun promotional art projects that then give you an excuse to go post about them on all your social media sites.

Anyone else found promotional ideas that are a bit outside the box?

FREE! – Promoting Kindle Free Days and Diving into Social Media

Herman rides on Gator McBumpypants' Head

Gator McBumpypants and Herman on an adventure through the internet.

Today is all about announcing my kindle free days to the world! For all you self-published authors who used createspace, or went straight to kindle direct, or are working with amazon in another way, this post is about using your kindle free days the best way possible to let the world know about your book. First, my plug, then I’ll share my advice from everything I’m learning.

Get Your Free Download of Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise

In anticipation of the soon to be released second book in the Gator McBumpypants adventures series, Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is available as a free download from Today Nov. 24 – Friday Nov. 28.

Don’t have kids? No problem. The beautiful pictures and fun story bring a smile to the kid in anyone.

Don’t have a kindle? Also, not an issue. You can read it in the kindle cloud at amazon, or download free kindle software to all your devices.

After you’ve read it, PLEASE share with friends and take a minute to write a review to tell the world how much you love Gator McBumpypants .

Okay, so now the dirt! When I published Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise, I decided to self-publish because I read that breaking into the children’s picture book market was harder than becoming an NFL Football Player. I loved writing Gator McBumpypants and spent almost a year putting it together. My niece was really excited about it and the other children I shared it with were enthralled, so why not self-publish, right? I was ready to see the dollars roll in, so I could spend all of my time taking pictures and writing books.

Though I originally imagined a big, long, hard-cover book, Create Space’s 8″X8″ paperback–that I decided would work best with my original concept–turned out great, and I really like it. So, why haven’t the dollars started pouring in yet? Emails to my friends, my website mbercreations.com, this blog, goodreads and an amazon author page were not enough.

Why not? Because these reached very few people. I love you guys, but I’m still new at this blogging thing and your numbers are at the moment few. Plus, I attract other authors, and many of us don’t have the money to buy each others’ books.

The answer? I had to dive into social media. I had a rather strong relationship with social media before it hit the stock market. Then I got upset that our friendships became a commodity to be traded like fossil fuels and corn, so I removed myself. However, as a self-published author, or any self-employed self-promoter, we need any word of mouth we can get. Most of you are probably way ahead of me here.
So what IS working? Make sure you give yourself at least three days before your planned free days and choose all five free days.. I recommend starting at least a week before. I, of course, did all of this starting last Friday, but mostly Saturday and Sunday ( I did NOT want to do facebook and twitter, but now I’m happy to see my friends and what they’re up to).

Gator McBumpypants on FACEBOOK! – Not that I want to promote it for personal info after all the stories I’ve heard (actual local businesses) of people getting fired (or arrested) because they posted stupid stuff on facebook, but facebook is working to get the word out. I was able to create a separate page for Gator McBumpypants and invite my friends to like it. I can also wander facebook as Gator McBumpypants and like other books and authors.

Gator McBumpypants on Google+ -Though I have yet to see results here, I was able to create a separate Gator McBumpypants page which corresponds to a Youtube channel. I plan to put up little promotional videos throughout the week.
Twitter  – I’m haven’t created enough presence here yet, but I have four more days to figure this out. Please click on this and find me with your 140 character tips on how this works for you. In the meantime, I did find out how to link to my free days in a tweet. The amazon URL is WAY too many characters to put in a tweet. TinyURL.com is a great free service for easily turning that long web address into something that fits into Twitter. I have yet to use a POUND SIGN (=hashtag: isn’t pound sign more sexual, wouldn’t that be more popular? just sayin’.)
eReaderPerks.com – I found a lot of sites that say they will promote your kindle free days. There are many services and blogs that will kindly take your money to promote for you, but the majority were not geared toward my needs. Out of more than 50 sites, I found ten that were free and didn’t need more 5 star reviews than I had.  The ten I submitted to were:

FreeBooks.com

Indiebookoftheday.com

Freebookdude.com

Ereaderutopia.com

Bookangel

eBookLister.net

eReaderPerks

Freebies4mom

Jungledeals&steals

Onehundredfreeebooks

The only one that listed my free kindle download was eReaderPerks.com. They listed it as an “Activity Book” which makes no sense, but they listed it. As a friend of mine said, “Reading is an activity” and I agree, but then all the books should have been listed as Activity books, right? I did only give them two days prep, and my give-away goes until Friday, so there’s still hope. I’ll come back to this list throughout the week if any others post my free download.

Other sites: Think about all of the sites you interact with on the web. These days, almost every site has some sort of social aspect. As I started my announcements this morning, I kept coming up with more places to put them. I’m part of a writer’s meet-up that has a page for announcements and my neighborhood has a nextdoor.com site that has a free stuff page. I have an old MySpace page that, though it confused me and seems to be owned by Google now, still has my original music on it, so I posted there too. Why not?

I still have much to explore. Pinterest? Reddit? Instagram? Flickr?

Results? From looking at the stats at kdp.amazon.com, I’ve gone from no activity to 17 downloads, just today and I have a new review.

My first day results are very exciting! Because I used all five free days, I have time to work on my platform and connecting all my sites to motivate more people to read my book throughout the week. Hopefully, people will be sharing Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise with their families for Turkey Day/Thanksgiving and buying the sequel for Christmas and Winter Holidays. I will be truly Thankful!

Exploring: Guest Posts

A small white rose

Each guest the petal of a flower

As the happy holiday season is now upon us and many writers are wrapped up in NaNoWriMo, time is  sucked away in more ways than usual and I’m guessing many blogs will be quite neglected over the next couple months. This made me think about guest posts. Not only looking to do some myself – gifts of time to my fellow bloggers, if you will- but also to invite bloggers to guest post here.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know I’ve set up a five day schedule with specific topics for each day and if you are new, here’s what I’m doing:

Monday- marketing, promotion, self-publishing, children’s picture books

A quilt of nature photos

Each a part of the Natural Tapestry

Tuesday- agents, query letters, middle grade fiction

Wednesday- Revision, re-writes

Thursday- Reading, book reviews, book lists, reading sites

Friday- Exploring, writing prompts, adventures, filling the creative well

Want to write on any of these topics? To be a guest writer on this blog, please let me know in the comments or send your post idea to mariaberg@mbercreations.com. Please, original (not previously posted on your blog) posts only. If I get enough interest maybe I’ll add Guest Post Saturday! I’m excited to get your outlook on these topics. Offering a guest post would be a lovely gift to me, to ease my fear and anxiety of running out of time to post while I make gifts, work on publishing the sequel to Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise, get over this stupid cold and try to revise my novel.

I look forward to hosting your fabulous writing and anyone whose interested in trading guest posts, or book reviews, I’d enjoy that as well. ‘Tis the Season for giving and I will do my best to give as much (or more) than I get.

Revision: Some great tips on youtube

DSC05771

Finding a spark of motivation

Hi everyone. Last week, gnlong so kindly shared a link to a youtube video about revision, Novel Revision: Craft a Story Readers Can’t Put Down a presentation by James Scott Bell. It had a lot of good information and tips for revising a manuscript. Surprisingly, the tip I took away from the presentation was to create a cover for my novel, just for myself. To even create an imaginary blurb/ glowing review to get myself thinking of my manuscript as a finished novel. It’s time to get my mind set on the finished product, so I’ll push through to that end.

I then searched youtube for other videos on revision and found another one I liked Revising, Rewriting & Overcoming Obstacles:editing

Have any of you found youtube videos that you found helpful to your writing?

P.S. If anyone is looking for 2015 calendars, I’ve made a couple of my photography and have them available at redbubble.com

(P.P.S. I apologize for missing a couple days, I have a bad cold and today is the first day I can keep my eyes open long enough to write a coherent sentence.)

Exploring: A beautiful and inspiring blog

In side the earth

Inside the earth

For today’s blog on exploring, I typed the work Exploring into the wordpress tag search (daring, I know) with fabulous results! I discovered a beautiful blog called HARRYBIPEDHIKING, specifically a post about exploring an abandoned mine called Bergeson Prospect.

The post starts by recommending a book Discovering Washington’s Historic Mines series by Northwest Underground Explorations volume #1 which I hope to get my hands on soon. The amazon listing has a strange range of pricing from $30 to $340 which I find strange. I’ll ask my friends at Turn the Page Books about it.

I love to hike around Western Washington, but I have to admit, I hadn’t heard about exploring abandoned mines in Western Washington until today. The photographs on the site are beautiful, and though my experience exploring Ape Cave makes me less than enthusiastic about tromping around inside the earth, the pictures of Bergeson Prospect may be changing my mind.

Thank you to HARRYBIPEDHIKING for creating a lovely post and inspiring me with some local exploring. I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.

Have any of you explored abandoned mines?

Reading to Keep the Blues Alive

I recently received an email from author Ben Sandmel announcing that he is the recipient of the Keeping The Blues Alive award in Literature for 2015, presented by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation. Congratulations, Ben! If you, dear readers, are at all interested in history, biography, New Orleans, rhythm and blues, music in general, or even me. I highly recommend checking out this book and its website erniekdoebook.com

The book has won many previous awards:

Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans is selected by National Public Radio as one of the Best Music Books of 2012

Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans is selected by Kirkus Reviews as one of the Best Non-Fiction Books of 2012

selected as Blues Book of the Year for 2012 in Living Blues magazine’s annual Critics’ Poll

My email from Ben included a ton of wonderful reviews. Here are just a couple:

12-22-12, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, Staff Picks: Our Favorite Music Books Of 2012:  Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans, by Ben Sandmel:  “Much more than a biography of a New Orleans music eccentric, this perspicaciously researched book encapsulates the spirit of a city that honors the wisdom of its weirdos. It’s also the story of a unique place — K-Doe’s Mother-In-Law Lounge, the shrine to his career-defining hit, and a haven for connoisseurs of this precious city’s flamboyant expressive culture. Packed with rare photos and gorgeously produced by the Historic New Orleans Collection press, this volume will transport you to the liveliest city in America — a trip all music fans should frequently take. —Ann Powers

6-21-12, ROLLING STONE, 4 STARS: — “With passionate R&B-detective research and eyewitness accounts from local legends like Dr. John and Allen Toussaint, Ben Sandmel vividly captures K-Doe’s wild rise out of poverty, the riches on his many 45s and his long, strange rebirth as a Crescent City treasure. In a city that breeds and adores gifted eccentrics, K-Doe was royalty. And he reigned in style.” — David Fricke

So why, you may be asking yourself, did I list an interest in myself as a reason to pick up this award winning, critically acclaimed tome of American Music History? I’m in it!

Ernie was a good friend of mine. I was in a band called The Rubber Maids that performed with Ernie near the end of his life. After Katrina, I stayed near family in the Pacific Northwest, but Ben called and interviewed me for the book. I’m even pictured AND in the index. I love showing off that there’s a picture of me in a book that includes pictures of Paul McCartney and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin). Like I said, this is a must have for music lovers.

Personal poster from show not in book.

Personal poster from show not in book.

If you want to take a trip to pre-Katrina New Orleans from the comfort of your reading nook, I highly recommend the book that is Keeping the Blues Alive, Ernie K-Doe: The R&B Emperor of New Orleans.

Mother Nature Wouldn’t Let Me Post: A Three-Stomached Blob Monster

fantasy TappsActually, Mother Nature is being mean! I woke up yesterday morning to a tree branch, brandished as a projectile by the wind like an arrow, through the rear windshield of my car. Shortly thereafter, the power went out and stayed out until around midnight. This morning, a huge tree branch had completely removed the rear windshield of my mate’s car and dented the hood. Really? Twice in two days? I still can’t believe it. And the wind is still howling. Looking at the news, I’m just grateful a tree didn’t fall on the house.

Needless to say, my writing routine is a little out of whack.

However, I did make a sketch of an illustration idea for my Middle Grade Fiction. I want the illustrations to look like a little boy who loves to draw made them. What do you think?

A Three-Stomached Blob Monster

A Three-Stomached Blob Monster