My first vocal interview: Chris is a talented interviewer; I want to buy my own books.

ROACHOPERA

The cover of Christian Champagne’s poetry book.

YAT DICTIONARY ine YAT DICTIONARY2Chris Champagne, author of  Roach Opera and The Yat Dictionary who has been voted Best Comedian in New Orleans two years running, interviewed me about my books for his podcast. It’s a great interview. He made me want to read my books.

The first part of the podcast is a comedy quiz show, my interview starts at 24:37. I recommend following his podcast; it’s funny and I learned most of the truth about New Orleans politics through Chris’s comedy. He is a true New Orleanian.
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Avi: Read Good Writing

Murder1Today I discovered an amazing children’s author: Avi. Avi has written over seventy books for young readers to young adults and is still writing. My first foray into his work was a fun historical fiction novel called Murder at Midnight about a magician’s assistant and the magic of the printing press. This evening, I plan to read Crispin: The Cross of Lead  which won the Newberry Award. crispin

Curious to learn about his writing techniques, I was delighted to find that he has a writer’s blog called Wordcraft. It is insightful, candid and full of useful information. I plan on spending plenty of time catching up on the last three years of his posts. He kindly put up a tag index, so I can go through his posts by topic.

I especially enjoyed reading an entry on re-energizing. Avi wrote “There is another way to re-energize, to wash away your author’s eyes of murky fog: read good writing. Not just any writing, but something you admire, that the world has told you is good, that is good.” His writing is my re-energizer today.

Sources For Guided Revision

A grassy path through the woods  Since my first read-through of my novel–in which I could barely read it for all the horrible typos and grammar issues and ended up hating my manuscript–I have been actively avoiding my novel. However, having given myself a strict deadline which is rapidly approaching, it’s time to get to work. As I am still in the early stages of this project, I thought I would look for some guidance to plot my course and hopefully find a call to action.

Searching the tag “revision” in WordPress led me to :

Nicole Dacanay’s blog Team Wanderlust – which recommended Brandon Sanderson’s videos and Susan Dennard’s in-depth information on Revising Your Novel complete with worksheets

and

The Write Shelf  blog – which recommended Revision & Self-Editing by James Scott Bell

While picking up Mr. Bell”s book from the library, I also checked out How I Write by Janet Evanovich with Ina Yalof

Having armed myself with all sorts of new tools, where will I start (after I fix all my typos and address my previous notes)?

Both Susan Dennard and James Scott Bell recommend printing out your manuscript and putting it in a binder. For my first read-through I thought it would help to print it to look like a book, so I printed horizontally with two pages to a sheet, double sided. This time, I’ll still go double sided but with larger print, double-spaced, vertically and put it in a binder. I’ll also print out Susan’s Worksheets to help keep my notes organized.

I think I will start my process by following Susan Dennard’s system supplemented by Mr. Bell’s “The Ultimate Revision Checklist” while keeping a copy of Ms. Evanovich’s “A Rewriting Checklist” close-by.

The most important message from my research today is : Stop sweating the small stuff and start with the big picture. It is more important for me to look at the plot, characters, and scenes in my story, so I need to stop staring at each sentence–that comes later.

Reading as a Writer: Today I learned something I do NOT want to know!

Writing in a nice outdoor setting.Recently, while reading a manuscript, I came across some dialogue that looked to be punctuated incorrectly, so I made a note about it that I intended to give to the author. This morning, I got online to find reputable sources that would back my claim. To my surprise, honestly horror, I found seven different sources that said: the rule for quotation marks in dialogue, if one person is speaking continuously over multiple paragraphs, is to start the speech with quotation marks and continue to put quotation marks at the beginning of each paragraph, until finally putting closing quotation marks at the conclusion of the speech. Only one source agreed with me, that if a single person is speaking, no matter how long their speech, the writer puts quotation marks at the beginning and closing quotation marks at the end.

I looked over the pages of dialogue in the manuscript again, since the overwhelming majority of style informants told me I was wrong, and I still couldn’t stomach it. Each time I saw the quotation marks at the beginning of a paragraph, it triggered new speaker in my reader’s brain. I tried to recall any memory of seeing this form of monologue before. I started tearing through the books on my shelves looking for just one other example, but didn’t find one. It looked like the characters in the books on my shelves didn’t give speeches–especially not the kind that would have separate paragraphs.

I wondered if this was an evolution of style, something new that I missed, but that wasn’t the answer: I’ve been reading a lot of current fiction lately. Those extra quotation marks just looked so wrong.

Another thing that bothered me about “the rule” was the reasoning. In all of the informative posts I read on the subject, the reason for the extra quotation marks was so the “lazy reader” wouldn’t forget that someone was talking. Honestly?  I’m supposed to put weird, out of place quotation marks within one character’s monologue–as a rule– because someone thought my readers would forget someone was talking? I’m going to go with rules, once learned, are meant to be broken.

I can’t imagine what it would take for me to put those distracting, confusing marks in my dialogue, but I now know better than to tell someone else that it’s wrong. At the moment I don’t see any of my characters giving long-winded speeches, but if they do, I’ll make sure they won’t speak in paragraphs. I do not foresee my readers ever being described as “lazy”.

Have any of you come across writing “rules” that you can’t abide? I’d love to hear about it.

My first interview as a children’s book author!

I planned on re-posting the fun interview Andy Mulberry did with me, but that’s not working, so I’ll link to it instead.

Here are the first few lines from Andy’s post:

Welcome Maria L. Berg, Children’s Book Author | Guest Post

It’s Sunday! Which means, it’s time for a fun Q&A with a children’s book author! I’d like to welcome Maria L. Berg to my blog! She’s a fellow Goodreads author and recently released a photography picture book, called… 434 more words

Thank you, Andy, for taking the time to support your fellow authors. What a treat!

New Book! Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly!!

Front Cover Herman Learns to Fly

Front Cover of new book Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly

Back Cover Herman Learns to Fly

Back Cover of new book Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly

Now that the second book is finished and available in both paperback and kindle, I will be back to my regular blogging schedule, finishing up my free guide to self publishing children’s books and exploring guest posts (activities that went to the back burner to simmer while I finished my book).

So, today being Monday Marketing, I am happy to report that my marketing efforts with Gator McBumpypants, specifically with facebook and a targeted email list, resulted in first day sales. Because knowing what works is the only way to wade through all the money traps for self promoters, I am glad I found some freebies that actually work. Be careful with both facebook and email lists to make sure you target to trusted friends and family, then groups specifically interested in your genre — your target audience, then (hopefully) fans, and people who truly want to work with you.

I noticed early in my marketing, my responses came from other marketers who weren’t marketing anything to help me and would have loved to have my money for no reason whatsoever. This almost turned me away from blogging and self publishing, but then I started finding good blogs with my interests. I also focused  my reason for marketing which is selling my Gator McBumpypants books to support my writing and photography obsessions.

I hope my readers will find what they need here on this blog and my other sites as I continue to focus my time on publishing all of my projects. Next steps: An agent for my middle grade fiction book and revising my adult fiction novel while writing the novel all of this has been practice for: Within the Lahar.

Marketing: The second book in the Gator McBumpypants and friends series

winter flowersA deep, heart-felt Thank You to everyone who downloaded Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise last week–80 downloads and 4 new reviews!–a very happy return on a free 5-day campaign. Now, hopefully, some word of mouth from the people who read the story can help me keep the momentum going.

This week, my writing life is consumed with publishing the second book in the Gator McBumpypants and friends series, Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly. While I go through the process of getting all the pictures just right, formatting the text, making the cover and uploading to CreateSpace, I’m going to write the step by step guide Publishing Your Children’s Picture Book like I promised. This is the broad outline I’ve come up with:

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Create Space Set-Up
  3. Formatting the Interior Pages
  4. Making a Cover
  5. Review
  6. Kindle Formatting
  7. Distribution
  8. Marketing and Promotion

Have I forgotten anything? Are there other topics you would like me to cover? Please let me know in the comments.

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!

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?

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