Archive for the ‘e-books’ Category

Go Indie, they said, you’ll make a mint, they said.

Are you familiar with the fact Johnny Depp uses Laurel & Hardy type fall-down-on-your-butt humour to bring the funny to the Pirates of the Caribbean movies? Depp’s a confirmed lover of slapstick. I feel like I’m doing a slapstick comedy routine of my own at the moment, trying to bring my second book into print. Talk about learning by default. Today I began to laugh about it which I guess is a good sign. Either that, or I’m going mad.

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My slapstick movie goes like this: I went Indie in 2015, publishing my first book, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ ( http://amzn.com/B015K1KF0I ) through a local company, BookPrint. They did all the layout and formatting and cover design. This time round, for the second book in the Chronicles of Aden Weaver series, ‘The Sasori Empire,’ I thought I would use Createspace services, the self-publishing arm of Amazon.

Misstep number one

The first thing I didn’t know was how long it would take to go from submitting to being ready to print. I’d estimated about 6-8 weeks based on the initial conversation with the Createspace “publishing consultant.” In hindsight, I realize the six weeks I’d been quoted was based on an ideal world where the book is perfect and no changes need to be made and it sails straight from submission through the different levels of production.

In the real world, errors are found through looking at digital proofs. Changes need to be made and each round of editing changes takes a week to put into effect. In underestimating the time factor, I stumbled and fell over two attempts at book launches. *face plant

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Misstep number two

In The Or’in of Tane Mahuta, BookPrint made a fleur-de-lis for me to border the pages, using some of my imagery. Unable to copy their fleur-de-lis though for the second book, I drew it myself in pen & ink. I uploaded the image to Createspace. I requested the vertical image to feature opposite “some” chapters (as they’d been sprinkled throughout the first book). The first proof arrived with the fleur-de-lis opposite the start of every chapter and there are SIXTY-THREE chapters.

I asked to have the vertical images removed. The digital proof returned and in the place of every fleur-de-lis there were blank pages, in other words, SIXTY-THREE blank pages. *head desk

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Misstep number three

I paid more money.

The novel was checked by my proof reader and me. It was with great wonder and delight that I finally pushed the “approve” button I’d wanted to hit for so long.

The printed proof arrived in all its newfound glory. I gazed upon my creation and thought I’d gone to heaven.

Then, to my horror, within the pretty cover lay a ghastly sight – chopped up sentences everywhere – to fit the lines on the page the computer had hyphenated words like mo-ther, go-ing, to-gether. There were three to four to a page. I went to my friends who have self published using Createspace services. They said they’d had to typeset their own stories before they sent them in! Aha. *belly laugh

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And so, through this comedy of errors, I made a lot of rookie mistakes. I took cream pie to the face. I stepped on a few rakes. I subjected myself to what Laurel and Hardy would call “cartoon violence.”

On the plus side, I have learned a lot about self publishing my own book. I’m also closer to publishing this novel than I was before I started. And I’ve been able to share what I’ve learned with others.

Huzzah!

I remind myself to take heart from the stirring poem Kristen Lamb put me onto a couple of weeks ago, How Did You Die? By Edmund Vance Cooke:

‘The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce; Be proud of your blackened eye! It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts, It’s how did you fight — and why?’

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I was sitting in a pub with old friends the other night, and we were talking about our careers. I tried to explain my strange predicament. I said, “once, I had the comfort of not being published. Now that I have spit on my hand and joined the ring, it’s terrifying. I feel like I’m out of my element, and I’m making mistakes in public.”

But if I don’t put my stories out now, then when?

With book two, there is still some work to be done. That’s okay. I’ve learned something new. I’ve tasted the finish line, so now I must pull my boots up and get crackerlackin’. After all, that’s what Laurel and Hardy, or Jack Sparrow would do!

As Kristen said in her response to my ‘Quit or Stay’ post, ‘Life knocks us down, but that’s just life. The getting up? All on us.’

You have to have skin in the game. And you have to be cool when you get popped in the nose.

It’s not easy to do. What about you, how do you handle the knock backs?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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There are so many reasons most writers don’t make it and very little of it has to do with the writing. This is a mental battle first and foremost. Mastering emotion and will and getting up over and over and over and over. ~ Kristen Lamb

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Kids are visual creatures. They like to be entertained in every respect. As a child, I loved books with illustrations. When I morphed into reading chapter books as a young person I wanted the more complex stories, but I still wanted the imagery. I can remember really appreciating the authors who put ink illustrations in their chapter books. I have fond memories of poring over the minute squiggles and flourishes on the pages of Tove Jansson’s books.

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Last year, I prepared to release my first book, my novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’ The first book from The Chronicles of Aden Weaver. I realized there was no way the budget would stretch to illustrations, so I came up with an easy solution.

Here’s  a guide to creating your own pen and ink book illustrations:

Step One: Start with your characters.

First, you must have some form of cover art for your book which you have either paid for or otherwise have liberty to use. For my debut novel, I had the two main characters rendered artistically in digital form by my nephew.

I simply copied the character with a pencil.

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Second attempt on Aden, for b&w illustration0002I wanted to introduce a new face. I took a photo of a statue of a giant which I found in a 1970’s magazine and copied the basic outline.

*Hot Tip: I use an automatic pencil, as they have the super fine leads. You want to do all the early stages on tracing paper.

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I already had my protagonist, Aden Weaver, rendered in pencil from last year, but I needed to change his position for this book so I lifted him into the air. This gave me a new image to work with. As I pinned down the character’s positions, I switched from pencil to a fine permanent marker pen.

*Hot Tip: You’ll need to see every line. A fine nib is necessary. I use a Staedtler “Triplus fineliner.” Every line needs to be carefully but clearly distinct.

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Step Two: Create the background and foreground

For this image, I decided to use one of a few special backdrops. A dear friend, Lyall Gardiner, had gifted me four of his ink/colour pencil backdrops before he passed. In A3, they’re enormous, so I selected elements from one image, the moon and wispy clouds and some of the looming shapes and traced them onto a more compacted A4 page.

You could use whatever you have to hand, interesting segments of your kids’ artwork, pieces of your own from childhood, or you could go wild and cut segments of out-of-date magazine pictures to create a montage/mosaic effect, etc. Use your imagination.

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*Hot Tip: Take care not to tread on rights to intellectual property.

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Step Three: Combine and Trace

The next part is to employ your artistic eye with placement. Arrange your characters on the background in a way that fits the “story” you want to tell. The great thing about using tracing paper is you can flip the characters over. I decided to “tell the story” of the Oni looming. However, I needed to flip our hero to have him face the giant. To do this, I simply turned the paper over and re-defined all the lines with pen on the reverse of the paper!

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Step Four: Fill it in!

I took my taped-together tracing paper image and copied it onto thick art paper. I used permanent markers and filled in the picture. I thought in terms of light and shadow, silhouette, of how things look in the dark, not drawing to be realistic but to create pattern – effect through contrast. I left certain patches: one or two to be left white and at least a few to be painted black. They added impact.

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The resulting image will be one of the two illustration plates for inside ‘The Sasori Empire.’ On Facebook, I shared it with the caption, ‘The horned face of the Oni appeared in the trunk, even more hideous than before, and a head of bark grew.’

Step Five: Copyright!

Make sure to add your name the copyright symbol and the year somewhere on your picture.

With a bit of effort, anyone can create at least a couple of illustrations to go inside their own book. These simple pen and inks are relatively easy, quick, and they’re super fun to do. You have the satisfaction of having made it yourself.

Have you ever tried your hand at your own illustrations?

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Talk to you later

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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The Holy Grail is to spend less time making the picture than it takes people to look at it. ~ Banksy

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

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Here, in New Zealand, media coverage of children’s books is poor. I was particularly interested when a fellow Kiwi author shared this online conversation about the topic of the under-representation of children’s literature in the media.

This was the original “call-to-action:” ‘#CoverKidsBooks invites you to join in a public conversation about children’s books.  Leave a comment, write a blog of your own, or tweet about it using the hashtag.  Tell us why children’s books matter to you, and what you’d like to see the media do to #CoverKidsBooks!’

The research by #CoverKidsBooks showed that children’s books ‘typically got 3% of newspaper review space, despite accounting for over 30% of the market.’

This is a subject close to my heart. *grabs soapbox*

I’ve never been able to understand why children’s books are so greatly undervalued. To me, children’s literature is as important as any other genre. Wake up, world, to the increasing rather than decreasing value of books for our kids! Wake up to the importance  of time spent reading for our children!

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When I was growing up, we were given books as prized gifts on birthdays and Christmases. I can remember poring over each and every tome. They were treasured. The first book I ever received was at seven years old. ‘The Legend of Siegfried’ gripped me so completely, that it started off a lifelong passion for mythology and legendary storytelling.

In the original post, Laura Jackson Warburton commented, ‘I think there is still a massive amount of snobbery about children’s books. Not about one children’s book over another, but people tending to dismiss anything from YA down as ‘only silly stories’.’

Exactly. Why is that? What is this snobbery based on?

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I’ve always been guided by the words of famous author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, in 1853, Children are now the only representatives of the men and women of that happy era (the golden age) and therefore it is that we must raise the intellect and fancy to the level of childhood, in order to recreate the original myths

The part of the CoverKidsBooks conversation to really spark my interest however, was when, in the original post, Emma Perry was asked whether children’s books were important.

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Emma Perry: I think especially in the world today, where we’re bombarded by information and interruption, your relationship with a book is so important. I’d like to encourage my children to have that long-form thought and long-form imagination.

This was the key, I thought.

We, the parents of today’s children, worry greatly about the future awaiting them. We see our kids with their heads buried in their digital games, or, staring at mobile phones. We wonder how they will ever concentrate long enough to hold down a steady job or relationship.

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Maybe that’s why children need to read books these days more than ever before in our history? Because reading helps our modern kids focus their easily-scattered attention for longer periods. Something has to happen to redress the effects of the continuous short-term gratification of playing digital games. Books may just be the cure. Huzzah!

*steps off soapbox*

It’s been proven that reviews and media coverage do sell books. Our children need good quality books, and not just in digital format.

With that in mind, what can we do to raise the profile and image of Children’s Literature?

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Out of all the answers given in the original blog post, I liked the comment by Laura Jackson Warburton.

LJW: Daily book reviews in newspapers, not only of new releases from bestselling authors, but of debut authors and archive titles. A children’s book channel like MTV but with books, grabbing kids’ attention and helping books get into the right hands.  Top 10’s, book bloggers’ reviews, celebrities talking about books, book trailers etc would get kids thinking about books, talking about books in the playground and using pester power to get parents to buy the books!

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Yes. These ideas are great!

Leave a comment, write a blog of your own, or tweet about it using the hashtag.  Tell us why children’s books matter to you, and what you’d like to see the media do!

#CoverKidsBooks – The Facts

#CoverKidsBooks – Booksellers

#CoverKidsBooks – Librarians

#CoverKidsBooks – Teachers

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Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Any book that helps a child to form the habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him. ~ Maya Angelou

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“I’m late. Again. Yesterday, it was time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

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Can there be any more hideous experience than talking about your own book in conversation?

I should know by now, not to get drawn in by that most delicious and tempting of all questions.

Yet, my brother, Al, asked me, ‘how’s your book going?’ and I succumbed.

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I told my brother, ‘The Sasori Empire’ was based on mythology, with alternate versions of Maori legends and Japanese mythology.

To me, the world I’ve created through the Chronicles of Aden Weaver series is perfectly logical.

Yet, it’s only when I try to describe the plot to other people that I seem to come unstuck.

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I heard myself telling my brother, Al, in avid detail, as you do when you’re a writer, all about ‘The Sasori Empire.’ I said, it’s set on the planet Chiron (an actual recently discovered planet in our solar system). The setting though is an alter-earth. As other authors have done, I swapped out the first letters of countries to make them recognizable and yet also, ‘somewhere else.’

Al was blinking at me owlishly.

Yet, we writers, when asked about our babies, cannot stop talking even when our listener’s eyes have glazed over.

I told Al that book two mostly moves between the Lost Island, set off-shore from the west coast of an alternate New Zealand, and the Land of Fire and Ice which is set in an alternate imagining of Japan.

Al may have started snoring at this point.

About mythology, the famous writer, Joseph Campbell said, ‘The standard path of the mythological adventure of the hero is a magnification of the formula represented in the rites of passage: separation—initiation—return: which might be named the nuclear unit of the monomyth.’

I explained to my brother, that in these books I explore the traditional heroic arc, through the medium of fantasy and insect shape-shifters. Only in neither book two, nor its companion, book two: part two, do the hero or his heroic band get to “return.”

That was it. My brother wasn’t even looking in my direction anymore. I knew we’d officially reached his limit. At that point, I petered out.

I read somewhere recently, if we feel the urge to share what our book’s about with others, we should lock the urge up and throw away the key.

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Sharing only seems to water the impact down. Yes, I know we have to be able to précis the book to compose the synopsis, blurb, and elevator pitch, all the way down to the logline. But that’s different, that’s the business side. Even writing a speech about your book is acceptable. But talking about the story with people in regular old conversation, I find, goes nowhere fast. It never works.

Why is that?

The fact is, no one, not even one’s own sibling, wants to hear an author “selling their own book.” Especially at length!

How do I stop myself from “sharing” again? Have you ever had a hideous experience of talking about your own book?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Lord, make my words sweet and reasonable; some day I may have to eat them.~ Paddy Ashdown

‘The word ‘Legend’ comes from Latin legenda, ‘things to be read’. Originally, legends were the hand-written biographies of saints and martyrs, which were read daily, at MATINS, and after dinner at monastic refectories. In these accounts, such a love for exaggeration, the fantastic and wonderful predominated that the word, legend, came to signify a traditional story, a fable, or myth.’ ~ Brewers Dictionary of Phrase & Fable

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The concept of the internet being “the wild, wild west,” as I have mentioned in previous posts, still holds true. Have you heard of the “Scamazon” posts in circulation on the net at the moment? There is tell of bloggers sharing tactics for how to scam the Kindle Unlimited system.

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A lot of us felt encouraged to join up with the KDP select program. I did. The numbers are enticing.

In the latest Kindle Direct newsletter, the “team” had this to say:

The KDP Select Global Fund for February is $14 million. February’s KDP Select Global will be paid out under Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) v2.0 as previously announced (https://kdp.amazon.com/community/ann.jspa?annID=957). We will again award “KDP Select All-Stars” for February to the most-read authors and most-read titles in the U.S., U.K. and Germany. For more information on All-Stars, you can go here: https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A2X66QXB12WV2

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They’re not the only ones, some bloggers support this view. As Chris McMullen said recently on his blog, ‘The KENP pages read rate rose up to $0.00479 per page in February, 2016 up from $0.00411 per page in January, 2016.’

Yet, Amazon is still taking a hit at present in social media forums. Kindle Unlimited was begun rather quickly, and then along the way, ‘Amazon changed the way it pays authors enrolled in KDP Select. Amazon changed that payment method from “per borrow” to “pages read.” Not pages written, mind you – but how many pages a reader actually reads.’ ~ Selena Kitt

This is where the real problems began. As the good old highway robbers and bandits found a way to scam the “pages read” system. Then Amazon jumped to try and staunch the blood loss.

The Internet has been buzzing lately with news relating to the placement of our Table of Contents. Specifically, Amazon is now requesting that we place it at the beginning, not the end of our ebooks. ~ Nicholas C. Rossis

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Author, David Gaughran blogged that ‘Amazon is claiming that having a TOC in the end-matter instead of the front-matter is a breach of the (ever-changing, 100+ pages) Kindle Publishing Guidelines (PDF).’ Gaughran wrote of knowing authors ‘who had their titles actually removed from the Kindle Store without notice.’

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m newly published and I found myself a bit intimidated. I felt the need to circle the wagons. Luckily, my book doesn’t have a table of contents. I had only joined up with KDP Select last month, however I decided the best thing for me was to take my book off the KDP Select shelf, at least for the time being. It felt safer to me in these uncertain times to have my debut release, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta’ available on Kindle Direct only. One platform. One format. No possibility of scammers doing weird stuff.

I went to KDP Select and I couldn’t figure out how to quit the program. Immediately, I went to Amazon via “contact us” and voiced my concerns.

They replied the next day. This is what some people may not know. It came as a surprise to me to find that when I joined the KDP Select program, a box for “automatic renewal” had been ticked. So, if I had not taken these steps to find out the details of the fine print, then my book could have stayed on the program indefinitely.

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Perhaps you were smart enough to figure out you needed to uncheck the box. However what a lot of authors may not know is that you can follow the steps to “uncheck the box,” yet there is only a short three day period at the end of each month in which your book rolls off the program. If you haven’t unchecked the box by then, your book automatically gets renewed again under KDP Select for another month.

Here is the step-by-step advice the response team gave me for how to KDP “De-Select:”

Go to your Bookshelf and click on the ellipsis button (“…”) under the Book Actions menu next to your book, then select “KDP Select Info.”

Then, click “Manage KDP Select Enrollment” and uncheck the box next to “Automatically renew this book’s enrollment in KDP Select for another 90 days.”

Customers who have already borrowed your book can still read it until it’s finished, returned, or their Kindle Unlimited subscription expires. As a result, you may see new Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP) read appear in your reports until then. 

That’s it. You’re out.

Has the “Scamazon” situation with TOC effected you? Are you with KDP Select?

Self-portrait, pencil sketch, age 25

Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Sometimes we stare in wonder at your multiplying glories, basking in the power you’ve given us. Other times we regard you with alien horror, and we whisper to one another, I think they make Kindles out of little dead girls. We know you do amazing things. And we’re also really worried about the things you might do. ~ Chuck Wendig

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The Oxford Dictionary tells us that the word ‘end’ means limit, furthest point or part. Once the reader has reached the furthest part of a story, therefore, they will read the end of the book. It has a concrete purpose. Sometimes, however, this all-important part of a story is left out or not handled well. Endings can be tricky.

As readers, we remember the great final chapters and never forget the bad ones.

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There was one book I read as an eight-year-old, which came to a premature stop. An aboriginal girl sat by the fire, having learned her entire tribe had been wiped out. She raised her arms up to the sky, tears streaming down her cheeks. This was followed by the words, “The end.”

Left with too many unanswered questions about the girl with her arms raised in despair, my child heart was reduced to confetti.

At this point in my childhood, I had been in the happy habit of going to the library every week, and I lived with my head in a book. After reading the premature ending in this book however, I distanced myself from reading. It took me six months before I would venture to a library. One day, I picked up my first Laura Ingalls Wilder book, ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ and I fell in love with reading all over again.

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Books are so important to our young readers.

Award-winning author, Kate de Goldi, said of her childhood, ‘Reading was my telescope on the emerging world around me.’

For our young readers especially, after a great story we owe them a good ending. As a writer, I feel I make a promise from the first word I commit to the first page, that I will deliver the reader to the resolution of the story.

Kate de Goldi urged us, ‘Complete what you’ve started. It has to pay off. We have to witness the resolution of the question posed.’

If all stories are about the battle between protagonist and antagonist, physics demands not just beginning and middle, but also end, which is why storytelling feels wrong if it’s either omitted or underplayed. ~ Producer, editor and writer, John Yorke, Into the Woods. As readers, we crave that final ‘feeling of resonance,’ when we finish a story.

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The “feeling of resonance” is what Kiwi author, Joy Cowley, would call, ‘a satisfying ending.’ I agree. However, knowing where to curtail our stories in order to hit that resounding note takes skill.

Here are three tips on how to write a good ending.

*Tip One: Joy Cowley said, ‘Don’t finish immediately after resolution, but don’t have lengthy explanations in the climactic scene. Find “the true ending” because we often begin before the beginning and end after the ending.’

*Tip Two: John Yorke, said, at the conclusion we make sure that ‘the knots of plot are undone and complications unravelled.’

Another New Zealand novelist, Lorraine Ormann put it this way, ‘A story starts out low to the ground, rises with each event, the initial climb is gradual, to the eventual climax, then there is a precipitous drop to the end.’

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*Tip Three: In 1863, the German novelist, Gustav Freytag, gave a formula for the underlying shape of drama. A five step process: exposition, complications, climax, falling action, and catastrophe.

In the fifth stage of catastrophe, ‘the conflict is resolved, whether through disaster and downfall of the hero or through his victory and transfiguration.’

At this stage, according to John Yorke, ‘the (protagonists) are, against all odds, able to defeat their enemies, overcome their flaws and in doing so become complete.’

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‘Needless to say, endings are important,’ Blogger and author, Kristen Lamb wrote. Her method for having a knockout ending? ‘Your novel has thrust a likable, relatable protagonist into a collision course with the Big Boss Troublemaker. The Big Boss Battle must deliver all you (the writer) have been promising. Endings tie up all loose ends and sub-plots and, if we have done our job, will leave the reader a feeling of resonance.’

Now, that’s a good ending.

Are you able to find the true end of your stories? Have you ever felt betrayed by a bad ending?

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Just as in the middle of your novel there are only three rules: Escalate! Escalate! Escalate! At the end of your novel, there are only three rules: Payoff! Payoff! Payoff! ~ David Farland

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Robyn Campbell, mother of Christopher (who has Sturge-weber), compiled the recently-released middle grade anthology, Kissed by an Angel. Robyn wrote the awesome story which opens the book. She came up with the idea that we should circulate a paperback copy between the contributors to the anthology, for all of us to sign it. Then, this copy would be gifted to Christopher, from all of us, with our love. Bodacious, huh!

Christopher Campbell

We all jumped on board the idea. By signing Christopher’s copy, one by one, in our individual countries, we would bring the group together in a new way. The single signed anthology would then be something special for him and him, alone. A nice tribute to a brave young man, and perhaps, something to give him hope through the hard times.

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There I was feeling sad yesterday, thinking how unfair it was that it should be New Year’s Eve and one of my friends, who died before Christmas, wasn’t here to see it, when a courier drove up. I opened the package to find the paperback version of KBAA! Robyn had sent the anthology to me first, with a little personal note of thanks. Aww! My heart melted into gooey blobs.

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I signed the inside cover,

Dear Christopher,

This is for you!

With much love,

Yvette Carol

31/12/15

 

I was struck by the idea that receiving this copy on the very last day of the old year was somehow significant. There was portent wrapped up in this event somehow. I became seized by the thought that it was of the utmost importance to post it on that same day, in order to keep the cycle of the flow of goodwill going. I had done my part. The book was now the proverbial “hot potato” and had to be released to the next recipient.

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Re-packaging it and addressing the envelope to the next author on the list, I hopped back into my car and drove back to the shops. Indeed, it was in the post within two hours of my receiving the parcel. Our friend, writer and children’s poet and artist, Catherine Johnson, I pass the baton to you! Don’t forget to take a photograph!

One of the problems faced by Christopher, his family, and other families in their position is that very little is known about Sturge-weber. Christopher and others like him suffer multiple seizures, and endure regular surgical and medical procedures while the experts try to figure out how to help.

Here’s an easy way you can help. Buy our anthology! 100% of profits go to benefit the Sturge-weber Foundation who are currently doing cutting-edge research into the syndrome. Kissed by an Angel, is available on Amazon now:

http://www.amazon.com/Kissed…/dp/151936055X/ref=sr_1_9

 

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Keep Creating in 2016!

Yvette K. Carol

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Think of new things each day (or all day) to be grateful for. “Gratitude” is another word for “abundance,” because the things you are most grateful for become abundant in your life. ~ James Altucher

‘In others’ eyes, my life is an epitome of success. However, aside from work, I have little joy. Now, I know when we have accumulated sufficient wealth to last our lifetime, we should pursue other matters that are unrelated to wealth…Pursue relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days.’ ~ Steve Jobs (last words)

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Here in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the 24th of December, Christmas and the end of the year are mere days away.

 

In the past, when we were an agricultural society, the 25th December determined the point when the sun started to move again, and thus, it bore the promise of planting and reaping the crops. This serves to remind us even today of the passing of time, the cycles of nature.

 

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With the coming of the Romans, and then the Christians each utilizing different calendars, New Year’s Day was a “moveable feast” back in those eras. After the Gregorian Year was introduced to modern thinking, however, 1 January was generally accepted in most places as New Year’s Day. And that’s the way it remains to the present.

 

From Christmas to New Year’s Day, this is traditionally a period of introspection, a time for reflection, and a time to refresh one’s spirits before moving forward again.

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At present, a dear old friend of mine is dying of liver cancer. She has decided to die at home rather than stay at hospice. This dire situation has given me a lot more to think about during this festive season.

 

On the way home from visiting her last week, I noticed there was a marked difference in attitude and body language between the kids and I. My boys sat in the back seat, singing. I, meanwhile, drove along tense and upset, completely fraught about the fact my pal was soon to be entering the dark forest and leaving us behind. And the difference between my kids’ chirpiness and my somber contemplation was “time.” My kids have the “blissful ignorance of youth.”

 

I, meanwhile, am a lot older than they are. My mother died this year. My father thinks he’s losing his memory. I know that time is running out. I wrote to my critique partner, Maria Cisneros-Toth, about this dark night of the soul I was walking through, and about my dying friend.

 

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With Maria’s kind permission, I will relay our email conversation:

Maria CT: ‘I am so sorry about your friend. When these things happen, whether I know the person or not, it’s a reminder to me to get done with the writing project I want to complete.

‘Life is so precious; there isn’t a moment to waste. It’s so cliché, but very true. And this is your first Christmas without you mum. That’s tough, too.’

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Yvette C: ‘Yes, it has been a big year, 2015. You’re so right! With Ma’s passing, I decided to draw a line in the sand. The finish line is here. I wanted dad to be alive to see me launch my first book, and, indeed, by pushing ahead to professional proof-reading and self-publication, I did achieve that goal this year.

 

‘Dad was there at the launch of ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ and he gave a speech about how proud he was. It was a wonderful, emotion-filled moment for me. Ma didn’t get to be there in physical form but she was there, nevertheless.
 

‘Sometimes, you get a reminder that life is short. Your mother dies suddenly of stroke in the night. Your friend is dying of cancer. Your husband has a heart attack, right? That’s when you realize our dreams need to be put into action. Now. Today. There is no tomorrow!

 

‘Then it came to me, I understood what my friend, and mentor, Erin Lees was trying to tell us, when she said last year, that we should ‘live as if death were always at our shoulder.’ Aha!’ mum

 

With this perspective, I need to take clear, focused, heart-motivated action towards my goals in 2016. Remember, that Steve Jobs, one of the most successful men in the world said we should ‘pursue relationships, perhaps art, perhaps a dream from younger days.’

 

While I remain heartbroken for my friend who is sick, I am realigned with my purpose and my willpower to strive towards my dreams.

 

What does the essence of this Yuletide and New Year distil for you? Any revelations to share?

 

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Talk to you later…

…in 2016!

Yvette K. Carol

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This was me on my way home from an audition for King Kong where I was told I was too “ugly” for the part. This was a pivotal moment for me. This one rogue opinion could derail my dreams of becoming an actress or force me to pull myself up by the boot straps and believe in myself. ~ Meryl Streep

 

 

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

Christopher Campbell

This week a dearly beloved and heart-inspired project came to fruition. My author friends and I have been putting together a children’s anthology to support our dear friend, Robyn Campbell, and her son, Christopher (29) who lives with the little known or understood syndrome called Sturge-weber.

Our beautiful book, Kissed by an Angel is out now, available on Amazon.

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I thought that I would re-issue this earlier post, detailing the illustration I did to go with my story in the anthology, ‘Grandpa & Loor.’

A Photo Essay for ‘Grandpa & Loor’…

A few years back, I tried using computer software to “draw” but I didn’t take to it. I simply prefer pencils, erasers, pens, colour pencils, and paints. I’m old school. So, bear with me. For some people, this might be a trip down memory lane.

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First, I had to work up a sketch I liked. I borrowed the man’s expression from an old photo of my boys’ father and aged him by adding wrinkles, I borrowed the idea for the hair out of a Santa book from the ’70’s. I was seeking with this illustration to express how we caregivers and parents of special children feel about them, and how they feel toward us. Once I was happy with it on a feeling level, I had a pencil template.

Grandpa & Loor

I painted the background over with a pale wash of pink.

First wash, G&L

Next, I applied the first coat of watercolour. At this stage, I made a timeline of the process, by taking this snap when I started.

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I gave each area a slightly different shade, in order to alter the end look. The lesson I’ve taken from training in oil portraiture is to build layers. That’s where you get your depth.

At that stage, I added the second layer to the characters, according to what I thought the colours might be later.

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As I got onto the third coat, I started to use three or more variations of the shades and add areas of light and dark.

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The fourth layer always makes the tones more solid and real.

At that point, I switched from water colour to gouache, and started using the fine tipped brushes.

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I made the shadows more convincing.
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And, just like that, in the twinkling of a back-breaking eye, I had finally crossed the finish line, thirteen hours later!

I feel victorious. Art is magical, isn’t it?

What sort of art do you do in your life? What’s important to you creatively? Tell me in the comments….

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Keep Creating!

Talk soon,

Yvette K. Carol

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‘I’ve been thinking about my Christopher and how our family could never make do without him. He is the epitome of this quote: “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.’ Robyn Campbell

‘This is the best time in history to be a writer. Today, you can bypass the gatekeepers.’ So said the author, Andy Weir.

 

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It is also said, there will be more books published in the next five years than have been published since the invention of the printing press.

 

“Going Indie” means everyone can publish their own work, which is wonderful news. This effectively means that the author takes on the lion’s share of the burden.

 

Personally? Long story short: In September, I self-pubbed my first book*, then I found mistakes, recalled the book, and have been editing for the last 3 months.

 

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My eldest son asked me the other night, Why are there so many mistakes?

 

A perfectly presented and edited book is not a freak of nature, my son. They do not just happen by themselves, you know.

 

Once upon a time, the large traditional publishing houses were the so-called “gatekeepers.” These big publishers (and loads of smaller ones) employed all the experts in the industry to curate and produce their perfectly-turned out books. Many different professionals had input on guiding every author’s work into an error-free work of art.

 

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As opposed to the past, these days, self-publishing is becoming more accepted and is becoming a phenomenon. Some Indies have done very well at it and made loads of money. Some have ended up being signed to traditional publishing companies. For every Indie author who wins, however, a gazillion fall by the wayside with their hard-won novels fading into obscurity.

 

I’ve blogged before about how I held on stubbornly to my dream of being picked up by a traditional publisher. However, even the rock of Gibraltar is wearing away with the years, I’m sure, and the attrition of the fact that everyone’s doing it had a pumice-type of effect, because last year, for the first time, I began to consider publishing my own book.

 

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I was busy editing the first book in my Fantasy Tween Fiction series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, called ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta,’ for the umpteenth time, through the critique group process.

 

When I felt it was ready, instead of submitting the manuscript to publishers, I hired an American professional to edit it for me. In my innocence, I imagined that once I put in the editor’s changes, I would be ready to upload and to go to print.

 

Yet, once I did get to that stage, author friends told me, no, no, no, you need to get as many people to read it as possible.

 

Lynn Kelley

 

Therefore, I asked friends who are well-published authors to proof-read it for me. I made more changes to the copy following the editing suggestions. I then had a very kind friend, who has published more than thirty books with a NZ publisher, give the book one last edit, just to catch the last two or three mistakes. Then, I read it myself one last time.

 

Finally, after six months effort, I handed over the manuscript to a local typesetter and printing house, BookPrint.

 

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The same day I launched the book, it came to my attention that there were still some errors in the book. Despite the carefully editing and checking, a few things had been missed. As my author friend said, ‘Your name is going to be on that book forever, how do you feel about that?’

 

I recalled the book.

 

I proof-read another three times, picking up a surprising number of mistakes.

 

The time had come, I realized, when I needed to hire a second professional proof-reader. This girl did a stellar job, finding “70 inconsistencies,” and she delivered the edits within the time she’d predicted.

 

I read it through and edited it another two times after that.

 

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To be absolutely certain, I asked the proofreader to read it through again for me. She did so and found yet more errors. Sigh.

 

*Indies who are reading this, wait, don’t be discouraged. Be informed. Go into this battle arena clear-eyed, focused and aware of your tactics.

 

We Can Do It!

 

Here’s how you can benefit from my experience. When you’re ready to self publish your book:

 

  • Hire professionals, one after the other, to catch what the other has missed.
  • Hire people who come well recommended to you.
  • Double- check and check your work again!
  • Be prepared for everything to take longer than you expect. I think it’s more realistic when planning a self-published novel to do it this way: set a launch date for your book, take that length of time and double it. That’s your realistic projected date of publication.

 

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‘This is the best time in history to be a writer.’ Yes, agreed. We are lucky we can ‘bypass the gatekeepers.’

 

Is it hard? Yes.

 

Yet, you gain the reward, the satisfaction at the end. When you publish your own as-near-perfect-as-you-can-get-it novel, as I did yesterday, the sheer sense of absolute triumph is immense. I felt as mighty as a victorious Viking.

And just in time for Christmas. Squeee!!!

What are you doing as an Indie? Do you have any tips to suggest?

 

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Raise your sail one foot and you get ten feet of wind. – Chinese Proverb

*my recently self-published debut novel, ‘The Or’in of Tane Mahuta.’