Growing up, growing an audience

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Most of my blogging has been for fun, as a creative outlet, a way to learn and experience technology, and a way to pry open my shell a bit.

For all I’m a talker (once I open up), most of the time, I can sit quietly and keep to myself with no difficulty. I’m more introvert than extrovert.

But I also enjoy engaging with kindred spirits, and that’s one of the joys of blogging, and writing in general.

So I’m beginning to look around and find ways to grow the blog, and my new site Story Revisioned.

Though I’m not good at self-promotion…that’s never going to be a comfortable seat for me…I do like the idea of sharing, and having a way to hear from readers who are willing to engage, or fellow bloggers who are also writing, sharing their stories, and looking for connection.

So that’s what I’m doing here, and will be doing in some other venues…just looking to reach out a bit more, see who’s out there in the big world, plant my flag.

See you on the playground!

~ Sheila

 

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Launched!

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Happy Birthday! My new site is up, and it feels good to see it live, even knowing it’s a work in progress.

It’s been a joy to work on this project, sometimes diligently, always with a goal of creating a way to give back.

Some of the posts on the site have migrated over from Grace and Life, and after some soul searching, I’ve decided to keep this blog going as well as the new one. This one is more personal, and the place for Riley and Jack photos, recipes, the Sheila side of life.

Story Revisioned is about my story from a different perspective; but hopefully, it will not only be about my story. The vision is to have others posting, sharing, commenting: to create a space that is inviting and nurturing.

Please stop by! I’d love to have visitors, now that the lights are on and the door is open. I’d be honored if you join my email list, and even more thrilled if you share your story and leave feedback.

Last, the Kindle edition of Choose Your Purpose, Love Your Life is up. It will be free from May 26-30. Please download if you’d like, and if you read, I’d be grateful for a review.

See you on the playground!

~ Sheila

Choose Your Purpose

My book posted on Amazon today. Big. Happy. Smile! Here’s the link:

Choose Your Purpose, Love Your Life

The paperback is the only version up at the moment; the Kindle edition will be up in a few days. I printed the book through Amazon’s CreateSpace print-on-demand service. It was a little slower than I expected, but overall it was a relatively simple process. Every step was digital, first uploading my manuscript and cover design, then downloading digital proofs and various elements of the book…cover, back cover and text, blurbs for Amazon’s page, interior proof.

I was able to speak with representatives for CreateSpace a few times during the process, and I had a project manager from the point of committing to print the book. (There was an initial phone conversation as well, when I had an opportunity to ask questions and clarify pricing.) Throughout the steps to publishing, CreateSpace offers an email or phone option for support and questions, and they were very prompt to reply or call when I contacted support. I particularly appreciated the phone option. I’m usually comfortable emailing or using chat to address my questions, but there were a few times it was helpful to actually speak to someone.

The whole process cost a few hundred dollars. Yes, this is a self-publishing venture, which means I didn’t go the route of finding a publisher and all that involves. I did purchase editing services, and the book was professionally designed. The digital files will be converted to Kindle format, and that’s a nice add-on to going this route. I uploaded and converted my earlier two books to Kindle myself, and in general it was also a simple step-by-step experience. However, there were a few spacing issues I couldn’t resolve, and I hope going this route will result in a more professional Kindle product.

My only concern tonight is the pricing for the paperback is higher than I listed. My set price is $12.99, and when I looked at the Amazon page earlier tonight the book was priced at $16.14. Now how did that happen? Looks like I’ll be calling support in the morning!

My next adventure is marketing…I’m sure I’m doing this backward, because I read that I should be creating an amazing launch for the book, which I haven’t done. This is a real-time experiment, learning on the job, seeing what happens. I’ll be launching the new site in a few days, and offering the book there as well. If nothing else, anyone out there planning to do their own book can watch and learn from my trial and error.

Have I mentioned one of my life roles is to be a cautionary tale?!

So this is both an announcement for the book, and a bit of a review of CreateSpace. I’ll follow up to share the experience as I progress…how the Kindle conversion goes, the marketing efforts, what I learn. Maybe this can be an informal lab for self-publishing…look over my shoulder as I learn by doing.

Hope you’ll come along!

~ Sheila

 

 

 

Summer’s here! (Today anyway)

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We’ll be back to rain soon, as early as tomorrow, but the past few days have been beautiful, warm, amazing for mid-May.

We went out fishing…didn’t catch anything, but we had a perfect after-work hour on the water.

We went to Anchorage on Tuesday for meetings, flew the “milk run,” Alaska Airlines’ trip that originates in Seattle, then stops in Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, and finally Anchorage. Flight seeing all the way!

We got on in Ketchikan. These were scenes on the way up:

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That’s a glacier carving it’s way to the ocean.

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This is the photo for the phrase, “pure as snow,” it’s blinding white. The snow and the clouds blend together.

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Look at the time the sun is setting in Anchorage tonight. (You can see the sunrise/sunset times in the screenshot of my phone weather profile above.) Makes for long days and restless nights. That’s the way I sleep this time of year, restlessly. Somehow your body registers the light and doesn’t settle. I think it’s the elongated days that don’t give you the normal cues to begin shutting down and prepping for the darkness. Just a geographical hazard of being this far north.

We saw a moose in the marshlands. Fortunately it was too busy eating to notice us. Moose are sometimes aggressive, but this one wasn’t a threat. We were clearly less interesting to him than he was to us, and he couldn’t be bothered to turn around for a really good portrait, so I had to make do with a profile shot.

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This is a view from the road heading south out of town toward Seward. Mountains and water are everywhere.

Today, on the way back down, I got this shot of Juneau’s famous glacier:

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Finally, back to Ketchikan, and a beautiful sunny afternoon. We actually ate lunch on the patio of the restaurant we chose. I didn’t even know they had a patio until today…it’s not often you can enjoy outdoor dining here!

And this is what I got in the mail:

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It’s the proof copy of my book. So fun to open and find a real book, not just a digital file, which is all I’ve seen until today. Now it will list on Amazon, and the Kindle version will be up in a couple of weeks. Ahhhh…I started this last July! Hard to believe it took this long to finish, but then, it wasn’t always a linear project. And I’ve learned, some things are best not rushed.

It’s not quite the beginning of summer, by the calendar. But in the north, where some years summer appears on a Tuesday and is gone by Thursday, and you often find yourself wearing jackets more than sunscreen, whatever the calendar says, an early start is a good thing!

A friend just called to say he’s dropping off some fresh salmon. Looks like we’re grilling out for dinner tomorrow!

Checkbook surprise

A few months ago I published a little ebook on Kindle, (shameless plug) and then with the house listed and life turned upside down, I largely forgot about it. Not that I wasn’t interested. But I was overwhelmed, and preoccupied…too busy with craziness at the moment to focus on my budding self-publishing career.

So imagine my surprise when I was balancing my checkbook in September and noticed a deposit from Amazon. The first thought that flashed through my mind was that this was a refund for something I had bought from Amazon. But I immediately realized that didn’t make sense…I buy with my credit card, so anything that was refunded would show up on the card activity, not in my checking account.

It actually took me a couple of minutes to realize…this was a payment to me from Amazon! It was a royalty payment for my book sales!

And it was for a grand total of $20.24.

Alright, I’m not making a fortune here. But do you know what that represents?

And yes, I do understand that self-publishing in the digital world is not quite the milestone as say…having a book hit the New York Times best seller list.

But still…I actually made money from something I wrote, and something someone else bought.

And a few days ago, it happened again. This time the deposit was only for $16.74, but it was there.

And it whetted my appetite. If one little book generates two small deposits, maybe there’s opportunity for more.

Haven’t I been looking for ways to move my income stream to the digital world? And isn’t this income?

Well, so far I could do a couple of fast food meals, or a few rounds of morning coffee. It’s a modest beginning.

But it is a beginning.

Do you ever think about the end of the story? You know, the way movies often start…at the end, showing the outcome of the story, then taking you back to see how it all unfolded?

That’s the scene I play in my mind. I’m not forecasting that I’ll become a famous author, or even a wealthy one. I do have a fantasy that I’m self-funded, and looking back to how it all started…little by little, growing into a steady stream of deposits that support more than a coffee habit.

I’m thinking about other titles…what books do I have in me?

I’ve been curious about the Kindle publishing platform for a long time. I buy Kindle books on a regular basis, and I wanted to walk through the process to experience it…see how easy or difficult it was, see what it would be like to have a book on Amazon.

Well, now I know. It actually works!

Not that I was skeptical. I’ve certainly read enough from others who have published via Kindle to know that it is a legitimate publishing venue, to say nothing of having the powerhouse of Amazon behind it.

And let me say, just to be clear, that I am a hearty and staunch supporter of independent bookstores and printed books. But I am a realist, and I believe there is room for both digital and print books, for online retailers and the brick-and-mortar shop as well.

But there’s no doubt that for someone like me, digital publishing offers an opportunity that I would likely never have in the print world, at least not at this point, not with my approach.

So I’m grateful for the incentive that two little deposits in my account have given me.

And I’m doing a little daydreaming about the end of this story.

Here’s the other thing. I’m sharing this to say, if I could do this, so can anyone else. The digital world is amazing…levels the playing field in so many ways, and opens the door to creativity and determination and ambition. Like a little engine that could, I hear myself….I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

And you can too! See you on the playground!

Here I go!

I’ve been in a bit of an upheaval in the past few weeks. My house is once again on the market, which feels good. I’m hopeful, fearful, wondering about next. But this also gives me a lot of motivation and incentive to tackle some chores that I’ve been avoiding for a while now…the dreaded sort, pulling out and evaluating everything with a view to: KEEP / DON’T KEEP and SELL / DONATE. Or worst of all: WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS????

There are a lot of questions to answer, and work that I’m still doing..will be doing until I’m literally heading out of town. And that’s good too. Busy keeps me going, productive, and positive. And who knows how long it will take to sell? I don’t want to jinx myself, but you never know about these things.

I’m trying my hand at a few new things. I decided to use my Alaska experience as a bridge to a new adventure, so I’ve written a short e-book, So, You Want to Move to Alaska? Hot off my keyboard today. I self-published on Amazon’s Kindle site, and whether it sells two copies or two thousand, it was a good experience for me to work through. It takes a day or so to show up on the Kindle site, and I’m excited to see how it looks in final form. I see they offer an option for updating, even after the initial publication, so that reassures me in case I find a typo right away. Even after proofing, it seems like there’s always something missed.

I understand that non-fiction books are a good source of ongoing income…the more you work at putting titles out, the more chance you’ll make sales. The price is low…$2.99, but the idea is to make up in volume what you lose in the per-book sales amount. I’ve got a second title already in the works.

Anyway, the process is free. I wouldn’t say it was painless, but I think I’ll be able to do a second book much more easily now that I’ve been through it once.

My little Kindle book!

I’m also launching a YouTube video channel. Or at least I’m working on doing that. I’ve got a camera in hand, and I’m sorting out the process, and content.

I’m also changing the focus of ReVision Me. I had initially thought I would use that site as a business platform for writing and editing, focusing on healthcare documents…policies, strategic plans, etc. But I find my heart isn’t really in that. I’m still working in that world for my day-to-day income needs. But now I think I’ll focus the concept of ReVision on women my age…maybe men too, eventually, but it seems safe to begin with the gender I know.

In taking stock of where I am in life, I realize, for what it’s worth, that I could be a poster child for AARP. I’m 53, female, vibrant, energetic, looking to renew and extend my working life. I have a multitude of interests outside of work, I have extended family and a wide range of life experiences. I love the digital world, and I think I have something to offer.

I know there are already a lot of sites that cater to women, and even women of my profile. But I have a voice too, and I want to use it. So, I’ll be updating some of the work I had done on ReVision Me to bring it to a new focus. I set it up on the WordPress.org platform and will likely have affiliate advertising to help sponsor the site….another new adventure.

And last, I’m thinking about Etsy. Not sure how I can be part of that marketplace, but I’m intrigued, and I have been for a while now.

My challenge is to focus, and to look toward a new launch. Waiting is always the hardest part, isn’t it? Maybe if I’m busy enough it won’t be too too scary.