You May Need to Pinch Yourself

In my ongoing quest to learn SSP (Shameless Self Promotion), I’m having a giveaway! On Wednesday, November the 14, 2012 in the Year of Our Lord, two winners will be drawn. One will receive an ebook version of “Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations,” my collection of poetry for people who hate poetry. The second winner chosen will receive an Audible audiobook version.

Holy Abercrombie. I feel like Santa, without the reindeer and the whiskers.

All of you wonderful, sweet, intelligent and very good-looking followers of this blog are automatically entered to win. If you’re not already following, you might want to hit that little button at the top of your screen.

BUT WAIT! There’s more! If you go to my new Facebook page and press the “like” button, you’re entered to win AGAIN! That’s like…two entries!

I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Wow…Moonbeam…it just doesn’t get any better than this.” That’s what I was thinking too. I’ll wait here for a moment so you can pinch yourself, just so you can be certain you’re not dreaming.

I should probably be acting all cool and casual about all of this, but again, I want to thank everyone who’s buying, trying, reviewing and tweeting about my foray into self publishing. Thanks for every mention. You have no idea how much I appreciate you. I love you. Seriously. Am I gushing again?

Okay, I’m outta here. I’ve got writing to do. Plus, I have to search the attic for an Official Fishbowl, in which to put the Official Entries for the Official Drawing. Hope you all have a happy, fun-filled weekend. I’ll meet you back here on Wednesday!

The Wonderful World of Writing

This morning, I received an e-mail that said,

Congratulations, Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations: A Book of Light Verse is now on sale at audible.com. And we plan to make it available on iTunes and Amazon.com within the next few days.

Wow!! Cool, or what?  It was a huge relief to know that I’d made it through their fairly strict submission standards. I listened to the Audible sample this morning, and, as I’d feared, it sounds different from when I recorded it. I have no idea what happened, but my voice sounds a bit weird– deep and kind of matronly, like a drag queen on Quaaludes. Actually, though, in some ways I  like the audio version better than the e-book. You can hear a sample of it here. I’m going to be giving away a couple of these babies on Facebook, so if you haven’t “liked”  my page yet, please do! Um, er…and if you want to buy it in the meantime, please feel free!

I promise, I swear, I’ve taken a solemn oath, I won’t be posting much more about the stoopid book. Sure, I’ll mention it from time to time, but I’m diving in to to new projects, exploring new things to bore you with. I do want to take a moment to update you, but then I’m moving on to other matters.

If you’re a writer who’s been considering self-publishing, I encourage you to do it. Putting out “Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations” has been one of the most fulfilling projects I’ve undertaken in a long time. Is it my best work? No way in hell! I recently read a bit of writing advice that said in effect that, if you’re writing for money, or for other purposes (besides your undying devotion to the written word), you should probably take on a pseudonym. In the case of this book, I considered using a pseudonym for my pseudonym, because my usual thing is prose. I’m a poet in the way, say, Mitt Romney is a plumber. I enjoyed writing it though, and I hope it entertains. As I’ve said before, I did this for the training,  like sending myself to e-book boot camp, to learn self-publishing and to knock down some fears and self-imposed weirdnesses that hold me back when it comes to getting my work out there. In the end, I decided to stick to one pen name, because I wanted to take my blog readers on this little journey with me, to share not just the book, but also the experience.

And what an experience it’s been!! I’ve learned more by doing this than I did in most of my college courses, and it was all tuition-free. I learned the submission processes for various e-book outlets, like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I learned to format in a few different ways (sorta). I’m figuring out new things about Facebook pages and Twitter, Goodreads and shameless self-promotion (besides the fact that it’s exhausting). I even learned how to produce an audio book, although it almost cost me my life, because by the end of it, I’m pretty sure that Amadeus, my children and a few of my friends wanted to kill me. I was um…a bit stressed out.

I learned that there is a big, electronic world of kind and savvy people out there, who freely give of their time and energy to help me (me!) succeed. Some of this has made me quite emotional. I keep Kleenex nearby as I check my Twitter feed these days. Amadeus comes home and I give him a rundown of every comment, e-mail message and sweet tweet I receive. I tell him about my slow, yet steady sales, and he gets just as excited about all of this as I do. Again, huge thank yous to all of you who have supported me through this craziness.

Oh no– I feel a big gush moment coming on. I’m veering, I’m side tracking. Oh no– here we goooooo…. If ever there was a blessing in my life, it’s my husband, Amadeus. He’s been with me through every step of this project, holding one of my hands as I’ve pulled out my hair with the other, patiently listening as I’ve talked through my frustrations and discussed my plans. He’s helped me hurdle roadblocks and figure out solutions to problems. When I was ready to record the audio version of the book, he brought out his big ol’ upright bass and did his thing, and when I messed up over and over, he brought it out again. There’s not a day that passes that I’m not hit by a brick of gratitude for the fact that I live with someone who deeply understands me and the odd way that I function. He’s a creative sort himself, and he knows how my brain works. He relates to it. He plays me his songs, I read him my stories. It’s the way we operate. As a Quirky Person, I’ve never totally experienced this sort of simpatico, and to me, it’s gorgeous. He’s a fan of my work, I’m a fan of his. He accompanies me to readings and presentations and supports my endeavors; I go with him to hear him play and cheer him on. I believe in him and vice versa, and I can’t think of a greater gift.

The thing I’ve loved most about this self-publishing experience is this: Now that I’ve actually done it, I can’t wait to get my next project finished. Over the weekend, I completed two short stories, and those, I’m happy with. I’m editing other stories and essays, polishing and compiling and working my tushie off. Self-publishing has given me direction, and I love the direction that I’m moving in. I’ve always been productive, but this is a different, better productive. I don’t fret about submitting, or worry about finding the right market– I just write. I don’t sweat the submission process, because I’m now a do-it-yourselfer. There is more freedom in it than I ever imagined.

Again, if you’re thinking about self publishing, I urge you to give it a go. I’ll stand over here and cheer for you and celebrate your success. Send me your link. I’d love to put the word out.

~~~~~~

My invisible friend Renée, Chief Operating Officer of a wonderfully warm and funny blog called “Rendezvous with Renée,” tagged me for something called a “‘Look’ Challenge.” Here’s the deal:

THE CHALLENGE

The “Look” Challenge is for bloggers who are also writers. It is a way to let others sneak a peek at your work. Here’s how it works. You search your manuscript for the word “look” and copy the surrounding paragraphs into a post to let other bloggers read. Then you tag five blogger/writers to invite them to the challenge.

I‘m not a tagger, but this was really fun. If you’re a writerly sort of person, I’d love it if you’d play the game, post your paragraphs on your site and add your link to the comments section here. I did a search for the word “look” on an essay I’ve been working on. I was surprised at how often some form of the word came up. Here are a couple of paragraphs:

To be exact, there were three Bader children. Danny, the middle one, was almost always shirtless and barefoot and plucked-chicken skinny. He had a perpetual suntan and trickles of dirty sweat rolling down his neck. Danny constantly taunted and laughed at me– about the way I looked, the things I said, at my clothes, which were always too small or too big or too wrinkled. But I would have forgiven him anything because of his amazing blue eyes and his Tiger Beat Magazine cuteness. Though he instigated a lot of shit, he somehow seemed less cruel than his siblings. His teasing also hinted at a sense of humor, a major deficiency in the other two. He may have been laughing at me, but hey– he was laughing. 

Here’s another, from the same story:

She looked more like Mr. Bader’s mother than his wife, and while he was always smiling and genial, she was stern and grim and bitter, in a polite, southern way.  Looking back, I imagine that the conversations behind the Bader’s front door were steeped in rich, KKK tradition, PawPaw silently gumming his coconut as the parents railed against the evils of the world. How else could you explain such contempt, such burning fury? How could they not correct the behavior of their little Baders? More importantly, how could they have spawned as evil an entity as their eldest child, Jimmy? 

So, look, if you’re writing something, have a look-see and see how often you use the word “look.” Post a couple of paragraphs and let us have a look at what you’re working on. And thanks, Renee– I loved this one.

~~~~~

I found this swell website via Twitter. It’s called Paragraph Planet, and they ask for short story submissions consisting of one, 75-word paragraph. This was a delicious challenge for me, since I can’t even fill out an envelope in under 1500 words. I wrote and submitted a 75-word story, and yesterday, this email came:

Hi

I really enjoyed this one.

I’m going to publish it on the site on Wednesday 7th November.

All the best

Richard Hearn

I love this project. If you have a chance, please go visit Paragraph Planet and check it out. You can browse their archives and/ or submit your own teeny weenie story. It’s amazing what some people can do with 75 words. Oh, and look for mine on Wednesday, if you’re really, really bored.

~~~~~

I guess that’s it for now. I want to end with this fun and happy video I found on YouTube. Thanks to fabulous Australian dancer, Sharon Davis (holy cow, you should see some of her footwork on YouTube) for giving me permission to use it. It completely conveys how I feel these days, especially when a copy of my ridiculous little e-book sells.

P.S. Vote. Pleeeeaaaasse.

Operation Book Push: Week 1

Above is the first poem in my little invisible book of light verse, Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations. In part, it sums up why I wrote the thing in the first place. I longed to learn self-publishing, but I also hope to make a little money for my efforts, in order to justify my existence and contribute toward our little house of fun here at Planet Moonbeam. I also wanted to entertain readers. It’s not a deep book– just some fluffy, humorous verse, but I wanted to put something out while I’m writing more complicated stuff. It’s helped me shove past my self-imposed fear of DIY publishing, though the stress has probably axed three eight years off of my lifespan in the process. It’s a decent trade. I’ve learned so much by doing this.

Week one went well. The book is selling like hotcakes. Okay, more like a plate of cold, cardboard, pre-packaged pancakes, the kind you get in your grocer’s freezer, but still– it is selling. I managed to set up a new Facebook page, dedicated to the things I publish, and some folks are even following it (mostly because I begged and wore them down). I’m chirping, tweeting and making all sorts of bird calls on Twitter, though I’m just awful at it. I’m confused by the etiquette of it all. It took a while to see that others were mentioning me and retweeting some of my stuff. I tried HootSuite for a couple of days and almost went into seizures. I’m getting the hang of things though, sort of.

In a week or so, “Peculiar Rhymes” will be available as an audio book, on Audible and I think, as an iPhone app. I’m hunkering down and gearing up for that one. I played the audio for my daughter the other day, and was horrified to realize that the recording had slowed down somewhere in the process of sending it. On it, my voice sounds husky and deep. Not sexy, Kathleen Turner deep– this is more like Darth Vader meets Mercedes McCambridge. We’ll see what the final outcome is, but I’m cringing in advance.

I’m also considering putting out a print-on-demand version of the book, and am hoping to collaborate with a local artist on it. There are so many branches on a self-publishing tree – various reading devices, audio, the old-school book made of woody, pulpy stuff with pages that really turn. So many lovely people have been involved in this experience– I won’t go into it now, but it’s pretty fascinating, and it makes my heart do a happy tap dance beneath my left bra strap. Working with this artist would be great for both of us– just another pretty branch on the tree. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

But I’m an awful self-promoter. Really– who does this? I bash my own book. I downplay it. I should be talking non-stop about how fabulous it is– how it will make you laugh, change your world and melt your butter. I should tout it as being a Hallmark Greeting card for your soul. But I’m a worrier. I worry that folks won’t like it (though they seem to). I worry that I’ll disappoint readers of this blog, who know I write dumb lyrics about road kill, and goofy crap about cockroaches. I think we’re probably all in agreement that my writing strengths lie elsewhere. Still, when I think about this entire project, I have to admit that, though it isn’t the Best Thing I’ve Ever Written, I kind of like it. And it’s $2.99, for wheat’s sake. It’s not as though I’m advertising a $75 coffee table tome and sending a “Fun with Elmo” activity book instead.

Wonderful things have come from doing this, though the going is rather slow. I’ve only gotten four reviews so far. One was from my favorite uncle, a former bad ass Marine and a retired colonel at the Pentagon. Thinking about him cracking the spine on my little book of verse makes me smile. I know, there are no spines on Kindles, but you catch my drift. It’s like envisioning Mike Tyson watching “Chocolat.” Another review was from my angel, Amadeus. Those guys are a bit biased, and their critiques are so glowing you could use them as flashlights. So, in fairness, I guess that I’ve gotten two reviews. But wowee, what sweet reviews they are. Here’s a link to the ones on Amazon, and here are the two on Smashwords (my uncle’s and my hubby’s included).

These reviews make me as weepy as a willow (damn you, you stupid @#$% menopause), and those are the good ones. Can you imagine what’ll happen the first time someone writes “THIS SUCKS!!!” Note: Please don’t write a review saying “THIS SUCKS!!!” Anyway, here’s the most beautiful thing of all. Kendall, a long time reader of this blog, is a gifted photographer and writer, whose work I’ve mentioned here before. She keeps a Blipfoto blog, and the other day, she sent me a Facebook message that said, “This Blip’s for you.” I clicked the link she sent and heavens to Mergatroyd, there was a photo and a post about me– about this blog and my little e-book, and about my weird-ass life. Over 40 of her splendid fans left wonderful, heartfelt comments. It all blew what little I have left of my mind. I’m posting the link here, not just so that you can read it, but so that you’ll cruise around her album and see (and read) her incredible work.

So, I’m going to try to keep pushing the book for a while. It’s all pretty traumatic for my ADD-addled brain. The constant over-stimulation of social media makes me feel a little like a steelie in a pinball machine– all dinging bells and lights, a million words passing before my eyes at any given moment. But I’m trying. On the side, I’m writing, and tonight, I’ll be reading a bit of an upcoming story at a little indie bookstore. Not from the poetry book– there are going to be real poets there, so I’ll stick to prose. See? Awful self-promoter. I’m glad this book isn’t out in hard copy, because Amadeus would bop me on the head with it for being so shy.

Thanks again to those who’ve purchased Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations. Thank you for the feedback and the reviews and the retweets and for every little twinkle of support you’ve given me. I just adore you, you know.

You can purchase the e-book here and here. And I’d love it you’d “like” my Facebook page, which you can find here. Please, pass the word, write reviews, tell your friends and give yourself a hug from me.

 

P.S. In trying to come up with creative ways to promote this book, I made what might just be the weirdest, worst video of all time, besides maybe this one. It was a total flop– an eight-hour experiment gone awry. I’m not going to run it, but if you message me on FB, I’ll message you back with top-secret links (it’s a two-parter), so long as you promise to keep what little remaining respect you have for me intact. You’ll have to pinky swear.