Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who is John Locke?

John Locke is a New York Times best selling author. In June 2011 he became the first self-published author in history to have sold one million ebooks. He sells all his ebooks for 99 cents. “And John Locke isn’t thinking about raising his prices any time soon. ‘This is the price that brought me to the dance,’ he told the Wall Street Journal reporter, adding that he made $126,000 from Amazon in a single month.” (online source) 

John Locke is successfully riding the wave of the ebook explosion. Everyone in the book publishing industry has an opinion about ebooks—for or against. Some of these opinions are shared on blogs, some have not been voiced. Amazon is selling slightly more ebooks than their paper books. Barnes and Noble also is selling more ebooks than paper books.

If you are technology minded, you can format your manuscript to the requirements of the ebook publisher you’re working with, design an attractive, attention-getting cover, and then submit it. The ebook publisher will do whatever they do to convert your manuscript to an ebook and voilĂ , you can sell your ebook online.

I plan to convert a couple of my out of print books. I’ve read the instructions for formatting my document for Kindle and also for Smashwords. It doesn’t sound easy to me but I’m moderately technology challenged; I’ve hired someone for help. Neither company gives your work a professional edit.

Smashwords gives readers a choice of downloading for whatever reader they have. They also give you the choice to download a book in Kindle for PC—using Amazon’s free app you can download Kindle books to your computer and read them on your screen.

We can’t all duplicate John Locke’s mega-success with our ebooks; then most of us can’t do so with traditionally published books. Ebook authors are pleased they can bypass all  the book industry's gatekeepers and have more control over the fate of their writing.

Are you thinking about publishing your books into ebooks? Why or why not? Have you already done so; was it a good experience and would you do it again?

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Big or Little--Does It Matter?


Y’all know I love pets, especially dogs; but I do have respect for those who don’t know me. I also love the seashore; but I have respect for all the sea’s residents, especially the big ones.

This past week news about sharks claimed some headlines.

The second shark-bite incident on the North Carolina coast this year happened recently. This second one involved a six-year-old girl on a boogie board in 18 inches of water. Her mother stood ten feet away and witnessed the attack. Lifeguards were not on duty. She screamed and the child’s daddy rescued his daughter from the water, her lower right leg and foot gashed open, exposing the bone. He held the gash on her leg together until paramedics arrived. Two days later she was reported in good condition, but had not walked yet.


Also reported last week was an occurrence on the coast of South Africa. Marine scientists studying sharks there heard a splash and saw a great white shark leap out of the water and into their boat. The group’s co-director said the shark could have mistaken the boat’s shadow for prey. No injuries happened but they had to return to shore and have a crane lift the shark out of the boat and back into the water.




Most of us probably saw the movie “Jaws.” It was somewhat unnerving even though I knew it was not an actual shark; surely not one that big. But, you know, a shark bite is a shark bite no matter the size of the shark. Sorta like when I had a heart attack and the doctor said it was a little one; I  asked him if that was like being a little pregnant. He didn’t smile. The treatment was the same as any heart attack, including six weeks in cardiac rehab.


But I digress. A shark is a shark and the ocean is their playground. If you go into their playground please be aware of the risks. This blog post will not give you hope of never getting a shark bite—unless you stay on the sand and listen to the waves crash against the shore, watch the subtle white caps far out, and collect sea shells. If you really want to see a shark go to Sea World or a big-city aquarium. So don’t worry about the dangers at the seashore; instead enjoy the beauty.

"Worry gives a small thing a big shadow." —Swedish Proverb

 Till next time …  keep on smiling.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Will You Finish a Book You Don't Like?


 How long does it take you to decide whether you’ll finish a book?


Authors know that when they try to get their books published, they have to get the immediate interest of a literary agent or editor. Some agents/editors will allow you to send them your book’s first three chapters. Some agents/editors will only request the first five pages and then some will decide by the end of the first page or the first paragraph whether they’re interested in publishing your book.

I wouldn’t make a good agent or editor by those standards. Even if I don’t get insanely interested in a book at the beginning, I’ll give it fifty pages to grab me. If it’s not an author I read regularly, I might not give them fifty pages—there are so many books to read and so few hours to read. But if it’s a book by an author I regularly read I will go fifty pages before I decide to close the book for good.

I recently read a book by an author (and I won’t mention names) whose books I always read and enjoy. But this recent book was way off base for this writer. If I hadn’t known better I would have been sure I was reading a Nicholas Sparks book (and I like everything he’s written).

The publisher did a huge disservice to this author: the publisher told the entire story on the cover’s flap. So, no suspense, doubts, hopes, speculations, or dreams for the characters or the situation. But I read on and finished the book simply because I’ve liked everything else this author has written.

No, I probably wouldn’t be a good agent or editor in today’s publishing world. I couldn’t be fair to the writer after a paragraph, one page, or five pages. But at page fifty I would make the decision to stop or go on reading.

"You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend." --Paul Sweeney, author

So, how many pages will you read before you decide whether to put a book aside for good?


Till next time ... keep on smiling.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Peaches for All

In our yard we have a peach tree that must have thought it was born a bush. Instead of having one trunk with branches, our peach tree has several “trunks” that emerge from the ground. So it looks like a bush, and not a very pretty bush at that.

I’ve wanted it chopped down; until the bush begins to bear fruit. And does it bear the peaches. At its fullest the branches literally bend under the weight of the peaches until they touch the ground. I don’t eat peaches but the neighbors who walk by know they are welcome to take a few with them and they do so almost daily.

We let the tree grow its own way; no pesticides or anything and the fruit is beautiful. This year the peaches are larger than ever and more plentiful. Each year the peach crop overtakes the tree and even some fall to the ground. We have other neighbors, really residents, who take care of the ones on the ground and also on the branches.

Yes, another of God’s little creatures—the squirrels. As unattractive as the peach tree is, we’ve decided if for no other reason it’s there to help feed the squirrels, then it stays. I watched as a squirrel scurried away from the tree carrying a peach bigger than its head. There’s one squirrel that is intent on eating his peach on the top railing of our deck. I marvel at the process.

First he peels the peach. He peels it! One little strip at a time. So neat and precise. What patience he has not to start eating, but he continues until the peeling is finished. Then he eats. Those two little hands holding the big juicy peach. Later, we find the peelings and the pit at the spot on the deck where the squirrel had his delicious desert. Once I saw him lying atop the deck railing, all four legs hanging off the wood—pure contentment with a full stomach.

So, the peach tree/bush stays. Knowing it can bring pleasure to even one little squirrel is enough not to chop it down. Watching the squirrels carry, peel, and eat our peaches is truly watching a miracle. And that’s something that money can’t buy.


It's good to have money and the things money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things money can't buy.”
—George Horace Lorimer, former editor-in-chief of The Saturday Evening Post 


Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mind Over Matter?

I was a real estate agent for a year.

I love amiable pets but freeze with fear of unsociable ones, specifically dogs. When another real estate agent and I went to preview a house, I followed her as we made our tour through the house. We were about to pass through a doorway when she stopped, looked downward, and said “Hey, baby.”

I thought my friend was speaking to a toddler, but as I made my way into the room I encountered a white, long-haired, very mixed breed dog whose back was level with my hips. A big dog. I didn’t speak. Thankfully, the dog paid little attention to us tramping through his residence. As you read this you see that he left an impression on me.

Another house we were previewing had a loft area above the living room. Again I followed my friend. As we ascended the stairs and caught our first view of the loft area its floor was even with our heads. I heard what I thought was a bird. I certainly didn’t want a bird dive bombing into my head so I took a quick look around the room. I didn’t see a small bird in flight as I had expected; I did see a beautiful (if it had been in a cage) parrot-looking type of bird sitting on its perch with no barrier between it and me. And the bird was not tethered to the perch. As its beady eyes followed our movements, I backed down the stairs. No desire to tangle with a large, squawking bird.

Another experience with a dog went this way: I made an appointment by phone to show a home; as always I asked if there would be a dog on the premises. The other agent answered yes but assured me that a neighbor would have the dog confined at her house during my appointment. All went fine as my client, her small son, and I entered the house. However, when we left the house, I replaced the door key into the lock box hanging on the front door handle before turning toward my car.

Looming between me and my car was a large (are there any other sizes?) boxer-breed dog. Between me and my car. The dog didn’t take his eyes from us—we were coming out of his house. I didn’t even consider trying to walk past him to the car but wondered if I could get us back into the house before he came nearer. With trembling hands, I finally removed the key from the lock box and let us back into the house. I called the listing agent, she promised to make a call, and soon we saw a young man leading the boxer toward the house next door.

No need to explain to you why I was a real estate agent for only one year. Another instance of facing your fears. I couldn’t put mind over matter. I didn’t pass the test this time. If I ever own another dog it will be a small dog like Tammy Alexander’s Jack.


The Good Lord gave you a body that can stand most anything. It’s your mind you have to convince.”—Vince Lombardi, collegiate football coach



Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Are Your Dreams Real?


Do you dream much? Not daydream while you’re awake, but do you dream when asleep? I rarely do and when I do my dreams are so discombobulated that no one could make any stab at their significance.


The other night I dreamed I entered a quiet cozy conference room anchored in the center by a long, beautiful, polished table. I was dressed to the nines for this business meeting—had on my three-inch stiletto heels and panty hose.

As others straggled into the room I began to compare my dress with theirs. So different. I asked whether I was in the correct room for the meeting. They answered with looks of “Yeah, but where did you come from? Don’t you know it’s casual Friday?” When the boss entered the room, his gaze zeroed in on me. “It’s casual Friday, take off that dressy jacket. And while you’re at it ditch the shoes and remove those hose!”





The last of my dream I remember is kicking off my shoes and peeling off my panty hose while everyone in attendance had a good laugh at my expense. Wonder why on earth I dreamed such a thing?  







Since high school I’ve had a recurring dream akin to this business meeting one. In this dream I know it’s time for my class, but I can’t remember which class it is or where it’s meeting. I wander through unfamiliar buildings, down dead-end hallways, searching, searching. In all those dreams I’ve never found where I should be! Maybe that’s it—I need to focus on where I should be and what I should be doing. You think? 

“Keep some souvenirs of your past, or how will you ever prove it wasn't all a dream?" --Ashleigh Brilliant, 1933-, London, UK-born American citizen, author and syndicated cartoonist

 
What recurring or disturbing dreams do you have you want to share?

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Unconditional Relationships


Outside of human relationships where in this world do you find unconditional love? Answer: relationships with our pets…dogs, cats, hamsters, etc.

Our pets don’t know the meaning of the words “friendship” or “love.” But they freely give both unconditionally. We can reprimand them too harshly and they still come to us as quickly as a BFF when we call them. We're late refilling their water supply and they still exchange love with us in their ways.

We had a hamster at our house for a while; in a cage, exercise wheel and all. One night the nocturnal little sweetie escaped from his confinement and started a tour of the house. Everyone but the hamster was in bed asleep. When he finished the stairs and found that he had roaming space, he raced across the room and slammed into a closed door. He apparently backed up and tried the door several times.

The door was to our daughter’s room; the hamster lived in our son’s room—upstairs. Being directly over our daughter’s room, we were awakened by her screams. As the hamster continually bumped into her door she thought someone was breaking into her room. Her daddy took off downstairs turning on lights as he went. As soon as he saw the hamster he assured our daughter all was well then shouted for our son to come down and catch his “varmint.”

When both our children were young, a stray cat showed up in our garage. I couldn’t let it go hungry—could I? So I put out food and water. The cat stayed and the kids named him Clyde. It wasn’t long until we had to change the name to Clydina!

The children are grown now and we have no pets. I miss pets being around. Especially Monica, our fourteen-year-old Cocker Spaniel who died in 2008 as her old body finally quit on her. We haven’t replaced her. The pain of her loss remains raw and is something I choose not to go through again.

What pets live at your house? Any incident with your pet you’d like to share?


"Animals are such agreeable friends--they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms." --George Eliot


Till next time ... keep on smiling.