Category Archives: Random Rant

What the Imagination Movers Taught Me About Self-Publishing

I have two little kids. This means I end up watching a lot of children’s television and listening to a lot of cds that include multiple versions of The Wheels on the Bus. This is generally painful. However, there is one children’s show I can be found watching even when my kids are off doing other things – The Imagination Movers.

Movers

They’re basically the most awesome thing ever: four guys from New Orleans who decided to put their musical skills to use as an “alt rock band for kids and their rockin’ families.” They don’t write “kiddie music,” they write damn good music that just happens to be for kids. And I buy their albums for me and just happen to let my kids listen to them, cause I’m cool like that.

One of my favorite things about the Imagination Movers is their motto: Reach high, think big, work hard, have fun. This motto makes an appearance in several of their songs including the song Brainstorming that appears in every episode and this classic:

So what does this have to do with publishing? I’ve been blessed to be on the self-publishing journey for several years now and I have adopted the Mover’s motto as my own because it encompasses everything I believe about being a self-publisher.

Reach High.

As a self-publisher I have the amazing opportunity to be in control of every single creative process that is a part of producing my book. This means everything from the writing to the editing to the cover design and interior formatting. Now this much responsibility scares and overwhelms some people. I love it. I realize it can be daunting – and I’m not saying you have to excel at each of these fields. A self-publisher is a PUBLISHER and part of that is researching and knowing what you want and then hiring competent people. I firmly believe that the product self-publishers put out can and should be as good or better than that of traditional publishing houses. Sometimes I get raised eyebrows when I say we can be better – “as good” is a high enough goal, I guess.  But why shouldn’t it be better? Why shouldn’t we be innovative and fresh and doing what the traditional houses are too stodgy to do? The internet has not only leveled these playing fields, it’s created a platform where indie artists can meet and work with other indie artists in a way that has never before been seen. As good or better is the goal. I now judge the cover design and formatting of traditionally published books by the standard of my own book. Reach high.

Think Big.

The internet. It’s amazing. I said before that it has leveled the playing field and it has in more ways than I can even count. The biggest way for indie publishers is in ebooks. We can put our books on virtual shelves all over the internet alongside books from those big traditional houses. That’s awesome. More importantly, we can reach readers. Lots and lots of readers. Or maybe only a few readers now…but there’s always the potential to reach more. Because unlike a traditionally published paperback that gets a few months (if its lucky) of promo from its publisher, ebooks are forever. They’re always there on the shelf waiting for readers to download and read them. I want to get my books into the hands of as many readers as possible. Am I expecting to make the NY Times Bestseller list next week? No. Do I think that’s an impossible dream for a self-publisher? Heck no! Countless of self-publishers have proven that it’s not. Is it the only measure of “big” success? No. Every self-publisher has their own idea of “making it” and they are as varied and unique as the authors behind those ideas. Whatever my goal as a publisher – I am not going to think small and I’m not going to allow others who think small to influence how I view my work. Think big.

Work Hard.

This is the big one, the one that make the first two a reality. I am not going to sugar coat this: Being a writer is hard. Being a publisher is hard. Being both is a crap ton of work. If you’re scared of hard work, if the thought of banging your head against your Kindle at three in the morning wondering why in the hell something won’t format correctly scares you…find another line of work (or pay someone to format your .mobi files for you, ta-da!). It’s not always formatting though, there will always, always be something new you have to learn. And there will always, always be more you could be doing. I’m not saying you have to do everything.  There are some things that you will find are just not worth your time and effort. The way you find that out? Effort. Tons of effort. To be great at writing and publishing takes a lot of really hard work. It might be easier if you decided to aim low and think small, but the Movers and I would be disappointed in you. Work hard.

Have Fun.

This, you guys. This. Yes, it’s hard, and yes, it’s a lot of work. I can yammer on about quality and art and striving for excellence all day long. Self-publishing should be about all of that. But it’s also about having fun. It’s about taking your words – your stories – and sharing them with readers. It is mind-blowingly awesome when something you’ve written connects with a reader. There’s no rush like it. And it is FUN when a cover designer can connect with your story and produce a work of art that conveys the tone and feeling of your story. If you can’t look at the process of writing and publishing your books and say “that was a ton of work but I wouldn’t trade it for the world” then you shouldn’t be doing it. It’s okay to have fun. In fact, it’s more than okay, it should be a requirement. Have fun.

Of course this motto doesn’t just apply to self-publishers. If you’re a writer of any kind you can identify with it. In fact, it can be applied to specific professions or to life in general. It’s never not true. No matter who we are, we should always reach high, think big, work hard, and have fun. I’m glad the Imagination Movers have summed it up so succinctly for my kids and I’m glad that I get to sing along with them.

Movers Logo

2014 – The Year of the Girlfriend

Most of my really good girlfriends don’t live near me.  This is due to a variety of reasons: me moving from California to Montana, friends from Montana moving other places, and having lots of friends that I met on the internet.

One of the “life” (as in not writing) goals I’ve made for myself for 2014 is to focus more on spending time with my girlfriends, and in my case that means traveling.

At the end of this month I’m meeting up with Nancy and Patty in Portland for Nancy’s Birthday.  The city might not survive us, but it will be a blast!  I cannot wait…I even have a countdown ticker!

In March, I’m heading to Arizona to spend some quality time watching Spring Training baseball with my friend Tracey.

I also hope to get in one L.A. trip to visit my BFF (hopefully for my birthday?) and possibly a reunion with my best Montana (now east coast) friend Tiffany.  This is going to require a lot of planning and travel, but I’m hopeful.  There’s nothing like spending time with girlfriends to recharge your batteries.

What do you like to do for girlfriend time?

All I Ever Have to Be

I have a lot of goals.  Some of them are realistic and some of them are crazy.  Even some of the realistic ones I make crazy by putting ridiculous deadlines and expectations on myself.  My mom always used to say “your eyes are bigger than your tummy” and she meant that about pretty much everything, not just 8 year old me at the Sizzler salad bar.

It’s not secret that I love Amy Grant.  I flew to LA in July to visit my friends and see her in concert and I put a bunch of my favorite Amy albums on my phone.  This means that occasionally a song pops up that really speaks to me.  And this week it was All I Ever Have to Be.

I just wanted to share this song because it’s gotten me through a pretty hard week.  Deadlines will come and go.  Creativity will come and go.  The amount of work I can flog out of myself will change.  But some things last forever, and I’m glad I have that assurance.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

I Am a Disney-aholic…and I Am Not Ashamed

I love Disneyland.  Love it beyond reason.  I have this not so secret goal to support myself as a writer so that I can move back to Southern California and become a tour guide at Disneyland…like, I want to work to support more working.  It would be awesome.  Hot, sweaty, plaid-wearing awesome.

Before we had kids, my hubs and I had annual passes to Disneyland and that’s where we went on dates.  We hardly ever went “away” for the weekend as my husband was on call ALL OF THE TIME (this is what happens when you’re self-employed, you never get a day off or a vacation), but we loved going to Disneyland for shows and dinner.  We even used to do special days, like spend an entire day in one land and make sure to do all the rides.

Ariel
My adorable kids getting Ariel’s autograph

When I met my good friend here in Montana and found out she was also a Disney-aholic (she’s from Florida and had annual passes to Walt Disney World) it was like finding someone who spoke the same language or was from the same home town as you while you were traveling abroad.  And we both said the same thing about visiting the parks: “It’s like going home!”

Here’s the funny thing: I have never, ever been to WDW. I am a So. Cal girl and a Disneyland dweller at heart.  Being able to pay for our trip to Disneyland last year with my writing earnings was EPIC.  And being able to take my kids to the park at this age was so cool (they’d been several times before we moved, but now they’re old enough to be involved).  My son James is also a Disney-aholic and has worn through TWO Disney Vacation Planning DVDs.  It is his go to entertainment.

My new goal is to take my family (and Becca our friend/not-quite-but-almost-family-member) to WDW next year.  So for the next year or so I’m “writing for WDW.”  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Where is your favorite place in the world and how often do you get to visit?  Do you love Disney like I do?  If you do you must check out my fellow author and friend Natalie who is a Disney Vacation Planner and helping me get my WDW ducks in a row! Plus, she posts awesome Disney related stuff to her Facebook page.

Come Home, Perry!

I am saddened to report that this morning it was discovered that our Perry the Platypus antenna ball has been kidnapped.  This ball was selected by my children as a souvenir from Disneyland and traveled a thousand plus miles through several states, a snow storm in the Colorado Rockies, and on untold highways and byways to come home with us to Helena, MT.  Tragically, Perry is now gone.

 

This is the sort of thing that happens when you’re married to a graphic designer:

 

 

We realize Perry the Platypus disappearing is not an unheard of incident.  But we never expected to have our own “Hey, where’s Perry?” moment quite so soon.  Our sorrow can only be expressed in song:

 

 

Our family friend, Becca, created this awesome Facebook Page to help spread the word about Perry, please feel free to join us on our quest to bring Perry home.

 

Thank you so much for your support during this difficult time.

An Instagram Rant about the Suckage of Edmund Bertram

I love Jane Austen. I really do.  Heck, I co-own an entire site dedicated to indie published Austenesque books.  So love might be slightly understating it.

There is one book of hers, however, that I just cannot love – Mansfield Park.  I admit that I have problems with Sense and Sensibility too.  It’s not my favorite, but I do not HATE it like I HATE Mansfield Park.

Truthfully, the biggest problem with Mansfield Park is its complete and utter lack of a hero.  Nancy talked about this on Indie Jane, basically a post about why Edmund Bertram (the “hero” of MP) sucks so bad.  After our recent Indie Jane group read of MP I went on a small rant on Instagram about WHY I HATE EDMUND BETRAM.

And I thought you all should see it.  Aren’t you just lucky?

 

 

 

You’re welcome.

Random Rant: Maroon 5 “Payphone”

I’m not the biggest Maroon 5 fan but I’ve liked a few of their songs (not Moves Like Jagger – what? No, Adam, you do not have moves like Jagger. But I do Zumba to it, my darlings, I do indeed).  Their newest song, Payphone, is ridiculously catchy and gets stuck in my sad little brain.  I hate it, but I love it, but I hate it…

 

And what is all this about being at a pay phone?  Is it a song about time travel?  Where exactly IS this payphone?  1996?

 

How genius would that have been for a video idea? ADAM LEVINE GOES BACK IN TIME AND USES A PAY PHONE!  Genius, I say!  So I thought I’d Youtube the video and see how they solved the everyone has cell phone issue…

 

Warning: Explicit Lyrics, this is NOT the radio friendly edit

 

WHAT. THE. HECK!?!

 

And you thought my time travel idea was far-fetched?  Here is how I think this production meeting went down:

 

Director: We need a way for Adam to lose his cell phone.

Writer: Maybe he left it at home?  People do that.

Director: No! That isn’t exciting enough! Maybe it breaks when he is in a car crash!

Writer: Why is he in car crash? Just so we can have explosions? Maybe the phone gets damaged at a concert.  He could stage dive or something.

Director: He’s in a fiery car crash while running from the police … who are also in multiple fiery car crashes.

Writer: Why is Adam running from the police?

Director: Because he was in a bank robbery!

Writer: Adam is a bank robber now?  Is that really the image we want to send? Maybe he HAS the phone but he’s just out of his service area.

Director: No, he WORKS at the bank, then grabs the gun from one of the 7 or 8 bank robbers and runs – with a hot chick – through the bank, dodging bullets and only getting shot once (in the arm to prove he’s tough and can take it) and then runs, again dodging bullets, through the police barricade, cause they think he’s a bank robber, and then he ditches the girl behind a car, steals another car and leads the police (who are too dumb to realize the 7 or 8 ACTUAL BANK ROBBERS are still in the bank), crashes the car and destroys the phone!  Luckily, the crash occurs right by a …. wait for it … pay phone!

Writer: So I don’t get it, who is he calling? The girl he rescued and then ditched?  Or someone else?

Director: It doesn’t really matter. It’s art!

Writer: What if he just time travels to 1996, that’d be a cool video.

Director: No! Too far fetched! I like my idea.

Writer: Mmmmkay, I’m just gonna go ahead and quit now, cause I can see actual “writing” is not what’s really required for this video script.

 

But you know what? I still like the song.

 

Though don’t get me started on the rap breakdown… is “cars starting with the push of a button” really the ultimate sign of success in our society?

I miss 1996.