Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Experience With CreateSpace

     So far, I have no complains with CreateSpace. Everything went on smoothly from the time I acquired my ISBN to the time that I sent for my final copy. 
     What I like most about working with CreateSpace is that I can call them even in the wee hours of the morning. It would drive me crazy if I have a question and I have to wait for the next day to get my answer. 
     I haven't experience any long waits or delays. Within 24 hours, my submitted work was approved. After 8 business days, I received the proof copy. 

     It arrived in perfect condition. I love that CreateSpace makes glossy covers and high quality paper for the pages. The colors of every page are vibrant. One thing I can only wish for is that the company would offer hardcovers. I guess it's too expensive to make one.
     Of course, I was over the moon when I opened the package. There was nothing like actually touching, smelling, seeing my dream right in front of me. Oh, I loved the sound when I flip the pages. I feel so blessed and grateful for the fruition of all my hard work. 
     Now, I'm waiting for the first 35 copies that I ordered which is arriving on Thursday. It' great to know that there's a way of tracking it through my CreateSpace account.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Self-Publishing "The Magic Paintbrush"

     Before scouting for people to work for me, I had to decide first where to have my book published. I had a few choices and then I trimmed it down to two print-on-demand printers - Lulu and Createspace. After reading some articles on the internet, I ended up choosing Createspace.
     Here's one of the articles that helped me in my decision. Next time I will provide more links for you to read and help you decide on your own.
     So where did I find my editor, illustrator, and Createspace formatter? odesk is the answer! This was where I hired two musicians for my poetry projects so why not search for my dream team here? 

      I was able to post the job, state my requirements, set my own deadlines, interview prospects, negotiate fees, hire, and request for revisions whenever necessary.

1. Hiring an editor to check typos and grammatical errors was a practical thing to do. With a minimal price, I learned where I made some mistakes. I accepted most of her revisions and did my own on some parts that I thought needed more revisions. My original story was written with no illustrations. Since I wanted to create an easy reader book with illustrations, I had to delete a few sentences.

2. After the editing (revisions didn't stop until the very day I sent it to Createspace), the illustrator and I worked closely together for the whole month of August on how I wanted each illustration to look. She executed each image better than I expected her to. I was so fortunate to have found her!

3. Final step was with the formatter. I decided to hire one to avoid headaches. There was no way I could learn in such a short time. After I submitted it to her, she worked on it for a week. Then we went back and forth a few times till we got everything right. She was also a gem! She made sure she did all the changes until I was satisfied.

     If you want to save some money and be able to select among a list of qualified freelancers, try odesk. Outsourcing is the way to go to cut down on your cost and to utilize untapped talents and skills in the job market.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

To Self-Publish or not to Self-Publish (part 2)

     I kept counting the days till my "Writing Children's Picture Books" class. You know why? I read on the booklet information that Lori Mortensen would be the instructor. She happened to be my one-on-one instructor at the Institute of Children's Literature. What a coincidence!
     During the class, I was reminded about the elements of a good story. I discovered that children's authors nowadays utilize animated
trailers to promote their books on their website. I just wished Lori  
divulged some tips on how to find an agent and a publisher or some other information that could not be found on books. She recommended that we join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrator, an organization that educates and supports writers and illustrators.
     I couldn't resist not having a photo with her. It's as if I've known her
for a long time since I met her through ICT.


     Notice the book under her bag? That's the book you can purchase once you are a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. It has all the information where to submit your stories. 

To Self-Publish or not to Self-Publish (part 1)

     To help me decide on whether to self-publish or not,  I went to two classes at the Learning Exchange on Howe Ave., Sacramento.

     Publishing Your Book - April 26, 2014
     Writing Children's Books - May 13, 2014

     The "Publishing Your Book" class conducted by Bobbie Christensen was very informative. It made me gear myself into publishing my own book. That was also the first time I heard about ISBN and vanity press.
      Purchase this book from her and you will learn all the necessary information and references. In every stage of your book, you will know what office to go to and who to contact.

Here's how to contact her:

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Promoting "The Eskalets"

     To promote The Eskalets for the first time, I launched a poetry birthday fest on Facebook called Write me a Birthday Poem. I requested family, friends, acquaintances, and would-be friends, to write me a short poem - haiku, senryu, tanka, or any five line poetry. At the end of the event, I sent a video to the top three winners and two special awardees. 

     Here's the link to the birthday event on Facebook

     Here's the link to the results posted on my Blossom Rain blog

     It made me felt good knowing that most of them have already viewed it and enjoyed it so much. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"The Eskalets" Project

     PHOTO ENHANCEMENT -Early this year, I spent so many nights until the wee hours of the morning trying out different digital effects to improve the photos I took of the American robins. Remember, I had a Canon camera with only 4 megapixels that time. I also took pictures through the glass window of my bedroom so it somehow affected the sharpness of my photos. Those grueling hours paid off because I have accomplished what I had been wishing the photos would look like.

     See a sample of one of the photos.

     VIDEO SHAKES -  I really regret not using a tripod that time. My late husband and I actually had three tripods in the apartment where we used to live yet neither one of us thought that it was necessary. Initially, I didn't plan on sharing the videos. So why bother? It was also just going to be in the way of whatever space we had left in our small bedroom.
     Thank goodness I found a free software download, VideoPad Video Editor. I was able to use one of its effects, specifically the stabilizer which minimized some of the shakiness of my video clips. The only problem I had was, once it was coverted, it wouldn't upload to the current software I was using to make the dvd. I had to fine one that was compatible to it. Luckily, Windows Movie Maker, a free software online, supported the converted files. 

    MUSICAL BACKGROUND - How I wished I could just use the 4 piano arrangements that I had originally used for my video. They perfectly set the right mood for every part of the story. The thing was, I needed to have the license to use them which was impossible since I didn't know the titles and the names of the composers. I thought the best thing to do was to find a composer/musician who would allow me to use their old compositions or would come up with new ones for me.
     I searched the internet and found a a young music student from Taiwan who was willing to give it a try. She worked on it from February to May. I gave her at least a couple of extensions within that frame of time, but when she finally presented two compositions (it had to be 4), they didn't jibe with my video project. They didn't capture stir any emotion inside me.
    Totally frustrated, I surfed the internet one more time. Just when I was about to give up, I found this website - oDesk.  It's a global online work platform that allows clients to hire and work with freelancers. Why not give it a try? After corresponding with a few freelancers, I ended up requesting a Filipino composer/instrumentalist to work with me. His name is Mark A. Galang. He requested for a month to do the job after we skyped. Exactly on my birthday, July 31, he submitted his work. I was more than pleased, not only because he did a great job but also because he agreed to work on a commission basis.
     If you want to check out Mark A Galang's porfolio, go to this link. You might need to hire him in the future.

     DVD FOLDER AND DISC - I checked out a long list of companies that made cd/dvd jackets or sleeves, but they are too pricey for me. I have to order in big volumes. Good thing, I thought about Etsy and I cherry-picked Terri to do a customized folder and disc for me. Here is my first order of 25 sets.

     PLASTIC BAG - Of course, I need something to protect my beautiful folders and discs when I ship them to my buyers. So I surfed again in the internet. As usual, I found companies that demanded a high quantity of order. It was an ordeal to find the right size. I almost settled with a bigger size until finally, like a gift from heaven, it popped out from Clear Envelopes' website. And guess what? The minimum order was 1 for a set of 25 pieces. Hooray!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Writing Projects for This Year

     Since I've already updated you with all my published works for the past two years and a half, now I'm going to share with your my writing projects for this year. From 2011, I've been more focused on short form poetry such as haiku and tanka. I'm still going to keep on writing and submitting them for publication, but this year, I'll make sure that I find time to pursue what I've already started which is writing for children.

So here were the goals that I listed down in January 2014:

1) A new improved version of The Eskalets -  In 2008, I wrote a children's story in dvd format. This was inspired by the photos and video clips that I took of the six American robins by my window's apartment in 2007. To improve this dvd, I have to 
   a. improve the quality of the photos (taken from a Canon camera with only 4 megapix) by using digital art
   b. find a way to minimize the shakes in my video clips
   c. find a musician who would do the music background

2) The Magic Paintbrush as a picture book or easy reader book
   a. find an illustrator
   b. revised it to make it appropriate for a book with illustrations
   c. find an editor to check typos, grammatical errors, etc.

3) Update this blog
4) Set up a new website to promote myself as a children's book author
5) Research on whether to self-publish or not to self-publish

I need to add this one:
6) Non-children's journal - to put up the very first haiga (haiku and art) journal that I've been dreaming about for some time. 

     Do you think I'm expecting too much of myself this year? Wait till you read my next posts and find out if I've achieved at least half of my goals. :-)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

"The Magic Paintbrush" Featured in August Blog Splash

    In August 6, 2012, The Magic Paintbrush was featured on Kathy Uyen Nguyen's August Blog Splash, a talent showcase of poets, artists, writers/authors from different walks of life. 
    Here is what she wrote: 

    This heart-warming children's story is definitely a bedtime, nap time, or reading time story that keeps the joy of art and heart going until the next day.  The reader is immersed in Alexa's colorful world and her adventurous encounter with a magical paintbrush.  Interestingly, this magic paintbrush grants more wishes than a genie or djinn can, which would delight the child in all of us.  Just like any children's story, there are also morals and lessons to be learned. Villa captures what a true artist (in the general sense that does include poets, writers, musicians, etc.) should really be at heart through the eyes of the young protagonist, Alexa.  Villa's writing style is concise and lighthearted, but at the same time, simply honest and at times, poetic.  

Saturday, August 23, 2014

"The Magic Paintbrush" in a Senior Magazine

     "The Magic Paintbrush" is a children's story for all ages. Yes, it's also for parents and grandparents who want to feel like a kid again.
     In October 2011, this story of mine was published in a senior mobile home park's magazine called Lamplighter Lighter Chatter. 

     I was happy to receive some positive feedback. In fact, it was published again in 2013. 

"The Magic Paintbrush" in a Knowonder's Story Book Collection

     While visiting the knowonder! website in January 2013, I came across some good news. My story The Magic Paintbrush has been included in the 1st volume of Knowonder's storybook collection. The book contains 30 fun and original stories, one for every day of the month. 
   By now, Knowonder has a total of six books on sale for their story time collection, one of which is the 1st volume. You can still purchase it from Amazon by clicking this link.