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Monday, May 30, 2011

Ludington Daily News Column- May 2011

My monthly newspaper column was due today (although I think the office is closed for the holiday, I turned it in anyway).

Since I was out hiking last week, after giving a program, that's what I wrote about. The title is "Hiking South Otselic to North Pharsalia."

It begins:
“You’ve been hiking through a fantasy novel?” you might ask. No, these are real places separated by only a baker’s dozen trail miles. Actually, I hiked a total of 31 miles, but my true beginning location bears only the rather ordinary name of Cuyler Hill.

The most notable feature of Cuyler Hill, apart from a great view of cultivated New York hillsides, is that it’s where the Finger Lakes Trail and the North Country Trail part company.
These columns are not available on-line, unless you subscribe to the Ludington Daily News. One collection of columns is currently available as an e-book, called Get Off the Couch with Joan, at Smashwords.

I'm nearly ready to format a second volume. This one will be humorous essays entitled Fall Off the Couch Laughing.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

Succintly Yours- Flash Fiction

I'm going to play again. I should be doing more serious things, but O well... The "extra credit" word is "glisten," and this time I wrote 140 words with the inspiration coming from this picture:



Here's my story:

  “Hey Ma! Where did you go?”
  “I looked out and the rain was glistening on the road. It reminded me that I needed to buy glitter and glue for Alyssa’s Brownie crafts, so I went to the dollar store.”
  “Why are you walking in the middle of the road?”
  “That way I can see the water glisten all around me. It reminds me of the beach.”
  “Geez, Ma! That beach vacation was 18 years ago. Alyssa goes to the community college now.”
  “Oh, Brian, you are such a joker. The Brownies meet on Tuesday afternoon.”
  “I suppose they do. Hop on, Ma. I’ll take you home and Alyssa will fix you some nice warm tea.”
  “Do I know Alyssa?”
  “Yes, Ma. Alyssa’s my daughter. Be good and ride home with me.”
  “This is exciting. Good thing I wore my slacks.”

-----------

The prompt came from Grandma's Goulash

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Program and Book Sales

The week just flew by! Last Saturday I was the primary speaker at the Finger Lakes Trail Conference Spring Weekend in Cazenovia, NY. They loved the program, and learned a lot about the larger view of the North Country Trail. Over 300 miles of their trail is concurrent with the NCT.

My newest program is "The North Country Trail and the Kitchen Sink." It's still a tiny bit too long- I need to somehow rip a few more slides out of it. Sigh.

I put out a short stack of "bump and dent" North Country Cache (those ones returned from Partners) at a reduced price, which all sold, and then also sold two more at full price. I kept some dented ones for another time.

Also sold one paper copy of Devotions for Hikers!



Thursday, May 19, 2011

Article for North Star

For almost 15 years I've been a contributor, and sometimes a regular columnist, to the North Star, the quarterly magazine of the North Country Trail Association. This is all for free, just because I love the trail, but it does look good on a resume.

My blog post "Why Stealth Camping is Not a Good Idea" needs to be expanded a bit, and then it will appear as an article in the Fall issue of North Star.

If you have any interest in this, click the "Published Works" tab, and you can see a listing of the articles that have appeared in North Star since 1998.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Product Review at Shared Reviews

I've really fallen off in my participation at Shared Reviews. Nevertheless, I worked my way back up to third place (heavily weighted to favor those with new content). I've been dragging my feet because they are working on a makeover for the mechanics of the site, and until that is complete there are no higher levels for me to attain. (It looks like there are, but the architecture to support them isn't in place.) That affects my motivation.

Even so, I got my act together and wrote a new product review this morning for Purina Active Senior 7+ Dog Chow.

And I see that addition has moved me into second! Things are looking up.

Shared Reviews

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Submitted "Memory of Life"

I just submitted a new poem to the Ludington Public Poetry Project. It's a small program that posts poems by local authors around town for people to read. The theme this time is Spring and Summer. It begins:
Memory of Life

I watch the thirteen-lined ground squirrel
stand on her hind legs and sniff the air.
I think it's pretty good, but there are some very good local poets, so who knows. No monetary rewards involved, but publicity and name recognition are always helpful.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Submitted "Now Then When"

The Elements of Life anthology (from Twin Trinity Media) is essentially complete, but the editor, Michelle Devon, called for a few extra poetry submissions from authors who have other accepted works in the series.

My first accepted story will actually be in the next book to come out from the series, Elements of Love. Nevertheless, that qualified me to submit. I sent off "Now Then When," and hope to hear if its accepted fairly soon, since the book is laid out enough that Michy knows she needs some poems to fill out the pages.

I'm really hopeful, because I have stories and/or poems accepted for all the subsequent books in the series which have been planned to date. This would also put a work of mine in one sooner.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Succintly Yours- Flash Fiction

I've never done this before, but decided to play this once at least. Using this picture as a prompt, write a story of fewer than 140 words OR 140 characters. I chose 140 characters. Extra "credit" if you include the word "tempt."



Here's my story:

“Don’t tempt me, Joe.”
“Stop muttering while I set this monopod.”
“I warned you... one more morning chasing birds...”
“See it? A blue-footed booby!”
“Goodbye, Joe.”

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The prompt came from Grandma's Goulash

Friday, May 13, 2011

Amazon Smacks the Small Sellers- What Else is New?

I just got a notice from Amazon:
If we determine that there is insufficient customer demand for your product, we may choose to no longer carry it. In such cases, we will attempt to return all Products to you.

Please be sure to update your return address so that we can properly process returns to your organization. This address should be a valid US street address rather than a PO Box. You can update your address by going to Settings->Return Address. If we have an outdated or incorrect address for you, or if we cannot charge to your freight account, we may liquidate the Products and keep the proceeds, destroy the Products, or ship the Products to you and deduct the charges from any payments due to you through Advantage.

We apologize for any inconvenience but at this time we cannot provide you with any item level return information prior to the return being processed.
So what they are saying is that if not enough of your books sell through Amazon that they may or may not return any to you that they have, and they aren't going to tell you how few sales is too few. In other words, they can just cut you off without any warning.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Amazon is terrible for small-volume sales. A publisher barely covers the cost of the book by the time all the discounts and fees are applied. Now, in addition to preventing you from making any money, they may even prevent you from presenting your book to the public at large through a company which at least provides credibility.

I wonder if my sales will be enough to keep me in Amazon. I sell about four a year there, and they only keep one in stock.

If you are a small seller, just be sure that your return address in your Advantage Central file is up to date!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Articles at Shared Reviews

I moved one more article today to Shared Reviews from AC, and also finished writing and posting one brand new article.

Ever since the most recent changes to Shared Reviews, until April, I was in the number one spot. But I let things slip during that month. Since the rankings are heavily weighted toward adding content I fell way down because I didn't write more than a couple of items.

But now I'm back up to third! Today I added When My Mnemonic Device Failed Me, and Tips for Using All My Books Home Library Software, a follow-up to my review of the software.

Shared Reviews

Monday, May 9, 2011

Articles at Shared Reviews

I wasn't very active at Shared Reviews in April, for the first month in a long time. I worked really hard there in March and got a bit burned out.

Since Yahoo bought Associated Content, and Google has made serious changes to showing search results from "content farms," the amount I've been making from that source has been negligible. I posted quite a few articles on AC for page views only, which means that I have the right to remove them. I'm doing just that and moving them over to Shared Reviews.

So far this month, I've moved:
Reduce the Chances of Losing Food to Animals While Camping
Red Tamarillo- Fruit, but Not So Fruity
Fleas on Your Dog- Facts and Control

Shared Reviews requires unique content, so I can't put them both places. I think, in the long run that SR is the better place for me to earn.



Sunday, May 8, 2011

Editing

I did some editing on News from Dead Mule Swamp. Nothing very astounding, but at least I did something.

Friday, May 6, 2011

First Payment from Smashwords

As you may have noticed in the sidebar, I have two ebooks listed at Smashwords. I'm happy with their percent paid to the author, and their broad distribution base. If you meet their formatting standards for Premium Content, you'll be listed with several major ebook distributors.

I have received my first payout of $10.55. I know this is very small potatoes, but it makes me seriously happy to have broken into the ebook world in at least a small way!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Why Do Authors Blog?

Why do authors blog? Good question. I'm glad you asked.

The obvious answer is that they can't help themselves. Writers write, that's all there is to it.

The secondary reason is all tied up with marketing. In this day and age of easy electronic publishing, more than ever before, an author must convince people that there is some reason one should buy his or her writings.

Keeping a blog going will accomplish at least the following:
• it can prove to people that you can actually write
• it gives you a face and personality
• it demonstrates your commitment to your craft
• it gives you a forum to share snippets (or more) of your work, and to offer special discounts, etc
• it gives you an easy place to market your published works

So, now you know my bald-faced motives. If you would like to see what some other authors I know are saying, you can hop over to Authors I Know- You Should Too!



Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's About Time to Work on North Country Quest

Here's the deal- The book North Country Cache tells the stories of my first 2300 miles of hiking on the North Country Trail. I've always said that there was going to be a sequel with the final 2100 miles, called North Country Quest. I even have several chapters all done. (Each hike is a separate essay, with some continuity between, but they can almost stand on their own)

But some things happened this past fall, things that made me angry with the trail people and very hurt. For quite a while I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to continue to be involved with the trail. That was pretty tough sledding, since the trail has been just about the biggest thing in my life for 20 years. (Behind faith and family)

I seem to be coming to grips with all of that. Finally.

Yesterday, I needed a piece of info for the article I was writing. I couldn't find it anywhere, but I was pretty sure it was in one of the chapters for NCQ that I had done. So I went to open that file. I couldn't find it! Now this was serious. It was a long chapter, covering one of the longest hikes we did in a continuous piece, and I was happy with what I had written (as far as I could remember).

PANIC. The computer that the NCQ chapters is on had crashed once, maybe twice since I had written "A is for Asphalt" (the title of that chapter). So I went hunting. Couldn't find a paper copy... not good- always make a paper copy in case of total electronic meltdown. Couldn't find that I had put those chapters on a CD. Wow...

So I hunted through my email files, knowing that I had sent it to Marie, my hiking buddy. I found it! Whew.

The bottom line is that I need to start working on this project with some diligence. I may actually be ready to do so.

Here is the opening of "A is for Asphalt:"
Marie and I are trudging down the Ohio road. It's the next-to-the-last day of this hike, but despite being mid-summer it's the first of our days together which has been uncomfortably hot. Not only is it hot, but
this section of road is almost boring. For the first time we can see more than a few hundred feet of the road ahead. As we have walked farther and farther north the terrain has flattened a bit, and the valleys are wider. We can sometimes see a half-mile ahead before the road crests or curves out of sight in front of us.

Glancing down at the sticky black surface beneath our boots I notice the letter "A" has been spray-painted on its surface. "A is for asphalt," I quip. "B is for bulldozer," Marie counters. We continue through an alphabet "for boys," and discover that we've walked almost two miles by the time we arrive at "zipper front fly."

"Shall we try it for girls?" We seem to have a lot more trouble filling a list between "apron" and "zip-loc bags." This time we've filled almost an hour and three more miles have slipped beneath our feet. Plus we've had a good laugh at ourselves for degenerating into stereotypes we don't believe in.