Three weeks ago, I promptly got seriously lost exploring the big, port city of Guayaquil, Ecuador, after nearly two months in the serene, Sacred Valley of Peru. The Police had to steer me back to the hotel just before dark. By Cuenca, I was really bushed, so my first week, spent in the cute and welcoming Hostel Malki, was a bit of a blur. I knew that Cuenca would make a good place to hunker down and work on publishing details for my fifth book, if I could acquire a nice, quiet apartment with good Wi-Fi. Luckily, I met an American expat, who arranged for me to see her old apartment, now vacant. I moved in on July 1st.
Just as I’d done earlier this year, in Montevideo, with my fourth book, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Millennium; I wanted to prepare the manuscript for Sleeping With Guys Half My Age: Hosteling Around The World On Social Security, which is, technically, to be a “Blook;” my coined name for an ebook made up of blog postings, sorted into categories. All I needed was to stop traveling for awhile and to hole up in a good workspace.
At last, the non-functioning Wi-Fi is working perfectly and I’ve devoted myself, full-time, to the technicalities of book production, taking time out only for brief meals and grocery shopping expeditions. It helped that the weather turned cloudy and cool and not quite as inviting for exploratory city rambles. I did leave the cloister for a meal at DiBacca’s Italian Restaurant on Tuesday night to meet the drop-in expats and it was a lovely chance to get acquainted with some delightful new friends. This plan was much more manageable than the fancy dance I’d gone to my first Saturday night here, where I felt lost in the crowd.
No sooner had I become reacquainted with my relentless work ethic in relation to writing; than a new project loomed tantalizingly before my eyes, which seems to tie many strings together. Much too involved to describe now, it’s a way to discipline myself to learn the ins and outs of Professional Copywriting and Photostock.com. In Colorado, last Fall, my son-in-law helped me to sort the pictures taken on this last around-the-world trek and to organize them in digital folders. Many are really excellent, if I do say so myself. I was immediately eager to learn how to photoshop corrections and to post them for sale on the various stock photography sites, online, to become a silent income stream, ever thereafter. Almost a year later, that’s still a frustrated wish, trumped by the desire to become an author of a growing number of published books. My new goal is to combine the various disciplines of fun, personal writing, photography and professional writing; as well as maximizing my travel and metaphysical websites. That’s a mouthful! At least, I can try my hand at excellence in those related fields, which have been waiting in the background for the past two years.
Now, I have some well-qualified mentors and reams of easily-accessible instruction, so I’ve gone into full-time-job mode in this quiet apartment to finish the ebook and to begin my studies. I’m even thinking of staying longer right here in affordable Cuenca, now, and cancelling my mid-August flight to Central America, which would throw me back into the constant travel and hostel scene. I can stay here six-weeks longer; and then, fly to Denver in the Fall to visit my dear family on my once-a-year drop-in.
“Don’t fix what ain’t broke!” I always say. No, that doesn’t exactly say it…… How about?: “If study hall is going well, don’t fly away from it!”
Maybe just: “Put The Pedal To The Metal and Do Whatcha’ Gotta’ Do!”
Writer’s Rock & Roll, of course! That’s what I have. Here’s what it does: Makes you want to spend all your time writing new stuff, rather than doting on the old stuff. That’s good, to a point. The well never seems in danger of running dry. But, it makes you want to do everything Quickly!
Blog sites, notwithstanding. Sometimes, I ignore you guys because I’m focusing on some other writing-related project. Or, as just this minute, wasting time on daily tasks, like getting stymied trying to hang drapery rods so that I can install the fabulous, light-blocking, mustard-colored, custom-made, drapes found at the thrift shop. Which just happen to be…I have now learned by finally measuring…eight-feet long. Help! That’s my ceiling height! I’ll bet that next I’ll learn that they’re too heavy for my rods; bought without benefit of an intense study of the drapes already in my possession.
Now, a quick read of the rod’s directions reveals that I must run out to the hardware store for different thingamajiggies for the screws. All this, to take advantage of a “real deal” on some good-looking drapes. Mine do need replacing, actually.
That’s kind of the way my writing goes. Very wingdingarooney. Actually, that’s the way I travel, too. Not a whole lot of pre-planning. Wheee! Life is an adventure!
Well, this Writer’s Unblock is like that too. Let’s get this thing DONE, says I! These days, all of a sudden, the self-publishing door flies open and I have a lifetime of writing to cram through it before I kick the bucket. Or, before the newest-style bugaboo hits – the dreaded Big A of the Elderly. Not that there’s a hint of either on the horizon, but at this age, one can’t just sit around smelling roses all the time.
What has brought me to this new state of introspection and critical evaluation? Yesterday, I emailed Patricia Fry, whom I will hire to copyedit my manuscript, and I got to reading her many blogs and her website for her Matilija Press, and realized that she had so much to teach me before I send this book, electronically, to her. Why should she be made to point out the obvious in correcting my manuscript, if I could learn, beforehand, to correct it on my own by reading her encylopedic book about writing and publishing, “The Right Way To Publish And Sell Your Book: Your Complete Guide To Successful Authorship.” Then, what I wind up sending her will be my very best effort, no holds barred, and not the lazy writer’s way of saying “Make me a famous author, now!” to the talent we hire to clean up our pages.
The flashlight turns inward upon my own crazy rush to get these pressing tasks DONE! Now!
Then, I am left with the writerly-equivalent of a bunch of too-big drapes and incorrect hardware. Which only leads to more time-consuming running around.
Slow down, Linda. Breathe!
For many posts now, I have been relying upon my journal of old writings which are finally able to see the light of day, thanks to this blog. These have been on the woo-woo side. Or, had you noticed?
I figured that they would be much more interesting than blog-style reports about the home front. My own daily life proceeds quietly with great purpose because I’m working steadily away on my second book manuscript and am now in the first read-through, after pulling all of the chapters together. I’m hoping to have it ready to send to my copy editor soon. Once that happens, things will become very purposeful, indeed, as the drill is quite clear from there on out.
Getting the material written is the most vital part of any book. Duh!?? Well, having something original to say in the first place, actually ranks above the writing. Double Duh!
Then comes the first proofing and cleanup-up, so that everything reads well and correctly. In my case, that means taking out lots of commas and checking my spelling, plus just applying common sense. Have I stated things clearly enough? Do I really want to reveal myself to this extent? All the hard questions.
Then, getting trusted others to read the manuscript, with the general public in mind. How will this play in Peoria? In the case of this book, that’s anybody’s guess.
Next, comes more time at the computer making changes, cleaning things up, clarifying sentences, catching more mistakes; whipping the whole into the best shape I can before sending the manuscript, electronically, to my professional copy editor.
This creates a lull in the writing stage, but allows more time for cover design. I’ve been thinking on it, all along, especially about what in the world to name this book. My titles always go through many morphings and manifestations before finally settling in to the magical one which will do the trick. At last, this has settled down to a real beauty of a name, which I’m happy with and can easily pronounce. Some potential titles run on for a whole sentence, eight or ten words long.
It’s such a temptation to write a mini-essay with the cover name and sub-title, trying to explain yourself and all your motives, right there on the spine. Begging someone to pluck your book off of the shelf in that literary beauty contest constantly conducted in a book store. At last, I’ve overcome that temptation. I figured out a two word title.
You may have noticed by now, that I’m not introducing this new book to you, yet. That will come; that will come. We are focusing on the process today.
Next, I’ll hire my cover designers. I happen to know exactly what I want it to look like. At least, I think I do. I’ve sketched my current idea and will send it to my artist to see how it comes out. If it doesn’t look so great, I have a second suggestion, or I’ll put it into his hands for new ideas. This is a back-and-forth operation which continues until everyone is pleased. My first book cover took many months between me and a graphics firm in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Second time around should be a dream.
Then, my editor will send my electronic copy back to me, full of yellow lines suggesting changes. I generally follow all expert corrections. When the manuscript is as finished as it can possibly be, I will convert it to a PDF file and submit it to Outskirts Press.
My new publisher will take care of some of the inside design features which I had to do myself last year and that will also speed things up. Basically, once I send this manuscript out to others, my role shifts to that of a tinkering onlooker.
Then, I’ll consult with their marketing department for the widest possible commercial distribution. We will also concentrate on the creation of an audio book and an ebook version of this title, and all sorts of newly-developing things… such as those Espresso book machines, just now cropping up around the country.You’ll find them in all sorts or odd, unbooky locations, such as hotel lobbies, eateries, and regular stores. The size of an ATM machine, Espressos contain thousands of book titles. You drop your money in the slot and within minutes, your on-the-spot-printed book pops out. Cool! Just like those little plastic dinosaurs when we were kids. Double cool!
After the first of the year, God willing, my finished book will fly out of my hands, and into others. Yay! It’s a great feeling to finally let go of a creation and see what happens next.
Guess what? You all, my dear readers, have helped me greatly as a part of an informal marketing survey I’ve been conducting these past few months. You might have noticed that I have been alternating regular, everyday, “here’s-what’s-going-on-in-my-life” postings (like this one), with the woo-woo subjects, such as the Humanity Mankind series.
On one of my blog sites, I have a way to peek behind the scenes and see which posts get the most hits.
Bigtime, you are voting for the way-out ones. That pattern has been consistent for many months now. Well, this is a great relief, because my second book is very woo-woo. Yes, it’s New Age. Yes, it’s spiritual; and if the public reacts the way you did, the book should do very well.
No, I don’t have 12 million hits a month, the way I noticed yesterday that a city girl/country girl cookbook blog has. But that’s okay with me. I guess, everybody likes food better than they like God! Just kidding.
However, I have “scientifically proved” that a great many of you are extremely curious about the sort of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not information concerning the Upper Levels, which I like to throw at you.
So, keep the hits coming. More soon.
I’m beginning to catch sight of my next book now that I’ve transcribed five out of the six journals I wrote on my last trip, backpacking throughout six countries of South America earlier this year. My title has already changed three or four times, so I know that things are developing very normally for me.
So much steady typing can be a pain in the hind end, quite literally, and exercise usually suffers in the name of art. Well, pre-art, to be honest. What I’ll have on my table when I finish carving out the story narration from all the other material in these rather well-documented fragments of life, will be an entire cow. My last book taught me this. The totality of my report is a whole cow that would not fit into anybody’s oven. As a writer, I must get out the carving knives and start isolating the roasts and the steaks. The challenge will be to make lively and interesting chapters out of a trip that didn’t have any desperate and dangerous scenes.
But, maybe I wouldn’t have survived to write another day…if I had, say… been flying through a thunderstorm between Brazil and France during that journey. Hey, if I’d been going around the world on that trip, it could have happened!
So, what do I do with the scenes I did wind up with?
Well, the other day I read a published article by a woman who had spent a mere week and a day in four wildlife locations of Belize with the express purpose of sighting a wild jaguar in the jungle. I’ve never been to Belize, but I have been to Central American jungles in Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua; as well as in the Peruvian Amazon, and I’m here to tell you that actual jungles are not quite as exciting as our celluloid medium would have us believe. In fact, they can look like my Florida front yard did when I first moved here…only the plants are ten times larger and much more tangled. But still, more or less, familiar.
This woman wanted to escape the asphalt jungle where stocks were crashing like falling coconuts and everybody was going bananas, so she decided that the cure would be to lay eyes on a very elusive prize – a big cat, specifically a jaguar, in its natural environment. It didn’t happen. She did see some jaguar poop on the trail, and she did get to pet a jaguar in a local zoo. But it had been raised in captivity.
Did she go home without a story? Heck no! She had a lot of great photos; she could write really well, and she put a clever spin on the story so that we didn’t feel cheated at all. In fact, we had to agree that “Life is just like that…and there will always be a tomorrow…when you least expect it.” Maybe the jaguar will come to her. Maybe one day when she’s jogging in Central Park…..
Anyway, I’m kidding around, because as I work on all this good stuff, written and half-forgotten, I can’t wait until I get to the real book-writing stages which are coming up next. I, optimistically, expect that portion of the work to whiz by. But then, I always do. Can I live with the fact that I didn’t even set foot into Chile, when that is such an important chunk of the Andean Spinal Column which I went down there to investigate? I’m not sure that I can, but perhaps that will turn out to be my elusive jaguar.
Plus, I took a great leap of faith last Sunday. I signed on with Outskirts Press (http://www.outskirtspress.com) to publish this new print-On-demand book of mine. I signed up at such an early point in the game because they offered 20% off to anybody willing to take the plunge during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. This decision wasn’t actually all that sudden because I’ve been considering going with them for many, many months and have long been studying their website and pondering the possibilities. They will now become my middleman publishing house because they offer lots of services which I farmed out the last time when I formed my own publishing house and dealt directly with the printer. I loved my experience then, and could, happily, do it again, but I particularly like the ease of formatting and of cover design that I’ll have with Outskirts, as well as a whole lot of marketing and distribution services, which I don’t have going for me now.
As I did before, throughout all the stages of book production, I’ll be sharing the adventure with you. Some authors might want you to believe that they’re being published by a big New York Publishing House. That’s so 1950’s! Self-publishing is the wave of the future, as far as producing books in any form – printed, digital, and who knows what else to come. This is not vanity press, and it never will be, but for a long time that’s the only alternative we writers had. I never got in on that; but I didn’t do the big boys either. Let’s just say my hands were tied and my words were stifled, until now. Plus, this is really fun! It’s a bandwagon, folks, and I’m sitting high up there on top of it, chronicalling my progress in this blog as I go. The view is fine!
I produce my books just like I backpack. Put it on and try it out! Get in the game and see where you wind up! Since I have a whole stable of manuscripts waiting to shoot through the starting gate, this experiment will show me which method works best for me. I plan to be doing this for years, so I’ve gotta get this business figured out. Okay! It’s off to the races!
STARTING A NEW BUSINESS AS A SENIOR CITIZEN – BLOGGING ABOUT SOLO WORLD TRAVEL
This is Takeoff Day and, as always, I’m a little nervous and am filled with wonder and suspense as to how the trip will turn out. Though this blog is to be, primarily, about around the world travel, I’m speaking right now about launching out into the Blogosphere and learning to fly right here in public. One good thing is that I didn’t need shots; I have no luggage; and no costly airline tickets leading to long waits in lines, crying babies and carry-on snacks. Plus, this blog flies me everywhere at once, while I sit here at home. Neat! Your living room is my parallel universe. So are your thoughts. Let’s explore each other’s lives!