Thursday, July 2, 2020

Amazon Reviews.

Amazon reviews and why they matter.
To my dearest friends and followers,

I would like to talk about a subject that a lot of people know of, but most don't take the time to learn about: Amazon reviews. 
Everyone knows what Amazon reviews are of course, you may have even left one yourself. But have you ever taken the time to think about why they matter? I can honestly say I never put much thought into it - that is, until the last few months.
I'm sure I still have a lot to learn, but I would like to share with you what I do know and what I have found out thus far.

To start things off, I have sold nearly 70 copies of my novel, which was released just over a month ago. Ideally, I would also have nearly 70 reviews of my book on Amazon (assuming everyone actually read the book). However, that is not the case, as only 2 people have left reviews. That's crazy to me!!
I must admit though, that I fell into the category of people who don't leave reviews. I felt like I didn't need to. Being a published author now has changed my views drastically on the importance of leaving reviews.

Let me ask you a question. If you're searching for an item, you find said item, but it doesn't have any reviews, would you buy it? It seems like maybe no one has purchased it yet. Or maybe no one took the time to leave a review if they did. How do you know the seller can be trusted? How do you know if the item is any good? It can feel like a gamble (at least it does to me). I always feel way more confident about making a purchase when I know that others can testify that the item is worth getting. Leaving a review helps to boost credibility for the item being sold.

Another thing I heard was, if you didn't purchase the item on Amazon, you can't leave a review. That is not the case. Whether or not you have actually purchased the item on Amazon, you can still leave an Amazon review. It does help immensely though when you HAVE purchased the item on Amazon. It leaves a "verified purchase" status when you leave a review, so people know you actually own/tried the item you're talking about. Leaving a review helps the ranking of the item in future search results.

Did you know that MOST of the success of an item sold on Amazon HEAVILY depends on the amount of stars/reviews an item has? That's right. If you like an item and/or seller, you're going to immensely help their sales just by leaving a review. Stars matter. It's not just about the reviews, but good reviews. An item can have 100 reviews, but only 3 stars. That probably says the item is just mediocre. The more stars an item has, the more likely someone else will be to buy it.

You can also earn a "trusted reviewer" status if you review a lot of items on Amazon. This makes you look good and also tells others that your review is legit - that you can be trusted, as the status says. You can also earn rewards from Amazon, such as special offers, promo codes, and/or gift cards. Leaving reviews on Amazon can benefit you!!

Lastly, I would love to see more reviews for my book on Amazon just for the sake of seeing them. I want to know who has read my book, who enjoyed it, and what you guys thought of it. Leaving reviews would be really valuable to me to see feedback about my hard work.

Thank you so much for reading!!
If you haven't yet, you can check out my book on Amazon!!

Yours truly,
Me

Friday, June 26, 2020

Announcements.


To my dearest friends and followers,

Nearly one month has passed since my book was released for sale. During that time, nearly 70 copies have been sold!! I truly couldn't have done this without YOU, my faithful readers. A huge thank you to everyone who has read my book or who has purchased it!!
For those of you who may be interested in checking it out, you can do so here: The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1).

There are just a few things I would like to bring to your attention this week.
First, if you have checked out my book on Amazon, you probably noticed that it's only available in one format: paperback. 
I am happy to announce that this autumn, my book will be released as an ebook for all you ebook readers!! XD
I made the decision to release the paperback book and ebook edition separately so I could focus more on formatting the paperback, and then promoting/marketing it. I felt that I would feel overburdened and stressed if I was working on both at the same time. I think it is also good for marketing reasons to release the physical copy first.

Someday, maybe a year from now or so, I would love to see my book as an audiobook, but I won't be working on that project in my foreseeable future.

I would also like to point out that I am still answering questions about my book on Goodreads!! I'm answering questions about my writing process, about my publishing experience, and any questions about the story, or particular points made, etc.. There are only five more days to get your questions to me, so make sure you do that!! You can check out my goodreads here: Vanessa Paige Israel (author).

Also, if you do have a Goodreads and you're thinking about reading my book, let me know!! Mark my book as Want to Read or Currently Reading. If you have read it, mark it as Read. And don't be afraid to rate the book!! Rating the book and writing a small review on it is so meaningful to me, you have no idea. So, please please please take a few minutes out of your day to rate and/or review my book in Goodreads!!

I'll be writing more on this next week, and the importance of leaving reviews on Amazon. Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Friday, June 19, 2020

Little Leo.


            .        
To my dearest friends and followers,

Two months ago, there were four little kittens who lived outside. They didn't belong to anybody, but were the offspring of the great cats who learned to survived in the wild decades before them. There were three little girl kittens and one little boy kitten. He was their leader and his sisters looked up to him. Yes, they were tiny, but they were fierce and strong like their ancestors.

In the course of just two days, these kittens' lives changed forever. They were captured, one by one, by two hoomans, a man and a woman. These kittens were scared, as would be expected, since their kind was always taught to fear mankind. Who were these people and what did they want with them?

The little boy kitten tried his best to protect his sisters. He was angry and hissed at these hoomans. But they didn't heed his warnings. Instead, they picked him up and just held him tight.
What is this? Did he start to like being held? He somehow decided these people weren't all bad. After all, they let him and his sisters out to play. They fed them the yummiest meals. They made them a warm bed to sleep in. Even his sisters began to trust these people.

And then one day, the hoomans introduced the kittens to another creature. It was small and black and walked on four legs. Was it a cat? No, no it was not. This creature was new, something they had not seen before. The hoomans called it "Weenie Dog". 
The little boy kitten was brave and approached the Weenie Dog. He grabbed its tail, to see what would happen. The Weenie Dog snapped at him! He thought surely this was the end, but the Weenie Dog didn't try anything else. It just watched him and his sisters. Perhaps it was friendly. Perhaps it just didn't like its tail grabbed. He thought he could manage to not grab it again.

The hoomans spent more and more time with the kittens as the days passed, but the woman kept holding the little boy kitten when the others were asleep. Could he sleep on her lap? Did he trust her that much? Yes, he did. He soon found it quite easy to fall asleep as she held on to him and rubbed his back. Perhaps it was because she always offered him yummies when she called him. Perhaps it was the yummies he liked, and soon found he liked her too.

One by one, other hoomans came to the house, and when they left, they took the little boy kitten's sisters. Why were they taking them away? He missed them. He missed playing with them. 
He missed cuddling with them, but he soon found he could cuddle with the Weenie Dog. The hoomans who rescued him from the wild began calling him Leo. He liked that name. The woman explained to him that it meant Lion. That was so cool.

He quickly found that he could live without his sisters. After all, he had all the yummy food to himself now. He could play with whatever toy he wanted to and no one would fight him for it. The hoomans were his playmates now. He even got to sleep in the big bed with the hoomans. He realized that these people were now his parents, his Hoomum and Hoodad. And he was content.

This is the story of how my husband and I came to owning another cat. XD 
He just turned three months old. Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Make sure to check out my novel,

Friday, June 12, 2020

Reading Challenge.

To my dearest friends and followers,

I am excited to announce that I am an official author on Goodreads!! For anyone new here, I have written a Fantasy novel titled The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1). You can also check it out more here: My Books.
I know it's not a huge accomplishment or anything, but hey, who says there's no such thing as simple pleasures?? XD

What is Goodreads?
I actually began using Goodreads several years ago (2016 I think??).
For those of you who aren't familiar with it, Goodreads is a great way for readers to connect with the book community. It allows you to find books you may be interested in, and check out book reviews. You can also build your own "bookshelf" of books you've read, books you want to read, and books you're currently reading. You then have the ability to rate each book between 1-5 stars, and write your own review on it. You can follow other users on Goodreads, or follow you're favorite authors. People also host book giveaways. You can also vote for the best books of the year. It's so much fun to use if you love books. It's like a journal where you can keep track of everything you've read, but so much more!!

I highly recommend getting a Goodreads account if you don't have one already.

So on my new author page, viewers can see my book and mark it as want to read, read, etc. You can also rate my book and write a review on it if you want. The thing I am most excited about is, all during June, I am answering questions about my book!! So if you have any questions for me regarding the book or my writing process, check out my page on Goodreads and ask away!!

Reading Challenge.
This year, I've actually been reading a lot more than I have recently. Between the second half of 2018 and the first half of 2019, I read 14 books. During the months that followed, however, until now, I've really not read much of anything. I think this was in part, due to me working so hard on my own book, with revising and editing, designing the cover, formatting it, and finally publishing it. A lot of my time was being taken by that, not that I minded.

Once the pandemic started, my husband and I were keeping busy caring for some kittens we were fostering. Things have slowed down though and my book reading has gone up.
From January to March, I read 7 books. Only within the last week or so, I decided to give myself a "reading challenge". This can be done on Goodreads, where you enter the amount of books you'd like to read in a year. I decided to set mine to 20 books, since I already had 7 down. In the last week and a half, I read 4 novels, so I'm 55% finished with my goal.

I would really encourage you to come alongside me in setting a Reading Challenge for yourself. Just set a goal, and keep to it (even if it's just 1 book). You can also check out my book on Goodreads if you like, read it, rate it, and review it. As someone who loves books (both reading and writing them), I know how important it is to review books (or really, anything you buy). It helps the seller/writer immensely. I have a goal to sell at least 300 books, 1 book for each US dollar I spent to publish it. I would be honored if you helped me reach that goal!!

Yours truly,
Me

Check out my novel on Amazon!!

Friday, June 5, 2020

Everyone Has A Song.

I would rather see the world through the eyes of a child.
~Aurora

To my dearest friends and followers,
and to my fellow creatives,

I think everyone has a song.
That one song that makes them feel good. That song that they've forgotten about, but upon hearing it again, it makes them feel like they were home again - that familiar sense of belonging.

Sometimes I think that each person is a song. It is that energy which flows through them, casting out an aura of their innermost self. It is a song which reflects who they are. It can be a happy song, a haunting one, even a melancholy one. It is the one thing that can be felt by another person without even talking to them - that something that makes you look again.

I have often thought, what if I was a song? Or, what if my newly released novel was a song? What song would it be? What if my novel was ever turned into a film? What songs would make up the soundtrack?

I will do my best to not say exactly what is happening in the story, as I list those songs (as I do not wish to give away any spoilers for those who have not yet read my book since it is such a new release).

For the third chapter in which Hollyhocks is in the field and thinks she sees the stars dancing around in front of her (but quickly comes to realize that they are, in fact, fireflies celebrating a grand occasion), I imagine the song Caribbean Blue by Enya. It sounds so whimsical and flows along with the content of the chapter, which I perceive to be a very poetical scene.

The other two songs I have in mind are interchangeable. I think it would be slightly more fitting perhaps, if Carry You by Novo Amor played during the 31st chapter. The song is so full of emotion that moves the reader/listener. That's all I'll say here. 

And lastly, Through The Eyes Of A Child by Aurora would be at the end of the book, or in the case of a film, during the end credits. Honestly, if there was just one song for my book, I would say this is the song.
To me, it is about wanting that innocence back - that longing to be a child again, for what are we if not childlike dreamers trying to reach something seemingly out of reach? Trying to reach our Creator once again? Trying to be innocent and pure once again?

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
Check out my book on Amazon!!

Also, check out my profile on Goodreads, where I'll be answering questions about my book all during June!!

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Story of Hollyhocks.

To my dearest friends and followers,

I hope this week finds you well and on the look for something to read...because I am extremely happy to announce that my book is on sale TODAY!!

For anyone who is new here, my book is titled The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1). It is a light fantasy novel with fairies, a unicorn, spirits, a young king, and a murder most foul. The story explores what it is like to be a child again, and the act of growing up - of coming to terms with the world and seeing it for what it is. For more about my story, feel free to check out a few past blog posts:


I would like to share that I have already sold nearly 50 copies of my book, so a HUGE thank you to everyone who purchased one!! Here's a link to Amazon for anyone who would like to make a purchase or check it out. XD
Also, if you do happen to purchase my book on Amazon, I cannot say enough how important it is that you leave a review. It really helps me out and gives other people a chance to see what people like you have said about the book. Your support means so much more than you know.

Thoughts For The Future...
For so long now, my blog has been about my book. I know I've posted on plenty of other topics, but the primary focus has been on what my book is about, what my progress with writing it is, editing it, etc. I've been asking myself the dreaded question, now what?
My book is published, it's available, I will continue to market it, but what can I post about now on a weekly basis? I've been thinking about doing something creative and fun, and I just want to throw out some ideas and hopefully get some feedback from YOU (you can message me through the Contact Form).

So I'm thinking about doing a Book Club online (with my book of course). I know there are good platforms out there for that, but I'm not very familiar with any of them. I would then send out invites, letting a select few of you join. We would have video calls or maybe just audio (depending). Some thoughts and discussions would then be shared to the blog.

OR what I'm thinking I might do is a private video call with someone I know (my husband, or maybe a friend...) and we would read the book out loud, doing maybe a chapter or two every week. Maybe the two of us would then discuss the book and share that to the blog, or maybe I would have an open chat for you (my readers) to share your thoughts. 

Whatever option we go with, I will be sharing the discussions and/or thoughts to the blog. I think it would make for a fun read for those who would not join the book reading/club.

Please let me know your thoughts through the Contact Form!! Also, remember to check out my book on Amazon
Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Friday, May 15, 2020

Book Giveaway!

To my dearest friends and followers,

As the title of this blogpost suggests, I am doing my first ever book giveaway!!
The book is The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1) written by me. XD
It will be available for purchase on May 29th, but I will be sending it to the winner before that date!!
Let's get started...

About the book.
Synopsis:
NO SPRITE SHOULD LEAVE THE FOREST FOR THE REST OF TIME...
The year is 1483, and Hollyhocks is a sprite without a care to be had. The Forest is her home. It protects her, and all the other fairies, in the Invisible World behind the veil. Oh how she longs to be on the other side of the veil, to be seen by those wonderful creatures - humans.

When Hollyhocks is given the opportunity to make her dream reality, she steps into the magical world of mankind in a time when Edward V is about to be crowned. But is the world beyond all that it seems? Is it as beautiful as she thinks it is?

In my own words and why someone may be interested in it:
The Story of Hollyhocks is a fantastical story of fairies and humans. It is loosely based around the events of young King Edward V. It is filled with fairy lore, and vivid details that bring the story to life.
At it's core, I believe the book is about the beauty of childhood innocence. It is also about growing up and coming to terms with the good and evil in the world. It is about friendship and going through hardships, but learning to overcome those and to keep living.
The book is appropriate for young adult readers, anyone above the age of 13. I believe it would also be thoroughly enjoyed by anyone who loves fantasy, fairies, and historical fiction (especially the medieval period).

How to enter.
It's pretty simple. All you have to do is click below >> a Rafflecopter giveaway 
It will walk you through the steps of what to do and exactly how to enter. Basically, all you have to do is follow me on Twitter, and tweet "I entered". It's easy. XD I will then be choosing the winner at random 1 week from today.

Rules.
I have the right to end the giveaway at any time. I will notify the winner after the giveaway closes via Twitter DM's. The winner has 48 hours to contact me unless otherwise stated. I will select a new winner after the 48 hour period expires if no one responds. If under the age of 18, parent consent is needed to enter the giveaway/claim the prize. No cheating will be allowed whatsoever. Your personal information will remain private and will be deleted after the prizes have been rewarded. It will only be used to verify entries and contact a winner. It will not be sold or be given away. Once a winner claims their prize, I will announce the winner on the giveaway post. Only US entries will be accepted.

Thank you so much!!

Yours truly,
Me

Friday, May 8, 2020

The Cost Of Publishing.

To my dearest friends and followers,

I can't believe it's been exactly one week since my book was published!!
If you'd like to learn more about my book, click here. You can also pre-order it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!!

So, this week I want to talk about the cost of publishing. I'm sure everyone who publishes a book will find that these numbers are not exact, depending on who you publish through and how you decide to go about it, but I want to share my experience and show just how expensive or inexpensive self-publishing can be.
Several weeks ago, I wrote about my journey in choosing a publisher and why I chose IngramSpark. You can read about that here: Publishing with IngramSpark.

Setting up my book.
After I wrote my book, which I typed out in OpenOffice, it was time to format it. I had to use Adobe InDesign, as IngramSpark required that I do so. The cost is 20.99usd a month. I payed for 1 month and was able to format my book with the help of a YouTube tutorial.
I then made the decision to purchase my own ISBN through Bowker, instead of using the one IngramSpark provided. This is because Bowker is cheaper in the long run (since I plan on writing several books). IngramSpark provides 1 ISBN per book, each at 85usd. I spent 295usd for 10 ISBN's, making them each 29.5usd. Since I am doing a print and ebook, I spent 59usd for two ISBN's.

Designing the cover.
In the early days of writing my book, I wanted to design it myself. However, once I had finished writing it, I wanted to hire someone to design the cover. In the end, I designed it and created it all myself. The actual art, I created using watercolor and pens. As for the editing of the photo and the font, I used Canva and BeFunky. I spent 12.99usd to use Canva, and 6.99usd to use BeFunky. I also spent 1.00usd on a graphic design. Once I had uploaded the cover to InDesign, I spent another 13.00usd on the font I wanted, which I purchased from Creative Market.


Uploading my book to IngramSpark.
So, in choosing IngramSpark (IS) I knew that it would be more expensive than some other publishers out there (like Amazon). I was ok with this, simply because IS distributes the book to brick and mortar sellers, which is extremely limited when publishing with KDP. I knew I wanted to be in stores.
 The cost of uploading a book with IS is 49usd. Luckily, this was one cost I got to avoid, as I used a promo code that offered free title uploads.

Proof Copies.
Once it seemed that my book was complete, I ordered a proof copy which cost me 37.01usd. Granted, I payed for rush print and shipping. XD
Anyhow, I ended up having to upload new revised files. It costs 25usd for each upload!! Again, IS had a promo code for free revisions, so it didn't cost me anything. I then ordered another proof copy, which was another 37.01usd. I didn't order anymore proof copies after that, but I did submit several revised files, each with the promo code, so I never had to pay for it.

Marketing.
Once my book is actually on sale on May 29th (right now, it's only available for pre-orders), I want to have it featured in IngramSpark's catalog, which gets sent to a number of retailers and libraries. It costs 85usd per catalog. I might have my book featured in the "Advance Catalog", since it is a work of fiction, but also in the "Christian Advance Catalog", since it is written by a Christian author and has some Christian themes in the story. That would cost me 170usd for both catalogs.
Something else I want to include in the cost is, once my book became available for pre-orders, I ordered 20 copies to give away and to have on hand. That cost me 130.96usd.


The total.
To make things a little bit easier, I listed each cost that I have made and then put the total:
Adobe InDesign: 20.99usd
ISBN: 29.5usd
ISBN: 29.5usd
Canva: 12.99
Canva design: 1.00usd
BeFunky: 6.99
Creative Market: 13.00usd
Proof Copy: 37.01
Proof Copy: 37.01usd
Large Order: 130.96usd
Total: 318.95usd

There are cheaper options out there, but honestly, IS is definitely on the cheaper side of things as far as self-publishing goes. It really just depends on what you're looking for and what kind of services you want, how you market your book, etc.

I hope this was helpful or at least interesting. XD
Thank you so much for reading and don't forget to check out my book on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!!

Yours truly, 
Me

Friday, May 1, 2020

A Book For May Day.

To my dearest friends and followers,

It's been one crazy week!!
I was going to publish my book The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1) last week, on the 24th. However, that didn't happen, as I stated in my blog post last week, due to several issues concerning my account with IngramSpark. 
Thankfully, all of those issues have been worked out!!

Yesterday I downloaded the final eproof. After one last inspection by me, I was able to approve the book and enable it for distribution!! My book is being published TODAY!! It took an extra week than I initially thought, but it's happening!! It's kind of fitting I suppose. I can't think of a better way to celebrate May Day. XD
I am really excited and nervous all at once though. This project has taken me years to complete, and it's finally about to be shared with EVERYONE.

I would like to point out, that it could take a few days or a few weeks for it to appear on Amazon. At that point, my book will be available for pre-orders. The sale date is May 29th. Hopefully next week, I'll have the link to share with you, my faithful readers. Keep a look out on social media too if you like, as I'll be posting on Twitter and Facebook when the book is available. XD

The next few things I'll be working on are putting my book on KDP as an ebook, and marketing.
I actually sort of started with the ebook. Let me say, I am NOT impressed with KDP or Kindle Create.
Kindle Create is, to my understanding, Amazon's / KDP's (Kindle Direct Publishing) platform for authors to format books published through them. It's extremely basic and really easy to use, but for me, that's a problem. It's almost too basic, no, it IS too basic. There are close to no options. Only four options for chapter headings, only three fonts to choose from...
I have watched several videos of people using Kindle Direct, and each person is doing the exact same thing, which makes me think, wow, the options really are limited. I'm really disappointed. It's possible I'm not using it right. It's possible there are more options, but if there are, they're hard to find.

I am going to continue with it and publish the e-version of my book through them. Maybe I'll learn a thing or two about using the platform and I won't be so disappointed.
As it stands though, if I was going to publish another book, I would just do the paperback and ebook through IngramSpark.

Anyhow, I'll stop complaining now. XD
I just wanted to give you all an update and to let you know that my book is almost available to you!!!!!!!!
Next week, I think I'll be posting about the cost of publishing with IngramSpark, so if that's something you're interested in, please make sure you read that. 
Thank you so much!!

Yours truly,
Me

More about my book:
The Story of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1)

Friday, April 24, 2020

A Delay In Publishing My Book...

To my dearest friends and followers,

Initially, I stated that my book The Story Of Hollyhocks (Tales from Beyond the Veil book 1) was going to be released on April 25th. That's tomorrow. 
This post is to tell you that, unfortunately, that will NOT be the case.

I was previously uninformed that the publication date and sale date were two different things. I'm completely new to publishing and so I have a lot to learn. XD
As I have stated in previous posts, I am publishing through IngramSpark. When I set up my book title, I decided that April 25th would be the day to publish my book. When I was asked what I wanted to set my sale date to, I selected April 25th, wondering why it was asking me the same question a different way.

Here's what I learned for any other writers out there trying to publish with IngramSpark for the first time: the publication date and sale date are NOT the same thing. The sale date should be set 30 days AFTER the publication date. The reason why is this: The publication date is when the book becomes available for distribution to retailers. It means that the book will take time to reach said retailers, and then it will take time for those retailers to put the book on their websites. Once that is complete, the book will then be available for pre-order until the sale date. On the sale date, the book will then be available for purchase.

Due to that information I learned, in addition to some technical issues that IngramSpark is working out for me, I had to set my publication date to May 1st. Sometime after that, my book will be available for pre-orders. I'll keep you posted about that on my blog, along with Facebook and Twitter.
The on sale date for my book is now May 29th, 2020.

I'm a little bit disappointed, and I apologize for the false advertisement I've been posting about my book. We learn as we go...

On the bright side, I'll have an extra week to go through my book and fix any errors I've missed.
Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

More about my book:
Book details and synopsis

Friday, April 10, 2020

Alice In April.

Down The Rabbit Hole
To my dearest friends and followers,

On Monday, the physical proof copy of my book arrived!! It looks so good and feels so good to have my actual book in my hands!! Any other creatives out there know that feeling of seeing a finished work and being like, "I made that." It's so satisfying. I'm about to send in another revised version. Once it's accepted, I'll probably order yet another physical proof copy just to make sure everything is to my satisfaction.

Approximately two weeks from now, I'll be a published author!! The release date is April 25th, so make sure you get a copy when the time comes!! XD


Many Locked Doors
On a different note, I began working on something else this week. One of my favorite artists, Jane Davenport, started Alice In April. It's a list of creative prompts for people who are in "self-isolation limbo" as she put it. She encourages people to make art everyday, using the list inspired by Alice's Adventure's In Wonderland, but she also encourages people to create whatever the prompt brings to mind - it doesn't necessarily have to be from the book.
Drink Me


I decided that I wanted to do my best to follow the prompts from Alice's Adventure's In Wonderland, so by the end of the month, I would basically have the entire story illustrated. 

I love the story of Alice, so this prompt list is really fun for me. I'm using watercolor and pens to create my art. I was supposed to start on April 1st, and do one each day, as there are 30 prompts to match the 30 days of the month. Instead, I started on the 5th, so I'm behind. I did, however, start with the first prompt and am going in order.


The Pool Of Tears
As you can see, I have completed the first five prompts. The first drawing, Down The Rabbit Hole, I was inspired by Jane's own interpretation of the prompt. The second drawing, Many Locked Doors, I created from memory, inspired by the room we see in Tim Burton's adaptation of the story. The third drawing, Drink Me, I created based off of a photo I took of one of my tiny fairy bottles. I honestly had a lot of difficulty interpreting the fourth prompt, The Pool Of Tears, but this is what I ended up with. I'm not super happy with how it turned out. Lastly, I created the Cheshire Cat, or The Cat Grinned, sort of meshing together the cat in Disney's animated version of the story and Tim Burton's adaptation. 
The Cat Grinned
I've been trying to make each painting look really wonky and brightly colored to match the sort of LSD look we see in both films. XD I'm still struggling with using my blog since my computer update, so if the images look blurry, just click them to enlarge them. They should be ok after that. My apologies!!


Today's prompt is We're All Mad Here, so we've yet to see how I will interpret that one, but I'm really enjoying these so far.
Thank you so much for reading!! Check out the hashtags #aliceinapril and #janedavenport to see other people creating from the prompt list!!
Also, here's a link to her blog so you can check it out for yourself:
Jane Davenport Alice In April

Yours truly,
Me

Friday, April 3, 2020

Indie April.

To my dearest friends and followers,

This week has been absolutely crazy for me!!
It all started last week when I finished the final edits and revisions of my book and I was ready to format it and then upload it to IngramSpark. Basically, what sort of happened was, my laptop kinda went kaput and I needed a new one.

I had a deadline of the 31st of March (because there was a promo going on that expired on said date). The laptop wasn't supposed to arrive until Sunday evening/night, which meant I had basically a day and a half to format my entire manuscript and cover. Thankfully, it arrived TWO days ahead of schedule which was completely unexpected!!
I was able to download and install Adobe InDesign and format my book with the help of this video (huge thank you to the man who uploaded it)!! 

Anyhow, I finished formatting the entire book and cover on Monday evening... 
I also uploaded it to IngramSpark and got the title approved!! They then sent me the eproof. Several live chats, emails, and a phone call later, I have the physical proof on its way to me. It should arrive later today or possibly tomorrow. XD
I'm so excited as I'm nearing the end of this long process!! Of course I still have a lot of marketing to figure out and do, but I'm so ready to have my book in print.

The release date for my upcoming novel is April 25th, 2020!!
I didn't really plan to have it released this month, but it sort of works out in time for #indieApril.
Here is the link to check out more about my book and take a look at the cover. I'm still trying to figure out my new laptop, so that's why I didn't attach a photo of the book cover here and why the photo in the link I attached might be a little bit blurry.

Thank you so much for reading!! I'm looking forward to updating you about my book these next three weeks as we get closer and closer!!
Stay safe, stay inside, and read more books!! Support local, support indie. #indieApril

Yours truly,
Me

Friday, March 27, 2020

Publishing With IngramSpark.

To my dearest friends and followers,

I hope this finds you well. I know the world is a little bit of a scary place right now, but we'll make it through. Thank you again for taking the time to come here and read what I have written. I suppose I just wanted to update you on my misadventures of the week.

What happened this week.
To start, my husband finished reading my book, I finished reading my book, and I finished going through all the edits and changed what needed fixing!!
All I have left to do is format my book and then upload it for publication (I even have my ISBN purchased).
So, a several months back, I was pretty set on thinking I would publish my book through Amazon. However, after spending a day with my husband and visiting a number of local bookstores, I decided against them. More recently I've been set on publishing with IngramSpark and uploading my book before the 31st of this month in order to use their promo code.
In order to use their services, I found out I should format my book using InDesign. I was hesitant because it is NOT free and I'm trying to keep the spending at a minimum. In the end, it kind of seemed like I needed to get it, so I did. 
The problem? Once I payed for it and downloaded it, I can't actually use it because my computer's operating system is so outdated. Basically, I need a new laptop. Long story short, all the stores nearby are sold out (I guess people decided to update all their electronics when they bought all the toilet paper), and if I order one, it won't arrive before my deadline of the 31st. I ended up ordering one anyway because my options were limited. I'm hoping for the best.

Why I chose IngramSpark.
After speaking with several small bookstores, my husband and I learned that if I want my book in stores, Amazon wouldn't be a good option for me because most of those stores will not order from them since they see them as competition. That made a lot of sense. Then we heard from one person in particular who told us about IS (IngramSpark). What she said seemed promising, so we looked in to it.
IS is a self-publishing platform and one of the largest book distributors. It is not free to publish through them, but the cost is pretty cheap in terms of self-publishing (only 49usd).
The thing that decided it for me though, is that they advertise "Global distribution to over 40,000 retailers and libraries, including availability to Amazon and Barnes & Noble." There is still a lot of marketing that needs to happen on my end, but the one thing I really want will be accomplished: being in bookstores. We do plan to go to independent bookstores and see if they will carry my book, maybe donate some to libraries, possibly do book signings at local stores, etc.

I just want to clarify something...I realize keep saying "we" a lot. My husband has been a huge help to me through this journey the last few months and will no doubt continue to do so. XD

Anyhow, that's what my experience has been so far. Amazon is still a great way to go, and it's a bit cheaper than using IS. If you want your book to be in stores though, there are a lot of other options out there.
I will do my best to keep you updated on my progress, but right now, I'm thinking my book will be available for purchase by the end of April.
Stay safe!!
Stay inside, read more books and support indie or local authors. XD

Yours truly,
Me

Here are a few suggested books:
(some of these books I personally recommend because I have read or want to read them. The others were provided by the authors after I opened the question on Twitter for anyone to share their books to my blog.)

The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz
The Changeling And The Cupboard (The complications of Being Lucy book 1) by Gus Kenney
Phantom (Dark Musicals book 1) by Laura DeLuca
Dylap by A.C. Salter
I: (Chronicles of Darkness book 1) by Charles Reed
Severus: The Black Caesar by Steve Exeter

Additional:
What is InDesign?
Why use IngramSpark?

Friday, March 20, 2020

What's in a name...



What's in a name?
That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
~ William Shakespeare

To my dearest friends and followers,

This last week has been absolutely insane. But it's been good too. My husband and I are getting to enjoy a lot of time with each other. We've spent more time working in the yard, more time watching movies and shows that we've wanted to see, we've been getting to enjoy meals together, and we've been making more art.

I've actually spent a lot of time working on a cover for my book!!
I wanted to show the evolution of book covers here, the first one being the most recent, the last one being the oldest. I decided not to show every single cover I've created, just a few of the better looking ones...
At first, I didn't really know what I wanted on the cover, I just created possible ideas. It wasn't until recently that I became interested in having someone else design my cover, particularly Toni Burt or Jane Davenport. When both of them declined, I decided to do a study of Jane Davenport's art so that I could design my own book cover in her style.
I really like the most recent cover and how much it's changed over time!!

I've also worked on a title change.
It was brought to my attention by one of my beta readers that the title of my book, Beyond the Veil, was actually the title of another book, several actually, which I was aware of. However, her suggestion of changing the title sort of stuck with me. I hadn't really considered it before. I just thought I would add yet one more book to the world with that title.
It was really hard to think of my book with a different name than the one I gave it five years ago. But I think I've gotten past that and still found a way to keep a piece of it. As shown in the picture, this is what I've come up with so far and I'm excited about it!! It's still the book I wrote, the title still reflects the story. I like the way it sounds. It's just different. But different doesn't have to be a bad thing. XD

With everything going on, I still hope to upload my book for publication by the 31st of this month, but I may push the actual publication date at least until some of this has cleared up and I can leave my house and market my book as desired.
Stay safe and thank you for reading.

Yours truly,
Me

Friday, March 13, 2020

Curious and Curiouser!

To my dearest friends and followers,

This week I began to paint on the large watercolor paper I have, measuring 9"x12", rather than the 9"x6" journal I've been using. The texture of the paper is quite different than what I got used to using. At first, I was pretty hesitant about the new paper. As I've used it twice now, I actually kind of like it.

Just yesterday, I made this painting of Alice which was inspired by Jane Davenport's own interpretation of Alice from Jane's Watercolor Wonderland workshop. This is a course (workshop) on Jane Davenport's website that I only recently found out about through her work on Pinterest, though it seems to me that the course initially came out in 2016. It costs 138.27usd. I'm thinking about purchasing it, but probably not until the end of the month. I love Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, but I'm not sure if the class is essential to me creating my book cover and therefore, I probably shouldn't spend my time on it just yet.
I did really enjoy creating this piece though. I like using the pen for the lines in the face, as opposed to the color pencils I've been using. I also really like the wispy nature of the hair. This was created by painting the background the color I wanted, then adding the pen lines on top, rather than painting the hair my desired color ON TOP of the background which was laid prior to doing the hair.

This coming week, I am setting my goal to actually make the cover for my book. I have made a lot of different paintings, created 13 beautiful faces, tried several different ideas, and now I need to actually make the cover. I'm excited and nervous all at once!! 

I have also finished going through my manuscript with my husband's edits. Tomorrow I plan to print the manuscript again and read through it myself for what I think will be the last time. If all goes according to plan, I have just over two weeks to finish everything before I'm ready to upload my book for publication. Wish me luck. XD
Thank you for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
Watercolor Wonderland workshop by Jane Davenport
Follow me on Pinterest 

Friday, March 6, 2020

Studying Jane Davenport.

PICTURE A.
To my dearest friends and followers,

This month is THE month!! It's the month I have set in my goals to begin publishing my book!! The exact goal is before March 31st, and I'm getting there!! As I shared last week, I have begun working on a character reference that will go in the front of my book. Also, my husband has finished reading my manuscript, so it is now my turn to go over it yet again. After that, I'll probably give the entire book another go-over just to polish it up. I am also thinking of a title change, and have been playing with a few different ideas. I'll share more on that another time...

I am still working towards designing my book cover, but I've been making progress. As most of you probably know, I have been doing a study of Jane Davenport's art style for a few weeks now with the intent of designing a "Jane-style" cover. I think her whimsical techniques would match the story exceptionally well.
PICTURE B.
A few weeks ago, I shared a few faces I had drawn in her style. I've been working through her book Beautiful Faces and think I've made immense progress since I started. Besides just trying to imitate her work exactly, I began making some notes on what she says about her work in addition to some things I've noticed. All my notes are as follows:

PICTURE A.
- Head/face starts as an oval. Shape of head added by color pencil and shading.
- Distance between the eyes is same as the length of the eyes.
- Eyes are positioned halfway between the head.
PICTURE C.
- Nose is positioned halfway between the eyes and chin.
- Mouth is positioned halfway between the nose and chin.
- Far edges of the mouth should exceed the "points" of the eyes only slightly, if at all.

PICTURE B.
- Smaller/rounder chin = a more childlike or whimsical face.

PICTURE C.
- Lips are rounded, rather than being pointed on top. Middle line has lots of shape too and is a similar shape to the top lip.
PICTURE D.


PICTURE D.
- Don't erase until paper is 100% dry...XD
- First time doing natural colored lips. Nice "innocent" effect.
- Made manga character Touka Kirishima (created by Sui Ishida) into a Jane-style drawing. Really pleased with how this turned out!!

**Something I've been really enjoying is combining different mediums like Jane does, such as watercolor, graphite sticks, color pencil, and pens (a uni-ball Signo 207 gel pen, and a Sharpie pen in fine). I recently got a few more supplies to try out, such as a spray bottle to wet my paper and art tape, an art sponge for moving and soaking up water, three Gelly Roll pens, and a Uni-ball Signo broad white pen. 
I've still been working in an art journal, but my husband recently pulled out an old board which will serve as a surface to tape my large watercolor sheets onto to work on. The board still needs to be cleaned, but I'm almost ready to begin working on larger surfaces to make the book cover on.
Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Additional:
Jane Davenport 

Related Posts:
Five Manuscripts
Painting With Watercolor 
Working On Beautiful Faces 

Friday, February 28, 2020

Character Reference.

To my dearest friends and followers,

This week I have been working on writing a quick reference of the fairy creatures from my book. 
The purpose is to have it in the front of the book to prevent confusion as each of the characters are introduced in the story. This idea was presented to me by one of my beta readers, so I considered it, and now I also believe it would be helpful, not to mention fun. Having the reference at the front of the book sort of reminds me of the rhymes at the beginning of the books from The Spiderwick Chronicles.

I put these in order as they appear in the story, with the main character, Hollyhocks, being a sprite.
I intend to edit it more, but this is the first rough draft:

Sprite:
These tiny human-like fairies have wings protruding from their backs. Sprites are kind-hearted beings who tend to avoid contact with humans. They are autumn fairies who change the leaves by painting grand fiery colors throughout nature. Sprites do not wear clothing.

Pixie:
These tiny human-like fairies do not have wings, but they can run extremely fast. They have unique features, such as pointed ears and large wide-set eyes. Pixies possess magic, yet they are mischievous beings who delight in causing turmoil amongst humans, such as taking things that don't belong to them or causing humans to forget where they are. Legend has it that pixies are not born of parents, but are created from the souls of humans who died as children. Pixies are commonly seen using strands of grass for clothing.

Pillywiggin:
These tiny insect-like fairies are flower fairies. They like to live in fields of wildflowers or in people's gardens. They tend to the flowers and care for them. They also wear flower petals for clothing. Pillywiggins are spring fairies and hibernate during the winter. Since they do not have wings of their own, they like to have mounts, such as bumble bees, butterflies, or dragonflies. Something unique about these fairies is they have the ability to hear humans call them from far away. They also have the ability to "shift", meaning they can allow themselves to be seen or to not be seen by human eyes.

Hobgoblin:
Small dwarf-like creatures who are typically in a bad mood. Though they are not fond of humans, they enjoy visiting people's home during the night. They delight in doing household chores, from dusting and sweeping, to darning socks. The only thing they take in return for payment is food.

Dryad:
Daughters of the Earth (Mother Nature). They are tree spirits. They are mostly peaceful creatures, with a beautiful language long since forgotten by man. Dryad's can leave their tree, but only for a short time before the dryad and tree would die. Dryad's are hard to see, but they can sometimes be heard in the wind to those who are listening.

Fairy Ring:
A ring of mushrooms that grows in a circle is known as a fairy ring. It is believed to be pixie magic. Every year, on the first full moon after the vernal equinox, the pixies have a grand dance to celebrate the new season. Their tiny footsteps combined with their magic creates the fairy ring - a portal to another world. If a human were to step inside a fairy ring, they would cease to exist in the world they know, but would be transported deep into the fairy realm forever.

Banshee:
The spirit of a woman who was a professional mourner. Because of her life of lies, in the afterlife she is condemned to mourn for royal family members whose lives have been lost. It is said that the spirit will sometimes accompany the souls of the deceased to the other side.

**Please keep in mind, these are not descriptions that match what folklore says about these creatures, but are the descriptions that match what the world I created says about them.

Thank you so much for reading!! I would love to hear from you and what your thoughts are about the descriptions. I have noticed that the comment section hasn't been functioning properly, so I'll leave a link for the Contact Me tab if you'd like to reach out that way.

Thank you again,

Yours truly,
Me

Friday, February 21, 2020

Working on Beautiful Faces.

To my dearest friends and followers,

I hope this day finds you well. It's been a roller coaster of a week for me, however I don't intent to post about it. Thoughts and prayers are appreciated though. <3

Despite everything going on, I have spent several hours playing with watercolor and trying my hand at different things. Last week I shared that I was just playing with the color and making backgrounds with the intent of creating a cover for my upcoming novel.

This week, my husband and I also made a trip to the art store and picked up several supplies. I'm excited to try them all out!! As shown in the picture, we got watercolor paper, paper tape, an empty pallet that I have added some colors to, a portable cup for water, a water brush pen, a tube to hold paint brushes, and some paint brushes. I wanted to be able to use my watercolor on the go. I'm so used to color pencils and how easy they are to use at home or otherwise, but the watercolor was a bit tricky. That's the main reason for most of the items we got. The Arches watercolor paper is for when I actually create the book cover. For now, I'm still working in a watercolor journal.

I have also started going through the book "Beautiful Faces" by Jane Davenport. I started by practicing a face from her book in one of my journals. I have since drawn two faces with graphite sticks and color pencil on top of watercolor. They're definitely more "finished" than the practice drawing I did first. I think they're turning out pretty well. They're not what I want, but they're getting there.


In the end, I want my own work to be heavily influenced/inspired by Jane Davenport and Toni Burt, yet I still want it to reflect my own style. The drawings I did this week were poor attempts to make exact copies of Jane's style though.

I'm really enjoying this study of her work. I'm loving the watercolor and the faces are coming along. It's a very different style from what I typically do, but it also holds something whimsical about it, which is very much in my realm. The wide set eyes and small, but long noses really stand out to me in her work. They're not natural at all, but they're so eye-catching for all the right reasons.

I'll keep you posted with what I'm learning and what I'll be working on next. Thank you so much for reading!!

Yours truly,
Me

Friday, February 14, 2020

Painting With Watercolor.


A page from the book Beautiful Faces
I'm working on designing my book cover!!
My Messy Creative Space
My Jane Davenport Art Supplies

To my dearest friends and followers,

I finished going through the manuscripts from my beta readers last Sunday!! I finished several days ahead of schedule, which I was pretty excited about. Next, I'm having another set of eyes (my husband) read through the new revised version. Still a long way to go, but I feel like I can see that light at the end of the tunnel.

Once I've worked on a few other projects related to finished my book for publication, I'll be reading through the manuscript again to really polish it up.
However, this week has been all about watercolor.
It's a medium that I am not super familiar with. I use mostly pencils, color pencils, pens, and on occasion, charcoal. Watercolor is something I used to see my sister use a lot, but I wasn't really one to take part in it. Early last year, I was gifted a watercolor set that I used maybe twice or three times. It was a set that I picked out, though I didn't really take the time to play around with it and learn how to use it.

That has changed though! I have been wanting to try my hand at it due to being inspired by artists Toni Burt and Jane Davenport and being encouraged by my husband.
I have painted several different pieces, mostly playing with colored backgrounds and just getting used to the feel of the brush in my hand and how the paint reacts with itself. I have been looking through the book Beautiful Faces for color pallet inspirations. I've actually been working in a Jane Davenport watercolor journal I bought.

I've been really enjoying painting. I find it so relaxing. It's also very inviting (at least to me). When I use color pencils, I'm like, leave me alone, I'm drawing. But when I use watercolor, I'm like, come paint with me! 
I eventually want to buy large sheets of watercolor paper to try painting on a larger surface. I've also been getting a feel for the types of brushes I like and don't like and thinking about some that I'd like to get, since I've just been using a cheap "starter set" of brushes I got at an art store.
Next week I want to focus on drawing faces.

It is my intention to design my book cover with a watercolor background with the face of my protagonist, Hollyhocks, on top of that. We'll see how it goes...

Yours truly,
Me