Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Holiday gift solutions that boost YOUR economy

By Christy K Robinson

You’ve certainly heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Buy! Buy! Buy!
Buy big, expensive electronics
(and figure out how you’ll pay for it later)!
Save hundreds of dollars 
(by spending thousands of dollars)!

Some companies, in their ever-expanding greed, have decided to open their stores on major holidays like American Thanksgiving or Christmas, forcing their employees to give up family time or much-needed rest.

But maybe you’ve heard of Small Business Saturday. Instead of enriching the “one percent” or a foreign nation this gift-giving season, I urge you to do the patriotic thing and buy local or at least national, from a small business or artisan, and keep that money in your own circle of friends, self-employed entrepreneurs, and small-business people. Do something nice for the hard-working people around you, and stimulate the economy for the creative community. Don’t restrict yourself to Saturdays. Do it any day of the gift-giving season.

Here are a few suggestions from among my entrepreneurial friends. I hope you’ll share the link to this article in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media. Even better, copy and add your own friends, and post it in your blog! Make the idea go viral.

Although you can buy these products on the internet from anywhere in the world, if you’d like to keep your money local, I’ve listed United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia as suggestions.

Here are some pages with book lists from some really fantastic authors, including me (haha!):

Christy K Robinson (five-star historical fiction, historical nonfiction, devotional/inspiration)

Jo Ann Butler (historical fiction, colonial America)

Susan Higginbotham (historical fiction, late-medieval England)

Christy English (medieval historical fiction, Regency romance)

Patty Froese or Patricia John (inspirational/sweet romance, and biblical fiction)

Trudy J. Morgan-Cole (nonfiction, inspiration, historical fiction, biblical fiction)

Alison Stuart (historical fiction, time travel)

KL Clark (historical fiction, fantasy)

Deborah Swift (historical fiction)

Nature photography

Dick Duerksen, world-famous nature photographer recently featured by National Geographic, offers a 2014 CALENDAR featuring 12 large photos along with a few smaller ones each month. He has included some of the most "liked" nature photos from his Facebook pages, along with a few brand-new photos he’s taken on recent travels. The calendar is 12” x 12” and is $25 delivered. To order, please contact him at this link.  (California, United States)


Paula Isenbarg and Dust Devil Ranch, a nonprofit horse rescue and sanctuary, sell horsehair bracelets that will help provide veterinary care, training, and rehabilitation of starved, abandoned, or neglected horses. These gifts are very lovely, handmade, and each bears the 'legend' of the rescue horse the hair came from. You are doing more than buying a gift, you are saving a life. (Nevada, United States)

Artisan Crafts

The Chandler's Chest
Julie Warrington and
associates create
hand-cast, hand-dipped,
perfumed candles.
(United Kingdom,
can ship internationally)
Martin Williamson, landscape artist. (United Kingdom, can ship internationally)

Laura West Kong, artist. 2 Cute Quilts has patterns and guides for lap quilts. (California, United States)  http://www.2cutequilts.com/shop/

Christine Crocker, Hand-made dolls, 18th-19th century reproductions. (Oregon, United States)

Doreen Piechota, Ye Country Mercantile, antiques, primitives, reproductions (Massachusetts, United States)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Publishing choices: traditional or self-pub?

My friend, author Trudy J. Morgan-Cole (historical fiction and inspiration), keeps Hypergraffiti, a vlog (video blog) about writing and literature, and mentioned my recent novel release and my decision to self-publish instead of going the traditional route of writing, editing, submitting my manuscript package to an agent, and finding a publisher with their team to finish the process, print the book, and distribute it.

Here's what Trudy said on the video regarding my book: "Great self-published novel... meticulous research... really interesting story... written a wonderful novel... heavy on primary sources research... delved deeply into that time period... I wish it were traditionally published... it would get into more readers' hands... I know that she had her reasons for choosing that path... Two reasons to like this video: a plug for Christy K Robinson's book and a ringing endorsement of the concept of hiring an editor! [Christy's] was an example of a GOOD self-published book. 50 Shades of Grey was an example of ... the other kind."

Trudy's vlog in favor of traditional publishing follows here:
This is what I wrote to Trudy after viewing the vlog. 
I did quite a bit of research on self/indie and traditional. I learned that traditional publishers are doing 90% less work on your manuscript and finished product than they did 10 years ago. Most of the marketing is up to the author now, and agents expect MSS to be edited before they accept them and shop them to publishers. Publishers are not risking much money, and they're maximizing their profits. Editors have been laid off (fired), and marketing/design departments are hanging in the wind. There's not much of a team left to shepherd your MSS to a profitable book. You're also correct about the time frame. Most authors I know have full-time jobs and benefits, and can afford to wait for a year or more, to have their book released three weeks *after* the Christmas buying season because publishers have bigger fish to fry than you. Oy. Amazon/CreateSpace offer design, editing, and marketing services in part or whole, or the author can put their amateur attempts out there on their own.

Another factor in my decision was that my subject matter is complicated: I'm not doing a religious or evangelical book, but there would be no story if I couldn't explain the conflicting culture, religions, politics, and personal faith of my 17th-century subjects--which traditional publishers don't like or allow in this generic, politically-correct time. What they want is the intrigue and sexcapades of medieval royalty, Tudors, and Regency England. Headless women in jeweled ball gowns for the cover. Traditional publishers jam books into a popular genre or niche and make a quick splash, then return the remainders and own your copyright.

I was also pretty sure that the larger religious publishers (who are merging or going bankrupt) wouldn't want the MSS without significant changes to the real people and real events. All my characters were nonconformists, which is probably what made them heroic figures--and I'm not about to make them conform, 400 years later!

In my case, with tens of thousands of Dyer, Hutchinson, and Winthrop descendants who enjoy genealogy as a hobby, I'll have a steady base market for years. And that's just the descendants. I hope this two-book series will be picked up for reading groups and high school or college reading lists in women's, historical, biographical, colonial, and religious categories. Amazon/CreateSpace offer an expanded distribution program that will allow my books to be sold from many more online and brick-and-mortar stores than Amazon's.

Lastly, I'm a professional editor with years of experience in editing all sorts of publications, including books and magazines, and from my years in public relations, I also know something about marketing. I've worked with great teams of writers and designers, and I've had to work solo and do it all. The decision to self-publish was carefully considered after reading many magazine and newspaper articles and blogs on the subject, and talking with other authors about their experience. 
Trudy wrote in response:  "I sure hope [Mary Dyer Illuminated] does well -- the work you've put into it is amazing and I found the book very engaging! And it's interesting to see your reasons for self-publishing -- you're clearly a writer who has put a lot of thought into the decision. I am still going to post a review on my book blog too -- my reviewing has not yet caught up with my reading for this month!" 

Whichever route you choose for your project, you must have a skilled editor. Your hard work will be shunned by reviewers and first readers if you neglect that important step.  

Why you need an editor, even if you're in a hurry or broke: http://editornado.blogspot.com/2013/08/why-you-need-editor-even-if-youre-in.html

Self Publishing by the NumbersInfographic by: Web Site Creation.com 

This article, shortened URL. http://bit.ly/1e4ZAig

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Quoth the Raven, "Waka-waka-waka!"

Being a sucker for humorous animal videos and good literature, I thought this You Tube offering was an excellent reminder to look up the poem by Edgar Allen Poe, and review the verses I hadn't read in decades. I'm glad to see that I was correct in remembering that there is no "Waka-waka-waka" in Poe's handiwork.


The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;
This it is and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"—here I opened wide the door—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!"—
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping something louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
'Tis the wind and nothing more.

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he,
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then the ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marveled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

The Raven, by Manet

But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if its soul in that one word he did outpour
Nothing farther then he uttered; not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered: "Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never—nevermore.'"

But the Raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! —prophet still, if bird or devil! —
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate, yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting—
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul has spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadows on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My dog says it wrong. You should not.

© 2013 Christy K Robinson 

An automated spell-checker won't catch your correctly-spelled but badly worded phrases. A professional editor will. You may think this is a mute moot point, but it's not. Incorrectly phrasing a statement, whether in written or verbal communications, can reveal your grammar weaknesses to business competitors and clients, pupils, and others who you would prefer to respect your intelligence and talent.

The only foe paw faux pas I'll admit to is #18, "sorta," and that's intentionally, when I'm being casual in Facebook.

However, my Border collie, a sheep dog
with no sheep, is prone to #1, "nipping it in the butt."
Sorry I had to out my elderly, faithful dog that way.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

If this were Facebook, I'd tag myself in this photo

I judge people in this way. So do many others. It's human nature. (And it's my job.)

 Are you willing to let your typos and grammar errors be the standard by which you, as a human being or as a business owner, author, or educator, are judged? Are you a great storyteller of history, romance, spirituality, or intrigue, but are not as skilled in proper language conventions?

You've sweated the hard work over weeks and months (maybe years) of writing a book, website copy, or classroom syllabus. Don't release or publish your work until a skilled, experienced editor has reviewed it and you've revised it based on professional recommendations. I'm a professional editor, and a darned good one if you believe my clients' recommendations, but I have always relied on that last set of eagle-eyes to alert me to what I missed when caught up in my own creative process.

There's far more to "editing" than proofreading. More on that in another post, another day.