Eating an Elephant

Nostalgia hit me. It gave no warning and only let go when I became aware of what was happening. The sneaky little…

Anyway, I was sitting at my desk staring at the master plan…err calendar for blog posts. Today’s date said Thank You’s. My past
self didn’t give my present self any more guidance than that. Perhaps I gave myself too much credit and figured I’d be able to write a sufficient post for Thank You’s. Now I know better.

Thank you

There is no way to say Thank You enough to those who have helped me make my dream come true. And in trying to figure out a way, nostalgia slipped in and I began reminiscing over this last year.

I started working on The Adventure as a book back in January. It’s a good thing that I didn’t sit down in January and try to figure out everything that would go into making The Adventure actually happen. If I had, it would have grown, and grown, and grown into a monster that terrified me, roaring in my face with such indomitable strength that I probably would have backed down, afraid of defeat before I even started.

It would have become the proverbial Elephant that I couldn’t figure out how to eat.

But as the proverb says, I looked instead at a small part. The editing, then the illustrations, then the…

One step at a time in the process and one step only.

This sounds kind of counter intuitive. Wouldn’t you want an overall plan? Wouldn’t you want to be prepared for things down the line. Of course, but only in a flexible way. Down the line is constantly changing and whatever’s written on the Master plan (even a Thank You post) must be able to change in accordance with what actually happens.

For the here and now, for the part that’s immediately in front of me, or you, all we need to know is the next step. That’s it. And that’s amazingly refreshing in a world of overwhelming information and planning.

This post is as much for me as it is for you. It’s a reminder to only focus on the next step.

I encourage you, if you’re attempting a dream, or wanting to learn something new, or whatever it is, you can do it. Just focus on whatever comes next.

For me, that’s getting the finishing touches done on The Adventure, getting rewards out to the amazing Kickstarter backers, and launching the book Nov. 30th. Oops, that’s shoving too much into the next step. Let’s haul back on the Elephant’s reins. Next step for today, finishing this post.

What’s your next step?

Blessings,

Jennifer

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Updates Pending…

I have this master plan… really it’s just a schedule for upcoming posts. For today, it said Book Production Update.

Sounds official at least, right? but when I sat down to write, I realized anything I could post about would be horribly boring. I’ve already written about anything interesting and really, I’m now in a holding pattern, waiting for Kickstarter surveys to come back with names for the book acknowledgements and for the latest proof to show up to continue Book Production.

So there it is, Book Production Updates. Further Updates are still pending. I’ll post them as soon as I know them =)

Until then, here’s the Writing Sidekick wishing everyone a wonderful weekend. He advises everyone to get outside and enjoy the crisp fall weather.

Writing Sidekick

Blessings,

Jennifer

Blessed by Kickstarter Success!

The Adventure Kickstarter came to a close yesterday, 109% funded. The generosity and support people gave this last month warms my heart. I really didn’t know what to expect when I launched the project and the response I got seriously brings tears to my eyes, like a giant hug from everyone I’ve met and even people I haven’t met over the years. As an author, it’s all about relationship, about caring about the audience you hope to engage.

When I set up The Adventure Kickstarter, I thought 30 days would move too quickly and, in a way, it did. However, on the other hand, 30 days was plenty for a Crowdfunding campaign. Kickstarter advises 30-60 days. I honestly can’t imagine how exhausting 60 days would be.

There’s a momentum, an enthusiasm, to it that needs to be maintained. Some days that’s easy, other days, when the Kickstarter is quiet, this requires a lot of self motivation and discipline because it feels like throwing yourself into a void.

But overall, there was a resounding response from the void. For that, I thank everyone. By now you know writing has been a dream of mine for years. Now that dream is coming true in large part because of all of you.

So, November 30th, The Adventure will be available on Amazon. I can’t say how amazing that is to me. I’ll keep you updated as things progress.

Until then, Blessings,

Jennifer

P.S. Hope you have a wonderful Halloween! Be safe out there.

HA! KDP Figured

Formatting, formatting, formatting… This post deals with the difference between formatting for a physical book in CreateSpace and formatting for the digital copy in KDP. There may be a bit of ranting. You have been warned.

You design a book for CreateSpace, picturing the physical copy in your hand. There’s a helpful, little option in CS that offers The Adventure Proofto publish the book to Kindle for you using the design from CS. Simple, awesome, great!

Word of advice if anyone is considering self-pubishing with Amazon CS: DO NOT USE THIS OPTION!

Originally, I figured this would be a simple, straightforward way of getting a digital version of The Adventure setup, but then I dug into some of the forums for more details. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, on the forum said not to use it. They advised going directly to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) instead of using CS for the formatting.

Am I ever glad I caught this before publishing the Kindle Version. Here’s why:

  1. Even Kindle does not recommend using PDF for their publishing. (PDF is CS’s recommendation for the hard copy). When I tried this to see what would happen, it shoved the title page, the table of contents, and the copyright page onto the same screen. Eeek. Not pretty.
  2. Kindle does not use page numbers. Think about that for a second. There are no pages in a Kindle book. You can change the size of the font for easier reading, thus pages change depending on who is reading and what device you’re using. Imagine my panic when I realized this. For a regular book, this isn’t such a big deal as long as you use page breaks between your chapters. For an Adventure book, where I need to direct readers where to go depending on their choices, this is disastrous. Thank heavens for hyperlinks. I added hyperlinks instead of using page numbers. Now it looks all pretty like and might be even easier to navigate than a physical book. (Kindle readers, let me know what you think after reading the book. I’d love your feedback!)
  3. Images…um yeah, images within the text shove the text to the next line. This creates a giant space where the text should be. This is again because you can change the size of the font in a reader and the image may or may not line up with the text you originally aligned it with. As far as I’m aware, there isn’t an easy fix for this. So instead, I put all in-text images directly in the middle of the text like I planned it that way. (Cause I did, right?!) In the preview option, this actually turned out looking pretty sharp. Again, feedback from readers is always appreciated. =)

Anyway, thanks for listening to my quasi rant about formatting. Although I rant and rave about such things, figuring all this out is a love/hate relationship for me. Seeing the finished product is totally worth it, loved all the more for the challenge it is to figure out.

Blessings,

Jennifer

P.S. The Kindle version is one of the backing rewards for the Kickstarter. Check it out here!

Why It’s Good Writing is Detail Oriented

(Update: The Adventure Kickstarter hit 100% funding this last weekend! It’s still open until October 30th if you wanted to support the project. Anything above and beyond the original goal will go to book donations to school libraries after the Rewards costs.)

A well crafted story carries the reader through, connecting dots in the story, without the reader even seeing the small sign posts that guide them along.

The effort to make such reading so smooth requires an attention to detail that has to be learned. Sure, you can start out with an aptitude for this, but if you’re writing a story of any length, ultimately you have to learn tricks that help you keep track of all your sign posts/details.

Now, I have to tip my hat to people who design books for a living. I thought writing stories was detail oriented…um, designing books is even more so.

Perhaps my view is skewed because I’ve dealt with everything from making sure there are no plot holes, which is technically a part of editing (trust me, when I found a disappearing torch in one of The Adventure stories, my brain about exploded), to margins of the book, cover format, line spacing, text size, page breaks, image formatting…This list is endless.

Here’s one example.

Both The Adventure proof and the journal proof showed up and had blurry covers. Yuck. It about breaks my heart to see such aSpine of the Adventurer's Journal cover.  You can see the issue best on the Journal’s spine here.

Turns out, this issue was because the images weren’t saved at 300 ppi (pixels per inch). Now, I’m no designer. My understanding of Photoshop consists of one high school class (and we won’t even think about how long ago that was) and my digging into it in the last several months to figure out The Adventure. I understand ppi now…I didn’t when I started.

Just goes to show, there’s a reason people go to school for such things…and there’s a reason it takes time, lots of time, to produce your own book.

The Adventure and the Adventurer’s Journal are now updated and the new proofs on the way. I’m fairly confident the blurry issue has been fixed. (The disappearing torch has been rectified as well, don’t worry.)

Needless to say, my attention to detail training in writing has definitely paid off as I dig into producing The Adventure. Thank heavens!

Blessings,

Jennifer

Check out The Adventure Kickstarter!

Learning Curve

It’s exhausting, exhilarating and expiring…in 11 days.

We’re just over three weeks into The Adventure Kickstarter. It’s a 33 day campaign that ends on Oct. 30th and by now, I’ve definitely learned a thing or two about crowdfunding a creative project.

Here’s my top three:

  1. People are insanely generous and supportive.

    • I’m an introvert. I’m one of those people who might check Facebook daily but rarely posts to it. Obviously with crowdfunding, you have to be a lot more active than one or two posts a month. My introverted self cringes at this. I really don’t want to be annoying to everyone who has been awesome enough to follow my social media pages. However, I’m learning the more you share your experience, the joys, the worries, the ups and downs, the more people want to support you. The more they care, and share, your moments. It’s crazy and awesome.
  2. Crowdfunding is an exhausting and exhilarating emotional roller coaster.

    • This might be one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever done. There’s a level of exposure to crowdfunding that goes against my paranoid tendencies. But, with the energy and love I’ve put into writing The Adventure, I also really want people to respond to it. So I watch the Kickstarter page like a hawk. And on the days of low or no activity, my brain immediately dives into the worry cycle of “I’ve lost momentum! What am I going to do?” A whole 24 hours passes and my worry is chocking…then someone backs the project and my elation soars and tears threaten my eyes. (Yes, I can be a basket case sometimes. My poor husband). Obviously this is a twisty, turny, uppity, downity roller coaster that in the end will totally be worth it.
  3. There isn’t enough preparation in the world!

    • Adventurer's JournalI prepared for the kickstarter in every way I knew how. Now that I’ve gotten into it, I realize that there were more things I could have done. There’s obviously a balance here. You can hit a point where the preparation is really just stalling, but if I run a kickstarter in the future, I’ll definitely be looking at more ways to spread the word. They say it takes at least three times for people to see something before they’ll act on it. Except for friends, it’s kind of difficult to get that high level of exposure for such a home grown project. This is where I need to be bolder. I need to be willing to approach more media, more people in general, who can help get the word out.

There’s my top three. Honestly, I could write whole essays on each one of these and barely scratch the surface but such long monologues would be self indulgent and probably boring to anyone unless they’re running a kickstarter too.

Thanks for listening to my shortish monologues and for sharing in my experience so far!

Blessings,

Jennifer

(We’re 82% funded so far! Thank you to everyone who has shared, supported and encouraged The Adventure process. 18% to go and the project will be 100%! I’m doing a happy dance.)

A Peek Inside The Tournament

Figure Under Porch Sketch from The Adventure BookRain drips from the porch above, and the siding of the building weeps with moisture. For the moment, though, you’re dry. Your small, sheltered spot is just a protected piece of cobblestone. It’s a two-foot by two-foot section where the rain isn’t drenching the ground. There’s not even enough space to lie down, but the spot’s yours, and as long as you don’t move from it, no one will challenge you.

You’re not homeless. You just can’t find an inn that’s not already full because of the tournament being held at the coliseum. Considering the situation, you may as well be homeless, but at least you’re a well-armed homeless.

Thus why no one will challenge you for your shelter.

A sword peeks over your right shoulder from its scabbard on your back. From your belt hangs a woodsman’s knife the length of your forearm, and in your right hand you hold an unstrung bow. Over your left shoulder, the fletching of your arrows plays peek-a-boo around the hood of your dark cloak.

All of the weaponry right now is just extra weight. Your cloak is the prize possession with the rain. Its wool weight settles around you with delicious warmth as its outer layer beads the bit of rain that reaches you under the porch.

You sigh, reminding yourself that you’re putting up with this for a reason. The tournament boasts a number of challenges including fencing, archery, jousting, and hand-to-hand combat. They all pay well for each winner.

You’re not here for the pay, though. You’re here for a person. You’ve heard nothing from your family since you chose to be a woods ranger instead of a baker like the rest of them.

But a few days ago a messenger found you where you were hunting in the forests to the north. He settled on the ground opposite your campfire and warmed his chilled fingers as he passed along the message your family sent with him.

“King’s men took your Uncle Ruben,” he said, “because your family can’t pay the rent on the bakery. He’s been sentenced to working the quarry until he pays off the amount due.”

“What do they want from me?” you asked, perplexed. You passed across the fire a mug of warm tea to help the messenger fight off the night’s chill.

You’ve got no influence in the King’s justice system, despite being one of his rangers. Working the quarry is hard, dangerous work, you know, but the bakery’s debt can’t be that high. Ruben shouldn’t be there that long.

The messenger sipped several times before continuing his message. You wondered how long he’d been searching for you.

“The family hasn’t paid in well over a year,” the messenger finally explained, giving you a sheepish look. It’s probably the same look your family gave while telling him, a complete stranger, their issue. “Ruben’s assigned the quarry for the next five years to pay everything off.”

Dread settled a heavy stone into your stomach. No one survived the quarry that long.

“All right,” you conceded, “what does the family want?”

“In the King’s tournament, you can ask for the release of a worker if you win one of the challenges.” As he said this, the man eyed your bow where it sat against a nearby tree and the sword laying on the ground beside your knee.

You had an “ah-ha” moment. No one in the family could win such a challenge—except you. You considered refusing. The family hasn’t spoken to you in years, much less lent a hand whenever you needed something, but this was about a man’s life, family or not.

“When does the tournament start?” you asked.

“Beginning of the week.” Again, that sheepish look came over his face.

And now you’re hunkered under a porch instead of sleeping in an inn because, by the time the messenger found you, you only had two days to get to the capital.

An inn wouldn’t have helped much anyway, you tell yourself. There’s only an hour or two before sunrise, at which time you have to be at the coliseum to check in as a contestant.

As you wait for the warmth to arrive from the rising sun, you debate whether to try archery or fencing. You’ve never attempted jousting and don’t want to start now. As a last resort you can try hand-to-hand combat, but that’s not your forte, and you’d prefer to start with your stronger skills.

Do you pick Archery or Fencing?

***

This story was so fun to write. Research can be overwhelming or really interesting. This story, researching long bows and such, proved to be really cool.

For more, check out The Adventure on Kickstarter

or

The Adventure will be available on Amazon at the end of November.

Blessings,

Jennifer