Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Book - Hike with Me Number 5!

A bit later than I wanted to get it published, but I finally worked out my issues with the cover formatting and knuckled down and got the ebook versions prepped for both kindle and smashwords. So now I've published 5 volumes of Hike with Me.

Four solo trips, two segments of the Idaho Centennial Trail and one non-Idaho hike along the Washington Pacific Coast.

Hundreds of color pictures. Thousands and thousands of words.

A large print, full color paperback edition for each one, along with ebook versions available across a variety of online retailers.

I don't think I really believed when I started writing these that I would be able to keep going for five years. It was an intention born during that first solo trip, when I thought about how I might share how my journey felt with a very specific audience - my mom. Most people in my life, I could, theoretically, take on the trail. Even though my dad has a bad back, I could take him on a short trek, keeping his pack light. My brother, sure. But my mom has multiple sclerosis. She doesn't travel well even by car. She would never be able to come out and experience the trail.

So, with the intention to share the experience with her, I've shared it with even more people. Not to mention, I've got a reliable Christmas gift to give each year that's unique and personal.

So. Check it out. Hike with Me: Idaho Centennial Trail Owyhee. Pictures of the paperback to come when they arrive.

FREE through January 14, 2018 with code CS55F  on Smashwords
On Amazon kindle 
On Amazon in Large Print full color paperback
On Barnes and Noble Nook

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


I was sick last weekend. As in, spent most of Saturday in bed and most of Sunday bundled up on the couch, tight-chested, sniffly, fuzzy-brained sick. I made zero progress in preparing the ebook version of my latest hiking book. And, in part, I believe, because of the illness, I had the worst possible time getting my cover in shape for the print version.

See, there is no way to preview what your printed cover will look like other than submitting your files for review. And that process takes 24 (or more) hours. I've submitted that damn file 7 times in the last week. The first few times were rejected, and I own that that was my own fault. I didn't calculate the spine width correctly, so they couldn't use the cover I submitted. Okay. Fine.

But once I got the spine right, they kept giving me covers with random lines. I know from experience that what you see on the digital proof is what you get. I learned the hard way not to order thinking that it would fix itself in printing. No, it has to be perfect before I approve it for sale and buy my author copies. And nothing I was doing was providing the perfection I sought.

I even got to the point where I couldn't make the pdf come out right on my own end. But I think I've got it now. I just had to create an entirely new image file in GIMP, copy the visible layers and paste so that there's no room for any sliding or extra lines. If it doesn't come out right this time, then I'm going to scream.

Next, I've got to finish reformatting the word file for Kindle and Smashwords formats. Smashwords is more difficult because they have a fairly low bar on file size. Although I should be alright this year, because this book is much shorter than last year's. Less pictures, a bit less text. It's tight. This should be the easy part, but when you're sick, sitting in front of a computer reformatting isn't an easy task.

Okay, when I'm sick. The last thing I want to do is sit at a desk and try to think. Hard enough to push through the sick-fuzz at work. Which I did - I didn't take any sick days, I just lost a whole weekend. Grrrr.

So the ebook should be out this weekend, with any luck the print book will be available before that. If I can just get them to make the cover look like it should. Might be time to try bribes. . .

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Almost a Book!

The book is finished. Well, just about. It needs to get approved and then it will appear as available on retailers. My part is pretty much done. It's just about the shortest one of my Hike with Me books, and I think that's alright. Shorter books are less expensive to print and therefore I can price them lower.

I am still considering making versions of the books that have normal sized print instead of large print so that I can see about selling them at even lower prices, but that's a large investment in time, getting the font sized correctly and then re-arranging the images so that they are still near the text relevant to them. It will mean more pages of just pictures, which isn't a bad thing, per se. But it is difficult to get the formatting done, because I can't just place two pictures on the same page in the Word template - I need to create a new whole page image with the two images. Otherwise, a single line of text ends up accompanying the two pictures, and that looks silly.

But that can't be my next project anyway, because I've got some guidebooks to work next. I think I can reasonably get both of those done before the end of the year, especially with the week my workplace is closed between Christmas and New Year's. I just need to make it a priority to get them written and pictured.

If I save enough money, I want to do another online writing class, but I don't know when that's going to happen. Also, I need to start planning next year's solo trip so I can close the gap on the ICT and have the bottom quarter done. There's a lot to do, and that doesn't even include getting in some fiction writing, which I haven't been doing AT ALL.

I have found writing a bit difficult to get into in the past few months, and I do partly blame the political climate. My focus gets torn in all sorts of different directions and I just don't make the energy to put into writing. Plus there were factors at work that have made my days a lot more full and occupied my brain even when I'm not actively at work.

I think getting the guidebooks out will help me get back into writing, because they will be projects that I can complete and get a sense of accomplishment from. I feel more confident about my non-fiction than I do about my fiction. Even though I've actually made more money from fiction so far than non-fiction (and the amounts are tiny, either way), I don't have the same kinds of doubts about the non-fiction. I create them, they are finished, and I put them out into the world. They'll find their audience, or not. I'll move on to the next one.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Chicago Visit

I got to see a Blackhawks game! Thanks, Dad!

There are no Dunkin' Donuts in Idaho. I missed them. 

A whole store of Nutella... there was a line coming out the door.

I got excited by weird things in the grocery store - like this barrel of pickles. 

And also how the candy shelves at the checkout have their own lights.

It was very rainy.

I got my kolacky fix. I swear, if someone would just start making these in Idaho, they'd catch on. 

We got to see the Daily Show Undesked! Again, thanks Dad and also thank you to John Schmitz.

I did not take great pictures of the experience.
I blame my camera phone.
I circled us in the audience. Ambrose's hair definitely sticks out in the crowd. 
There's that hair again - my kind of blends into the darkness. 
That one's a bit clearer :) What an incredible experience!

My dad told my husband that his cat wouldn't drink water out of her bowl. Proof! Coco can and does drink water out of her bowl. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Been Traveling

Well, I've spent the last week in Chicago and the suburbs thereof. It was good to visit family and have them meet my husband at last. More later.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Liquid Reset

For no better reason than the box of meal replacement shakes we bought came with enough for 16 breakfasts, I stopped my liquid breakfast experiment at 16 days.

Overall, I would rate the experiment a success. Although I still felt sick during the first week, the IBS symptoms did start fading in the second week Almost without my noticing, I was sleeping better and having regular movement in my bowels. There was still gas happening, but it wasn't as painful. And, right about now, I'm happy to settle for not as painful.

I'm going to keep aiming to drink about a gallon of water per day, because that seems to help no matter what else I'm doing. And I'm just going to see how going back to a normal breakfast does for me. I don't want to stick with the liquid breakfast, because I've been burned too many times by sticking to something that seems to work.

So I stopped rather than waiting for the inevitable failure of the liquid breakfast diet, where I made a rule for myself that I would not eat solid food until I had been awake for at least 4 hours, in addition to consuming the meal replacement shakes. On days when I did 5am Crossfit, that wasn't much of a hardship - up by 4:30, snacks allowed by 8:30. I usually wasn't even hungry by that point. The weekends were a little more difficult. The longer I slept in, the longer I had to wait to eat solid food.

The first weekend of the liquid diet, I slept in to 7:30 on Saturday and 7 on Sunday. Waiting to long to eat "real" food was too hard, so I ended up getting up at 6 both mornings the following weekend. 10 was a much better time to wait for than 11. Though during the week when I was at work, it wasn't that hard to wait til 10 or even 12 some days, a good 7.5 hours after I woke up. Keeping busy will make time fly.

Now starts the chaos experiment. I'm not going to get into another rut. No more than two weeks eating the same kind of breakfast every day. Of course, I'm expecting that my body will decide to work on larger cycles and I'll end up being just as confused about what works and what doesn't in another 6 months. But I'm going to try. I have to keep trying. This IBS thing is a puzzle and I do like solving puzzles.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Keep on Booking

I finished the written draft of this year's hiking book last week. Ambrose liked it. And, over the weekend, I got the pictures all set up and captioned. Next step is inserting the pictures into the text in the Word template., which will take another weekend or so, depending on how many need to be reformatted to fit on a single page together. I'm excited to have it ready so early in the year, but the truth is, I'm not really going much faster than I have in previous years.

In the past, I've done my book hike in August, and finished writing around December. This year, I did the hike in May and finished writing (just barely) in September. Publishing has been in December or January, and this year I'm confident I'll get it ready in October - though I'm still going to send books as Christmas presents.

After I get this completed, I've got a couple of guidebooks that I'd like to write up. Those projects should be shorter, and I'd like to get those done by the end of the year. My inventory is slowly growing, and the sales continue to trickle in each month. Sometimes enough to buy a cup of coffee, even (not Starbucks though).

I haven't been as focused on writing fiction this year, though I did that workshop and I feel like it has helped point out one of the weak points in my writing. My husband has pointed out another that I'm still working on.

Dean Wesley Smith writes about letting the creative side out to play without letting the inner critic censor what gets written, but he also writes about the importance of doing a clean draft. I think that I've become so practiced at writing clean that I let my inner critic take a bit too much control during my writing process, and the result is something that is clean but lacks passion.

Passion is what my husband wanted to see in my hiking book this year. He knows that I can be passionate - how not when we live together? But he had yet to see that really come through in my writing. I think I need to let go a bit more in my writing to get there. To consider less the placement of words and sentences and more the expression of ideas. I need to let my inner English teacher take a break, and let my inner five year old have free rein. Because it's in the passion that my writing voice is going to come through and maybe allow me to buy two cups of coffee a month from my writing earnings!