Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Formatting Tips for Self-Publishers

Since putting together the first annual* book festival in our little area last year, I’ve made it a quest to pick up and read fellow local authors’ books, for the support and to help me get to know them. I’m of the opinion you don’t really know a writer until you read their work, no matter how much time you spend with them personally. Also, I can’t say I support indies if I don’t physically support them. That would be awfully hypocritical and hypocrisy is one of my biggest pet peeves.

Anyway, it’s a different thing to read indies in electronic format, which I’ve been doing for years, than it is in print format. They are different things.

And they must be formatted differently.

A few reminders and tips for authors trying to double their roles and format their own print books (which I also do, so yes, it can be done right by a lowly author **joke intended**).

I am not a publishing professional, other than doing my own books over the past twelve years. I learned the following by studying big-pub prints and doing plenty of research, and sometimes by making mistakes with my own books. All rules can be debated, of course, but I’m a big believer in first knowing the rules before you decide which not to follow.

~ Let’s start with the cover.

1) Look at books in libraries and bookstores. Do any of them say “by Author Name”? Only a few children’s books do that and it’s to differentiate between the author and the illustrator, since illustrations are as big a part of children’s picture books as the story. Even then, in most cases, the author is simply listed and the illustrator gets an “illustrated by” tag. If you don’t write picture books, do not put “by” in front of your name.

2) Be careful about throwing a photo on the cover and just adding some text. Play with borders and effects and collages, but be sure it doesn’t look like you grabbed a few stock photos and just threw them all together. That screams amateur. If your cover screams amateur, it won’t matter much how professional your writing may be.

3) The spine and back are part of the overall look with a print book. Don’t spend all of your focus on the front and then just throw the rest together with some text. Make it a full picture, not necessarily one picture wrapping all the way around, but an entire work of art combined carefully to package your precious book.

~~ For the inside:

1) Again, look at professionally printed novels. They all include a cover page, a copyright page, sometimes a second cover page with publisher info. Pay attention to whether these things are on the left or right side and do it the same.

2) Most novels do not have or need a table of contents. For ebooks, yes. Not for prints. Take that out unless you have a very long, complex story divided into sections other than only chapters. Even then, it’s probably not necessary. If you feel it is necessary, look at how it’s done in professionally formatted books. A long row of

1. chapter 1
2. chapter 2
3. chapter 3…

looks unprofessional, especially when it’s left-aligned like the text.

3) Your front matter, everything before the first page of chapter one, should not have page numbers. Most novels don’t include the page number on page one of a chapter, either, but that’s at least acceptable. Your front matter doesn’t count as “pages” and should not pretend to count. Page 1 is page one of chapter 1.

Different software handles this formatting issue differently. I use Word to write and format, which isn’t the easiest program to use for that, so I’ve heard, but I use section breaks to accomplish cutting out the page numbers in the front matter and not having page numbers on the first page of each chapter. It is a learning curve, but there are online tutorials to help you accomplish this.

4) Use serif fonts, not non-serif fonts. Why? It’s easier on the reader’s eyes and better for flow. What’s the difference? A serif is the little line at the end of a stroke. This blog is typed in a serif font called Georgia. See the little extra marks on the bottom of the letters? That creates flow. This, on the other hand, is Arial, the most common non-serif font. It looks far more staccato (sharp and detached). Cambria is a common printed book text. So is Garamond, and it might be the most used among professional self-publishers. Georgia works, also. You can use Times New Roman, but I would stick with something prettier and less all-purpose for print books. It works well for e-books, though. If you use a non-serif font, use it purposely for effect, but be aware it might be a bit off-putting to your reader. Novels should flow. Keep your font at 11 pt or smaller, also. Print a page of it and compare it to a professionally formatted novel. Slight differences are fine. Big fonts look unprofessional. (Obviously this doesn’t apply to picture books.) Even that little difference in fonts makes a difference in overall reading experience, and print book readers are about the experience!
**I meant to use each different font within this paragraph, but Live Writer isn't working so I have to make do. 

5) Do not double space. Double spacing is for submissions, not for printed books. Use your word processor to add some extra space between your lines, like this blog post, but not double. That makes it look like you want your book to appear longer than it is, just filling up page count, which seems disingenuous. Also, do not leave extra wide margins, since that gives the same impression. There are plenty of resources online to help determine how big your margins should be. For my 5.5 x 8.5 books, I have the top margin at .6 to allow space for my header that includes the page number, and the rest are at .4 with a .25 gutter with mirror margins so the gutter stays on the correct side.

6) Also, do not double space between paragraphs. Keep it the same as the rest of the text and indent paragraphs! This is different than for ebooks where it’s common practice to double space between paragraphs. That’s fine, although there is some debate about that practice, as well, and it has flowed over somewhat into print books to leave space between paragraphs rather than indenting, but look at big pub books. How many are doing so?

7) Left-align or justify? This can go either way. It’s becoming more acceptable to left-align books. If you do this, you’ll want to use hyphens so you don’t have huge gaps at the ends of lines, but you want to hyphenate sparsely. Your word processor should give you the choice. Most of my books are justified (which could make a good joke), but for my very long Rehearsal books, I decided to left-align instead because I wanted that extra flow. After printing the first one I did myself (book 3, since the 1st two were formatted and printed through a company I’m no longer using and will be redone), I noticed too many gaps at the end because of no hyphenation. I don’t like every other sentence to hyphenate, so I took them out, but that was too extreme. I’ll be reformatting that book to include adding sparse hyphens. (You live and you learn!)

I may be forgetting a few things. Do you have any tips or annoyances to share relating to formatting? If it’s something of which I’m guilty, I’d rather know than to blindly keep doing it wrong or annoying the reader. I may annoy them now and then with a character’s opinions or actions, but that’s just part of the job. ;-)

*Yes, “first annual” is a correct usage for an event that will be a continuing event. Annual says it will continue. First says it’s the debut of a continuing event. In this case, it’s not redundant, but only an attention-getting modifier.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Help Literacy on Giving Tuesday

I often support Toys for Tots through the Marine Corps. Giving a charity money can feel, as a friend said recently, like you’re throwing it down a black hole. You’re never sure where it’s going exactly. I’ve supported a lot of different things through the years, but lately, I’ve been focusing on local groups that put it right back into the community.

I don’t, however, take toys. I give books. Sometimes they’re cute ones I find at my local indie bookstore. Sometimes they’re my own.

When Grammerly put out the call to help support literacy on Giving Tuesday, I figured I’d combine the two.

I’m taking 5 copies of Stanley: A Raindrop’s Story, paperback version, to our local Toys for Tots drive. Kids need books. Some kids desperately need books. Stanley is a little raindrop who discovers why he should always keep looking up even through hard times. If you want to add to the number of these books that go out to children, I’m running a Giving Tuesday special. Order a hardcover of Stanley through My SITE via the Paypal links at the bottom, and I’ll donate an extra paperback to Toys for Tots.

Of course, you can also go to Grammerly’s site where they have global literacy giving links.

Global Literacy Infographic

Thursday, October 08, 2015

How to Attend a Book Signing

AuthorSignIn this case, I mean “attend” as in not simply going to an event, as author or reader, but as in the more powerful managing of the event once you’re there.

By now, I’ve done plenty of both. As a potential reader of an author I don’t know, I realize it can be intimidating to go up and actually talk to that Author. The term author has a valuable and highly esteemed place in our society, as I believe it should have, and that does often make those who don’t understand those odd creative people who can grab characters from nowhere and make them real a bit wary. Understood. I feel that way about musicians, even if I do understand the creative process.

Also, as an author, when most of us are introverts, it can be very hard to sit there and try to feel like we deserve that esteemed place in society and sound like we do. Most of us have also been taught not to brag. Of course promoting ourselves (because our books are part of ourselves) while not wanting to brag and not feeling all that esteemed and valuable can be quite the conundrum.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way for both authors and readers. Note: author tips are meant for indie and small press authors without a big name that sells for them automatically.


1) Dress nice but comfortably, and in keeping with the book signing venue. If you’re out at a farm market or other outdoor arts and crafts show, jeans and a nice shirt are fine and expected. If you’re in a bookstore, you might pull it up a notch. The bookstore owner will appreciate if you show your respect for her store by dressing up for the event. And readers will look at you as more of a professional if you look professional.

2) If you must have your cell phone or tablet with you (and I always have mine so family can reach me if needed), keep it silent and out of the way. If you’re playing on an electronic gadget as someone who might have been interested walks by, they’ll keep on walking.

3) Say hello and smile. Many readers will wait to decide whether to engage you by whether you initiate contact. If you sit back slumped in your chair and wait for them to lead, they’ll usually walk on by. It can be hard to make yourself do this, but it gets easier the more you do it. (If this avowed social phobic hermit writer can do it, so can you!)

4) Don’t be pushy. You might sell more books short term with aggressive tactics, but you also may leave a bad taste in the reader’s mouth and make them less likely to approach you or another author again.

5) Have promo handouts available! This is very important. At a minimum, have business cards with your website so readers can go look you up easily. (If you don’t have a website, you should have. Seriously. Free blogs can work well for this – just make sure all of your book info is on it.) I’ve approached authors who had nothing but their books at their tables and of course once I got home, I didn’t remember their names well enough to look them up. Book signings are often no more than putting your name out there. There’s little point if you don’t have something to send with potential readers. Few will buy from you the first time they see you or your name. You have to build up for sales.

I also recommend having excerpts available, at least one, so they can check out your writing style. I’ve had people take an excerpt, walk away and read it as they walked away, then turn around and come back to buy. There are a lot of indie and small press authors out there. Readers are getting wary, as they should. Show them why you’re worth the read.


1) If you might be interested but aren’t up for a chat, we fully understand if you’d like to simply take a card and check us out later. You can tell us you’d rather do that. If we’re prepared well enough, we’ll hand you an excerpt or let you know how you can read one online. I almost never buy a book without reading a bit first. I would guess most authors are the same, so we understand.

2) If you run across a hard sell author, ask for a business card and move along. You shouldn’t feel pressured into buying something as precious as a book.

3) There’s no need to be afraid to talk to us! Most of us are really just very glad if you’ll stop to look, and if you’d like to talk about our work, that’s great, too. Don’t be surprised if we’re nervous. As said above, most of us are better with print words than with spoken words. We’re often unsure whether to brag about how great our books are or remember our humility teachings. It’s a constant struggle and we’re honored by your interest.

4) If you ask which of our books is our favorite or which we’d recommend for you, you’ll likely get some stammering. The writing of a book is only part of its value. The rest is what you put into when you read and your likes are different than ours. Hopefully, our back cover blurbs will suggest which you should try first. But if you ask, we will do our best to answer!

5) Remember that local authors are usually indie or small press published. We have genres and plots that vary from “what’s in” that the big pubs are most likely to print. We often include local areas in our work. We don’t have big time NY editors, but we do have a love of stories and lots of personal experiences that go into our work. Some of us are new on the book scene; others have been at it for years. We aren’t bound by what someone else thinks should be written or published. We may mix 5 different genres into one story. If one of us doesn’t fit your personal reading needs, another one of us surely will.

When you buy from local authors, you are supporting local families, local businesses, and the local community. Instead of bypassing that “local authors” section in your local bookstore, head there first. You never know what gems you might find!

These are simply some of my thoughts from my experiences. Feel free to add to or argue with any of the above suggestions in the comments.  We all have different takes on things. I love to hear other peoples’ thoughts.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Meet the Authors event in Hermitage

Meet the Authors event in Hermitage

Yes, I did a quick TV interview about this event with Leana Hillard, owner of Leana's Books and More at the Shenango Valley Mall in Hermitage PA. Yes, it was nerve-wracking. Yes, I would agree again. Hey, I'm an indie. I try not to turn down promo ops. ;-)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

No Book Fest In Your Area? Create One!

West PA Book Festival attendees

Most authors who attend book fairs designed to get a bunch of readers to come to one place at one time to, with any luck, buy books, are small name authors, often indie these days. They have other jobs, family obligations, house stuff to take care of, kids to feed, etc. And they’re mostly unknown.

Of course the big book fairs such as the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. started by first lady Laura Bush brings in big names such as John Irving and R. L. Stein. They can afford to do so, and it’s a wonderful opportunity. (I have a personally signed book by Irving and won’t soon forget talking to him in person, for about 10 seconds before moving along so the long, long line could advance.) However, some of the brightest gems are hidden in the dark mines of obscurity and you can find them at smaller, local book fairs.

Most of us mostly unknown authors with shining gem books waiting to be found are always looking for opportunities to help them be found. Social media can only do so much. Talking face-to-face with your potential readers can’t be beat. Readers like approachable authors. They still like print books. And they love to have personally signed books by authors they meet.

If you have a book fair nearby, and if the fee to attend isn’t too extravagant for your budget, definitely GO. Yes, it’s nerve-wracking for those of us who are introverts (and that’s a very high percentage of authors). Yes, it’s a gamble as to whether you’ll sell enough to be worth the gas money (because you don’t want to count on making even minimum wage for the number of hours you sit out there wracking your nerves trying to sound like an intelligent writer-person worth GeneJordanreading). Still, connecting not only with readers but also with other writers is an important part of the job. There are things you can’t learn from Tweeting and Liking and Commenting. Get out there and do it in person.

Don’t have a book fair nearby? Create one.


Yes, most of us are introverts. We like to stay in our comfort zone. We don’t have organizing event experience. So what? No one does their first time. Start small.

I just did this. Now, not only am I the typical introvert author, I’ve also fought debilitating social phobia (now called social anxiety disorder) since I was a pre-teen. No, I don’t just mean I get nervous talking in groups. I mean I get nervous talking to one friend or going grocery shopping or asking to try on clothes before I buy them (generally, I just risk it instead).

But this book thing is very important to me. Not only my books. But books. Reading. In general. Widely. Avidly. I’m on a quest to encourage more people do that again because it’s important.

Since the closest book fair isn’t very close to me out here in the boonies where I can generally be a hermit writer, and since it also has a pretty steep attending fee, I’ve never gone. I have too many obligations to just pack up and travel to the big book fairs. The idea of going out to places I’ve never been and trying to keep my nerves calm enough to be able to speak to potential readers makes me cringe. Physically. And mentally.

So, this year I created one. A book festival. Locally. Right here in the area where I’m comfortable. Of course, it took months of work and eliminated some of my own writing time, but in the end, it was definitely worth it. We got a good crowd for our small area, plenty of praise for the event, nice publicity for area newspapers before and after the event, and even notes of praise for doing something good for the community from a state senator.

The biggest benefit, though, is sharing your books and your love of books with your community, and helping to support your own community of local authors.

The process (not necessarily in this order, except for #1):RhondaPaglia

1) Get a local author network going well ahead of time. This is easily done with social media groups and email. A couple of years ago, I started a local author Facebook group and made it private so we could share information. I stayed on the lookout for authors in the area not yet in the group and emailed to invite them. Not all are on Facebook, so I also have an email list to send out pertinent information. Along with this, I made flyers to take to our local bookstore which stocks local author books inviting any of them stopping in the store to join us.

2) Put up a website. I used Blogger which doesn’t cost anything, then bought a domain name to attach to it to make advertising easier and more professional. I use the blog feature to highlight authors who agreed to attend and pages for information. You can find it HERE. (We had a fairly steady stream of views from the time we started advertising, and a huge jump the month before the event when papers started covering us, also a huge jump after the event.) There are plenty of free sites you can use, but some demand an upgrade in order to attach a domain name. You can always start with a blog and upgrade later, although I find the blog format very helpful and easy to update.

3) Get help! Four local authors were so excited about the event from the beginning that they asked to help in any way they could. So I made them fest committee members. Trust me, it’s a good amount of work. If you have trust-worthy people willing to help, take them up on it!

4) Find a place. We have a local farmers market on one street of the courthouse square and a beautiful courthouse lawn that hosts events such as the summer community concert series. The farm market has to have insurance to operate and MollieLyonthey were glad to host us under their name on a market day so we could use their insurance and help draw people to the market. If this idea won’t work for you, ask a local business with a large yard or parking lot, or ask your town’s chamber about using the sidewalks. Check into the legalities. Be sure there is restroom availability for your authors, as well as food, water, etc. Maybe even invite local food vendors.

4) Decide what to charge authors to attend. I decided to make it free for authors in order to encourage participation in an event none of us would be sure how it would turn out.  Be careful about doing this. Promo, even cheap promo, adds up fast. Before you start ordering promotional material, get a feel for how many authors you might count on to attend. Start small and build as you’re able.

2015FestBookmark-md5) My biggest promo for the event was bookmarks with the event, date, place, and time featured. You’ll want a logo of some kind for your website and your promo material. I do design work, so this was not an issue. Get help if you need it. A high school art student/club in the area may be willing to create a logo and do design work for exchange publicity. I had two bookmarks printed on a 4x6 postcard, uploaded it to Vistaprint, and then cut them out with my handy paper cutter. If you watch for a sale, you can get them for not too much expense. Or go to a local printer and see what price you can get. Maybe they’ll be willing to give you a deal in return for a sponsorship. Committee members helped to take stacks of these to local libraries and our local bookstore, along with an event flyer. This was very effective promo, as it also brought in more authors. Also suggest your authors take some to their book signings before the event if they have any.

6) Having a Facebook/other social media page for the event is a good idea. Authors and others can share your posts to their pages. Free, easy promo!

7) Draw up an author contract that details what they need to bring, etc. You’ll want to have a print copy for each author to keep on record.

8) Keep track of your expenses. For legalities. You can use your own account since this is an event and not a business or charity. But keep track. You shouldn’t make a profit on attending fees or sponsorships. It should all go back into the event.

9) Get sponsors! Go to local businesses and ask for their support in return for listing them on your website and event flyers. I also created a literacy brochure with facts and statistics that show the benefits and necessity of reading and included higher level sponsors on that, as well. Events that bring people to your community is good for the community, including local businesses. Keep your sponsorship levels low enough that small businesses can be included. Many of them are struggling, as well.
10) Arrange a time for author readings, at least for children’s authors. Children’s events bring in parents.

11) Close to the event date, create event flyers listing the attending authors with genre and other special events, such as readings. I used rack cards for EventFlyer-2015-100pthis.

12) If you get enough sponsors to help pay expenses, have giveaways at your event. You can also have gear that will help bring in funds. We had tote bags with our logo (reusable that also work for farm market produce bags), stylus pens with our tag line and website address, and bumper stickers for sale at the event. With enough sponsorship, these can be giveaways. Our giveaways included the remaining promotional bookmarks and bright green pencils with our tagline and website printed on them. I ordered a ton of pencils since I ran across a sale at the company I use for promo material, and at the end of the event, I handed a bunch to each author to share as advertisement for next year’s fest.

13) Ask for volunteers! High school students looking for volunteer hours or local book lovers may be very willing to come help for the day. Authors may need spells for lunch, etc. if they don’t have a helper with them. You also need someone to man the welcome tent where your event flyers and other giveaways will be stationed, along with a raffle if you do one, and people to answer questions by authors and wandering book lovers.  (I was incredibly lucky to have a lot of help from my family, along with a local book lover who just wanted to help.)

AuthorSign14) Consider Extras: We had a big sign out front that announced what we were doing (learning experience: next year it will be bigger). I also designed, printed, and laminated individual author signs with their genre for the front of each tent. I’m fortunate to have a husband who works with wood and he made holders to staple the signs on (learning experience: next year, taller stakes).

A caveat: for an outdoor event, tent space can be an issue. Not all authors have tents/canopies or the ability to tote a 10x10 tent in their vehicle. Check with local places to see about renting tents for those who need it, but place the charge on the authors. Don’t take on too much yourself!

Also, have a rain date! Books and wind with rain do not mix. We were lucky this year and only had heat to contend with. That won’t always happen.

RaffleWinnerAs a thank you to the farm market for sponsoring us, I took up a donation of one book from each author to raffle all together. You could also do groups of books in genres if you have enough authors. The proceeds went to the farm market. If you don’t need a thank you gift, use it to help pay expenses or to go to a local literacy group/library/etc.

Overall, it was an amazing experience and very welcome in the community. So go ahead, start your own! Questions? Ask away…

Be sure to check out our 1st Annual West PA Book Festival website to see which authors jumped in and took a risk with me to get this going!

Next post: Preparing for and attending a book festival as an author.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Moondrops & Thistles has a new cover!

Moondrops&Thistles-cover200The print cover (to the left) of Moondrops & Thistles (Elucidate Publishing, 2012) has not changed, but I had a thought for a new cover for the ebook, asked for a few opinions, then did an update. It’s getting nice comments so far.  What do you think?

While you’re checking the cover, maybe read an excerpt. On Smashwords, you can read the first 10% before deciding whether to purchase. I also have the beginning on the book’s website, along with reviews and other buy links.

You can also now request your library to order this title, and my other books, in electronic format through Overdrive.

Moondrops & Thistles
LK Hunsaker

Love. Honor.

Daws, aka Sergeant Fred Dawson, U.S. Army, is a determined and highly respected leader. Called to serve in Desert Storm, he performs two impromptu rescue missions and manages to bring all of his men back home. While still haunted by the cost of his actions, he loses the most important person in his life, in an accident for which he feels partly responsible.

Deanna Meyers has had it with men. As far as she's concerned, there isn't a true loyal and honest gentleman left in New York City. In the midst of trying to advance in the world of advertising where the men in charge are more interested in her other attributes than in her skills, she finds herself in another destructive relationship, this time to the possible detriment of her career.

When they run into each other at a bus stop in the pouring rain after midnight, Daws and Deanna recognize the spark of a connection that draws them in the way they are both drawn to the city lights at night.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Oh, so this is what it was like…

6012-dncI have to laugh. Way back when I was working outside the house and taking care of my young children after work, I used to grab bits and pieces of time to write. Generally that meant after their bedtime when I was tired but determined, and in a few minutes on weekends here and there around whatever else was going on. I would dream of the time I could stay home and write for more than snatched moments around everyone else.

I got that. Well, more or less. Hubby’s job changed and so did mine: I got to stay home and do everything but work outside the house. Well okay, but the kids did have school all day so that was some glorious writing time. Well, other than when the house flooded and I had to manage the fixing of it. And other than calls from the school to pick up a sick kid. Or taking care of the utility sink when the washer overflowed it. You know, all that fun house and kid stuff.

And then the kids got older and more on their own and I got my writing days. Really. Man, did I get on a flow! A one book a year flow, and these were not skinny books. Then a two book a year flow until I caught up to having 12 books out over 12 years even though the first books were four years apart or two years apart. But I was on a roll.

And I saw so many younger author acquaintances just wishing for the day they could have full days to write and I remembered full well that feeling. But there is the other side of that: when you don’t have to fight for writing time, there’s an intensity you lose. I’d started wondering if I was losing too much writing intensity because I had so much time to just write. You know the phrase “be careful what you ask for,” right?

So yes, the kids got older and more on their own enough to need wedding planning and then to be graced with beautiful, wonderful, incredible little handfuls (ahem, grandchildren) who I love to spend time with as much as I can. One is out of state but we “chat” over the phone or through the net and he visits as much as his parents allow (can manage). The other gets lots of Grandma time since she stays with me while Mom and Dad are both at work.

That all day writing time… Well, you know. I’ve lost speed. And once I get over the exhaustion of doing this at “my” age instead of the young mommy age, I’m sure that intensity to find writing time will return.

For now, I’m intensely enjoying these magical little gifts that are the result of putting up with their parents (ahem, enjoying their boisterous head-strong parents at each stage of their in-a-hurry-to-be-able-to-do-what-I-want childhoods) and that may be enough intensity for now.

I’m still writing. Just slower. That’s okay. Too soon, the babies will have their own things to do and I’ll have more story fodder that’s simmering in my mind as I try to stay awake long enough at night to think about my stories.


Thursday, March 05, 2015

Oh The Places You’ll Go

Reading-empathyToday is World Book Day and I love seeing all of the posts about what people are reading and how much they love to read.

What am I reading? I’m in the middle of Creation by Gore Vidal, an intense long complicated book set way back in the time of the Persian empire. I’m also working on Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin, a very thick lit fic that’s so beautifully written I could be jealous if allowed myself. And I’ve just started on a brand new ebook by Rigel Carson titled G-1, a sci fi futuristic read that has a lot of today’s societal issues mixed into the make-believe world of the future.

Yes, I’m usually reading three books at once. I never used to do so, but I find it convenient to leave one upstairs beside the bed, usually the one that takes the most concentration, one in print beside my easy chair that I’ll read during TV shows someone else is watching or through Pirates games (it’s Pirates season again!), often non-fic. And I have one always in progress on my ereader or tablet. That’s usually one I can carry in one hand as I chase the baby around the house to keep her out of trouble, one that takes less concentration and often with short chapters that works well for short reading spurts.

I do read a lot. Not because I have the time, but because I make it, because it matters. Often it’s after 9 pm when I’ve already put more than a full day’s work in and I need to unwind. Books unwind you far more than TV does. They do.

But it’s not only for unwinding. It’s for my profession: I don’t read authors who say they don’t read other authors. It’s part of the job requirement. Along with that, it’s for my knowledge base. I’m a perpetual student and I can’t understand anyone who isn’t and doesn’t care to be. If you’re not learning, you’re not growing. Apparently I feel like I have a lot of growing to do. ;-) So I read. A lot. In different genres. About different subjects.

And yes, I often encourage others to do the same. Why is it my business? Because we are all connected. What we do affects those around us and our society as a whole. The more we truly understand each other, the better we can get along. And books don’t argue back. They say what they say and you’re free to take it in or dismiss it. But the more you take in, the more empathetic you become.

There’s a world of difference between empathy and sympathy. Sympathy is caring about how someone else feels. Empathy is actually understanding how someone else feels. Huge difference. Empathy is far more important and we need for more of it.

So pick up a book that’s set somewhere you haven’t been about something you haven’t experienced, and let your empathy grow.

Reading helps you go places, even if you stay right there in your home area. But you don’t have to listen to me. Listen to the experts about going places:

And if you’re interested in checking out one of my EMK books, Pieces of Light, a novella, is free this week only for Read An Ebook week.


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Monday, January 05, 2015


Yes, I like to play with the numbers in dates. Strange, I suppose, since math class always made me cringe. But there you go – not everything makes sense.

I’ve started journaling this year for the first time in far too 5005cp-lkhmany years. I did make an attempt a couple of years ago, but then my “wait, I write all the time, anyway, so what’s the point” attitude kicked in and I stopped. I still think there’s a point. Maybe especially for writers. And especially for dream journals, which I also have and need to get back to.

It’s quite a release to journal. I don’t plan to let anyone read it, although I don’t plan to destroy it, either, so there’s a chance someone along the line will read it. At that point, I won’t care one way or the other. Or I suppose I won’t. Guess it’s hard to tell. My guess is it’ll be too boring to bother with. The good stuff is in my books.

I’m also back to more artwork. The more I do it – I did a bit for Christmas gifts last month – the more I want to do more. I’ve even wondered if I should have stayed the course back when I was majoring in art. Ah well, you can’t change what you’ve done; you can only learn from it.

The key will be finding time for both art and writing, but I think they will complement each other well. I can see it already infusing more into my stories with colorful detail, with more luscious imagery. There’s a tip for other writers: paint something. It doesn’t matter how it turns out. Just look out your window and paint what you see how you see it. Like journaling, it’s a nice creative exercise that helps to unlock a different part of your brain and will seep beautifully into your words.

Painting or drawing is like journaling, really. You don’t realize how much you don’t see until you do.

How’s that for philosophical?  :-)

According to Goodreads, I read 30 books last year. Well, 2 of them were children’s books I reviewed and two I abandoned. So, 27, roughly. No, one was a box set of 3, so 30 is pretty accurate. A mix of them. Long, short, literary, romance, non-fic, cozy mystery…

Not that the specific number matters. What matters is what I got out of them.  I review almost everything I read these days because, well, it’s nice for the author to get a review to show people are reading her work, and, reviewing is like painting. You have to think more about what you read when you deconstruct it enough to review it well.

5004cp-lkhIn art, you’re taught to see what you actually see as you reproduce it instead of what you think you see. In other words, look at each small part of it instead of at the whole object. The small parts make a bigger “whole” than the whole work itself. Really. It does. Even if it doesn’t make sense mathematically.

That’s why I prefer art. Stuff like that actually makes sense in art.

Anyway, hubby is an artist, as well, as is most of my family. We’re just strange that way. Hubby and Son do woodwork together. They’re about to branch out into more artistic artwork. So, why not? We (well, I) set up a page for our family art. It’s just beginning, but it’s a start.

Hunsaker Arts

2015 is starting out busy around here, but that’s nothing new. How about you? Starting anything differently creative?

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