Monday, January 26, 2015

Every Indie Author and Wannabe Needs This Book

I’ve just been looking over my Kindle copy of The Self Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guide by Joel Friedlander and Betty Kelly Sargent and reading the tips. Wow! This book lives up to its name Resource! And to its sub-title: Every Indie Author's Essential Directory--To Help You Prepare, Publish, and Promote Professional-Looking Books. Each step an indie writer has to take to get to published nirvana is laid out in an easily accessible manner. And the authors have impressive credentials in the books business, always a Good Thing.

Betty Kelly Sargent is the founder of BookWorks, the Self-Publisher's Association, and co-founder of The Educated Author. She writes a column on self-publishing for Publisher's Weekly, and has a background of many years in the traditional publishing business as an editor and reviewer.

Joel Friedlander is a award winning book designer and blogger ( He is the founder of The Self-Publishing Roadmap, a training course for authors, and; he also founded BookDesignTemplates, which offers tools, templates and services to authors.

As one might expect, before one gets to the book itself, one sees a myriad of blurbs of praise; from what I can tell, every one of those is richly deserved. When you get to the table of contents, you see that the book is laid out in logical steps, from the preparation of the manuscript to the promotion of the finished product. Each chapter is headed with a title that tells you what aspect to expect, followed by a list of subjects within that aspect. This means that you can look up precisely what you need when you need it. Even the introduction is instructive, so don't skip that. And each section starts with a brief tip on how to go about implementing that aspect of publishing, followed by a comprehensive listing of applicable websites and/or the names and addresses of individuals who can give the indie author a leg up. Best of all, each entry has been checked out to ensure that the information is current.

In The Ultimate Resource Guide you will find information on editors of all kinds (developmental, copy, etc.), on how to get your book in the proper format, what to look for in publishers, tips on marketers, and even consumer protection. If you are an indie author or have aspirations to be one, you really should have this book at your fingertips. Here's where to go to get it:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

It's National Poetry Month

So I thought maybe a poem or two would be a good thing to post. My muse hasn't been too active recently, so I will post some from my backlog. Some of my poems have been published as chapbooks, and two or three were published in literary journals. That was years ago, though. I haven't submitted any poems anywhere for years, so have no idea whether I am still "publishable." But the chapbooks are fun to do, and I get a few dollars out of it.

I am fond of puns, like most of my family, and so tend to title my chapbooks with names like "Classical Illusions" (poems based on things I learned from the Ancient Greeks). Here's a poem from that chapbook"

To Ixion

I thought I was satisfied
to watch you whirl upon a wheel
stretched immortally in Tartarus
for loving me....

(So many times I heard them say
you were proud when they loved you
and in disdain you looked past.)

But here, now, seeing you so racked
despairing of release
I wish I had done differently....

(Indeed, I might have been magnanimous
had I not loved you.)

Ixion, if you cast your mind back, was the fellow bold enough to profess his love for Hera, Zeus' consort. She took an exception to his interest, apparently, and so he was condemned to be stuck on a wheel in the place where the absolute worst things happened to those who offended the gods.

Fun with Stencils

This next one was inspired by my long-time love of Odysseus, begun when I was ten and my Aunt Quail read me Padriac Colum's The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and the Tale of Troy, a wonderful children's book illustrated by Willy Pogany.

If I had to choose
for the love of Odysseus
either to be mysterious Circe
or faithful Penelope

weighing a year of magic
in the balance against
a daily dream unraveled nightly
for twenty years

even knowing he must go
eventually to his own hearth
being bound to Penelope
I would cast my lot

for Circe. One magic year
spent in the company of such a man
surely equals twenty spent
without him.

More Fun with Stencils

One day, for lack of anything better to do, I consulted my word finder, letting it flop open where it would. and, with my eyes closed. I poked my finger on a word. This was the result:

Song for Sendak

When the fuzzy creatures come
to the circle bound in blue
they link their lanky, hairy arms
they sway from side to side

Pileous and round they are
and crinite are their legs
they dance a hispidulous reel
in the circle bound in blue

Their teeth are long and glistening
their eyes are always green
and in between their dances
they juggle orbs of joy

Their hirsute heads thrown back in song
their music howls against the moon
and crashes stiff and bounces back
exactly to the stars

If you will listen closely
when the fuzzy creatures come
you'll hear the shattered strains of song
fall slowly in the night

And if you're very careful
and concentrate your thoughts
you'll see them heel-and-toe-and-heel
in the circle bound in blue

The word, of course, was "hair."

Yet More Stencil Fun

The poems and the art are copyrighted 2014 by Anne Lou Robkin.

That's all for now, Nan

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Time for another family story--it has been a while

Playing Through

Mark pulled into the parking lot and switched off the motor. "Here we are, folks," he said to his two passengers, "and it looks like we'll have the place to ourselves."
"I should think so," said his sister Quail. "Not many people would want to play golf at this hour, would they?"  She looked at her watch, tilting the face to catch a bit of light from the street lamp, and could barely see that it indicated 5:25. She mentally supplied the "a.m."
"Not to mention the fog," said Forrest. He assumed a virtuous tone. "Not that I'd know the proper time to play golf."
Mark looked over his shoulder at his brother, who sat like some righteous scarecrow in the back seat, grey-streaked straw-colored hair spiking out in all directions. He smiled broadly at Forrest, and said, "You just don't know what's good for you. Golf is not only a game for gentlemen, it is good for the soul."
"That explains why he doesn't play," said Quail, tilting her head at Forrest.
"I'm a perfect gentleman," said Forrest, always ready for a spat with a sibling. That was a good thing, as he had been the penultimate child of a poor but honest family of seven children. And a hard-working mother and long-suffering father, too.
"I don't think that's the part Sis was thinking about," said Mark, opening the car door, and wincing as the dome light came on. He shut the door quickly, and reached up and turned the light off. "Come on," he said, opening the door again and starting to climb out gingerly, protecting his bad back. "Let's get on with it. It will be daylight soon."
Quail got out of the front passenger seat, and peered back at Forrest. "Bring George and let's go."
Forrest picked up the Folger's coffee can from the seat beside him. "Got him, Sis," he said, wondering why it took a two-pound size can. He made sure the plastic lid was firmly in place, pushed up the front seat, and struggled out of the car, being careful not to drop the can.
"Be careful not to drop the can," said Quail, unnecessarily.
"Yes, Sis."  He sighed. She was the oldest, and was always giving what he thought were unnecessary orders, even now that they were all old enough to manage. Or they should be.

Quail at 16

The three of them stood there at the edge of the San Francisco Municipal Golf Course, looking out over the expanse of fog-shrouded green. The fog was thin in some places, and they could see a greater distance, if you could call dark grey against light grey seeing. In other places, there was just the grey wall of fog droplets.
"Maybe we should bring a flashlight," Quail said, nervous about the bumpy grass and the long way they had to go.
"Shhh," whispered Mark, "voices will carry a long way in this fog. We'd better not talk."
"What about the light?"  whispered Quail, "won't we need it to find our way?"
"Better not," Mark replied, "someone might see it and come to find out what's going on."
"Yes, Quail," said Forrest in a stage whisper that could have been heard across the Golden Gate Bridge, "what we are doing is not legal."
"Ssssh," whispered Mark, "you'll wake the dead."
"Not funny, Mark," Quail responded. "But how will we find our way?"
"I know this course like the back of my hand," Mark responded, patting his sister's shoulder. "C'mon."  He set out to their right, his sneakers squeaking on the damp grass.
"You can't see the back of your hand," grumbled Forrest, hurrying to follow before Mark disappeared into the fog.
"Wait for me, my legs are too short to keep up if you go that fast," Quail said in a normal voice, as she scurried after them.
"Ssssh," said Mark, slowing down so she could catch up. "Here, take my arm. Sometimes there's a divot gone, or a bumpy place. Wouldn't want you to fall."
Quail took his arm and kept to herself the fact that he had waited just a tad too long to be chivalrous, though such an observation had sprung immediately to her lips. She stoically tried to keep a decent pace.
Forrest shook the Folger's can, and was a bit disturbed that it rattled. He shook it again, listening to the noise, and trying to guess why it made a noise at all.
"Stop that," Quail whispered sharply, "the top might come off."
"Would that matter?"  Forrest asked.
"Not to George," muttered Mark, "but all the same, it would be better if you didn't spill him."
"Picky, picky," Forrest muttered back.
The three tiptoed across the green at a good clip in spite of the fog. "Silently, on tiptoe stea-al-ling," sang Quail, remembering her Gilbert and Sullivan and forgetting where she was. She was quickly shushed by her brothers.
"Think of the headlines, Sis," Mark admonished.
"Yes," Forrest chimed in, "I can see it now--on the front page of the Chronicle--'Septuagenarians Apprehended on Golf Course'."
"Attempting to Scatter Brother's Ashes."  Mark added the subhead.
"Oh, stop it," Quail complained. "Besides, I'm almost an octogenarian."
"But not quite. Anyhow, this is where we all stop," Mark said, indicating a path at the edge of the cliff.
Mark at 10
"Now what?"  Forrest asked, leaning out to look down at the rocks, and what he presumed was the water below, though he couldn't see that far.
"It seems to be getting lighter," Quail said, tightening the knot on her head scarf against the breeze that was rather strong here at the edge of the golf course. "And the fog seems to be going away."
"'Seems' is a good word, Sis; the fog can fool you. You think it's gone, and--whoosh--there it is, blocking your way and keeping you from seeing the damned green."  Mark nodded his head to emphasize his words.
"Don't tell me you play in fog like this," said Forrest. "You couldn't tell where the ball was going."
"Oh, you can tell from the sound when you hit the ball," Mark assured him. "Playing every day, rain, fog, or shine, you get used to it. And if you get enough practice, you can even make sure it goes in the right direction."  He was proud that he, a retired custodian, was able to play golf every day. He even had important friends like newspaper columnists to play golf with.
"I suppose George was getting to be pretty good?"  Forrest asked.
"Not so's you'd notice," Mark answered glumly, remembering how George often managed to horn in on those games with the important newspaper columnists. "He always had a terrible time hitting to the green."
"Sis, you're being awfully quiet," Forrest said, changing the subject. He didn't understand golf. He had much better things to do than play golf every day. He had a garden, and a part-time job installing drapes, and a girl friend, all of which kept him pretty busy.
Quail raised her bowed head. "Hush. I'm saying a prayer for George."
"Well, you should have been doing that for years, now--" Mark chuckled at his own wit.
Quail glared at him, and returned to her prayer. She was a devout and dedicated church-goer, and was much comforted by this in her declining years. She had sold books for a living, and had written several, too. She was the only girl, and had never married--probably had enough of males, with all those brothers. Therefore Quail had been the one to provide a home for their mother for many years after she became a widow. That, according to the boys, was enough to drive anyone to prayer, if not to drink.

Forrest at 4

The breeze freshened a bit, and Quail shivered. She brought her prayer to an abrupt end, and said, "I really think we should do it now."
Her brothers nodded in agreement.
Forrest held out the Folger's coffee can. "You want to do it, Mark? You're the oldest."
"I'm the oldest," Quail said with asperity.
"Then you do it," Forrest said, proffering the can.
"Oh, go ahead. I'm not a good thrower."  Quail made a dismissive gesture.
"You do it, Forrest. I have a bad back."  Mark encouraged his brother.
Forrest carefully pried the lid from the coffee can. He peered inside. A mass of soft, grey ash, mixed with a few white specks of heavier-looking stuff sat meekly inside. All that was left of the brash, loud, golf-loving youngest, George. Forrest sighed into the can, ruffling the top layer. "Bye, bro," he said softly.
He grasped the coffee can firmly by its top edge and aimed its contents over the edge, reaching out as far as he could toward the water he knew was below. He gave the can a quick jerk, and the ashes came flying out, heading off in the intended direction.
The ashes had sailed about six inches beyond the cliff's edge, into the air over the water, when the gust of wind caught them. The three siblings watched in horror as the remains of their brother George were snatched up and hurled back toward them, up, up and over their heads, and off onto the still fog-shrouded green.
They regarded each other in stunned silence. Then first Mark, then Quail, and finally Forrest began to laugh. They laughed and laughed, tears running down their cheeks. All their careful planning, all the sneaking, all the whispering, undone in a trice by a capricious gust of wind.
Mark wiped his eyes, his laughter subsiding to a thoughtful chuckle. Maybe it wasn't so capricious after all.

"You know, that's the first time he ever made the green in one," he said. 

George at 2

[Note: This really happened; Forrest told me about it when we were driving from Portland to San Francisco for Mark's Memorial.]

That's all for now--Nan

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Time flies when you're having fun

Doesn't it though? I wish I could say it has ALL been fun since April (and this is October? Shame on me!), but at least some of it was fun.

For instance, I turned 80, and this event was celebrated in various ways for months--starting in May, with the Space Needle luncheon Shirley Rainman and Paulette Stanley hosted for me, Harriss Mueller, and Jane Keller. They turned 70.  Then there was the lovely party son Jeremy hosted, a wonderful barbecue in his back yard,  And next Monday, Kathy Barker, Robin Gebhart and Lisa Tsang are taking me to lunch for my birthday.

Husband Morrie and I went on a cruise to Alaska--Glacier Bay and the Inside Passage, with stops at Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchican. The weather was lovely, and the views spectacular.

When we got back, I was scheduled for cataract surgery. Had both eyes done five days apart. A very interesting experience. And so far, successful. I had worn glasses since I was four years old, so being without them is a bit strange. Still, I can get used to it. Friends who have had the surgery tell me it takes several months to get finally adjusted. I can hardly wait.

This first thing I noticed was the change in color intensity--everything is so vivid now, especially purple and blue. I had no idea how much the cataracts had impacted my seeing color. A welcome change!

During the surgery, one has to stare at a bright light; while the doctor is working, the colors around the lights change from a pale pink to intense fuchsia, with a few blues mixed in.. Here are some interpretations I whomped up in Photoshop.

Above is sort of what it looked like.

It did NOT look like this, but while I was working, this turned up, and I really like it.

All of these started out with pictures I took in Alaska, of sky and water. The big white blast is the sun.

I am taking a Photoshop class online, and today we learned to put text in a box. This was a failure--not done properly, that is.

I did see halos like this during the procedure.

Sometimes I saw two distinct lights.

Another happy accident.

Finally! Success at putting text into a shape.

Just for fun, carrying color to the extreme!

Oh, and the procedure, done with ultra sound and a teensy vacuum cleaner (not really, but some kind of medical sucking machine) took about 20 minutes--40, if you count both eyes. The waiting time was lengthy, of course, but a small price to pay for the results.

Until next time, Nan

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Yes, I do get carried away!

A few weeks ago I took an online class in Photoshop Blend Modes with Ben Willmore, over at Got to tell you, I am completely hooked on those Blend Modes! It's better than Solitaire for sucking up your time! Anyhow, Ben was back this Monday and Tuesday, and while he was teaching about Photoshop Basics, I was blending away--paying attention to what he was saying, but playing with blends in the few down times.

A couple of weeks ago I made my first encaustic collage:

and so I used it as a starting place for my blending mania. I made over 70 different blends, working long after class was over.

Here are some:

I had also photographed parts of the encaustic piece, so I blended some of those, too:

And what is all this good for, except to chew up your time? Well, I use these kinds of things for backgrounds for trading cards and other nefarious projects. For instance, I drew a face today and used it with some of the encaustic textures to make some pictures:

And yes, I did manipulate the drawing, too--this time using Photoshop filters.

That's all for now! Until next time, Nan

Friday, March 22, 2013

Last-Minute Louie Here

I have just a few minutes to post my entry into Tim Holtz' tattered floral challenge--and, naturally, if iut weren't for the lasr minute, nothing would ever get done around here.

Here are my efforts:

First, I made some cloth paper--that is layering all kinds of tissue on top of fabric, sealing 'em all in with a mixture of PVA and water. This is a close up of one section. The sheet I made was about 11x17 inches.

When it dried (which took a loooong time--I cut a piece off and ran it through my Vagabond with the tattered floral die.

Here are the flowers, sort of assembled, waiting to be used. I planned to make a necklace, using some kumihmo braid I had made.

Here is the necklace. It still needs a clasp. but the deadline looms and I need to get this posted!

Here is a closeup of the assembled flowers. I added some stamens and bling from a floral stem from Michaels, which I took apart and used to hold the petals together and then wire them to the necklace.

Another view of the whole thing. I think it will be a lot of fun to wear, once I get those wires embedded a little better! And of course add a clasp. I am thinking a simple toggle will do the truck.

Until next time, Nan

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Just Messin' Around

I took some on-line Photoshop classes last week, and was inspired to experiment a bit. Here are some of the results.

And they all began with these three pages from my Stencil Journal:

It's wonderful what blend modes can do!

Until next time, Nan