Category Archives: Writing Biz

Is It Really Possible To Be Organized?

by Kimberly A. Cook                 (Twitter@   WarriorTales)

Finished doing my taxes Sunday so I could drop them off to my accountant. Every year I promise myself I’m getting them done in February and most years I don’t make it. They are a piece of cake with the day job, but it’s  the writing business which requires me to become OCD receipt girl.

Spec Ops Cat working hard on my desk to help me with taxes. See how concerned he is? Not!

Spec Ops Cat working hard on my desk to help me with taxes. See how concerned he is? Not!

Last week I was pondering just when my normally organized self got led astray. I’m pretty sure two major milestones are the cause. One was when I moved into my second house and the movers dumped my fabulously organized file cabinet upside down and I swear inside out. Those files never recovered.

Time two was when I went to transfer my contacts from my Palm Pilot to the Blackberry phone. Turns out the one version of the Palm Pilot software I owned was the one version Blackberry did not like and would not talk to.

I have not been organized since. Even when I migrated to the Samsung Galaxy S2 and grudgingly put in a few contacts, I kept carrying a paper list.

Then my Samsung died dead. Nada. Never to recover. The AT&T geek guy even replaced it free of charge after only three months since he couldn’t get it to work either. They thought it was me. Ha!

I’d bought the bestest niftiest backup program and all that was saved were a few photos since I still use a camera. Contacts all gone again. I’m staying with paper.

The more I try to streamline and simplify my life, the more the tech and bureaucracy gods are out to get me. I’m not paranoid if it’s true. So one more year of receipt chasing is in the books and I have grand and glorious plans to do it better next year.

Earlier! With unicorns and fairy dust! And Keebler elves……

Taxes done?

 

 

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Unleash The Pie Baking!

by Kimberly A. Cook                              (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

My favorite time of year arrives again, Pumpkin Pie baking time. One of the great things about Thanksgiving is being grateful for all the people, family and friends in our lives; sharing pumpkin pie seems the perfect way to celebrate.

Pie logistics! Moving troops or pastry, you've got to have your supplies. Unleash the bakers!

Pie logistics! Moving troops or pastry, you’ve got to have your supplies. Bunny cookie jar and Match Dandy are on sentry duty. Unleash the bakers!

I’ve gathered my ingredients and will be in a baking frenzy tomorrow night. So while I am mixing pumpkin and pouring in evaporated milk, eggs, spices and sugar, it’s a good time to thank everyone who reads my little blog here. At last count there are 69 twitter folks and 161 WordPress folks following my activities.

Thank you for your kind attention to my work. Thought I should have a name for us. When I was volunteering for the USS Ranger Foundation I decided to use Team Ranger to describe our volunteers, board and staff. At the time the whole vampire “Twilight” thing was going on, so it wasn’t a far stretch.

I thought perhaps we should be Team Quirky. Then I realized that might lead  to all kinds of trouble I didn’t want to deal with online, down a slippery rabbit hole so to speak. So in the interest of keeping this relatively clean and fun, I’d decided on Team Cookie. My nickname in the Army was Cookie and so was my Dad’s when he served, so I feel it’s a family tradition. But I tried Team Cookie and Google told me someone else has the name. Figures.

Perplexing problem. Will have to think on it some more. But thank you all for being a part of Team to be named later with a high draft pick choice, I hope.

Since I can’t send crumbs through the digital media, how about pie? For those of you who live by a Shari’s Restaurant, they have this new program the Shari’s Café Club. I was so excited to find out about this since I’m not yet eligible for an Honored Citizen card for several more years. They’ve merged the two programs and now anyone can get a Shari’s Café Club card at Shari’s.

When you register you get a piece of free pie in that month and then another free piece of pie for your birthday. I’m already up two pieces of pie! So if you want free pie, trot over to Shari’s and get one of those cards. You earn points for every dollar you spend at Shari’s. I’m thinking earning future pie dollars….

No matter what is happening in your life right now, know I appreciate your support and did my best to get you free pie as a thank you. Hugs all around. Have a great Thanksgiving everybody!

http://www.mysharis.com for info.

(I am not getting pie kickbacks for this either. Rats!)

 

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Time To Think About Fall Projects?

by Kimberly A. Cook            (Twitter@ Warrior Tales)

My friend Carol and I have a standing joke at the end of each year, our mantra is “Next year I’m going to get organized!” Seems no matter how hard we try, life gets in the way and our to do lists never get completed.

What is it about writing, Fall and organization? Christmas seems to surprise folks each year, even though the day is pretty well set. What do you want to accomplish by the end of this year? Let’s forget about next year right now.

While I try and figure out how I can clean out the garage, purge the unused holiday stuff and knit, write, complete a few books and keep the cat happy, it seems a bit of a daunting task. Think I will pick my top three and go with that.

What’s on your to do list for this year? Here comes Fall!

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How Can One Author/Writer Survive The Publishing Wars?

by Kimberly A. Cook                     (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Don’t know if you’ve been following the fight between author and tv personality Stephen Colbert and his publisher vs. Amazon.com. Colbert basically declared war on Amazon.com last week since they would not honor pre-sales, plus other things. In a nice twist of fate, Colbert told everyone to go to http://www.Powells.com (Powell’s Books) here in Portland to order a book by a new author.

Gear up writers and authors! Protect your writing assets! (Me in an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) back in my Army days - such a long story)

Gear up writers and authors! Protect your writing assets! (Me in an Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) back in my Army days – such a long story)

Boy howdy that worked. In fact, Powells.com barely had a heads up from the tv show staff before their servers came grinding almost to a halt to keep up with the order demand. As I watched the videos and read the online articles about the skirmish, I wondered what are a few of the things I’ve accidentally done over the years to survive this juggernaut of digital publishing madness. Besides chocolate, that is.

1. Built my own web site and kept it. Like the authors wrote in “Write. Publish. Repeat.”  anything can change, go out of business or be bought in a nanosecond, including this blog. Stake a claim for your career on the Internet and S.P.U.D. – an acronym from one of our former search and rescue deputies – stay put until you die. I ended up with an “aged domain” and top page ranking in Google just by keeping my web site real estate since 1997 or the Pleistocene era, whichever you prefer.

2. Check back. Things change. When I first started my writing business my very common name URL was taken. Rats. So I built the business around Warrior Tales. Several years ago at the Willamette Writers Conference, a speaker mentioned to recheck to see if your name becomes available later. Queried that night, it was and I bought it! Since my name is very common, in 1997 I first checked Amazon.com to see how many authors had my name – holy moly – a ton. So I used my entire name with middle initial to get some separation between moi and the herd of other Kim Cooks online.

3. Self-publishers buy your own ISBNs. When I get ready to launch my ebooks extravaganza, having my own ISBNs means that no matter what Amazon.com, nook.com, itunes.com, kobo.com and the partridge in the pear tree do in the future, I can retrieve my digital work and move it to another home; the ISBN will always be tied to me and I won’t have to keep sending new ISBNs to readers to hunt for in the grand future of digital words.  After all, we are all pretty much publishers now going our own way in this new adventure.

4. Keep writing. No matter what. Doesn’t matter if you have to take breaks to handle life’s roller coaster events, write when you can. The other day I asked myself if I got abducted by aliens never to return, the space kind not the green card kind, what would I regret? Besides not having the exclusive story on the whole alien thing? Not getting my stories written. So, write on!

(See Colbert wage war with Amazon.com)   http://on.cc.com/1xd6bRS

(View Author Sherman Alexie chime in on the debacle.)   http://on.cc.com/1xd660r

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Writers Must Be Young Reader Book Pushers!

by Kimberly A. Cook                        (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Read a wonderful article on Friday by Frank Bruni of the “The New York Times” about the importance of literacy in our nation and the disturbing pleasure reading figures for young adults. Seems the current digital natives are veering away from reading to plug-in and zone out even more than we thought.

Original keeper books from my salad days.

Original keeper books from my salad days.

It made me think of my book favorites from grade and middle school. I promptly went to the keeper shelf and gathered a few and took their picture.

Interesting to note what I read in my early years is what still drives me now; romance, mystery, suspense. Seems we might know what writers we are to become by what we read as children.

Kids not reading for pleasure is a huge issue. The article quoted a statistic from the Common Sense Media report that reading for pleasure has declined for ages 13 to 17. It goes on to say “Fewer than 20 percent of 17-year-olds now read for pleasure ‘almost every day.’

Whoa! I know teens are busy, but this is not good for many reasons. The article goes on to talk about the symbiotic link between reading and intelligence. Just like exercise the more you do it the fitter you become, body or brain.

It has never been more important for our youth to read for pleasure. This crusade does not belong to only the Young Adult authors, this is a mercenary business need for all writers. If we don’t make young adult readers, we won’t have adult readers!

It’s time to become a book pusher today!

Link to article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/13/opinion/bruni-read-kids-read.html?_r=0

 

 

 

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How Does The World Look With Purple Glasses?

by Kimberly A. Cook                 (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Fuzzy. Picked up my two new pairs of glasses Friday, one trifocal and the bifocal pair for computer work. Finally figured I’d outsmart myself by getting the exact same frame, but different colors, so I wouldn’t have competing nose indent issues.

So. It seems this pair of trifocals takes a few days(?) to get used to. They told me not to use them to drive home. That didn’t bode well. My eyes always adjust pretty quickly to new lenses and even my first pair of trifocals many years ago. Well, it looks like that ease comes back to bite you eventually.

This is what purple and red glasses look like. Amazing I got this pic since I can't see without them!

This is what purple and red glasses look like. Amazing I got this pic since I can’t see without them!

Didn’t really think about the challenge of finally getting rid of nose pads means my glasses are not only new frames, they sit further out from my eyes. But these are also “new” progressive lenses since they discontinued the ones I had before. Sigh. Dratted upgrades.

As soon as the eye tech guy said they were the best “digital” lenses I knew I was screwed. Digital and I do not get along. So here it is three full days wearing new glasses and we are still getting used to each other.

Everything is going pretty well, but far distance is still an issue. That turned out to be rather entertaining trying to drive to the day job Monday morning. Good thing I know the route because the road signs are a bit fuzzy all of a sudden. Think I just need to give my eyeballs a chance to adjust, but I may have to take the right lens in for a re-check.

Which brings me back to the reason I got the new lenses, to reduce computer eyestrain. Since between the day job and writing at home, my peepers need good lenses and no strain, I get them checked every two years.

It’s amazing how a simple thing like trying to get new eyeglasses can make your entire world change. I seem to be setting my oatmeal bowl down pretty hard in the microwave these days and occasionally the floor moves without an earthquake.

When checking your writing equipment, don’t forget to be kind to your eyes. Get them checked to reduce muscle strain and help them help you in your writing career. Our writer eyes need the best equipment too!

 

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How Do Author Web Sites/Blogs Reflect Multiple Genres?

by Kimberly A. Cook       (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Last week I took a web site and blog tour of my favorite authors for research purposes. Since I write both non-fiction and fiction for publication, I wanted to see how the best are handling this split personality marketing challenge.

Two of my keeper shelves of favorite author books. Okay, maybe floor to ceiling keeper bookshelves is more accurate, truthfully.

Two of my keeper shelves of favorite author books. Okay, maybe floor to ceiling keeper bookshelves is more accurate, truthfully.

It seems there are as many answers as there are authors. It also depends on where the author’s main focus is, writing only or writing and speaking gigs. This makes sense since we all write for our own reasons and goals.

Looking at the queen of romance fiction, Nora Roberts solved the problem when she wrote mystery books by making her J.D. Robb namesake another person. When she came out of the mystery closet with her two different author photos on the back of one book, it was a true split personality. Now she links to her mystery blog from the top of her main website www.noraroberts.com

Author Kate Carlisle proudly shows off her split personality by letting the visitor choose whether she wants romance or mystery, since she publishes both. Her great mystery series is one of my favorites, so this is working for both her romance and mystery fans. Her blog is the same for both sides of her website. See her beautiful landing page at www.katecarlisle.com

Non-fiction and fiction author Joanna Penn has her blog for writers and writer education at www.thecreativepenn.com where she shows her fiction and non-fiction titles. Her fiction thriller website at www.jfpenn.com has a thriller fiction blog attached to it. She split her online marketing footprint on purpose to separate her fiction readers from her non-fiction readers.

Still leaves me up in the air about how I want to handle the non-fiction vs. fiction issue. So who is my marketing mentor, my go-to-guru when I wonder about these kinds of decisions? Debbie Macomber. Not only is she an amazing romance fiction author, she is a non-fiction and children’s book author too. She keeps it all together on her main website and lists all her books under books. So simple yet classic. Love it. Check out her printable book list at www.debbiemacomber.com to see the elegant way she lists and groups all her books. She makes it easy for her readers.

Simple is best for me. I like to think of it as the Coco Chanel guide to author website design. Fine lines and no clutter. Is my website like this? Not now, but this Fall I think a re-design is required. In a publishing world where we can finally pick and choose what we write and when and how we publish, this is one decision I’m glad I can quit tearing my hair out about; a book is a book is a book. What a concept!

 

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