Indie Resources

Since I took the path of becoming an indie author, a priority has been to learn more of the evolving and growing movement. From time to time, I come across material that in my opinion, every independent author should read, as it may be very beneficial. I came across two important books that I am reading now, and a third that I am planning to read next. I could not pass on the opportunity to mention them here, hoping that any indie authors out there that need this information will benefit. These have been written by people who have walk the path and done the job, as well as independent authors, entrepreneurs. Here they are,

  • Business for Authors – How to be an author entrepreneur – Joanna Penn

Joanna Penn is a very successful independent author and entrepreneur, and one of the leading figures of the movement.

A book about the subject of intellectual property,

  • How to Use Eye-catching Images Without Paying a Fortune or a Lawyer – Helen Sedwick

Helen Sedwick is a California attorney and independent author who represents small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Another book by Helen Sedwick on my “to own” list is Self-publishers Legal Handbook. 

If you have embraced becoming an indie author for the long run, I advice you to start your own learning library, as I am doing. The more you know the better, and knowledge will enhance your journey, and hopefully, will make it fruitful.

 

Lily – More Than a Pretty Flower

The Lily is an intriguing flower. The Lily is mentioned in my novels, but its appearance was not planned. It started as the need for the name of a ladies club, a secret society formed by divine command (although I did not know it at the time) – The Blue Lily Society. The name popped in my mind and it refused to leave, so that is what it became, and its purpose was revealed to me later in the writing of Moonlit Valley. Later on, I discovered the many meanings of this awesome flower. It has been used as a symbol in many cultures and religion, and its many colors represent many things from purity to friendship, love, wealth … and so on.

From the Greeks to the Romans in mythology, to Christianity and other orders, the presence of this flower is strong. It is mentioned in the Bible. It has been depicted in religious sculptures of saints and angels holding it, as a cross, and even as the french fleur-de-lis representing the trinity as well as faith, hope, and charity. It is present in other works of art, and in antique jewelery and royal jewelery. It is also a symbol of the feminine energy as represented by the Virgin Mary in Christianity and as a feminine element in other religions, and even in Greek and Roman mythology. A happy coincidence since the Blue Lily Society members are women.

Although the water-lily or lotus is not of the same family as the lily flower, it represents divinity and the sacred, as well as enlightenment. It is very sacred in eastern religions. The Egyptians revered it as a symbol of life. Hence the Lily flower becomes a universal symbol throughout history.

Whether a happy coincidence, divine inspiration, or universal mind (I will never know), I am very happy to have this very special flower depicted in my novels, and yes, it is more than a pretty flower.

How I Care for my Old Books

Many of us read from electronic devices but that does not mean that we do not enjoy a book in our hands from time to time. When I love a book so much I buy the hardcover edition or paperback. It goes on my collection of loved-to-death tomes, and I take good care of it. I enjoy buying older books to add to a very small and modest collection. These become my jewels. Whether antique or new, a much-loved book gets good treatment. Instead of writing a post on How to care for antiques books, I will leave that to the true-experts. You can find plenty of that information on the internet. However, I will write about how I care for my precious books under my real and down to earth circumstances.

Many elements are observed when caring for my precious books. I think of temperature, location, space, air flow, position on shelf, handling, and other issues that may affect the condition of the book over time. Because I do not live in a museum or a mansion, I must adapt my environment to the best conditions for my tomes, as well as my behavior or handling of these. Although my items are in storage now due to a pending move, I can tell you what I did. Here is what I always do.

  • The first rule I observe is to never leave a book unattended. I have six cats and some of them love to chew on paper, or play with it. Old books have a plethora of enticing scents and will become a favorite toy or prey.
  • The second rule is to treat my books as if they were vampires. I avoid exposing them to direct sunlight or leaving them where I know that the sun rays will hit for some time. Sunlight rays work fast on discoloration and even drying out a cover or spine.
  • Third rule – In my case, temperature and location go together. I try to select the best placement in my home – not too humid, not too dry or hot. For example, never leave a favorite in the bathroom or near a cooking stove or on top or near a heater or vent. I don’t have a basement but do have an attic, and neither those would be a good place to store a book.
  • Fourth rule – Air flow goes tied to location and placement on the shelf, so I will address those altogether. I try to select a location away from drafts, cold/hot air, sunlight, as well as having a nice airflow where the books will be stored. My shelving is made of wood and it is soft, not rough. Rough shelving might cause tears on your cover and pages, as well as damage on the spine. I don’t place the books too tight, even if I am tempted due to lack of space (wanting to fit another one). I allow a bit of space between, but also, I never lean a book against each other because this will damage its shape and pages eventually. If I have space, I use a felted book end. I’d rather it rests flat than leaning it, although if I lay it flat, another book on top should not be so heavy that the pressure will damage the cover, if it sticks together.
  • The fifth rule has to do with how I handle the book. I love when books have dust jackets because of the obvious. I place them upright, but if a book is a softcopy/paperback and it is tall, I’d rather store that one flat on its side because I know that it will bend eventually. I think I only have one or two that are that tall, if memory serves me well. One thing that I try not to do when selecting a book from the shelf is to pull on its spine because I did this once and the thing just came off a bit, so now I rather push the book out from the back and grab it firm with my hand when pulling it out. If there is a decent amount of space between books it should be retrieved easily. In the previous disaster, the book was stored too snug; sometimes you learn the hard way. Under handling, I should mention that I never have cream, lotion or oil in my hands when I am about to read a book that falls under the “precious” category, and by precious I mean “my precious” because I don’t own any valuable or expensive tomes, although I do have a few that are one or two centuries old, and those I have to be very careful when handling them.  The reason for this is that the old pages were made of a different material than today’s or more recent books, I think of wood pulp, back in the days when trees were murdered or sacrificed for knowledge. Anything oily or acidic will wreak havoc on the pages (old or new). I do have a pair of white gloves that I keep for the day that I encounter (or afford) that very special specimen. If you have opened an older book you may have noticed that the pages are dry, yellowed, and sometimes a page will crack/crumble when handled. Also, when returning my book to its nest, I try to be gentle, especially with the corners, and try not to touch the wood or the neighboring book. I also don’t dog-ear mark a page or leave a marker inside. Some papers are acidic and will damage it eventually. I bet you have seen the imprint of a marker on a page or its image, even when the marker has been removed.
  • The sixth rule has to do with cleaning, and that is simply being aware of using cleaners, oils, and sprays near books or the shelving, dusting gently and regularly so dust does not accumulate heavily. I use a soft duster, but honestly, I don’t even know what kind is better, although I would assume that feathers have oil compared to synthetic dusters; and of course, a separate duster would be better, not the one used around the house.

Other than that, I just try my best to love and care for my books, nothing fancy. Speaking about fancy, if you are into it and want to do it the professional way, there are many book care supplies available such as acid-free protective jackets, gloves, book furniture with glass doors, slip cases, special boxes … . If you own a very special and expensive book then you should consult a antique book specialist or expert that will educate you in the care and or restoration of older volumes. You may want to insure it of course, if it is very valuable. Overall, I just use common sense and TLC.

Ever wondered about the parts of a book? Here is a picture I put together sometime ago. If you notice, at one point, this book was handled with oily fingers because it has markings on the gold-leaf pages; just to give you an example of how something so simple and natural may affect a book later on.

book parts 1

book parts 2

I hope you enjoyed this post.

 

In Between the Lines – Sacrifice

When looking at several definitions of Sacrifice, a few words and phrases stand out – offering, relinquish, forfeiture, loss, and to sell or give away. Those are not attractive words/phrases. If one were to think of Sacrifice on those terms only, it would definitely not happen (maybe the offering part seems to be the only part with a positive vibe).

Sacrifice is a main theme on my novels. However, it is presented tied to Love and Duty. When we think of Sacrifice as part of those, somehow, the meaning of the above mentioned words/phrases take a different tone. For Love and Duty of the deepest and highest kind, we offer, relinquish, forfeit, lose, and give away anything and everything. Sacrifice becomes an act of Love, of Duty, and suddenly it becomes a form of exaltation, a high state of being, and instead, a great offering – giving instead of lack of, or losing something. It changes the meaning. This is why Sacrifice is bound to happen.

Food for thought – If you experienced Sacrifice, in what light did you view it, and how it affected your state of being? Think of the Why.

In Between the Lines – Hate

Hate – To loathe; detest. To dislike. Intense dislike or animosity. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Hate is a very strong word and full of negative energy. This makes it a passive and active entity. In other words, hating requires an amount of negative energy as well as negative action, that is, if the person acts on the hate he/she feels and entertains.

If you believe in the adage “what goes around comes around,” then hating and acting in hate damages the hated as well as the hater. Hate is another topic on one of my novels. If you have experienced the effects of hate (whether hating or hated) you will agree that it is a very damaging emotion, and one that will only attract more negative emotions/feelings by empowering these (negatively) as the person becomes entangled in its trap. I never want to experience such a negative emotion, but I have observed it on others, and it is very dark and uggly. I may say that I hate injustice, but this type of dislike is different from the damaging emotion of true Hate.

We get to choose the emotions/feelings that we welcome in our lives. We have been given the power to encourage or reject these – to choose to love or to hate, to forgive or not to; however, that does not mean that we are androids. Negative emotions are intense but we can control these, and if we feel them we are free to let them go or let them haunt us, and even let them determine or affect our future behavior. We become masters or slaves of our emotions/feelings – it is up to us; not easy, but always up to us.

“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” – Proverbs 16:32 (kjv)

“When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.” – Abraham Lincoln

“In time we hate that which we often fear.” – William Shakespeare

 

 

 

In Between the Lines – Betrayal

Betrayal – I don’t like to hear or even say the word. It is sour, pungent, and yes, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth, and soul. If you have ever been betrayed and never saw it coming, then you know what I mean. Unsuspected betrayal is one of the hardest things to forget and forgive.

Betrayal is present as a secondary theme in one of my novels – Ramblings of the Spirit (The Dinorah Chronicles). What intrigues me about betrayal is that it comes in many degrees, however, leaving the same feeling, and contributing to an array of other feelings/emotions that attach to it – distrust, anger, pain, desire for revenge, disappointment … all far away from our true nature of loving beings. What makes us depart from that nature? Different paths for different people on different journeys crossing paths in one big journey.

Betrayal is defined mainly as treason, as committing an act against … . In movies, and stories of all kind, the heroes are the good guys/girls, but most times they are betrayed. Yes, “good guys/girls” sometimes finish last (a temporary illusion). It is not the goodness in the hero that makes him/her so, but the way he/she bounces back and deals with the emotions/feelings that are packaged in with the betrayal. How we react after we open the package makes all the difference. Do we let it make us less than heroes or do we go through mourning of the self in an array of emotions (because we are human and not super-human) and decide who we want to be? Do we want to honor our loving essence or ignore it? It is a process, not an easy one, but eventually, the hero will rise, that is, if you let it.

What’s New

To me, reviews are just opinions and the reason I never leave negative reviews. What I don’t like someone might enjoy. When I enjoy a book I leave a positive review, and if I think the book will be of great help to writers I will mention it here. I just finished reading Never Too Late – Your Roadmap to Reinvention by Claire Cook. I enjoyed this book. It is her first non-fiction and shares her experiences as a best-selling author and her views on reinvention. It is written in a conversational and warm tone, as she talks to the reader and shares her wisdom through many years of hard work and dedication to the craft. She shares many personal and significant experiences that many writers will appreciate. The book is great for aspiring writers who are looking for an honest and real view of what navigating these waters feels like. In addition, it will benefit people who are on a journey of reinvention and betterment of their lives. As most of you know, Claire Cook is the author of many novels and she has a unique style. One of her first novels was made into a movie – Must Love Dogs.

I added her book to my website under the recommended reads on writing. In addition, I added a FAQ on writing and indie publishing. I am planning on sharing a few posts on what I am doing to get back on the saddle and sort of renew my vows to myself and my work/life. I see it as a way of reinvention or starting a new page. There is no such thing as jumping out of your skin into another but you can certainly shed off what doesn’t serve you anymore. It is one journey with many roads, detours, and wherever you need to turn, backtrack or rest along the way, there is a place to reflect, breathe, and figure out your next step. After all, it is your journey and you make it whatever it may be.

Back on the Saddle and the Need for a Blank Slate

Sometimes, when you come to a halt, being that a physical, material, emotional, psychological, or spiritual pause, the need to start fresh arises. After change, a rock on your boat, or any kind of disturbance, there is that silent pause, a very personal and intimate moment that only I recognize, and the prelude to what comes next in action. It is not so much the defining moment but the silent moment that makes the next one possible – whatever I may or may not decide – choose – act. It may be a source for strength or not, because it depends on how I embrace change, view it, and the emotions/feelings that I associate or attach to it. From that silent moment on, I either get back on the saddle (even in the midst of change) or not.

It is at that moment of truth that the need for a blank slate presents itself, summoned by vision and attitude, faith and determination. Back on the saddle again, I resolve to start on a blank slate, or a new page. One thing I know for sure is to change the ink, to not write in old ink on the pages of the new journal of life. A blank slate is a wonderful start, even if it may not look it right away. Vision becomes clearer as the writing starts once more.

We are writers of our lives. Sometimes we write to slow, too fast, or scribble; other times, we run out of ink in the middle of a page – an important page many times – and we pause, refill, and continue writing the great novel of our lives, which is eternal.

 

Ouch and Developing Hind’s Feet

Life is full of serendipity and synchronicity, and although time (timing) plays a role, it truly does not matter how long it has been, how many years have gone by, because when life, God, the Universe … fill the blank — wants to convey a message to you, everything comes to a halt so you may listen and pay attention. It has been my experience.

As a quick update, and following my earlier post, I broke my right arm near the shoulder, so it has been painful and I am undergoing physical therapy. I have not been able to tend to my writing as it was painful to write, but I am feeling better now. During this time, I have done a lot of reading. Right now I am reading a book that I read about 20 + years ago – Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard – an allegory dramatizing the journey each of us must take before we can live in “high places.”

The book was given to me by a priest. I read the book when I was younger (much younger) and I loved it. It inspired me then, but little did I know the difference that the span of 20+ years makes when you read it again. I had forgotten about the book. I had lent it to a friend, years had gone by, and out of sight out of mind. Recently, I got a package in the mail from my dear friend, and in it I found the book with a lovely note that expressed how she was organizing her home and found the book and was returning it to me “since books are like children and should not be separated from their parents for too long” (her own words).  When I saw it, I became excited since I had forgotten about that book entirely. Then I thought, “there is a reason why I should be reading this book now, and I believe that there is a message in it for me.” Little did I know that the book contained the wisdom I needed at this moment, but moreover, the words were new to me; a different kind of understanding developed this time, as I read it. Is it the wisdom of years and experiences gone by or the need for those words at this moment? Maybe a combination of both, but I am grateful to my dear friend and I believe that she was inspired to send me the book that my soul needed now while many of my systems are being tested. How beautiful and amazing life is despite the many tests and situations it presents us with, when we least expect them. It all ties in and we are all connected in this beautiful reality and beyond.

We live in a material and dimensional reality which many times we measure by L (long) x W (wide) x H (high) but when we halt, listen, and yearn for more we can start living by another reality L (life) x W (wonder) x H (heights/new heights) and experiencing existence at another level, more meaningful, more magical, more divine. Here I leave you with another inspirational picture – a flower from my garden that may seem simple at first glance but which contains a whole universe when we look at it closely.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

 

Just a Note

Thank you all who have visited the blog. I feel obligated to write this post due to my absence over the past few days. I hurt my right arm badly and it is very painful to write, even to click, so I will be away from this blog for a while but will try to see if I can post at least once in a while, until I heal or does not hurt that much. This of course interferes with the writing of Sunrise Souls, which I wanted to write before the end of this year. I am keeping my goal.

For now, I will leave you with this inspirational picture and words.

Stay calm.

Stay in Faith.

Pass the Test.

And find the Magic in the simplest of things.

Photo by M.A.D.

Photo by M.A.D.

 

Love.