Saturday, May 26, 2012

Brendell Is Choked With Me.

Yesterday a dear friend dropped by, someone I hadn't seen for awhile. During our visit I mentioned I'd won the silver medal from IP Awards for BROKEN BUT NOT DEAD. She was delighted. But as I spoke, I heard a disturbing sound in my voice. It was my apologetic tone. I was embarrassed I'd won when so many others hadn't.

Afterwards, I realized I've been doing this my entire life, apologizing when something nice happens to me. It as if the happiness takes me out of my comfort zone. I feel unworthy.


It actually doesn't matter. I know my parents loved me. I know I had a wonderful childhood. I grew up on a farm and lived the kind of life that children's books are written about. We had one adventure after another.

I wouldn't be writing about this today if Brendell hadn't popped in to say, Thanks a lot, you dumb twit.

Which reminds me, is that where the name twitter comes from? A twit who happens to twitter?

Brendell Kisepisim Meshango graciously accepts the award, not once doubting that she deserves it. She's work hard to survive an abusive childhood and to make something of her life. She's a noble woman, a proud Metis, who believes in justice, respect, and tolerance for all peoples. She's the type of woman the rest of us secretly wish we were. Confident, courageous, funny, a loving mother, a good friend, and a great protagonist. She's got a sharp wit and equally sharp tongue. When push comes to shove, Brendell stands her ground and manages to counter with the kind of comebacks that always elude me in similar situations.

I'm writing this post to apologize to her for ever doubting that her story wouldn't capture the IPPY's attention. I didn't know my publisher was submitting my book, but when I heard, my first response should have been, Of course. Brendell is a worthy recipient. 

Awards begin with you believing in yourself, your writing, and your endearing and well-rounded characters. And if that doesn't do it for you, think of it this way. If your child came home from school with a 1st place ribbon, you wouldn't respond with: "Oh, sweetie, you better take it back. Someone more deserving than you deserves it."

Okay, now on a different subject...

On aerating our lawn; if this works, I'll post new photos in a few weeks.

It's so pretty today.

Even Shasta thinks so. You can't tell, but she's got a hop in her step.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

IPPY AWARDS, Theytus winners!

I received exciting news yesterday from my publisher Theytus Books. Over 2,400 independent authors and publishers participated in the 16th annual, 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards contest. My suspense thriller BROKEN BUT NOT DEAD won the Silver Medal for Canada-West -- Best Regional Fiction.


As authors, you write these stories because they have to be written, but you never think someone will actually give you an award for doing so. I'm beside myself with excitement.

Gold went to Angie Abdou for The Canterbury Trail, (Brindle & Glass Publishing Ltd.)
Bronze went to R. L. (Rod) Prendergast for Dinner with Lisa, (Dekko Publishing)

I'm proud to announce that two other Theytus Books also won:

Multicultural Fiction Adult
Gold: Midnight Sweatlodge, by Waubgeshig Rice

Canada-West – Best Regional Non-Fiction
Bronze: My Life with the Salmon, by Diane Jacobson 

Yesterday began with a gracious Random Act of Kindness by dear blogger and friend 
Carrie Butler. Carrie not only presented me with an act of kindness on her blog, she created my fabulous-looking new header, AND she even included links where readers could buy my books. Yes, Carrie rocks! Please stop by and check out her blog, which is full of tips, advice, knowledge and fun stuff.

Yesterday, after Carrie's Random Act of Kindness, things just kept getting better. 

The Independent Publisher Book Award ceremonies take place on June 4th during the annual BookExpo America publishing conventions in NYC.

Conducted each year to honor the year's best independently published books, the "IPPY" awards recognize excellence in a broad range of subjects and reward authors and publishers who "take chances and break new ground."

What an endorsement!
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Happy Birthday, Judi!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Our home of twenty years has been under construction since the first of March. No sooner do I think we're nearing completion and something else needs to be done. Most recently we replaced the railing in the loft with a half-wall.

What I like best about the change is that we turned the area into an actual room...

and because our bedroom is beyond this room, at the back of the house, and there's no door, we now have more privacy. The walls also act as a buffer for the TV downstairs.

You may be wondering what's taking us so long; March! I'm wondering, too. Maybe it's age. I don't move as fast as I used to. And I think I'm allergic to paint. Since March 1, we've painted every room in the house including the basement. That front wall you see in the photo below is 25' high. I excused myself from that project, but too late; my hands are sore and puffy, and so are my eyes.

We replaced the carpets in the bedrooms, installed new flooring in the ensuite; thanks to our son; but we're not finished. Next, we need to ... never mind. No need to bore you. Let's just say we still have a lot of work to do.

What has this to do with my mother?

Today I tried to remove myself as a follower on my blog. It didn't work. I've tried before, but after several failed attempts, it occurred to me that whomever removed themselves from my blog this week (I had 250 followers, now I have 249) did so successfully.

I've lost followers before. My inner voice says it isn't personal, and yet I can't help wondering, did I offend said-follower? And no, it's not my mother's fault.

Except, maybe it is.

I started blogging in June of 2008 and learned very quickly that blogging is about community. Over the past four years, I've met some wonderful bloggers who I consider friends. They're listed under my blogroll. We support each other. When a new post is aired, we're all there to read, share and comment.

At least I used to be. With all this remodelling, I've become overwhelmed. I'm not writing. I'm not blogging. I'm generally late commenting on my favourite blogs. Sometimes I miss the post completely.

I'm taking too long to explain myself. The point is my mother taught me good manners. I learned to treat people the way I wanted to be treated. I learned that I'm no better or worse than anyone, and no one is exempt from having their feelings hurt. I don't know why I lost a follower this week, but because my mother brought me up to be considerate of other's feelings, I'm now worried that I've inadvertently hurt that follower and they've left because of it.

It's Mother's Day tomorrow. I'd like to thank my mother for teaching me to be a good person. She was a gentle, kind woman, and if I'm distraught over the fact I may have said something to upset someone, and they removed themselves from my blog, a feat I can't seem to accomplish myself, then somewhere my mother could be smiling down at me and thinking: I didn't do such a bad job after all. At least I hope she is.

I miss you, Mum. The years seem to get harder without you.

Now, about the ice...

I'd like to apologize for taking so long to get back to you on the ice contest. The winner of accurating surmising when the ice would come off Cluculz Lake was Suzanne de Montigny. Suzanne guessed May 5. Congratulations, Suzanne.

May 4

Thanks to everyone for participating. It was fun.

Friday, May 4, 2012

ASK PZM: May 2012 ebooks

Q: If authors want to self-publish, how do they choose between the overwhelming array of self-publishing options for books and ebooks?
Excellent question – and one for which there is no answer.  But there are some signposts to consider on this particular path.

Here are my notes by category on some of the options now available (and remember that this information is subject to change at a moment’s notice):

Amazon’s Kindle and CreateSpace:

Let’s say you want to try out Amazon’s Kindle Select option, which requires an exclusive 90-day period on Kindle with the ebook not available for sale anywhere else.  You could use Amazon’s POD publisher CreateSpace to convert your book to the Kindle format.  (You can read about Kindle Select at )

But this conversion service (starting at $69 and going up depending on the complexity of the conversion) is only for a physical book self-published through CreateSpace. (Yes, Kindle Direct Publishing has instructions to do the conversion yourself.  Although I may end up doing this, I would prefer someone else whose specialty this is to do it for my ebooks.)

(Note: For CreateSpace you can upload a manuscript in pdf, doc, docx or rtf.)

BookBaby and Smashwords:

I used ebook publishing company BookBaby to convert HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE for ebook formatting because I wanted to try BookBaby’s distribution channels.

For BookBaby a manuscript can be uploaded in pdf, which is good as you do not have to worry about making sure all the formatting codes in the manuscript are correct.

Now let’s say you want to add your published ebook to a Smashwords ebook account.  Smashwords does not take a pdf or rtf; it requires a correctly formatted Word doc.  You must decide if you really want to spend the time to go through your entire manuscript and check all formatting codes before uploading to Smashwords.

(Note: I am assuming here that, before you self-publish, you hire a copyeditor/proofreader to go over your manuscript unless you are very good at spelling, grammar, etc.  Computers usually do not know the difference, for example, between their and there and they’re.)

Book marketing services:

In a comment on a discussion thread in the LinkedIn Book Marketing group I founded and manage ( someone recommend an online book marketing service because his friend had used this service to supposed good results (whatever that means).

Someone rightly asked what kind of book the friend had and the book’s title in order to better evaluate this comment of “good results.”

Then I added that, even if we knew what kind of book and the book’s title, we would not be able to evaluate the friend’s success for purposes of considering this particular book marketing service for ourselves. 

Why?  Because there are so many additional variables for a book’s success online and offline, including whether the author was active on social media before the book launch, how active was the author during the book launch, etc.

When I work with authors on book marketing, I make it very clear that there are no guarantees that online marketing will sell even one book.  What online marketing can do – and do well with the investment of time and effort – is get your books in front of the target audiences you have identified.
Then all those other variables come into play, including how well-written a novel is, how relevant the information of a nonfiction book is, the price of an ebook, etc.

Ebook pricing:
Speaking of the price of ebooks, as someone said the other day about the publishing world, it’s the wild frontier.

Just following the news about U.S. ebook price collusion and what this means for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. is enough to drive authors crazy.

My personal opinion at this time – and I have only my own observations and research on which to base this observation – is that $9.99 should be the highest ebook price, and this should only be for nonfiction titles. 

My ebook HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE is currently priced at $9.99.  But I would not recommend pricing a novel this high unless you are a famous author.

Physical book vs. ebook:

I had recently decided that ebooks are all that is needed for new books, especially as Smashwords allows each title to have many purchase options, including a downloadable pdf.

Then I read something that made me reconsider this opinion.  Someone wrote that he believes there are readers that, after reading an ebook, would want the physical book.

Because it is very inexpensive to publish a POD book through CreateSpace, I have now decided to make my ebooks also available in a physical version.  This, of course, becomes another “to do” item on a very long list. 

One thing the undertaking of this task requires is the decision of what size to make the physical book, and I am studying this question now.  I realize that the optimal (whatever this means) size may vary with each individual book. 

In conclusion, there are not necessarily any right answers – and even right answers can change overnight thanks to the speed of change on the Internet. 

What does remain as true is that we each have to evaluate these options based on our own goals, time frame, and openness to new opportunities.  We are also privileged to have Joylene Butler’s wonderful blog on which to share what we learn.

© 2012 Miller Mosaic, LLC       
Phyllis Zimbler Miller (@ZimblerMiller on Twitter and Pinterest) is the co-founder of the online marketing company, which is WBENC certified and also builds WordPress websites for clients. Information on her books and ebooks can be found at

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Thanks, Phyllis, for another informative post.  

For those who entered my ice breakup contest, here's an update on what's happening on Cluculz Lake.

Those little white spots on the ice are gulls.