The Road To Self-Publishing: The Tools

The Road To Self-Publishing: The Tools

When I began my journey to become a self-published author I looked at some of the available digital platforms out there that offered free tools and services.

As an independent author, my resources are devoted to fund my own projects. So, “free” means a lot. And it doesn’t have to mean settling for low quality, because digital platforms know, “free” gets customers through their virtual doors. Sure, they won’t waste any time reminding you of the perks that come with upgrades to paid services…but you can always choose not to take the bite.

Everyday, new tools to edit, create and publish come to the digital marketplace. Pickmonkey, Pixabay, and of course, CreateSpace are some of my favorites. They allow me the freedom to visualize, enhance and produce… rather than consume… I get to wear many hats, be actively involve in the creative process and ultimately share my work with the world.

Recommended for young creatives: Bookemon

Over all, it’s a good alternative for young writers or young illustrators. It could also support efforts by Language Arts teachers or parents who want to encourage their young creatives, to come up with projects, share their work and print copies of their own books to give as gifts.

Recommended for Indie writers: CreateSpace

This is a user-friendly platform with good customer service, two things that are always high on my list. CreateSpace offers a variety of distribution opportunities, not just through their online store, but on Amazon.com and Kindle. The physical books themselves are of good quality and, even though they do not offer the option to print hardcover copies, I’m fine with the paperback editions, for both my novels and children’s books.

Not all tools you use have to be free, but they should accommodate your self-publishing budget. Illustrations through Fiverr.com start at $5.00, and if you offer creative services there yourself, you can even use the funds you generate to pay for illustrations (like I do), editing or proofreading services. You can think of these virtual creatives as your “team”, and that’s also important.

Self-publishing doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavor. You can connect with other creatives and find collaborators online. Having a “team” will help you visualize your work as more than a hobby; rather, as a way of life. It will also boost your sense of personal responsibility and commitment to seeing the work to fruition. Best of all, it will spread the creative energy around!

If you need a spark to get your team started, give me a shout out!

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Why Do I Self-Publish My Books?

Why Do I Self-Publish My Books?

In this day and age, I see no reason why those of us who have something to say and write should be confined to the limits of the publishing industry, and its gate keepers.

If you create videos, you can set up your own Youtube Channel. If you are into photography or the visual arts you can post and share your images on a Facebook fan page, Instagram, Pinterest or Tumblr. If you write like me, you can submit articles to online magazines or journals, guest-post on other blogs or create your own blog, and then there’s no limit to what you can do or how many people you can reach.

The Internet, and its multiple sharing platforms, has become the great equalizer. The question is, are we going to take advantage of the opportunity?

If, as a writer, your goal is to be published by one of the publishing houses, big or small, the road has been laid out. Start knocking on doors, get yourself an agent, and keep working hard on your craft. I’m sure eventually you’ll get a toe, and then a foot on the door. Bite the bullet and enjoy the ride.

If, as a writer, your goal is to have your stories published as books, physical and tangible proof of your writing life, something you can share with followers, gift to friends and family or use as added value for your audience, then, grab the bull by the horns and self-publish.

You may choose to self-publish your stories and books for many different and personal reasons. For me, self-publishing my books is mainly a source of self-empowerment. I’m glad the publishing industry exists, they move books in large quantities, and the readership mass to buy them. But, I’m also glad us indie writers have the digital tools to go at it by ourselves. Our independent spirit is after all our prerogative. And our books can be as diverse, outlandish and unconventional as we want them to be. That is an opportunity I won’t allow myself to miss.

Are you thinking about self-publishing? In an upcoming post I’ll write about the digital tools I use and later, about the importance of having a self-publishing team!

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start to Write

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start to Write

Whether you are planning to write your first draft, publish your first novel or your hundredth one, there are timeless questions that every writer should ask before putting a single word down on paper or screen.

These are not the typical Who, What, Why, When, Where.

These are not questions about style, plot or character development. Those questions must come later and will fall organically in the writing process. But before those details can be crafted, there are soul-searching questions for the writer and the writer alone. The answers to these questions become the foundation for the work, the fuel for the creativity.

Think about the foundation of your creative mind as a grand ballroom. Before a new event can be held there it has to be revisited, prepared. Its purpose must be reasserted, its beauty admired, so it can inspire something true.

These questions are not about what’s out there, or what should be. They focus on what’s in here, within your heart and mind, your creative spirit, your soul.

1.Why am I going to write?

Everything we write should have a meaningful purpose attached to it. Even when it’s only meaningful to us, it should also add something of value to someone. The act of writing is tangible proof that you have the courage to act, and put yourself in a vulnerable position. For every new piece of writing, our “why” should be restated, changed or refined. It should be at the forefront and ever present. Our “why” won’t be a shelter from criticism and judgment, but a shield. (Idea: develop a writing mantra like Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Show up” or Anne Lamott “Empty Frame”)

2.Who is asking me to write?

Are you writing because someone asked or told you to? Someone stroke your ego? or do you feel a higher calling? Do you simply feel you must? or do you see an opportunity or profit at the end of the tunnel? All are valid reasons, and knowledge will educate your efforts. The most important thing is for you to be honest with yourself. The motivating voice inside your head will show up every step of the way, till the very end. Isn’t best to know who you are talking to?

3.Am I ready to write?

Writing takes time, effort, commitment and creativity, as much as it takes innate talent. With every new project you must face the same old fears and insecurities. So, you must remember, not being “ready”to write, be it emotionally, mentally, or physically, doesn’t mean you can’t make progress. It means it’s the time for planning, researching, jotting down ideas, themes, names, etc. It’s time to practice, and time to fall in love with the process again. Maybe it’s a time for exploration and discovery. Or maybe, you are ready. And if so, don’t wait for anybody or anything. Start!

What are some of the questions you ask yourself before you start writing?

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Poetry: The Soundtrack of My Youth

Poetry: The Soundtrack of My Youth

Stringing words into made-up songs was just something I did as a child, to keep myself entertained. I thought I was escaping the ordinary “every day”. Actually, it was my way to access and express my truth.

I enjoyed the sweet short verses that I memorized and recited on mother’s and father’s day, a chance to put a private little show. I was drawn to a pencil and a piece of paper. A way to connect with something mysterious and fascinating; the voice of the muse, the excitement of sudden inspiration.

My own poems were initially inspired by the idea of “being” a poet. By the way they were able to connect to something greater than themselves. Like a song you hear on the radio, you wonder how could it be describing what you are feeling and experiencing, as if it came from pages ripped out of your own diary.

Poets find the courage to reach deep down, open their hearts, be vulnerable for all. From a hopeless romantic, to a rationalist with a touch of optimism, these poets and their words have seen me through.

Sonatina

“El jardín puebla el triunfo de los pavos reales.
Parlanchina, la dueña dice cosas banales,
y vestido de rojo piruetea el bufón.
La princesa no ríe, la princesa no siente;
la princesa persigue por el cielo de Oriente
la libélula vaga de una vaga ilusión.”

Ruben Dario

A sonatina is a small sonata, a composition for an instrumental soloist. It is the lonesome song of the princess waiting to be rescued, waiting for the ideal of love. This modernist poem is tailored made for someone prone to bouts of melancholy, daydreams as a coping mechanism, and who is passive in nature.

Volveran Las Oscuras Golondrinas

Pero aquéllas que el vuelo refrenaban
tu hermosura y mi dicha a contemplar,
aquéllas que aprendieron nuestros nombres…
ésas …. ¡no volverán !

Gustavo Adolfo Becquer

The swallow, sometimes a symbol of hope and the successful return from a long journey. It may also represent, freedom, love and affection. But Becquer’s swallows are dark, which might mean, love was not return, love cannot be force, a heart is free to love and still go away. This poem is perfect for those who are inclined toward nostalgia. Longing to go back to the past, hold on to any piece of it that remains and trying to prolong the ultimate goodbye.

El Poema De La Despedida

Este cariño triste, y apasionado, y loco,
me lo sembré en el alma para quererte a ti.
No sé si te amé mucho… no sé si te amé poco;
pero sí sé que nunca volveré a amar así.

Jose Angel Buesa

When I first read this poem, I knew that I would have to give it to someone eventually, and I did. I had to say goodbye, when I thought not everything was lost. But once another’s heart has turned, the best thing you can do is to let go. This poem  is for those who see things in black and white, half empty or half full. Those who have a knack to drone in a glass of water. It might bring solace to someone going through a breakup. It will give you company in your time to grief.

Caminante no hay Camino

Al andar se hace el camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.

Antonio Machado

This short poem contain the universal wisdom of the present moment, the here and now. The road you travel is made by every step you take. The moment you are living. The past becomes nothing more than a lingering memory. The things you believe in, the choices you make are what create your path. Choose wisely.

“Like” if you enjoyed this post! And if there’s a poem that moved you, share it below!

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Bilingual Books and The Origins of Simona’s Adventures

Bilingual Books and The Origins of Simona’s Adventures

Simona is a little girl with big dreams. She has a curious and creative mind. She loves to learn and finds comfort in her family and her books. In many ways she is a lot like I was at her age. Yet, her voice has the maturity and experience I obviously lacked when I was six years old. She embodies the perspective of a child and the insight of the adult, all in one.

What came Before?

A few years back, I heard Simona as a small, distant voice. It was the voice of my childhood, a box of memories. Back then, she was called Nicoletta, and she was telling me about a different adventure; there was a bike involved if I recall. The little story was written, the excitement bubble burst. It went away, like many others had done before.

A donde fuiste a parar Nicoletta? I wondered for a while. Then I forgot. As I forgot about my dream, my desire to become, to be a writer. Where was the unknown force that would turn me into one, suddenly and painlessly?

What’s Your Name?

Then, one day, it happened just like that. I heard a new, yet familiar voice. I asked the voice, “Como Te llamas?” and she answered Simona. And she told me her story, of change and courage. It made sense to me. It made sense to write it down and gift it to others. It made no sense at all to keep it for myself.

So, it all began with a name. I’ve come to realize, it usually does for me, in real life as well as fiction. I had to give a name to the voice, to the messenger. Simona just clicked. It is after all the name my father was never officially given, because of a hospital mistake, but the name that lingered. It is the name that in more than one way reminds me of home.

Can You See The Bigger Picture?

Making Simona’s stories bilingual was always part of the story. She had to speak Spanish, as I do. But I wanted the vehicle of the story to had an additional layer, another language: English. Why? Because English was the second language I was exposed to, and the language that served as a backdrop to the change and transformation that impacted my own life. Because, my focus was on writing texts and making books that I would want to read, own, and give.

The English language is a way to connect with more young readers, a way to motivate those young readers to appreciate and interact with more than one language and encourage them, and their parents, to widen their vocabulary and for that matter, their world.

The bigger picture is the world beyond the text and the book itself. It’s the world that you gain access to when you learn a new language, and appreciate a new culture and people, through the way they express their ideas and emotions.

The bigger picture is the fact that memories and family are what we should hold onto. That change is opportunity. And love is stronger than fear.

The bigger picture is what I want to expose young readers to, and never forget myself in the process.

Have you written a children’s book in English?

  • Send me a link to your story/book so I may share it with the Simona’s Reading Club community.
  • It would be awesome if your story could reach young readers in Spanish. I would love to collaborate with you and translate your story!

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Secrets Between Friends: The Story of Sweet Abigail

Secrets Between Friends: The Story of Sweet Abigail

Could A Secret Be The Thread That Holds A Friendship Together?

The story of Sweet Abigail unequivocally circles around this question.

Two friends are divided in youth by different values and ambitions. Amelia longs for marriage. Abigail let’s her independent spirit soar. While the former meets the man that would envelop her every thought, feeling and passion from then on, the latter is one of the first female students to cross the threshold at Oxford University.

These two friends, separated by time and space, kept a loosely tied bond through the exchange of letters. Letters, that years later fall on the hands of an unsuspecting young reporter, named Sophie.

friends-talking-book

Sophie is a driven young woman. She has a personal quest and only one goal: self-fulfillment. The achievement a precious childhood dream. Yet, she is holding something back. To get closer to the dream she pulled away from romantic love. Now, diving deep into the correspondence between the two friends will make her question her own decisions. It would also put things in perspective, when she finally gets to where she wanted to go, only to realize that something was missing.

Every character in the Sweet Abigail story losses something in the process of gaining what they think is what they want. Stubbornness presents itself in all shapes and sizes. From Amelia’s self-victimization, and her inability to rescue herself. To Abigail’s rationalization for her own actions. To Aldo’s refusal to take a stand, stop the manipulations and make the hard decision. The compromise is the secret that is being kept by all.

There is nothing sweet about what Abigail does. But in the end, the strength of the secret makes the friendship stand the test of time. The bond will go on.

When it comes to friendship, are you one to keep secrets or are you an open book?

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PS: Check out the Virtual Book Party Event that celebrated the launch of the book last February!

A Perspective and A Poem

A Perspective and A Poem

There’s a place where my heart finds solace and my mind catches a break. It’s not at the peak of a mountain, near the stream of a river or the shore of a sandy beach. It’s a place of infinite inspiration and hope. It is not inside my own self, but within the heart of another.

There are hidden gems of inspiration in the faces of the people we love and in the moments we share we them. Coming up with authentic ways of expressing our love is the best incentive to be creative.

What we have to do is simple. We sit, we breath, we connect. We listen for the voices of our feelings with awareness. These voices are compelling us to create.

May be your love letter is written, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a melody, a song or dance, it can be a painting or craft, made with intention and meaning. The only requirement is, it has to be an expression of yourself, of authentic love, unattached to a monetary value, a material exchange, free from expectations.

Deep awareness of the present moment is what makes me listen to words, coming from within and outside myself. And there are voices talking to you all the time as well. Stop listening to the louder and angrier ones, the voices of fear, doubt, self-hatred. Turn up the volume of the soft words, spoken by wiser voices, that of love, hope, empathy. Go ahead and write their words, draw their spirit, sing their essence.

I listened to the all-encompassing voice, and this is what it said to me:

When I Lay There

There’s a spot where my head lies, on your shoulder, soft and strong

There’s no sorrow, there’s no pain, that can’t be forgotten there.

When I lay my head there, I feel loved.

There’s a spot where my head lies, on your belly, soft and warm

There’s no fear, there’s no fault, that can’t be forgiven there.

When I lay my head there, I feel loved.

There’s a spot where my head lies, in your hands, soft and brawny

There’s no doubt, there’s no flaw, that can’t be accepted there.

When I lay my head there, I feel loved.

There’s a spot where my head lies, in your chest, soft and noble

There’s no memory or mistake that can’t be understood there.

When I lay my head there, I feel loved.

I feel renewed and I feel safe, I feel worry slip away.

When I lay my heart there, there’s no challenge I can’t face

There’s no foe and there’s no blame, but a lover, but a friend.

When I lay my head there, I am loved.

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Recommended Reading: Big Magic.