Tag Archives: Misfits from the Beehive State

Misfits now available through Third Place Books and Indy Bound

My collection Misfits from the Beehive State is on the shelves now in Seattle at Third Place Books — both Ravenna Third Place Books and Third Place Lake Forest Park.

It’s also now available through Indy Bound. What’s that? A way to support independent bookstores, which are a really important part of our communities! Just enter your zip code, and you get a list of local independent bookstores that can sell it to you. Then click on the name of a bookstore and you’ll get its address. Or, if it’s an independent bookstore that offers books for sale online, it can ship it to you just as fast as Amazon, and for the same price. For instance, you can buy it online from Queen Anne Books.

Why support independent bookstores? Here are some great reasons (excerpted from the Indy Bound FAQ):

  • Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.
  • More of your taxes are reinvested in your community–where they belong.
  • Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
  • More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community.

My local independent bookstore has been a lifeline for me as an author, reader, and mom. When my kids were little, I was lonesome and a bit stir-crazy. But I could always pack up the kids in their double stroller and head over there for a cup of coffee and to browse Brain, Child and Hip Mama Magazine. Oh, and the Reality Mom zine that Corbin Lewars put out — somebody else on the same wavelength! When I was researching Sumer for the story “Mystery of the Missing Mothers,” which appeared in Missing Links and Secret Histories, I found a bunch of used books on Sumer by Samuel Kramer. Most recently, they saved my son from boredom by recommending the Nicholas Flamel series.

Anyway, indy bookstores are great. Support them!

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Concept art that didn’t make it, presented for your viewing amusement

Concept art that didn't make it, presented for your viewing amusement

Here is the concept art that ultimately didn’t make it onto my book cover. They were all fun to make, but none of them had the right personality. (One day, though, I hope to write a story that will live up to the flamingo cover.)

I learned a lot along the process. First, don’t use copyrighted works even for private concept art, because you might fall in love with something you can’t ultimately use. Second, it’s not easy, but you can search wikimedia commons for art that falls under “CC-BY-3.0” a common license that can be used for book covers. Third, there are a lot of stock photography sites that charge a small fee for the kind of print runs an indy author would have. Fourth, it’s way easier to have a graphic designer do your cover than to do it yourself. Fifth, I learned how to use the free image manipulation program GIMP. WIN!

Here is some more detailed information about the art in this picture. I did my best, but if this is your art and I’ve attributed it incorrectly please let me know.

Flamingo cover
Moab by DR04, found at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:05242008_Moab50.JPG
Flamingoes by Christian Mehlführ, found at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:James_Flamingos_MC.jpg

Floating doll cover
Sealing Room: author unknown, found at http://thetrumpetstone.blogspot.com/2011/02/unique-sealing-rooms.html
Doll by Kristin King, photographed from antique at Lagoon amusement park

Tree of Utah cover
Tree of Utah by Karl Momen, found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphor:_The_Tree_of_Utah
Doll by Kristin King, photographed from antique at Lagoon amusement park
Smoking woman by Nuria Garay Del Barrio, found at 123rf.com

White house cover
Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, found at http://www.nps.gov/ner/photosmultimedia/photogallery.htm?id=1B0E50FF-155D-451F-678AB4570B671E4D
Smoking woman by Nuria Garay Del Barrio, found at 123rf.com

Man on roof cover
Steep Roof, author unknown, found at http://www.wienerberger.com/brands-products/koramic-clay-roof-tiles/projects-and-references/steep-roofs-on-scattered-buildings-make-modern-village.html?lpi=1120659566515
Brother Sharp, found at http://www.china.org.cn/photos/2010-03/03/content_19511630_8.htm

Arches National Park cover
Three Gossips by Sanjay Acharya/ Wikimedia Commons, found at

Woman smoking – Moulin Rouge, by Elen Moulin Rouge(?), found at http://all-free-download.com/free-vector/vector-people/moulin_rouge_40997.html

Why am I self-publishing?

I own a license plate frame that says, “A Woman’s Place Is My Bookstore.” Come to think of it, I ought to put it on my car. It’s not just a lovely sentiment — it’s also advertising for a bookstore that used to exist in the early 1990s, before chains like Barnes and Noble put a lot of independent bookstores out of business. A Woman’s Place. That bookstore supported me as a fledgling writer. I gave a reading there, and I took a workshop with Pam Houston there that led to a wonderful writing group. But now it’s gone, as is the Red and Black Bookstore in Seattle — quite a loss.

At the same time as bookstores were consolidating, publishing houses were also consolidating. It became harder and harder to publish midlist books (books that make money but aren’t bestsellers). And books that were published went quickly to the remainder table, because they were profitable, but not profitable enough.

At the same time, the growth of MFA programs put out more and more and more accomplished writers, all of whom were submitting stories to literary magazines and book publishers.

What did all this mean? As my writing became better and better, the likelihood of publishing a collection of short stories with a traditional publisher moved farther and farther away. The rules had changed. And my strategy for getting published ought also have changed.

Here was the strategy in the early 1990s: you submit stories to literary magazines. Once you have enough, you seek out an agent or an editor and attempt to get your collection published. But by the beginning of this century, when I finally had a publishable-quality collection of short stories, that strategy was ultimately doomed.

So to me, the question is not, “Should I self-publish?” The question is now, “Why did I wait so frickin long?”

I re-evaluated everything when I sent my collection to an agent and she said, “Yes, it’s good enough to publish. But I can’t sell it until you’ve sold a story to either the New Yorker, Harpers, or the Atlantic Quarterly.” And then I sent a story to the New Yorker, and I got a note back saying that despite its evident merit, it wasn’t the kind of thing they published. Earlier in my writing career, I would have been ecstatic, because a handwritten rejection note from the New Yorker meant that you were getting somewhere! But I realized then that I simply wouldn’t get anywhere with the kind of writing I did.

And then the publishing industry changed again. Publishing houses started paying authors less and less, and Amazon made it possible for people to make money self-publishing, and now, many respected authors are self-publishing on Amazon. So I went for it.

Thank you, Ariel Gore and your book How to Be a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead!!!!

I realized a couple important things when I made the decision to self-publish. I changed my book title, my “pitch,” and even the kind of stories that were in the collection. I was no longer trying to please a publisher; I was trying to please a reader. And I know what a reader is like — after all, I am one! All I had to do was make a book that someone like me would be interested in reading.

What if nobody likes it? What if nobody buys it? That’s where my friend Brandon came in. “I want to read it,” he said. “I’ll buy it.”

One reader. Just one reader. It’s worth doing.

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Misfits from the Beehive State

Misfits from the Beehive State

Coming up! The publication of “Misfits from the Beehive State” ran into a bit of a hitch with the cover, but it’s finally done. I’ll get a proof copy on Wednesday, make changes, get another proof copy, and then good to go!

Status update on the short story collection

It’s incredible how many steps it takes to publish a book, once the writing is done. But I’m getting there. As of today, I have incorporated all the copy edits. Yay!!! That means the text is finalized. FINALIZED. Sweet.

The cover art should be ready by November 15th. My next step is to get it in the proper format for ebook and print. The ebook formatting shouldn’t be too difficult — I’m using the Coffee Cup HTML editor and the Calibre E-book converter, and I’ve had plenty of practice with both of those. But I do have to find some pretty text features, called fleurons, to use for screen breaks. 

The hardest part is going to be writing the cover blurb. Yaagh! Those will be the hardest ~100 words of the whole collection. I probably shouldn’t do it. Nobody should ever write their own cover blurb, probably. I should probably find, or pay, somebody else.