Rare Creature Sighting

2nd Look Books logo

Within the burrows of my heart hides this tiny creature. It’s fuzzy with rounded ears and a small nose, much like a pika. It’s about the same size too.

PikaThis is the creature that jumps for glee at being invited to a friend’s event or that scrambles with purpose when hosting a game night.

This is also the creature that excitedly rolls out ideas for marketing or squeals when I book a book signing.

But this small, fuzzy bundle of joy lives in the silent puma’s territory.

The Puma does not jump for glee at the idea of a party. It would much rather climb a tree or find a quiet place for a sun drenched nap.

It doesn’t scramble in excitement over a friendly get together but bares its teeth and wanders away on silent paws, choosing to hide in its den over rubbing shoulders with other cats.

If annoyed too much, the puma might just eat the round eared pika out of spite and so, the pika hides the majority of the time in its burrow.

And there the pika stays, quiet and cautious, while the puma handles the day-to-day details of life.

Puma

There are, however, a few, rare instances when the pika gets to climb onto a rock and sing its existence. Perhaps the puma’s deep asleep, or perhaps it’s too focused on hunting and doesn’t hear the pika’s chirping. For whatever reason, it’s distracted enough that the pika gets its way.

This Saturday, come glimpse this seldom seen creature.

2nd Look Books logo

From 11am to 1pm, I’ll be sitting out front 2nd Look Books in Spokane, Washington in hopes of encouraging passersby and book shoppers to purchase a book and get a signing. (There’ll be free, homemade cookies too! Definitely the pika’s idea.)

I’m terrified and excited, but for two hours the pika gets its rock from which it can sing to the world. Then, after 1pm rolls around, he’ll scamper back into the burrow within my heart and wait patiently for the next time the puma’s distracted.

Hope to see you there.

Blessings,

Jennifer

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What’s in a Name?

The Adventure Book by Jennifer M Zeiger

Last week I reminisced about the color of The Adventure’s cover and the balance between loving the cover as it is and trying to use it for marketing. In other words, trying to make it visible on a book shelf or a screen.

This week, please bear with me while I share the learning curve on names.

One, in the book’s title and two, in my author name.

Book Titles

Like book covers, in traditional publishing, the publisher tends to have more control over the title than the author. For instance, Twilight started out as simply Forks (named after the town the story is placed in).

However, that wasn’t interesting or unique enough, so it was changed to Twilight. A publisher, without a doubt, would have changed The Adventure to something else. And in hind sight, I should have too.

Here’s why…

Let’s have a little field trip. Go to Amazon and pick books. Then type in The Adventure.

Can you find the book?

I’d be seriously impressed if you could. It’s lost in pages and pages of other books, and maps, and piano book lessons, and Pathfinder game guides, and… I could go on for 100 pages worth of titles. (literally).

I liked the simplicity of The Adventure. I still do. But for marketing purposes, I should have picked something not only simple, but more unique.

Author Name

An author’s name is an author’s name. A traditional publisher doesn’t get to control that. However, they might suggest something different if it’s hard to find or your name matches someone else’s.

Let’s try another field trip. Go to Amazon and type in Jennifer Zeiger.

What do you get?

You get Jennifer Zeiger, but it’s not me until the second page. Now, if you type in my full author name with the middle M, you will find me, but this is such a subtle difference that it’s often overlooked.

On a side note, the other Jennifer is related to me by marriage. She writes for Scholastic and has often answered my random questions when she can.

Now, I knew there was another Jennifer out there who wrote books. When I decided to use my name for writing, I figured I’d have my full length novels published traditionally if anything, and they’re in the fantasy genre (YA and Epic). I figured these were different enough from what the other Jennifer wrote that it wouldn’t be a problem.

However, add that to the fact that The Adventure itself is difficult to find and everyone gets confused. (Including family. I’ve had aunts contacting me thinking I’m the other Jennifer.)

The takeaway from all of this:

Find a distinct title. And be choosy about the name you write under. These are the two gateways people will use to find your writing online. It’s worth taking the time to pick well.

What catches your eye in a title? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Until next time, Blessings,

Jennifer

Note to Self, Go Lime Green

The Adventure in Auntie's Bookstore

A professor of mine back in college educated us on how book covers are made in the traditional book publishing industry. It kind of terrified me.

Why?

Because the author has very little say in the design and ultimate copy of the cover. Don’t get me wrong, she can have some input, but an author has to be selective with what she chooses to take issue with because the publisher will consider her input, but will, in the end, go with what will probably work best for marketing.

Silverville Swindle, The Editor Connection Blog PostIt’s a business, I get it, but my professor brought in his own book to illustrate his point.

The book was lime green with an alien on the cover.

He hated the lime green. However, when that book got placed on the shelf in a bookstore, mixed in with hundreds of other books, it popped. It stood out amongst the masses, as it were.

You may have seen my recent, probably overly excited social posts, about a couple bookstores carrying The Adventure. (Check out Aunties Bookstore and 2ndLook Books!) I am beyond ecstatic about this next step in the book publishing adventure.

But I definitely see now why lime green is more eye catching than dark blue.

Gah! It’s hiding back there!

With a last name like Zeiger, the book ended up on the bottom shelf. Plus, with it’s dark coloring, it’s harder to see in the first place. (I still love the cover! but marketing might dictate I love brighter colors a little more.)

So, Note to Self for the Future, go with a brighter color or something that will pop against a dark background.

My learning curve continues. =) What catches your eye in a bookstore? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Blessings,

Jennifer

Savoring the Moment

The Adventure Amazon Page

The Adventure is up on Amazon!

There was a point I wasn’t sure this would actually happen…actually, there were a lot of points. There’s a proverb that says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Proverbs 13:12)

I’ve felt that heartsick feeling. Now I can say the flip side of the proverb is also very true.

I’m savoring the moment.

Blessings,

Jennifer

P.S. Here’s the link to The Adventure’s Amazon Page. Check it out!

Hiccups

As The Adventure’s launch date arrives this weeks, my well laid plans screech into the finish line with the back end swerving out of control.

As the saying goes, “We plan, God laughs.” This may be true. I don’t think the laugh is maniacal or cruel, I think it’s just amused because God knows the disparity between what we imagine and what reality will bring.

CreateSpace Proofing

Online proofing tool in CreateSpace

My ‘well laid plan’ said that the book would launch on the 30th of November. Set, specific, easy to remember launch date. Throw in the reality of how CreateSpace does things. Their verbiage goes something like this, “Once you proof your book, hit approve to finish the set up process.”

This led me to believe there was a bit more to making the book available on Amazon beyond proofing the book. Maybe I just assumed that’s what they meant.

I hit approve. Next message reads something like, “This book will become available in 3-5 business days.” Done. I have lost control of when the book goes live.

Ummm… guess that’s that. So I can say The Adventure will be available this week. I can’t say the exact date. Oh well. Guess I can laugh with God and be happy over the success of finishing the process.

Next step: Figuring out the hardcover edition. This hiccup came about as I was informed that CreateSpace does not offer even the author a hardcover book. They used to, now they don’t. I’m digging into other options now. I’ll let you know how that goes =)

Until then, Blessings,

Jennifer

Defining Success

Sleep

Writing Sidekick sleeping…he’ll sleep anywhere.

My husband and I have this routine we follow almost every night before we drift into dream land. No planning went into this routine, no preconceived notion forms how it’s followed but over the years it’s developed into a habit.

As we lay there about to drift off, we let everything from the day come spilling out in conversation. Logic would say dinner would be a better time for this and my sleep habit would agree, but reality doesn’t usually agree with logic.

So the other night, my husband and I were discussing the deep matters of the world, workout schedules, work grievances, body aches and pains, you know, the really pressing stuff, when we stumbled onto the topic of success.

I’m a worrier. As you can imagine, my worry level is up to the red when it comes to The Adventure, which launches on Amazon the end of this month. As we discussed this, Nate commented, “Define what success is for you. People will tell you all sorts of things but if you know what you want, then you know if you’ve accomplished what you desired no matter what others say.”

This stuck in my brain like a fly in honey. It wriggled around until it became fully immersed in my thoughts.

Regular, traditional publishing says you have to sell thousands of copies before a book is a success. Some say you have to make a living off of your writing and then you’re a success. Others gauge it on whether or not they’re familiar with your name, or if they’ve heard of your book before. Some point to Amazon reviews and press releases, interviews and book signings.

By many of these, I’ve a long way to go before I’ve achieved success and if I let these things define what I’m striving for, I may never reach the point where I’m satisfied with my accomplishments. Ouch.

But Success, as according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as:
  • A: degree or measure of succeeding
  • B: favorable or desired outcome; also :the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence
  • C: one that succeeds

Interesting…only one part of the definition deals with ‘wealth, favor, or eminence,’ and even those have varying degrees. A and C both rely heavily on what success is defined as in the first place. So really, the ‘favorable or desired outcome’ is where we each need to focus.

What, to each one of us, is the favorable or desired outcome that defines success?

The Adventure Kickstarter ImageFor The Adventure, I think achieving my goal for the year, as I outlined in my last post, The Trap in Dreaming, defines success.

That goal, specifically stated, was: Publish The Adventure and break even on the cost by the end of 2017.

Thanks to the amazing backers of The Adventure Kickstarter, that goal will be accomplished November 30th. Thus, this year has been a success. Period. Dot. Done. =)

What to you is success in your own life? Don’t let others define it for you.

Blessings,

Jennifer

 

 

The Trap in Dreaming

Achieving dreams, pursuing dreams, realizing dreams.

These sound so much nicer than achieving goals, pursuing goals, realizing goals.

The former sound beautiful, exciting and empowering. The latter sound like we’re sitting in a business meeting, working.

When I post about The Adventure, it usually involves something about my ‘life dream coming true,’ and I use this vocabulary for the very connotations I just referred to.

There’s a trap in these words, however, if we’re not careful. This trap is akin to watching a magic show and believing we can Magic Sparkperform magic simply because we’ve seen it done on a stage.

Dreams, by nature, produce an end product image like the magic on the stage, beautiful and exciting. This image is necessary or we wouldn’t know what we’re striving for. But to focus solely on that end product image leaves us with just that, an unrealized image.

To achieve the actual magic show, we have to step back and accept that there are nuts and bolts behind it. These nuts and bolts are structured by goals.

This sounds very pedantic, and it is, for a reason. Dreams are images, hopes, heart concepts. Goals give us a way to achieve them.

A true goal offers something for us to grasp in order to make dreams happen.

Here’s the structure I’ve found for an achievable goal (Thanks to Michael Hyatt for most of this):

  1. Write your goal
  2. Be specific
  3. Make it measurable
  4. Make it timely
  5. Make it scary
  6. Figure out the next step

Let me explain just a bit. There’s something about seeing the dream image in words on a page. This isn’t just me. Research shows we’re 40 some-odd-percent more likely to achieve something when we write it down.

So for step 1: (Write Goal) Publish a book.The Adventure Book

Good, it’s written. But it’s incredibly broad and raises more questions than answers. What book? When? How long will it be? This scatters my brain instead of focusing it. Here’s where #2 comes into play.

Step 2: (Be Specific) Publish three of the adventure stories in book format. We’ll call it The Adventure. Even more specific, The Adventure will consist of Moonrise Mountain, Temple of Night and Wind and The Tournament.

The more specific you can be, the better.

This still doesn’t give me a gauge to work with on my progress. I could stare at that specific goal for the next 10 years and still feel like I’ve got a good goal…yet make no forward motion on it. To be able to see progress, we need to have something to measure it against.

Step 3: (Measurable) Publish The Adventure and break even on the cost.

This is like saying I’m going to lose 10 pounds instead of simply saying I’m going to lose weight. I know how much. Measurable tends to be a number.

However, if I just have a number, I could work on that number as well for the next ten years. The longer something drags on, the more it becomes drudgery instead of accomplishment.

Step 4: (Timely) Publish The Adventure and break even on the cost by the end of 2017.

Timely gives a deadline. It tells how much has to happen, how fast, and whether it’s too much or too little. If I just say I’ll break even on the cost of The Adventure, I could be striving for that for years without making much progress.

Step 5: (Scary) This is important because of how we human beans react to things. If you aim too low, there’s nothing to excite you about it. For some reason, we crave challenge and challenge tends to be scary, but there’s a balance here. You don’t want to go so far as to make your goal impossible but you definitely don’t want to aim so low that there’s no effort involved. Make the goal an elephant, not a spider you can squish or a T-Rex that will eat you before you’ve even started.

With all that put together, all I have to do is figure out the next step, as I discussed in Eating an Elephant last week. I figure out the next step and only the next step. Once that’s done and it’s accomplished, I figure out the step after that.

According to Michael Hyatt, you shouldn’t have too many of these goals at a time or they become overwhelming. 5-10 a year is more than enough. I’ve found, for myself, 1-2 large goals per year is plenty for my brain.

So what dream do you have? What goal do you need to articulate on paper to make it happen? If you’re feeling bold, write it out below.

Blessings,

Jennifer