The Path

Aspen Path

Have you ever been on a hike, enjoying the sun shining through the foliage overhead, the smell of pine and spruce on the wind, and then seen something off the path that you had to investigate? A lean-to someone left behind, a meadow filled with spring flowers, a mountain peak that begged for a picture. But when you looked back, things didn’t look the same and the path was no longer visible.

The day’s still beautiful, the sun still shining, but there’s that moment of sharp panic, the thought that you might be lost.

You’re still out in nature, technically where you wanted to be for the day, but the thrill, the enjoyment, is overshadowed, and only when you find the path again does the brightness of the day bring you joy again.

This is self-publishing. It’s a hike—work—but greatly enjoyable. The writing, the editing, the formatting, and even the marketing are all part of it. But once the book’s created, once I’m working on sharing it with others, that’s where I tend to leave the path. I follow a flower here, a mountain lake there and even enter a long-abandoned cabin to see where others have gone before me.

But when I look back, I’ve lost the path, my enjoyment of writing has been deeply shadowed because I’ve lost the thing that leads me forward.

AspensThat path, that clear, meandering trail, is hidden. I’m still out, technically where I want to be, exploring the world of being an author, but without the trail, I’m wandering aimlessly, especially if I go too far.

The passion to write, the clear, if meandering, trail that creates new worlds and fills a story with magic, is my path. Some people are gifted musicians, some speakers, some organizers. For me, I was created a writer. And getting back to the seed of that is where I find renewed joy.

The Adventure has been my start. It was my trailhead and I will continue to reference it as such. (Marketing is never done=)).

Now it’s time to return to the path and continue on, to turn and head up the mountain. Several novels, not adventure stories, lie dormant in my archives. One, in particular, has received great feedback from beta readers.

Let me introduce Quaking Soul, an urban fantasy story about a dryad. After all my rambling, I’ll cut to the chase. My goal is to publish Quaking Soul (QS) next. I originally thought to have it ready by the end of this year, but as I’ve revisited the writing, I’m finding my timeline was super ambitious. QS was written back in 2014. As any long time writer can tell you, the writing ability grows and matures the longer one consistently works at it, much like learning to climb. You start out by powering up the wall on puny strength alone. It’s exhausting and, to anyone watching, it lacks any finesse. Over time, the climber learns technique that allows for more difficult climbs that, to a bystander, look more like a dance than a climb. I need to take QS from a strength-alone climb to something that flows with finesse.

Right now QS is in my personal edits stage. I’ll update as things progress, but in the meantime, I’ll keep the adventure stories rolling, they might just be a little more sporadic =) Thank you for sharing in this journey with me!

Blessings,

Jennifer

 

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January Whizzed Right Past

The Adventure Literacy and Creative Writing Workshop

Hello Dear Readers!

I have been away longer than I intended. As always, I appreciate how understanding and supportive every single one of you are.

Let me share why I’ve been absent for January.

Way back when I ran the Kickstarter for The Adventure, a friend suggested it would be a great book for a 4th-5thgrade teaching curriculum. You all know my own struggles to read as a child. (If you don’t, check it out here.) One of the things that truly got me into reading was the Choose Your Own Adventure style books.

Choose Your Own Adventure BookI wanted so badly to find the different endings! These books intrigued me enough that I tortured myself trying to read them even though I was only a 3rdgrade reading level. I still have a few copies with curled pages from me sticking my fingers into all the areas that had choices. I wanted to go back and explore every option.

So, when someone suggested The Adventure might help teach reading, you can understand how my heart latched onto the idea.

Admittedly, I have little teaching experience. My Bachelors is in English, which helps, and I’ve taught some Creative Writing to the Nieces and Nephew, but actually creating a full curriculum for Literacy and Creative Writing was a bit daunting.

As with so many things regarding The Adventure, I found a friend who was willing and beyond excited to help. I am incredibly blessed by the people God’s placed in my life.

Anyway, Kaydee is one of my dearest friends, and she also happens to be a teacher with her Masters in Literacy.  Kaydee easily filled in the gaps in my knowledge in regards to creating these teaching materials.

My absence in January has been because Kaydee and I have been finishing The Adventure Literacy and Creative Writing Workshop. (Ohhh, sounds official!) I could go into all sorts of details about it but I’ll refrain from that here. If you’re interested in checking it out, here are the links:

The Adventure Literacy and Creative Writing Workshop ($14.99)

The Adventure (Moonrise Mountain) Literacy Workshop (FREE SAMPLE)

The Adventure on Amazon (Paperback $12.95)

(Also, if you know of anyone who might find this sort of curriculum fun and helpful, please share!)

Otherwise, hello everyone! I’m excited to be back for 2019 and I’ll have a new adventure story starting soon.

Until then, blessings,

Jennifer

The Pika’s Day

Pika

A tiny, fuzzy creature peeks out of the entrance of its burrow. It’s small, whiskered nose twitches, scenting the air, searching for the tell tale odor of the predator.

The scent is there but, for once, it’s faint like a wisp of smoke on the wind. The pika steps further out, confirming with its eyes what its nose has already said. The puma’s no where in sight.

An excited chirp escapes the pika. It freezes, its survival instincts kicking in despite the fact the puma’s not around. Nothing moves. No giant cat stalks from the nearby trees.

In a flurry of flying legs, the pika scampers atop the rock that sits just above its burrow. The sun-warmed rock lends its heat to the pika’s small feet and it hums in satisfaction.

Then it lets out a series of high-pitched, excited chirps. “Squeak, squeak, squeak!”

Translation. “IT’S TIME! IT’S TIME! IT’S TIME!”

Then it scurries to the far side of the rock and chirps another series of squeaks.

Translation. “Book Signing Time!”

***

When: This Saturday the 13th

Where: Spokane Valley Barnes and Noble

Market Pointe I Shopping Center
15310 E. Indiana Ave.
Spokane, WA 99216
509-922-4104

Time: 11am-3pm

Join in the Adventure and come get your own personalized, signed copy of The Adventure!

Blessings,

Jennifer

P.S. If this post made no sense to you, check out this post here. It’ll clear things up about the Pika and the Puma =)

Updating the Face…

I’ve a confession. Sometimes I’m lazy.

I started this blog in 2012 after listening to one of Michael Hyatt’s lessons on writing and self publishing. He advised putting a picture of myself on every platform I used. That way, no matter if it’s WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, or some other platform, readers could recognize each site as mine by my picture.

2012 HeadshotSeemed logical, so I pulled up my pictures, selected one, and posted it on all my online sites. Never thought about it again.

I missed the part about updating that photo periodically. Some say you should update it every six months. This seems excessive to me, but after six years with the same photo, I’ll admit, it’s horribly out of date.

When I called one of the book stores in town concerning a book signing, they asked about a current, high quality photo of the author. Ummm. I don’t have that.

So, as with everything involving The Adventure, a photographer friend stepped forward and offered to help me out.

As a self proclaimed introvert, I’m not big on having my photo taken, so I was extremely nervous about this whole deal.

2018 HeadshotHowever, I couldn’t be happier with how the pictures turned out.

So, for those trying to build a platform, update your photo once in a while. (I’ll make this note to myself too =).

And here’s a great big thank you to Dan. You can check out more of his photography here on instagram.

Goodbye to my old photo.

And hello to my new photo. Me, six years older and maybe, hopefully, a tiny bit wiser.

Blessings,

Jennifer

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

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