I made it to the UD Alumni Bookshelf again

I was looking at the online UD Quickly Magazine. They have an alumni bookshelf. I submitted Dancing in Heaven there and it was put on the shelf in June of 2012. So, I was trying to find out how to submit Where Memories Meet – Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s. I was scanning down the current edition of the UD Quickly Bookshelf that was published in September and was surprised to see this blog mentioned. Although I shouldn’t have been. This summer I was contacted by the editor who told me the magazine wanted to feature blogs as well as books. I met her at the local Panera where we had a nice conversation and she interviewed me.

Check it out here. You’re all part of this. I wouldn’t have continued this blog without you.

Box turtle

Slow and steady wins the race, or at least gets you home. September 2015


Fort Jackson and Columbia, S.C. in 1953

Originally posted on Christine M Grote:

As my father tells in his narrative in Where Memories Meet — Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s, he was stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, when he was first drafted into the army. While he was away from home serving in the US Military, he sent photographs back to my mother.

Leather photo albumShe inserted them into a leather photo album that Dad had hand-tooled and sent to her.

Working on leather purseI’m not sure exactly when this photo was taken, or where, but it shows my father working on a leather purse to send home to my mother.

Here are some photographs from Dad’s time in Columbia, South Carolina: at Fort Jackson, in town, and on a trip to Myrtle Beach. Mouse over a photo to see the caption. Click on a photo to see a larger version, and a manual slideshow.


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Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary

You may already be acquainted with Sue Dreamwalker’s blog. Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary. Her byline is “A Sanctuary for Enlightenment and Peace through Poetry and Inspirational Thoughts as we go through Life.” I often leave her posts feeling uplifted in some way.

I wanted to share her blog today because she recently posted about a topic near and dear to my heart: spiders. You may have read my Facing my Fears – Starting Small. A couple of days ago, Sue’s blog post, All Things Connect, features of all things – spiders and their webs. She has some terrific photos of stunning spider webs that she saw in her garden plot. So  I think reading and sharing this post is a step in the right direction for me as I try to face my fear of spiders.

But mostly, I also think that an appreciation of how all things connect is a pathway to a better life, world, and maybe universe.

Sue is also an incredible artist and a visit to her blog is a feast for your eyes. Enjoy.

Making an ebook —what I did

Although I bragged about being an ebook wizard the last time, I have since been humbled, particularly after spending 2 or 3 full days revising my ebook (primarily because of photos, but more on that next time).

As I mentioned in my last post about this, I decided to use Smashwords to be able to provide multiple ebook formats in addition to publishing on Kindle.

One of the problems I found was that the ebook field is changing all the time. A lot of people have posted helpful advice on the web, but much of it is dated. If you start Googling for help, it can become very confusing, very rapidly. Trust me on this. You  don’t need to know html. You just need to know how to format a document.

My advice is, start at Smashwords. The site is way more helpful than Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) in providing detailed information; the turnaround time is almost immediate so you are able to check your ebook right away and re-cycle if the changes you made didn’t work; and it is not a popular site (I’ve sold very few books there), so I can try things out and not jeopardize my Amazon Kindle product. Then, once you have a good document for your ebook, you can upload it to Kindle yourself.

At Smashwords, under the “publish” tab (the link above takes you there), you will find important, and helpful information. Start with the Style Guide by Mark Coker. It is free and will help you format your document. I downloaded a pdf of it.

The steps I took, as advised by Mark Coker, in a nutshell are:

  1. I made a backup of my Word document and saved it as a doc (not docx). I had been keeping my book in Scrivener, so I first had to generate a Word document there.
  2. I copied the document and pasted it into a text editing program. On pcs I think that is Notepad, since I have a mac I used TextEdit. This strips out all your formatting styles that you inserted intentionally or not .
  3. I opened a new Word document, making sure Word’s auto formatting, auto correcting, tracking changes were all turned off. Then I turned on the show/hide feature on Word. Mark Coker explains how to do all this in the Style Guide.
  4. I copied the TextEdit file and pasted it into the new Word document I had created.
  5. Everything in your document should now be under the “normal” formatting style. From here I defined styles for headings, the front matter paragraphs, the book’s body, and picture captions. Mark Coker gives you very specific advice on how to do this. I used many of his suggestions, and made up a few styles of my own.
  6. Then I scrolled through my document and applied the styles to the headings and picture captions. It’s a simple matter of highlighting the text involved, going to the style drop-down menu in the upper left corner, and clicking on the style you want. Again, it’s very well explained in the Style Guide.
  7. If you have an isolated word that is italicized or bolded, you can just format that manually. I kept a printed copy beside me as I worked to make sure I made all the formatting changes I originally intended.

Once you are happy with your document’s formatting, it is a simple matter to upload it to Smashwords where it will be made into a mobi, epub, etc. I downloaded the mobi and epub (free from Smashwords if you are the author), and checked the books on my computer screen and other devices. If I wasn’t satisfied, I recycled through the process. When I was satisfied, I published it on Amazon’s KDP as well.

The biggest challenge in this whole process is formatting the text. I have never adhered to using “styles” when I am writing. I’ve learned a lot about using styles through this process, and intend to use them in the future from the get-go. If you don’t already know, learn how to use and modify styles. You won’t regret it.

Here are some of the styles I used in Where Memories Meet:

Normal: For the body of the book. I modified whatever Word had assigned to “normal” so that the font was Times New Roman font at 12 pt, the first line of the paragraph indented at  0.3″, and the lines spaced at 1.5 lines.
Center: I used this for anything I wanted centered. The copyright page uses this style. I created a new style using normal as the base and modifying it to no indent on first line and centered text.
Front Matter: This makes the front matter, and end matter in my case, have a block paragraph look. I learned this directly from Mark Coker’s Style Guide. I used normal formatting to create a new style and modified it to no indent on first line, single line spacing, space after the paragraph at 6 pt.
Name: I used this name to define the headings of the chapters, which happen to be names, and used it for all similar headings like Preface, About the Author, etc. Defining the page break and the spacing before and after the name of the chapter ensures the chapters all start on a new page, a little down from the top. I used normal style to create a new style with arial font, 14 pt, bold. Indent 0″, Space before paragraph is 30 pt, space after is 18 pt, Page break before paragraph.

It’s really not difficult to format the text, it just takes a little time to assign the headings and special paragraphs their style. It’s rewarding work when the document ends up looking professional.

The photos I included in Where Memories Meet gave me a little more trouble. More on that next time.

Baby hippo swimming lesson

A video crossed my Facebook news feed this morning of a horse teaching a filly to jump a short wall. That reminded me of our trip to San Diego’s zoo where we witnessed a mother hippo teaching her baby to swim. It also reminded me that  I have yet to post photos from that trip to the zoo. I hope you enjoy them.

The San Diego Zoo has a reputation for being one of the best zoos in this country, so we knew we wanted to fit it in when we planned a trip to California in April to visit our son who lives in Los Angeles. He met us in San Diego.

I noticed a lot of similarities to the zoo here in Cincinnati, which also has a great reputation.

There were beautiful and exotic flowers and trees. You probably recognize the Bird of Paradise flower. This tree looked like it had huge cotton, or maybe popcorn, balls hanging on it.

San Diego zoo flamingosA convention of flamingos welcomed us near the entrance.

San Diego zoo bearWe saw lazy bears lounging,

San Diego zoo macaqueMonkeys climbing (actually a Lion-tailed Macaque pronounce Mak – ack),

San Diego zooa graceful couple posing for portraits,

and small critters popping their heads up here and there.

 This gorilla was sitting, contemplating life or maybe her fingers. We watched her drag a burlap bag across the enclosure to the window, then promptly sit down on it with her back to us. I can’t say as I blame her.

Also like the Cincinnati Zoo, the one in San Diego cares for endangered species and makes education a priority, as  pointed out by our son Mark Joseph.

San Diego Zoo

I thought the Cincinnati Zoo was hilly, but its hills are mild compared to some of the inclines we walked up and down in San Diego. Overall, the zoo there is well-established and has some great walking trails.  The Cincinnati Zoo has a jungle trail, but the many of the walkways at San Diego are landscaped and make you feel as if you are walking in a natural habitat not on a sterile roadway. This was a feature that I particularly liked.

San Diego zoo tiger trailThis is the Tiger Trail that sits up above the enclosure. Our son is pictured in both of the above pictures. I was not stalking some random guy in a plaid shirt, in case you’re wondering.

San Diego Zoo sky ride

Cincinnati also doesn’t have a sky ride, only a little train. This is a tree-top outdoor cafe that we enjoyed during our visit, also a very nice feature of this zoo. I think we had to walk up about three flights of steps to reach it.

But the best part of our visit to the San Diego Zoo was watching the mother hippo teaching her baby how to swim.

Mother and baby hippoWhen we first saw them, they were both resting in the sun.

Mother and baby hippo

Then the baby started climbing on the mother, like, “Hey, I want to play.” And the mother was like, “Really? So soon? Give me a break. You’re wearing me out, kid.”

Mother and baby hippo“Okay. Alright. We’ll go for a swim.”

Mother and baby hippo swimmingThen they went under water and that mother hippo started pushing the baby around in a circle.

Mother and baby hippo swimmingThe baby didn’t seem to know exactly what to do. The mother kept pushing him around in a circle.

Mother and baby hippoI don’t take a lot of video, but this is one case where I wish I had taken the time to switch from still photos to video.

Mother and baby hippo swimmingAfter some period of time, the mother would get her nose under the baby and push him up to the surface.

Mother and baby hippoThey’d break surface, breath for a minute or two, and then down they’d go again.

Mother and baby hippo swimming

They repeated this cycle several times before they climbed back out of the water and the mother got to rest again. This was one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever witnessed at any zoo.

If you ever make it to San Diego, try to fit a visit here into your itinerary. It’s well worth it.

Where Memories Meet is now available

Originally posted on Christine M Grote:

I am pleased to announce that Where Memories Meet—Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s is now available as a print book and Kindle at Amazon, and in other formats at Smashwords.

Thirty-three years ago today, my parents drove from Dayton to the Christ Hospital here in Cincinnati to meet our first child, and their first grandson. I dedicated Where Memories Meet to my children and their children. Although I never planned it so, I think it is fitting, and somewhat serendipitous, that I managed to launch this book on this particular day.

If you are kind enough to purchase and then read Where Memories Meet, I hope you will “Like” the book and leave a short review at Amazon. A sentence or two will do. It is a big help to me.

If you have comments or questions you’d like me to answer, please do so here.

Where Memories Meet Cover


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I’m an ebook wizard

Well, maybe I’m not quite a wizard, but I’m certainly more proficient than I was three days ago.

Smashwords, an online multi-format ebook publisher, uses a “meat-grinder” to process book files. The author submits a word document; it goes through the meat-grinder and out comes a variety of ebooks that can be read on many types of platforms. You’re probably familiar with pdfs. Other formats Smashwords can produce, and then publish, include but are not limited to mobi for the Kindle, and epub for Nook.

This whole ebook business can be pretty complicated. But it’s all about what file types a particular software can open.

For the past two days I feel like I’ve been in a meat-grinder.

I used Scrivener, a terrific writing program and file system, when I wrote Where Memories Meet. Files in Scrivener have to be exported into a particular file type to be used in some way: as a printable document, as a shareable word document, as a pdf, etc. Scrivener is able to produce some ebook formats this way, epub (Nook) and mobi (Kindle) included. And that’s what I did.

I compiled my book in Scrivener and saved it as a mobi file. Then I uploaded it to Amazon for publication as a Kindle ebook. But if I do nothing more, I am limited to only making my book available for Kindle users. Nor can I give away free copies for review, which is a nice feature Smashwords allows.

Smashwords requires a “clean” Word doc (not to be confused with Word docx, which I learned the hard way). I spent nearly every waking moment in the past two days producing the “clean” Word doc.

I think it was worth it. Hopefully WMM will look better across most if not all platforms this way. I think it will.

I ended up having a lot more control of where my page-breaks are, which is important to me because of all the images I have in my book. And I believe I had more control of fonts and overall paragraph styles. The Scrivener software made a lot of those decisions for me when it produced the mobi file. For example, the first file I published on Amazon had a nightmare Table of Contents running about three pages on my Kindle. Who needs that?

So, although it took time, required some reading, and was tedious to do, I think producing a clean Word doc, and then uploading it to both Amazon and Smashwords is the way to go.

I’ll tell you what I did next time. You could do it too.

Where Memories Meet cover

Where Memories Meet – Reclaiming my father after Alzheimer’s
Now available for Kindle at Amazon, and other ebook formats at Smashwords.



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