Friday, August 21, 2015

The Pacific North West

In my mind, Arizona can be gorgeously photogenic on a grand scale, but deeply disappointing up close.  Everything bites, stings, or hurts you and ultimately just resolves into dust there--it's so hot!  Maryland, and all of the original 13 colonies, are impossibly beautiful and inviting on an intimate and personal level.  Whether wandering in the woods or looking for hermit crabs on the shore, every sense happily breathes in and wants to illustrate that part of the world.   
Three years ago I discovered the Pacific Northwest, my son married a beautiful girl who lived near Seattle for most of her life, and so we keep going back...
It has everything!  Sublime mountain heights,  waves that wash right up to the trees, 
more shades of green than I thought grew naturally anywhere 
and all the sweet sensory appeal of florals, vegetation and every kind of tree.  Karen, a dear friend and neighbor when our children were small, along with her husband John McMillan, were my generous tour guides and hosts for the first day.  We traversed the Washington and Oregon shores where they've made their home.  I was on sensory overload the whole time, asking them to pull over repeatedly by sights that took my breath away.  They happily obliged every time!
The air begs to be inhaled.  With the close proximity of the ocean and every nook and cranny filled with plants and flowers, an exhilarating aroma of fresh life is everywhere.  
This isn't going to be a travelogue.  
It'd take too long--there's just too much...but I'm in love with this area!  
The architecture satisfies in both a familiar and unexpected way. 
Many homes and buildings reflect traditional early American and European influence.
But others are as unique and diverse as the individuals who call Washington and Oregon home. Living near the shore, it's clear what this resident cares about and he proudly displays it all!
And this place is a gem, complete with a dog on the porch and bluegrass music.  I took a half dozen photos and wished we had time for a pony ride! 
Hanging plants and flowers line the streets of Snohomish, WA.  This photo, compliments of Taunna Farnsworth Ormond, a talented photographer (check out her Facebook posts!), friend and tour guide for a day, reveals the areas obsession with plants and flowers.  
Nearly everyone adds to the beauty that surrounds them by planting more to embellish their homes and places of commerce. 
No city is without its faults, 
but Seattle has so much to offer it's easy to overlook 'em, when so many of its residents are as nice as the family my son married into, the Halls.  Michelle and Rich rise every morning before most people realize another day's begun and would gladly share anything and everything they have to make life better.  They love life, and have the talent to know how to make this world 
new again for anyone they spend time with.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Self-Publishing Woes VS WOWS! = Go with Local Business Owners!

Writing children's books is a life-long dream for me, so
 I've been SO FRUSTRATED with Lulu Publishing and Createspace, where plenty of people are employed to pleasantly B.S. all sorts of promises, but in the end, you to do the majority of the work.  Createspace doesn't charge you, but Lulu cost me over $1300 to make an unusably poor-quality paperback.  Luckily, the eBook is OK, but that's a hefty chunk of change to produce it.
The paperback will probably never be circulated, because Lulu charges too much 
for each book they print (ON TOP of the $1300+) and I don't know if I can find anyone to help me fix what they should've gotten right the first time around.  

The problem is, both these companies farm out the actual printing work, 
so those you work with never see the final product.  No one's accountable--if there's 
a problem it's up to you, the customer, to figure out how to reformat and resubmit 
what you thought was a print-ready file the first time around, because they told you it was. 

For someone like me, reformatting and resubmitting presents an impossible barrier.   
I love to draw, paint, write, sing and create, 
but haven't a clue when it comes to all things technical.  
When a sales rep. tells me the file is ready, I expect a quality product to result.  
When that doesn't happen, the next person I talk to has no idea who I talked to before 
or what was said, yet somehow, the poor quality issue is always my fault.
This blog entry is being created to warn other would-be self-publishers 
away from companies like Lulu Publishing, and lend cautionary advice about
Amazon's Createspace.  The latter DOES offer a great deal, and as long as the interior of your 
book is black and white, it should turn out OK---it should--I'm not saying it will, but at least, if it doesn't, what you've lost is time, not large amounts of cash.  You can lose BOTH with Lulu.

On the other hand, there are unsung heroes out there, working their hearts out, just like you are.  
Here are some I've most recently discovered.

Located in Logan, Utah at 110 West 1200 South, is a gem of a business that I discovered from a flyer in my mailbox.  They do just about everything I need to have done, and because it's a local business, I speak face-to-face with the person responsible for my end product.  What a pleasure it is to communicate, and I don't pay out until I've approved a physical proof of what I'll be having printed.  Missy Tiatia, at Watkins, not only listened, she offered real solutions at very reasonable rates to help me produce the books, cards, etc. which I've been creating at home for years.  

To go the extra mile, she offered to trim off the superfluous 1/4" white border at the top of every page which Createspace keeps creating in my Twinkle and Luna books.  
For less than 10 cents a book to expertly trim that unsightly misplaced border, 
NOW I have a product I'm ready to market!  
She assures me they can keep doing that until if/when Createspace problems ever get resolved.  Within the next week I'll have my Etsy store ready to go and each book will be available with 
an ACC Audio & Lullaby CD included in the back.
I believe I've already raved about Full Fidelity's Steve Phillips, at 4914 State St. in SLC.  It's tucked behind another store, so you have to know who you're looking for.  But everyone who uses Full Fidelity knows what they're there for: exceptional recording quality at an unbelievably
reasonable rate.  No one trying to market their art and music has money to throw away; 
Steve knows that and accommodates us--dreamers like me.   I cannot say enough good about Steve's recording studio.  He's an artist and a pro.
Working with Raland at Rose Pedal Records was another unexpectedly satisfying foray into self-publishing, since he is also a perfectionist and artist.  It's another impossible to find place, so call ahead if you want to stop by, and believe me, it's worth the hunt because the shop's a real treasure.  It's located behind what looks like an abandoned building, 
but is actually a real Fire Station, at 6500 South 1300 East, SLC.  
Oh, and the main number is 801-274-9953, but I've always called 801-506-0060.  Raland picks up and happily (seriously, the guy's never ruffled) gives you directions on how to find them.  
He worked with the jpeg images I brought in to design a CD face that totally coordinates with the cover.  It was magical!  When he printed off the first one, I got teary...the CD looks PERFECT!  
Thanks to his buddy over at Full Fidelity, it also sounds pretty darn good too!  Hopefully, by next week, I'll be ready with my own Etsy store, so there's one place to go for 
everything, and I can guarantee the quality, having winnowed out what's not.

If you'd like to schedule an interactive musical presentation, 
any Friday or Saturday beginning in mid-September,
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