Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Not on My Knees

Today I am interviewing Carolina Bertling of Alpine, CA about her latest book.  Carol is a member of the Alpine Writers’ Guild and works as a Spanish language translator.

Good morning, Carol.  Let’s talk about your intriguing book called Not on my Knees.

What is the genre of your book
It is historical fiction set in 1910 during the Mexican Revolution.

Can you give me a brief synopsis
Chon, the son of a wealthy Spanish landowner rebels against his father’s iron-fisted rule and harsh treatment of the poor native Indians of Mexico.  Chon slips off in the dead of night following a highly explosive verbal confrontation with his father.  Chon meets up with and joins banditos, robbing trains and coaches of their riches.  As Pancho Villa sets the Mexican Revolution in motion, the bandits become revolutionaries fighting the rich landowners and federales. Chon finds himself at a crossroad in his life having become the right hand and confidante to Chico, the bandits’ leader, and secretly loving a beautiful Indian girl.  Chon becomes the head of the family following his father’s death.  He visits his loving mother and must now decide whether to adhere to his family’s values or continue fighting for the poor and his secret love.  Is blood thicker than….?

What prompted you to write this book
Chon was my grandfather and his secret love was Antonia, my grandmother.  They were both very strong-willed people and I wanted to record their story for future generations.

How long did it take you to write the book
Two years.

Is it published and if so, when and by whom
Yes, it was self-published through in February 2011.  It can be ordered through Lulu or or

Do you have a favorite line from the book
Yes, it is a quote from Emiliano Zapata, one of the revolutionaries.  “I would rather die standing than live the rest of my life on my knees.”

What’s next for you
I just finished a book based on the story of my late husband, Peter.  It is called Prism.  Peter came to the United States from Germany speaking impeccable English and German.  He joined the US Air Force but his mother stopped him from going overseas.  With the help of a senator, she got him pulled out of the Air Force.  Peter went to Washington and became a double agent, working for both the United States and Germany.

Thank you so much, Carol.

This week's quote:
Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring.
Oscar Wilde

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cents and Nonsense

If you have ever thought of leaving your job and becoming a writer, think twice.  Unless your name is John Grisham, or j k rowling, or James Patterson, you'd better keep your day job.

My book, If You Don't Like Worms, Keep Your Mouth Shut, was published through Diversion Press, a traditional small press publisher.  I was ecstatic when I learned they wanted to publish my book.  The length of time from contract (April 2009) to publication (March 2011) was two years.  Since the company issues royalty checks once a year, I received my first royalty check from them last week.  I eagerly opened the envelope, pulled out the check, and nearly cried when I saw the sum of $6.78!  This check covers ten books for total sales of $67.73, of which I received ten percent, or $6.78.  I get 67 cents a book.  If that doesn't shock a starry-eyed writer into reality, nothing will.

What's the answer?  Outside of working 24/7 on marketing your book in an effort to garner more sales, another option is to self publish.  I self published Bumps Along the Way through  It cost me nothing as I did the formatting, editing, cover design, etc. all myself.  Because I didn't know what I was doing and had to learn as I went, it took me two months to get the book completed.  Compare that with two years with a publisher.  I can buy the book from Lulu for about $8 and if I sell it for $15, I've just made a $7 profit (as opposed to 67 cents).

Hmmm.  It seems that self-publishing is faster and pays better.  But here's one more reason to keep your day job.  I had a book signing lined up with Borders in December of 2010.  I purchased forty copies of Bumps Along the Way in advance and brought them to the book signing.  My friends, neighbors, and writing group were wonderful as they all came and supported me and bought books.  I ended up selling 25 books and 5 calendars that are in conjunction with the book.  The books had to be purchased at the counter and then I was to get my commission check a short time later.  My check for $350.80 never came.  In February, Borders filed bankruptcy and I had to file a Proof of Claim in hopes of getting some of my money back.  If I get anything, the most I can expect to receive is $35 and it may be way less than that.

Writing is a wonderful hobby right now and that may be all it ever is for me. But I won't quit.  There's always the hope that some day, some book, will make it big.  And since I'm retired, I don't have a day job to worry about keeping!

Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete.
If you're alive, it isn't.   Richard Bach

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Smashing Success

I have to tell you, us old dogs can still learn a few new tricks!

I spent all day yesterday learning how to publish a booklet on Smashwords, a free ebook publishing platform and distributor.  What this means is that the booklet I uploaded yesterday will now be available on all electronic readers--Kindle, Nook, Apple, Kobo, Sony, etc.  I publish with them, they distribute to digital print companies.

How did I do this?  With a little less hair and a lot of patience!  First, I downloaded a 92 page book that explains how to publish on Smashwords. Half the day was spent reading the instructions on formatting my booklet properly, inserting hyperlinks and bookmarks, copyright information, and making a cover.  The rest of the day was spent putting to use what I'd just learned.

I'm excited to say that now I know how to insert hyperlinks in my booklet.  A hyperlink is a URL in blue that you can click on and go right to the web site. Also, by bookmarking each chapter title, I added a hyperlink to the corresponding chapter in the Table of Contents.  That means a reader can go directly to the chapter he/she wants to read.  It was all very exciting to learn this new skill!

Plus, I learned a new shortcut.  Ctrl A highlights your entire document.  I don't know how many times I have scrolled through an entire document to highlight it so I could paste it into another document.  Now I just click Ctrl A, then Copy, and it's done.  Old dog, new trick.

The booklet I have now published on Smashwords is Winging it While Slinging it: 70 Practical Tips to Help You Keep Your Independence While Your Dominant Arm is in a Sling.  As a pamphlet, it wasn't going anywhere; now, it can go all around the world and can be purchased for 99 cents.  It should be available soon on Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc.

I shocked Fred last night when he came home and saw me back in the sling I'd used when I broke my arm two years ago.  He relaxed when I said I just wanted him to take a picture of my sling for the book cover.

Now that I know I can do it, I'm ready to attempt putting Bumps Along the Way in Smashwords so people can access it.  What a fantastic world we live in!

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.   (or learning new things!)
Albert Einstein