First, I’d like to thank everyone that responded to my blog post earlier this week (through any of my social media accounts) to provide feedback on the cover options for my new novel. I really appreciate all of you taking the time to look through the options and provide constructive feedback. Thank you!!
The following is the vote tally:
Option #1: 5
Option #2: 2
Option #3: 2
Option #4: 6
Option #5: 2
Option #6: 2
As you can see, #1 and #4 were the favorites. But, in both cases, I received suggestions for improving them.
For example, one reader suggested trying different font colors for option #1. Originally, the title was yellow/gold. I sent her 3 more options: black, pale blue, and purple. We agreed that purple was the best choice. What do you think?
Option #1– Font Color Choices:
With Option #4, several people suggested that I recreate the image using the broken mirror. I created this cover last year– before I brave enough to sacrifice the mirror in the pursuit of art. (It’s such a pretty mirror that I hesitated to break it!). Oh– and before I could recreate the photograph, I had to reassemble the broken mirror. LOL
Since some time had passed, I wasn’t able to position the objects in the photo exactly the same as before but I tried. I used 2 slightly different photos.
Oh! I also decided to play with different fonts. At the moment, these two are my favorites.
Cover Option #4– With and Without Broken Mirror
What do you think?
And, me being me, I did some more playing around with both the cover options I shared earlier this week plus a few more. I also added “a novel by” to each of the cover options. So, in addition to #1 and #4 above, there are the following options:
Cover Option #2: I added “a novel by”
Cover Option #3: I adjusted the author name so it’s at the same angle as the book title and added “a novel by”
Cover Option #7: Just playing with different photograph and background choices. This one also has a wider feathering effect on the edge.
Cover Option #8: For this one, I went with a simpler approach. There’s a plain white background and no feathering effect on the edge of the photograph.
And, last but not least–
Cover Option #9: This one uses the same photograph as #7, but a different filter. I also used different fonts and colors. The photograph is also smaller, so the emphasis is on the text.
So, what do you think? I know it’s a lot of options… but, it’s good to have choices, right?
Thanks again for all of your help. I really appreciate it.
Now to get back to editing the manuscript that goes with these cover choices…
Just a quick post to let everyone know that I’m having a big sale in my online Etsy shop, Reprieve’s Corner. I love making stuff, and I usually sell both online and at craft fairs and farmers markets through out the year. But with all of the pandemic cancellations over the past few years, I’ve had a lot of time on my hands to make stuff and not a lot of market opportunities. This has led to a surplus of inventory. I’d rather sell it at a discounted price then continue to store it. Besides, selling my work gives me an excuse to make new stuff!
Handmade Craft Liquidation Sale!
I’ve marked down almost all of my handmade crafts and crafting supplies to 50% off!
Autographed Book Sale!
Autographed copies of all of my published books are 30% off!
Free Shipping on Orders of $35 or more (US only)!
The sale prices are currently set to expire at the end of March, but I may extend the date.
So I’m one of those people that feels like I get a “fresh start” twice a year– at the beginning of a new year and on every birthday. On both of these occasions, I reflect on my life and both the areas where I’m doing well and where there is room for improvement. After all, a big part of the human experience is learning from our mistakes so we can become better people.
January 2022 was a good example of this attitude. I had so many ideas and plans! But, as often happens, things didn’t go according to plan…
In my last post of 2021, I shared my plans for “Penniless January.” The basic idea was to try to make it through an entire month without spending money on anything other than my basic bills (for example: housing and utilities). I even stocked up on groceries ahead of time– with an emphasis on shelf stable foods. Unfortunately, I over-looked one big bill that was due in January– my car insurance. This bill alone through my entire budget off.
2022 came in with a roar here on the Oregon coast. We experienced several back to back winter storms complete with heavy rain and exceptionally strong winds. We even got a little snow (which is rare)! There were several nights that I lay in bed listening to the rain pounding against the windows of my house, and I could feel the wind tugging and pulling at the walls of my little old house.
I woke up the morning after one of these storms to discover that one of the smaller trees in my yard had been knocked over by a wind gust. Fortunately, it fell away from the house. But, it was partially leaning against my wooden fence. I was worried that the continued weight would damage the fence, so I felt like I had no choice but to go outside– in the freezing rain– to deal with the tree situation.
Initially, I hoped I might be able to salvage the tree. But, upon close inspection, I realized that it had snapped at the base. So my only choice was to chop up the tree and get the weight off of the fence. The problem was that I don’t own a chainsaw. Technically, I could have used a credit card to buy one, but that would have tanked my “Penniless January” experiment. Instead, I used the tools I had on hand: long handle pruning shears and a hand saw.
As an added complication, I have fibromyalgia… So, me standing out in the freezing rain while sawing away at a downed tree was a really bad idea. It took me three days to chop up the downed tree. I’d go outside for 20-30 minutes at a time and work until my pain levels got unbearable. Then I’d go back inside, change into dry clothes, take a pain pill, and rest. Once the medication kicked in, I’d go back outside. Fortunately, by the third day the rain had stopped. Plus, my neighbor saw me working and offered to loan me his power saw. What a difference it made! I was able to get more done in an hour with the power saw then I’d gotten done in two days with my wimpy tools!
My other January plans included posting blog posts more often. I know I don’t have much of an online following, so it can be easy to neglect my blog. WordPress was advertising a program called “Bloguary” so I signed up. The basic idea was that they’d send bloggers daily emails with a line of text that was supposed to inspire us to write a blog about it– then tag it #Bloguary.
Once again, I had great intentions. It seemed like a fun idea– and I could really use the inspiration. The problem was that my reaction to most of the supposedly inspirational email messages was “Eh.”
I did save a few– which I intended to write about– but I never did. For example:
“What is your favorite quote and why?”
There were other January projects, but you get the idea. I began the new year full of ideas and plans, but so far each and every one of them is off to a rough start. Don’t get me wrong– I’m still trying! For example, I’m still plugging away at my finances with the goal of paying off my debts and achieving modest financial freedom. I’m also continuing to work on editing my novel, “The Other Mae,” with the goal of releasing the Beta Reader edition by the end of the year.
So, I’m still plugging away at my New Year Resolutions and goals. It’s just that I’ve been feeling discouraged because so far nothing has gone according to plan so far this year…
On the flip side, there have been a few positive surprises. For instance, I’ve been pet sitting as a “side gig” for a number of years. Most of my clients are people I know– co-workers, neighbors, and friends. But, back in 2019, I signed up with Rover to try to pick up a few more clients. Once the pandemic hit in early 2020, I stopped receiving booking requests. Flash forward two years and people are starting to transition from working at home back to traditional work places. Since January, I’ve been receiving lots of requests for drop-in pet visits and dog walks while my clients are at work.
I’ve always loved animals so pet sitting is the perfect side job for me. I enjoy visiting with and looking after the animals. Plus, it allows me to continue “social distancing.” Aside from an initial “Meet and Greet” with new clients, it’s usually just me and the dogs or cats. I also like being able to reassure my clients that their pets are being well cared for while they’re at work– so they have one less thing to worry about.
As an added bonus, I have several regular clients that live fairly close to me. This allows me to work on creative projects at home– like editing my novel– then take a break to go look after a client’s job. It’s a perfect balance!
Well, this post is getting pretty long– I guess that’s what happens when you don’t post an update for a few months. Oops!
I have one more update to share. I’ve been a vendor on Etsy since 2011. Unfortunately, my online sales have been nose diving for a while now. I think the problem is that my shop and the items I have for sale “get lost in the shuffle.” There are so many people selling crafts on the website. Plus, you have to pay extra for advertising if you want your items to show up in the first few pages of search results. So between the listing, advertising, and sales fees, I have to sell a lot to cover the monthly fees.
Since the start of the pandemic, the type of stuff I sell– handmade crafts and books I wrote myself– just haven’t been selling. I think most people have been in “survival mode” and mostly spending money on essential stuff (like groceries). While I understand where they’re coming from, this has meant that my Etsy shop has been in the red most months.
Then I received an email this morning from Etsy informing sellers that they’re increasing the % of the sales fee…
I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to have a liquidation sale then put my Etsy shop in “vacation mode” for a while. There’s a good chance that I’ll end up closing my online shop eventually. But, for now, I need to try to sell my remaining stock then wait and see.
So, starting tomorrow (February 26th), most handmade crafts and crafting supplies will be 50% off. Autographed copies of my books will be 30% off.
Can you believe that we’re approaching the end of 2021? Time sure does fly by!
For this month’s Fan Mail Friday, I’m sharing another older review. This one is for a collection of pet and animal stories that I published back in 2013. I self-published the book so I could easily donate a portion of the sales to a local animal shelter. I initially chose Pacific Cove Humane Society because they were fund raising to build a new local shelter. Eventually, the organization re-reviewed their priorities after realizing that there was no longer a need to build a second shelter. Since then, I’ve been making donations to the Coos County Animal Shelter.
“Paw Prints” was a lot of fun to write! It’s a bit of a memoir since it includes numerous stories about myself, my childhood, and the pets that I’ve had over the years. I also invited a few friends to contribute stories to the collection– including my mother and sister-in-law.
The best part? The photo on the cover is Loki, my black Labrador Retriever. She’s a puppy in the photograph, but she’ll be 10 in February 2022. Like I said earlier, time flies by!
Earlier this month I wrote about the upcoming Florence Festival of Books. The event is usually annual, but it was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. I was excited to return this year. (Fun fact: the 1st annual Florence Festival of Books was in 2011– which was the year my first book was published. As a result, I can proudly say that I’ve attended every year!).
This year got off to a bit of a rough start. It was stormy on the Oregon coast Friday night. I’m such a light sleeper that the strong winds and heavy rains woke me up several times. Fortunately, by Saturday morning the storm was letting up. It rained off and on during my drive to Florence, but it cleared up about an hour after the festival opened.
I knew when I signed up that this year’s festival would be different. In fact, for the week leading up to the event, I half expected to receive a message saying it had been cancelled. We’ve been experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases on the Oregon coast over the past few months (mostly due to the Delta variant). But, they decided to go ahead with the event while implementing several safety efforts.
In addition to requiring everyone (both vendors and visitors) to wear masks inside the Florence Events Center, they limited the number of booths. If I remember right, they said there was 1/3 less booth this year than in past years. This allowed them to space out the tables which made it easier for participants to practice social distancing. They also had hand sanitizer stations set up throughout the building.
Despite advertising the event through all of the regular channels, this year’s book festival didn’t draw as many visitors as it usually does. Given the circumstances, this wasn’t surprising; but, if I’m being brutally honest, it was still disappointing.
I’m incredibly grateful to the people that did attend the event. I enjoyed chatting with the visitors to my booth. Since I wrote two books on local history, I tend to catch the attention of fellow history enthusiasts. This inevitably leads to interesting conversations! I also enjoyed catching up with several of my fellow west coast authors.
I’m looking forward to next year’s Florence Festival of Books. Fingers crossed that the world has returned to “normal” by then!