I’m a Bad Author Blogger

A very bad author blogger. I’ve written many a post in my head, but none of them have made their way to this blog. Maybe it’s because it’s the busy outdoor time of year, or because I spend my computer time writing posts for my homesteading blog, or because I lost so most of my current writing project when my old hard drive died. Or maybe because there’s no pressure to keep fresh content before my slim Building A Book readership. (Thank you to those who do take the time to read and comment!) I should have at least posted about Prepper’s Livestock Handbook being available!

That’s my biggest news, that Prepper’s Livestock Handbook is now in print! As excited as I am about that, I confess that it was a lot of work, especially as we got close to the deadline. It was a relief to get it done and switch gears for awhile to focus on other things. Those other things have mostly been the garden, the goats, building the new goat barn, and making a rotational grazing plan. Also a little time to pursue the odd hobby or two. Even so, I’m always writing in my head.

Other good news is that fellow homesteading author Anna Hess has asked me to write a sidebar piece for the second edition of her The Naturally Bug-Free Garden. I’m truly honored to be doing so and have always appreciated Anna’s help in the promotion of my own books.

Mental work has begun on my next book. I’d like to do a sequel to 5 Acres & A Dream The Book. Dan and I have learned so much since that book was published. We’ve been steadfast in working toward our self-sufficiency goal, and in ways I never dreamed possible when I first published 5 Acres & A Dream The Book. As one might expect, there have been ups, downs, and learning curves, and I’d like to share them all with others on the journey. I’m just in the outline stage, but hopefully I’ll have that figured out soon so when the garden harvest slacks off in autumn, I’ll be ready to hit the keyboard.

eBooks. New volumes to my Little Series of Homestead How-Tos have pretty much been on hold for the past year as I’ve worked on Prepper’s Livestock Handbook. Then when I had problems with Paypal, I unpublished all of my books on Smashwords, because Paypal was how I was paid my royalties. However, I recently changed that payment option, so they are available there once again. I have ideas for several new additions to this series, so stay tuned for that.

In other eBook news, I have permanently unpublished my Critter Tales Series eBooks but will continue to keep the Critter Tales paperback on the market. Turning it into an eBook series was something of an experiment, but for the interested reader the paperback is the better bargain.

I think that about wraps up my author update. Hopefully I won’t be so long with the next one.

Prepper’s Livestock Handbook ready for pre-order!

It’s almost hard to believe that my newest book is done and ready to hit the presses. So many days filled with writing and re-writing, that it’s hard to believe it’s done! Here’s the TOC.

Intro: What is Homesteading? Why Homestead? Who Is This Book For?
Chapter 1: First Things First
Chapter 2: Best Breeds for Self-Reliance
Chapter 3: Barns, Shelters, and Fencing
Chapter 4: Forage and Feed
Chapter 5: Breeding and Pregnancy
Chapter 6: Blessed Events: Birthing and Hatching
Chapter 7: Eggs, Milk, and Meat
Chapter 8: Keeping Them Healthy
Chapter 9: Keeping Them Safe
Chapter 10: Keeping Things Manageable
Conclusion: If SHTF

192 pages with a list price of $15.95, it will be available on June 15 in both paperback and eBook formats. It can be pre-ordered now at:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Independent local book stores everywhere (Follow the link to find the one nearest you.)

10,000 Words Too Many

I was so relieved to return my manuscript to the publisher with all the corrections they had asked for. I’ve been tied to my computer with this project for months now. And while I love the project and am happy to be part of it, it has taken a lot of time. As a full time homesteader, there isn’t that much time to spare on other things! It isn’t like self-publishing where one can say, ‘there’s always next year.’

So about a week or so after I returned the corrected document, I get it back with a note asking if I could please trim it down by about 10,000 words. I shouldn’t have been surprised, because I knew I was over my word budget. The contract calls for 40,000 to 50,000 words and I had given them 60,000!

I have no complaints about my editor. This was the third go-through and all previous suggestions had been helpful. She had more suggestions this time and also told me that she had a few more ideas for reorganization of the material, but she wanted me to see what I could do first. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. If I can economize on words myself that’s good, but being able to keep it in my own voice is even better. I’ve worked with editors in the past that by the time they were done, it didn’t sound like it was written by me! So I appreciate being given the chance to keep the work “mine” as much as possible.

So I’ll be tied to my computer at least through the middle of next week when I’m supposed to return the manuscript again. Not sure when publication is supposed to take place, but hopefully we’re getting close.

 

eBook Purchase Options Indefinitely Unavailable

I have to make the unfortunate announcement that purchase options for my eBooks through Smashwords and it’s outlets (Apple, Barnes & Noble, Scribd., etc.) are indefinitely unavailable. This is not something I ordinarily would have chosen to do, because I believe people should be able to choose where they purchase their eBooks and the format they want. I made this decision because last year PayPal made two unauthorized withdrawals from my bank account. They weren’t for large amounts, the first was for about $36 and the second for about $12, however, this not only set up an alarm, but also sent me in search of answers.

For each withdrawal I first searched my PayPal activity record to make sure I hadn’t forgotten about them. When I couldn’t find a corresponding purchase amount, I went through my emails in search of an old purchase receipt for that company in that amount. When I could find neither, I filed a report in PayPal’s resolution center. The auto-reply in each case said I would hear back within a week or less.

The first time I waited several weeks without hearing a response to my case. The auto-reply is a no-reply, so I went back to the PayPal resolution center and discovered that my case file had disappeared. It was neither under open nor closed cases. I filed again with the same result. I finally went to the PayPal forums and asked for help. Someone had a number to call, which I did. After making several tries with the auto-options, I finally got a computer voice that told me I had filed for a refund back in 2016 and had lost. Good grief, if I had money coming to me wouldn’t I remember that? And for it to take over a year to be resolved? That didn’t make sense. What made it more puzzling was that the amount was for GBP. No other details were given that would have helped such as original transaction date and seller, and there was nothing on my activity records for 2016 to verify this. Even so, a record of my claim should have been in the resolution center for the entire time. I should have found it when I went to file the withdrawal the first time. But there was no claim.

Last month I found another unauthorized debit to my account from a company called Enumber NJ. There was a phone number, which I called, but it just hooked me up to PayPal’s automated phone answering system. Once again I first checked my PayPal activity records but there was nothing for that amount by that company. I opened another case in the resolution center. While I waited for a reply I tried to find information on this company. The only thing I learned is that they are a foreign company that has filed to do business in the U.S. No mention of what that business is or what they sell. They have no website.

When I heard back from PayPal all they said was that the debit was consistent with my activity record. Again, no date, no reason why the amount appeared nowhere on my record, no details about the company. This time my case did not disappear, but was placed in closed cases. It simply said “transaction not covered.” The only information I can find on this is that it has something to do with seller protection. I’m not a seller so I don’t understand what that means.

I later found quite a few complaints about this on the PayPal community forum. The official explanation is that the Enumber charge is because the buyer didn’t have enough money in their PayPal account and this is the fee for them using your backup bank account. Huh? I thought the purpose of PayPal was to pay directly from my bank account. I missed the memo that this was now just a back-up and that I would be charged $12 any time money was debited from my bank account. Even worse, I haven’t purchased through PayPal for months, so what purchase am I being fined for?

Anyway, this tale of woe is to explain why I have discontinued Smashwords publishing for the time being. Smashwords royalties are paid via PayPal, but it’s too nerve-wracking to leave things as is. It’s a horrible feeling to check my bank account online and be afraid more money has disappeared, especially when there’s nothing I can do about it. The bottom line is that I no longer trust PayPal.

I’ll conclude with the standard “apologies if this is an inconvenience” blah, blah, blah. Honestly thought, I hate that it’s worked out this way. My eBooks can still be purchased through Amazon.

 

To Do List

Dedication
Acknowledgements
Bibliography
Resources
Appendix
About the Author

It’s kinda nice not having to do the index, interior formatting and design, copyright page, and cover. I’ve never minded doing these things for my self-published books, but not having to do them is something of a relief.

Done!

Well, not really, but the introduction through conclusion are done and sent to my editor for the next step. What a huge relief. Still a lot of work to do though. I have the dedication, acknowledgements, appendix, bibliography, and resources to work on, so I’ll be plenty busy until it’s time to make corrections on the main text.

The Deadline Loometh

February 1st is approaching and there’s no way to stop it! But I’m making good progress and hope to be going back through my manuscript soon to work on continuity and whatever I left blank in hopes of better inspiration at a later date.

I have to say I am so glad that I asked for an extension on the manuscript deadline. The original deadline was December 1st, which has come and gone. Even though I thought I could meet it, I figured I’d better give myself a little more time and so asked for February 1st just in case. The homesteading life isn’t one that can often be put on hold until a future date. When it’s time to harvest, it’s time to go pick fruits or vegetables before they fall to the ground and rot. Then it’s time to preserve the heaps and mounds accumulating on the countertop! When it’s time to plant for fall pasture and a winter garden, then it must be done or there will be none until next year! And then sometimes I just have to get up and walk away from the computer.

As much as I don’t like the pressure of a deadline, I have to say that having it has helped me establish a more steady routine with my writing. Now after morning chores, I head to the computer and start writing. At lunchtime I take a break and then switch gears for the afternoon because I’m ready for it. This has established a habit that I hope will serve me well once Prepper’s Livestock Handbook is finally put to press. (They changed the title after reading my first 5,000 words.) Maybe I’ll be able to be more diligent on my self-published projects! At least I’m hoping so.

Now back to work.

It Helps to Check Your Outline

I’m still working on Chapter 4, “Forage and Feed.” It seems to be taking forever, but on the other hand, it is the longest and most information packed chapter in the book. I was thinking it was almost done, but then I checked my outline. Good thing I did because the outline is a record of notes, ideas, and things I wanted to remember to include. I’m not far off base, but am glad I looked at it. If the details and ideas can help someone else become more self-sufficient, then they need to be there.

Rereading helps too. I’ve found that I’ve been a bit redundant here and there. So a few more paragraphs and a bit of tiding up and I should be able to move on.

 

 

Writing By A Schedule

So having a deadline has been a new experience for this previously Indie author. Anything self-published has always had a vague time frame in the back of my mind, but I never had to take it seriously because I was doing it all for myself. Writing under a contract is different, because I have agreed to a specific deadline and must write to meet it.

In trying to figure out how to do that, I initially looked at words per day. When I calculated how many days it would take under a five day workweek and how many words per day that would be, it was a very reasonable task. But that didn’t take into account the time spent on research.

I’m very comfortable with the topic (prepping for livestock) and feel qualified on the subject. But knowing what I know from my previous research and experience, and putting this down in a somewhat authoritative way creates a need in me to make sure I’ve got the details right. And to make sure that the information is comprehensive enough to cover others’ needs and choices as well. I don’t mean it will be an encyclopedic how-to, but it needs to give readers enough information to know what their options are and be able to ask intelligent questions as they explore their choices further. Hence the research.

Since words per day didn’t seem to be going very well, I decided to try a chapter per week. If I am able to write a first draft of each chapter in one week, I figured that would give me plenty of time to go back and begin polishing the whole thing into an acceptable manuscript to submit. That hasn’t quite gone according to plan either. Admittedly I’m in some of the more information heavy chapters at the moment, but some days the work of the homestead is too demanding and calls too loudly for me to ignore. Planting, harvesting, and food preservation, for example, need to be done when it’s time to do them. Too often I feel caught between a rock and a hard place as I try to divide my time to get everything done. I lament the things that get neglected, but right now that’s just the way things are.

Is it worth it? I contemplate that sometimes. The one thing I am glad of, is that when we worked through the specifics of the contract I asked to add a couple of months to the deadline. I understand the publishing schedule and definitely don’t want to drag this out, so mentally I keep the original deadline in mind and aim for that, thankful that I have some leeway just in case.

Am I dissatisfied with my progress? No, not really. It just weighs on me a bit, but I use that to keep me motivated, which isn’t a bad thing at all.