Sunday, December 23, 2012

Self-Publish on Amazon, Kindle & Smashwords


I will be doing a demonstration at Groton Public Library on how to publish on Amazon.
Saturday, June 22, 1 p.m.
Groton Public Library (in Groton CT)
Computer Lab
Bring your work and image for book cover on a thumb drive.

Do you want to self-publish your work online as a softcover and e-book?

To begin, you might want to check out the following link for the print on demand service hosted by Amazon (where I did the print version of my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail). It cost me nothing to design and publish my book with them. It even had free cover designs to choose from and all I had to do was plug in my images and words (they also provide some images at no cost or you can pay them to do the work for you). You can start an account at no charge at:
Publish your book with CreateSpace: get high royalties, low book prices, and expanded distribution.

It cost me nothing to set up my book (and make changes) because I didn't use the extra services they offered and I was able to fit my book into the templates they offered. I don't have the skill/interest to come up with my own templates. You can find out how much your book will cost you by clicking on a link they provide to tell you that. Since this is a print on demand service, you don't have to buy a zillion copies to get a good price per book. I chose to use black and white images within my book to make it less expensive. You have to have 24 pages to make a print book. Even though I'm doing a short fairytale right now, I have gotten it to 24 pages because I can have some blank pages, a dedication page, title page, etc. I chose to do the print version before the e-book version of the Mytsic Seafarer's Trail because the print version gave me more templates and directions that were easier to understand.

I chose to use the free ISBN provided by Amazon for my print book. You have to use theirs if you want the book available through Baker & Taylor (libraries like to go through that distributor) and Ingram (bookstores like to use that distributor). I had to pay a $25 fee to make my book available through those distributors. You don't need an ISBN for the e-book version.
I was then allowed to take the book cover I designed on Create Space and use it for my e-book on the Kindle site also hosted by Amazon. They are two separate companies, so you have to have two accounts and transfer your print book set up over to it. The Kindle site is: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing

For my future print books, I will probably use the ISBNs I purchased several years ago.
http://www.bowkerlink.com

You may also want to make your book available as an e-book on Smashwords as Barnes and Nobles distributes their e-books on Nook. Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/about/how_to_publish_on_smashwords
Smashwords has an agreement with Podiobooks. I am going to turn my book into an audio book at some point: https://www.smashwords.com/links/podiobooksExit

Note: Just so you know, the e-book version cannot handle having an Index at this time (because there are no fixed page numbers in an e-book).

Do you want advice on how to get traditionally published and promote your work? Click on my free e-book, How to Get Published.



Mystic Seafarer's Trail: Bailey Rests After Walking Mystic Seafarer's Trail...


Mystic Seafarer's Trail: Bailey Rests After Walking Mystic Seafarer's Trail...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Amelia Earhart Was Married Here


When I discovered that Amelia Earhart married George Putnam in Noank (near my home in Mystic, CT) in February of 1931, I couldn't wait to learn more--such as why she was such a reluctant bride and how, in the days before global warning made headlines, could she have gotten married outside as portrayed in the 2009 Amelia movie starring Hilary Swank?

Excerpt from my new book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail:
Learning I was including Amelia Earhart's wedding in a book about the area, Mary Anderson, Curator of the Noank Historical Society, said, “You tell everybody that the wedding scene portrayed in the movie [Amelia] is inaccurate. My husband’s grandfather, the Groton probate judge, performed the ceremony, and my father-in-law, Robert Anderson, a young Noank lawyer at the time, attended as a witness. Before and after the ceremony, Amelia spoke to him about a new kind of aircraft she was promoting. When the judge congratulated her after the ceremony, calling her Mrs. Putnam, she replied, ‘Please sir, I prefer Miss Earhart.’”

Amelia Earhart met George Putnam, an arctic explorer, publicist and heir to the GP Putnam publishing company, in 1928 while employed as a social worker in Boston. Putnam had become famous as the publisher of Charles Lindbergh’s book about his solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927. Now George Putnam was helping sponsors look for a woman to become the first woman to fly the Atlantic in the trimotor Fokker, Friendship, previously owned by pioneering aviator and polar explorer, Richard E. Byrd. Amelia was interviewed by the flight sponsors in New York City at the offices of G.P. Putnam’s Sons Publishing Company. Upon concluding the interview in George Putnam’s office, George accompanied Amelia to the train station. Shortly after returning to Boston, she received the offer to make the historic flight.

Putnam, who was reportedly smitten by Amelia, brought Earhart to Noank to visit with his mother, Frances Putnam, and on November 8, 1930, he convinced Amelia to visit Groton Town Hall to apply for a marriage license.

Wanting to follow Amelia’s trail, I visited Groton Town Hall to see if I could learn anything from looking at the license. Just before I entered the building, a friendly, owner-less golden retriever greeted me. Calling the phone number etched in his tag, I assured the owner I would hold onto him until she could drive over to collect him.

As I sat on a bench with the dog at the entrance of the 1908 brick building, I pondered what Earhart was thinking before she stepped through that doorway more than 80 years earlier. My first trip to Groton Town Hall occurred two years ago when we first moved to Mystic. It wasn’t for any life-altering reason—I was just required by law to register my hound Bailey for a Connecticut dog license.

Amelia, on the other hand, was apparently extremely apprehensive when she entered Groton Town Hall. She wasn’t sold on the idea of marriage in general (her parents had divorced six years earlier in 1924) and had rejected other marriage proposals, including Sam Chapman’s, whose proposal included the insistence that his wife not work outside the home.

Once freed from my dog sitting responsibilities, I visited the Registrar of Vital Statistics office, the same office where I applied for Bailey’s dog license. When I told the clerk I was looking for Earhart’s marriage license and gave her the wedding date, she found it immediately. “We’ve had many requests for that,” she said...

To learn more about Amelia Earhart, the fib I discovered on her marriage license, and certain events leading up to and following her wedding in Noank, see my book, Mystic Seafarer's Trail, available online as an e-book or soft cover through Amazon and in Mystic area shops.

About Mystic Seafarer's Trail:
While searching for the Seven Wonders of Mystic with her beagle/basset hound, author Lisa Saunders uncovers the secrets behind the Titanic's shoes, Captain Sisson's hunt for gold, and Amelia Earhart's Noank wedding. But will she ever find an adventure of her own--one that will make her thin and famous? Enough to afford a housekeeper? When walking the Mystic Seafarer's Trail (which Lisa designed for those who don't like to go uphill), she meets a blind sailor who invites her on a long, winter voyage. Can this plump writer defy squalls, scurvy, and her fear of scraping barnacles to survive this epic journey?

Mystic Seafarer's Trail, can be previewed by clicking on the "LOOK INSIDE" feature on Amazon. It is also available in Mystic area shops that incude, A Taste of New England, Bank Square Books, Franklin's General Store, Carson's Variety Store, and Monte Cristo Bookshop (a new shop in New London).

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Empty Christmas Chair--another holiday without my daughter


Empty Christmas Chair--another holiday without my daughter

My younger daughter Elizabeth would have turned 23 today, December 18, 2012.

On her birthday seven years ago, I cried in thankfulness that she managed to be home with us for yet another Christmas. Expecting Elizabeth birth, due to be on Christmas Eve of 1989, had been an exciting experience. But the moment she arrived on the 18th, I felt a stab of fear. My immediate thought was, “Her head looks so small—so deformed.”

The neonatologist said, "Your daughter's brain is very small with calcium deposits throughout. If she lives, she will never roll over, sit up, or feed herself." He concluded that Elizabeth's birth defects were caused by congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV). Women who care for young children are at a higher risk for catching it because preschoolers are the majority of carriers. Pregnant women need to be careful not to kiss young children on or around the mouth or share food or towels with them.

Why hadn’t my OB/GYN warned me about this?

While I was pregnant with Elizabeth, I not only had a toddler of my own, but also ran a licensed daycare center in my home. I felt sick at what my lack of knowledge had done to my little girl. In milder cases, children with congenital CMV may lose hearing or struggle with learning disabilities later in life. But Elizabeth's case was not a mild one.

When my husband Jim heard Elizabeth's grim prognosis, he stared at her and said, “She needs me”—just like Charlie Brown with that pathetic Christmas tree.

It took me about a year, but I eventually stopped praying that a nuclear bomb would drop on my house so I could escape my overwhelming anguish over Elizabeth's condition. Life did become good again—but it took a lot of help from family, friends, the Book of Psalms, and a couple of prescription sedatives! We were eventually able to move ahead as a happy, "normal" family.

Sixteen years later, I awoke feeling so proud of Elizabeth. It was her 16th birthday and just one week before her 17th Christmas. When the song “I’ll be home for Christmas” played on the radio, I cried thinking how hard Elizabeth fought to be home with us, overcoming several battles with pneumonia, major surgeries, and most recently, seizures. Weighing only 50 pounds, she looked funny to strangers as a result of her small head and adult teeth, but she was lovely to us with her long, brown hair, large blue eyes and soul-capturing smile. Although still in diapers, and could not speak or hold up her head, Elizabeth was very happy and loved going for long car rides—especially to look at Christmas lights. She also enjoyed school and being surrounded by people, paying no mind to the stares of “normal” children who thought she belonged on the "Island of Misfit Toys."

Less than two months after she turned 16, I dropped Elizabeth off at school. Strapping her into her wheelchair, I held her face in my hands, kissed her cheek, and said, “Now be a good girl today.” She smiled as she heard her teacher say what she said every time, “Elizabeth is always a good girl!”

With that, I left.

At the end of the day, I got the call I had always feared. “Mrs. Saunders, Elizabeth had a seizure and she’s not breathing." The medical team did all they could, but she was gone.

While holding Elizabeth on his lap, my husband looked down into her partially open, lifeless eyes and cried, “No one is ever going to look at me again the way she did.”

Now, as I prepare to celebrate my seventh Christmas without her, it is with some heartache that I bring down the holiday decorations from the attic. Elizabeth used to love to sit on the couch with her big, old formerly homeless dog Riley, and watch us decorate. Now, I perform a new Christmas tradition. I carefully unfold the black and red checked shirt Elizabeth wore on her last day and hang it over an empty chair beside our fireplace. Although she can't be home for Christmas, I feel that she is my “Tiny Tim” who would say if she could, “God bless us, everyone!”

Now, I can only visit with Elizabeth in my dreams, but to feel her presence on a more continuous basis, I share her life with others. After speaking about her at the first international Congenital CMV conference held at the Centers for Disease Control in Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA, scientists from all over the world approached to thank me for inspiring them to continue their work.

Mothers, on the other hand, pushed their children towards me in wheelchairs and asked, “Why didn’t my OB/GYN tell me how to prevent this?” One mother even asked, "Learning what you did, why didn't you do all you could to shout it from the rooftops?"

Until OB/GYNs make CMV prevention a standard practice of care, I'm trying to "shout it from the rooftops" through my memoir, Anything But a Dog! The perfect pet for a girl with congenital CMV. I hope to reach a general audience by sharing the unusual account of how a big, old homeless dog found his way to Elizabeth's couch. In the back of the book, I include CMV prevention and treatment tips from the country’s leading CMV experts.

Please help prevent disease related birth defects by reviewing the CDC's fact sheet on preventing infections during pregnancy available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/pregnancy_gateway/infections.html



If a person would like a portion of the proceeds to be donated to CMV research and parent support, the soft cover version can be purchased through the National CMV Disease Registry at: www.unlimitedpublishing.com/cmv

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Death of a child--The Woodcutter's Tale

My father felt inspired to write this short fairytale after my daughter died. Her entire life had been a struggle with congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV).

The Woodcutter's Tale

Once upon a time long, long ago in a far-away land lived Patrius, a woodcutter, and his wife Matilda.  They had a 19-year-old daughter, Filia and a ten-year-old son Stefan.
               It came to pass that the countryside was ravaged by sickness accompanied by high fever that caused many to perish.  Stefan was stricken and shortly became very ill.  The woodcutter summoned the old midwife, a gray-haired woman who also served as a doctor.  “Patrius, Matilda, I am sorry to tell you that Stefan is beyond my help and must soon die.”
               Struck speechless by this pronouncement, they heard the neighing and hoof beats of horses outside their cottage.  Patrius went out to discover that the Princess in her royal coach had stopped.  “I was returning to my castle when I heard your son was sick.  Bring me to him.”  Patrius led the Princess inside and she beheld the dying Stefan.  “Let me take him home with me and I will heal him.  However, I will keep him with me as I have no sons after four years of marriage.”  Although it broke their hearts, Patrius and Matilda agreed for they knew it was best for Stefan.
               The Princess herself picked Stefan up to carry him to the carriage.  As soon as the Princess lifted him, Stefan started to look better.  The Princess placed him in the coach seat opposite her and the coach drove off, leaving the couple waving goodbye with tear-stained faces.
               Life was not the same in the little cottage, although the family seemed closer together then ever before. Their shared grief was an invisible weight pressing upon their shoulders, made bearable only by the sharing.
               Three days after Stefan’s departure, a white dove appeared and made a nest in their thatched roof.  Strangely, the family felt comforted by the presence of the dove that never left their roof.  Patrius always looked for it when he returned from his wood-cutting forays into the forest.  Matilda and Filia often looked up when they were doing their outdoor chores to see if the dove was still there and to experience the sense of consolation and protection, which seemed to emanate from the dove.
               After a few years, Filia married a cooper and moved to a village about ten miles distant. 
               Though they missed their daughter greatly, the couple now had the dove for company. 
               Finally, stricken with years, the old couple became weaker and weaker and sensed that they both were going to die.  Patrius said, “Let us go outside, bring our bench and sit on it, hold hands and look at our dove.”  Matilda agreed and they brought their bench outside.  They settled themselves on the bench and faced their cottage, but were surprised to see that the dove was no longer on the roof.  Finally growing too feeble to move, they heard the sound of horses’ hooves. 
               With their last breaths, they beheld the royal coach approaching.  As the coach drew near, they saw a smiling Stefan inside, dressed in shining white garments and looking every inch a Prince.  “Come home with me,” said Stefan.  Overjoyed and amazed that they suddenly no longer felt feeble, the couple stepped into the coach.  As the coach started to pull away, Patrius and Matilda looked back to see if their dove had returned.  But the dove, no longer being needed, was gone. 
               This disappointment was replaced by their boundless joy at seeing how happy Stefan had been and by knowing they would be with Stefan forever in their new home.
THE END 

A note from Lisa Saunders: The Woodcutter's Tale was written by my father, Richard W. Avazian, when his granddaughter, my daughter Elizabeth Saunders, died. It is an excerpt from my memoir, Anything But a Dog! ,which is about Elizabeth and a homeless, old dog who found his way to her side.


If you would like to download "The Woodcutter's Tale," as a free e-book, which includes several more tender-hearted images, a section on grieving by a family therapist, and how to prevent my daughter's disabilities and death, go to the free e-book on Smashwords.
 
If you would prefer the softcover, it is available on Amazon at:


If you would like to read about my daughter's life with her big, tomboy sister and a series of dysfunctional pets, Anything But a Dog! is available as a soft cover through the National Congenital CMV Registry, where a portion of the proceeds goes to CMV research and parent support. Anything But a Dog!  is also available as an e-book through Amazon. Congenital CMV is the leading viral cause of birth defects--causing more disabilities than Down syndrome.

The image of the little family about was illustrated by Elizabeth's aunt, Marianne Greiner.
 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Free e-book today about Mystic area and Amelia Earhart

Free e-book today about Mystic area and Amelia Earhart. I will be giving a talk about Earhart's wedding in Noank at the Mystic and Noank Library. Details on free e-book and talk with book signing at: http://stonington.patch.com/blog_posts/not-a-creature-was-stirring-not-even-my-hound