Hard to Find Good Help?

Is it me or is it hard to find good help these days?  Do people take pride in their craft anymore? I paid for the services of a graphic designer in the Balboa package I purchased months ago. I had a lovely conversation with a sane-sounding woman about the cover design for my book. You have asked, dear readers, that I keep you in the loop.

SO HERE’S THE SKINNY…

Two weeks ago I spoke to a member of the Design team who gave me a graphic artist. We had an honest, and I thought productive, conversation about concepts for the cover. I produced an image for her to use. Yesterday, almost two weeks to the day, I received the mock-ups. I was, in a word, underwhelmed. And deeply disappointed. The covers did not resonate, and none contained the image I had provided.

WTF?

To add insult to arguable injury, it was suggested that I pass these cover designs along to friends and family for feedback. So I did, and none (NONE) could open the link. I admit to having high expectations (HAZARD—these can lead to disappointment). And I will admit to being picky (also disappointment provoking), but I am surprised, quite surprised actually, that not one of these covers proved particularly creative, inspired, exciting.

I feel let down by the experts (assuming Balboa is one, and they sell themselves as such). The wonderful woman who was so helpful when at first the ball was dropped, seems to have faded from view (which is a shame because she was competent and considerate). I miss her expertise, participation, and ability to direct the process in a way that works for me.

I am waiting to hear from the design team (I have emailed my displeasure) and I shall show people the cover designs from my computer, which is the only screen they seem willing to appear on. Creative talent is tough to measure and it’s subjective. Unfortunately today, Balboa’s cover designs feel more like random crap-shoots than expressions in talent or expertise.

However, time and brain-power being the teachers they are, I feel differently now. After considered feedback, I know the image I want to use, a photograph, and just last night I decided to change the title. I like, Passing Through, but something about it left me wanting. My graphic designer gave me fodder, helped me hone in on what I do, and do not, like—font size and shape, colors, positioning of image and text. So today, I thank her.

The journey continues…look what an author has to go through to publish a book! Geeeezz. The day I hold it in my hands will make it all worth it. The education, the decisions, the hard work—in fact, it will be (aside from human beings and relationship oriented endeavors) one of the sweetest achievements of my life.

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It Bares Repeating

Michelle W. writes, in the Daily Post:

The Writing Life: Advice from a Counterculture Icon

If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

The upper portion if the paragraph is funny, but the last sentence is the point—to create something. Something; readable, tangible, affecting. Writing, painting, acting—are as much talents as they are skills. The paragraph bares repeating.

To read the post in its entirety, go to: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1#inbox/1492c6fd346a2eea

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Touching The Soul

No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted – I read. I have been the recipient of  acts of kindness by the men and women in my life, they know who they are, and for them I am profoundly grateful. A reminder of how lucky I am. I do not, not for a second hardly ever, forget the people in my life who offer lights to illuminate dark paths, and helping hands to step from shaky ground.

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Acts of kindness, of the random or intentional variety, are the stepping stones upon which humanity and spirituality thrive. They are the operating systems for philanthropy, healthy families, long term friendships and powerful love. Because kindness opens the heart, whereas attacking, closes it. There’s no faking the direction either. Viscerally the gut will tell you. The feeling can not be confused.

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Acts of kindness register deeply, are not easily forgotten, and give you a feeling of warmth and safety. These usually come from the people you know and love, but every once in a while, kindness comes out of nowhere. People can surprise us. Regard acts of kindness as more precious than diamonds and pearls because they bring in beauty and touch your soul, which can change your life.

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Fade To Pink

The thing I’ve noticed about blogging and writing, in my case—is pain. I get my best soul-searching, authentically rich, writing material when my emotions are operating in high gear. Anger and sadness, in particular, running hot enough to start a rash under my collar, tend to be fruitful.

I’ve noticed of late that I’ve been writing less often and more haphazardly. At first I thought this was due to the time commitment required by the publication of my forthcoming book—a phrase I’ve been using with annoying frequency (even though I am quite proud of the fact that a book will be forthcoming). It does require my time, but not so much of it that I would be unable to blog as well.

So—if it’s not my emotional state, or my forthcoming book, what is it? Am I losing interest? Is it difficult to find something worthwhile to write about? Have I become distracted? Have I lost my groove or my niche? I’m not sure, although all are possibilities. My life is changing, in facets as complex and varied as prism glints of light. While what I wrote about and will continue to write about is still enormously important to me, I am morphing an old skin and becoming comfy in a new one.

Much of me remains the same. There are values, personality traits, my loud and distinct belly laugh. But much has changed. The experience of losing my parents, the empty-nesting of my babies, the world anew and awash in color, design, and person. It is an ongoing process and has been so for the past many decades. I am led to a better place, yet my pattern of change-resistance is usually my initial reaction. But only initial.

My desire to write has not left me. It may morph in content, context, where I choose to be mindful and how often I want to share, but it has not faded. Therefore, it remains a mystery—and an interesting one—to see what will pull, push and motivate me enough to make me want to write. It is a mystery I look forward to as I let go of the need to appear in control, and view the world with innocence and wisdom, from many angles.

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Balboa – No More Bouts

Balboa Press, the self publishing arm of Hay House, the one I’m using for my memoir debut, has three distinct steps on the road to producing a book.

Phase one is submission. It sounds quick and easy, right? Submit your manuscript. The end. That is not the case, nor should it be. (The easy way is the hard way in the end, my mother always said.) Once your manuscript is submitted properly, through a Word document or pdf, it goes to legal. Legal makes sure there is nothing libelous in your story – they do not want to get sued (and neither do you). You receive a CIC, Check-in coordinator, who assists you through the process of: sending in any pictures you want to include internally, the cover art – yours or one you choose from their large assortment of possibilities, front and back cover design and text, editing – they offer a 1700 word edit and then suggest the editing package they believe your manuscript needs. They recommended a line edit, the simplest form of editing (at additional cost) but it was well worth it. Since they gave me a new CIC, everything has been running smoothly.

Phase two is design. I am champing at the bit to reach this phase. I sent my final review of the edit back to editorial last night, and we will see what needs to take place before, and until, moving on is sanctioned. In design, the internal formatting of the book is set; where the title goes on the page, the copyright information, what is centered or left aligned, how much space is around the margins, the image insertions, the covers – front and back. This stage is slated to last three weeks. They do something, I review it, I send it back and they review it, and so it goes until we reach a consensus. If phase one is any indication, it will take significantly longer. I can live with that as long as the process is in forward motion.

The third and final phase is distribution, slated to take approximately sixteen weeks. The design team does a final quality assurance check before the files go to the printer. Very exciting. Three weeks after that, I receive an author’s copy. OMG! The book will become available online at Balboa Press bookstore. Next, printed and digital formats will become available for distribution worldwide.

Balboa has stepped up her game and sent me top notch individuals to work with. I will say, they handled the initial issues quickly and well and there is talent here. I was concerned this would feel like a mill, but it doesn’t. I am given the attention and assistance I want – and I await the final product with joy and anticipation. Of course, we are only at the tail end of phase one. I vow to keep you informed.

Thanks for being here!

v

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Roller Coasters

Life, of late, has been moving at a speed and trajectory too fast to take the time to ponder. It’s had its proverbial ups and downs, mostly ups, but still – I feel a bit like a passenger on a speeding locomotive grabbing the pieces of scenery my eyes can focus upon. Continue reading

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Broken Screen

My daughter is taking a long trip and my son is moving into an apartment with his girlfriend. These are exciting pieces of news. Why then am I crying?

I am emotional, touched by the slightest kindness, connection, bit of warmth. I watch the world move in multiple directions, unsure of my position, in the midst of a swirling windstorm. Where am I? Where are my kids? My parents? My family that keeps me centered and intact? I exist flummoxed and impinged.

My family, now inclusive of my oldest son’s fiance (my daughter-in-law to be) and my second and third sons’ girlfriends, gather for a farewell dinner for my daughter. They show up, and just two days after they showed up for my niece in Colorado. A lucky woman am I to be surrounded by such special people.

But so emotional. I break through the screen, the filter, of my very being. Unprotected, my vulnerability is a curse and a savior. I rattle around my shell as though visiting a mansion filled with untapped rooms and staircases. Which door do I open? Where will the staircase lead? Am I brave enough to make this journey … I don’t know.

In the moment, in the uncertainty, in the murky darkness, I sit directionless. How can something awesome be terrifying? That something, someone – is me. My sense of balance is thrown and I teeter on the edge of what I don’t know. Sometimes delighted, sometimes shivering in trepidation. Emotion contacts my heart in a soggy, water-filled place. I see the world through undulating waves.

The sensation of being left, real or imagined, is a triggered bleeder dragging me into a bloodstained and wilted pasture. There is no movement in yesterday’s news, yet I sink into that meadow with a cradled ease.

I long for the familiar but growth pulls me in other directions, making me fear and love change simultaneously. Stepping from the known, my insecurities roar loudly, calling attention to themselves. They step from secrecy so I take notice. One cannot examine what one does not acknowledge.

Bittersweet, so much is in the rear-view mirror. Miles stand in my wake. When someone leaves and I use the word, leave, loosely, a buried sadness surfaces. Worn, well-trodden paths of crumpled daisies and trampled grass. Fragrant memories fill my nostrils.

Perhaps on the staircase leading to places unknown, new flowers and fragrances will draw me, creating a bridge from what was to what is. If I can focus. For a moment. Without weeping. On the now.

 

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