For the love of books and libraries…

Yesterday, which was a Friday the 13th and I totally missed that it was but it did not miss me, I spent the majority of my day responding/ trying to respond on this article…,0,3002882.column .  I was shocked, upset, hurt, and many other negative emotions, first to the fact that these librarians had to defend their jobs in an interrogation way, as if they were criminals, but more so to the ignorance of about half of the comments.  Most of these people very clearly did not research before they spoke, which helps proves that we do need to keep school librarians.  I know the vast majority don’t live in CA and most of them don’t know what life is like here.  This would be true for me if we were to talk about Minnesota, the state my husband was born, I know very little about this state.  I’m going to try my best to paint a picture of what we have here in CA and give you, the reader, the ability to investigate all that I say here.
I am just going to state facts here, no opinion.  I want to point out four major things that people were saying: the amount high school librarians make, use of CA public libraries, school librarians are teachers, and students with computers.
I live in South CA or So Cal if you want to call it that. I live in Kern County, not in LA or the LA area. My husband is a high school librarian for a lower income school and I used to work for the public library. The first thing CA cuts when they cut the budget are the parks, the second is the public libraries.  So when people say the kids can use the public libraries, well, that would be hard since they are hardly open.  Most are now only open about two days a week and that’s during school and working hours. Please look it up at Kern County Library. org.  Keep in mind that we have a big county too, so it might seem like we have a lot of libraries but some of the libraries are over an hours drive to the next nearest library and some are as close as a 15 minute drive apart.
Because a lot of the students here in Kern County, and most of South California, are from lower income families a large number of these kids don’t have the internet or a computer at home. The school library or their computer room (which is often attached to the library) is their only hope to research on the web.  And the school librarian is the person who teaches them how and what sites are good and true and what are not.
One person started that school librarians are ‘not teachers’ and that they were trying to take the jobs away from ‘real teachers.’  A high school and middle school librarian has to have a teaching credential first, and most of them have spent many years in the classroom before becoming the school librarian.  Also as the school librarian they are the ‘go to’ person when there is a need for an emergency substitute.  Not only do they have to know the standards for libraries (yes, standards:, but also be aware of all the rest of the curriculum for the school to have supporting books, know when new textbooks are to be adopted, keep up on resources for the classrooms, new technology for library and classroom, and constantly collaborate with teachers on lesson plans for use in the library or just to help the teacher on a lesson plan for the day since the classroom teacher sometimes can not think of something., this happens often with new teachers.
Finally, your typical school librarian makes about what the teachers do, around $47,000 – $70,000. BUT it takes about $10,000 – $15,000 to get the extra education for the librarian credential.  Look into it at Fresno Pacific University.  District librarians, which are not near as common, make near what an administrator makes and they have to have an administrative credential as well as the teaching credential and a librarian credential.
A little opinion here ~ Researching will help you find your answers.  Most school librarians are also technology teachers and show students how to surf the web for research, what is a safe site and what is not, they teach the incoming freshmen the functions of the library, along with much more.  My husband had to make a list of all his duties this year and that list was two full pages typed.  Just please, if you want to debate this, please, just do your research.
Now I know this is going to sound like a bit much, but I have two aunts who teach (one just retired but is now a sub and the other is retiring at the end of this year), I have a mother who (although we are not close) is also a high school librarian, I have a grandpa who is a retired superintendent /principle /teacher, an aunt-in-law who is an assistant superintendent, a mother-in-law who teaches 2nd grade, and a cousin-in-law who teaches kindergarten. All of them are in California, most in So.Cal; one is in the LA area and one is in central/ north CA. I know a lot of aspects in this topic, and most first hand.

Big opinion ~ One other thing I kept seeing in the comments was people discussing administrators.  Now from all that I have witnessed is that when it comes to admin taking a cut the entire district takes a cut of the same percent (example ~ admin 8%, teachers 8%, janitors 8% and so on).  At my aunts school the entire staff was forced to take a 10% cut so no one would be fired.  In my aunt-in-law’s school they all took a 5% cut for the same reason.  So when people say, ‘Admin has been cut over and over.’  This is not true.  Now I understand that schools need to be run and I’m not saying, ‘fire the lot of them.’ I am saying that schools who have two vice principles and one principle might want to cut down to one V.P. as people retire or move on. And districts that are one to two schools big might want to think about having the superintendent act as both principal and superintendent for at least one of the schools. Or, another idea, all vice principles could be cut so they make only $10,000 more then a teacher with the same number of years under their belts (example ~ Teacher works 15 years and makes $50,000 a Vice Principle at the same district works 15 years and makes $60,000).  I do feel that admin does seem to make a lot more then they should and I have witnessed them, in the past, getting a 10% raise while the teachers get a 2%. I just don’t feel that most of them should get the sack.
Here is a new link at what the admin makes in the same district that is letting all the librarians go. I take that back, maybe some of them should get sacked.



I have a few books that I am working on. The Vampiress Sagas, of course, is the one at the very front of my work load.  There are more though.  I have been working on a comedy sci-fi that I truly hope is funny.  Another one that I’m working on is a YA fantasy.  Then I have family life, kids with school, husband just back to work, and (for those of you who don’t know… I’m finally talking) in September I’m due to have another baby.  So, yeah, right now I’m juggling.
The Vampiress Sagas is my prime, ‘you have to work on this’ book.  There will be four in that series when it is done.  But there will also be a planned three in another series with a large amount of the same characters.  I’ve fallen in love (or a wonderful dislike) with most of the heroes, villains, and anybodies in this series that I don’t know if I will ever tire of working with them. (Ahhhh, warm fuzzies.)
The sci-fi book is my second priority with work, and the one my husband is dying to read the most.  He absolutely loves the storyline.  He loves the others too, it’s just this one makes him laugh and it tests some of my boundaries.  I’m writing this one a little differently, and working on changing some of my style… just for this book.  I work on this story when I’m in a more playful mood and just can’t settle into my vampire world.  This book also takes very little historical research.  So if I’m stuck in a doctor’s office for an hour I can just freely type without having to worry about investigating the past.
Just like with The Vampiress Sagas my YA fantasy has been in my head for years.  When I was in high school I wrote a short story of it in a journal.  I’ve also, over the years, have had several dreams with this storyline.  I work on this when I’m in a dreamy mood.  And although the characters in this book and the sci-fi one are fun, enjoyable, completely developed, I just can’t see either being more than one book worth, so no sequels are planned.
There is also an additional book that I have to start thinking about… I think it will be a novella.  My 10 year old requested that I write a werewolf book.  I’m going to need to think about it very carefully.  I’ve never planned on writing anything with werewolves.  I’ve loved and enjoyed several movies and books featuring or ‘starring’ them, I just never planned on this.  I think it’ll be a challenge, but one I’m sure I can handle.  I’m only doing it because she was a little broken hearted that my vampire book had sharks, zombies, and vampires, but not her favorite… the werewolf.  I still will not add one in my vampire world because they don’t work there, but I will write a story just for her.
My husband started back to work two weeks ago, but his students just came back last week.  He has been upset about the lack of reading that will go on this year.  His school, like so many others, got rid of their AR reading program and they are not getting another reading program in its place.  With him being the high school librarian he is going to need to come up with an incentive program for the kids or most of them will never read.  It’s really sad.  My daughters start back soon and they are both a little eager.  And everyone wishes that my due date was in July so we could have started the adjustment period with the new baby when the family was all at home.
So here I am working on three different stories, while trying to think of a fourth.  My husband and kids are getting ready for school and my baby is getting ready for her big day… the day that will always be her birthday.

Here is my little question/s for you… How many books are you taking on at once?  And if you are also adjusting to the new school year, how are you taking it?

{insert shameless plug here}…

When is plugging your book too ‘used car salesman’ like?  This is a tough question that most of us authors deal with on a regular basis.  Most of us have read articles that say things like, “Don’t just say ‘my book’ always say the title and say it as often as you can”  “Advertize on every site you can think of”  “Mention your book everywhere”  “Bring it up in every conversation that you possibly can”  “Be seen reading it… everywhere”  “Brag”  “Boost”  “Show people a copy”  “Never go out without a copy”  “Always type, write, use your full name whenever and wherever possible” and many more things similar to all of these.  I try to leave my name and a nice link to my blog or website’s and on people’s blog because most sites offer a link back if wanted.  I figure since the feature is subtle and they’re for all of us to use… why not?  But I’m not very good at always bringing up the title.  And I don’t feel comfortable parading up and down the mall with a flag with a picture of my book taped to my back, while my book is in one hand and I’m yelling from a bullhorn in the other, all the while demanding that people read it.  That would get attention, but it’s just not me.  As a matter of fact, I just told some of my friends and the other good friends don’t know yet.  Why?  Because I don’t feel comfortable rubbing what I’ve done in other peoples faces.  And I’m writing this blog because I feel like I just used a famous person’s thread to shamelessly plug my book… but now I feel shame.  I feel guilty, even though it was slightly relevant, I still feel like I shouldn’t have even commented on their Facebook thread.  So when, where, how, and who do authors use to drop their name in the bucket with all the other authors out there?  I wish I had an answer we could all use.  I know that I don’t want to lose my tact, grace, and dignity plugging my book and I feel like there should be a nice way to properly advertise to others without feeling dirty.

Things I can do that don’t make me feel gross…
1. I leave comments or blogs with a link back to here
2. Talk about fellow authors work (I like this one, some books out there should get read)
3. Post on my own site and blog
4. Read my book in waiting rooms (why not, I read other peoples)
5. Have the title engraved on my license plate frame (I’d rather that than any other add)
6. Advertising in magazines and announcing in the local paper
7. Reviewing other’s books (I haven’t done this one yet)
8. Make a hoodie (or t-shirt) on Café Press or Zazzle with the title of my book on it (did that last night)
9. Donate a copy to the library, or multiple copies to multiple libraries

Who, what, when, where, and how do you feel comfortable plugging you book?  Also, please feel free to leave any and all shameless plugs in the comments to this post.

I’m an author, Jim, not a used car salesman! < — Shameless reference to Star Trek 😛

FYI ~ The Strongest Fire: Book One of The Vampiress Sagas is still being sold for a very reasonable price on B&N and Amazon.

Barnes & Noble Link

Amazon Link

Sony Reader, Kindle, Nook, Books, or Computer…

I seem to get a number of people who check here about my few posts on the Kindle, Sony Reader, and the Nook.  So I decided, since we do have all three, to do a post about the pros and cons of each one.  But first, I will explain why we have all three.  My husband’s job position has many perks, one being that he is given some devices for free if, and when, he is in programs or places requests.  He is, after all, a high school librarian and if Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Sony were able to convince an entire school that going electronic for text books is a good idea, think of the money they would receive!  Also, think of the students backs they would save.  I am for the text book change out to e-readers, but I don’t believe in the library replacement of the e-reader.  So, over the last 2 years, my husband has been given e-readers to try out.  The Sony Reader and the Kindle were given to him last year back-to-back.  Then, about a month ago, he received the Nook.  We also gave my oldest daughter a Nook for Christmas.  She loves it.  But I will get into that in the pros and cons.  I am aware that there are a few lesser known models out there, just like when the iPod emerged there were a number (and still are) of “generic” mp3 players.  I’m only going to talk about the major e-readers and their competition with each other.
Note ~ some of the pros and cons are personal, but that allows you to know if that is something you would enjoy or not.

Sony Reader 700 ~
Plays music
Compatible with many e-book formats
Syncs and allows storing books on computer
Touch-screen with stylus use
Slots of SD cards allow higher amount of storage
Different colors are available

Recently fixed problem, but when it first came out it would not agree with the Mac
Smaller store (Sony’s)
Not as comfortable to hold, cold feeling
Technology weaker

Pocket Edition price ~ $199
Touch Edition price ~ $299
Daily Edition price ~ $399

Kindle 2 ~
Good display
Quick start and turning pages
Wireless access to bookstore and some internet
Over 390,000 available titles and growth with strong company
Many accessories already available
Sample of books available
Great battery
Best prices (books)
Promised that no ‘book’ will be over $10
A device that reads words for the reader. This is wonderful for a dyslexic or an odd word from the dictionary.

The device that reads words for the reader doesn’t always read the word correctly
Not all books allow reading even though they advertised they would (due to lawsuit)
No growth on storage
No sync with computer
No audio player
No color and lack of growth on gadgets
Lighting is poor
There have been a few times where a ‘book’ was priced over $10

Kindle price ~ $259
Kindle DX Price ~ $489

Nook ~
Over 1,000,000 books available for it already with strong backing of book companies
Expandable storage
Syncs with computer
Audio player
Ability to lend books to others who own Nook
Color display with book cover browsing
Wireless access to bookstore
Sample of books available
Good lighting and ability to adjust it for display
Android OS so easily could add gadgets or features in future
Browse entire books with it in store

Just like the Wii of the gaming world, this thing is a little hard to get your hands on
Lack of internet ability
Battery does not last like it should
Won’t read book to you (wanted to avoid lawsuit?)
Lack of accessories
Initially slow on starting and selection, they are apparently working on that to fix during system updates

Nook Price ~ $250

Computer ~
There is enough storage space on most computers for more books than one can imagine
Computers are very common and don’t add on an extra expense of a new device

It’s very hard for most of us to stare at the monitor for a long amount of time and relax
I find things like wanting to write, blog, shop, or tweet a distraction when I’m on the computer

Prices vary

Books ~
Book marks, I love pretty, fun, interesting bookmarks but with all the readers they are unnecessary
Flipping pages, I enjoy flipping to the next chapter and reading the title
Looking on the shelf, I like things bigger than a thumbnail picture at times. I like looking on the shelf pulling it out and reading the back.
Are a sure thing, they have been around for a very long time. So no one needs to worry about if books are a ‘fad’ although some think they might one day be like a scroll
No electricity or battery is needed to make a book work

Space, as much as I love books, they do tend to pile up all around me.
Travel space, when I travel and I want to bring books, my husband wants to bring books, and both my daughters want to bring books. Once we have packed all that we will read there is no room for us or our clothes on a trip.

Prices vary

Here is a small way to fix some problems and complaints with just about all e-readers.  If you enjoy reading in the tub, place your e-reader in a nice Ziploc storage bag all sealed up, that will keep the water out in case of a drop.  You will still be able to press buttons and turn pages, and the touch-screen should work.  This is also good if you enjoy sticky foods while reading or having a beverage.
E-readers, in general, do make it nice for when it is very difficult to get out and buy a new book.  Over all the ‘books’ are cheaper to buy than a physical copy, but it is easy to get carried away with, “Oh I’ll just buy one book right now.” And not keep track of how much is being spent.
Kindle and Nook offer magazines and newspapers from all over that can be delivered daily.  This is great if you love the San Francisco Chronicle or Sacramento Bee but live in a place like Mariposa where finding these papers are a little difficult. I think that the Sony Daily may be the only one that Sony offers that can do this.  We have never tried to use the Sony for magazines or new papers.
They all also have font size changes some only offer 3 (Sony Reader Pocket Edition) while others offer 6 (Kindle 2).
I enjoy books best and the computer the least.  I can see many reasons to own an e-reader.  My oldest has one because she ran out of room for more books in her bedroom and doesn’t want to part with any of her books.  I don’t blame her.  I have a garage full of books that I don’t want to part with.

I will update this for time to time and please feel free to leave any comments adding to my lists or if there is anything wrong please feel free to let me know.  Also if you have any questions I will do my best to answer and give a timely response.

Oh, and one more plus for the Kindle, is my book is on it.  My book should also be in the Sony Reader but they are taking near a month at this point to add it on.  This shows me that with some titles they are very slow to add.  My publisher doesn’t have a contract with B&N for the Nook… yet.  But give it time, the Nook is the new kid in town.

Sony Reader link

Sony’s site with a comparison to the Kindle

Kindle link

Nook link

I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!  Please drive safe.

Additional ~ Added on Jan 2, 2010

Kindle has a pro/con feature.  There can be many Kindles on one Kindle account.  This makes ALL of the books on that account accessible to each Kindle.  But only 5-6 can read the same book at the same time.  This is wonderful for people who share the same interests BUT if you share with a 10 year old, who is an avid reader and you’re a big steamy romance reader and you don’t feel she or he is ready for that, this could be a problem.  (That is just an example)  All of the books on one account are shared with all of the Kindle owners on that same account.  This is a wonderful feature if you have a house full of college kids and they’re taking some of the same courses.  That’s why this is a pro/con, it all depends on who you’re sharing with.

Below is a link to a small article about the Sony Reader getting an additional 500,000 free titles.  Please always keep in mind when you hear that book titles are free, it almost always means that they no longer have a copyright and that the book is public domain.  Google also offers these titles for free on Google.  My husband told me that the Nook can get these books too, because they have a contract with Google and they are already pdf formatted. The Nook offers more formats than any other e-reader.  People who own the Kindle can buy pay a charge per use to have pdf formatted material sent to their Kindle and put it on, but apparently they don’t look good and it is a pain.

Sony/Google link from March 2009

Google also has these books for free online.  Here is a link to some of what you can get for free…

Books for the library…

I know, my bad.  I have not blogged in over a week.  I apologize.

My husband and I were talking about books for his library.  We donate an average of a book a week during the school year.  With how little money his library gets for books now we have to.  But we don’t donate to the other libraries as often.  This came up when I told him that I was going to donate Something Greater Than Fear by Christy Condoleo to my youngest daughter’s school.  We decided that this year, once a month, we will give one new book to either the public library or my daughter’s school library.  So in January we will be giving Something Greater Than Fear to her school, but I’m undecided for February.
I will pick lesser known books by lesser known authors.  This means I wouldn’t give books by J.K. Rowlings, S. King, S. Meyer, or anyone that I know the library has already.  I’ll be picking books from authors that are just getting a start or need a little boost.  I will pick some that I have read and some that I haven’t.  I’ll choose some that are requested by friends, followers on twitter, in my blog comments, my children, my husband, and some that I just like.  Twelve books a year are not a lot but if we all helped out our local libraries it will make a big deference.  I know that the people who read my blog are readers and writers so I’m aware that most already help out with their local reading circles.
Please, if you have any requests you can ask here or let me know on twitter.  The books I donate will be new and if possible hardback so they can survive the constant wear and tear of a full-blown circulated library workout.

Oh, and if you haven’t seen Christy’s new book here is a link.   The art is lovely, the story is great, and it’s perfect for 3 to 6 year olds, boys and girls, mice lovers and owl lovers.  Great job Christy!

I also wanted to give a shout out to another person.  There is a friend I follow on Twitter and I read her blog.  She is as sweet and as friendly as a person can be.  Every Tuesday she makes a post on her blog about a different author.  I was honored and very flattered that I was one of the lucky ones she picked.  Thank you Heather!  She is working on getting published and getting her name out there, two of the hardest and most challenging things to do.  Here is a link to her blog .  She’s wonderful.

Happy Halloween one of the craziest times of the years…

Just in time for my daughter’s birthday I get back my proofread.  So of course it’s in the back of my head and will be there until this weekend is over.  I forgot not only is it b-day party, slumber party, Halloween party, its family b-day party at grandma’s on Sunday.  WHY DID I SAY YES?!?!?!  I think my daughters have discovered the ‘ask an author while they are in the middle of writing and they will say yes to things (sometimes) without thinking’ fact.  I had already said yes to the slumber party and Halloween party while I was not under the influence of characters in a book.  It was the extra party I didn’t plan on.  Then my husband reminded me that we are going over to his mom’s Sunday and that’s about the time I started banging my head against the wall.
The proofread looks really good.  There are very few problems and I am allowed 50 free changes.  The book cover looks a little different than I thought… they didn’t use the font I requested.  The way it looks though is nice, it’s not bad at all.  My husband doesn’t think I should ask to change it, so I probably won’t.  They did do something slightly odd.  I didn’t want a dust jacket/clothbound and it looks like they set me up with that type.  The reason I requested casebound is because I hated working with the dust jackets when I was in the library and I always take them off when I read a book, as do both of my daughters and my husband.  But I’m guessing it was just part of the package and they just designed it.  At least I am hoping that is the case.  But I will call on Monday and ask.  All and all I think I will be done with this part soon hopefully a day or two after this party weekend
I hope everyone has a safe night.  If you are drinking please let someone else do the driving, hitting a child who is out trick-or-treating would be a nightmare for everyone.

How much is this going to cost…

As most of you know I have been sharing my experience with iUniverse on here, well today kids lets talk about money.  It’s paper yet it doesn’t grow on trees… (deep sigh)

Here is the list of exactly what I spent, what it was spent on, what I saved, and when ~
Aug. 29th 2009 paid for Bookstore Premier Pro Express package spent $1,579.00 ~ saved $920
Sept 6th 2009 paid for US Copyright spent $100 ~ saved $70
Sept 28th 2009 paid for Content Edit spent $3,475.82 ~ saved $0
Oct 1st 2009 will pay for Proofreading spending $1,162.43 ~ saving $0
Total spent/spending = $6,317.25 Total saved = $990 Total would’ve spent = $7,307.25

For the Content Edit it cast $0.035 a word, for the proofread $0.011 a word.  I will also be purchasing the Kindle/Sony Reader option ($99) for the people how enjoy reading that way.  (Like I have said before I think the book and the Kindle can live in harmony, but the Kindle is not a replacement for the book.)

If you chose iUniverse they will not wait for you to save the money for your first edit.  Once you get your manuscript back from the Editorial Evaluator you have 2 weeks to decide and pay.  I understand why, if not they would be sitting on hundreds of ‘maybe laters’ and ‘please wait, I’ll have the cash in X days/weeks/months/years/centuries/eons’.  They will give you a little time for the proofread; they are a little more lenient there.  Best thing to do is have the money saved.  If your book is near 100,000 words (and want about the same as what I have done) save about $7,000 to $10,000 before you go down this road.  Look at what is important to you.  You might wish to save more if you want to buy more books to give to libraries or friends and family.  You might want to buy a book signing kit or a marketing packet too.  They won’t help to make your book better, but they will help with sales.  Those are also things you can purchase down the road.  So if money is tight (I would not recommend skipping the edit) you might want to cut other things you find unnecessary.  The right type of edit, front cover, and the back of the book are all very important things.  People will still read it if it is paperback or if they can only get it online.  But if it looks like an amateur artist scribbled the front cover of the book, people will think an amateur author scribbled on the inside of the book.  If the edit job is poor and the story is great, most people still put it down because it’s too hard to understand.  If the back grabs them and pulls them in, the cover looks good, there are little to no editing flaws, and your story is interesting, then people will enjoy it and speak well of it.  You’ll still have to advertize, but it wouldn’t be as hard as it would be if one of those three things were lacking.  These are just recommendations and by all means this is your story, your decisions, and you are the one that has to walk in your shoes.

Although stores will not be modeled for my book when it first comes out, I saw the importance of my book being returnable from bookstores.  I want people to be able to order them from a store if need be.  I also want stores to feel comfortable with my book so they want to be modeled with my book.  That is why I went with the package I went with.

Note ~ Some of the covers I have seen artist do are lovely!  Some look very professional.  I do not want anyone to think I am saying that all are bad.  Truly though look through some of the places like iUniverse, AuthorHouse, Lulu, and any other self publisher’s site.  You will find a number of good choices as well as some of the worst covers you have ever seen in your life.  Pick carefully.