Thursday, October 18, 2018

Sophie and Spot: Preorder Now!


Exciting news! It's here! Sophie and Spot is here!

If you just want to find out where to order, skip this next section and jump down to the order info below.

Crossing the Finish Line: Behind the Scenes


I passed the initial review by both Ingram Spark and Amazon, proofed the digital versions of my book and e-book, and have been waiting for a physical proof of each book to come in the mail. And on Tuesday, they were delivered and the books look fabulous! At first I thought they looked identical, but eventually I have been able to see very small differences between the book printed by Amazon and the book printed by Ingram Spark.

Have you ever gotten to the end of a book and wondered why there are several blank pages? Apparently, that's a choice that the printer makes. I absolutely love that Amazon doesn't add extra pages, but simply prints its barcode and printing info on the last blank page of my book. Ingram Spark, on the other hand, added two extra pages at the end, which is disappointing and unnecessary.

While the front covers look identical, the back covers are slightly different. Ingram Spark printed the back cover font in darker ink, which I much prefer as I think it makes it easier to read. They also sized the barcode to fit the entire white rectangle, which I also prefer.

For some reason, the Amazon book looks slightly thicker than the one from Ingram Spark, which is interesting considering they didn't add the two extra pages. The title font on the spine of the Amazon book shows more yellow than the Ingram Spark one. So there you have it. Those are all of the differences that I can find. And they're very subtle differences, so rest assured that whichever book you end up with will be excellent. All of that time formatting paid off because the covers look great, the text didn't fall into the gutter (the middle of the book where the pages stick together), and I am so excited to show them to you.

(c) Amber Byers

How to Order


You can order the paperback on Amazon right now. Preorders are available through Tuesday, October 23. This simply means that you can order now and your book will be shipped on Tuesday. Preorders benefit authors, because all of the sales during the preorder phase are combined into the first week's sales, which gives them a boost in the rankings.

And, because I also published through Ingram Spark, you can also go to your local bookstore or library anywhere in the country and ask that they order a copy for you. I don't think you can order directly from Ingram Spark as an individual, but let your bookstore know that you want to buy a copy and they should be able to help you out.

If you run into any issues, or if the options above just don't work for some reason, feel free to reach out to me directlyeither through the comments below or via Tadpole Pressand I'll be happy to help you out.

Thanks so much and happy reading!

What About an E-Book?


Yes, Sophie and Spot is also available as an e-book! Ask your bookstore or library to order you a copy.

Because Amazon was in the middle of transitioning its publishing platform from CreateSpace to Kindle Direct Publishing when I published, I need to transfer my files over to KDP. Once I do that, you will see an option to buy an e-book on the same page on Amazon that you can find the paperback version.

What About an Audiobook?


My next steps are to promote and market the paperback and e-book versions of Sophie and Spot and then create an audiobook. So stay tuned!

One Final Request


After you read the book, please leave a review on Amazon and Goodreads. One of the first things that bookstores and libraries will look at when deciding whether to order a book is how many reviews it has, so this is a fantastic way to help your favorite authors. Please note that Amazon typically deletes any reviews that aren't linked to a verified purchase, so make sure you use the same account you purchased the book with to leave your review on that site.

If you loved the book and are wondering how else you can help support it, then please share it with your friends and family, buy an extra copy to donate to your local school or thrift store, and stock up on early holiday gifts for the young readers in your life.

Thank you a million times over!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Back with a Bang!


 
  (c) Amber Byers

Hello, dear blog readers! I hope you've all had a wonderful summer doing everything you love to do. Good newsI'm back! And not just here, but back with a bang! Summer was reinvigorating and as soon as autumn started, I was bursting with energy, ready to dive back into work again.

Things have been cruising right along too. I wrapped up my revisions over the summer, sent my book to my beta readers near the end of the summer, and began incorporating their comments early this fall. This was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had working on my book. I felt like I was sewing together little patches to make a beautiful quilt. For example, I realized that I had three characters playing different roles at the animal shelter where Sophie volunteers. So to simplify things, I combined them into one character and then went through and gave that character some unique characteristics to help readers recognize her. It was really fun jumping through the book and adding the details like that.

Then I sent the book to my proofreaders, finalized my cover, and thought okay, I'm ready to publish. Not quite. I have been dealing with formatting issues for about two weeks now. I won't bore you with details about mirror margins and embedded fonts, but I will say that this was one of the worst parts of my whole experiencemy darkest moment (for those of you who don't know, that's a stereotypical plot point near the end of the story where you think the main character isn't going to pull through). But, like the stereotypical resolution, I overcame all odds and finally achieved success submitting both my paperback and e-book versions to Ingram Spark and Amazon last week. I am now awaiting a final review from both companies, so stay tuned for details about how to preorder soon!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

You Are Right Where You Need To Be


For the second year in a row, I’m taking the summer off. Minimizing my work and taking a break. Similar to what I experienced last year, I have felt frantic and overwhelmed the past few weeks as I try to wrap everything up ahead of time. I felt like I wasn’t where I needed to be with my editing business, my book (it’s still not published!), and I even started to feel behind in my career as a writer. Yes, this relatively new career. I started thinking about all of the things that I haven’t done yet and started feeling really behind. So it was definitely time to slow down and focus on what is happening right here, right now. For in the end, that’s all we really have, isn’t it?

I woke up early this morning, around 5 a.m., and started thinking about what I needed to do today, how maybe I should write a blog post about being in the moment. Then my cat jumped on my bed and told me to just live in the moment (i.e. snuggle and pet him) instead of write about living in the moment. So I did.

When he jumped down, the sun was just starting to peek over the horizon so I went for a walk by the creek in the quiet calm before the day begins. It has been snowing cottonwood fluff all week, swirling down in lazy currents and collecting in big balls on the ground, but I've been so busy that I haven't had a chance to walk along the creek path and watch the fluff come down. Until this morning.

And what I discovered was not what I was expecting. I didn't see any cotton snowing down, but I did discover song birds chorusing their greetings, fields of dandelions blooming, and the first rays of golden sun touching the earth. Dewdrops on blades of grass soaked my toes as I walked. It was beautiful and reminded me that while I may not be where I had hoped to be, I am right where I need to be. Every challenge is an opportunity. It does not delay the path, but is simply part of the path. And no matter where we are, it is right where we are supposed to be. And it will change. It will all change. Goodbye, spring. Hello, summer.



 
(c) Amber Byers



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Transformations


I had a good friend call me up a few weeks ago and ask me how I did it. Specifically, how did I make the jump from being an attorney to a writer? Was there one moment that I knew I needed to change, or did it build up slowly?

There were many moments, and many ups and downs. The moment during my first semester of law school when I knew with absolute certainty that being a litigator in the adversarial system was not for me. The moments when I chose to ignore that feeling. The months of looking for work and wondering where I would belong. Other moments where I enjoyed aspects of the work I was doing, even as a civil litigator in the adversarial system. The months of dread when I wondered how I would ever move on to something else. But always, always the creeping feeling that this wasn’t entirely me.

Something wasn’t quite right. I didn’t feel right. My health was suffering. My life outside of work was suffering. I think what it came down to was the simple, undeniable fact that I knew things could be better. That I could be better. And the final push was knowing that I needed to be a better person for the people who depended on me the most. It is amazing what I am willing to put myself through, but there is a very firm line of what I am willing to put the people I love through. And once that line had been crossed, there was no going back.

Sometimes an awakening is triggered not by concern for ourselves, but by concern for someone else. For how our actions impact other people, or something that ignites a strong reaction to defend someone else, even if we wouldn’t have defended ourselves.

At first, I focused on paying off my student loans. If I could just pay them off, then things would be alright and I could move on to something else. But I quickly realized that I need an earlier escape. So I started to make plans. Throw out ideas, dream about what I would do if I could. Even when it didn’t seem like it would ever be possible. Yet I still hoped and I still dreamed. And I plodded along.

(c) Amber Byers

Sometimes I talked about my dreams. I talked to people in different areas of the law, people outside of the law. Sometimes I questioned if I even knew what I wanted. Sometimes I cried and agonized over the loss of what I had hoped a legal practice would be for me.

Yet at the same time that I was being pushed out of my legal career, I was also being pulled into my new life as an artist. This one idea kept coming up, the same idea that’s been coming up for my entire life. Writing. It’s what I always go back to. Whenever I’m at a standstill, it’s this little idea that keeps popping up inside my head. And I start thinking, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could just write? Because I am an artist at my core and there is a certain peace that comes from being who you really are.

There are untold stories waiting inside of me to be written, found, discovered. And I start thinking about the authors who have inspired me over the years. Sometimes I feel frantic for all of the time that I’ve wasted not writing. There are so many books to write, things to learn, awards to win! And then I remember that I’m right where I need to be. All of that time spent in uncertainty, feeling stuck – it was just getting me ready for this right now.

Sometimes I still plod along and question what I want. But I am a force in motion now. I don’t have to know all of the answers. I just have to keep moving.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Happy Easter, Happy Spring, Happy Happy Everything!


(c) Amber Byers

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Business is Booming


Well, hello there! How's it going, my dear blog readers? It's time for another update. I can feel winter moving into spring already. January was a slow, sleepy month that settled on me like a fog. I would have wished for more energy and warmer weather, but I do believe that this kind of low level energy that makes me want to go slow and sleep a lot is an important part of the year and my life. So I embraced it and didn't rush anything, and eventually the cocoon melted away.

Then, just as quickly, February pounced upon me with a fierce intensity. My editing business picked up and my days - and even my weekends - took on a focus like I haven't seen since my time as an attorney. But it was fun. Even the nine-hour day I put in one Saturday. Because I'm reading fun fiction books, which is such a delightful way to make a living. And it didn't hurt that I was in charge and knew that if I needed to slow down, I could. But I didn't need to.

And in the midst of both of these very different months, I've found time to continue writing. One of my critique groups passed the point of already-written material back in January, which meant that I needed to write the end of my book so it could be critiqued. The writing process was as slow as molasses in January, but by the time February kicked in, it was picking up speed. And I realized that there is more to my story than I thought there would be. I won't give any spoilers, except to say that I always hate it when books and movies end with someone getting married. Because just when you're finally getting to the interesting part, they wrap it all up with a tidy little bow like there's nothing else worth mentioning. So I shouldn't be entirely surprised that the end I thought I'd decided for my book wasn't really the end. And it still feels so good to be writing again.

Overall, the biggest benefit from my critique process has been giving me confidence in my book. Confidence that it is a good story that I've written well. I know that it won't be the best story I've ever written (hey, I'm just getting started here!), but I'm gaining the confidence to be excited to put it out there in the world. I also went to a writing class recently where I got to read a portion of my book out loud, which would normally be pretty terrifying for me. But for some reason, I had a lot of fun with it. I read slowly and calmly and gained useful tips for speaking events that I'll certainly put into use as a published author.

It's been a wonderful, wild ride these past two months and I'm looking forward to what March brings next. No matter what kind of month you're having, I hope you're able to follow your dreams, enjoy what you're creating, and grab onto the confidence to share your creations with the world.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Goals for 2018


At the start of the new year, my writers' group devoted its weekly meeting to setting and sharing our goals for the year.  I missed that meeting, but I have been thinking about what goal I would set if I had been there.  And while I'm not big on setting new year's resolutions for the sake of them, I do think that they can be helpful in terms of focusing on specific goals and staying accountable to them.

So, after some thought, I've decided that my goal for 2018 is to publish Sophie and Spot.  I recognize that creativity tends to set its own time frame, but considering that I've already written about 90-95% of it and have critiqued nearly all of that, I think it's reasonable to assume that I will be able to finish the last bit of writing and critiquing, and then work through the revision process so I can publish it this year.

Also, on a broader scale, my overall goal this year is to be devoted to creativity and find joy in creating things.  I have had a lot of new ideas recently for stories I want to write in the future, and am excited to see them develop page by page.  I am looking forward to immersing myself in reading, writing, exploring new adventures, and creating.

What about you?  What are you looking forward to creating this year?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Writing Devotion


I am a very dedicated, hard-working person, but sometimes it is hard to keep writing, even for me.  The usual culprits: balancing my writing time with everything else in my life.  That's nothing to complain about.  I am grateful for my full life- building my growing business, prioritizing my health, spending quality time with my family and friends.  But what to do when I don't have all the time in the world to be carefree and write leisurely?  Here are a few things I've done in the past few months to keep on writing when the world wants to slow me down.

Think Small


Sometimes, when I know I don't have the time to write an entire chapter, I find it freeing to shrink my goal.  In November, I chose to write several pieces for the C├ęsar Egido Serrano Foundation Micro Fiction contest.  How short is micro fiction?  This one was 100 words.  It was invigorating knowing that I only needed to write one paragraph, and it was a challenge to cram everything into that short space!

Write Goals Down


At my writers' group a while ago, we wrote down our writing goals for the next week and then shared them with each other.  That combination of making a concrete goal and adding accountability works like magic!  My goal at the time was to find a critique group, and since then I've found one critique partner in person and one online, and our critiques are moving right along.

Write Daily Tasks


This is a smaller version of writing my goals down.  When there are so many things to choose from each day and a limited amount of time to do it all, I find it extremely helpful to write a quick list of what I plan to do each day.  By starting each day with some planning, I remember what is important to me to do that day.  This is much better than getting sucked down the rabbit hole of emails and alerts and miscellaneous other stuff that can easily fill my day.

Find Inspiration


This is a big one for me.  If I only think of writing as another task to do, the appeal and enjoyment quickly get sucked right out of it.  Because I am such a visual person, I get inspired by beautiful photos and videos, like this one.  I also love seeing other people creating exactly the kind of art that they are best suited to make.  Like Twenty One Pilots and Cosmic Kids Yoga.  Sometimes, though, I also accept that I will write when I'm not inspired, and just accept it and move on.

What are you inspired to do?  What do you do to stay devoted to your dreams?


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Starting the Critique Period

 

(c) Amber Byers

I think it's about time for an update on my book.  As you know, I've written nearly all of it (about 90-95%) but haven't been writing anything new for awhile.  I took the summer off and spent most of the fall working on building up my editing business.  I was also pondering what to do next, and in which order - critique groups, beta readers, developmental editor, copy editor.  There are so many possibilities, especially for self-published authors!

Anyway, I recently decided that a critique group would give me the best feedback of what I was looking for - a detailed perspective from readers regarding character development, overall storyline, content, and structure.  I did a lot of research online and was surprised at how hard it was to find a group.  There are a lot of groups online where I could have submitted my book and had it critiqued on a one time basis, but I was really looking for the personal, in depth experience that you build with people you meet with repeatedly over a long term basis.

Luckily, I found one in person critique partner and one online critique partner and we started critiquing each other's books a few weeks ago.  Very quickly, I realized that critiquing can be a challenging process.  Now, this is coming from someone who genuinely searched out a critique group in order to gather valuable, detailed insight into what could make my book better.  However, the first time I got a critique back with those valuable insights, I admit that it was difficult for me.  My natural insecurity reared its ugly head and tried to play tricks on my mind.  For example, instead of hearing "clarify this section" my mind automatically translated that comment into "why did you think you could even write this book?"  Which is a kind of ridiculous response when I think about it.

Fortunately, one thing I've been working on a lot over the last year is changing from a negative mindset to a positive mindset, which bolsters my confidence.  As an attorney, I got used to a lot of negativity.  There are constantly people fighting each other, especially when you're in litigation, and there are plenty of opposing counsel and sometimes even colleagues who are constantly disparaging you or your work.  In my experience, it was simply a way of life that there were more people trying to tear each other down than bring each other up in the legal field.  Add in the fact that to do a good job as an attorney, you have to imagine every possible scenario, however unlikely, that could jeopardize your client's interests - and you can see how negativity seeps into everything you see.

When I decided to leave the practice of law behind, I also chose to leave all of that negativity behind, though it takes longer to shake than simply walking out the door of the firm and never going back.  To aid this process, I've started writing daily gratitude lists of a few things I'm thankful for each day.  Little things that would have gone unnoticed before, like sweet comments from a friend or unexpected surprises that make me laugh.  And it's been so good.  I've also started relying on my 5 senses in an effort to focus on what's actually happening right now.  In letting go of the potential crises that await around the corner, I am becoming much more able to live in the moment and be aware of how wonderful life actually is.

So, I've done a fair bit of research and practice over the last year and had some tricks up my own sleeve when my mind started to play tricks on me.  First, I didn't do anything right away.  I usually find it's best not to make any sudden moves when I'm feeling insecure.  I also leaned on my friends and family, both for emotional support as well as perspective.  I got together and shared my concerns with one friend, who agreed to read over my book and give me her perspective as well.  For a lot of reasons, I really value her perspective and think she will be able to give me valuable feedback and encouragement.  And finally, I addressed my insecurities directly with my critique partner.  I've found that usually the best thing in any difficult situation in life is to simply be myself.  So I shared my struggles and asked to sandwich in critiques between layers of encouragement.  For example, to say "this section works really well", "improve this section here", and "keep writing!"  As an added benefit, by pointing out sections where my writing works well, I also see what is working well for readers and have an example of what good writing looks like.  The best part?  When my critique partner responded, we ended up having a much more detailed conversation about our writing, our background, and what we're looking for.  Plus, she told me that many authors vacillate between "This is a masterpiece!" and "This is crap!  Why did I waste my time on this?!" and just hearing that totally made me laugh, because I could relate so well!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Love Note


Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey.  Sometimes, you may think that you fade into the background, overshadowed by the daily events that fill our lives.  But I do notice you and so today, I want to step back and say thank you.  You all mean so much to me.  The people who have my back through thick and thin.  The people who love me when I feel like the rest of the world doesn't.  The people who accept me for who I am.  The people who watch it all fall apart, only to encourage me to get back out there and try again.  And the people who celebrate when things go well.  Thank you for being there and encouraging me.  It gives me wings with which to soar.

And here's a special thank you to Kyle.  I tried to get the cats to sit down and work so I could show you how productive our team is, but they were very busy with their own plans.


Eventually, I sat Kuma down to explain the benefits of work and productivity and efficiency, though I'm not sure he entirely bought it.  It's not the greatest photo, but he didn't want to stick around for an in-depth photo shoot.


At least he tried.  Numi couldn't be bothered to get out of bed.  He said he was perfectly fine with his own work plans, thank you very much.


Love you!
Amber

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Welcome Back!



 
(c) Amber Byers

Well, hello there!  It's been awhile.  I hope you've all had a wonderful summer full of rest and sunshine.  And now that it is officially autumn, I hope you're all ready to read some good blog posts.

I have a lot of thoughts swirling around my mind, like red and yellow leaves swirling to the ground.  So before I get started, I'm actually starting with a quick poll for my readers. 

What would you like to see more of on this blog this year?
  1. Thoughts on inspiration and creativity.
  2. Details about the writing and publishing process.
  3. Inspiring photos.
  4. More cats.
  5. Something else?
How often would you like to read this blog?
  1. Every week.
  2. Every other week.
  3. Once a month.
  4. Something different?
As always, feel free to respond in the comments below or by contacting me directly.  Thanks for responding and sharing your thoughts!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Signing Off for Summer


When I was in the job market for attorney positions, I found a lot of law firms boasting about their work life balance.  Sensing a rising demand from potential applicants, many firms included this catch phrase in an effort to offer more attractive benefits.  Yet, despite how prevalent the phrase has become, I've never seen a firm that actually blew me away with their interpretation of it.  Most firms are still reluctant to offer reduced, part time, or telecommuting schedules.  Working only 40 hours a week in the legal field, especially in the private sector, seems to be the cream of the crop in terms of work life balance.  I don't think this is necessarily limited to the legal field, either.

What I always found interesting about this though, is the thought of trying to balance our work with the rest of the things that comprise our lives when the standard work week consists of 5 days of work and 2 days of everything else.  How do you fit everything that you need into those remaining 2 days?  Basic chores like laundry, grocery shopping, and paying the bills take up a big enough chunk of time out of those 2 days, let alone bigger home maintenance projects.  Add in enough time to exercise, socialize, sleep, and take care of young children or elderly parents, and there's hardly a minute of just plain down time.  Time to actually decompress, daydream, or do nothing at all.  It just doesn't balance.

When else in your life have you ever seen 5 and 2 balance?  We know that if you put 5 apples on one side of a balancing scale and 2 apples on the other, they just won't balance.  At least if the apples are the same size and quality.

(c) Amber Byers


But we somehow accept this lopsidedness when it comes to our own lives.  We accept that 40 hours a week is a great deal.  Then, to make everything else fit into those 2 days a week, we sacrifice.  Maybe we don't sleep or exercise as much as we should.  Maybe we lose touch with friends.  Maybe we lose sight of our own needs and what we need to do to maintain our own health and happiness.

Yet I firmly believe that this path is not worth taking.  At least for me, and a lot of other people like me.  I know that there are those people out there who live and breathe the work they do and have many fewer interests on the side.  And that's fine for them.  But for the rest of us who have a lot of competing demands on our time, trying to juggle this incessantly unbalanced scale is exhausting.  It didn't make me a happier or healthier person, or someone who was able to live by my own values.

So that is why I am writing to let you know that I am taking the summer off.  Not from everything, but from as many things as I can.  I won't be posting my semi-regular blog posts.  I won't be attending my weekly writer's group, though I still hope to stay in touch with them.  I am still working out the details of my own work.  At this time, I still plan to accept clients through my editing business, as there is the necessity of paying the bills and that time commitment is still quite small.  And I will be working with my illustrator to finalize the cover art for my book.  As for the rest of my time, will I finish writing my book and get started editing?  If I do, I will do it on random days or evenings as I have time, hopefully without the relentless pressure of needing to accomplish something that usually hovers over me.

And in the meantime, I'll be out there experiencing all of the other things that didn't fit into those 2 days in the past.  Doing what I love - being in the great outdoors during my favorite time of year.  Growing, learning, and restoring my own balance.  So that I can not only come back in the fall with renewed energy and excitement for all of my projects, but also so that I take a moment in the middle of some of the best years of my life to appreciate why it is that this life on this earth is such a joy to live in the first place.

#WorkLifeBalance  #Summertime  #LivingALifeImagined