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Installing the Freebooksy app on Facebook [Oct. 5th, 2016|08:39 am]
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It took me a while to figure out how to do this, so I thought I would share, and save someone else the hair-pulling (just kidding, sort of).

How to install the Freebooksy App

1. Search on freebooksy app
2. https://www.freebooksy.com/freebooksy-author-marketing-ap/
3. Click on Get the App!
4. Tell it to put it on your author/fan page. For me that’s https://www.facebook.com/authorJenniferJStewart/
5. Okay, go to your author/fan page and make sure you are using it as the author, not from your personal profile.
6. Scroll down and find the app on the left-hand side. It will say “Read My Book Author App.” Click on it.
7. A new page will open. Click on Edit profile. Enter the information it asks for and upload a photo.
8. Then you will give it the ISBN numbers for your books for sale on Amazon. You enter them one by one, and it finds them, and bingo, there they are.
9. Go back and edit each book one by one, and clean up the weird things in the descriptions (like “’” sprinkled here and there instead of an apostrophe). I found that I could add some basic HTML, to divide the text into paragraphs and italicize titles. And if you don’t like the way your publisher described your book, this is your chance to change that description.
10. You can also add a link to read the first chapter if you want. For my picture book, The Twelve Days of Christmas in Arizona, I put a link to one of the two-page spreads in the book, http://www.jenniferjstewart.com/images/plutospread.jpg, and that worked fine.
11. When you are done with your book entries, you might want to reorder your titles. Edit the book, and enter a number in the “Book Order” field at the bottom.
12. Once you’ve entered all your books, you have the opportunity to add details about an upcoming event or book signing.
13. Then click on manage tabs, and drag the Author App from its left-hand side up to the second or third position.
14. All right, you might not want it to say “Author app” at the top of your page. You can change the name to something like “Buy books here.” Click on the down arrow by the More tab near your banner.
15. Click on Add or Remove Tabs
16. Click on the freebooksy app, and then click Edit Settings. Now you can type in a new name for the app/tab.
17. You’re done!
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Smashwords bestseller [Jul. 7th, 2016|04:08 pm]
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For the rest of July, my middle grade children’s novel, If That Breathes Fire, We’re Toast! is on sale at Smashwords. Specifically, the e-book is free if you use the coupon “SFREE” when you purchase it. Pretty good deal, eh?

This morning I was amused to notice that the book is technically a Smashwords bestseller, in the category of children’s books, priced at $2.99 or under, and over 20,000 words.

So if you would like the e-book for free, click here. Happy reading!

©2016 Jennifer J. Stewart
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Reinventing Fire [Jun. 27th, 2016|08:00 am]
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This month, my first children’s novel went out of print. If That Breathes Fire, We’re Toast! had a nice long run. When it debuted, Voice of Youth Advocates put it on its best fantasies of the year list, and Oklahoma librarians made it a finalist for the Sequoyah Book Award. It also garnered quotable reviews from trade journals.

I had a lot of fun writing the book. My daughters had urged me to write about a dragon. The one I invented, Madam Yang, had a wit to match her fangs. This week, summer campers at SAAVI (Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired), asked me how I first got published. Here’s the story in a nutshell:

I pounded out the first draft, and then wondered, what’s next?

So I submitted it to a contest and received third place.

Pretty good, I thought, but not good enough. I revised and rewrote and then submitted to a second contest. My manuscript got second place.

Better, I thought, but not quite good enough. I revised and rewrote again and submitted to a third national contest. This time, my manuscript took first place.

After that I submitted it to a New York publisher (whose editor had judged the second contest), and lo and behold, AFTER TWO MORE REWRITES, it became a book.

And now it will be one again. I’m reissuing the book under my own imprint, Hummingbird Press. You can buy it here in paperback. It’s also available as an e-book and an audiobook.

©2016 Jennifer J. Stewart
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Reboot [Jun. 8th, 2016|07:58 am]
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I enjoy listening to sisters Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft’s Happier podcast, based upon Gretchen’s book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, a book I highly recommend. One “Try this at home” tip was to come up with one word to describe your focus/goal/direction for 2016.

I didn’t come up with a word immediately (yeah, like it’s June already, but you can listen to a podcast at anytime, people). It bothered me. I want almost more than anything to have another book under contract, to be messing around with revisions and galley proofs. Okay, technically, I did have a manuscript under contract, a piece in an anthology, but it’s been under contract a long time, and my part’s all done. But you can’t will yourself to be published or for editors to respond faster.

I so get that the only thing under my control is the writing.

I was still out of sorts, grouchy even. I supposed that because I couldn’t come up with a word that it meant that I was out of touch with my essential mission. I also had had a horrible virus, which robbed me of essential brain power.

This morning, though, the word appeared—not quite like an angelic host holding up a glowing neon sign, but pretty close.

The day before I had been cleaning out the closet in my office, and while I recycled LOTS of paper, I realized I was performing an archaeological dig of my writing career. Glancing at correspondence from 2003(!), I realized that some of the fun I had had with writing—bantering with editors, agents, and writing friends—doesn’t exist anymore.

Where had the fun gone? Then, when I looked around my office, I thought this isn’t a fun place to be, or in which to create. It’s too cluttered. I have too many manuscript drafts all over the place. I haven’t filed papers that need filing, and the piles are making me feel guilty. No wonder I’m having trouble focusing. Also, here’s a tip for you: always date your manuscripts, so you know which version you’re reviewing. That way you can file your drafts in order of creation, from oldest to newest.

People don’t talk much in public about what happens to a writing career that seems to have stalled out, or worse.

But maybe I needed to. My word is “reboot.” Following closely are “reimagine” and “revision.”

This is perfect for me. I’m at that mid-life stage—not old, not young, but solidly in-between.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what is within my power to change, and what brings me up instead of dragging me down.

Some of the things I realize is that social media doesn’t substitute for real life relationships—for writing friends who get that you are struggling. Social media has a way of painting bright shiny pictures, when we all have our ups and downs, and mostly, people just share the ups. And usually, I’m that upbeat, eternal optimist.

So I did stuff. I went to Kindling Words West—I missed last year. I hadn’t made enough money to justify forking out the cash, so my pride kept me from going. This year, I did make the money to attend, but it hasn’t been from my seriously funny children’s books. I started ghostwriting—think company blog posts and content marketing. It was something different, some writing muscles I hadn’t flexed in a long time, and mostly it has been fun, so whatever I do during my reboot, it will no doubt include more articles for a grown-up audience.

And I applied for and accepted a work for hire project to do a children’s nonfiction book, so that’s under contract. It turned out to be a challenge with a steep learning curve, but I did it, and now I’m waiting for revision comments to show up in my in-box.

I’m still that upbeat, eternal optimist, and I’m working in my decluttered office right now, and liking it, even though I have a few more file cabinet drawers to clean out, and perhaps one file cabinet to donate entirely—or give to a local writer—when I’m done.

Onward.

You know that’s a nice word, too.

©2016 Jennifer J. Stewart
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It's a funny thing [Aug. 7th, 2015|01:29 pm]
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Forgive me if I wax philosophical.

Some of the most creative, talented people I know never get anywhere.

They keep postponing their work, making excuses, one after another.

“Oh, I’ll do it when I’m settled in our new house.” Which they’ll acknowledge in the next sentence might take a year.

Or there are children to raise. “When they go into preschool, I'll have time.” Then, “when they’re in elementary school.” And so on.

It doesn’t stop.

These people never seem to put themselves first, for anything. There are meals to make, books (and not the kind you read) to keep, always the never-ending business of living to be seen to, and somehow, the creative person in the marriage or partnership is the one who takes all the busy-ness on.

They have so many obligations that keep them from the one thing that would make their souls sing.

I see this squandering of talent more in women than men. I think men learn early on that it’s okay to say no, while women are taught to say yes, to be pleasers. Truly, I do know how hard it is to do it all.

There are consequences to talented people not using their talents. The years go by and their creative skillset gets rusty. Their making art or books muscles atrophy. There’s a medical term—sarcopenia—which means the natural loss of muscle tissue as you age. I wonder if there’s a term that defines when your creative muscle—your moxie if you will—shrivels and disappears? The urge you forget that’s still there, because you never think to use it. It’s like you stuck it in the deepest, darkest part of your psyche.

But I can tell you the never using your creativity hurts. The regret shows.

People will let you down. People will betray you.

Don’t let yourself be one of those people.

Don’t break promises you’ve made to yourself. Don’t betray your dreams.

©2015 Jennifer J. Stewart
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Row, row, row your indoor rowing machine [Jul. 25th, 2015|01:11 pm]
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A while back, I wrote a letter to my gym, detailing my reasons for quitting. And although I didn’t intend to quit my fitness goals, that’s kind of sort of what happened for a few months.

The trouble lay in having to make too many decisions. With the gym, I just needed to drive down there, and then pick my poison: the treadmill or the elliptical. Now, there were far more choices. Would I work out in the morning or the evening? Which of three parks would I power walk in? Or would it be better to go for a hike? And then I’d have to figure out where to hike. And if I was going hiking, I needed to pack water, and a snack, and so on. Enter mental exhaustion.

Then there was the part where to exercise first thing in the morning, I had to get dressed, I had to smear myself with sunblock, and then of course, I was starving, so I had to eat breakfast, too.

After that, this being Tucson, it started to get hot. That will really derail outdoor exercise. Soon my six day a week fitness habit had devolved into three times a week workouts. If I was lucky.

There had to be a better way, and I found one.

Taking Gretchen Rubin’s wise advice from her book Better than Before about making my exercise habit convenient, I invested in an indoor rowing machine, specifically the Concept 2. Pricey, certainly—about three times the cost of my cut-rate gym membership—but I’ve been very happy with it.

Every morning now, except for Sundays, I get up and put on my exercise clothing. I head to the kitchen and make myself a mug of English Breakfast tea, spiking it liberally with almond milk.

Then, I get on my Concept 2, and row, row, row hard for 30 minutes. I listen to music, but it’s familiar music, so it’s good thinking time. Writers need lots of uninterrupted thinking time.

I’ve lost a smidgen of weight, but I’ve put on muscle and gotten stronger, and I notice everything is tighter, except my pants.
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Book Love [Jul. 25th, 2015|12:44 pm]
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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson—An international bestseller, and deservedly so, the novel follows the lives of Ursula Todd. Yes, lives—Ursula gets do-overs. Particularly compelling are the sections set during the London Blitz. I’ve also read the sequel—really companion novel—A God in Ruins, and enjoyed it too.

Rhyme Schemer by K.A. Holt—What happens when the bully gets bullied? K.A. Holt distills everything in free verse. Bonus: you’ll learn some wicked ways with books.

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley—Oh, man, does this book have it all, and it’s written in funny accessible prose. I got this from the library, but I’ll have to get my own copy. Yes, it’s that good. If you adored Stephen King’s memoir On Writing, I’ll bet you’ll love this book.

Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck—Okay, I am not the greatest cook. Understatement. In fact, there is a lot of swearing going on when I cook, and when I’m finished the kitchen resembles a crime scene. Sometimes it even catches on fire. So a cookbook with liberal four letter words sprinkled in? I’m all over it. The recipes are really not that complicated, plus I always keep a fire extinguisher handy.


P.S. These aren't books, but I subscribe to “One Thing New” that delivers a couple articles in my email in-box weekly. A couple months ago, the lead article was “Productivity Tips for the Real World” by Kimberly Weisul and Emily Brower Auchard. Whatever the subject, I’m always intrigued and entertained. I also like to listen to Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Smart's weekly podcast. This week's episode covered creativity, and the special guest was Rosanne Cash. Gretchen is the author of Better than Before, and Elizabeth writes for television.
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Helping Nepal [Apr. 27th, 2015|07:48 am]
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I have been doing a lot of soul searching about helping Nepali people, particularly the children, who are most vulnerable. Many of you know that years ago my family worked in Nepal as medical volunteers, and that I wrote a children's novel out of those experiences. I want to urge everyone to donate to the charity of your choice (The New York Times has a good list). I want to do more, and I am figuring it out. Perhaps all profits from school visits in the next year will be dedicated to this cause? That sounds about right. Stay tuned.
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Barbara Park Memorial Literacy Grant [Apr. 16th, 2015|08:55 am]
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Attention, Arizona schools!

The deadline to apply for a Barbara Park Memorial Literacy Grant is April 21st, five days from now. Barbara Park was best known for her Junie B. Jones series. Twenty grants of $400 each will be awarded to buy books for your school library.

The application is here. Good luck!
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Dear Gym [Feb. 12th, 2015|09:01 am]
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I wrote a personal essay for Revolvist, out today. It's called "Dear Gym." Hope you enjoy it!
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