Day 2 Gratitude Practice: Family

FamilyThis is Day 2 of my daily Gratitude Practice. I’m doing this every single day, in rounds of 21 days, to create in me three habits as writer and blogger:

  • Habit of gratitude
  • Habit of blogging
  • Habit of positive thinking.

Family: God’s Best Gift

Today, I am grateful for my family. It is the best gift that God has ever given me.

I recall having to move to a different place and leaving behind most of my prized relationships and possessions – my relatives, friends, livelihood, books, house, and everything else that held precious memories.

I couldn’t contain my tears of sadness, almost like grief. I knew, I died that day when we left. I often wondered, “Was that how the dying feels upon their departure?” Perhaps. Who knows?

I had to pick up the pieces after that and start life anew. However, what made the transition easier was having my family around – the three kids and hubby.

It led me to see clearly how things can easily come and go. At the end of the day, when you face your Creator and are asked, “What have you got? What good have you done?”

Nothing Like Family

Me, I can’t claim much nor can I say “I had a great job and fat bank account that paid for all my needs and luxuries.” Even if I did.

What I can proudly say though is “I have the most loving, thoughtful and closely-knit family who I’ve meaningfully help become.”

To me, my family is my most precious asset. Nothing can compare to it.

Today, I’d like to thank and honor my family – for keeping up with me and being there for me, through thick and thin, with or without, in sickness and health, in good times and bad, whatever time of day.

I may have hurt them due to my insensitivity, impatience, outbursts of emotions, non-responsiveness, strict demeanor, lack of quality time, and other shortcomings. Yet, they accept me. Despite of.

Family Is No Accident

In a book I read in the past, the author claims that you choose who you want to be with upon your reentry to Earth. You choose whose womb you want to be in, whose love and care you want to experience, whose lives you want to be enmeshed with, who you want to grow old with or to die for.

Thank you for choosing me to be your mom and partner and to be in our family.

Life would certainly be different, strange and lonely without you.

Thank you!

Please read here my Day 1 Gratitude Practice post.

Day 1 Gratitude Practice: Inspiration

InspirationThis is Day 1 of my daily Gratitude Practice. I’m doing this every single day, in rounds of 21 days, to create in me three habits as writer and blogger:

  • Habit of gratitude
  • Habit of blogging
  • Habit of positive thinking.

Today, I am grateful for the daily sparks of inspiration that brighten up my otherwise boring days.

Certain bodies… become luminous when heated. Their luminosity disappears after some time, but the capacity of becoming luminous afresh through heat is restored to them by the action of a spark, and also by the action of radium.”
― Marie Curie

How do I get these sparks or bursts of inspiration?

I don’t know. They just come. When I’m alone or when with others. When doing something or nothing at all. When I’m happy or sad. When my world is colorful or lifeless.

Where from?

From my brain. My subconscious. My inner child. My muse. My children. My husband. People I come in contact with. Memories of the past. The wind. The sun. The stars.

From everywhere.

When they come, I must capture the moment and make them special and sacred. Otherwise, they’re gone or if they’re ever back, it’ll take some time.

Today, my muse paid me a visit. And I have to pay my due respect by putting into writing all my musings.

I thank inspiration for allowing me to dive into the depths of my yet unexplored abyss and float back on top to fully express and graciously share my find.

Thanks again inspiration. You make my life worthwhile.


MARIA SILVO, Entrepreneur l Children’s Book Author l Blogger

A Blogging WAHM Who Publishes at Amazon’s Kindle Store: That’s Me

Who am I?

I can label myself into four which, of course, is a very simplified picture of me. 🙂

  • file000918948795A WAHM. I’m a work-at-home mom with three kids who keep me busy day in and day out. I’ve worked from home since 2009 to be closer to my children, the youngest of them then was 4 years old. From being an absentee working mom who was losing out on those precious impressionable years, I’m glad to be a full-time WAHM now. There’s nothing like being with my kids and growing old with them. There are pros and cons to it as many WAHMs would attest BUT I believe this is a temporary thing. As people going through tough times always say,

“This, too, shall pass.

  • A blogger. I blog at my self-hosted website Self Publish Kindle Book and here at WordPress.com. I had two websites in the past with the domain names awesomewahm.com and workathomebulletin.com. I let them go for the reason that I was into something else. Big mistake! They were bringing me a significant amount of traffic but, at that time, I saw them as cost centers rather than profit centers. Lessons learned.
  • From AmazonA writer. I’ve written all sorts of materials – reports, brochures, newsletters, plans, project proposals, sales copy, stories and books. I haven’t kept tab of most of them. What I have kept are the various children’s stories I’ve written singly and with my kids.
  • A published indie author. I’ve published a number of children’s and adult fiction books that are mostly sold at the Amazon Kindle Store. Although I write books in other genre, I want to brand myself as an author of children’s books.

Why am I blogging?

Being a writer can be a pretty solitary life. Not that I’m lonely. Far from it. With a handful of kids and an ever supportive hubby, how can I?

However, my family and I are not always on the same wavelength and sharing the same interests and ways.

Blogging enriches me and spices up my life. There’s a different dimension and meaning to connecting with people who give me a unique perspective and take on things. I learn from them. I grow with them. It’s been a highly exhilarating experience so far!

How can we work together?

Self-publishing is a very exciting and highly stimulating endeavor. It provides vast opportunities for career growth to everyone who aspires to write their own book and be published.

Bloggers hold a powerful asset in their hands – their blog! If not yet published, they’re almost there. Just a little push.

We can both work towards the same direction – self-publishing Kindle books. Better still, self-publishing our books in various platforms.

How about that?

Let me know what you think.


MARIA SILVO ~ Entrepreneur  Ι  Children’s Book Author  Ι  Blogger

Kindle Book Cover Creation: A Simple Yet Powerful Tip for Indie Authors!

Stand (4)Here’s a simple tip when writing your book:

Begin with the end in mind.

It is the second habit in Stephen R. Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” In his website, which presents excerpts of his book, he wrote:

Habit 2 is based on imagination–the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint.

Stand (2)That’s exactly what I did today!

I created a working cover for my book, which is still a work in progress (as you may have known if you happen you read any of my earlier posts).

Many authors do that. They create and put in front of them a visual image of their book before the first word is even written.

I agree. It’s so inspiring, highly motivating and extremely empowering!

When things look drab, it’s pretty easy for you to say, “Oh, what a drag!”

When the going gets rough, you buckle up but still can’t toughen up

You’ve lost your spark, you won’t budge even when facing a great white shark

Your feet are as heavy as boulder, look at that drooping shoulder

You can’t lift a finger, how can you as a writer even move further

What do you do now, you can’t go any farther

Look no harder than your draft book cover

It’s there to perk you up and give you that quick pick me up.

Pardon my attempt at creating that poem! I’m just exploding at the thought of having this book come out soon.

Stand (1)Anyway, please let me know what you think of my draft cover at the top. I did two more versions that closely resembles the first. These are by no means cast in stone and can change drastically anytime.

That’s how book covers transform.

And mine is no exception.

Now, what do you think?

Day 5 Challenge: Pen Names: Why Hide Behind Aliases?

textI chanced upon a piece of cook book at the Amazon Kindle Store with the cover image of a delectable and highly enticing meal. It got my attention so I searched for similar titles under the same author.

I did find five to six more. Great work on the book covers. Same strong appeal. Same inviting effect.

As I scrolled down his Author Central page, I found more Kindle ebooks. They were erotica books featuring torrid, steamy and stimulating images of couples.

Okay, a chef who loves erotica. Why not?

Well, to some, this can be disturbing.

Pen Names: Should You Be Using One?

Let’s add a twist to this. What if, the author happened to be a prolific writer and did children’s books catering to the impressionable minds of 6-8 or 9-12 year-old kids? For sure, these age groups have the capability to search out books from the same author. Imagine how they’ll react to his erotica-themed book covers if they bumped on them in their searches. Would they say, “Mommy, I want to read this!” or “Mom, what the…”?

Then, what if he also carried religious types of books?

Who knows if he were a sex therapist and had books on that genre as well? Or he espoused ideas on same-sex marriage?

Let’s add more juice. What if the writer who’s using his real name is a pastor for a congregation of churches, university chancellor, professor of theology, guidance counselor for abused teenage kids or high-profile banker at the Bank of America?

The story can go on and on and on. And the horror?

But then, who told you that you can’t write and publish books on various competing and conflicting topics or genres? Or that you can’t use your real name for all of them?

You can, of course. Go ahead. As long as you don’t violate rules, rights or law that you’ll be held accountable for, why not? Most especially in this age of indie publishing where publishing a book every second is not far from possible, the sky is the limit as to what where you can take your writing.

But publishing your books under just one name or your real name can have serious implications on your career and personal life.

Why? How?

Pen Names: Why Use One?

Using pen names, fictitious names, aliases, pseudonyms, nom de guerre or nom de plume is legal, acceptable and an honored tradition that survived hundreds of years.

Why use one?

Here are reasons why you’d opt for a pen name instead of your real one:

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  • Privacy. Many authors just want to live normal lives, safe and free from the prying eyes of strangers who can get in the way of their personal and/or professional space. In the same way, they want to protect their family and relatives from the spotlight in anticipation of fame. Maintaining anonymity saves them from unnecessary distractions and allow them to focus on what they normally do. 
  • Integrity. Many authors want to uphold their integrity or their ability to remain honest and maintain strong moral principles. They want to keep their self-respect intact. Pen names can help them achieve that end.
  • Branding. Many authors want to build a personal brand or image or be known as an authority in their chosen field. A pen name can do that. Compare a meticulously crafted or well thought-out pen name with a funny or hilarious name. Unless their books are related to jokes or making people giggle or laugh,  a suitable pen name would help them be taken seriously. Also, a female writer who wants to influence the male population would benefit from a male pseudonym. It’s not uncommon to have a specific pen name for each genre or subgenre for the purpose of branding.
  • Marketability. Easy read, easy recall and quick sell. That’s power selling. That’s what using a highly marketable pen name is all about as practiced in Hollywood.

Pen Names: A Great Guide Before Using One

Here is a great resource that Adrienne DeWolfe of Writing World put together on 10 important questions to ask yourself when considering using a pen name:

  1. How comfortable are you with having your real name splashed all over the Internet, especially if your writing is being savaged in a blog post or book review?
  2. Are you likely to attract more readers in your fiction genre if you’re writing novels as a male or a female?
  3. Would your name be easier to remember, pronounce, or spell if it was more generic?
  4. Is your real name so common that it could be easily confused with the name of someone else (for instance, a highly publicized white-collar criminal or another author in your fiction genre?)
  5. Would you prefer to err on the side of caution, protecting your loved ones from your followers or from any future career fall-out that you may suffer?
  6. How comfortable are you with the idea that fans and detractors may be able to find you in the phone book and show up at your house or your place of business?
  7. Is your preferred pseudonym easy to spell and remember?
  8. Does your real name invoke a positive association with the fiction genre that you’re writing? (For instance, if your birth name is Cherry Clapp, you may face hurdles in the Romance genre.)
  9. Are you planning to write multiple fiction genres?
  10. Where is your preferred pseudonym likely to be shelved? (At the bottom of a book store’s stacks? Near the name of a bestselling author in your fiction genre?)

Pen Names: Ways to Find One

  • Think up of a random name that sounds great to your ears, something that pops out or has rhythm. It can be anything. Please consult your brain for this!
  • Use one that’s similar or close to your real name. If your name is Charles Dickens, why not use Dick Charles? John Andrews from Johnny Andrews. Charlie Chapman from Charlie Chaplin.
  • Find one that rings a bell to readers in your target genre like mystery, science fiction, paranormal or supernatural, business. You may visit bestseller sections at the Amazon Kindle Store for samples of fitting names.
  • Use a random name generator such as Name Generator, List of Random Names and Fake Name Generator. They are fun to use and can be handy when creating character names for your fiction stories. This is the easiest to use.
  • Search for popular names of babies born under a specific year based on the age group of your target readers. If you’re targeting women between 45 and 60 years of age, you may look for popular names of baby girls born between 1969 and 1954 here or here, which is a US government site.
  • Search for names of popular or bestselling authors and create one that sounds like or is similar to any of those names. J.K. Bowling, Stephen Queen, Stephen Coffey, Anthony Bobbins? Of course, I’m silly! But you get what I mean.
  • Mix and match or do a combo based on previous searches.

Have you picked a pen name yet?

What are you waiting for? Actually, when you need to or when you’re ready.

A Pen Name: What Is It to Your Book Cover?

file000388983772Whew! I got overly excited about discussing pen names that I almost lost sight of what’s behind writing this section.

Let’s get back on track: What’s the relevance of pen names to creating our book cover?

What are the highly visible elements of a book cover again?

  • Book title
  • Image or picture
  • Author’s name (or pen name).

These elements help to sell your book.

Very briefly, a relevant, striking and powerful pen name adds to the emotional appeal or affectivity and salability  or effectivity of your book cover.

Period.

Hope that helps.

Let me know what you think of this post. I’d really love to hear from you!


MARIA SILVO ~ Entrepreneur  Ι  Children’s Book Author  Ι  Blogger

Day 4 Challenge: Three Costly Mistakes Indie Authors Make with Their DIY Book Cover

sw_Editing_N10_20130809_230442No one is devoid of mistakes. They are there for certain reasons. As Henry C. Link, a famous psychologist from the 1800’s who was alienated from his Christian belief at one point in his faith, said humorously,

“While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.”

Flak that you get from your “rare” do-it-yourself (DIY) book cover should not hurt you. Theoretically speaking. In reality though, they do… like a two-edged knife that cuts through your heart. Ouch!

You may use those criticisms to be a Picasso at designing book covers. Why not? Many indie authors have become masterful not only at writing and publishing but also with cover creation.

Indie Author Priority: Writing or Cover Creation?

But, hey! Which one has more weight as gold? Which one would advance your publishing career?

Ummm, writing? Unless you’re a graphic artist who’s trying your hand at writing. But then, how can this topic be of use to you when you’re so much wiser?

Reality is, not all indie authors can afford the services of professional graphic designers. It is worth saying at this point though that indie authors have more options and opportunities now to get themselves a professionally designed book cover at a price range that’s within their reach. You’ll learn how in later sections.

While still striving or struggling to earn the money that would pay for these services, there’s no stopping you from creating your DIY book cover.

Unless your book sales sucks! And your book cover needs a quick fix to salvage whatever value your book has.

Certainly, $5 for a more captivating book cover wouldn’t hurt your pocket, would it?

So, go on. Make mistakes. Plenty. In time, they’ll pay off with superior work.

Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence. ~ Ovid

But first things first. You can’t be better at something when you don’t know which areas to fix or work on, don’t you think?

Indie Author Mistakes in Creating Book Covers

Here are three costly mistakes that indie authors make when creating their own book cover:

  • Going into battle without the proper orientation and appropriate gears.

file2711283980668How can you dive into book cover creation without, at the very least, knowing the basic principles that guide it? How can you lack an understanding or appreciation of the importance of a great book cover?

This is a major crime, don’t you think? Doing the motions without knowing why is a great disservice to yourself and an utter waste of your efforts on writing your book. How then can you expect a great job?

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. ~ Stephen R. Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

  • Turning a deaf ear to feedback or the stats.

You ignore “criticisms” that are supposed to provide you a clearer direction. You don’t even want look at your statistics to get a picture of what’s going on.

Perhaps, you’re just scared of the facts. Or is it that you don’t know where to look, which is really a lame excuse, don’t you think?

  • Not going the extra mile.

You’re just complacent with what is – what you know and can do. Why not take time to study the booksellers section to figure out what bestsellers have that you can copy or emulate?

When your book cover is done, it’s as if the die is cast and there’s nothing you can do to turn the tide. You don’t go the extra mile to test if your book cover achieves the highest returns or if there’s an even better look and feel? Doing more enhancements or tweaks is just too much.

Indie Authors: What Now?

Governing these mistakes just seems to be the “who cares” or “I don’t care” attitude. The question is, can you really afford to not care?

  • If these mistakes are costing you something valuable – like your future? – don’t you think it’s time to take heed and make amends?
  • If you don’t think that you’re not up to the challenge of turning up a book cover that works, why not find someone who’s qualified than you?
  • If you’re intent on designing your own book cover because of the long-term benefits of control and savings, to name a few, why not learn the trade deliberately and religiously?
  • If you don’t have the financial resources to pay for the professional fees of a cover designer, how about trading or swapping services?
  • If you’re serious at succeeding in self-publishing, why not get the feedback of people who matter to you like your target readers? Why not learn from already existing book covers?

Important things to ponder on, huh?

So, tell. Which of these mistakes are yours?

Hopefully, not all; but if so, no worries.

Now, you know your important next steps.

Mistakes are painful when they happen, but years later, a collection of mistakes is what is called experience. ~ Denis Waitley

As indie authors, are these mistakes true to you at one point in your attempts at creating your book cover?

How did you deal with them?

What other mistakes have you done that helped you be better with your DIY book cover?

Please chime in! This post would surely benefit from your valuable inputs. 🙂


MARIA SILVO ~ Entrepreneur  Ι  Children’s Book Author  Ι  Blogger

Day 3 Challenge: What Makes a Great Book Cover?

When you look at book covers, what do you oftentimes see? Almost always, it’s the dominant elements – the title, author’s name and image.

This applies mostly with fiction books. With non-fiction, you’d see more.

These are the obvious or apparent elements – elements that are easily recognizable.

However, book covers are more complicated than that and graphic artists would tell you that there is more in there than meets the eye.

Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.  ~ Antoine de Saint Exupéry, The Little Prince (1943)

If you look much further, there are other elements in there, too.

They are just not as obvious or as visible.

They work at the background, are subtle and can, at times, be subliminal.

They play with viewers’ minds and influence how they feel, think, decide or act in ways like

  • turn their head around or grab their attention;
  • make them curious or excited about what’s inside;
  • create a strong desire to explore your book some more;
  • compel them to browse your book’s table of content;
  • pique their interest to read sections of your book;
  • push them to search for customer reviews about your book;
  • nag them into buying your book even when already reviewing another one;
  • compel them to buy your book.

All those, just from viewing your book cover.

Insane, right? But that’s possible. And it always happens.

At both the conscious and subconscious planes.

What is in your book cover that creates these kinds of behavior?

Let’s take a peek into what make book covers stand out.

Attributes of Great Book Covers

What do great book covers have that set it apart from the rest? You’ll get a ton of responses on this and here’s my take.

A standout book cover has four attributes:

First, appeal. It grabs attention almost instantaneously. I can use an endless stream of powerful words to describe it: dazzling, captivating, charming, attractive, handsome, beautiful, stunning, striking, entrancing, professional, wow, dynamite, lovable, cute, delicious, delightful, pleasing, magnetizing, elegant, hypnotic, inviting, great, awesome, wonderful, engaging. And on and on

How the book cover elements were used or put together effectively contributes to engendering a positive feeling of excitement, curiosity and/or desire in your target reader. They may not even know it. They simply feel it.

Second, simplicity. It is simple, uncomplicated and spot on. It is devoid of clutter that may repel, mislead or confuse readers and take them away from the real message, theme or content of your book.

Third, uniqueness. It is different, uncommon and special. Its spot is all its own. No other book cover has that “X” factor or quality. In an ocean of romance novels,  for instance, or time management themed non-fiction books, yours is undoubtedly a cut above the rest.

Fourth, clarity. It is crystal clear what your book is all about simply by looking at its cover. It mirrors and/or hints at your book’s content, theme, genre or topic. At thumbnail size, your book cover is easily recognizable; its text – title and author, most especially – is highly readable.

Elements of Great Book Covers

The apparent or obvious elements of book covers are mostly these three:

  • Title and subtitle. The title is the name of your book. It is usually the dominant element of your book cover (although in many instances, the author’s name is). Many titles, most especially non-fiction, are straightforward. You get what the book is all about as soon as you read its title. It may be one, two, three or more words whose meaning may have to be deciphered.

Book titles are important and necessary. Your book has to have one. The subtitle, however, is not compulsory but optional. You may or may not have one.

What’s the value of having a subtitle? Your subtitle puts more meat on your title. It defines the slant of your book, explains its content further and provides more details. This is especially most helpful if you have a book title containing a word or two.

For instance, how would target readers know what your book “Hurry” is all about? If it’s fiction, your choice of image would most probably reveal more about it. For non-fiction, it may be more daunting and can be confusing. Attaching a subtitle that says “How to Do Things More Quickly in Your Own Terms and Succeed at What You Do” would most probably help clarify your book’s content.

  • Author’s name. This is the name of the book writer or, in some instances, the publisher. As author, you may use your real name or choose a literary pen name, fictitious name or pseudonym. (You’ll know more on this in the section: “The Power of Pen Names: Why Hide Behind an Alias?”)
  • Image. This may be a picture, image or symbol that would depict your book’s content or provide a clue or hint. It may be a single image or symbol, a collection or collage of images, or a composite image.

A composite image is what you get after combining various visual elements from separate sources to get a desired effect or picture. Graphic artists achieve this through compositing (using photo editing softwares like Adobe Photoshop) to create the illusion that all those elements belong to or are parts of the same scene.

So we’re done with the obvious elements.

Now, make a guess on the subtle elements of book covers. They are those that you may not even know or suspect exist but are positioned or placed there for some reasons. The impact that they create are more psychological or at the level of the unconscious or subconscious.

I can think of four:

  • Color
  • Typography
  • Space
  • Composition

In the next post, we will explore about these four in more detail.

For now, please let me know what you think so far.