Finding Your Inner Expert

figure with hand upMeredith Grey Joined Us for Happy Hour

We were sitting at TGI Friday’s last night when Meredith Grey joined us for some unknown reason – not Ellen Pompeo, the real Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy,  but the fictional character who, in the previous night’s episode bravely volunteered to do a risky surgery and said,  “I’ll do it. I’m the best one for it.” That statement must have been sloshing around in the back of my mind since the night before until it found an audience in my husband, Mike, sitting right there at a table in TGI Friday’s. “Meredith Grey!” I said. “Can you imagine being in a room full of people saying, “I’ll do it.  I’m the best one for it?”  Luckily Mike knew what was I referring to and without hesitation he answered a simple, “Sure” while he ordered us two Happy Hour drinks. Not being able, in a hundred years, to imagine a situation in which I would feel comfortable enough to say, “Here, I’ll do it.  I’m the best one for it,” I continued to explore the topic while I waited for my chicken wings.  (How’s that for a pun?)  But I really did order chicken wings. (Mike had shrimp cocktail, but I digress).

“A Room Full of People” Exercise

And then it came to me. I asked Mike, “In any circumstance? “You’d volunteer to step up and do whatever it is you had to do in any circumstance?” “Well…” he equivocated. I forged on. “So , let’s imagine a room full of people from random backgrounds.  There is one task to be done that will save the world.  Under what circumstance would you step forward and say, “Here, I’ll do that.  I’m the best one for this job?” “Hmmm…” By now he knew there was no way out but to answer.  He obligingly responded, “If they would say, ‘You can save the world by getting this 8-ball in the pocket, I’d step up and say, ‘I’ll do it.”‘ “Excellent!” I was half way into my Margarita still waiting for my chicken wings, so of course I decided to take this one step further. (Mike wanted to play Hangman on the bar room napkin, so I spoke while he created blanks for me to fill in.) “Now, let’s imagine a roomful of pool players,” I said. He pointed to the napkin. “How about a t?” He put the t in one space on our Hangman puzzle and said, “Well, let me think.”  “If there was a long shot with very little room for error, and they’d ask for someone to do it to save the world, I’d step up and say, “I’ll do it.” “Ah, ha! So that is your area of expertise!”  I felt I had discovered a gold nugget in the hills of  Azusa. “Yeah, I know that’s what I do best.  So, what letter are you picking?  It’s a phrase, remember.” He pointed to the napkin once again, a little more impatiently. But now I was satisfied that I had discovered some new way to discover one’s inner expert. We finished the puzzle and the Happy Hour appetizers and drove home. As the evening wore on, so did the thoughts in my head during moments of silence. Maybe there was an circumstance when I’d step forward as Meredith and say “Here, I’ll do it.” I tried to imagine what those circumstances might be. In a roomful of people from random backgrounds, I imagined, I might step forward to save the world if the task was to sign a sentence in Sign Language. “There!” Now let’s say I was in a roomful of interpreters! I might not step forward except if, to save the world, the task was to sign a sentence in Signed English. I liked this game so much that I continued finding circumstances where I’d raise my hand and reasoned that someone who might read this little post might like this game too.

“Here, I”ll do it. I’m best at it.” 

You get the idea of how to play the “game”.  You think of circumstances under which you’d step forward out of a given group of people like Meredith Grey and say, “I”ll do it. I’m best at it.”  (Hopefully you don’t invent the task of “yelling out in anger” or “crying from the deep wells of your sorrow”  or some such thing that you do better than anyone else.) Think of all aspects of your life – your work life, your family life, any or every aspect you can think of. “But,” you say, “isn’t it easier to just go the conventional route and ask yourself, as they might in an interview, “In what areas do you consider yourself an expert?” Of course it is, but it isn’t nearly as much fun! Try my “Room Full of People” game/exercise and let me know in your comments if any brilliant insights came to you – or any insights at all, other than this author should discard all ideas that are connected to Margaritas. (My thanks to Shonda Rhimes, Ellen Pompeo, TGI Fridays, and my husband Mike  for their help in inspiring this essay.)





Where Were You…?

dollopMost of us remember where we were on significant days of our lives or our nation’s life. I am sure you remember this event in your life as well, particularly if you’re over twenty-five. For me, it will always be remembered as the day I cheated on Jeeves. You might remember it differently.

It was the early 1990’s. And I remember the day well – every last detail. A.J. a college student who had signed up for weekly tutoring appointments for his English Composition class through our TRIO Student Support Services Program at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park, MN, came into my office all excited. “Hey, I’ve gotta show you something, Billie. Our English instructor told us to use this to do our research for our next paper.”

“Well, A.J., remember I already told you about Jeeves“.  It never dawned on me that his professor could have told him about any thing other than Jeeves. I decided to indulge A.J. and let him bring up Jeeves himself on my computer screen.  Instead, he went to the browser window and typed in “g-o-o-g-l-e”.  What a ridiculous name, I thought. It reminded me of that stupid pre-World War II song my father would sing around the house, “Barney Google,” with his goo-goo-google-y eyes.

A.J. then went ahead and searched for something on this Google thing, but I still held fast to my love of Jeeves and showed him that Jeeves came up with almost the same information as this Google guy.  “Plus,” I added, “Jeeves has a lot more listings under ‘cached.'” And he did, actually.

Days passed, and I refused to be disloyal to Jeeves and the marvelous search engine he drove. I simply refused to have anything to do with Google.  And then came the day that Jeeves failed me. It wasn’t some enormous failure, just some little task that he couldn’t to fulfill. (I do admit  that there was some purely physical reason that bothered me about Jeeves as well.  That stuffy pinstriped suit that he wore everyday and his balding head just weren’t my style.  He looked 60, and I was only in my late 40s at the time.)  Yes, I’ll admit it, it was then and there that I threw myself into the arms of the Google and his unsurpassed algorithmic search engine. The die was cast; the course taken. It should be noted that Jeeves is the only man I’ve ever cheated on, but like some cold-hearted, ex-spouse, once I closed the door and walked out on Jeeves for my new love Google, I never looked back.

And that’s how it’s been.  Google and I will be celebrating our 25th anniversary together soon, and I continue to grow more in love with Google very day.  I’ve been faithful to him all these years. Well, yes, there was that other guy, Bing, who tempted me but that was for about fifteen minutes one day, so surely it doesn’t count since I immediately went right back to Google and vowed to never stray again.

I’m sure you remember the day you first met Google as well.  I realize now that many people love Google – millions really, but that’s ok. I’ve come to accept that.  So don’t be afraid to tell me, in your comments below, how you first met Google . Google belongs to the world. That’s what makes it so valuable and what makes every person’s first encounter with the Google search engine a personal, yet collective memory that we all share.



Best Thing To See On A Road Trip

Day Five: 2017 Novel Writing Road Trip Insights: June 2, 2017

What’s the best thing to see on your road trip?  Of course, we all know the answer.  The best thing to see on a road trip is friends!  (Note: this includes family members, especially if you have the kind of family like Mike’s and mine.)

So with that in mind, stifling any latent urges to veer off to Cawker, KS and take a look at the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, we kept zipping along east on I-70 yesterday (June 1st) and headed straight to our friends’ house in Overland Park, KS.

We’ve been friends with Carol and Gale since we first met them several years ago as they spent their winter at Newport Dunes RV Resort in Newport Beach, CA. Each season they visited, Carol and I would take walks around the Back Bay with my little dog Scooter, and Gale would play his banjo around our campfires. During one visit, we all went to see my daughter, Bethany Therese, performing in an Improv contest up in Hollywood.  (When friends support your children, it’s something more than special.)

A few summers ago, on a road trip similar to this one, we visited Carol and Gale in their home in Kansas when we still had our little Scooter. Scooter was always welcome at Carol and Gale’s because he and Carol had a very special bond.

As usual, this year’s visit at Carol and Gale’s place was like stopping at an oasis of homey-ness in the middle of a desert worth of stays at hotels and motels. Being in their home is like being in one of those gift shops where you want to stay all day. There is just so much to see – Carol’s own paintings on the walls, Gale’s instruments in the basement – his banjo, ukulele,  keyboard, and his brand new slide guitar – Carol’s garden with roses and hostas and hydrangeas and lilies, winding around stepping stones that Gale laid lovingly down. There’s the family room with tasteful collections perched on top of dark wooden ceiling beams – tiny green glass bottles, figurines each with special meaning to Carol and Gale – those kinds of homey things.  And then there’s my favorite room of the house, their sun room, a glass enclosed transition from the inside to outside with a lovely patio table and comfy patio chairs – wooden seagulls in the corner – perfect. Whenever we visit, we sit and talk like we’ve never had time apart.

There’s so much more to tell – the story of the orphan squirrel, Charlie, who adopted Gale, the mansions of Mission Hills, Carol’s insights to help me with my novel, how Gale in a blink of an eye, washed the front of our Prius before we started back on the road…but I’m typing this in the car and we have to get to Milwaukee by 1:00, so we’ll save some Carol and Gale stories for later.

Here’s wishing all of you the time to take a happy road trip and so many friends along the way that you’ll drive right past that old ball of twine in Cawker, KS.



Mars, Egypt, Motel 6…and Us

Day Four: 2017 Novel Writing Road Trip Insights
Imagine a game like this: A hat is filled with cards. Written on each card is a random proper noun. You are instructed to reach in and pull out 3 cards. You must then use your cards to write a story about the nouns you picked. Here are the words you pulled out: Mars, Egypt, and
Motel 6.

“What?” you say to yourself.  “I can’t make up a story with those three seemingly unconnected words!  It would sound like a preposterous piece of fiction.”  But sometimes truth truly is stranger than fiction as we found out yesterday, May 31, when checking out of Motel 6 in Green River, Utah
This is how universe decided to put these 3 words together. Just as I was emptying the previous night’s melted ice from our little red Coleman cooler onto the grass, I noticed a canopy under which stood a whole slew of handsome young men. When you’re 72 years old,  people don’t think badly of you if you approach a group of 20-somethings, any one of whom could theoretically be your grandchild.  (Age does have its privileges).  So that’s just what I did.  I walked up and asked this impressive group if they were having some kind of sale, knowing full well that this didn’t seem like a sale.
One by one, the smiley guys standing before me took turns explaining that the object I was looking at was a prototype of a Mars Rover they designed for the “University Rover Challenge”.sponsored by the Mars Society. The competition would be held the next day at the Mars Desert Research Station in Hanksville, Utah. Teams from all over the world will be attending from June 1-3, 2017.  Their team, the Pharaohs, composed of mechanical, electrical, design, and software engineering students, are from the Military Technical College in Cairo, Egypt.

As Mike approached, the talk shifted to the rover itself – the tire design, the strips of gym shoes that were glued on for better traction and so on. I continued asking more personal questions while being struck by clear eyes that shone with intelligence – perhaps brilliance, I surmised. But over and above any of that, there was a warmth that radiated from each of these young men – their excitement to show a stranger their project – their pride at being part of this group. Maybe it was the serendipity of it all – the unexpected confluence of unlikely circumstances – a Mars Rover in the parking lot outside a Motel 6 – respectful, generous, open-hearted young men across the world who took the time to talk to two lone strangers under unexpected circumstances. Maybe it was that serendipity that ignited an intuitive sense that I had just touched something of future greatness. It was an honor.

Click here for a list of participating world teams



The Myth of Focus

dog on road trip

Day Three: 2017 Novel Writing Road Trip Insights

Road trips are great contemplative times.  As I took over driving from Nevada to Utah, I turned off the radio and just thought!  My husband Mike slept peacefully up against the door of our Prius. (Our car is too packed to move the seat back.)
In the quiet of the car, I suddenly started to wonder which direction I was going.  I knew I was on I-15 North, but sometimes roads labeled east actually go south, so I couldn’t be sure at this precise moment what direction I was traveling. The sun was overhead, so that didn’t help. I didn’t want to fiddle with the dashboard to find the map with the compass on the screen, so I just kept driving not knowing if Denver was ahead or on my right (so to speak). It was all fine, of course, but when Mike woke up and told me we actually were going north, everything felt much better. Once I knew I was going north for sure, it put everything else in perspective. I could visualize the map. I could feel Denver to the east;I knew where home was; I could even estimate how many miles were left to reach our summer road trip goal. It was the label that helped!

Billie and Mike at the San Rafael’s, Utah

Let’s face it.  Our businesses, our projects, never have one focus, one direction. The plural of focus (foci) is an awkward word maybe because of the nature of focus itself. Sometimes we feel guilty about not focusing on one thing. But in life we have many “centers of attention.” What if we would put a label on each?  What if we visualize each of the important issues of our life as a direction we are going at one particular moment. If we give a label to each, we might not feel so scattered or pulled or guilty. It doesn’t matter the meaning of the label we use, it’s just a label. For example, if my unfinished novel is labeled north; the marketing of my children’s book, south; my short story ‘zines on Etsy, east; and this road trip blog “west,” I might not feel that I’m skimping on one aspect in favor of another. I’m just traveling one direction, however brief, until I turn in another.

There are those of us who never focus on one task at a time.  My mother was on e.  She’d start washing the dishes , suddenly stop and begin vacuuming. She’d stop vacuuming and comb her hair. This went on all day long.  You get the idea.  I don’t think my mother ever felt she needed to focus. She must just have liked taking the winding road through her day.

…Just a little thought along the road in Utah.

Do You Stop Short of Success?

Do you tend to stop just short of success

Boycott “Shortstops”

Do you stop short of success? Funny I should ask! Today is March 15th. I’ve been working for two weeks on a St. Patrick’s Day marketing idea that would bring people to my website to buy my little children’s book, “Lucky, the Left Pawed Puppy”. I have left myself a whopping two days for promotion.

This article won’t be long because I do realize I’m writing this instead of doing my other work. But this is what I always do. I stop just this short of success, and maybe you do too.  But I’m not going to do that today. screenshot Irish Memory Match Game for St. Patrick's Day

Your Past May Be Present 

So where did this new discipline of mine (if it kicks in soon) come from? Google, of course, is the answer. I simply searched and found two wonderful articles that might help you if you’re a “stopper” like me. The first piece, “The Fear of Success” was written by Dr. Susanne Babbel for Psychology Today, resonated with me the most. Dr. Babbel discusses the surprising link between Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and fear of success. She addresses, as well, the avoidance of situations that might “get our hopes up. Sound familiar?

The second article, “Fear of Success: Do You Have One Of These 6 Symptoms?” will be helpful in identifying whether or not you fall into this “un-merry” band of brothers (and sisters). There are also insightful questions at the end of the article which just might propel you towards the success you really do want.

I’ll be off now tweeting my promotion because a St. Patrick’s Day marketing scheme just can’t wait until Easter.




‘California Weaving’

crystal ballIf I had gone to a fortune-teller in Minneapolis in 1990 – let’s imagine a dark-haired woman with a crystal ball and a gypsy scarf around her head – and she attempted to tell me I’d be living in southern California in 2016, I would have laughed out loud. If she told me that my friend Patti Hall would one day retire and also move to California where both of us would have adult children who lived a few blocks from each other, I would have
rolled my eyes and droned, “Yeah, right.”

Patti7But here it is 2016 and Patti lives in Toluca Lake and I live in the OC and we meet often for lunch at some beach-y restaurant with seagulls and surfers and sometimes a stray dolphin swimming by.  Patti might not have been as surprised by the imaginary fortune teller’s California predictions because, after all, she did start her young adult life out here on the West Coast, attending Cal-State, Los Angeles where she received her BA in Art.  It might have been predictable as well, that after years teaching and mentoring new teachers, Patti would finally be able to devote herself full-time to her own personal artistic pursuits when she retired.

It was over a margarita at Duke’s in Huntington Beach (Surf City, USA) that I started asking Patti more about the weaving that I knew she was pursuing full-time and about her shop in the Etsy store I had recently visited online.   Continue reading ‘California Weaving’

Click-to-Website Business Cards

Authors, Small Business Owners, Educators, 

Concept: Add a QR (Quick Response) Code to your business card and direct people INSTANTLY to your article, your novel, your website, your linkedin page. bizcardgood

The “Back Story”:  We fell in love with Newport Beach from the moment we visited there several years ago. We positioned ourselves to live and do our business in one of the most beautiful areas in California.  How?  We live in an RV resort and write and do business from there! It’s lively, it’s fun. It’s blocks from the ocean. People are always on vacation and they come from all over the country.  Because we experienced Newport Beach as a non-native, I was discovering great spots that every visitor would want to experience.  So I wrote a one-day, do-it-yourself itinerary for newcomers and visitors to the area.  Everytime we met
Continue Reading

Focus, Focus, Focus

Cheers from Billie, the Prez:

http://www.drdianerogers.com/
http://www.drdianerogers.com/and pursuits. 

Such a long time it’s been since posting!  The cause? -My personal lack of focus and eclectic interests and pursuits. Perhaps you can learn from our mistakes here at Language Rocks. I get great comfort from a quote I read on despair.com: “Maybe the sole purpose of my existence is to be a warning to others. So here’s the warning: FOCUS! FOCUS! FOCUS!.

I recently joined the OC Writers group and  was struck by the focus of one of our members, Dr. Diane Rogers, the author of “Stand Tall Growing the Courage To Be Uniquely You”  With laser-like focus on the Continue reading Focus, Focus, Focus

Christmas Destroyed My Online Business

Full disclosure:  Christmas didn’t exactly destroy my online business forever, but it certainly wreaked havoc on any sales from our website at Christmas. (I didn’t even sell one download of our adorable “Johnny Rock’s Christmas” software matching game.  Why?  because I got caught up in stupid Emerson’s quote once again:  “Rings and jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts.  The only true gift is a gift of thyself to others.”  (I even wrote a whole essay on perils of  embracing this quote.)

I do applaud my successful sisters who own profitible small online businesses and make enough money to hire help during the “happy” holiday season.  That subset of women, however, doesn’t include me! 

Personally, I am TOTALLY grateful that Christmas and ALL the holidays are over what with the gift-buying and guests coming, and the cleaning – ohh such cleaning. Of course a woman in business is still a woman who, unless she is Michelle Obama or a “Madame Secretary” type has to make memories for the family the home-made way. So we dolly1set aside our blogging and our tweeting. We suspend sending out our Constant Contact lovely emails to customers to vacuum the floor and clear off our desktop while rushing to bake and then pack Grandma’s recipedollyCloseup for Pecan Fingers to send back East or West or wherever.  This year, I decided to resurrect a little home-made dolly I had made for my daughter some 30 years ago!  I sewed back the arms and legs that had since fallen off and updated her little doll outfit so that my now adult daughter would have a warm and wonderful feeling at Christmas. Isn’t she just adorable?  It WAS worth it! Sometimes business just has to wait! 
So who cares that I didn’t blog, write the essay I wanted about our software, didn’t tweet, and didn’t promote my children’s book,  “Lucky, the Left Pawed Puppy”?  I spent two weeks doing things I used to do when I was working merely 8 to 5 and I feel renewed and re-energized to begin all over again in the New Year.  Sometimes, a break is just what we need!   

  

Apple Certificates for Submitting Apps to Apple Store

Even software developers have a difficult time preparing an app for the Apple Store.  If you are a writer, photographer, business owner, etc. who wants to use ibuildapp.com for creating your app, read on. When it comes to the publishing part and submission to Google Play and the Apple Store, if you’re not an experienced Apple software developer, it’s best to pay to have ibuildapp submit your app for you. My husband with 40 years of experience in the software field as coder, consultant, senior project leader, had to go through numerous hoops, especially for submission of my audiobook, “Live from Milwaukee, It’s Tuesday Night,” to the Apple Store. The costs keep changing at ibuildapp and if you’re paying for a monthly plan, be sure you’re charging a fee for your app that correclates to your projected sales OR give only a portion of your app for free and hope you have enough customers who will upgrade to the paid version.    

New App To Be Released Soon


Since we’ve had over 5900 downloads of “The Perfect Husband App”, we decided to go ahead and combine my audio essays, short story, and one-minute “dollop-a-day” features into an audio app.  I’m using ibuildapp again, and after reacquainting myself with the in’s and out’s of one of my favorite do-it-yourself online software programs, I am ready to launch “Live, From Milwaukee, It’s Tuesday Night”.  My husband, Mike, the software engineer and technical support for our company, Language Rocks, uses his developer’s certificate AND his expertise to help me upload the app to the Google Play store and to iTunes.  I’ve decided to charge a small fee for this app, so we’ll see how that goes. Wish us luck.


Ibuildapp is a bit glitch-y to use, but they do have a help desk with online chatting available during certain hours along with email support.  I have posted and will continue to post little hints I’ve found useful.  One hint, before I close tonight, is to be aware, when using ibuildapp that the widgets are tied to the “manage content” functionality.  You can turn off a widget that you don’t want by going all the way back up to the place you added your button images and then clicking on the “tab” button.  There you will see an “on-off” switch for your widget. 
More later and please don’t hesitate to add your comments or questions.  Cheers, Billie

Scheduling Google Adwords Driving You Crazy?

If you’ve just started your small business and are new to Google Adwords, I’m going to talk to you like the grandma who says, “Back in my day, I had to walk 10 miles to school in the snow without boots…” And yes, that’s exactly how it felt as a small (let’s face it ‘tiny’) business person trying to put an ad up in Google Adwords a few tears ago. My mantra at the time was: “How can the best search engine people in the world get this interface so messed up?”  My software engineer husband couldn’t figure it out either, however, living with a left-brain thinker helped me analyze exactly was some of the problems were. A large part of the confusion for me was a question of semantics. While “campaign” may make sense in the software and advertising world, it made no sense in mine.  Differentiating a “campaign” from a plain old “new ad” threw me.  In addition, Ad Words must have gotten some perverse pleasure in hiding the “keyword” button and it usually took it a half an hour to locate it.  But you can thank me for writing tons of “feedback” emails to adwords that minced no words to google.  (I’m sure it was totally my personal input that created a better interface today, but we just can’t prove that 😉  


 LINGERING PROBLEM TODAYLet’s assume the above problems described in the paragraph above are not problems for you.  However, I guarantee that if you’re new to Google Adwords you will have trouble scheduling an end date for your d”campaign”.  This posting is devoted to helping you put an end date on the ad you’re creating so you are not shocked three days after posting that your ad cost you three times the amount you intended. There is one simple setting to change when starting “a new campaign”  Be sure that you CHANGE the setting from Standard to All Features.  The setting All Features will allow you to see the Scheduling choice toward the bottom of the page and you’ll be able to set the end date.  If you click on “Help” and search for “schedule end date” you’ll be presented with a video that explains this process in depth. You can also go to this Google Adwords resource page.  The video is right in the middle  Good Luck!

New Business Owners – Choose Your Name Wisely

We’ve been on the web for over 15 years creating educational learning games and activities as well as producing educational software matching games for schools, especially schools that have special programs for deaf and hard of hearing students. 

Windmill Works was the name we chose for our company for a very sentimental reason:  “Man of La Mancha” was released the year that I first decided to re-create the card game, “Authors.”  My card game, “American Authors,” was modeled after the fun card game by Whitman Publishers that I had played as a child.  Since we knew reviving this game might be an “Impossible Dream,” and since the Don Quixote character in “Man of La Mancha” was stabbing at windmills, bells and whistles started sounding and Windmill Works was born.  It’s too back the bells weren’t of the alarm type that indicated that since many places on the web still list companies alphabetically, “W” might be a bit ill advised.   

Once you start with a logo and business cards, it’s difficult to deviate from your name even though you may have branched out into a whole new line of products since the inception of your company.

And thus, today, we struggle to convert our Windmill Works website to Language Rocks.  All of our url addresses to pages on our former website, and believe me, there are pages that even I don’t remember having created, would have to be sold if we sold our name.  Since our goal is to move toward that end, we have spent the last 6 months re-doing, re-constructing, re-inventing our website.  We’re exhausted! So while you don’t have a crystal ball, make sure your name and the domain names you purchase and pages you create on the web with them will be pertinent in the future.

Well, now it’s back to the painful re-construction at Language Rocks which, for the time being, is a division of Windmill Works.  I hesitate to link to our site at this moment in time because what you’ll see is a version of spring cleaning where everything has been pulled out of the closet, is strewn in heaps on the floor, with only a bit having been put back to it’s newly organized state.  Well, embarrassment be damned, you can take a look at a work in progress at www.windmillworks.com or www.languagerocks.com.  Our ebook website should be fairly intact at www.leftpawedpuppy.com

Best to you and Happy New Year!,

Billie

Best to you.

Multi-Media Ebook and App Disappointment



Let’s back-up a bit. The real reason I started to publish “The Perfect Husband App” was to try the new software at ibuildapp.com in order to convert my children’s narrated ebook, “Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy” as a narrated app.  After struggling with the audio, I went back to interactbuilder.com which I had been trying to use about a year ago.  That lets a user create really great looking mobile apps, but there is quite a cost involved. PLUS, I myself, find that software hard to use.  I then tried talespring.com last to use their software, and that has possibilities except I don’t have a MAC and while I can create in that platform, I can’t test it out to make corrections, etc.  To use Apple’s iBuild Author software which creates multi-media books, one would need a MAC 10.7 (LIon) or beter which retails at about $999. Bookbaby.com, the company with which I have published “Lucky…” for Kindle, Nook, etc. is not doing narrated apps at the moment.  I contacted B-interacktive in Germany and they seemed interested in exploring whether they would create an app for me, but I haven’t heard back from them.  I tried Desktop Author’s epagewiz which creates page-turning ebooks like my narrated, page-turning online ebook at www.leftpawedpuppy.com, but when your app then goes into the Desktop Author ebook store and when you download apps you have to use their app reader to run the software and finding a book app with Desktop Author app is a nightmare.  So you might be able to see why I’m frustrated and disappointed.

All the forums keep saying getting a multi-media book made is “on the cutting edge.”  I say, “It’s NOT on the cutting edge because software engineers are doing it throughout the world as evidenced by the narrated children’s apps that are out there.

My conclusion is this:  There seems to be a big problem with integrating audio with images for apps.  Somehow, some software coders who have figured it out are doing it and are charging a large sum for having accomplished this.  Here’s my prediction – whoever comes up with a Do-It-Yourself piece of software that allows authors like me to integrate narration with images will have a multi-million dollar company.  I wish my software husband could do it for me, but apparently you need C++ or Objective C or some other C thing to do it!  With 12 computer languages in my guy’s brilliant head, and more than 40 years of programming under his belt, he’s not inclined to tackle any more languages.  Who can blame him?  Not me, but we do need a software hero to come swooping down and let creative children authors go to town.  We’d pay!  Because as a group, we may be a little cash poor, I’d say $150 for such software would be tolerable.  If there are any super-heroes out there who can create this wysiwyg, diy software for multi-media ebooks, show forth thyself!

Update for Ibuildapp Previous Blog Posting

Dear Fellow Novice App Builders with ibuldapp,

Previously, I had talked about not being able to insert an image and type over it in the software for ibuildapp.com and that is true as I understand the software as it works on this date in September of 2012.  What I was aiming for was a screen that looked like this:You're Amazing Lyrics by Bruno Mars

Quite a daunting task this would be to create 20 images like the one to the right for each of entry in  “The Perfect Husband App”. 

 So, if you’re asking, why don’t you just use a background color and insert a small image with your text, you would be about 1000 miles ahead of me.  So that just occured to me this morning, and if it hadn’t occured to you, you might try this for your “quotation” app or other interesting “ibuildapp app.”  The image on the right is the labor-intensive way of creating a colorful page in ibuildapp.

 

In the “Let’s eat out tonight”  screen to the left,  just one image imbedded on a page with color.  It certainly cuts down on hours of work, and I think if I intersperse these pages with the other more “beautiful” screens, it will satisfy the customers. 

And by the way, speaking of customers, don’t be disappointed if you have NONE.  Unless you have an “Angry Birds” app or a boat-load of money, promoting your creation for thousands of downloads will be difficult.  After I finish pretty-ing-up my app this weekend, I’m going to create a facebook business page for it and take out a facebook ad.  We’ll see where that goes. 

By the way, if you are kind of heart, I sure could use some positive reviews of my app at the googleplay.com store.  Search for it with the “the” as in “The Perfect Husband App” or just click here.  It’s only a 99 cents.
Cheerio for now.  Let me hear from you.  This is all very exciting, albeit a tad frustrating, but onward we go. 

Ideas for Promoting a Contest?

I actually wrote this about a month ago, but it has some information you, as a fellow publisher trying to promote your ebooks might like to mull over. Again, this is in keeping with my favorite quote from despair.com:  “Maybe the sole purpose of my existence is to serve as a warning to others.”

(originally written sometime in Sept. 2012)

Well, on this journey together, perhaps you’ve had a successful contest to promote your book because mine isn’t going as smashing-ly as I had hoped. How did I get this crazy contest concept spinning in my cranium?  I was actually looking around for websites that parents might go to find books for their children and what should I find, but the  the AMAZING Reading Rockets website.  Clicking around,  I was instantly attracted to those little boxes that tell you there’s a youtube video on this site.  The videos posted at Reading Rockets had adorable pictures begging one to click onto even more adorable videos.  Never being one to want to re-invent the wheel, I thought:  “I can have a children’s video contest, too!”  I’ll run a google ad and ask for video re-enactments of my ebook, “Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy” and voila’, hundreds of entries will come tumbling out my email inbox.  I worked really hard on contest’s webpage, purchased just the right prizes, set the deadline to coincide with International Left-Handers day (August 13) since Lucky is left-pawed, listed it on Facebook, Twitter, updated my facebook business page and on and on.  Result:  NOT ONE ENTRY so far. 

So I went to the place where I post some essays and articles, hubpages.com and learned this much at least:

1.  Never charge an entry fee.  (So my requirement that parents purchase the download-able, narrated ebook for $3.99 so that their child could actually ACT OUT the Lucky story on video was apparently too much to hope for).  I have since offered a FREE download.  The cost of the prizes that I thought would be covered? You guessed it.  I changed my goal from earning money to earning name recognition.  iii !

2.  Don’t ask for a video to be made unless the prize is REALLY big.  After contemplating that advice, I changed my submission requirements to INCLUDE:  a drawing, a song on an mp3 file, a written little summary or report of “Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy” or ANY creative way of re-telling Lucky’s story.

Update on the contest:  I never did get ONE response to all that hard work.  If anyone has any promotional ideas, be a sport and pass them along this way.

From Ebook to App with Ibuildapp.com

A Novice’s “Work-around” Ibuildapp’s App Builder

Dear Fellow Self-Published Authors,

Either we’re very ADHD or just quite forward-looking.  Let’s assume the latter.  So I’m not satisfied that  “Lucky, the Left-Pawed Puppy” is published on Kindle, Nook, and whatever other e-reader platform is out there.  I want the NARRATED version published as I published it on my website  (www.leftpawedpuppy.com). However, that narrated version is an .exe file and can’t be uploaded to Kindle, etc.  So I sell it from my casually visited website.  Ugh!  All that work! 

So on my way to trying to get audio embedded in “Lucky…” my thoughts turned to app development, and I turned to ibuildapp.com.  Not being able to figure out the audio embedding here, I decided to go ahead with a simpler app which I am presently calling, “The Perfect Husband App” which is essentially a “cheat sheet” for husbands who want to say the words their wives actually want to hear.That app is up in googleplay.com,  (“Available now for only 99 cents!” tee-hee ) BUT I’m working to make it prettier.  If you happen to find it and download it for your Android, be assured that within the week, the changes that will pretty-it-up will be automatically inserted in your app. (You can see what I mean if you click on the last item in the list – “OUR Words for YOU! That’s the one pretty page that I hope to duplicate for the rest of the perfect husband list.)  Continue reading From Ebook to App with Ibuildapp.com

Don’t Change Emails in the Middle of the Stream

Ah…my first post about ebook publishing on blogger. Ah, hem…not really, and that’s why my first little hint about ebook publishing and blogging (since blogging seems to be an important part of this whole process) is this:  “Don’t change emails in the middle of the stream” 

image  purchased from istockphoto.com

Continue reading Don’t Change Emails in the Middle of the Stream