How Can You Better Manage Change?, A. K. Andrew Writer's notebook

Fall gourds by A.K. Andrew

As Fall is finally upon us, I’ve been thinking recently about the change in seasons. When I lived in England, although I loved the Fall colors, I was always filled with dread at the thought of winter – bitterly cold days, getting dark at 4 pm and some days when it was so dull you have to keep the lights on all day.

As I now live in Norther California, my sense of dread has lessened, but I was still reluctant to let go of the summer this year.
Until last weekend…. when I went to a harvest fair at a local state park. I realized I was being stubborn and there is so much to love about all the seasons, wherever you are in the world.,

Tractor & Barn by A.K. Andrew

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m embarking on a new journey with producing a coloring book, and my novel writing has been taking a back seat. My thoughts on all of this is how to remain centered in the midst of change, whether it’s the seasons, one’s business, relationships, moving house, or changing artistic pursuits.
My answer to better embrace change is really to embrace the now. Whatever the change is that’s coming, it’s probably going to happen irregardless. So why not take it on board, make the most of it and try not to get caught up looking in the rearview mirror.

Owl by A.K. Andrew

Writing like life, is fluid. When your characters don’t behave the way you want, you can’t force them. So if you want to better manage change, without sounding to hippyish, then I say “Go with the flow”.
Enjoy the Fall and whatever other changes are happening in your life. I hope we can all learn to embrace change a little bit more each time it happens. Life is now. And to me that’s the important piece that helps to keep me centered.

How well do you deal with change? Do you like change, or are you dragged there kicking and screaming?

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6 Steps to Start Your #Publishing Company & Printing Books

Have you ever wanted to have a book in print, or your own publishing company? With the self publishing revolution of the past decade, it’s now possible. This summer, I was bitten by the bug (or should I say book!) and took a slight diversion from historical fiction into the art world – though many of you know I’m an artist as well as a writer.  I’m very excited by my new project of producing The Creative Zone: An Adult Coloring Book Inspired by Stained Glass. Publication date is very soon, so I will keep you posted!

The creative Zone, adult coloring book, Kathy Andrew, A.K. Andrew, Akandrew.comThese steps are by no means a comprehensive list, but it will give you an overview of what it will entail.

Please note I am referring to sole proprietorship. If you want a more complex business set up such as a corporation, then you’ll want to take advice from a lawyer and an accountant before you move forward.

1. Choose a Name for Your Publishing Company

If you want to sell your books solely though Amazon or elsewhere online, you can simply publish your books through Create Space or another Print On Demand (POD) company – see Number 4 below. However if you want to get your books into a bookstore, you will not be taken seriously without your own publishing company. Common wisdom is also that the name should not just be an extension of your own name e.g. Mary Smith Press. A name distinctive from your own or the title of the book will look more professional.

I chose D Street Press which has a local connotation for me. You will of course need to search online to see if your name is already being used.

2. Get a Domain Name

Aside from a general online search, one of the best ways of finding whether a name is being used, is by searching for the domain name. Because after all you will want to register the domain name yourself. Even if you don’t yet have a website, or have a website in a different name, it makes sense to snag a domain for your new press. I do this through GoDaddy. They are very reputable for hosting domains, and I’ve also had good customer service with them. But I have also read that they have a poor reputation when it comes to site hosting, so look elsewhere for that.

3. Register Your Fictitious Business Name with the County Clerk

Once you have the name, checked it’s not in use and registered the domain, you will need to register with your County Clerk’s office that you are doing business as (DBA) your fictitious name. In my county, this was a very simple process of filling out a one page form and paying the  $40 filing fee. You will also need to put a notice in a local paper for four consecutive weeks , but the County Clerks office will give you names and contact details of places to contact. Note that the smaller the paper, the less the fee will be. Mine cost $30 for the four week submission.

If you are unclear on the rules in your county, then check with your local Small Business Association (SBA)

D Street Press,

4. Choose a Printer

OK – now we’re getting closer to the book! Although there are numerous POD Companies out there, the two main contenders are Ingram Spark and CreateSpace. The latter is Amazon’s POD company.

Quality wise they are close, but Ingram Spark have a slightly better quality reputation (this is always a subject choice). If you want to just go with online sales through Amazon, then Create Space is the simplest choice and I understand they will give you a little more handholding too. However, if you also want your books in Barnes and Noble, Libraries and numerous other distributors, then Ingram Spark is the one to choose. Another reason –  and for me it was the decisive reason – is that you will not be picked up by bookstores if you are published by Create Space. Call it snobbery over self publishing or what have you, but this is generally speaking the state of play at the moment.

5. Buy ISBN Numbers

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is the long string number code (13 numbers in the US) that the book is recognized by all over the world. If you work with Create Space, you can buy one of their ISBN’s for $10, but that can only be used through Create Space. It is in effect ‘their ‘ number.

If you want to ‘go all the way’ then you need to buy an ISBN yourself. In the US, this can only be done through a company called Bowker. Go to the site FYI In Canada, ISBN’s are issued for free! However in the US, it is most cost effective to buy 10 at a time, which is a hefty $295 (I was lucky to buy mine on sale for $250), but to only buy one costs $125, so …..

6. Submit Materials

Once you’ve chosen the POD company you want, then you have to jump through a few hoops filling out forms and making sure your files are up to their specifications. So be sure to look at all of these specs. before you set up your book in whatever Desk Top Publishing software you use. (I used Pages). The current top of the line software for this is InDesign from Adobe. But it’s a chunk of money to rent (not buy) as Adobe now have all their software  – Photoshop, Illustrator & ID though a monthly licensing fee. But you can even do your layout in Word. Once you have done that, then you will need to approve an e-copy and to be prudent have them send you a hardcopy to proof.

After that is all good to go, the the POD will submit your work to Amazon , Barnes and Noble etc, and you are published!!

As I said, this is a somewhat bare bones guide and by no means answers all the questions you will have before you start on this publishing journey. But there are many good sites to get info from. Here are three of my favorites: Joel Friedlander runs this site and is a veritable fountain of information on the subject. An excellent resource. He also sells templates in Word for book layout at a very reasonable cost to take some of the headache out of that part of the process. is another excellent site run by Joanna Penn. This is really a fantastic site for writers in general. also covers loads of self publishing stuff in her blogs and her writers resource page is the most comprehensive I’ve seen.

To add a couple more, Kristen Joy’s site is great for finding out about webinars on publishing – many of which are free and packed with great info. from Derek Murphy is another good one. He’s great at giving freebies too.

If you have any other good resources you’d like to add to this list please leave them in the comments.

So has anyone chosen POD as an option? What difficulties have you come across? What other vital points do you feel need including in this list?

Come join the discussion, and please share this post on your favorite social media. 

Many Thanks!

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Lack of fREADom Sucks…No More Banned #Books

21st Centuryville

Sept.27th -Oct 3rd 2015 is Banned Books Week and this year I’ve been lucky to have an interview with senior librarian of 21stCenturyville, Ms. Viva Libriani.

Viva Libriani, head librarian of 21stCenturyville. Original drawing by Kathy Andrew,,writers notebook

Viva Libriani, senior librarian in 21stCenturyville. Original drawing by Kathy Andrew

Ms.Libriani will be seen this year leading the march with her trademark chant Lack of fREADdom sucks…No More banned books!

But she was not always a champion for this cause. Viva was raised in the town of Sittingonthefenceville  and with little opportunities open to her, she won a scholarship to University at UNM (University for the Narrow Minded) in Uberconservativetown. During her time at university and she expanded her own reading material and things started to feel uncomfortable. It all came to a head after she’d worked for several years as a librarian in Uberconservativetowm. When I spoke with her, she talked of her time there.

“At first, nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Everyone was pretty much the same as folks from Sittingonthefenceville.  But the more I read, the more I had difficulty with decisions that were being made. Then three young girls changed my life. The first asked me why there were no books that made her think. A couple of months later, the second asked why we never carried books that questioned life. The final straw for me was when a ten year old girl with her blonde pigtails flying checked out some books and said  ‘You know Mom’s right, ignorance is bliss.’ The girl gave a little wave and left the building.”

Ms. Libriani paused for a moment to wipe her eyes.

“I couldn’t stand it anymore. I gave my notice, went home, cut off my long hair I’d kept tied up in a bun and went straight to Inky Pinky’s and got a tiny tattoo on my ankle of a book with wings.” Viva laughed as she looked down at her arms . “I guess I picked up these once I got to 21stCenturyville.”

Viva Libriani has become a heroine for many of us who’ve struggled with the idea of being limited as to what we can read, particular books banned in schools and libraries, where children and young adults have no choice in acquiring them elsewhere. I like her too because she wanted to be different and broke an old-fashioned stereotype of the straight-laced and judgmental librarian. Tattoos aren’t for everyone, but loads of librarians live in 21stCenturyville these days.

Back to Reality

Viva Viviani may only live in my imagination, but the threat to everyone’s right to read what they want in the USA is real: there were 311 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom this year. Here are links to the 10 most challenged titles of 2014. Thanks for this list goes to my local bookstore Copperfield’s Books who also sell new, used and rare books online.

1)      The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

2)      Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi

Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

3)      And Tango Makes Three, Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”

4)      The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison

Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

5)      It’s Perfectly Normal, by Robie Harris

Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “alleges it child pornography”

6)      Saga, by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Reasons: Anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group. Additional reasons:

7)      The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited to age group, violence

8)      The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “date rape and masturbation”

9)      A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard

Reasons: drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group

10)    Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

Reasons: sexually explicit

I thought it was interesting that 7 of these titles had an issue with sexuality. Does no-one see what’s on TV these days? If you want more information about the issue or how to get involved, check out the American Library Association or my post Should we Ever Ban Books. Who knows, maybe Viva will answer your call or email.

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association,ak.k. andrew,

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

Have you had any experience of not being able to get books you wanted in the US , or another country. How do you think we should deal with this issue? Should any books, other than perhaps ones that might put people, particular children, in physical danger, be banned?

Come join the discussion, and please share this post on your favorite social media. 

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Muse Media: Change and Junot Diaz

 Muse Media: Change and Junot Diaz

#Muse Media is a series of  simple posts, looking for our muse by mixing prose with other media.  If this was in the form of a Haiku with an image, it might be called a Haiga. For the moment,  let’s enjoy the prose of some wonderful authors.


Change (Photo credit Rickydavid)

“She would be a new person, she vowed. They said no matter how far a mule travels it can never come back a horse, but she would show them all.” 
Junot DíazThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


I love this gutsy quote. The “in your face ” style epitomizes Diaz work.

Change is often hard, and I wonder how the woman in the quote going to succeed? 

In what ways do you manage change?


Junot Díaz (born December 31, 1968) is a Dominican-American writer, creative writing professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and fiction editor at Boston Review. Central to Díaz’s work is the immigrant experience. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, in 2008 followed by  This Is How You Lose Her, in 2012. He is reported to be working on another novel, entitled Monstro. He is a 2012 MacArthur Fellow.

English: Writer Junot Díaz at the Mercantile L...

Writer Junot Díaz at the Mercantile Library Center for Fiction’s Annual Benefit and Awards Dinner,  Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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Why Was Evelyn Waugh “Apalled” By His Own Work?


This is a reblog of one of Robert Bruce’s posts from his fantastic website which is the best book site on the web in my opinion.

Why Was Evelyn Waugh “Apalled” By His Own Work?
BRIDESHEAD (1)The critics love Brideshead Revisited. As you know, it’s on the Time list–that’s why I’m reading it–but it’s also #80 on the Modern Library list of English-language novels in the 20th Century. Newsweek listed the novel as one of its 100 best books of world literature, and the BBC lists it at #45 on its literature list.

By all accounts, this is literature at its finest.

However, the novel’s author, Evelyn Waugh, wasn’t a fan of his own work. In 1950, he wrote to Graham Greene saying “I re-read Brideshead Revisited and was appalled.”

Waugh doesn’t even hold back criticizing the novel in the Brideshead Revisited preface:

“It was a bleak period of present privation and threatening disaster – the period of soya beans and Basic English — and in consequence the book is infused with a kind of gluttony, for food and wine, for the splendours of the recent past, and for rhetorical and ornamental language which now, with a full stomach, I find distasteful.”

Well, doesn’t that really just get you in the mood to read? The author himself trashing the novel in its very own preface.

How should one interpret this?

I think it’s pretty simple. We’re always our own worst critics. That’s just human nature.

So when an author says something he wrote sucks, I believe you have to take that with a grain of salt. Too many authors expect perfection from themselves and feel like failures when they don’t achieve that impossible standard.

Evelyn Waugh might not have been a fan of Brideshead Revisited, but most everyone else who read it is.

And that’s good enough for me.

Here is the original post on


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