Frustrations of Self-Publishing – New Book On the Way!

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I spent hours yesterday and will likely spend more time today trying to format my new book for publishing on Amazon. The new book is a combination of some of my more colorful, playful artworks and poetry bits for kids. I used the art itself to inspire the poetry. I think the book will turn out great once I finally get the kinks worked out with the formatting.

One thing I really wish Amazon would do is to make it easier to format books using Word, especially if you use quite a few images in the book. For some reason, Amazon can not recognize when you split up content on different pages in Word, at least not when images are mixed in. It is pretty frustrating sometimes.

Once I get the book done, can proof the hard copy, and get it up for sale, I’ll definitely be sharing it with you all. I hope you will like it!

Video: Nostalgia Crate Subscription Box Unboxing!

For the other 80’s and 90’s children out there like me, I thought you might like revisiting memory lane with me by watching me unbox the new Nostalgia Crate toy and nerd fandom subscription box I am trying out. Of course, this particular box is geared specifically to my interests and cherished memories, but that is the fun of the box in the first place!

Hope you enjoy! Feel free to follow my YouTube vlog if you want to as well!

January/February Book Subscription Boxes – Kids & Middle Grade

Lately I’ve been trying random book subscription boxes just to try to figure out which one I want to get on a regular basis. For January/February, I tried the following two boxes:

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This first box was the January Book Drop subscription. I picked the middle grade option, although I was torn between that and the young adult option. This subscription box sends you one book per month (along with a card about the book and little extras like bookmarks) and is pretty cheap (about $10 including S&H for this shipment). The Book Drop is run by an independent bookstore, which makes buying it even better since I like to support small businesses.

The book they sent this month was Winterhouse by Ben Guterson. I really enjoyed this mystery novel! The main character is a book nerd and loves to do puzzles, just like me! I did figure out the plot of the book pretty early on though, so the mystery wasn’t all that hard for me.

Here is the second box I received, this one in early February:

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This box was from Kids Bookcase Club. It cost $9.99 plus S&H. You get three kids books a month. This was the 7-8 year old box. Out of the three books they sent, my favorite by far was Terrific by Jon Agee. This picture book is sarcastic and hilarious! I love the grumpy old man who is the main character! The Very Fairy Princess was a cute picture book, but not exactly my taste. The Animal Planet Dolphin Rescue book was a young reader chapter book and it was cute and interesting, but obviously a simple read. For next month’s box, I decided to up the age to the preteen box to see what kind of middle grade books they send.

For the upcoming month I am also trying out the Scribbler subscription box for writers and the SpearCraft Book Box (which comes with all kinds of cool reader goodies)! So stay tuned!!!

I Am An Obsessive Collector

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Part of my toy/collectibles/art room, unfortunately you can’t see all the stuff organized in the closet or in the cabinets behind me.

I collect too many things. I collect tons of toys/action figures/dolls/squishies/stuffed animals/minifigures (Barbie, My Little Pony, Sesame Street, Looney Tunes, Lego, Nickelodeon, Disney, Schleich, Funko Pops, Reborns, Cabbage Patch Dolls, Coraline, etc.) I have an entire room for all my toys and collectibles. I collect books, especially children’s books and books about subjects I am obsessed with, ranging from Michael Jackson, Nirvana, and Dance Moms, to art/artists, writing/writers, poetry, comics/manga, and antique books. The books also have a room of their own, which they share with my husband’s smaller but still sizable book collection (mostly history, true crime, and science fiction grace his shelves).

I have a huge collection of art supplies and stickers (which also get shoved into my extra “toy room”). I have a large collection of cds, especially from my favorite artists (MJ again, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Enya, Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, 60’s 70’s & 90’s hits, Disney soundtracks, etc.)

I have an entire dresser drawer full of bookmarks, a wide selection of cute or nerdy notebooks/journals/stationery and a cabinet full of magickal/pagan themed objects I use for my little ritual altar. I also have a large collection of sentimental items I have saved ranging from photos to cards to letters to objects from loved ones who have passed on.

I am emotionally connected to many of the things I collect and the idea of parting with them is traumatic. I figure this need to collect things is part of the autistic side of me, but sometimes I become overwhelmed by the size of my own collections!

Poetry – Malice

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This little poem was inspired by a middle grade book series called “Malice” by Chris Wooding. I liked the world that was created, and decided to capture just a bit of it in poetry (my favorite line is the “mushroom lamps” one):

Malice
By: Maranda Russell

Take the evening train
into the cavernous abyss.
Light up the darkness
with your mushroom lamps
and a fist full
of round trip tickets.

Kindle Direct Publishing’s New Reporting System and Some Author Updates!

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Yesterday I logged into my Kindle Direct Publishing account on Amazon and while looking at the reports, noticed there is a new “beta” reporting program they are working on that I could test (the picture above shows the new graphing, with part of the book breakdown below). I checked it out and it is WAY better than their old reporting program! It uses color coded graphs to plainly show which books you are selling, when you are selling them, and also easily separates books sold from “free” promotions vs. paid sales.

I am thrilled they are updating their system, because what they have had the last few years sucks in my opinion. It was hard to even tell which books sold! In other good news, while checking out the new system, I looked at my overall numbers from the last quarter and was pleasantly surprised to see that all together I’ve sold more than 230 ebooks (including promotions) during the last 90 days! Not bad for an indie author!!! It makes my heart happy to know that many people are reading my books!

If you use KDP publishing, I would recommend checking out the new program if you are able to under your own reports! By the way, if you want to check out my Amazon Author Page and maybe give it a follow, that would be awesome! I also have a FREE ebook promotion running today through Monday for my art ebook, “Stories Behind My Art” (if you like it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon!)

Lastly, a few years back, I published a little short story/spiritual ebook called “Jesus, Mohammed, and Abraham – A Parable about Love and Peace” under the name M.N. Russell ($0.99, FREE for Kindle Unlimited) . I decided to add that to my Amazon author bibliography, so you can check that out if you think it sounds interesting!

Goals for 2019 – Blog, Writing, Art

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I don’t set personal resolutions for New Years, but I do try to set some goals to try to reach the coming year, especially for my blog/social media, writing, and art. I did meet and even surpass some of the goals I set for 2018. For instance, I hoped to have 500 Instagram followers by the end of this year, and I’m already over 1,400!

When setting these goals, I try to be realistic but shoot a bit high. I figure even if I miss, at least I dreamed big and tried my best. I try to not beat myself up if I don’t meet a goal by the end of the year, I just set my sights on the next year.

So without further ado, here are my goals for 2019:

Social Media
Blog – 1,500 followers
Instagram – 5,000 followers (dream big!)

Books
Write/publish 2 new books/ebooks
Sell 300+ copies of my books

Art
Sell to 2 new countries (would love to add Ireland, Germany, Japan, China, or India!)
Countries I have already sold art to: USA, Canada, Australia, France, Switzerland, England, Wales, Norway, United Arab Emirates

Merry Christmas Eve! My Fave Gifts So Far!!!

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!!! We do our present opening today, so my husband and I went ahead and opened our gifts for each other. Here are a few pics of my favorite things!

First off, my Harry Potter Death Eater wand:

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My new illustrated version of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard” (featuring commentary by Albus Dumbledore!):

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My curseword-laden coloring book:

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A pagan-themed children’s book and plenty of stickers to craft with:

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I also got a couple other books, some gel pens, a cool, four-sided Buddha figure, and this new black bear stocking I fell in love with:

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Tomorrow I am celebrating Christmas with my mother, so am sure I will get more gifts then! The holidays are so much fun!!! Hope you guys are having your own happy celebrations!

By the way, I am running a special Amazon giveaway for my new children’s Kindle ebook, “How to Find Fun Adults“! Feel free to enter! Three copies are up for grabs! Of course, you can always buy a copy for $.99 or download it for free if you have Kindle Unlimited!!!