Pixabay.com Member Spotlight

If you are an author, teacher, blogger, web designer, or any type of content creator, I recommend that you run – not walk – to Pixabay.com. It will quickly become your go-to place for powerful (and free!) photos, illustrations, vector graphics and video clips that pack a punch.

I interviewed a few Pixabay members to find out more about what makes this creative resource so enchanting.

Every interviewee had a story about rejected images. Universally, they took this as a challenge to produce and submit higher quality content.

For the curious, the links below explain Pixabay’s standards and image rating system.

Pixabay Image Quality Standards
Help decide which images get published

Pixabay Video Quality Standards

In each photo strip below, you will find the Pixabay member’s profile name and several samples of the type of work that they donate. Clicking on the photo strip or the link on their name, directs you to their Pixabay page.

Adina Voicu, Romaniaadina

Adina teaches foreign languages and literature. She works with students between the ages of 15-19. She uses images from Pixabay in some of her school projects and has donated over 2,000 of her own images to the site.

Pixabay is always open on Adina’s computer. She loves seeing what is new on the site, chatting with other photographers and seeing the feedback messages on her images.

“I live and breathe photography,” Adina says. “It is a way to get to know myself better.”couple-1008699_640

When asked about why she donates her images, she comments, “I have always shared things. What is more wonderful than sharing joy?”

In Romania, Adina lived under communist rule. ” We were not allowed to go abroad and knew nothing about the outside world. We only had two TV channels that broadcast about 4 hours each day. The electricity went off at 10 every night. Children were taught to fear their teachers and were punished for giving wrong answers.”
She remembers December 1989 – the revolution – like it was yesterday. “The first time I heard Michael Jackson on the radio. Wowww!”
“We live in a democracy now, but it is very misunderstood. There is chaos everywhere: in the medical system, the educational system, and with laws that change twice a year,” she says.
“I have been fortunate enough to travel. When I return, I try bringing home aspects from the more civilized countries.”
Pixabay and sharing images with people worldwide helps Adina feel connected outside of Romania. She hopes that this feeling communicates itself to the students in her life.

Venita Oberholster, South Africa
artst bee

Venita is an oil painter, vintage clip art designer and corporate Course Developer and Business owner of Step Across Training. She creates educational clip art and designs learning materials for South African school children.

“I really enjoy sharing my work with people all over the world. And I like getting positive responses from people who use it for personal or business projects. I hope that it will provide a platform for future graphic designers and for people to use for custom assignments. “science-1018806_640

“Pixabay has taught me the importance of high quality images and copyright principles. When I first started upolading images, it was disheartening because a good percent of them were rejected. However, I took this as a personal challenge to improve my standards.”

Click here to visit Venita’s Artsy Bee Images website.

Steve Buissinne, South Africastevepb

“Across the world people speak in 6500 languages, but we all see in only one.”

“Beauty can be found in the most unlikely places.” – Steve Buissinne

Almost 12 years ago, Steve and his wife retired to a small farm in the Eastern Highlands of South Africa. He took with him his SLR camera and a developing interest in photography. “It is an inward-looking or egocentric pastime that developed into a challenging and interesting hobby that has a use to others at the same time.”

In 2013, Steve was searching the internet for photos that he could use on a website for a local firefighters association when he discovered Pixabay.He liked the interface and was inspired by the images. So much so that he decided to upload a few of his own.

Rejections became a motivation to improve. Since then Steve’s been working on his lighting and photo styling techniques. He enjoys working with food  and everyday items used in the home, ‘because they don’t move.’ To date, Steve has uploaded 325 images. One hundred and seventeen of those have received Editor’s Choice Awards.

“It seems as though there are thousands of cooking, health and well-beintax-468440_640g blogs that need images,” says Steve. “The most downloaded of my photos is one that is used in blogs about the prosaic and everyday evil – Tax.”

“I love the site and enjoy all aspects of it. Simon and Hans, have created a fantastic resource that is a privilege to be a part of.”

Now, Steve often plans photo sessions specifically for images that he will upload on Pixabay. “Since I joined Pixabay, photography has become more enjoyable.”

Thomas Breher, Germany
Thomas breher TBIT

Thomas is a freelance graphic designer and developer.  His company is TBIT Design. He first discovered Pixabay when it was mentioned in a marketing forum article.
“I frequently use Pixabay images on my blog and in projects that I design for clients. Since I regularly download images, I decided to donate my own. Pixabay is a community about mutual giving and taking,” comments Thomas.camera-lenses-946404_640
When he works with people who have specific ideas about images that they want for their job, Thomas sends them to Pixabay to help narrow down the choices.
His favorite aspects of Pixabay community are the comments and ratings. “And every few weeks I receive a small donation,” he says.
I can relate to the excitement that is felt when a donation comes in. The first time that I received one, I had completed a photography job for $150. Later that day, a Pixabay donation arrived in the amount of $1.50. The elation that I feel about that donation STILL has me smiling!
When thinking about making a donation to an image author, Simon Steinberger, simon profilePixabay co-founder and CEO says, “We have several image authors who are particularly active and who offer a lot of images. You could concentrate on them – they’ve definitely earned it! An example that comes to mind is Geralt. He is power creator.”
A note of caution: If you pop over to check out Pixabay.com, be prepared to spend a lot of time there. The site is so luscious, that you’ll never want to leave!
____
The inspiration for this article came as I reached a personal Pixabay milestone. I made my 100th image donation on the website. 

Related article: Pixabay.com: A Powerful Free-Source for the Serious Blog, Tweet, Book or School

Positive Gifts from the County Go Beyond Doctors and Medicine

It can start as a cry at a higher than normal pitch, a raging fever that won’t come down, bruises that appear for no reason. A parent, consumed with worry seeks out help. The Pediatrician makes a preliminary evaluation and orders more tests.

Then the moment arrives…words, delivered with professionalism and care from the doctor;  everything has changed for the family and the child with the difficult diagnosis.

For nearly 300 families in Nevada County (California), these experiences are part of their story. But that’s only the beginning. A new reality sets in—one that involves long drives to special care units at UC Davis, San Francisco or Stanford and physician specialists, dieticians, nutritionists, social workers and rounds of medication.IMG_1555-web

Maryellen Beauchamp has a special connection with these families. She is Nevada County’s Public Health Nurse Case Manager for California Children’s Services. 53 webCalifornia Children’s Services is operated by the State of California. Over 80 years old, it has an office in every county. Maryellen acts as the conductor in an orchestra that encompasses multi-faceted medical assistance for children with severe health issues. These issues can range from growth plate or skull fractures, endocrine, neurological, orthopedic, and metabolic disorders to Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy and premature infants.

This type of work comes with a heavy weight and knowledge that is often difficult to leave behind at the end of the day.  On her desk, Maryellen keeps several inspirational quotes that remind her to remain grounded. One of them reads; Today, I am fortunate to have woken up. I am alive; I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others, to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. –H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama

Maryellen recently had the opportunity to incorporate something important into her program—a sense of positive empowerment for her young clients. It came in the form of a beautifully illustrated book, Toby Bear and the Healing Light.  It is the story of a stuffed bear who teaches a sick child the power of affirmations, meditation and visualizations in the healing process.

Toby Bear and the Healing Light was created by author, Lisa Boulton while undergoing cancer treatments, as a gentle way to help children going through difficult illness. Boulton enlisted photographer and artist Lisa Redfern to create the photo-illustrations. “I wanted the story to feature local people, places and businesses as a way to express my love for our community and for the outpouring of support and caring that I received when I was sick,” says Boulton.SNMH Approved 12-14-12

Maryellen says, “I like that the story features Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital—the place where the journey with California Children’s Services begins for many of our families. It is also a plus that the Nevada  County Public Health Department could partner with the local women who created the book.”

As Maryellen puts it, “You can’t get well with doctors and medicines alone…it takes the right attitude to make it all work.”  She’s excited about the books because she plans to give them as gifts to the age appropriate children in her program. “It is a positive message and gift from Nevada County Public Health Department to the children (and their families) who need it most.”

Read more about this topic at The Union.com.

Toby Bear and the Healing Light

IMG_1563-1web

Organization & Social Media for Authors

Author Interview – Resources for Writers

If you are a Haylee fan, you’ll discover a bit of the back story in this condensed author interview. You’ll also learn about the historical research – San Francisco and California Gold Rush – that went into the project.

Created to coincide with the release of Haylee and the Traveler’s Stone (paperback), the interview contains marketing and social media tips for authors. It also delves into character development, creativity and sources for Public Domain images.

The original, in-depth author interview can be read on the blog, You Read It Here First.

Interviewer:

Debbie McClure, author of In the Spirit of Love and In the Spirit of Forgiveness
You Read It Here First Blog owner—Christina Hamlett, Screenplay Consultant, Media Relations Expert and Award-Winning Author.

Narrator Spotlight – Meghan Kelly on Eargasms Audiobook Reviews

“I believe both creating a very intriguing story to listen to AS WELL AS the production being top notch are vitally important! “ – Meghan Kelly

When I met Meghan Kelly through ACX [Aubible], It was love at first listen.

If you are interested in turning your Amazon book into an audiobook, you can post your title on ACX.com. Once it’s live on the site, finding your voice artist is like a virtual dating game…

Voice artists may send authors auditions or authors can scour through voice artist profiles listening to their sample files. When I first set-up my ACX account, I didn’t think that the gender of the artist would matter. Boy was I wrong! (ha ha) After listening to lots of voice samples, I realized that there were HUGE differences…in performance, the overall vibe of the voice and in the recording quality. I had just begun to create a list of artists to contact when Meghan e-mailed her audition file. Was it a fated sign from the cosmos that the best voice I could possibly imagine for Haylee just turned up…or was it just simple luck?

Her professionalism made working long distance seem effortless. The quality of the final product is something we are both proud of.

The day that she sent over chapter proofs is a day that will linger in my memory. Hearing my words…with HER beautiful, sultry, sexy and animated voice….made me laugh (in sheer delight!) until tears were streaming down my face. I felt a little like Cyrano de Bergerac.

Book Trailer with Special Voice Artist Feature

Awakened Seed book trailer screen shot

Haylee is ready to entertain and entice you with her book trailer video!

A special feature is Voice Artist Meghan Kelly speaking as Haylee.

Meghan is currently working on producing an audio book for Awakened Seed. It will be distributed on Audible this fall.

Check out Meghan’s website and stay tuned for more about her beautiful voice work.

Sounds of Meghan Kelly website

Meghan Kelly Image 1 cropped

Bubbles Bursting – the disappearing Amazon Reviews

They were great! Those first Amazon reviews.  They were from my advance copy readers – friends and family who got roped into helping with the book project. Then, like beautiful bubbles with rainbow reflections sailing skyward – they popped and disappeared.Haylee e-Trilogy add

My high tech hubby says, “You must have thanked too many people.”  Our guess is that there is an auto-program in the inner workings of Amazon that zaps out reviews from people who were mentioned in the book.

No matter….if plan “A” doesn’t work out, there’s always another.

My marketing plan for Haylee is simple. If you like it, tell  your friends.

Haylee and the Traveler's Stone trilogy

Here’s the link to book #1
Haylee Awakened Seed

It’s price .99¢

(as close to free as I could get)
(FREE in the  Kindle Lending Library)

5 Tips to find the right professional editor for your book

It’s a special occasion! Only something sumptuous and sweet will satisfy the mood and pallet.  Delicate aromas float in the air as you approach the bakery. The corners of your mouth lift up as you fill your lungs with the heavenly smells.

pastries

 

When you step-up to the display case, you see that none of the cakes or pastries have frosting or decorations.

unfrosted cake

Will they still taste good?  Surely. But will they cause an ‘oooo’ or an ‘ahhhh’ at the moment of reveal?

Many aspects of Indy publishing are appealing because it puts ultimate control of a publishing project in the author’s own hands. You get to create your own original recipe, and blend flavors and textures without a publisher or cover designer in the kitchen telling you to adjust this or that. But just because you have all the tools you need to self-publish, does that mean you should do everything?

In every sole proprietorship, the business owner is required to perform the vast majority of the work. However; the savvy business person knows that at times it’s necessary, even critical, to hire an expert.  When you are just another author in an ocean filled with Indy authors, a pertinent question becomes how to differentiate your work from all the others in the marketplace?  Professional editing is one of the best ways to accomplish this.

Here are five tips to find the right professional editor for your book.

1. Decide if you want a local or a remote editor.

To find a local editor, tap into your personal networks – ask people you know and put it out there on your facebook or google+ pages. You can contact local writers groups, high school and college English and Literary professors as well as librarians.

Initially, I wanted an editor I could meet with in person. By going through the process above, I found several but did not find the one who was the right match for my subject. Eventually, the idea of finding a local editor was discarded in favor of finding the right one – no matter where he or she lived.

2. Contact a professional editors association.

The organizations below were the most helpful in my editor search.

Editorial Freelancers Association (1,100+ members) has a sort function that simplifies identifying the editors who match your search criteria.

Bay Area Editors Forum

Book Expo America

Additional resources: Google search – ‘Writers Conferences’  for conferences in your area.

3. Choose an editor who specializes in your genre.

Haylee, like pretty much all of my artistic expressions, does not clearly fit into one specific category. It’s a blend of paranormal, Sci-fi and adventure genres with a hint of romance sprinkled in. Because the story follows the main character from ages seventeen to twenty-five, most genre guidelines place it in the Young Adult category.  However, when viewed with the other titles in that group, Haylee does not play well with the others.

Once I released the Young Adult genre idea, I began to search for editors who specialize in paranormal subject matter. It quickly became clear that this was the right way to go.

4. Understand which editorial services you want.

According to Wikipedia, copy editing, “is the work that an editor does to improve the formatting, style, and accuracy of text. Unlike general editing, copy editing might not involve changing the content of the text. Copy refers to written or typewritten text for typesetting, printing, publication, broadcast or other independent distribution.”

A line editor evaluates sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling and verb agreement. Line editing is the final piece of the manuscript production process before it is ready for publication.

5. Request sample edits.

Compose a brief editor inquiry, but include enough information about your project so that the editor can make an informed decision.

Here is the query e-mail I sent. *Note. To make evaluation easier I asked each editor to make sample edits on the same four pages of my manuscript.

Dear ———,
 I would like to inquire about your editing services.
If it looks like a project you may be interested in, please let me know the next step.
Thanks!
Lisa Redfern (Grass Valley, CA)
The Project:
Haylee and the Traveler’s Stone | 86,000 words
A new adult, paranormal, romantic, time travel, thriller.
A Five Part Novella: Awakened Seed, Need To Feed, Burden of the Powerful, The Traveler and Upholders Redemption
____________________________________________________________________________
BACK COVER COPY
_____________________________________________________________________________
How can you stop being lonely when your touch destroys everyone you love?
Something triggers an ancient pattern…
Growing up with a father who could not climb out of his grief stricken oblivion, Haylee Garrett was left to fend for herself.  The desperately lonely girl is delighted with the sudden, dramatic physical changes that come over her on her seventeenth birthday. The boy she has been dreaming about for years finally sees her.
The pattern dictates dark deeds…
But with those changes comes a sinister drive; a fierce undeniable hunger. Haylee’s victims become hollow remnants of themselves.
Until two Travelers meet…
After her personal life is turned to ruins, Haylee is unceremoniously pulled through time to San Francisco during the 1849 Gold Rush. It is here that she must find the only person who can help her…the last Traveler in their lineage.
Emis Laurent is an infamous French Seer living the bawdy life of an entertainer at the Bella Union, a brothel in heart of Portsmouth Square. Emis has no intention of following the predestined course of their ancestors.
Haylee discovers an implausible alliance with two Irish emigrants; a friendship with fifteen-year-old Edward Keener and a reluctant, unavoidable love in his older brother, Reece.
Reece is the unfortunate recipient of fallout from Emis’s wayward plan. Can he bring a sense of order back to their lives after the Traveler has come and gone?

 

Every editor I contacted responded to my e-mail query. Each of them was timely, polite and had unique talents and skills. I was not prepared to like all of them!

Once I started comparing the sample edits, one clearly stood out – Erica Ellis.
Her changes sounded like my own voice. She took the time to explain Chicago Manual of Style rules and passed along information that helped with ‘Track Changes’ in Microsoft Word. Through the process of working with her, I learned to improve my writing and was overjoyed to see professional quality that the book took on after she was finished.

Erica Ellis

Erica lives too far away to take out to lunch.
If we ever have the 
opportunity to meet,
she will get a hug and a smile from a
very happy and appreciative client!

 

In my own Indy production process, professional editing was the area where I planned invest in an expert. I think it is a critical component in taking a manuscript from DIY  – OK to a polished product that is ready for readers. It’s like adding the frosting and finishing touches to a long and challenging baking project.

Ultra Chocolatey - Chocolate Coma Cake

Ultra Chocolatey – Chocolate Coma Cake