Re-format, Edit and Design.

Now that I’m back from Cambodia and my body has managed to settle back into a fairly normal routine, I can now concentrate on re-formatting my books for the new company that will do print on demand in Australia.

Be aware – Amazon and KDP no longer send paperbacks books to Australia – so it was necessary to find a new place to print my books. My publishing house is Sweetfields Publishing (message me if you need anymore information). 

Alphacovers

Yay! I’m so happy. After years of designing and editing my books for the Amazon market – and paying an arm and a leg for postage, the convenience of a company in Australia is worth the extra cost in printing.

Amazon has actually done me a favour! My books are still available to the world in general from the KDP platform as well as Amazon. But because Amazon won’t post to Australia, I’d lost my local market. Now that is being put to rights.

It will take a bit of time (and frustration from me as I learn the new company and its rules) but it will be worth it in the end. I have counted up – I have 38 books to changeover – and another couple in the pipeline. Whew!

The re-format really is only to change the sizing, but that requires a bit of tweaking in the design of the books, and, while I’m at it, I might as well edit as well. It is the illustrations that are causing me the most headache, because, in the beginning of my journey, I did not understand how to get the correct dpi requirements for the images. Also, my first three books were illustrated by international visitors, and I haven’t got the originals to re-scan.

On top of that, the story-telling by myself has improved in leaps and bounds, so I need to look at some of the clunky sentences and re-word a little.

This means that I will be bum on computer seat, eyes on computer screen, fingers blistering at the keyboard and the brain squishy with all the thinking I will need to do.

Bookcover2

Bear with me – everything will sort itself out in time.

With Kindness

Maureen.

P.S. In the meantime, my second page ( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book )  includes my catalogue, and a new short story for your reading pleasure. Let me know what you think of the story.

My next children’s chapter book to be launched is ‘Rosferado – Wizard Extraordinaire’. The tagline could probably be – ‘but he isn’t’!!

There are two more books in the works, too. ‘Larry Lyrebird Laughs’ ( a picture book ) and ‘Rainbows in the Jungle – a Kathy Edwards adventure’ – (a chapter book for MA children).

If you would love to buy some original artwork – limited edition prints or originals – by a talented young artist – have a look at page three  ( readeatdream.net/ sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs )

It’s good to be busy!

Retirement, Extract and Draft.

Back from Cambodia!

Back to my beautiful home! Back to the work of teaching music, making preserves for my market stall, gardening in my vegetable garden, writing and publishing my next books, and feeding and looking after my animals (that includes extracting honey from my bees – such wonderful insects).meandbees

Love it!

Do you think it is time I thought about a gentle retirement?

Never!! It is this lifestyle that keeps my brain going, and my health fine.

I have three books in draft form, two already being illustrated.

While I’m on the subject of books -:

In the last few weeks,, my program of choice for publishing (Createspace) has merged with Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). Now … I understand that may be a wise Alphacoversbusiness decision – but I am NOT HAPPY!

Why?

Because now I cannot get my paperback books posted from America. This is the case for all Australian authors and customers, so it is not just me affected. Even though I had asked Createspace last year if this would be the case, and they said no, I now find I’m dropped like a hot potato!

I’m looking for a similar type of app that is Australian. Damn nuisance, as I have over thirty books involved. (unless I can find another way to get them).

So – back to basics – start all over again! Damn!

As I have been in Cambodia, and finally Australia got rain, (thankfully – I’m not complaining), I left a brown and desperate landscape and have arrived back to a lush, very wet, green environment. The garden needs tender loving care and some hard work.

I’ve already planted beetroot, and cucumber seeds – pulled out the lettuces that went to seed in my absence (the goat loved them) and weeded a bit of my raised garden beds. The ‘lawn’ will have to wait until it has dried out before I can run the ride-on lawnmower over the two foot high grass!!

I have made tomato sauce (ketchup to Americans), peanuts are in my bowl ready to make peanut butter, and egg mayonnaise is next. Also going through my recipe cache – what about I add lip balm, vanilla extract, Christmas decorations and beetroot relish to my stock pile? I love to make something as little different to most other stall holders. (Need some recipes? Contact me!)

Aah! Life is full and couldn’t be better.

Retirement?

No way!

With Kindness.

Maureen

P.S. – my ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ book is now up for sale. Check out the chapter on the next page ( readeatdream.net/ free-childrens-picture-book ).  If you want to know how it finishes, you’ll have to buy the book!img312

Mean of me, I know! Just let me know, and for $15AU I’ll send it to you (you will have to add $3AU for postage in Australia – $5AU if you live overseas).

I will be giving you a range of my short stories to read next before I put out an anthology of same – starting from next post.

I will also have more artwork, from my talented son’s brush, for sale.

( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs )

Squidhands(dylan)web

Recreation, Elephants and Drama.

It’s nearly time for me to bite the travel bullet and book my ticket to return to Cambodia. It doesn’t seem possible that it is nearly two years ago that I spent time there, teaching English. I am so looking forward to seeing all the students again.paddy

This time, however, I will be only going as recreation – a short holiday to catch up with everyone. The village where I stayed, was about 80 kms from Siem Reep and gave me an insight to the real lives of the people. After the drama of the previous despots and their regimes, the country is slowly poking it’s nose into the 21st century with the young people once more wanting education, and aiming for great things. This had previously been squashed and I could still feel the fear rippling below the surface with the older generation.

The fantastic Angkor Wat was amazing, and any photos you see, just don’t do it justice. I felt an awesomeness being able to touch history instead of only looking at museum specimens.Angkor

Several other moments were not so nice – seeing elephants used in the tourist trade was offset by seeing marauding monkeys taking their revenge on tourist handbags – abject poverty and people and children working in the hot sun, or scavenging for food contrasting with the opulent hotels for the tourist dollar – rubbish littering the streets and the smell of fresh sewerage compared to the sweetness of the interior of the incense in a village pagoda, were all a little off-putting.

But having said all that, I am really looking forward to returning to a wonderful people.

So what can I say about the food? My first meal of frog and morning glory vine will always make a lasting impression – and it certainly upset the bacteria in my stomach – but, other than the ubiquitous rice, the food was wonderful. The cooks at the Opportunity Cambodia ( https://opportunitycambodia.org.au ) sites went out of their way to make me comfortable and well fed.

I’d love to put a recipe up, but the cookbooks available bring you only the best – and I ate the village, homely food – and didn’t ask the cooks for the recipe!! In fact – even if I had –  they couldn’t speak English, and I couldn’t speak Khmer!mg

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. just a quick reminder – chapter 6 (of ‘In Search of the Elusive Panda’ ) is now ready to read on my next page. ( readeatdream.net/free-childrens-picture-book ).

panda2

Also, page three ( readeatdream.net/sweetfields-products-and-mykelcee-designs ) has Mykel’s original artwork for sale.Sparkle 40cmx40cm

Regret, Experience and Donuts.

Now that’s what I call an easy title! I can do all those words in one sentence.

Here it is:-donut

“I ate the donut, enjoyed the experience, but regretted it immediately!

The old saying came to mind as soon as the sweet cake was eaten. “Once on the lips, forever on the hips”.

But it isn’t as easy as that.

We have been brainwashed into believing the body should be slim, taut and terrific. Just eat only healthy, organic produce, keep your calorie intake low and exercise in the gym until you faint! Well, maybe not quite as extreme as that, but we are shown examples of models and gym junkies as the ‘perfect’ body, whether you are 12 or 85! modl

This line of thinking has caused more trouble than it’s worth. Of course you should eat sensibly, and not be taken in by fast food advertising. But on the other hand, a donut or some chocolate or a hamburger occasionally doesn’t really count.

If those were the only food you ate, day in day out – well that’s another story!

But to be honest, the picture of the perfect model body and the extremes that those people go to, just isn’t realistic!

Just exactly what is ‘healthy’ food? What a difficult question.

Give me your thoughts on the matter, please.

If you live in Alaska, or India, or Turkey, or France – in fact in any place on Earth, your answer would, no doubt, be different to my ideas.

Each country has its own cuisine – and some of those foods are fantastic. I adore chicken stir-fry with fried or steamed rice (Chinese)chick, I love spaghetti a la marinara with parmesan (Italy)spag

and I would go out of my way to find a beautiful lamb and apricot tagine (Turkey).

apricot

The common thread in all those dishes is there is a little protein (meat or fish), lovely fresh vegetables and great cooking.

and I guess one of the important matters is life is to ENJOY what you have, not always striving towards the impossible. I know it is important to dream of bigger and better things, but take one step, one day at a time. don’t reach for the unattainable – take little chunks towards your ideal and – and be gentle on yourself.

With Kindness

Maureen

P.S. – don’t forget the children in your life – whether they be yours, your grandchildren, nephews or nieces, or just friends. How about you donate books to your local primary school, kindergarten or library. Here’s one you might like (available through Amazon or me – at maureenlarter@gmail.com).

Candy Cow Front

Candy Cow nearly eats a caterpillar, but the caterpillar teaches the cow instead. What is his message?

 

Reminders, Emails and Doilies.

I really must go through my emails and clean out all the junk mail.garbage

Do you do that? How often have you thought that a particular site looked interesting, only to end up getting content that no longer interests you?

I have loved some blogs, but they are all in the northern hemisphere, and the reminders to plant seedlings, cook lovely warming stews and patterns for thick sweaters that come in your winter while I am sweltering in our summer here in Australia, can be somewhat of a  nuisance. When I want those articles, then winter is with us here, and you are all enjoying the lazy days of summer. Grrrr!!!!

In fact, how often do you read all your emails? Do you get annoyed as well?

What about the people who sell products – from expensive courses on how to make money (that’s a clever little idea if ever there was one!) to people selling every thing imaginable – from doilies to dogs, flowers to fairy gardens, toys to  tanning lotion and more. ‘I find ‘how to do’ articles often helpful. What about you?

But there remains a conundrum. How do you let people know what you have to sell? Can you let me know the secret? In order to let people know what I do, I’m advised to get an extensive email list! I can’t figure out how to win.

So this is my product -: the books I have written. And this is only a sample!

AlphacoversKathykoalafrontcoverBroken_wing_Coveramazon

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREHaha – did you know I was leading to this?

I love writing! I continue to churn out books, whether they be picture books for children, chapter books for middle school kids, garden guides for my semi-tropical area or adult novels (under a pen-name so the children don’t decide to read it!).

I write because I want to keep my brain active.

I write because I love to educate.

I write because I just love it, and I love the challenge of publishing my own work. If it sells – Yay! But if it doesn’t, that’s not a problem either.

Giving away books is a trap I don’t want to fall into – that only demeans me and all the work I do writing, designing and publishing my books. If you want to read a great article on that very topic, I suggest going to Paul Whites blog :- https://wp.me/p5nj7r-1fn

As a reader, though, I love the idea of getting free books – but surely that is what libraries are for? In my opinion, anlibrary-book-shelfy-one offering free books should first buy the book. But, it doesn’t seem to work that way. We, as authors, always dream of making a living from our writing, but it doesn’t happen often. Giving away books will not help in that regard. Even though others don’t realize it, authors  (as well as artists, and any creative person) put in a lot of work, sweat and their heart to create a book. To pay yourself for the time and effort is just not possible.I guess we have to be in the right place at the right time – more luck than management!

Anyway, while you are sitting at your computer, conjuring up the next ‘Harry Potter’ type franchise, divert yourself with a nice healthy snack. No – I’m not talking lettuce sandwiches on cucumber slices but these delicious little bites of bliss!

(with thanks to Coles Free magazine, January 2018) – these are mouth-watering!)img225a

And while you sit and dream of greatness, remember – the joy of writing has its own rewards – and tomorrow maybe the day you are ‘discovered’!

With kindness.

P.S. Even frogs dream!

‘Frank Frog Feels Foolish’ is one of the picture books for children in my ‘Alphabet Animals of Australia’ series. Feel free to email me ( maureenlarter@gmail.com ) for your copy.

Frankfrogfrontcover

Rooms, English and Dodos

In 1989 I went to China. It was an enlightening experience.

Unfortunately, a world shattering event happened while I was there.

Anyone old enough to remember, can still see the image of a student standing in front of a tank in the demonstrations at Tiananmen Square, Beijing.

When my family and I were finally allowed out of China, I always declared I would go back – it was, and still is, a fascinating country.

In 2006 I got my wish. In a small room of a small apartment in Qiqihar, North China (Heilongjiang province), I lived and breathed my dream for nearly 5 months. While there I taught many students the English language. I worked sixty hour weeks and spent a lot of time in old buses travelling to schools in rural areas.China3 (45) A different China than I had seen as a tourist seventeen years earlier, but wonderful all the same.

I came home and settled back into my Australian life. Suddenly it was 2016 and ten years had magically past. I decided I needed to travel again.

This time I volunteered to teach English in Cambodia, so the journey of life took me into Asia once again.

Now, home again, as I have mentioned before, I am working on a very ambitious project for the Asian market. ‘Learning basic English‘ is now underway, with ‘nouns’ being the first. Engfrontcover

 

There will be five books in the series, each having a book for the students, and a manual for the teacher. Hopefully with an audio book involved, too.

 

 

Australia is still sweltering in a hot summer, but there is still gardening that can be done.  The plants don’t take long to burn and shrivel – soon as dead as a dodo – so … don’t forget to water the plants – they need a good drink either early in the morning, or late in the afternoon so they can make good use of the water during the sunless night.

My Zucchini plants are going great – and have been giving me so many zucchinis (courgettes) that I have to dig out my recipes to use them as much as I can. I often grate them into meat balls, slice them up for stir fries, roast them with cheese topping for dinner, but here’s another thing that can be done:-

Rice and Zucchini Slice.

½ cup brown rice

1 carrot, grated

1 zucchini, grated

1 small can corn kernels, drain, wash

¼ cup chopped chives

1 cup cheese, grated

extra grated cheese for top

¾ cup SR flourzucslice

4 eggs

½ cup milk.

¼ cup sweet chilli sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 180-200°. Grease and prepare a slice tin
  2. Cook rice to instructions on packet. Allow to cool.
  3. Combine rice, carrot, zucchini, corn, chives, cheese and flour in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs, chilli sauce and milk together in a jug.
  5. Add to rice mixture and mix well.
  6. Spread in tin, sprinkle with extra cheese, then bake for approx 35mins, until cooked through and lightly browned.
  7. Stand in pan for 20mins then slice and serve hot or cold. Serves 8.

To keep this post related to the eat, dream and read theme of my blog – just remember – dreams are there to aim you through life. Some are easily achievable, and some you never manage to gain – but a positive attitude, and sheer hard work makes the journey – whatever the outcome – worth every moment. And the beauty of life? You never know what tomorrow may bring – so live each day with the utmost gratitude and joy.

with kindness

Maureen

P.S. – one of my children’s picture book deals with love and change – something we all Candy Cow Fronthope to experience in our life: ‘Candy Cow and the Caterpillar’ _ part of my ‘Alphabet Animals of Australia’ series. This book is illustrated by Patsy Seager. I hope to be able to tell you more about her next time.

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Next week, I have a guest blogger – author Wanda Luthman. She will be introducing one of her picture books for children. See you then.

 

Remarks, Essay and Dogs

Unless you haven’t noticed yet, every blog post has a title with R, E and D initials – the same as Read, Eat and Dream. Trying to make a cohesive, interesting and educational article with the three words is never easy – but it makes my writing brain really work hard.

So … if you are a writer, that would be called ‘a prompt’ and it is a good way to get your ideas beginning to flow. Whether you just make remarks about your every day life, or sit at the keyboard and compose a serious essay, it makes no difference – once you start it is always easier to keep going.

In my experience, any writing you do should come from a place of passion, and mine is that  every child should have the opportunity to learn. I try to achieve that in all my children’s books, even if they are clothed in a fantasy story. For example, my picture book ‘Dorothy Dog and the Dangerous Dragonfly’ (in the Alphabet Animals of Australia series) is about a dog that gets lost. I have projects in the back of the book (and every picture book I write in this series) that helps young children to understand the dangers of leaving the safety of home, as well as giving them ideas to follow up on insects, dog breeds, traffic rules and more.                                                         ( getBook.at/DDDDE )Dotdogfront

However, that isn’t all my blog is about – that’s the ‘READ’ part – but what about the ‘EAT’?

One of my joys, is growing food and then harvesting, cooking and preserving that harvest.

Here is a favourite use of potatoes when you have a glut of them. And that happens often when you grow food. Next time remind me to tell you what you do with zucchinis (courgettes)

Boston Bun:

1 ½ cup mashed potatoes

1 cup SR flour

1 cup wholemeal flour

bun

¾ cup sugar

1 tspn salt

1 ½ cup mixed dried fruit/sultanas

1 cup milk.

Icing:

1 cup icing sugar

1 tspn vanilla essence

1-2 tblspns lemon juice and water

2-3 drops food colouring (optional)

  1. Pre heat oven to 180-200°C.
  2. Place mashed potatoes in a bowl and add sugar. Mix well.
  3. Add fruit.
  4. Sift flours and salt together.
  5. Add to potato mixture alternately with milk.
  6. Place in two greased loaf tins or one large cake tin.
  7. Bake for approx 45mins.
  8. Remove from pan/s and allow to cool slightly. Ice while still just warm.
  9. Icing: mix all ingredients until it is a stiff consistency.
  10. Cut into slices to serve. Maybe buttered if you desire. Serves 6-8.

And of course, then we have the DREAM part!

The most important thing about dreams – and I’m not talking about the sleep variety – is to follow them. Make your life a better place, and it will follow through to the world in general. My dreams are huge, but I try to spread knowledge, learning and peace throughout the world. Definitely big dreams – but you’ve got to start somewhere!

With Kindness

Maureen