"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

My Self-Publishing Experiences

Recently, I revised two publications and submitted them as ePubs to Smashwords.

I also created a PDF/a using Libre Office of the revised RKFNC to submit to Lulu to create a POD.

Then, I formatted a new publication, Budget Guest Accommodations Opportunities Marketing Report, Mérida, México in Pages, created an ePub and submitted it to Smashwords.

But, the preparation of the revised publications took months because I struggled to format the manuscripts created in Pages, exported as ePubs, to get the format I wanted, or to convert to a docx to create a PDF/a format.

I had so many problems, I can't remember them all. But, most days, I would start out optimistically, thinking it would take a couple of hours to fix the current problems and then find myself at 10pm at night still trying to fix problems.

I tried Open Office to create a PDF/a format but never got past all the formatting errors. Then, I tried Libre Office. I finally figured it out when I formatted the revised RKFNC.

I had almost 16 versions of each manuscript in attempts to fix formatting and image problems. Conversions of previous manuscripts produced loss of formatting, changes in styles, and image disarrangements. In one conversion, I kept getting Arial microcode font which I never used.

The takeaway from these issues was the realization that even though I tried to use a clean manuscript, in some  cases, I was using a file that had been formatted for a particular use and using the same file for another format introduced errors in coding. Coding I could often not see.

When I converted BGAO from pages to an ePub format, I had fewer problems because I was using the original file even though I had revised the manuscript many, many times.

Converting the revised RKFNC from a docx using LibreOffice to a PDF/a was a little easier than creating an ePub. I did have to fix some formatting errors. But, generally, the process was fairly smooth.

For authors who only produce about one book a year, I feel that I have to learn how to use various software programs all over again.

While using Lulu was fairly straightforward, I made a few mistakes and lost some work and had to start over.

I use macbook with Pages, Word for Mac, Preview and PhotoscapeX. While I had a few other software packages just a year ago, it seems I keep losing them when I upgrade my devices. But, in general, I don't want to spend any more money on software just to produce a book.

Plus, I hope the big software developers realize their popup reminders are aggravating. I ignore them now. I delay updating my software because it means too much downtime while it reloads and often I lose some functionality in the updated software.

Below are charts I created to try and capture the elements of making choices when you choose to self-publish. These charts are incomplete as I continue to gather information. Also, these represent my personal experiences, I know others who use several of these online publishers and are happy with their services.

Because this process took so long, over that time, I began to sense changes in the eBook marketplace. Large eTailers seem to be abandoning support for free or low-cost publications. Other online publishers have increased their fees and costs.

Unless you wrote a bestseller, or are an established author, or a popular niche author, it will be hard to get eyes on your products.

While I have researched and attempted to tackle marketing, it is a huge endeavor to try and find your audience, especially, if you write eclectic books like I do.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Search for the Very Best Bread Pudding Recipe

Mixed Apple Bread Pudding

Using the "Use What You Have" approach, I decided to use a can of baby apples I had had for a long time, two small frozen containers of apple slices and three apples in the frig to make another bread pudding.

I tried to follow my Peanut Bread Pudding recipe but instead of Peanut Butter, I used apples and made other changes.


3 eggs

1/2 tbspn sugar
1 cup coconut cream or cream
2 cups milk

2 tspns vanilla flavoring
Lots of apple slices
6 slices of bread (multigrain), broken into chunks
Cinnamon, lots


Mix eggs, sugar, cream, milk and vanilla. Stir thoroughly and set aside.
Spread the apple slices on the bottom of the microwave dish.
Spread bread chunks thickly over the fruit.
Pour egg mixture over bread and fruit.

Sprinkle cinnamon over the top of the mixture.

Cover the dish with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
Microwave on high for 15 minutes.

Let casserole rest for 10 minutes before serving.

First disaster, the canned baby apples were little whole apples with stems and seeds. I had to “pare" the apples.

Second disaster, I had cleaned and rearranged the entire kitchen. I am a visual person. What I see to my mind is what I have. So, I grabbed my large round covered casserole dish and began making the pudding. As the bowl filled up, I thought something did not look right.

Then, I realized that before I had used a square glass cooking pan. Volume wise, I don’t think there was a big difference but soaking wise, it may make a difference since the liquid was at the bottom of the dish and the bread was on the top. They weren’t really mixed well.

Plus, with all the various apples, they took up most of the dish.

Third disaster, based on my previous experience, I knew needed more liquid, so I decided to add more milk or coconut cream, but I got carried away.

But, I went ahead anyway.

I let the dish soak in the frig overnight. Then, in the morning I cooked it in the microwave in 3 -five minute intervals, on high. It tasted good but was still soupy.

I was not going to give up.

So, I broke apart three more slices of bread and added the pieces to the mixture and let it soak again for several hours.

Then, I cooked it again for five minutes on high.

It worked. It is a tasty, "interesting" apple bread pudding. It really wasn't bad but I doubt I can duplicate this recipe.

Microwave: Stuffed Chayote Recipe

I have really wanted to use more Chayote in my cooking.

Chayote is a zucchini-like Mexican vegetable.

(Image source: Wikipedia, By Prathyush Thomas - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40701354)

Also, I was intrigued by the Stuffed Chayote Recipes I had seen, for example: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/special-stuffed-chayte-squash.

All I did was:

Boil the whole chayote in water for about 15 minutes.
This made it semi-soft. When the chayote cooled, I sliced the chayote in half, length wise.

Then, I used a spoon to scoop out the center of each half.
I saved the pulp in a separate container.

Then I gathered a can of mushrooms, salsa, and carrots & peas.
Got some leftover onion out of the frig and diced a small amount.
Got some bread crumbs out of the freezer.
Got the imitation bacon bits out of the cupboard.

I mixed a full spoonful from each of the cans of mushrooms, salsa, and carrots & peas with the pulp I saved.
Added a good dollop of bacon bits.
Stirred the whole mixture together.

I added spoonfuls of the mixture to each half of the chayote.
Topped the mixture off with diced onions and bread crumbs.
Microwaved for about five minutes on high.

I liked it. It reminded me of my mom's stuffed zucchini.

Preorder - New Publication: Budget Guest Accommodations Opportunities Marketing Report, Mérida, México Update 1

This report, Budget Guest Accommodations Opportunities, Marketing Report, Mérida, México, grew from initial investigations on how to operate a budget accommodations establishment.

Mérida, Mexico is experiencing a building boom. New hotels, restaurants and other businesses are opening every day. But, sadly, many, in the span of a year, will close.

As I researched Mérida businesses, the ones that succeeded took certain steps to help their business grow, while the ones that failed did not invest time into various marketing analysis and promotional strategies.

My hope is that this report, Budget Guest Accommodations Opportunities, Mérida, México, Marketing Report can help more businesses succeed.

Based on extensive research and on-the-ground observations and experiences, the Budget Guest Accommodations, Mérida, México, Marketing Report offers low-cost market analysis and suggested marketing ideas for current and future BGA owners, managers and administration staff, to help their business succeed.

The report provides specific details on: running a successful budget guest accommodation, developing marketing analysis and plans including sample plans and press kit templates.

An extensive resource list is included and contains: management articles; economic and tourism reports; low-cost marketing services: tourism and trade association websites; as well as guides and handout suggestions.

You can find the report on Smashwords at: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/658440

Take a peek. See what works for your budget guest accommodation. Bien Dia.

Update 1:

I was a bit premature in making this post. The publication will not be available for preorders for a few days.

So Sorry.

Update 2:
Publication is still not viewable. Seems I have lost my touch in self-publishing on Smashwords.

Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook Revised -- follow this post for future Updates -- Publication not available at this time

I revised Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook.

Some new recipes were added as well as a few new Mocktails. Also, I cleaned it up a bit and added a few more promos.

As of today, readers and cooks can find a copy of the Recipes from the Kitchen of a Frugal Non-Cook  Revised on Smashwords as an eBook or on MagCloud as a Print on Demand Book (POD) at: