The Visalia Electric Railroad Book!

Posted by on Jan 27, 2018 in Publishing and Editing | 2 Comments

Finally, finally, The Visalia Electric Railroad: Stories of the Early Years by Louise A. Jackson is a real book, both soft and hard cover, in our hands as of 1/19/2018.

Front cover

The softcover book is for sale in several places.

  1. Amazon (maybe – did my extensive efforts to list it really work?? More will be revealed in the fullness of time. . .)
  2. My website (maybe – did my extensive efforts to add it under For Sale–Books–Visalia Electric really work?)
  3. Through Louise herself. If you know her, email or call her to ask for a copy.
  4. Through me directly – I will get a copy from Louise and get it to you.

But wait! How much?

The softcover is $21.50 including tax and shipping. Get it on this page, or by contacting me or Louise directly.

Is there a hardcover?

Yes. It is $26.50 including tax and shipping. Get it on this page, or by contacting me or Louise directly.

I already have this book!

Nope. You don’t. You might have the first edition, a saddle-stitched 8-1/2×11″ version, published in. . . I forget.

This is the 2nd editionnew and improved!, with twice as many photos that you can actually see and many never published before, AND the entire book has been edited, polished, rewritten. It is BEE-YOO-TI-FULLL!

But that is just my opinion as the editor, photo editor, book designer/formatter, proofreader, book shepherd and publisher. (Cabinart Books is a division of Cabinart. Doesn’t that sound big and official?)

Book Shepherd

Posted by on Sep 26, 2017 in Publishing and Editing | 4 Comments

What is a book shepherd?

One who guides or “shepherds” a book from an author’s idea to final printed version. If you have ever written a book, you might know that feeling of, “Now what am I supposed to do to get this published?” A book shepherd guides the author through the options and steps of ending up with a well-written and well-printed book.

My learning about book shepherding began with self-publishing The Cabins of Wilsonia. I was my own contractor, doing all the research, photography, drawings, book design, book formatting, computer work on the drawings, and finally finding a printer. I hired a self-publishing consultant, an editor for the written parts, and had 4 friends proofread for me. (NO ONE should EVER do a final edit on one’s own writing or EVER pretend to be able to proofread one’s own work – it parallels the saying “He who represents himself in court has a fool for a lawyer”.)

This experience woke up something inside of me that said “BE AN EDITOR – YOU DO IT ALL THE TIME ANYWAY!” (Yes, it shouted at me in bold and all capital letters.) IT is something that manifests as a Typo Psycho, and causes me to twitch whenever I read most self-published books, if I can even get through the first big error of “Forward” instead of “Foreword”. These self-publishers tend to be ignorant of the parts of a book; their books are full of redundancies, run-on sentences, unnecessary and boring topics, poor grammar, typos, and horrible formatting. They bring to mind a description from my friend Jennifer: “Loving hands at home”, not meant as a compliment.

People who have a story to write need help. There is so much more involved than writing! I want to help.

When I first heard “book shepherd”, I realized that I had done this already; even though it was just for myself, it counts. My experience allowed me to share my new-found knowledge with Louise Jackson on her book Trail of Promises. This book turned out so beautifully that Louise asked me to help her with The Visalia Electric Railroad. We are nearing completion and the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train book.)

There were more books I helped on along the way in various capacities, but this post is getting too long already. It probably needs a good editor.

You deserve a nice picture after wading through these thoughts. This is my favorite wildflower, Explorer’s Gentian.


I’ve Been Working on the Railroad

I’ve been working on The Visalia Electric Railroad: Stories of the Early Years with Louise Jackson. Books take a ton of work AFTER the writing: a lot of talking, editing, tons of computer time, decisions, decisions, decisions, emails, phone calls, meetings, more editing, proofing, more decisions. And it is all very fun, especially when you get to work with people you love.

One of my tasks as Louise’s book shepherd is to gather photos and make them usable for the book – change all the mysterious computer things, clean up the fuzz and hairy stuff and tears and stains, resize them, and figure out where they belong in the book.

Yep, book shepherd is a real job, and it is what I did for her Trail of Promises book and am doing for The Visalia Electric Railroad. There is another book by another writer coming soon, but I won’t be telling you about that until January or so. 

Time out for a quick commercial: Trail of Promises: Packing the Backbone of the Sierra is available here. Here is the entire cover as it would look if the design guidelines didn’t show, and if you smashed the book flat and open. (This is not recommended behavior.)

But I digress. Have a look at a photo that won’t be in The Visalia Electric Railroad. There will be a similar photo, but this is too precious to not show you.

Hi, Mom!

What’s the Problem?

Posted by on Sep 22, 2017 in Publishing and Editing | 2 Comments

Problem? There is no problem. Why do you ask?

Oh. Because I’m not posting as regularly. Because today is Friday and there is nothing about Mineral King.

After Labor Day, my real life resumes. I don’t go to Mineral King as often, because there isn’t as strong a need to escape the heat. My workload picks up, and drawing lessons begin again. Or, maybe I just miss Samson and want to stay home more. (He’s not dead, just dead to the world).

I’ve been working on the railroad. . . sing along now!

Couldn’t help myself. Sorry.

I’ve been working on a book with Louise A. Jackson. It is The Visalia Electric Railroad: Stories of the Early Years.

This book was first published by the Tulare County Historical Society. When they ran out of inventory, they asked Louise if they could get it reprinted. She said yes, but she wanted to rewrite some of it, correct some things, have me do her editing, work with me on the photos (the previous printer did not do any justice to the old pictures), and have me do the formatting so we could print it as a proper paperback in 6×9″ instead of as an 8-1/2 x 11″ book with staples in the center.

So, we’ve been working on the railroad, and more will be revealed in the fullness of time.

Random Thoughts

Today’s post is a list of random thoughts, unrelated to art, things that one of my tens of readers might be interested in.

  1. Crocs shrink if you leave them in the sun. Mine are too short to wear now. Isn’t that weird? Rubber shoes shrink in the sun! (maybe it is related to #2. . .))
  2. After it has been 107º for a week, 97º feels balmy.
  3. I’m editing a previously published book about the Visalia Electric Railroad. It was first published in a hurry, the Tulare Co. Historical Society is ready to re-order, and author Louise Jackson and I know we can do a better job of both the text and the photos. So, we are working on it and hope the TCHS will agree to publish it in a real book format instead of 8-1/2×11″ with dark photos, “Foreword” misspelled, the stock market crash happening in 1939, and someone joining Pancho Villa’s cantina band, as if he were a guitar player. Intrigued? I’ll let you know if this turns into a book.  
  4. What I’m reading (or recently finished): 41:A Portrait of My Father by George W. BushBritt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik BackmanMornings on Horseback by David McCulloughAlone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other by Sherry Turkle (If you click or tap on any of the book titles, you’ll get to the Amazon page that sells the book. If you buy, I might earn 15¢ or something. . .)
  5. Samson still bites.
  6. What I’m listening to: The Smartest Person in the Room, Brian Buffini, Gretchen Rubin, The Road Back to You, What Should I Read Next
  7. No memorial services this week for me. 2 in 2 weeks is 2 too many.
  8. I think white flowers are boring. Did you think this post was boring? (Go ahead–tell me the truth; I can take it!)

Ranger Buttons, a white wildflower

Testing a Coloring Book

Posted by on Apr 10, 2017 in coloring book, Publishing and Editing | 4 Comments

Designing coloring books involves drawing, my favorite thing. Coloring the pages is for other people to do.

But, I got curious. So, I gave it a try in the ag coloring book, Heart of Agriculture: Celebrating Tulare County Farm Bureau’s First 100 years.

This is as far as I got on the title page. I filled the letters in with blues, because there is very little blue in agriculture unless you drive a New Holland Tractor. (Cats are yellow, Massey-Ferguson are red, John Deere are green: I don’t know about Kubota or Mahindra or International Harvesters.) Couldn’t decide on the cow – dairy? beef? Reddish? Black Angus?

And this is the beginning of the citrus page, one of my favorite designs in the book. I don’t know why I started at the bottom of the page. Look – more blue! It makes the yellows and oranges look brighter.

This stuff is time-consuming. I think it is probably the most fun for people who don’t draw or paint (or knit). It would be a fun group activity – a bunch of friends sharing conversation, ideas and colored pencils or markers. A bowl of M&Ms would be appropriate too. . . dark chocolate, if I’m there.

You can get the Heart of Ag coloring book at the Three Rivers Mercantile, Rosemary & Thyme or the Mural Gallery in Exeter, or on my website here. And, of course, if you see me around somewhere, I almost always have some in the trunk of my car, along with many of the other books I’ve published. (coloring books and The Cabins of Wilsonia)

Self-publishing Trail of Promises

Posted by on Jun 16, 2016 in Publishing and Editing | 4 Comments

Looking up to Bishop Pass. Louise A. Jackson photo. This will appear in Trail of Promises in black and white.

Looking up to Bishop Pass. Louise A. Jackson photo. This will appear in Trail of Promises in black and white.

It used to be that self-published books were the poor cousin of traditionally published books. They looked and read as if they needed some serious editing and design help. My British friend has a phrase for such projects: “Loving hands at home”.

The quality and success of self-publishing depends on how much work the author wants to put into the process.

Louise A. Jackson and I want Trail of Promises to look completely professional. Completely. Our goal is perfection, or as close to perfection as we can get with our current level of skills and knowledge.

There is self-publishing and then there is assisted self-publishing.

The folks whose story Louise is telling planned to do assisted self-publishing. When I got involved, I suggested real (unassisted?) self-publishing so they would not have to pay for a package deal that cost an arm and a leg in addition to buying the books to sell.

In all this wrangling and deciding, we decided that I am the publisher!

So are they traditionally published by Cabinart Books? Or is it Louise who is getting traditionally published by Cabinart Books? Or are Louise and I self-publishing together?

Who cares? Trail of Promises promises to be a beautiful book that tells an intriguing story of 3 people who packed the John Muir Trail with mules. It didn’t turn out the way they planned.

I’m hoping the book will turn out the way we planned, as we continue awaiting the proof copy.

Coloring books will be available again on July 1, 2016. You may order, but it will involve a wait.

Having a Book Baby Named Trail of Promises

Posted by on Jun 15, 2016 in Publishing and Editing | No Comments

mules in a meadow by water

A good meadow with sufficient water for the animals was not always easy to find at the end of a long day’s ride. Collection Mike McGinnis from upcoming book Trail of Promises

This photo will appear in the book in black and white. It is one of my favorites. The photos are really quite amazing, and all 144 photos and maps are necessary to make the story come alive.

Louise A. Jackson, traditionally published author of 5 books mostly on the history of the Sierra, has a new book coming out soon.

We don’t have the exact release date for Trail of Promises. There are a few more details to hammer out, a proof copy of the book to get made and then to be read through by Louise, the 3 people whose story she told and by me, probably a couple of last minute changes, then more waiting.

Louise likens writing a book to having a baby. She used the words “throes”, “labor” and “delivery” multiple times throughout the process. I haven’t had a baby, but I have published 2 hard cover books and 2 coloring books, so I agree with her choices of words.

I think it is like having a baby and then not being allowed to see it until it is an adult.

Together we chose photos, edited those photos, edited chapters, rewrote paragraphs and sentences, struggled over the right way to phrase things, scooted paragraphs and entire chapters, named the book, examined minutiae of the design, struggled with misbehaving technology, and laughed our heads off.

It was a privilege and a pleasure to spend time with this very dear friend, making this book come to life, working out all sorts of difficulties.

I hope it is a pleasure for all to read this story, Trail of Promises.

More details to follow tomorrow.

Coloring books will be available again on July 1, 2016. You may order, but it will involve a wait.

Book Cover Revealed

Posted by on Jun 13, 2016 in Publishing and Editing | No Comments

Hours, days, weeks, and months of book design, and at the end I said to myself, “SELF!”, I said. “YOU HAVE NOT FINALIZED THE COVER DESIGN!”

Yes. I was shouting at myself in my mind.

We judge books by covers. How else will we decide whether or not to pick them up and read the words on the cover, the back, the flap or the interior?

Presentation is EVERYTHING.

DRUM ROLL. . . . . . . . . . . *********!!!!!!!!!


Trail of Promises

The border looks a little rough and wonky due to my inept attempt at a screen shot. Please don’t judge this cover by that stuff!

Trail of Promises back cover

Ditto to the disclaimer from above.

Doesn’t this look like a real book?? ISBN, bar code, publisher name. . .

More will be revealed in the fullness of time. . .

Coloring books will be available again on July 1, 2016. You may order, but it will involve a wait.