Archive for September, 2011

All Rights Reserved©Patchwork Treehouse ExPress 

For Methuseleh Artwork, see ~

This little story was written to commemorate the passing of Methuseleh, a 128-year Tortoise in South Dakota at the Reptile Museum.  He spent years giving rides to children.   Thousands of people have sent pictures, so I almost feel like I knew him.  I wish I had met him, just once…

All this happened, more or less.  Oh, the glories I have seen!  Once, I watched the Ancient Ones prepare to receive visitors.

“The time is now,” chanted the guard.  “We must choose a successor!”   Armor ready and weapons sheathed, they stood firmly rooted.   Nothing deterred them. Displaying the vast power of concentrated vigilance achieved only by the very wizened, they clung to their appointed spots.

When the ground began to rumble, they considered the danger in silence.  The invasion had begun!

Only Methuseleh moved.  He stepped casually over the first small fissure.  Flames shot through his leg.  Soon he walked with great difficulty. “Somehow, I must reach the other side of the field where a fearful youngster clings to the fence.  The valiant child holds a puppy innocently above his head…high, over cracked earth that is muddied by his own falling tears.”

He mobilized his vast inner reserves.  Finally, the elder soul ambled painfully over to the youth.  “Hop on my back,” he invited.  “I’ll take you safely to the Garden Master at the gate house.  He should return soon. With him you’ll be protected. Hang on tight to the little dog, though.  Ready?  Here we go, then.”

Methuseleh was surprisingly fast for his large size, and they quickly reached the main gate.  All was quiet.  No one answered the gatehouse door.

Peering through the fence into the yard, I witnessed a surprising exchange.  Inexperience left me vastly unprepared, though.  At that time I was half my current age.  Yet, no lack of experience could ever conceal the significance of what was about to happen.

As I watched, the pair became engulfed in a faint, rosy glow.  Unspoken words passed between them. Then I knew!

Eternal secrets of the centuries were passing as freely from one to the other as whispers on the wind.  From the youth sprang images fresh from heaven.  From the elder, elegant knowledge gleaned from one hundred and twenty eight years of Earthly existence.

Yes, he had found his successor.  The Ancient Ones were none the wiser as the pair wound their way through the desert past rocky mounds of freshly churned dirt and grass.

Methuseleh watched children file into the enclosure with great reverence.  He recognized many.  They looked like their parents in their own youth.   Near a boulder at the center, a ceremony was beginning.

“We wanted to take this one last opportunity,” began the Garden Master, pausing to wipe away tears, “ to share our tales of an unforgettable friend.”  Several guests sighed and smiled.  “Methuseleh…”

His head came up.  “Yes?”

“…left us today.  And how we will miss our beloved, ancient Tortoise!”


Book Reviews and Interviews

I will review House Rules first, then new books I am currently reviewing.  Over the next few weeks I will invite my inner circle of local authors and some new friends who’ve recently published to interview. Stay posted!

My books

Since it’s 4am, I will develop this section over the next few days.  Subscribe for the latest news!

As DreamSculptr I am the creative director of Enroute Media Group, and a mixed media artist celebrating the irrepressible energy and sensitivity of the human spirit.  I also collaborate on whimsical escapades about creative reinvention, sharing dream propellers and a virtual gallery that reveals the noble beauty of creative change.
The Flickr photostream to the right of center showcases over 70 photos, comprising only a portion of the art pottery, watermedia paintings, drawings, fiber art, miniatures, and other things I make.  Just click on ‘more’ under the pictures to right.
After making a  successful reinvention of my own (an open-ended process, I’m afraid!) following an early out from 26 years in Human Resources and administration, I’m restoring my hands-on creativity much more productively than I could when all of my inner resources went into the workplace.  I hope you enjoy my evolving style!

This entry is “under development!”

It does, of course, include all of my intended books and artwork and family events. More to the point, though…

A studio!  For the many directions I seem to go in all at once.  A large creative space where a renaissance person (me) can pursue many interests in earshot of, if not in sight of, nature and water.  With room for display and my exercise equipment.  Near a quaint tree-lined recreational area, preferably high above Lake Michigan. It’s been designed for years.  In several formats.

A logo and graphic depictions of the magical “tools” to include in my books.

Incentive and encouragement.

Several paintings and sculptural, figurative pieces that illustrate ideas in my books, and are well in process but need finishing.

Legacy.  NatSplat.  Velveteen Picture. Watchers in the Wild. First Anthology. BuildAMate.  Burnin Daylight.

Doing better now…keep ’em comin’ …you can do it!  Cheers!  Of course, I’d give it all up for certain other circumstances I want…which is exactly why I have to keep going until they can practically finish themselves.  No matter that I might just age someday and miss the other boat.  A calling is a calling.  I just wish my callings were a little less intense late at night and a little more cuddly.  So in the meantime, it’s me and my stuffie Patches.  An intrepid combination.

Add your dreams and projects here:__________________________________________.  Cheers!!!

Are you considering self-publishing?  Begin with the end in mind, by asking questions  ~

Why? How? Will you offer your book for sale?  Electronically?  Printed?  All of the above?  Are you ready to build up a readership by developing your author platform as you write your book?

As the publishing industry evolves, hundreds of thousands of authors are publishing profitable work now instead of waiting for the green light from agents and publishers.  Easy-to-access tools, popular ebook distribution, and improved marketing strategies have mushroomed your opportunities to share your writing, whether for profit or feedback. Be aware, some traditional publishers are showing signs of declining or ending their relationships with self-published authors.

The currently lucrative e-book market has attracted many self-publishers.  Modern electronic advances constantly improve electronic reading devices, and the number of readers who enjoy instant download has grown.  In addition, almost every book app is a free download for mobile ‘smart’ devices, including the iPad2 where I review other authors’ books on Nook, Kindle, iBook, and ePub platforms.

Some issues where a traditional publisher can be helpful:

  • The need for translation into 22 languages and distribution to a global market! Bingo!  If your topic is of interest to a broad market, you may need to find a publisher who will pick up your need to sell global rights
  • Traditional royalties:   The author earns 15% of a book’s retail price. The publisher gets 85%. Say the book sells for $20, and the author’s take is $3 with the publisher receiving $17. However, a mid-list or below author pays these expenses from their share:  marketing, book release parties, and incidentals such as posters, postage, etc. Of the author’s $3, the agent who matched the author to the publisher receives 15%, or $.45.  The final bottom line on the average type of ‘traditionally published royalty split author contract’ is $2.55, paid every six months, seven months after publishing. The first check for a book published in January is received in July, with the second check in January.
  • In comparison, the author earns about $7 from Amazon for the same $20 book, paid monthly. The traditionally published author gets a check every six months – seven months after publishing. TradPub in January, first check in July, second check in January.

To begin with, you may want to download the style guides of popular electronic publishers:  Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, to name only a few.

With publishing options rapidly changing, few would profess expertise in self-publishing.  Least of all me, although I have researched the subject extensively.  And other authors have approached me for answers.  As my background in professional development skills, and coaching Disney workers, shows – I do enjoy helping others fulfill their dreams. In this case, authoring dreams.

We have self-published.  Friends have self-published.  My daughter has a high profile as a self-published author and web guru.  I have a relative on the board of IBPA (Independent Book Publishers of America).   And I’ve attended the international BEA (Book Expo America) event several years in a row, talking with traditional and Indie publishers at booths and in book signing queues.

The good news: self-publishing should cost you nothing.  Unless, of course, you are paying editors, artists, and other professionals or buying a supply of print books.  Following are several currently free publishing sites:

Electronic Books:

BookRix:  I’ve used this free service to practice book assembly, enter contests, garner advice to improve my delivery, and sharpen my skills in their forums.  It provides a newsletter, an attractive home page that you can design yourself, social writing friends, anonymity if preferred, and plenty of challenge so you never run out of content.  In addition, they will soon offer members an opportunity to sell their books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other major e-book markets.

Smashwords: This service is highly recommended.  Submitting a book using their Premium Catalog guidelines allows your eBook entry into several major distribution channels: Apple, Sony, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Diesel and Scrollmotion, and they are negotiating with Amazon.  Smashwords to publish two poetry collections, and they’ve both made it to the Premium Catalog.  Set your own price with a minimum of $0.99, and you currently receive more than half of the selling price for each book.  It isn’t necessary to hire a formatter; they provide a free formatting guide to help you with the process.  Here is an upload and a quick checklist:

  1. Upload your book only after implementing the recommendations in The Smashwords Style Guide. (Smashwords reserves the right to remove poorly formatted books.)
  2. To publish an updated version of a previously uploaded book, use a different site: go to your Dashboard and click “Upload a new version.”
  3. You may upload a book only if you are the original author or exclusive publisher. (No public domain or Private Label Rights books will be allowed.)
  4. You have formatted accordingly, ensured it is a new book of which you have exclusively authored or have the right to publish.  Run, don’t walk, to this site and upload your book:

(Smashwords — Upload)  (

Barnes & Noble: Smashwords will publish to B&N if your book passes their style guide criteria and makes it into the Premium Catalog.  I have yet to use this, because of Smashwords. If you’re in a foreign country that requires financially complicated hoops, this might not be your publishing vehicle.  Many Indies have self-published through both B&N and Smashwords. B&N provides proprietary Formatting Guides and software allowing a preview of your eBook’s Nook appearance.  To publish, go to:

(Pub It! — Barnes & Noble)  (

Kindle Direct: This is one of the most popular formats. ‘Mobipocket’ is an eBook format supported on the Kindle, as well as Windows PCs and many other handheld devices, and is the most popular with customers.  Sign in using your Amazon account.   It is wonderful if you are reading with a Kindle, and because the Kindles is a very popular e-reading device, there will be many Kindle users in the Amazon Kindle Store searching for eBooks. Additionally, it is in the same family as CreateSpace.  Sites where your book will be offered for sale: • •, and • If you are familiar with HTML codes, formatting on this site will be easier. It is a bit more complicated than others, due to the need for HTML coding.  I have never found that a difficult step, even without formal training, because there is usually an example to follow, along with easy to read, non-technical, step by step processing information. You will currenty receive a 70% royalty payment.  To publish, go to:

(Kindle Direct — Sign In) (

All four are recommended ~ Smashwords first, then Kindle direct, then the others.   You will need these ready to upload:

A Catchy Title

Book Cover – your eye-catching first impression

Short Description of book – an important marketing and retail organizing tool – include the category, genre, keywords, language, licensing, and edition number, as well as an engaging description.  Keep details consistent with cover info and information provided online or in the book.

Longer description of book, for Smashwords

Your manuscript – generally in the PDF or .Docx MS Word format – be sure to check publisher’s style guide

An idea of where you want to sell and

Your selling price – priced competitively to others in genre

Short author bio

Paperback Books

When you offer printed paperbacks online, you are publishing-on-demand. In this manner you don’t need to buy the books first.  They will also publish any number you order. When selecting a printer, keep an eye peeled for vanity publishers who publish your book only if you buy a mandatory number of copies – often 500 to 1,000 copies, and sell them back to you. Here are few print-on-demand publishers:

CreateSpace: This service is free. I’ve never heard of buying pressure other than their PRO pack, which is worth the one time fee.  Your royalties increase and fees decrease when you order books. It’s a usefult ool to use if you expect to self-publish more than one book with the company. They will also sell your books through the Amazon market. To publish, go to:

(CreateSpace) ( There seem to be a lot of packages to buy at this site.  I’ve played around with this. Every package looks great, but don’t be fooled into buying one, when you could probably piece together cover art and edit your own work. One plus for foreign patrons is that they charge and pay in any currency, including £.  Formatting appears to be easy.  To publish, go to:

(Book Publishing — Lulu) (

Lightning Source: Research this carefully.  The website has a professional appearance, resolving a certain amount of scam concern, but other than an independent publishing house I’ve talked to with independent distribution channels, there is no one I know with experience at this site.  They provide information on international market strategy and global distribution with the benefits for small, medium, and large publishers. To publish, go to:

(Lightning Source) (

I can only recommend CreateSpace, as I no one I know of has published through Lulu, or heard of an indie author who self-published through Lightning Source. Enjoy your publishing experience!

~This ongoing project will be updated as time permits and new authors surface ~

Check out these writers for interesting topics, informative articles, and wonderful books!

Jeremy Bates ~

Carole Foley Bellacera ~

Linda Rae Blair ~

Jennifer Bogart ~

P.J. Cowan ~ and

Pauline Edwards, Dreams Coming True ~

Lia Fairchild ~

David Green ~

Jessica L. DeGarmo ~

Gary Hoover ~

Weston Kincade ~

Helmy Parlente Kusuma ~

Stuart Land ~ and

Michael Edward McNally ~

Jim Murdoch, The Truth About Lies ~ and

Robyn Porter ~

Autumn Rosen ~

Robert Ruisi ~

Richard Salter ~

Allen Schatz ~

Catherine Speight ~

Ben Sussman ~

Kitty Sutton ~ and

Ey Wade ~

Dannye Williamsen ~ Blog: Author site:

What do you think?  Consider the patchwork portraiture of a stalled desire.  Can realizing a noble dream change the world?

‘Yes,’ in all probability.   Is now the time to find your inspiration, catch a wave that’s building, and harness the tide to your own quest?

Of course, if you don’t have one, how can it ever come true?  What is your dream?

Is motivation an issue?  What to do?  Will it take a ‘lifequake’ to rivet attention on this goal?

Perhaps it’s already too late…foaming white water is churning its frothy spray against jagged rocks and the boat is tilting crazily into the sea.  Is there still time to take charge of that dream before it falls into the Great Sargasso Sea of No No’s and Whoas?  Is it time to roll the ball forward?  If the answer is ‘yes’, try asking strategic questions.  Here are a few thoughts:

♥ If I had a magic wand, what would I do?

♥ Yesterday I won the lottery and I’m being handed a check for $20 million. What will I create with it?

♥ If I were to wake tomorrow morning and discover that my deepest, fondest dream has come true, how does it look? What does it sound like, how does it smell and taste?  Describe it in detail. How would I feel in this new scenario?  Is there something I’d change, or is it perfect?

♥ I am about to enter my choice of any theme park in the world.  When I walk through the gates, I will become the one millionth guest.  Cymbals will crash and balloons will fly.  Then arms will embrace me and thrust a microphone in my face.  I have won a prize, anything I want within the park.  What park am I in?  What do I want?  What shall I go see, or do, or have?

♥ My favorite author has just released a fantasy in which I’d like to immerse myself.  The central character is a youth who has just escaped Chaos, by entering a world he’s been told to avoid.  Megalithic vegetation and critters of mythic proportion surround him, at first seeming strange, then providing new structure. While there, he discovers a new venture in which he wishes to become skilled and illustrious, renowned far and wide.  This involves great danger. Chaos is not far away, and the boundaries are weakening.  As this youth, do I go join the fight, endangering all who could benefit from my new role?  Or do I buckle down, put the pedal to the metal, and start learning, practicing, and sharing my new skill?

♥ It is downsizing time in my corporation.  The training office has sent folks out to play the ‘Great Sky God’ game with vulnerable employees who should be considering alternative careers.  After I step blindfolded onto ‘Shaki Islet’, I am thoroughly disoriented, then told that a fire has broken out nearby.  My only hope for survival is to escape the island by water.  Somewhere in the water there are life preservers and a boat.  But there is a catch;  they will only appear to me if I have acquired the necessary tools.  If I am unprepared, I can only try to swim to ‘Safe Harbor’ and begin anew.  If I can’t swim or attract help, might I perish? How can I ensure my safe passage?

♥ If I get off ‘Shaki Islet’ safely, where will I go?  To Comfort Cave, to hide from catastrophe? To Lighthouse Point, to reset my bearings?  To Prosperity Key, to dig in and retool? Or directly to Castaway Bay to enter the new arena without further delay?

Now, bring that very special dream to mind.  What needs to be done to ensure that a toolbox is equipped to snag the life preserver, anchor the tilted boat, and navigate effectively into the particular ‘Safe Harbor’ where this reward waits?  For instance, if the dream is a new job or career, this virtual toolbox probably contains a current resume, a written statement of your objective, and certification of necessary skills.   Would it also be helpful to include a networking and support circle, a compass, experience reminders, and new linkage strategies?  If the dream is a vacation trip, the virtual toolbox will likely contain your research findings, a map or guide book, funds, and transport documents.

What two or three things must you do to realize this special dream? Why do you want this?  There won’t always be a fire to ignite action, but powerful inspiration can serve a similar purpose.

Back to ‘Shaki Islet’, fire is licking the grass near bare toes.  Disoriented from the blindfold, it’s near impossible to know which side of the island is where, or in what direction the water is flowing.  And good heavens, could there be sharks in the water?

What a delight it would be, right now, to hear a boat captain pull up and say, “Give me your hand and step carefully into the boat.  Now then, where would you like me to take you?”

In closing, focus on the significance of the quest, not its overall success.  Then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning to fuel your effort.

Dreams and callings come in all shapes, but none is as special as the one you carry in your own heart.  It can change the world.  Proceed step by step, a thing at a time.  Wait and see, or run through walls.  Catch a wave that is building.  Join a flock of geese flying in your direction.  However you approach the matter, be creative.

Ignite your dreams! .•*¨`*• . .•*¨☆

Next:  Propel your dreams

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