Meet Boudicca in new youtube videos.

Since 2014 Boudicca, Britain’s Queen of the Iceni has informed and inspired you in digital, paperback, and audio editions.  First in English, then in Chinese, and this spring in Italian, Spanish, Welsh, and Welsh-English editions with French and German language editions releasing on or about Labour Day weekend.

Just for fun here are three brand new videos (all of them created in May 2016) celebrating this new global approach to biographical history.  Can you name what language each of these videos is in?

 

 

 

More videos coming this summer exploring more lives from the Legendary Women of World History biography series. Stay tuned!

I love Ebags Packing Cubes

I move around a lot.  I also enjoy travelling (as long as my birds are well looked after).  I’m an old-school historian who prefers to physically be where history happened before I write about it.  This means I’ve packed a lot and have learned what works really well.

ebags packing cubesBar none, the best tool for moving or traveling are Ebags brand packing cubes available (no surprise) exclusively from ebags.com.  These cubes have been out for a while — I bought my first packing cubes circa 2002.  Though the buying options have expanded and there are some new sizes available today that were not available when I first purchased them, the quality has remained consistent and they’ve handled the abuse I’ve put them through over several moves since really well.

The classic packing cube (there are now ultralights which have slightly different features) come in slim, small, medium, and large sizes.  These can be purchased as a single four piece set (see left) or in sets of three of the same size.  There’s also a new slim set of slim cubes in three different widths (14″, 10″, and 6.5″). Since my wardrobe is primarily skirts and dresses, I do not find the slim set all that useful.  Most of what I wear fits into the medium and large bag sizes with the slim and small sizes working best for socks, underwear (bras fit very nicely in the standard 14″ wide slim cubes), and accessories. Since they come in several colours, you really can colour code for each family member, making it easy to organize and locate every thing for every one.

ebags shoe boxFor those situations where I’m actually packing shoes, there’s a nice shoe bag that holds a lot!  Depending on how you pack and the type of footwear, you can actually often put two pairs in the same bag and keep everything else nice and clean.

These essentials (standard slim, small, medium, and large cubes, plus the shoe bag) are the core of the product line and bags I’ve had for nearly ten years.  The classics are the best!

But there is a new member to this classic line that does really get me excited as a traveller: the pack it flat toiletry kit.  It’s the essential I didn’t know I needed.  After all, I’ve been very successful in keeping my toiletries in the slim cubes.

This toiletry kit is not bulky.  I use a designer brand toiletry kit for my cosmetics at home.  You know the type:  it’s basically a slightly elongated cube that is as high as it is wide and a little longer on one side.  I never take it with me on trips because it is so difficult to cram into my checked bag — and why would I when I have my slim cubes for the purpose?  This new toiletry kit lets me save my slim cubes for other things.  It’s very organized with a plastic lined left compartment and a slim compartment on the right.  In the middle is an expandable compartment perfect for putting my non liquid cosmetics and of course the main centre compartment that has two zippered compartments and plenty of storage for almost anything you can think of (see photo above). There’s a hook in the top for hanging on a towel bar which I don’t use; I prefer to lay everything flat.

Once closed, this kit lays VERY FLAT. It’s designed to cram into that tiny space we all struggle to find and it works really well.  I don’t have a trip coming yet that I know of and yet just a few hours after receiving my toiletry kit in the mail I feel compelled to fill it up and get it ready for the next trip — grab and go with only a few small additions needed — like medicines where it’s important to pay attention to use by dates.  I am really surprised how much it will hold.  I haven’t figured out the best place for my toothbrush yet — maybe you have some ideas for me?  If you do, just comment below!

As much as I love these for travel, I really love them for moving.  The cubes are DURABLE and you can put so much more than clothing in them though I don’t suggest abusing them; they are still made of fabric and their are limits to what they can do. But for organizing the small “day one” essentials (I pack these in my luggage sets so I can find them among all the boxes) they are fantastic. Cutlery, can openers, and basic utensils fit in the slim cubes with ease so you can find them immediately. Slim cubes are also great for tea cups and most coffee mugs. Layer a couple plates between clothing items in the medium and large cubes.  And of course pack these breakables with small clothing items and kitchen linens.  The same skills that make you a world class traveller make you a world class re-locator.

Where ever you are travelling to this year, I hope ebags packing cubes are part of your travel organization strategy.  Bon voyage!

 

 

 

In Her Own Tongue: “Buddug” Brings Boudicca’s Story To Wales | NFReads.com

Boudicca Welsh webBuddug, Brenhines Iceni Prydain is the first Legendary Women of World History biography available in the Welsh language and one of the few biographies

Source: In Her Own Tongue: “Buddug” Brings Boudicca’s Story To Wales | NFReads.com

Going Global: A Look at Translation Options for Independent Authors

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received as an author was to publish as many books in as many places as possible and to sell on as many websites as possible.  The writing profession is a numbers game.  To win it (meaning making a living as a writer) you need to be where the customers are and sell what they want to read.  You cannot achieve it with a single kindle book sold exclusively on Amazon.  It won’t happen — or perhaps it could but your chances of winning the lottery or becoming president of the United States are greater if you lay only the one literary egg and sell it from a single basket.

One efficient way of maximising your exposure is to publish in multiple languages, opening your books for sale in more markets with more readers.  As popular as English is with Americans, the reality is that globally there are far more readers outside of the United States, readers who prefer to read in their native languages — not English.

For independent authors, there are three primary methods of reaching this global audience in the form of translated editions 1) contract with a traditional publisher offering translation services, 2) Utilize a royalty share-based translation platform, and 3) hire an independent and professionally certified translator.

I personally use all three.  Here are the pros and cons of each.

Traditional Publisher

My Chinese language editions are published with Fiberead, a Beijing-based fusion  publisher slash translation service using royalty share to pay the translation team.  It works similar to many self-publishing platforms.  You fill out a form about your book, provide Fiberead with both the current and blank versions of your cover art, and upload it to their system.  A team of translators is recruited and eventually your book is published in Chinese.

Pros:  Getting a contract is relatively painless.  It’s a straight forward process setting up your title with them. Publishes to Amazon China, iBooks, and several Asia market retailers unknown to most Americans. No upfront costs to the authors. All the technical details of the publishing process is handled by the publisher; once submitted the author does not touch her book again. Cover art is done by in-house designers from the blank cover provided by the author.

Cons:  Once your title is set up, you have little to no control over the book.  Author has no input on the translators chosen or quality of the translation.  Contract empowers Fiberead with broad editorial powers, including over book content (they can re-write your book if they wish to). Royalty share rate is (currently) 30% for the author — forever.  Fiberead forbids translators from providing authors with copies of the final work.  Authors cannot control or even suggest the sale price.  So for example Boudicca, Britain’s Queen of the Iceni sells for just 1 RMB. Converted to USD the sale price on Amazon China is about 12 cents.  At 30% of 12 cents, the per copy payment to me is 3.6 cents USD.  It takes 55 copies sold to equal the royalty paid on just 1 copy of the book in English on Amazon.com.  Once a book sells, Fiberead does not release any funds to the author until the author earns $50 USD.  As you can see from the above figure, that takes a long time.  Fiberead does not promote your book either — that’s your responsibility.  And if you want a copy to quote from, you must buy it yourself.

Royalty Share Translation Program – Babelcube

Boudicca German webThe second option for independent authors is to use a royalty share translation platform such as Babelcube which is what I use.  Very similar in format to Amazon’s ACX audiobook publishing platform, authors fill out a form with book details and the book copy for consideration by translators in several languages including Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese, and Portuguese.  Not every language is offered, notably Chinese, but authors are able to upload books published in any language so long as the book is sold on Amazon. Once the book is completed and approved, authors initiate the publication process on both digital (primary) and paperback options.

royalty

Babelcube’s incremental payment scale.

Empress Wu Spanish webPros: royalty share works on an incremental scale based on royalties earned, no upfront costs to the author, creative control over the final published work, ability to edit pricing and other details by re-publishing after the initial publication, some control over who translates the work. Authors are able to leave reviews for each translation.

 

Cons: authors need the technical ability to custom format their own work and correct certain errors that can come up in the publishing process. Not all the translators are professionally certified nor in possession of appropriate technical skills. Not all desired languages are available.  Some languages offer very few translator choices.

 

Independent Translator

Boudicca Welsh webThe third and final option is, in most respects, the most traditional. Translators are available globally and discoverable online through search engines, social media, or in the case of my work with Gwenlli Haf of Cyfieithu Amnis Translation, through a personal recommendation from a mutual professional acquaintance.  Translation fees are typically word count based, a format familiar to authors who hire professional editors.  A down payment is typically required at the time both parties sign the contract.  At project completion translators then invoice the author for the balance due.  Only upon payment in full is the work released to the author for self publication.

Pros: translators are typically professionally certified with some level of guarantee built into the contract. Authors and translators are able to negotiate precise terms for the project so the details (such as publishing rights) are clear before the work begins. Upfront payment to translator; the author keeps all royalties upon payment of the invoice unless other terms are specified in the contract.  Creative control across the entire process.

Cons:  word counts in different languages are not uniform, making it easy for the author to underestimate the final word count for the translation.  Translators and authors are typically residents of different countries and using different currencies with exchange rates and currency exchange fees varying widely.

Analysis/Summary

Independent authors benefit greatly from expanding into larger, more global marketplaces by offering their books in multiple languages.  In my personal experience with all three options, hiring a translator offered me the most flexibility and creative control which I, like many independent authors, tend to value. The professionally certified skills of independent translators offers security and confidence in the quality of work offered.  However as with any upfront professional service such as editors and illustrators, this option requires considerable pre-publication investment.  Of the royalty share options, the translation publication platform offers a balanced approach.  Though great care must be taken in choosing the translator, the author is able to avoid upfront costs while maintaining creative control.  The royalty share split is typically fair to both author and translator.

One important lesson learned from all of this:  traditional publishing contracts offer less and less value to independent authors.  Therefore 21st century authors seeking to prosper in the new publishing market increasingly thrive by handling as much of the publishing process as possible rather than defer to traditional publishers whose contracts increasingly work against the author’s interest, costing authors more while offering less value.

 

An Easter meditation learned from cockatiels

ostara altar

Ostara nest altar courtesy of Homes 4 Her. 

The egg you are laid in can either be your 1st shelter or your tomb. It takes strength to hatch, be true yourself. Most people will crack the shell just enough to stay alive in the egg. They don’t want to hatch; it’s easier to stay in the shell. But staying in the shell is ultimately fatal; a baby bird will starve to death if she does not fully hatch.

 

Until you hatch, you cannot nourish yourself with anything more than that barest amount of food that was provided for you when your egg was laid. To fly, to be the bird that you are requires you hatch. Being a baby bird is not easy. Yes you might falter and die young. But death is certain if you do not hatch.

You are you. Dare to hatch, to be fully born as the beautiful being you are. Take chances. Remember: you were meant to fly.

The Great Purge: Spring Cleaning

It’s March and that means one thing:  SPRING CLEANING.

cleaningNow if you are like most people those two words send shivers up the spine far worse than anything our recent mild winter produced.  You may be thinking of this mountain of work and indeed depending on your household, spring cleaning may involve anything from simply tidying every room  (including scrubbing the shower, toilet, and every sink in the home) to something much more drastic.

 

For me, spring cleaning is the first of two yearly household purges where I look through everything in every cupboard and closet and decide what to keep and what to throw out or donate.  It’s been this way for the last two years as I anticipate moving overseas.  Because let’s face it:  the more stuff you have, the more it costs to move it.  When it comes to a long distance move, that becomes prohibitively expensive!

So here’s the standard I’ve adopted:

  • Anything expired gets tossed.  Some people argue that food, medicine, and cosmetics are still good past expiration dates.  I refuse to risk that.  My health is worth more than whatever the replacement cost is.  To help prevent food loss implement better storage plans where fresher items are at the back and older items are at the front of your shelves and cupboards.
  • cone threadAnything that is not worn or enjoyed at least ten minutes straight in the last two years gets tossed, donated, or downsized.  For example chinaware.  Keep only the number of place settings used in the last two to five years.  A family of four which rarely entertains using chinaware does NOT need twelve place settings. Purge it to one to two place settings above the number of people who live in hour household and/or you entertain regularly.  Likewise if you sew or enjoy crafts, go through your supplies and only keep the items or colours you actually use on a regular basis.  Remember that unused supplies often degrade with time.  Keep your stash fresh!
  • Throw out or recycle any electronics or small household appliances that no longer work — including holiday lights.
  • Digitize vital records (birth certificates, passports, etc.) and keep copies in a safe place.  Mementos should also be digitally copied so you can preserve them against loss (storms, moving, etc.).
1-1034d

Brother 1034D overlock machine.  I gave away mine as part of my spring cleaning because I no longer sew.

Most of the things you think you need and cherish you actually DON’T.  Does it really matter what your daughter got on a test in the third grade?  Do you really care how much money you spent on a pair of eyeglasses in 1992?  These sorts of things seem important when you file them away, but lose most of their importance as time goes on.   Don’t be afraid to take a hard look at your stuff.  For example, I used to sew.  I don’t now and I don’t particularly enjoy it; it was my mother’s thing and not mine.  So I recently gave away my overlock machine.  I don’t need it and it was taking up a lot of precious space while being too heavy to move easily.  Same with fabric.  If you don’t have a project for it, either designate it to a project with a set deadline for completion or get rid of it.

Remember that space is expensive in both time and money.  Take this opportunity to purge your home of what you do not need.  You’ll be happier, healthier, more organized, and you’ll get more enjoyment out of your home.

 

 

Enter to win a FREE copy of Renaissance Queens

Renaissance Queens v 1Enter to win a FREE kindle copy of Renaissance Queens, the FIRST Legendary Women of World History boxed set containing THREE intriguing biographies: Catherine de Valois, Mary Queen of the Scots, and Queen Elizabeth Tudor: Journey to Gloriana.
 
 
No purchase necessary! Check out the entire Legendary Women of World History series at http://www.amazon.com/gp/bookseries/B012G550KQ #history