Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

© 2006-2019 All rights reserved

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

CreateSpacing Books

WARNING: This will be incredibly boring if you aren't interested in self-publishing.

If you're considering self-publishing a book, probably the easiest and cheapest way is CreateSpace. Here are some of the CreateSpace books I own.

Two of the above books are my own novels:


Patches on the Same Quilt was a 2013 reissue of my 2001 novel, and Them That Go was a brand new  2016 Appalachian coming-of-age novel. To create the finished books, I downloaded a pre-formatted template and filled it in with my Microsoft Word text. However, I know other self-pubbers who have used Word without a template or who have used Adobe InDesign.

I will use CreateSpace again. A collection of my short stories will go that route in a few months. I also might do another novel one of these days—or one of these years.

If you're young and picture yourself becoming a well-known author, self-publishing (whether via CreateSpace or another self-pubbing source) isn't the way to go. Self-published books are not legit publishing credits, they won't be in chain bookstores, and you will sell most of your books yourself at readings or appearances. You want to go to conferences, perfect your craft, and find an agent who can  submit your work to commercial publishers.

But—if you're older and/or have unsuccessfully pursued commercial publishing but have a book that you really, really want to get "out there," self-pubbing might work for you. It helps if you already have a readership in place (blog, column for local paper, previously published work, etc.) It helps if you have connections to a lot of readers. It helps if you have a marketing plan in mind. The "If you build it, they will come" does not apply to self-pubbed books. CreateSpace will get your book listed on Amazon, but you'll be the one to let folks know it's there.

Sometimes your friends or pets can help you promote.

Before you jump into self-pubbing, do some research. There are many, many online resources to check. Here are a few:

A bit of Googling will turn up lots more. Besides online articles, many YouTube videos exist about using CreateSpace. I recommend you watch a bunch, but these will get you started:

In other words, know what you're getting into and learn what you need to know about formatting and uploading your book. If you're determined to do everything yourself, I really recommend you use a formatted template—doing so will avoid much anguish and gnashing of teeth. After you've created an account with CreateSpace and uploaded your book and cover, don't use the publish button just yet. Order a proof copy (yes, you have to pay for that), so you can see exactly how your book will look. When your proof arrives, read it several times, marking any errors. Then correct your manuscript and upload the corrected version. 

Doing a CreateSpace book isn't terribly difficult, but it is tedious. 

Did I mention I just happen to have two CreateSpace books for sale? You can find them here and here on Amazon.


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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Worst Food Ever

Want to know where to get the worst food ever? Check into a hospital! At least, that's what I've learned from recent experience. You'd expect hospitals to promote healthy eating, but I discovered they don't. They don't even serve much real food.

Above image from
In late May, I spent a couple of days at my local hospital where I was relieved of a gallbladder and several gallstones. I hadn't been able to eat for a few days before going to the hospital and couldn't eat on my first day there, and—the next day—I didn't want to lunch so soon after surgery. Later that day, though, I was served some kind of broth and some unsweetened iced tea. It was bland, but I didn't particularly care. My appetite was returning.

For breakfast the next day, I was offered coffee (with some low-fat milk and artificial sweeteners—two substances I'd never eat—on the side) and oatmeal and apple juice, but I explained to the food lady that oatmeal would make my blood sugar level soar. The apple juice would have been even worse—that stuff is almost pure sugar. (The hospital knew that I was diabetic and gluten sensitive.) She wondered what I could eat. "Eggs," I said. Consequently, I was served something vaguely egg-like and very dry. I doubt that this substance ever originated within a chicken. Had I not been so hungry, I wouldn't have tried to eat it.

Other food I was served during my hospital stay included overcooked canned peas with a packet of "whipped spread" on the side, a tough leathery inedible piece of something vaguely chicken-like, a cup of what was supposed to be ice cream but didn't look like ice cream, a container of sugar-free chocolate pudding that had numerous ingredients listed in print so tiny I couldn't read them, slice of "pork loin" so tough I had to spit out the bite I'd taken because couldn't chew it, a large serving of canned peaches, and large serving of canned pears. Even though the fruit servings no doubt played havoc with my blood sugar, I ate them. I was that starved.

Apparently—when feeding their patients—hospitals go for what's cheap and convenient rather than what's good for folks. And the food-like crap—rather than real food—fills the bill if not the stomach.

Are you eating food-like crap? For some examples of food-like products that aren't food, see "19 Foods That Aren't Food."