For the past few years I have wished to experience Autumn anywhere else but Calgary and I'm happy to say that I am not in Calgary. The snow has started to settle there earlier than usual this year. In other words, there is no Autumn in Calgary. It doesn't give you much time to reflect on your life so far this year. You just go straight into some form of depression and all people can think about is to get the flu shot. Autumn gives you the opportunity to alleviate the process of reflection. However, the high amount of sunshine was what I really liked about that town; it just no longer felt like home, but then where have I ever really felt like home? I guess it's almost a red flag to employers when they see all those different countries and cities in my resume.

I'm at the ocean now. Or at least a couple of blocks away from it, but a lot of private five-million dollar houses are blocking my view every time I walk or drive past. In moments like these you have to stop thinking wishfully and perhaps even stop buying lottery tickets, although hope dies last. I have no problem telling my interviewers that I love my new home, this change was overdue.

I am very tired though. Mainly of who I am, especially when I bring out the worst out of people. The lack of focus and mindfulness made me forget about everything that mattered. On the outside I often feel ruled by my passive rising sign, which is Virgo. It's the sign that was ascending on the eastern horizon when I was born. It depicts the way others see me. And it's only the way people see you that makes you real. Both my sun and moon signs are water based, in other words, an emotional wreck. And how is a Virgo supposed to express that entity if too scared to step into water? What's the point in being overly observant and perceptive if you don't take action? There is no fire in my personality to express things the way I should. Hold your breath and stare or express it in the form of art. You're not selfish in art, because you are sharing it with everyone. This doesn't mean that people will understand you, but at least they will in a way that makes sense to them.

The only thing that makes Ellen P. my alter-ego is her sun sign Virgo. I actually forgot to mention her birthday in the novel. She has earth, air and water in her sign. I figured that in terms of picking only three elements these three are the most crucial ones? She is the passive me in full blast, only ten times more intelligent and ambitious. Her moon sign is Pisces (water), her rising sign Gemini (air). I figured that you require earth and water to plant a daisy, and it needs air to breathe. That is all. There is enough balance here without excess. There is no need for fire. Her life number is five, which makes her a successful woman in business. And that is not me.

Fall equinox - this is the time I take a deep breath and think about life. I picked up Aurelius' "Meditations" which made me think about Hesse's "Siddhartha". Being happy and patient is only a couple of footsteps away, but I am blind and deaf as always, scared of the past and the future, giving myself no room for today. Today I'm 12,496 years old. If I lean back and close my eyes for ten minutes I will be doing myself and my mind a great favour. Teach myself to be more thankful that I am who I am and have what I have. There are too many things that do not even matter right now, like Monday. There are many things going on in one's life, and you can't control destiny, but you can make things happen - by taking action, by making decisions. And autumn happens to be the time to think about these things. Do yourself and people around you a favour and be good. Perhaps I shouldn't be looking at the stars all too much or even count my days on Earth.

But I am interested, what did you think Ellen's star sign was?

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Updated: Aug 9, 2018

So this is how self-publishing feels, "Oh, it's done?" -This might make it sound easy, but it was the opposite for me. Having mentioned before, I am using both Amazon's KPD and Ingram Spark. I've received two proofs from Amazon within 1 1/2 months so far, whereas Ingram Spark's copy hasn't even arrived, yet. I ordered it in mid June and have set the publishing date to be my birthday. Now Ingram Spark has published my book throughout the U.K. and parts of Europe (and I think in the States, too?) before the receipt of my proof copy. I guess the only person to blame is me. Unfortunately, when publishing with Ingram Spark, you have to indicate a publishing date, otherwise it will be on the day they have approved your submission. I seem to be doing all the first-time publisher mistakes, despite reading other people's experiences. I understand the complications one goes through when using IS. But some mistakes you have to make just so you can call them your own. IS has put me in a series of confusion, too, in terms of cover design requirements, publishing rights and date, etc. However, in the end, what mattered to me was, that they would help me distribute my book Europe-wide. Now it's down to me to do most of the marketing as well as approaching local book stores.

Amazon, on the other hand, was very easygoing. I believe I've mentioned this in the other blog posts. I didn't have any issues with the internal of the book proofs, except for the cover design. The first proof (printed in Columbia, SC) that I ordered was in matte. The high resolution image showed nicely, too, although something wasn't right with the colours. (Amazon already stated that the colours may vary from print location to print location.) What struck me as completely off was that both title and author name weren't centred on the page. Since my buddy's computer crashed and he couldn't access the original art work to perform the edits, I had to photoshop it myself. I resized the art work a tad and changed the title. Despite the simple guide on Amazon I must've placed the main cover design incorrectly in the editor app.

For the second proof I got my co-worker to help centre the title and author name (it was already Mercury Retrograde!) and I'd submitted it without checking the resolution field to make sure the figure was set to 300. So yes, it turned out to be worse than the first proof. Plus, I requested it to be on glossy paper this time, thinking that the colour red would stand out more. But it was all super pixelated and parts of the art work was trimmed off and replaced with the light blue, which is the colour of the back cover. The second copy was printed in Lexington, KY.

I'm honestly sharing my own mistakes and stupidity here without giving any excuses (apart from it being Retrograde). Here is a picture of my proofs:

The first proof received is on the left and the second one is on the right. You can't really see the pixelation on the second one unless you're holding it in your hands, looking closely. Anyway, see the errors. These proofs cost me around US$40 altogether. US$5.99 each for printing and the rest is shipping. I didn't order a third proof. I reused the first art work, edited it slightly and centred it the best I could. Plus, I went ahead with glossy instead of matte. This is going to be the version available on Amazon. If you ever order a copy I'll be interested in the printing quality. If you have any issues please kindly let me know (both Amazon and Ingram Spark).

As for the Ingram Spark proof copy, I will keep you posted as soon as I receive it. The only info I have is that it was printed in Tennessee and that they shipped it in late June.

Next time I'm hoping to chat about royalties. You'll be surprised. Thanks for your time and feel free to drop me a line.

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From what I've read and watched on the internet, I have to agree with people stating how complex the book set up is, if you do your POD through Ingram Spark. It took me several days to get the formats right. I thought I could use Amazon's KDP template and simply copy&paste, or use the same PDF files. However, IS couldn't work with my book file, because the pages were placed side-to-side (OK, I missed that in the guidelines.). More of a headache was my book cover design, because IS required a ready-to-go image (in PDF with evident CMYK, etc.), which is the front cover, spine and back cover as one. My designer merely did the front cover for me. Unfortunately his computer was down, so he couldn't help me edit the cover. I changed the title of my book, too, which didn't make anything easier. And since I'm poor I had to teach myself more Photoshop. Somehow I managed to make the edits, but you can tell that it was me. There is no particular sense of proportion, but it's the best that I could do. The previous title of the novel is, in fact, still evident in the book cover. The written words inside the heart, "Somewhat Damaged", depicts one of my favourite and most meaningful Nine Inch Nails songs. But it doesn't mean that all my readers will be Nine Inch Nails fans, and I took my editor's word for it (Thanks, Elizabeth). "Somewhat Damaged" itself as a title doesn't say anything about the book or the story. Why not call the book "Mildy Concussed", because it would have the same kind of effect? Namely, obscurity. If you love Nine Inch Nails you will notice that the new title still has a little bit of relevance to the band (I couldn't help it!). Deciding on the book title was hard. I could've chosen "Open Heart", however, there is a Canadian series going by that name already, which is why I decided against it. The title would be too broad-sounding, too. For a while I thought deciding on a book title was the hardest thing until I got into the whole self--publishing business. If you've read my previous blog you will remember me saying how terrified I was of self-publishing my novel. In the end I'm glad I did it, despite all the bumps in the road that slowed me down big time. But on a positive note, I learnt a lot. What matters is to have the book out. After ten years of work I realised that I needed to move on to the next project.

Anyhow, when I was setting up my KDP paperback, I used their user-friendly cover design tool in order to create a spine and a back cover. Somehow I managed to download a PNG of the finished version, so I could use it for IS too. It took me a whole day (a whole day!) to understand why IS wouldn't accept my converted PDF version. But I got there eventually. If you're about to self-publish your book through IS, there is a free setup offer going on until JUNE 30 (2018). Use the promo code: SELFPUB and save US$49. It's still costing me around US$19 to get a copy for myself (for proofing,). The proof copy from KDP costs me around US$13.95. I'm still waiting for both proof copies, so I can finally confirm the whole POD business. I'm sorry to keep you guys waiting. I will make it up to you.

I also paid US$85 for IS to advertise the book for me. I even paid Facebook CAD$35 to advertise my website, not to mention hundreds of dollars for the website and the domain. I understand that that's how it works. Your book should be worth it. My eBook hasn't even earned me $20, yet. Right now I just care that my book is out. I know that all my efforts will eventually pay off. If not, then whatever. I've tried.

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