Tuesday, July 30, 2019

ABC Book Update (You Can Purchase It Here at the Blog)

Not too long ago, I blogged about how I'd finished my ABC Book and had it printed up using a Shutterfly-like site called Mixbook.  I ordered a copy through them to see how it turned out, and I was thoroughly pleased with the quality (the illustrations copied beautifully).  But with the cost?  Not so much.  The regular price for one paperback copy of this 8 and 1/2 by 11-inch book was almost $70!  And even with an online 40% off coupon, it was still prohibitively expensive.

On that blog post, I shared a Mixbook link for those interested in purchasing a copy, realizing that there wasn't much of a chance that anyone would be willing to shell out that kind of money for a children's picture book--and I include myself when I say that!  I want to get copies for all my gang, and I really was hoping to figure out a way to do it so it wouldn't break the bank.  Even running off copies of the illustrations at home and putting them in a presentation binder wasn't the answer, because at 50 pages long (longer than the average children's picture book), I found it used up too much computer ink--and that stuff is expensive!

So I decided to do a little detective work.  And I stumbled upon another site where I could get the book formatted to be sold in both paperback and hardcover versions, at a much more reasonable price.  This site is called bookemon.com, and it appears to be the answer I was hoping for.  (They even have an option for purchasing an ISBN number so the book can be sold on Amazon for profit, but I don't think that's the route I'm meant to go with this project.)

Through bookemon, paperback copies of my ABC Book sell for $26.39 each (they are printed on demand and I don't believe I earn any royalties from sales).  That's still a lot of money--but it's the best price I could find in my travels throughout the Internet.  I was anxious to share a "Buy now" link for the book here at the blog, for anyone who might be interested; but before I did, I wanted to check out the quality of the finished product.  It looked okay on the computer screen; I just wanted to make sure it looked okay on paper, too.

I ordered a copy at a very slightly reduced "author's rate," and today I received it via UPS.  Although the color quality was slightly less vibrant than the Mixbook version, overall I was quite pleased and deemed it worth sharing here at String of Pearls.  If you're interested in looking through the online copy or purchasing a print copy (in either paperback or hardcover), you can just click on that link on the sidebar of my home page, over there on the right, and it'll take you to the site.  (Also, feel free to hit the "Share" button if the spirit moves you!)

God bless you for stopping by!  And I hope you're having a relaxing summer (with lots of beach--or poolside--reading, which is one my favorite guilty pleasures!).

**A little addendum to this post, added a day later: full disclosure--much to my surprise, I have learned that I will earn a dollar for each copy sold.  (Several copies have been purchased from the site already.)  I had no idea. I thought I had to get an ISBN and make it available on Amazon to make any profits from sales.  What a bonus!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Blog Handles for All My Peeps

I know that some bloggers use the real names of all their family members when they write about them.  But for some reason, when I joined the blogosphere in 2011 I thought it best to give all of my peeps aliases.

I was a little boring when it came to my husband (I simply call him my husband here at String of Pearls, or sometimes my guy) and my sons (#1 or my firstborn, #2, #3 or my middle son, #4, and #5 or my baby.  Pretty creative, huh?).

But in 2009, a new member was added to our original "Big 7" (shameless This Is Us reference, #sorrynotsorry), and I had to come up with a name for her.

When it came to the daughters-in-law, I was kind of forced to get more creative.  I mean, wouldn't it have been tiresome to call them the wife of son #1, son #2's wife, and so on?  I wanted to think up some fun aliases to use here at the blog.  I really put some effort into it, and here are the handles I gave to our sons' wives after they joined our clan.

Wife of son #1: Regina
Wife of son #2: Ginger
Wife of son #3: Preciosa
Wife of son #4: Braveheart

Here I am surrounded by these four sweet girls (first my daughters-in-law, now my precious daughters and friends) when they were all at our old home in NH for Christmas in 2014.

I have special reasons for choosing each of those names for these girls.  And now that my baby is about to get married and I'm going to have to call his gal something more inspired than my baby's wife, I wanted to come up with the perfect name for her, too.  And I think I found it.

I'm going to call her Babisiu.

As with all the names, this one has a special origin and meaning for us.  The word babisiu means "baby" in Polish.  This future daughter-in-law of ours, who is our baby's baby, has some Polish blood in her--so that's one reason I chose it; but also, in December of 2017, we flew to Poland and picked her up at the airport, and then the three of us traveled about five hours through dark and deserted rural back roads to meet up with our youngest son, who was on a deployment there at the time and had four days of leave just after Christmas. We had a short but wonderful Polish holiday together in a beautiful city called Bialystok--so always and forever, she shall be my Polish girl with a Polish blog alias.

There they are, our baby and his Babisiu, enjoying a delicious steak dinner with us on our last night in Bialystok.

Our grandkids have some interesting names here at the blog, too.  This is the line-up, oldest to youngest (so far!):

Twins: Bonnie Babe and Cutie Pie
Little Gal
City Girl
Triplets: Pumpkin, Peanut, and Paquita

I actually have a lot of fun deciding what to call everyone.  Lucky for me, because soon I'll have to come up with some more names for grandchildren who are currently in utero.  I hope I don't run out of ideas!  (But if I do, what a wonderful "problem" to have, don't you think?)

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Celebrating the Bride-to-Be (A New Pearl to Add to Our String)

Last Sunday, I left upstate NY--where my husband and I grew up and met, and where we now spend our summers taking care of our "Oyster Haven" VRBO lakeside rental home--well before the crack of dawn, and caught an early flight to DC and then a second leg out to Michigan.  That afternoon, I attended the bridal shower of our youngest son's fiancée, who will become the newest Mrs. Pearl in September.

It was the most lovely and joy-filled shower, hosted by her younger sister (the matron of honor), and celebrated at the home of one of the bride-to-be's close relatives.

One of our other daughters-in-law also hails from the Midwest, and after repeated trips to visit with her extended family over the years, I am convinced that people who are natives of that part of the country are pretty much without exception some of the warmest, friendliest, most kind, unassuming and welcoming folks you will ever meet.  And I've also noticed a trend: the women out there really know how to cook!  (They all seem to make their own homemade jams--a skill that my jam-loving husband--who has to make do with Smucker's most of the time--surely wouldn't mind me acquiring.)

The food was plentiful and delicious, the guests were friendly and delightful, and the setting was comfortable and charmingly decorated.  The converted garage where the shower was held, now an awesome party room, boasted an idyllic lake view out past the back yard.

The games were mostly pearl-themed.  (Perfect!)

There was also a "Who Knows Her Best?" game, and the bonus question was, "What is the bride-to-be's favorite thing about the groom-to-be?"  My future daughter-in-law said that she almost answered "his sweet personality," but then couldn't decide on one thing; so her answer was "EVERYTHING."  (That is the only right answer for a doting mom to hear about her beloved baby boy, I can tell you that!)

She was a very gracious receiver of gifts--of which there were many.

My gifts had been purchased online from the wedding registry and sent to the address where the bride is currently living and working, so the only thing she had to open from me at the shower was the now traditional "Little Black Apron" that I like to give my daughters-in-law.  It comes with a string of pearls attached.  ;)

I also like to bring mine to their showers and have a picture of the two of us taken wearing them.  But you probably already gathered that!

There was one gift that was definitely more for my son than for his bride-to-be.  (Yes, it was actually on their registry!!  LOL)

After the guests had all left, I sat and visited with my sweet girl, her mom, her dad, and her dad's cousin and his wife (whose party room we'd been enjoying all day) and their five young children.  When it was almost dusk, her dad's cousin took all of us for a leisurely ride on his pontoon boat.  What a beautiful way to end a beautiful day.

After the boat ride it was getting kind of late, and I had an early flight.  So I drove my rental car back to my hotel near the airport, and before the crack of dawn on Monday, I was on a plane headed back north.  It was a whirlwind trip (and one I could not have taken if it weren't for the perks of my husband's airline job), but so worth it!

I am thrilled to welcome this lovely young lady into the family.  She's a kind, hard-working, faith-filled Catholic girl who loves my son.  And bonus: she loves to cook!  (You should have seen all the wonderful kitchen gear she put on the gift registry!) So my boy will be well-loved and well-fed--lucky him!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

INSTAGRAM GIVEAWAY: A Signed Copy of Erin's Ring

I am currently running a giveaway on Instagram.  On July 25, I will randomly pick the winner who will receive one signed copy of my YA novel, Erin's Ring.

If you're interested in entering to win, you can go to my Instagram feed (where I go by @laura.h.pearl) and find this recent post.  (I also have a tab on the sidebar here at my blog's home page that will take you right over to my IG account.)

Erin's Ring was published way back in 2014, and I haven't been as good at promoting and marketing the novel as I could/should have been.  It is a book that I never thought I'd have time to write, as my family was beginning to grow by leaps and bounds right around the time that my publisher, Cheryl Dickow of Bezalel Books, approached me with an offer to fund a second novel--one that would be appropriate for younger readers than my first novel, Finding Grace, which was published by Bezalel in 2012.  All I could see ahead of me were the weddings of my sons (one of whom got married shortly before I finished writing the book, and one shortly after) and the imminent births of new grandchildren.  I was also suffering from some strange symptoms which turned out to be caused by hypoparathyroidism, and I had to have a non-malignant parathyroid tumor removed from my neck. We hadn't moved down to VA to be near our married boys yet, and I knew that I would be doing a lot of traveling from NH for all the upcoming family events.  I had no idea how in the world I was going to be able to write a novel (even a relatively short one) in six months' time, with all that was going on in my life and in the Pearl clan.  I am a wife/mother/Grammy first, always and forever, and the role of writer takes a back seat to those vocations.  But somehow, I got it done.  And not only that, but I wrote without panic or stress, in a state of almost complete joy.

I can only attribute this almost otherworldly happiness I experienced while working on Erin's Ring to the Holy Spirit, who was definitely working in me bigtime.  I almost turned down my publisher's generous offer, for fear that my life was just too busy and I wouldn't be able to concentrate properly and meet the requisite deadlines.  Left to my own devices, I would have said no; but during that whole time I was trying to figure out what I should do, my husband's faith in me never wavered.  Even knowing how I sometimes suffer from an extreme lack of confidence, he convinced me that I could do it.  I prayed.  I prayed hard, very much aware that if I turned down this amazing offer, there would most likely never be another opportunity like it for me. And once I signed the contract, the first thing Cheryl did was to take it with her to Adoration, to pray for the success of the book while in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.  (With a start like that, how could I doubt that I had made the right decision?!)

Of course, we all know that true success, the kind that is pleasing to God (the only Book Reviewer whose opinion matters at all!), is not measured by the world's standards.  By worldly standards, my poor little novel has not had a very good run--despite being the recipient of two Book Awards from the Catholic Press Association in 2015.  But I do believe that it can do some good in the world.  And that's what convinced me to have this giveaway, hoping that a copy of Erin's Ring will find its way into the hands of the very reader who needs it, who might be inspired or edified by it.

Thanks for stopping by, dear readers.  And if you do decide to enter the giveaway contest, may the luck of the Irish be with you!