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75% of swarms in nature ‘fail’ as do first year beekeepers. A few leaders in our beekeeping community invited me to share my first year ‘fail’ [victory!] in efforts to help other new folks and I thought you guys might enjoy learning something too.

Murder mystery theatre! Bee-style

My first year hives were bubbling over with bees and overnight had a *massive* die off [Sept 2021 Vlog: Buzzkill]. I sent several cups of dead bees and wax to the Cornell Entomology lab. Results showed the main culprit was a combination of apivar build up and pesticide.

“One thing of note is the high value of DMPF in the wax from the dead hive. DMPF is a breakdown product of amitraz, so I’m guessing you may have treated your bees with Apivar a short time before taking the sample from the dead hive? Amitraz is…well-known to synergize with other pesticides and increase its toxicity to bees.” - Cornell lab

The supplier’s-supplier verified to me and to others...

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Hi, honey.

We added bees to our family homestead to support organic gardening, regenerative agriculture, and the ecosystem. I often tell people I’m the luckiest girl in the world, because my Dad let’s me bring home any rescued animal out to his ranch for rehabilitation and safekeeping. It was no exception when I asked him in the Winter of 2020 if we could start an apiary. Our closest neighbor is a backyard beekeeper. He learned bee keeping skills from a war veteran in our community. And while he was willing to share anything I needed to get started, he recommended I take some classes. So the Callahan County Beekeepers Association, membership of three, was born.

Soooo. I completed a 6-month apprenticeship and continued my studies volunteering to shadow my bee-best-friend Georgia Miguez of Sister Creek Hives, along with her mentors Les Crowder and Nathalie B. at Bee Mindful. Getting my hands in hives with professional beekeepers gave me confidence in understanding the ethics and responsibility of backyard beekeeping. This was not something I could have...


108 has long been revered as a holy number. In numerology, the number One stands for the Oneness of the Universe, a new beginning, and the connection of body, mind, and soul. The vibration of the Zero connects us to the humble emptiness of pure potential, and the frequency of the Eight aligns us with the infinity symbol of everlasting life. When we add these numbers up, they equal Nine, the number of the humanitarian. In essence, the number 108 connects us to ourselves as we are, our potential, and our highest service. It carries some powerful mojo.

It’s no coincidence that prayer beads are connected in a string of 108 beads. I must have a dozen different malas, or prayer beads from my travels. Same with my Mom, only she collected rosary beads. The beads are something that connect us both to the Divine. Using beads for intercession, prayer, and to focus the mind date back to the 8th century in India. In fact, the word 'bead' is derived from the words 'bidden' and 'bede', which are defined as ‘prayer’ or 'to pray'. Tracing your fingers across the...


It's an exciting time to be working in the publishing industry; there are more options for authors than ever before. So how do you know what publishing route (and company) is best for you?

Know this: there is not a one-size-fits-all model. Individual publishing houses and imprint companies operate very differently. There are pros and cons to each of the two main publishing models. To determine which route is best for you, spend a little time defining your goals, creating your budget and sales projections, as well as your break-even analysis and marketing plans. Laying out a clear action plan, and business plan for your book will help you discern which model is best for you.

Consider your book's audience, message, and the scope of your marketing plan. Do you have a niche book that only a certain audience will purchase? My regional cookbooks are a great example of this because they focus on the food of a particular city or county. These are the types of books that do well under a small, local publisher or as a self-published work with a localized marketing effort. As...


Marketing your book can easily become a full-time job, but with the proper plan, you’ll be able to execute your launch efficiently and successfully.

1. Establish the connection: follow bookstores, colleagues, media outlets, and influencers on social media. Set up a spreadsheet with all of your marketing leads on various tabs. These are people you are going to reach out to and offer a free ebook, or connect with them on how they can interview/feature you during your launch week:

  • Podcasts - Set a goal of contacting 10/day. Be sure you have followed them on social media and been engaged in their online platforms (liking/sharing content) - that way they might recognize your name when you reach out.

  • Instagram - Find the 'bookstagrammers' that review books in your field and inquire about their affiliate programs to feature your book. Look up which hashtags people are using in your industry through / you can also use to schedule...


Guest Post by Beth Lottig

You know your cover needs to be engaging enough to stop someone walking by in a bookstore or get them to stop scrolling through the Goodreads or Amazon listings, but what is it exactly in a cover that makes someone stop in their tracks and pick up a book? It’s a combination of things, actually, and a good designer knows how to maximize these selling points. Let’s take a look at a few of the basic building blocks for a show-stopping cover.

#1 Great typography

The typography, or font style used, tells volumes about a book’s genre. Bolder, san serif fonts make a statement for non-fiction, while more stylized fonts work well for fiction genres such as romance, YA, thrillers, and westerns. Whatever font is used, the both the title and subtitle, if applicable, should be easily readable. Sometimes the typography alone is all that is needed to convey the proper tone and mood for a cover. Get creative, but stick to one feature font for the title and one supporting font for...


Getting on the bestseller list is every author’s dream, but how does it work? I’ve deconstructed the mystery behind getting a spot on the top three most sought after bestseller lists: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Amazon. First, you need to understand the two critical factors that create the perfect environment for a book to make it on a bestseller list: how sales get counted and which sales get counted.

Sales are recorded weekly, from Monday to Sunday. All sales during this seven-day period are added up and compared against other sales that week to determine who has sold the most, and therefore the ranking of the bestseller list. This is why your first week is so important to launching you on the list—and why all authors seeking bestselling placement should have a strong pre-order plan.

Unique sales matter—bulk sales do not count. You cannot simply have a friend order thousands of books on your launch date and hope to make it to the bestseller list. Also, the timing of sales has to do with when your...


What is a trim size?

Trim size refers to the size of your book. Whether you are creating a paperback or hardback book, your book team will need to know what size cover files and interior files to produce. It’s important to establish your trim size early on, so everyone working on your project stays within the same guidelines.

Avoid this mistake.

When I printed my first book, I chose a non-traditional size because I thought it was cute. When the book sold well (over 5k copies) and I wanted to move it from self-publishing to traditional publishing, we had to resize all of the files to fit what would work with my publisher’s printer. The lesson here is that if you want to leave the doors of opportunity open for your book to potentially move to a traditional publisher or print a large scale print run, you can pave the way for success by opting for a traditional trim size.



Recently, one of our favorite author-bloggers wrote a comprehensive post about word counts. You may not think word counts matter, or you may be unsure of your word count because you're still writing your book. But we encourage you to think of the bigger picture: your finished book. Depending on your genre, your final word count matters to your audience!

Readers in your genre have an expected book-length. If you go outside of the guidelines listed below, you are putting readers outside of their comfort zone, and they will have a tough time buying your book. Even self-published books must stay within a predictable word count range.

While you're outlining your book, think about your final word count. Consider where you want to be when you're mid-way through your writing. Plan out your word count for each chapter. For example, if you’re writing a mystery novel that is nine chapters, and then your word count should be roughly 90,000 words, and each chapter should be approximately 10,000 words. Halfway through the book, you...


It’s an exciting time when you’re ready to launch your new book. From setting up signing events at bookstores, to emailing your newsletter list to let them know the big day has finally come, there are several things you can do to help market your book. One approach to spreading the word is to write a press release.

Before you write your press release, consider the audience. Are you sending this to the media to let them know about an interesting/entertaining launch party? Are you sending this to a network of bookstores and podcasters to announce your title is available and you’d like to speak on their platforms? Are you sending this to your newsletter mailing list that is more of a warm market? It’s always important to remember who you’re writing to and why, to help tailor your message.

The purpose of a press release is to promote something special and significant, such as your book release. In sending a press release to the media, you are hopeful they will feature you on a personal interest story or share your...