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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...


Marketing your book is critical to getting sales, so it’s important for authors to have an understanding of the process. Even when you're in the beginning stages of writing your book, you'll want to identify your audience demographic and get some traffic (attention) in order to ultimately sell books. Your publisher may have marketing programs available, but all authors can—and should—take every opportunity to help promote and sell their book. Below is a simple, three-step process that you can follow.

1. Know your audience.

A writing coach once told me to pick a certain person and write to him or her. Defining your audience through a singular “avatar” has its benefits:

  • Know what problem you are solving for your audience.

  • Clearly define your storyline.

  • Clearly define sales or speaking points.

  • Write your elevator pitch with your audience in mind.

  • Define your demographic.

  • Create a sales page that speaks to your audience and post it on your website with a link...


Guest Post by Beth Lottig

When you first start writing a book, it’s possible that you are carried away with inspiration and eager to get the book “out of you,” buoyed by the thrill of creating. You willingly spend late nights typing at your computer when everyone else is asleep. You wake early, gripping your coffee mug for dear life as the sun rises, writing furiously before the great idea you dreamed about disappears with the daylight.

You edit and rewrite the same sentence twenty-two times, and revise whole chapters, all with the final destination of authorship in mind. But what happens when you finally finish that last sentence and figuratively, or literally, type the words “The End”?

What’s next after writing your book?


Whether you plan to go the traditional route and secure an agent who will shop your book around to publishers or pursue the self-publishing route, it’s a good idea to give some thought to what you want to get out of your writing...


Guest Post by Beth Lottig

What is your voice as a writer? And what exactly does a certain tough-as-nails British vocal judge have to say about it? According to Julie Wildhaber, your voice “the distinct personality, style, or point of view of a piece of writing or any other creative work. Voice is what Simon Cowell is talking about when he tells American Idol contestants to make a song their own.”


Your voice should be strong, consistently used, and tell the reader exactly who you are as a writer. In addition, it should fit the type of work where it is featured. For example, you would have a significantly different voice when writing an academic piece for a highly respected journal than you would have as a lifestyle blogger. Your voice needs to grab the reader’s attention and engage them in relationship with you as the writer.

Where do you start with creating your voice?

Start first with how YOU want to be perceived: What do you want your readers to know about you? Are you...


Guest Post by Beth Lottig

Your writing style includes your own unique voice, but once your manuscript is complete, you will need to adhere to a set of publishing standards of your choice. Style guides offer a set of guidelines for grammar, punctuation, and how different elements in a manuscript (hyphenated words, numerals, citations, etc.) are handled. Even more than that, a style guide helps you maintain consistency throughout your book, making it appear more professional.

Unless you are one of those people who have always colored inside the lines, you may, like many authors moving through the editing process, wonder, “Why in the world is a style guide important to my writing? Does it really matter?”

In a word, yes. Style guides are a critical element for professional writing.

There are certain style conventions that, when not followed, make your writing look and feel unprofessional to the average reader—even though they may not even be aware of it. You want to...


My house has never been cleaner than when I sit down to write. How many of you can relate to this? You've got a GREAT idea, maybe even an outline in your mind about your next writing project. But when you sit down to pen your masterpiece, something comes up. You remember to put the laundry on, a call comes in, you remember you need to pay a bill, and the list goes on.

Let me let you in on a secret: All of the great writers did not have a one-size-fits-all approach to accomplish the first drafts of their novels. There is an author behind each book on your bookshelf, and each author has their own approach to writing. Some people like to get into a routine and set writing hours and only write during those hours. Others like to write only when inspired. Still others write with writing partners or within writing groups. The good news is that there is no wrong way to get your first draft done.

Here are some ideas to help you establish your writing process:

- Notice what time of day best suits you to be able to...


Writing your book is a major accomplishment, but, as you know, the work doesn’t stop there. Too often we see authors who have published a polished manuscript with a beautiful cover at the right price point—and no one to read it. As a publisher, it’s heart-wrenching to watch a new author finish their book, have a successful launch, and then low to no sales. Whether you are traditionally published, or self-published, you need to treat your book like a business. That means you need to create a marketing plan for your book business to thrive. How can you get more book sales and have fun doing it? Spend time falling in love with marketing with these three tips:

1 - Preparation is key.

You know the old (D)adage: If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. This is true for your book business too. What are some of your marketing plans for your book?

  • Your Inspiration: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” ― Abe Lincoln

  • Your mantra: I easily overcome my fears around...


Twitter is a great resource and social networking platform for authors to connect with readers, bookstores, and other writers. To create your account, you’ll need one unique email and a password. From there, you can upload a profile photo and a background image. If you need design help with these elements, our Design Team can assist.

Who to follow:

Once your account is set up, your first step is to follow other accounts. Connect with thought leaders in your field, relevant accounts to your topic, local media, bookstores, and others. Try to abstain from using your author account too widely; you want to come across as a professional with tweets that are relevant to your topic.

Building lists:

You can create a “list” within your Twitter account. Other people can subscribe to these lists. You might want to add a list for your favorite authors, bookstores, and thought leaders in your topic. You can easily click on these lists to see only the tweets from the accounts you have added to your list. This is an easy way...


There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to publishing. Each book or series you write has a unique audience with a specific purpose. Because of that, some of your books may sell better on the traditional publishing route, while others will reach more people by self-publishing and marketing to a small, niche audience. If you want to maintain your creative control, intellectual property, and rights to your work while generating extra income with a marketing approach you enjoy, you will want to consider publishing your books under your very own publishing imprint.

What is an imprint?

An imprint is a trade name that identifies a line of books within a publishing company. For example, Golden Books is an imprint within Random House. Having your own imprint gives you the ability to publish your own books under your own company, retain complete control of your royalties, and enjoy the freedom to do what you love—writing—all with the benefit of an expert publishing team behind you every step of the way.

I have...


There are several pieces of your book: the foreword, the acknowledgements, the about the author page, and so on. But how do you know what order to put these in? Each publisher and author’s team will have their own preferences and standards. Below is a typical flow of content you can use or modify. You do not need to use all of the pieces listed.

Front Matter

  • Title page 1 - include book title only, in the same font used on the cover
  • Title page 2 - include book title, author, and publishing imprint
  • Copyright page - include your PCN, ISBN, and copyright info here
  • Praise for (insert book title) - optional - insert if you have some reviews
  • Dedication - optional - 1-2 sentences
  • Table of Contents - nonfiction only
  • Acknowledgments - this is where the author thanks their book team in 1-2 pages
  • Foreword - optional - this is about 1,000 words written by someone else offering credibility
  • Preface - optional
  • Introduction by the author - optional
  • Prologue -...

When it comes to marketing, what makes one book sell more copies than others in its genre? Is the content most important? The cover design? An expensive public relations campaign? A hot social media account? Boosting posts? Getting big signing events?

If you want to sell more books, then having your book in the mainstream, large-scale bookstore distribution is the most significant difference between traditionally published and self-published authors. This is a priority to keep in mind when considering self-publishing companies. Most self-published authors do not have access to large bookstore distribution once their titles are released. This means you will need to make a plan, or hire a professional, to help get your books in bookstores, land signing events, and catch the public's attention.

It is vitally important to develop your marketing plan in mind early on in the writing process. Look for sound bites, bullet points, and sentences to extract for marketing your book while you are still writing and editing your...


I came home from campus one October afternoon to find a copy of Our Lady of the Forest propped up on my doorstep, mysteriously gifted with some flowers. A book with a plot as intriguing as its entry into my life—what’s not to love?! It was the first book I read that I felt the author wrote specifically to me. It was a book I would have wanted to write: the story wrapped the natural world with spirituality, religion, hope, despair, and humor, without losing sight of mystery.

The main character is a teenage runaway, who spends her days picking mushrooms in the forest of the Pacific Northwest and her nights in a wet, cold tent nearby. Her frequent visions of Mary are questioned by the priest, a local logger, and others who have their own reasons for needing to know if these visions are real. As the book unfolds, the reader is exposed to much more than a whodunit.

Mystery is a broad genre that encompasses a variety of subgenres. Cozy mysteries are one of the subgenres. They differ from regular mysteries, in that...


If you’re like me, you’re always ready to hit some writing goals, as well as tackle some personal goals. My team has compiled some of our favorite self-improvement books to help you find your way in the self-help aisle.

Self-improvement is recognized largely for helping people clarify desires, determine goals, and strategize a plan to execute those goals. Often, a timeline, steps, methods, listicles, and numbering systems are involved. For example: How to Make More Money in 30 Days, How to Lose 10 Pounds in a Week, etc.

Protip: The secret sauce of self-improvement books is not much different than a typical business book. To write either successfully, you must: know your audience, understand and spell out their problem, and offer a step-by-step plan that gives them a solution they feel is doable. Your goal in writing self-improvement books is to help your readers leverage what they want with what they have. Here are some of my team's favorites:

  • Introvert Advantage by Marti...

When I authored my first book in 2009, I couldn't find a publisher who wanted to work with my title in the timeframe in which I needed the book printed. I had developed a food festival that was attracting 30,000 attendees and I really needed copies of the book by a certain date. So I took it upon myself to self-publish. I funded my first two book projects through kickstarter campaigns. After they were printed, I got the books placed in several large stores, received decent media coverage on print, radio, and TV, and did what it took to get books sold. I hustled. But that model wasn't built to last. I was constantly having to fund printing several thousand books at a time to get the best price-point and then having to wait on stores to pay me up to 90 days after they were invoiced, while constantly seeking new distribution points.

My system was broken, and the business was financially upside-down. Crying one night at my writing group, I thought I was going to have to take my books off the shelves. But the next day, I put in a call to the one person I...