Life in Italy – Along the Amalfi Coast Road in Positano

Life in Italy encompasses so many aspects.

I am intrigued by the simple lifestyle of  some of the local people. This man is making a broom by hand along the Amalfi Coast road near Positano, while he sits on a makeshift chair.

Italian man making a broom by hand in Positano Photo by Margie MiklasI wonder how many brooms he has made in his life.  And how far did he have to walk to get home?

What do you think?

I enjoy you feedback. Please leave a comment.

Posted in Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, TRAVEL | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Guest Blog Post by Author Taylor Evan Fulks

Today I am proud and honored to feature Taylor Evan Fulks, an amazing author who has become an even better friend. Congratulations on your success as an award-winning author, Taylor, and Happy 2nd Anniversary on your blog!

Giveaway imageThis is it!

My 2nd Anniversary Blog GiveAway!

Yeah…I know! I can’t believe it! My journey is almost complete…It will officially end May 16th when I run in the #WarriorDash 5K obstacle run to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. I’m happy the money is going for that worthy cause, but my reasons for running are selfish, I’m afraid. This book journey has taken me from quiet, subdued, doormat, and transformed me into a Warrior for myself and Sexually Abused Children.

So here it is, two years of social media, my new and improved website, and the revised publication and redistribution of my book, in ALL formats, including an audiobook! Who’d of thunk it! Now it’s time to Celebrate! And this time, I’m doing it right!

So, what do you have to do to be entered in this Rafflecopter Giveaway? Just leave a comment and share this post (Facebook, Twitter, etc…). Easy-peasy!

You don’t have to wax poetic. You don’t even have to say anything…you can leave an * or an emoji, or any (clean) text you want. You’ll automatically be entered in my Giveaway, which by the way, is HUGE!

First prize…A 7″ HD~8GB Kindle Fire

Second prize… A $100 Amazon Gift Card

Third prize… A $50 Amazon Gift Card

Fourth prize… A $25 Amazon Gift Card

So…Let’s do this!

AUDIOBOOKS: AN UNTAPPED GOLD MINE OF READERS

ACX is where it’s at when it comes to producing a professional quality audiobook. It is another company owned by Amazon that is linked to Audible.com and iTunes. I first learned about ACX and their services while in New York at the Book Expo of America, for the IRDA~Indie Readers Discovery Award in July, 2013. They had a booth right next to the Createspace Booth where I received my first award for my book.

ACX~Audiobook Creation ExchangeThey loaded me up with hoards of informational material and coupons for free audiobook downloads on Audible.com. I was overwhelmed by all the information they gave me, and thrilled by the coupons!

I love audiobooks! I have over three hundred in my iTunes library. They’ve come a long way over the last decade, and it’s no longer a monotone, lifeless voice reading with a case of the doldrums.

Narrators are actors, gifted souls portraying and becoming the characters in the books they read. Their skills and abilities bring a book to life! I am amazed by their talent in terms of voice, pitch, tempo, and character distinction. To hear a conversation between a male and female character, each with their own distinct and different voice, is a wonder and a pleasure to hear. They can literally take you away to another place and time…So much so, I’m afraid I was transported back to my past while listening to mine…

Em Eldridge ACX Narrator

When I left New York, award and information in tow, I really didn’t expect to ever be in a position to make MY PRISON WITHOUT BARS an audiobook. I thought it was too involved, too technically difficult, and way too pricey. I was wrong…

The process is relatively easy…

  • Go to ACX.com and set up an account.
  • Fill in the metadata for your book and answer a few questions regarding your copyright, if you are the rights holder, and links to your book on Amazon. It’s much like filling out the info on your Author Central page or KDP page.
  • Fill out the Title Profile. This is where you put all the enticing attributes about your book. This should include a short synopsis of the book, where it is sold, how many reviews the book has received, any awards it has garnished, and anything else that would entice a narrator to audition for the book. This is where you want to make your book shine. All of this information, including your Twitter following, and your Facebook fan base will be placed on an open forum for all of the narrators to see before they submit for auditions.
  • You can post cover art…but you must make sure it is a square cover, with ACX specifications ( I did a blog post about the difficulty doing this…you can read it here). I have read that it’s very hard to remove cover art once it has been uploaded, so I just left this blank for the time being. When my narrator and I came to an agreement, ACX sent me a reminder to start getting my cover art ready.
  • Post links to your book…Some narrators like to take advantage of the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon, and read a few excerpts to get a feel for the story before they decide to audition.
  • Specify your needs in terms of a narrator…Female/male voice, type of accent, dialect or slang, young, mature, comedic, dramatic, etc…
  • Post your word count…ACX will automatically estimate the hours it will take to narrate your book. Mine turned out to be estimated at 15.6 finished hours. The actual time is 16.3 finished hours. This will give you an idea of what it will cost when you start looking at narrators and their *finished hour rates if you choose to forgo the royalty share and pay for your production.
  • Choose your royalty option…Royalty Share or Pay for Production. Royalty Share is a program where you and your producer/narrator come to an agreement that you want to work together, and you’ll share your book royalties 50/50. Your royalty rate is 40% with ACX, so you and your narrator split the 40% royalty, 50/50. You also share the rights to your book with ACX for a term of seven years. With Pay for Production, you both agree on a per finished hour rate (PFH) and you pay the narrator in full when the production is completed, retaining all rights and the full 40% royalty for your book (again, your cut is 40% royalty from ACX).
  • Now you are ready to upload an excerpt of your book for audition. This should be something that tests the skills and abilities of the narrator. I recommend uploading an excerpt with dialogue (preferably between different genders). This allows you to hear how well the narrator distinguishes between voices.

Emily Eldridge ACX Narrator

  • You can wait for narrators to contact you, or you can seek out and connect with narrators/producers on the ACX website via their message box. You’ll be notified on your dashboard that an audition has been submitted. Click the link and a five-minute excerpt is there for you to hear. Sometimes, you hear “the one” right from the get-go. Sometimes, you don’t. I had my book up for auditions for two weeks. After eighteen auditions, I had four potential narrators when all was said and done. The last night of auditions, Em Eldridge, the beautiful lady in all these pictures, blew me away with her dry-run audition! She was the last audition (number nineteen) and my only choice…She is my voice!

Em Eldridge ACX Narrator

*Note…Amazon and ACX are both dedicated to making this service affordable and available to all authors/rights holders. They have a Stipend Program for eligible, Royalty Share authors (this is decided by ACX algorithms i.e… reviews, sales info, potential sales, and staying power on Audible) to entice experienced, quality narrators to audition. Em has narrated thirty plus audiobooks. The stipend book program offers the narrator $150/finished hour of audio. Even though my book was a stipend book, I didn’t opt to do the royalty share program.

*What’s a finished hour? It can take anywhere from four to eight hours of work by the narrator to complete one hour of finished audio ready for upload. That’s a lot of time and effort to get a polished, professional product. Some of the newer, less experienced narrators charge between $50-$100 dollars per finished hour. The more experienced narrators charge anywhere from$200-$500 per finished hour. The elite narrators used by publishing houses and best-selling authors footing the bill, can be in the thousands of dollars per finished hour range.

  • When you find the right voice for your book, it’s time to contact the narrator and make an offer. You can do that in the ACX message center. Once you both come to an agreement, I recommend you exchange emails and communicate that way. I found that some of my messages didn’t get to Em in a timely fashion. We also exchanged phone numbers and had some one-on-one chats so I could share pertinent information (if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, no harm-no foul).

Emily Eldridge ACX Narrator

  • Now it begins…You and your narrator agree to a timetable when the first fifteen minutes of the book will be completed for your review. Listen and decide if his/her interpretation is going in the right direction. This is the time to be honest…Is it what you want? Does he/she set the tone and mood of your book? How’s the pace? Too fast, too slow, or just right? Once this part is a ‘Go,’ your narrator will give you a total-book completion date. While they are working on the audio, you’ll receive completed chapters in your project folder. You can listen and make edit notations with the timestamps at the bottom of the screen…make note of mispronunciation, dialect nuances, skips or misreads, mistakes, background noise, or other suggestions you feel should be implemented in the production. It’s your baby!
  • When the book is completed, you need to do a full listen-through of the entire book. At this point, the narrator can’t make changes until you notify them to do so on your dashboard. When it’s perfect and ready to go, click OK and your book is on its way to ACX for their fine tuning and approval. They do all the sound checks and technical work with the narrator to make it technically perfect and ready for sale. This process takes a few weeks. ACX will notify you when they upload your book on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Amazon and Audible upload quickly, while iTunes takes a few weeks.

My Prison Without Bars Amazon Audiobook Page

*Note…This is also the time when you get to listen to what the narrator has chosen as your sample audio. Give it a listen. I will tell you as a READER…THIS IS WHAT SELLS ME YOUR BOOK! If you don’t love your sample excerpt, change it! Now is the time to do that! Pull the best five minutes of your book from anywhere; use the best dialogue, the best scene, a hook that will draw a reader to your book and won’t let them go. This is imperative!

  • Now…Copy that URL, get out there, and sell that audiobook!

That’s it! Easy-peasy!

Look…When it comes to writing and publishing, I’m not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, so if I can do this, you can too! Trust me, with real life pulling everyone in a thousand different directions, it’s hard for people to find the time to SIT and read. Audiobooks allow you to stuff ear buds in, do what you need to do, all while LISTENING to a great book. It’s truly an untapped source of readers. People who listen to audiobooks (umm…that’d be people like me) are voracious readers. We are brilliant people cuz we can multi-task…heehee!

I hope you’ll take a look into ACX and audiobook production. Go to their HOME page and check things out. If you feel overwhelmed (I did) give them a call. There’s always someone there to answer your questions and help you navigate the site.

There’s no greater thrill in the publishing arena than HEARING YOUR BOOK COME TO LIFE!

I know this is a long post, but I had a lot of info I wanted to share. Thank you for helping me celebrate my 2nd Anniversary! I’m so grateful for the visit! For those of you that follow and often comment on my blog, I have no words sufficient to thank you for your friendship and support! You are the best!

Please…Don’t forget to comment and share this post to get yourself registered for the Rafflecopter giveaway! I’m hoping for a big turn out, so I will apologize in advance if I can’t respond to every comment. Just think of it as letting you get to have the last word…

Write with passion…

Taylor~
My Prison Without Bars Billboard

 

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The Italian Lifestyle – Photo of the Day

This Italian woman probably walks up and down these ancient steps at least once every day. I had the chance to speak with her and she proudly told me with a smile that she is 80 years old. Incredible!

Photo by margie Miklas Life in Italy

I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment.Grazie

Posted in Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italy Photo, Italy Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Italians at Work – A Photo Collage

Daily Life in Italy…

I’d love your feedback. Please leave a comment. Grazie.

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Life in Italy – Photo of the Day

A day in the life of this elderly Italian woman  in Città alta of Bergamo…

Italian woman walking uphill in Bergamo Photo by Margie MiklasWhat are your thoughts? Please leave a comment. Grazie.

Posted in Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Daylight Saving Time

Photo by Margie MiklasYes, it’s that time of year, when most Americans set their clocks ahead one hour  and lose the hour of sleep. The result is that now it will stay light an hour later in the evening.

Not all states observe this tradition. Hawaii and Arizona are not on Daylight Saving Time. Either are the US Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico. The Navajo Nation in Arizona, however, does observe DST, which goes into effect March 8 at 2:00am. Daylight Saving Time ends the first Sunday in November, Nov. 1.

The time change isn’t observed by Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.

The UK and Europe observe DST but not until the last Sunday in March.

Check this list of countries for dates when DST begins.

In honor of losing sleep, enjoy Bob Dylan’s 1964 The Times They Are A Changin’

Posted in Italy Travel | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Visions of Italy – Scenes from Molise

I can’t believe it has been almost a month since I posted here. I guess that’s what happens when you are focused on writing a book. I have been seriously working on a photo book that I hope to publish this spring. Stay tuned for that.

Molise, Italy Photo by Margie MiklasMolise is the region in Italy where my paternal grandparents were born. Originally Molise was part of a region called Abruzzi e Molise, but in 1970, that region was split into the two regions of Abruzzo and Molise, making Molise the newest region in Italy. The area is mountainous and beautiful, not typically a tourist area.

Molise, Italy Photo by Margie MiklasEnjoy a few photos from Molise.

Molise, Italy photo by Margie Miklas

Molise, Italy Photo by Margie MiklasDSCN5322 - Copy (640x480)Molise, Italy Photo by Margie Miklas DSCN5309 DSCN5310 DSCN5311Can you tell I have an attraction toward these old doors? I often wonder who lived in these homes and what they were like. Today most of the homes here are vacant. Lots of stories behind these doors…but we’ll never know them.

Posted in Italian Culture and Lifestyle, Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

Italy Magazine Blog Awards

Amalfi Coast - Photo by Margie MiklasI am beyond thrilled to announce that margieinitaly has been shortlisted for the Italy Magazine Blog Awards 2014. Thank you for all your support, because it is thanks to you that margieinitaly has this honor.

Bridge of Sighs in Venice, ItalyMargieinitaly has been shortlisted in two categories. One is for Best Travel Blog and the other is for Best Single Post Art & Culture Blog for the post titled  Street Scenes in Naples.

Street Scenes in NaplesI would be most grateful if you would vote in these categories. Voting ends February 27, 2015 with the winners announced on March 3, 2015 at Italy Magazine. To vote, click on these links:
Best Travel Blog
Best Single Post Art and Culture Blog

Grazie di cuore! Thank you from my heart!
Varenna

Posted in Italy Travel | 23 Comments

Top 7 Excuses People Use Not to Buy Books

Margie Miklas, Author - Book Signing at the Florida Writers Association Conference
As a writer, I enjoy writing a whole lot more than selling or marketing my books. I am sure this is true for most writers, yet books do not sell themselves, so promoting and marketing becomes part of the process.

I have personally found Twitter to be one of the best avenues for promoting and networking, and I enjoy the engagement with others on this 140-character social media venue. I have sold the majority of my books as a result of the word getting out via Twitter, and I have found the community of writers and readers to be  extremely supportive of each other. I am grateful to all who have played a part in this process.

Photo by Margie Miklas

However, as a member of the Treasure Coast Writers Guild I also occasionally participate in events where I have the opportunity to engage readers and sell my books in person. It’s fun and I am able to autograph them for readers who are interested in learning about my travels in Italy. I am not a salesperson by nature, so I don’t sell that many books at these venues overall. Recently, however, I had a fun and successful weekend at a three-day Taste of Little Italy festival, not far from where I live in Florida.

Author Margie MiklasOf course not everyone buys a book and that’s OK, but I am always amazed at the excuses which I have heard again and again. I don’t know why someone doesn’t simply say, “Thank you, not today,” or “I’m not interested,” or “That’s not my genre.” So I decided it’s time to write a post to share with you the top 7 excuses people give not to buy books.

• “I don’t read.” This seems to be one of the most common excuses I’ve heard, and it never ceases to surprise me when someone says this while they walk away. If I myself didn’t read, I would be ashamed to admit it to anyone, but apparently “Honey Badger don’t care.” Unbelievable.
• “I only read the Bible.” This is another excuse I hear almost every time, and I don’t even live in the Bible belt. It’s as if they believe that God doesn’t want anyone to learn anything that isn’t in the Holy Book.
• “I have so many books to read already.” Okay, I can sort of identify with this one, but what’s one more, especially if you seem to really be interested in the subject?
• “I could write a book.” Duh – What does this have to do with reading a book, or buying a book? If you could write a book, go do it.
• “I only read on my Kindle.” While I realize that Kindle sales outsell paperbacks today, I would think a more appropriate response might be, “Is your book available online as an eBook?”
• “I don’t even live here.” This excuse is from a snowbird, someone who lives in Florida for a few months during the winter and then returns to a home up North. The first time I heard this, I couldn’t help myself from asking where they lived and then asking if they read in New Jersey. See why I was not cut out to be in sales? Obviously, the person did not buy a book from me.
• “I didn’t bring any money with me.” This one is another excuse that makes me wonder how anyone could leave their home with no money. Again, even if this was true, I would never acknowledge this to a stranger.

There are plenty more excuses that people give for not buying books, but these 7 are the top ones I have heard. I’d love to hear more, so please share any you’ve heard.

Book signing - Margie Miklas
If you like what you read, please leave a comment, and/or share this post with a friend. I’m always interested in feedback. Until then, keep reading and thank you for not being one who “doesn’t read.”

Continue reading

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Passion for Italy – Guest Blog by Ishita Sood

Today I am happy and honored to feature a guest blog post by a writer who has an unbridled passion for Italy. Like me, Ishita seems to never tire of dreaming and writing about Italy. Please welcome Ishita Sood, a writer from India.

Photo by Ishita Sood ITALYI was always fascinated by Italy even as a young girl, the Colosseum in Rome especially attracted me. I felt a strong pull towards this country of wonderfulness and I knew that someday I would definitely visit Italy.

So in 2013, my friend and I thought of visiting Europe. After setting an ambitious target of wanting to see 5 countries, we narrowed it down to 3 and then finally to two – Italy and Spain. I was sure of one thing – I couldn’t miss Italy for the world!

Photo by Ishita Sood ITALYLanding in Rome on a lovely warm evening in September, just a week before my birthday, little did I know that I would be leaving this country with a heavy heart but wonderful memories for a lifetime. Italy enthralled me, I did not know that a 2 week trip could have that much of an effect on me as Italy did. I felt as if I was in my land, as if I had already visited this place in some other lifetime of mine. It is easier to say that I felt a connection in the first few days of my travel and it was a wonderful feeling. I was ecstatic!

Photo by Ishita Sood ITALYThe cobblestoned streets, wonderful piazzas, street side cafes, everything lured me. I had read a lot about Italy from a guidebook of Lonely Planet especially made for the Indian traveller’s taste and palate. I realized how  similar our country is to Italy. We Indians are big on food and family values just like the Italians; I couldn’t help but smile as I recalled one of the lines from Gregory David Roberts’s book Shantaram. It said very simply “There is so much Italian in the Indians, and so much Indians in the Italians. They are both people of the Madonna – they demand a goddess, even if the religion does not provide one.” How true!

Photo by Ishita Sood ITALYItaly has been my calling ever since. The hill town of Biasa near the Cinque Terre – where I found the real Italy; Florence where I realized how much I love the land; and Rome – my first Italian city which took a bit of my heart.

Photo by Ishita Sood ITALYFor those of you who may be curious, yes I will be visiting Italy again someday soon and this time I will be away from the bigger cities and travel the smaller towns where the real Italy is. Thank you Margie for this wonderful opportunity to write for your blog as a guest blogger, I am thrilled and honoured.

Ishita is an Indian blogger who visited Italy for a couple of weeks and fell in love. Since then, she has been writing, reading and researching on the country. Ishita plans to return to the country soon and visit the unexplored regions. She writes the blog, Italophilia! Italy,Books, and More..!   Follow Ishita on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Posted in Italy Photo, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Planning, TRAVEL, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments