National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Planner Stickers & FREE PRINTABLE!

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), Planner Stickers & FREE PRINTABLE!

posted in: Armadillo Amore, Indie Publishing, Our Work, Writing | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

November is almost upon us, which means that it is nearly National Novel Writing Month. If you have never heard of this event, the goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. This equates to 1667 words a day from 12:00AM November 1st until 11:59PM November 30th.

This event was started in 1999 amongst a group of friends in San Francisco. It originally took place in July, however it was moved to November “to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather.” We have never participated in this event however, we might try this year.

We have created a FREE printable sheet to help you keep track of your daily and running word counts during National Novel Writing Month in a colorful way! Click the image below for the free PDF printable: NaNoWriMo Tracker!

Free NaNoWriMo Tracker Printable

As some of you may know, as well as being indie authors of three books, we are also sticker makers. We have an Etsy sticker boutique called Armadillo Amore, where we specialize in original, handcrafted fancy planner stickers. We have designed a collection of stickers to help you keep track of and reach your NaNoWriMo goals.

NaNoWriMo Full Boxes & Motivational Stickers
Book Stack Icon Reminder Stickers
NaNoWriMo Half Boxes & Motivational Stickers
Book Icon Reminder Stickers
Book Icon Reminder Stickers
Typewriter Half Boxes
Typewriter Half Boxes
Open Book Icon Reminder Stickers
Open Book Icon Reminder Stickers

This weekend we are having a 25% off sale using the code: GRATEFUL! We also have cute Thanksgiving and Christmas Stickers up for sale!

Armadillo Amore Planner Sticker Shop 25 Percent Off Sale

Happy Saturday everyone!

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How to Obtain an ISBN for Your Indie Published Book through CreateSpace

How to Obtain an ISBN for Your Indie Published Book through CreateSpace

posted in: Indie Publishing, Our Work, Writing | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

What is an ISBN?

ISBN is short for “International Standard Book Number” and is used to identify physically published books. Since 2007, ISBNs have been 13 digits long. Before that, the ISBN-10 reigned supreme. The only supplier of ISBNs in the United States is Bowker. They have an agreement with CreateSpace, which offers a lower price per ISBN. If you are not planing on using CreateSpace, you can buy ISBNs direct from Bowker.

The ISBN for our book, Scout and Malcolm, is pictured below. Check it out on Amazon here.

Scout and Malcolm ISBN

Do I Need an ISBN?

When publishing a physical book through CreateSpace, you need to obtain an ISBN. This is not the case when publishing an ebook through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). With KDP, you will automatically be assigned an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) and do not need an ISBN. You also do not need to purchase an ISBN to publish an ebook through Kobo.

How do I Obtain an ISBN?

After you have started the new project and filled out your title information, you can move onto the ISBN section of the CreateSpace process.



You will encounter four options, as pictured below.


Free CreateSpace-Assigned ISBN



-Available to Libraries and Academic Institutions (One of Three Expanded Distribution Channels)


-CreateSpace is listed as the Publisher. You cannot have your own imprint listed.

Custom ISBN


-Your imprint name is listed as the publisher.

-Relatively cheap. At the time of this writing, it only costs $10.

-Convenience. You can sign up for it through CreateSpace.


-Lack of movability. You cannot use this ISBN anywhere else than through CreateSpace.

Custom Universal ISBN


-Movability. You can use the ISBN if you publish your physical books through other publishers besides CreateSpace.

-Convenience. You can sign up for it through CreateSpace.

-Cost: $99 is cheaper than 1 ISBN through Bowker, which presently costs $125.


-Cost: $99 vs $30/ISBN in the 10 Pack bundle.

Provide Your Own ISBN


-Movability. You can use the ISBN if you publish your physical books through other publishers besides CreateSpace.

-Cost: Cheaper per ISBN if purchased in a multi-pack. At the time of this writing, Bowker is offering ISBNs on sale 10 ISBNs for $250, reduced by $45.


-Less Convenient. Purchase through Bowker at instead of through Amazon.

-Cost: Expensive. While the cost per ISBN is cheaper if you buy more than one, it can be a big investment (hundreds of dollars) for Indie Authors.

Fill out the Form

We chose the $10 Custom ISBN for cost reasons. Movability was less of an issue for us because we only planned to sell through CreateSpace.


Receive ISBN

We received both a 13 and 10 digit ISBN, but only put the 13 digit code into the front matter of our book.


Next Steps

After you have your ISBN, you will want to obtain an LCCN or Library of Congress Control Number. You will also need to design and format the interior and exterior of your book. When you submit your cover, you will leave a blank space where CreateSpace will print your ISBN when you order a proof or a customer orders your book.

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How to Obtain an ISBN for Indie Published Books

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How to Discover Inspiration from the Dictionary

How to Discover Inspiration from the Dictionary

posted in: Indie Publishing, Our Work, Writing | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Feeling bored with the writing you have been creating? You know you have brilliant ideas and can spin a good yarn, but maybe you just need a little boost of creativity, a little zesty zing. If so, today’s post will help reinvigorate your writing.

Step 1: Get a physical copy of a dictionary.

An online dictionary does not have that all important tangible quality. Large or small. Hardback or paperback. Writing is so wispy and ethereal. A physical copy of a dictionary with help bring some earthy weight to this airy craft.

Step 2: Thumb casually through the pages.

Flip, shuffle, and peruse, getting a feel for the weighty book. Relax the mind in a semi-meditative state, not worrying about where you are in the alphabet. Just relax.

How to Discover Inspiration in the Dictionary. It's like using a Ouija Board.

Step 3: Pick a word.

With dictionary in hand, hold with the intention of finding a good word for your story. Follow your intuition toward a page that feels right, then the section of the page that feels right. This can be a bit like using a ouija board. You can close your eyes, look away, or look right at the page as you land on a word.

Step 4: Deliberate.

Like it? Write it down and use it immediately or save it for later. Don’t like it? Look around the page for some other word. Still don’t see a good word? Start at Step 2 and begin again. How do I know if I like it or not? You feel connected to the word, excited and inspired. If you don’t feel these things then, start the process again.

We like to find at least 5 words in a dictionary session. Here’s an example of five fun words plucked from the dictionary using this technique:

1. Relish
2. Smudge
3. Iron Lung
4. Bucolic
5. Damask

Step 5: Enjoy the process!

Writers are among the most insecure people in the world. We can get so down ourselves before our stories ever even see the light of day. Writing should be fun and this process will help with that. Every writer grows as he or she writes more and more, developing a style that may sometimes feel redundant or repetitive as we try to express the story within us. Have patience with yourself. Writing is all about playing the long game. Remember what Gore Vidal said:

Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players. ... I have 10 or so, and thats a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them. - Gore Vidal


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How to Discover Inspiration in the Dictionary

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How to Find the Time to Write ANYWHERE & End Procrastination For Good!

How to Find the Time to Write ANYWHERE & End Procrastination For Good!

posted in: Indie Publishing, Writing | 0 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

J.K. Rowling famously wrote a great deal of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the Edinburgh coffee shop: The Elephant House. (Edinburgh is pictured above, fyi.) But you don’t need to be in a coffee shop to write.

You Can Write Anywhere!

We have been writing for a few years now and have found that inspiration can strike anywhere and any time. Here are some of the places we have found the time to write, even if that means just jotting down an idea:

  • Mall Food Court
  • Produce Department of the Grocery Store
  • Panera Café
  • The Car
  • McDonald’s
  • Doctor’s Office Lobby
  • Bruegger’s Bagels
  • The Library
  • Barnes and Noble Café
  • Home (Virtually every room in the house)

It doesn’t matter where you are. It just matters that you are there and you have is some paper (or a napkin) and pen. What’s more, smart phones make it easier than ever to be a writer.

You can record a voice memo. Or dictate a few lines of witty dialogue into your notes app. Mac particularly likes recording/dictating on her phone because she is a bit dyslexic and a bit hyperactive. So… availability of supplies is no longer an issue. What can be an issue is… YOU!

Mind Games

Once you decide that you can write anywhere, then you still have one major excuse: Procrastination. We’ve all been there. A couple years ago, we discovered it’s a common problem and one author has a solution.

In March 2014, we attended a panel at the Tucson Festival of Books called: “Workshop: Finish That Book” featuring Sophie Littlefield and Laura Fitzgerald. Ms. Fitzgerald handed out a particularly helpful worksheet set, all about “Passion and Productivity for Writers.” We found the third page most useful (pictured below).

You can get the full PDF of the worksheet set here.

Stop Sabotaging Yourself

We have all said, “It’s too hard,” or “I don’t have time,” or “I’m waiting for inspiration.”

Ms. Fitzgerald offers the deeper meaning of these seemingly harmless statements, and then most importantly, she offers alternative self-talk to help end procrastination for good. We highlighted these and offered a final takeaway, courtesy of Fifth Harmony, “Baby, I’m Worth it!”.

If you don’t take your writing seriously, you cannot expect other people to.

People say this all the time, and there’s a reason: IT’S TRUE! Now start writing anywhere and everywhere with a newfound confidence!

“Seize the day. Carpe diem. Make your lives extraordinary!” -John Keating, Dead Poets Society (RIP Robin Williams).

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Evolution of an eBook Cover: Part 2

Evolution of an eBook Cover: Part 2

posted in: Indie Publishing, Our Work | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Welcome to Part 2 of Evolution of an eBook Cover! If you missed Evolution of an eBook Cover Part 1, check it out here.

We left Part 1 with an ugly shade of brown. In Part 2, we will address color, subtitles, and thumbnail blurriness. Read on!

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cover design - 5
Version 5

cover design - 6
Version 6

cover design - 7
Version 7


Here’s what worked: 1) Cat photo at the top. 2) Author name at the bottom. The only issue was the subtitle which makes up a whopping 1/3 of the cover. No big deal. Let’s do this.

Version 5: Subtitle was too generic, but the diagonal was visually appealing. (Dynamic Diagonals! Do you remember that from composition in art/art history class?)

Version 6: I felt this version was too busy. Subtitle looked good, but didn’t really capture the essence of my poetry collection.

Version 7: I went back to the dynamic diagonal as seen in Version 5. For the subtitle, I used the name of one of the poems in the collection: Into the White.

I also did away with the feathering that appeared in Versions 2-4 and instead covered the border with a white line. I think that this gave the cover a much cleaner look.


Poetry is inherently romantic and so red seemed like the most logical choice for my poems. I was very pleased with the red, so much so that I uploaded the cover to kdp and published it.

When it went live, I was happy… for about 30 seconds. Then I noticed that the thumbnail was blurry! (You can see the blurriness I’m talking about in the above images of Versions 5-7.)


I spent some time searching for remedies on forums and blogs. No dice.

I looked at other covers on Amazon and noticed some blurriness, but not as bad as on my cover. I tried to ignore it.

Then I realized that I was in DENIAL! I had to fix it. I had to!

So the next day when I was scrolling through covers on Amazon, I noticed that covers with plain backgrounds were more blurry than covers with photo backgrounds.

I also discovered through some more Googling that the cause of the blurriness is known as Compression Artifacts, which you can read more about at It seemed to me that artifacts (or blurriness) are worse when using a plain background.

To avoid blurriness, you need a background that has lots of different colored pixels. That way, when the image is compressed, the blurriness blends in.

I found a photo of footprints and paw prints in the snow from a winter trip in Virginia a few years ago. I had to adjust the position of the text a bit, but I was pleased with the new image and uploaded the cover. It took about 3 days for the blurry cover to leave and the pretty cover to appear.

It was well worth it!

final cover


The Final Version!


Now, some of you might be asking “Could uploading my file as a TIFF format rather than JPEG format help?” And the answer is no.  Book covers are posted as JPEGs, not as TIFFs. Therefore, it is my firm belief that: It is better to have a photo than a plain color as a background for your book cover.

I hope you have found these posts educational.

Here is a list of Key Takeaways for eBook Cover Design:

1. Size your cover at 4500 px high x 2813 px wide at 350 pixels per inch

2. Use Google Fonts for FREE fonts, so you don’t have to worry about license/copyright issues.

3. Use what colors YOU like. Your cover is an expression of you and the book you have poured your heart into.

4. Use a photo rather than a plain color as a background for your book cover to avoid blurriness.

5. Experiment until different fonts, colors, and photos until you love your cover! How many books have you picked up, just because of a well designed cover? It’s well worth the time and energy to create a beautiful one.


Need a Cover? Hire me!

For a free quote, send me an email at

Check out my other services under my Hire Me! page.


Get my Poetry Collection: Two by Two TODAY!

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Evolution of an eBook Cover: Part 1

Evolution of an eBook Cover: Part 1

posted in: Indie Publishing, Our Work | 1 | This post may contain referral links. See privacy policy for more.

Designing a book cover is one of the most exciting parts of self-publishing. This is especially true since traditionally published authors are not typically allowed much input about their book covers.

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Consequently, at the beginning of designing your book cover, you may feel quite powerful.

Yes! I get to design my own book cover! I’m going to nail this! Yes, I realize I have just used three exclamation points. Here, have another!

Well, maybe you didn’t think that exactly, but anyways…

As Spider-Man fans know, With great power comes great responsibility. As I designed my first cover, I felt the full weight of that statement.

In the following post and its sequel (Evolution of an eBook Cover: Part 2), I will reveal my process for creating the cover of my poetry collection, Two by Two: Into the White. If you enjoy this post or if you love quality poetry, please consider getting the eBook!

The first thing I did was crack open a new document in Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and set the size as 1563 px x 2500 px at 72 pixels/inch per the recommendation at

However, some say 2820 px x 4500 px would be better. In the end, I recommend your cover to be 4500 px high x 2813 wide at 350 ppi for best image quality.

cover design - 1

Version 1


The font is Montserrat, which I downloaded from Google Fonts. In case you haven’t heard of Google Fonts, here is a quote from their “About” page to explain:

“All [Google] fonts are Open Source. This means that you are free to share your favorites with friends and colleagues… And you can use them in every way you want, privately or commercially — in print, on your computer, or in your websites.”

By using Google Fonts, you can rest assured that it’s completely FREE; no strings attached. Awesome, right?


My poems are simple and I wanted my cover to reflect that, so I kept it just black and white.

As we proceed, you will notice that the title of my book changed as I designed the cover. This is another great aspect of the flexibility and power that comes with self-publishing.

As pleased as I was with the cover, I thought it needed something else. So I added a photo of my cat.

cover design - 2
Version 2

cover design - 3
Version 3

cover design - 4
Version 4

For Versions 2, 3 and 4, I experimented with different titles, placements and colors.


  • I experimented with another font, Baskerville, in the subtitle of Versions 2 and 3. However, I had not yet thought of the copyright/license issue. I discovered a replacement Google Font later: Libre Baskerville.
  • I moved my name to the top in Version 4 to see how it looked. I was not a fan, so I moved it back to the bottom.
  • With the image of my cat, I used the cookie cutter tool in photoshop to add a 10 px feather. This got rid of the hard edge of the photo.



  • These covers all sport a brown/tan palette. The reason I chose those colors was simple. Many tutorials on book cover design say to choose colors from the photo you are using. That gives the cover a very harmonious appearance.
  • I used the eye dropper tool in photoshop to pick out the exact hex code for the colors from the cabinet my cat is standing on. In case you are curious, the light brown is #ffcc99 and the dark brown is #663300. The gray font in Version 3 is #333333, which I found in my cat’s fur. You can experiment with hex codes at
  • I tried desperately to appreciate the brown, but I just couldn’t. Brown is one of my least favorite colors. So I ended up changing it.
  • Main message: You DON’T have to use colors from the photo you are using! Use what colors YOU like.

To see what color I changed the brown to, read Evolution of an eBook Cover: Part 2!

Get my Poetry Collection: Two by Two TODAY!

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