Remarkable Finds

New Family Traditions: Sweat Pants, Movies, and Skype

2 min read

Paul and Susie: New Traditions

From fellow Lulu and blog contributor Paul@Lulu.
You may also recognize him from our Learn with Charlie series.

My wife and I live about 15 hours from our families. To get there requires a substantial drive or a couple of short flights, but the distance still poses a challenge when the holidays roll around. Add to this that both of our families  reside in the northeastern area of the US (cold, snowy, generally unpleasant in December) and you can see why we’re not so keen on traveling home for Christmas. Over the last few years, we’ve learned how to cope with Christmas away from the family, and in the process, created a few new traditions.

One upside of a simple Christmas is that we don’t have to go anywhere. All day. This means there is no need to change out of our sweat pants or do anything really. There’s no hurry to get out of bed. It’s our easiest, laziest day. Just us, our dogs, a nice warm fire, and no responsibilities. A Christmas gift we both appreciate.

To stay in the spirit, we’ve been learning how to make eggnog (to moderate success) and we warm up some spiced cider (if this years ‘nog isn’t up to expectation) and watch Christmas movies. Last year we did the classics (Miracle on 34th, Rudolph, Frosty). The year before we went a little darker, with Nightmare Before Christmas and Gremlins. We’re thinking comedy for this year (maybe Jingle all the Way, Santa Clause, and Elf).

… and the dogs.

Now, it wouldn’t be a holiday if we just relaxed all day. Thanks to the wonders of technology, we can Skype with our families for a little holiday togetherness. One problem with Skype though; if you don’t have something to do, you end up just watching a screen while others enjoy the holiday.

We worked that one out too though. What could be more fun than a good holiday reading? Our families dial us up on Skype, and my wife and I do a reading from a holiday themed book. Last year was an entry from David Sedaris’ “Santaland Diaries.” This year is still up in the air, though we may go back to Santaland because it was such a hit last year.

As far as traditions go, we haven’t done anything new or remarkable. We just try to make the most with what we have, and give ourselves the gift of a stress free Christmas. Wishing you the same!

A Christmas Wish: Make It Memorable

1 min read
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Glenn@Lulu: Content Marketing Manager

When I look back at the Christmas holidays throughout my life – I see a progression from childhood excitement, to teenage apathy, to young adult enthusiasm, to my current midlife contentment. I did not grow up in a particularly religious home. As such, in my childhood Christmas was a secular, American celebration complete with trees, decorations, cooking, baking, and an abundance of gifts from Santa.

In my post-Santa adulthood, the holidays have come to be a time to reconnect with family I see only during holidays, weddings or funerals. More recently the holidays have become a time to share food and drink with dear friends, a time to reach out to friends in far away places, and a time to remember those no longer among us who made the holidays memorable with their smiles, their hugs and their love.

I have to admit, even now clinging to the last days of my 53rd year, when I drive by a home that brightens the night with twinkling lights and decorations, both tacky and tasteful, I flash back to that excited Christmas morning feeling of eager anticipation. There is something special about this time of year, even for those of us who have chosen different spiritual paths.

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My home, mixed traditions

So, no matter how you choose to celebrate, whether with the family into which you were born or the family you have created for yourself along the way, I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a wonderful Winter Solstice, a satiating Saturnalia, a fun-filled Festivus, a Kwanzaa full of love, Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year.

Regardless of your tradition, make it memorable because in the end, our memories are all we get to take with us.

Peace and Love
Glenn@Lulu

 

 

Writer’s Journal: Capture Lightning

2 min read

journalingLook around your favorite coffee house and it’s likely you’ll see an earnest young person huddled over a notebook, diligently scribbling away. Have you ever wondered what they are writing? Are they simply focused on homework, keeping a food diary, or creating a shopping list? Are they capturing the thrill of new love or committing to words the sadness of romance’s end? Perhaps they just had a “Eureka!” moment about a character or plot twist for a story or novel they are writing.

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A page from Kurt Cobain’s journal

While we all have our favored methods for composing, we also often struggle with keeping our ideas and the details about our numerous characters and locations straight in our minds – not to mention the intricate plot details that keep our story logically moving forward. How many times a day do we have that “Eureka!” moment only to lose the thought a few minutes (or sentences) later? Instead of losing the sparks of brilliance, we should learn from the coffee house journalists and capture these fresh thoughts in our writer’s journal.

All writers should have a writer’s journal close at hand. You never know when inspiration will strike or you will hear a catchy turn of phrase you wish to remember or you witness a situation you can re-purpose. Your journal may consist of a binder filled with thoughts recorded on bits of paper, a meticulously maintained bound notebook, or your favorite electronic device. It may be highly organized by characters, scenes, and plot elements or it may be a stream of consciousness jumble of ideas. Your journaling method is as personal as your writing process.

 

Guided Authors Journal (A5, coil bound)

Guided Author’s Journal (A5, coil bound)

If you have a story bouncing around in your head, if you are constantly thinking about writing a book, or you are already deep into your writing, we have a writing journal you (or your favorite writer) may find useful. It’s small enough to tuck into your purse or backpack, is divided into sections to record details about character, plot, and scene development, includes goal tracking to keep you on track, and helpful information about publishing and cover design as well as a special surprise, but I don’t want to ruin it.

Whether you choose to get a Lulu journal or create one more suited to your process, be sure to keep it handy. You never know when lightning will strike. Be ready to capture it.

2016 Gift Ideas

Lulu Jr Book-making Kits

Family Cookbooks

Custom Coloring Books

Memory Books

Best Gifts 2016: From Your Child’s Imagination to Your Mailbox

2 min read

illustoryjuniorLulu Jr. book-making kits include everything your child needs to write and illustrate his or her own story book or comic books, including templates, markers, and a getting started guide. Using the postage paid envelope included in the kit, parents send the handwritten and illustrated “manuscript” along with the “author’s” photo and biography, and in a few short weeks, a professionally printed and bound book arrives by post. Children are delighted when they receive the book they created in the mail, with their bio picture on the back cover and their name and book title printed on the spine.

“I ordered this kit for my granddaughter who is 8 years old. She wrote her book and we mailed it in. The day it arrived she so was so excited. She was doing the happy dance and saying she is an author!!”

Parents and grandparents love the kits to give as gifts. They can also use the kits to write books for their children. They also make great family projects for recording family trips, events and other memories.

“Since he can’t write yet, I’ve let him draw the pictures and tell me the story and I write out the words for him. We’re having so much fun together creating his book.”

According to the 2015 Toy Industry Association’s Trends, Lulu Jr. kits meet three of the top four areas considered by parents when shopping for toys:

  • The Maker Movement, where children build and create
  • Open-Ended Playtime, where creativity and resourcefulness are encouraged, and
  • “Smart” Play where academically focused toys develop cognitive and social skills.

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“This is such a great way to freeze time and remember your child’s precious writings and drawings. As a teacher, I love how this adorable kit promotes literacy even in the youngest kids.”

In the USA, Lulu Jr. kits are available in department stores, bookstores, toy stores and online at LuluJr.com and Amazon.com.

“Wait until you see the young author’s face when the original story they wrote and illustrated comes back in the mail as a real, 20-pg. full color, hardcover book! And look on the back cover. There’s your child in the “About the Author” feature.”

— Good Toy Guide 2015 Holiday Gift Catalog

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Lulu Jr. kits have received over 25 awards, such as Mom’s Choice Award, National Parenting Publications Awards, Dr. Toy’s Best Classic Award, SheKnows Parents’ Choice Awards, Creative Child Magazine Play of the Year Award, Academic’s Choice Brain Toy Award, National Parenting Center Seal of Approval and the Tillywig Toy Award Best Creative Fun.
Lulu Jr. is the children’s division of Lulu Press, the world’s first and premier online self-publishing company.

Sell More Books: Super Size Seasonal Discounts

2 min read

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Let’s try out a few seasonal slogans you could use for holiday marketing efforts…

“Stuff those stockings with books!”

“Put some books on that shelf by the elf!”

“A dreidel AND a book? Best Hanukah ever!”

“Deck the halls with deals on books and while you’re at it strategically develop a marketing plan that takes advantage of Lulu.com’s seasonal sales and discounts.”

Okay, so that last one doesn’t quite flow off the tongue, but it’s good advice all the same. Coordinating your marketing efforts to coincide with Lulu’s impressive holiday discounts is the next best thing to having your books carried right down your readers’ chimneys by Santa himself.

What’s so great about it? For starters, everyone loves books and they love saving money. All you have to do is share the Lulu discount codes in your email and social media marketing. Don’t forget to also share the expiration date and any restrictions.

 

Savvy Marketing Tip

Did you know that when Lulu offers a store-wide discount, you can sweeten the deal by adding another 5, 10, or 15% off? That’s right, a 25% off sale can easily be bumped up to 30 or 40% off for huge savings.

Using this strategy, you can make any day Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or create your own huge sale event.

 

Here’s How to Juice Those Discounts

You can add a discount in the Lulu Bookstore for any printed book or calendar priced above the manufacturing cost.

  • Go to My Projects and click on the project title.
  • Scroll down to Pricing and Creator Revenues and click Edit.
  • Click Pricing Details to view manufacturing and profit splits

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  • Click Set Discount and choose the percentage discount you wish to offer.
  • Click Set Discount to apply the discount.
  • Click Pricing Details to view the discounted price and your revenue.
  • Click Save Changes.

 

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The discount is immediately applied to your book or calendar in the Lulu bookstore.

Note: When applied to purchases, Lulu discounts do not affect author revenue. Author-applied discounts reduce profits and therefore reduce author revenue.

Create a Sales Event

Tell everyone about your super sale.

I’m teaming up with Lulu to offer my book, <book title> at a special discount just for friends/family/fans/readers.

For X days only, Enter code XXXXXXX at checkout and save XX%.

Don’t forget, coupon codes are case-sensitive.

Offer expires: MM/DD/YYYY

Include a link to your book’s product page to make it easy for your buyers to make the purchase. And, though we are currently entering the season of sharing and shopping, this strategy works year-round. At Lulu.com, we’re always looking for ways to promote you and sell your books. Whenever we have a sale — seasonal or otherwise — send out an email or post it on social media letting everyone know. After all, ‘tis always the season for reading!

All current discounts, coupon codes, and expiration dates are listed on the Lulu home page.

 

Best Gifts 2016: Create a Custom Coloring Book. It’s Easy

2 min read

Coloring books are among this year’s hottest quirky trends. When I first wrote about them in January, I truly thought adult coloring would be a quickly passing fad. Boy was I wrong. Apparently the relaxing pastime is just what we all need to take our minds off the everyday stresses of our adult lives.

Adult coloring book themes trend towards imagery such as mandalas, stained glass windows and other complex patterns. They are, in themselves, works of art.

I hear you thinking, “The title says it’s easy. With the holidays quickly approaching, who has time to plan, draw, and publish a coloring book? I’m not an artist.”

Well, my darling, you do and you are – with a little help from technology.

A search of the app store returns several free and inexpensive apps that will convert your photos to line drawings. There are also several tutorials on YouTube for converting images into line drawings using Photo Shop. Check out these examples created with the free version of QuickSketch.

Image converted using the free version of the QuickSketch App.

Image converted using the free version of the QuickSketch App.

 

Myanmar 2015

Myanmar 2015

Myanmar 2015

Myanmar 2015

To Create Custom Coloring Books:

  • For best results, convert pictures to line drawings at their original sizes.
  • If you are using an app, save the converted images to your phone, email them to yourself and save them to your computer.
  • Insert the images into an MS Word file.
  • Resize the images to fit the page.
  • Insert captions if desired.
  • Save the manuscript.

Here’s a quick tutorial for creating, uploading and printing your custom coloring book.

With these apps and the free online tools at Lulu, you can create coloring books using the images from your summer vacation, weddings, baby’s first year, your favorite dining out adventures, local sights, nights out with your friends, or any other theme. Can you imagine a better gift than a coloring book starring you, your friends, and the things you love best?

Color me surprised! QuickSketch also allows to you take photos as line drawings.

Color me surprised! QuickSketch also allows to you take photos as line drawings.

Additional Information

The Secret to Happiness: Adult Coloring Books

Spread Happiness: Create Your Own Coloring Book

The 2016 Best Gift Award Goes to…. You!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 Fun Facts for National Book Month

2 min read

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October is here and with the changing season, many of our thoughts turn to fall leaves, pumpkin-spiced lattes and well… anything and everything pumpkin-spiced.

Here at Lulu, we can’t stop thinking about BOOKS! After all, October is National Book Month. It’s a time to celebrate the joy brought to us by paper, ink, binding and the written word. In honor of National Book Month, we wanted to share some fun book facts you can share with your reading group (it’s also National Reading Group Month) over pumpkin spiced lattes at your local coffee shop.

  1. We all know the smell of old books is glorious, but there’s some interesting science behind it too! Over time the gradual breakdown of the cellulose and lignin contained in paper leads to the production of large amounts of various organic compounds. The odor these compounds produce varies depending on where the book was printed, the paper and ink types and how long the book has been degrading.

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    The Tree Library – Made from Trees

  2. The Alnarp Library in Sweden has a 217 volume collection of wooden books called The Tree Library. Each book describes a specific tree—its binding is bark, moss and lichens found on that species and the book interiors hold more natural surprises. The books were made in Germany during the 19th century.
  3. Of Mice and Men was originally titled Something that Happened.
  4. Abibliophobia – the fear of running out of reading material.
  5. The Neverending Story not only ends, but is estimated to be only around 96,000 words. It was also written by Michael Ende.
  6. William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury includes a 600 word section that has no punctuation!
  7. Avid reading over the course of a lifetime may reduce the rate of memory decline by as much as 32%.
  8. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is the first book written with a typewriter.
  9. The Harvard University library has four law books bound in human skin.
  10. The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan. There was never a recorded Wendy before.
  11. People in Iceland read more books per capita than any other country in the world.
  12. Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in six weeks.
  13. Teeny Ted from Turnip Town is the world’s smallest book.

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    Maybe it would be easier to just stop and ask directions.

  14. The largest bound book in the world is The Klencke Atlas. A 1.75 meter tall by 1.9 meter wide tome that is so heavy six people are necessary to lift it. It was presented as a gift to Charles II of England by Johannes Klencke in 1660. The atlas contains 37 printed wall maps.
  15. Ernest Hemingway survived anthrax, malaria, pneumonia, dysentery, skin cancer, hepatitis, anemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, two plane crashes, a ruptured kidney, a rupture spleen, a ruptured liver, a crushed vertebra, a fractured skull, and more. He ultimately died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
  16.  33% of high school graduates in the U.S. never read another book the rest of their lives.
  17.  The Harry Potter books are the most banned books in America.

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    “WENDY!”

  18.  J.R.R. Tolkien typed the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy with two fingers.
  19. J.M. Barrie gave the rights of Peter Pan to the Children’s Hospital on Great Ormond Street, London so they could always collect royalties and fund the hospital.
  20. It is rumored that Teddy Roosevelt read, on average, one book a day even when juggling the responsibilities of his presidential office.

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