TAX TIME WITH ROYALTIES

I am a professional author. I know this because I collect royalties from a book I wrote. Today, I got two 1099 forms from Amazon. One is for the Kindle version of my book, the other for the paperback (trade) version.

The total for 2015 was … are you ready? $6.89 for the year.

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I don’t know how I spent all that money. It leaves me breathless. The good news is I’m pretty sure 2016 has already proved more lucrative than all of last year . It’s only the beginning of February, but I’ve breached the $10 bottom line and may hit the heights of greater than $25 — the amount at which the I.R.S. wants to know about you.

This is probably the only time that having the I.R.S. notice you feels good.

teepee book shelf

It turns out that giving my book away for free (or almost free) does not generate royalties. I remember one month where the total royalty was 5 cents and many months of royalties direct deposited to my account which were much less than a dollar.

That being said, I’d rather you read it and find it worth the time, than have it molder unread — the fate of most books of this type.

teepee book back

To all of you who “read me” this year and were kind enough to tell me you enjoyed my book, thank you. Very much. Though “The 12-Foot Teepee” may not generate a lot of money, your enjoyment makes me feels rich.

Wealth is more than a number.

MY LIFE AND WELCOME TO IT

Once upon a time, I built a teepee. I painted the door and filled it with things I loved. I made the poles, sanded each by hand, peeling the bark from each 16-foot sapling we had cut in our own woods.

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Then I wrote a book about building it, and about life, transformation, and other things, some funny, some sad, some just whatever.

The manuscript for The 12-Foot Teepee took me about 7 months to write, almost as much time to edit, then a few more months to design the cover and the book. Getting it published, well … that’s a whole other story.

This was my teepee.

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It stood, through all seasons for five years. This summer, the poles could no longer support the canvas, and the canvas itself was mildewed. Its time was over and it came down.

There won’t be another. I’m past sitting on any floor, even a teepee. It’s not getting down. It’s getting back up.

teepee book shelf

Building it was a rebirth. A physical teepee is nothing but a bit of canvas and sticks, the rest is spirit, love, and hope. I knew it wouldn’t last indefinitely. It survived for five years, which is about as long as it could in this climate. Especially since I left it up through all four seasons. Still, I miss it and always will.

I had some great hours in my teepee. My favorite was when snow was falling and I was cozy by my fire. It was the most peaceful place in my world.

You can find the book on Amazon, both as a paperback and in Kindle format. It is “The 12-Foot Teepee,  by Marilyn Armstrong.

My life has moved on considerably since then but writing it was a turning point in my life. So … that was my life. And I wrote it already. Would I read it? I’m not sure. I haven’t made up my mind about that. Yet.

“THE 12-FOOT TEEPEE ” by Marilyn Armstrong (Book Review)

Thank you for your kind words!

Traces of the Soul

The 12-Foot Teepee by Marilyn Armstrong

This is the review I wrote at Amazon.ca for The12-Foot Teepee by Marilyn Armstrong:

I discovered this novel at Ms. Amrstrong`s blog here. I’m so pleased I did! Marilyn Armstrong takes the reader on a journey “with Margaret” as she builds this 12-foot Teepee, we are faced with her decluttering to make room for this refuge…place of tranquility and inner peace. I felt like I was on a two lane highway with her, one leading towards a teepee that will withstand New England winters {which I tried to imagine in my home, Montréal}; the other lane is looking back and painfully processing her abusive and heart wrenching childhood; we travel alongside her as she experiences life, heartbreak, joy, tragedy, grief, God, love and family. Her sense of humour and honesty is so refreshing. I cried on the bus, laughed out loud on the Métro…

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MY BOOK LIVES – “THE 12-FOOT TEEPEE” IS THE BOOK

I always feel a little humbled when I realize someone is actually reading — and enjoying — The 12-Foot Teepee, by me. Thank you for this lovely review and for being lovely YOU!

In response to today’s Daily Prompt: Connect the Dots.

soul n spirit

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Yesterday only I purchased this book on kindle which has been written by none other than Marilyn Armstrong, Serendipityfame and today this prompt came as a surprise. For old bloggers Marilyn Armstrong and her blog doesn’t need any introduction. As far as new folks out there……Few words about the author:

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THE TEEPEE – I REMEMBER

Once upon a time, I built a teepee. I painted the door and filled it with things I loved. I made the poles, sanded each by hand, peeling the bark from the 16-foot saplings we had cut in our own woods.

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Then I wrote a book about building it, and about life, transformation, and other things, some funny, some sad, some just whatever. The manuscript for The 12-Foot Teepee took me about 7 months to write, about as much time to edit, then a few more months to design the cover and book. Getting it published, well … that’s another story.

This was my teepee.

It stood, through all seasons, for five years. Through snow and ice, drenching rain, hurricanes and hale, it stayed solidly anchored. This past summer, we realized the poles had rotted through. They could no longer support the canvas. And the canvas itself was mildewed and tears had appeared in various places. Its time was done. We took it down.

You can find the book on Amazon, both as a paperback and in Kindle format. It is The 12-Foot Teepee,  by Marilyn Armstrong.  My life has moved on considerably since then but writing it was a turning point in my life.

And for the years the teepee was mine, it was the one place in the world in which I always felt safe and at peace. I will always miss it. It was also the only space I’ve ever known which was entirely, completely, absolutely mine.


Oasis — A sanctuary is a place you can escape to, to catch your breath and remember who you are. Write about the place you go to when everything is a bit too much.

NOT SETTING THE PUBLISHING WORLD ON FIRE

Almost every month, Amazon informs sends me a bit of money from sales of my book. The amounts are enough to get a cup of coffee and a doughnut at Dunkin Donuts, but not enough for a cappuccino or anything at Starbucks. I’m always tickled that someone bought a copy. I’ve set the Kindle price as low as they will allow, so I don’t exactly make a killing on royalties.

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I wrote the book in 2007. Publication date is officially September 27, 2007, though it really didn’t “hit the market” so to speak until 2008. I did lots of “author things.” Television interviews on local cable, radio interviews. I got a bit of nice local press.

I arranged book signings. They were fun, though turnouts were small. I got to meet other local authors, some of whom have become friends.

I sold a few hundred books. Not bad for a self-published book. For a while, I got royalty checks that were large enough for a cheap dinner for two at a local fast food joint. I briefly thought Teepee would be a minor straight to DVD movie, but financing failed. So much for Hollywood.

It’s difficult to successfully market a self-published book. Like all new authors, I had dreams of glory. I dreamed of Hollywood and best-seller lists. I was deluded.

A highly personal book largely based on life experiences will sell only if written by a celebrity. Even celebrity tell-all books don’t do well, moving from display in the front of the store to the discount bargain bin faster than you can say “I didn’t know he/she wrote a book …”

Recently, I got to read a lot of books deemed “the best fiction of the year.” I have no idea on what basis these books were determined to be the best of anything. The overall quality is pathetic. Most of them are uninspired, derivative, and trite. Boring at best, unreadable at worst. Many will cause you gastric distress and lead to a burning need to read something involving wizards, vampires, and time travel.

Every now and again I bump into a winner … an author who can really tell a story, and a story that transports me to another place. I live for those moments. It’s too rare.

Which brings me back to my book. It is not deathless literature, but it’s better than most of the books designated as the best of the year’s fiction. My book has characters, humor, and the semblance of a plot as well as a good-faith attempt by the author (me) to make a point. At the very least, you will learn how to build a tepee (perhaps how not to build a teepee). You might not love my book, but I’m pretty sure it won’t bore you into a stupor.

These days, books that sell are mostly cops and courtrooms, whodunits, thrillers, terrorists, fantasy, and the supernatural. Is the real world too dull to write about? Are we that boring?

If you are interested, you can buy the paperback here and the Kindle edition here. If you belong to Amazon Prime, you can borrow it for free.

I worry about the state of publishing. I am sure more good writers can’t find a publisher than can.

Why not publish more books? E-books cost nothing but storage space . Books like mine, published as “print to order”, don’t exist until after they are bought and paid for. It’s risk free and would be good for everyone.

I fear how many authors are ruined by their inability to play the marketing game. Writing a book is easy compared to marketing it. The race by publishers to put out only best-sellers doesn’t work anyhow. Most books flop, just as they always have.

As far as I can tell, most acquisitions editors wouldn’t know a great book if it bit them on the ass. It’s not that I’m so great and couldn’t get a reading, a publisher, or an agent. It’s that what does get published is so dreadful.

COVER ART – THE 12-FOOT TEEPEE

Cover Art – Weekly Photo Challenge

Guest host Pete Rosos invites you to imagine the cover of a favorite book, music album, or magazine.


I don’t have to look far for this since I actually did write a book. I wrote it, designed the interior layout and the cover. The cover, spine, and back required multiple iterations, but eventually I think it came out pretty well.

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teepee book back

You can, if you like, actually buy the book which is available through Amazon both as a paperback and for Kindle. Some people think it’s great and I deeply appreciate their kindness.

I wrote “The 12-Foot Teepee” about seven years ago. I think. Hard to remember. So much has happened since then and I’m in a very different place spiritually. In other ways, I’m in the same place.

The lessons I learned are as relevant today as they were then.

I don’t know if my “now” place is better, but it’s different. Life … for all of us … is a moving target. Change is part of being alive and we are not the same people from one part of our life to the next. That’s a good thing because if we stop changing, we die — mentally and emotionally. Change IS life. However — when you are a writer, it’s more than a little unnerving to encounter a past self in your own book.

It’s difficult for me to appreciate “Teepee” the way others do. I tend to focus on how I should have phrased that part differently. It reminds me how much I and my world have evolved since I wrote it, which is sometimes as if I am channeling an alternate version of me.

I’ve learned a lot about using Photoshop since I put this together and I think I’d make a classier cover now than I did back then. Mind you, I’m not unhappy with the cover. Pretty good for an amateur.

In any case, I can’t replace these covers. The teepee no longer stands. Last year, after 6 years through all seasons, her poles were rotted and the canvas moldy. A bobcat had taken up residence there. She needed to be put to rest.

I miss my teepee.

THE 12-FOOT TEEPEE by Marilyn Armstrong – Available for Kindle and as a paperback.