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Curiosity Leads Down the ‘Penguin Highway’

In “Penguin Highway” by Tomihiko Morimi, Aoyama is a curious boy in the fourth grade. He takes copious notes, researches everything, makes observations, and never gets angry. When ever he feels like he might get angry, he thinks of breasts, and it calms him down. Is that normal for a fourth grader? I don’t know, but it’s normal for Aoyama, who is clearly not an ordinary child.

When Aoyama is confronted with several problems, he decides to research them all. His friend Uchida and the girl Hamamoto help him with the time he has to spend on researching “The Sea.” Uchida is also part of his exploring and mapping the town. His side project is researching the lady from the dentist office who can make penguins, which is what sparks the whole story.

Aoyama shows that its not good enough to ask the questions. He keeps a journal with him at all times. Hamamoto does the same, and Uchida learns to use a notebook, even if he isn’t the smartest one in the group. Taking notes allows Aoyama to access the information he has learned at a later time. It also allows him to manipulate the data, so he can get a bigger picture.

Taking notes requires observation skills. Aoyama has practiced observing, so he sees what others may miss. He then makes hypotheses and tests them to see if they can withstand the scientific method. He knows his theories are most likely wrong, but it’s important to make and test them.

Aoyama’s methods are honed and only missing one piece – sometimes, the answer doesn’t lie in the logic of a situation or possible behavior. In creativity, the process is similar: take notes, observe, ask questions and stay curious; sometimes, you have to make that intuitive leap to a better answer.

If you’re looking for another good read, check out these books on my website.

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The Email List: Struggles and Reasons

I’ve been struggling with this idea of an email list for several reasons. It’s a lot of extra work. It’s an extra expense. I don’t really like the email lists I’ve joined, and I was hoping that people would migrate over to my Patreon where we can make beautiful words and penguins together. (You can still migrate to Patreon and get cool things for as little as a dollar a month.)

Extra Work

I already write at least one post a day for my blog; I surpassed 200 days of posting in a row on July 12, 2019. I plan on keeping that streak alive, but it isn’t easy to come up with something new every day. I try to write 3 posts a day for my SEO job when they have work available. I need to write posts for my Patreon – one or two a month. I edit books as a side job.

Adding one more thing to my list of things to do, which includes marketing, continued learning, reading, refilling the creative well, dishes, laundry and other housework, taxes, teaching English, searching for freelance jobs to supplement my income, keeping my social media accounts active and relevant, and spending time with my wife and family, is a little overwhelming, especially when I really have no idea what I’m doing. How can I keep an email list current and active while still finding time to write my next book?

Extra Expense

MailChimp offers free limited use email lists. If I get more than 2,000 subscribers or I want to do something cool like set up a series of future emails, I’m going to have to pay up for that. This extra expense may end up being worth it, but right now, it’s hard to justify. Automation would be great for an introduction to Penguinate.com and its creativity, books and penguins. For now, I have to live with what there is – the opportunity to follow up with an immediate discount email, a day later intro email, and an email on the first of the month that rounds up everything I posted on my blog. Then, I’ll hope people don’t forget who I was when the next email I send is more than a month away.

Other Email Lists

Russell Nohelty and some other people do these great list building contests. For a small fee, authors join the list builder. The money is pooled to come up with a prize package that people will really want based on a fandom, like Doctor Who, Firefly, or Marvel. I’ve signed up for a couple of these and ended up on email lists that were not what I was expecting. (Who knew Buffy the Vampire Slayer was related to the reverse harem genre of books?) Aside from that, I received 20 to 40 different emails or more during a two-day period after the sign up and those emails keep coming until I unsubscribe. They aren’t just from the authors, they’re from Amazon, Kickstarter, GoodReads, and other websites the authors had people sign up at to get more entries. (I did not win the Buffy swag, by the way.)

All the emails end up being the same. Hi, I’m author, here’s what I’ve been working on, here’s a free (short story, book), here’s a contest you haven’t entered, here are some other free books… I don’t want to inundate your email inbox with emails you aren’t going to read, and I haven’t figured out how to make an email that is any different. Why would I want to make an email list where people will get the same thing (minus the freebies) that other authors are already sending out? Do you really want pictures of my cat? (If so, I’ll send them, but she doesn’t like being photographed.)

On Patreon

I was really hoping to build my Patreon into a juggernaut. If I could get 600 people signed up at a dollar each, my financial situation would be much more stable. It wouldn’t give me the opportunity to quite everything, but it would reduce the amount of freelance and SEO work I had to do. Unfortunately, I still haven’t got a handle on how best to get fans to sign up for the Patreon. I’ve offered discounts at any level. I’ve created offers, like join at $30 for three months and get a penguin. I’ve posted about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I haven’t figured out how to grow any of my social networks beyond a certain number and Patreon is the same right now.

Why Am I Doing It?

I am starting an email list because it’s the best way to keep you in the loop about what Jenya and I are doing creatively. YouTube changed its criteria for creators to monetize videos. Facebook changed its algorithm, so that creators had to pay to get their fans to see what’s being posted on the fan page; it has also randomly marked my penguin8.com as spam without giving me a reason or checking the posts that I sent notices about. Weebly eliminated access to its website for anyone geographically listed in Russia and other countries. These changes have made it more difficult for creators to make a living off of random and organic growth. They have also shown that these companies control my eCommerce to a degree that is not only uncomfortable and unprofitable but also dangerously close to being able to remove my presence from my largest outlets with a small change in their algorithms. I can’t count on social media and search engines to drive organic views to my websites.

In addition to this, my SEO job ebbs and flows. There have been days when there just aren’t any articles to write. I need to find a better way to make money, and every other book and website I’ve read about being a creator in the Internet age says an email is the only way to go. When a website like examiner.com or MySpace shuts down or becomes less visited, the email list is still there to sustain the creator. In theory, I’m in control of the email list, and thus in control of my destiny. And isn’t that all anyone really wants? To control his or her direction?

So, please sign up for our email list. Like share, comment on our social media posts and sign up for our Patreon. I look forward to you becoming honorary Penguinators.

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Why I am (Finally) Starting an Email List

Waving stuffed penguins

I’ve been struggling with this idea of a mailing list ever since Russell Nohelty told me I needed to get one. There are several reasons for this struggle, which I will get into in later posts, but here’s the main reason I’ve decided to go ahead and see if I can build a good contact list:

It will help me keep in touch with you better.

Really, the main reason for any email list is to help keep people informed of what’s going on in the artist’s/author’s/penguin maker’s world without having to worry about an algorithm or some other business suddenly deciding that everything coming from your entire website is spam and won’t be shown to anyone on that platform.

To keep you in the loop and let you in on our processes and our lives, this email list provides the best solution. I wanted to keep it on Patreon where I was doing a newsletter every month, but people haven’t been interested in paying a dollar for it, yet. So, this email list doesn’t cost you anything. Other benefits include (what else you’ll get):

  • Pictures of stuffed penguins
  • Updates on new releases in books
  • Links to travel photos
  • A creativity tip or two
  • Discounts
  • Notifications of our events
  • Did I mention that it’s free (for you)?

Hopefully, this won’t just be a one-way conversation. As an author, I need feedback, and building a virtual community hasn’t really been easy so far. So, if you’re interested in the benefits, please sign up for our email list. (It’s in the beginning stages on July 14, 2019, so there may be some bugs.) We plan in sending out a couple of updates immediately and then once a month – say on the 15th of the month. Of course, you can always join our Patreon and see the great content you get access to there. You can also follow us on our social media accounts; check out the links in the footer below.

Thanks so much,

Shad and Jenya

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‘Cleaning the Kingdom’ Provides an Upbeat, Honest Look at Disney Custodial Life

Cleaning the Kingdom: Insider Tales of Keeping Walt’s Dream Spotless” is a detail-oriented explanation of what it is like to be a member of Disneyland’s highly touted and highly effective custodial team. Ken Pellman and Lynn Barron tell great stories in bite-sized chunks that make this an easy and entertaining read, especially if you have any sort of connection to Disneyland throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. They don’t shy away from more difficult topics, like vomit, slacking or death. They give an honest appraisal of what it was like to work at Disneyland.

Fortunately, the in-depth analysis of Disneyland Custodial is totally worth sorting through the errors. From a short history of the leadership to the nuts and bolts of everyday life, to seniority and unions, Pellman and Barron reveal it all. Tony Baxter makes a couple of guest appearances as do some other Disney celebs.

Whether you want to know why Indiana Jones and the Forbidden Eye was down so often or you just want to know why someone would choose to be a janitor, “Cleaning the Kingdom” makes for an informative and fun read. Pellman and Barron run the Sweep Spot podcast and have Patreon page. They save the best in their book for last, with pages 398 through 422 being the reasons that you should purchase this book, especially if you need more positivity and joy in your life.

This article was originally published at www.penguinate.weebly.com. It has been edited and updated.

For more books on Disney, check out “Disneyland Is Creativity,” “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” and “Penguinate! The Disney Company.”

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Go Ahead, Judge Independence, OR, by Its Bookstore

Maybe you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but you should definitely judge a town by its bookstore. Portland has Powell’s, Corvallis and Salem have The Book Bin, and Independence, OR, has Second Chance Books. For a town with fewer than 10,000 people, Second Chance Books provides a great place to pick up your next favorite read.

The owners are friendly and knowledgeable about books, and they are willing to help local authors schedule a book signing. The book collection is larger than you might expect from a small-town bookstore. If you love the thrill of the hunt or just want to discover something new in the used book world, the shelves or chock full of an eclectic mix of books organized by subject and author’s last name.

The joy of a used bookstore lies in its ability to reveal books you may have missed or may not have purchased because of the expense. The value of the bookstore lies in its ability to improve your mind through knowledge and improving imagination. Even a simple walk through of Second Chance Books can inspire you to greater creativity as you read and connect titles of books. If you need a place to get your book fix, Independence, OR, offers a bookstore that will fill the bill, which makes the town a great place to live.

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How to Get Books Written by Shad Engkilterra

If you missed seeing me at any of the events and author signings during the last three weeks, don’t fret. You can still get my books from Amazon, from my website and from the Candy Cane Inn in Anaheim.

Every book I have written is available in paperback format from www.penguinate.com. That’s the website where this blog post has been published. Simply order and pay for the book, and it will be shipped to you in a timely fashion.

If you feel better about using Amazon, you can get many of my books in paperback. Amazon is also the only place to get copies in eBook format via Kindle. (If you want paperback versions of “There Are No Penguins in Alaska” or “Disneyland Is Creativity,” you’ll need to order them from Penguinate.com.)

For people who are going to or near Disneyland, the Candy Cane Inn is a great place to pick up “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” in paperback. (It’s even better if you’re staying there.) The Candy Cane Inn is located on the same side of Harbor Blvd as Disneyland, and it carries a small collection of Disneyland books written by former employees and fans, including my own book and “Cleaning the Kingdom.”

In December, we are signed up to be at Salem Holiday Market from December 13 to 15. There might even be a new book by then.

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Downtown Independence, OR, on Saturday Morning, June 22, 2019

City Cakes and Cafe Author Signing

Independence, Oregon has a uniquely comfortable and cozy downtown area that is on the rise. The quaint buildings create a sense of going back in time while the shops and restaurants offer a surprising variety of gourmet cuisine and collectibles.

On Saturdays, Independence’s downtown picks up the pace a little bit and offers tourists and locals alike the best of Saturday Markets. With one in the parking lot of Umpqua Bank and another at the park, you’re sure to find the freshest and tastiest of fruits and vegetables. (When we were there last, the strawberries were fantastic, and the starter tomato plants were ready to take home.) There are also hand-crafted items like soap and hand creams.

On June 22, you’ll have one more reason to go downtown. I’ll be doing an author signing in front of Second Chance Books. Come by my table between 10 am and 2 pm and find something good to read. You might even be able to ask my wife about her penguins! Independence, Oregon’s, downtown is an amazing slice of Americana, but you don’t have to take my word for it… We look forward to seeing you downtown.

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Second Chance Books in Independence, OR, Hosts Local Author

Professor Penguin studies for greater knowledge.

On Saturday, June 22, 2019 from 10 am to 2 pm, Shad Engkilterra will be signing copies of his books in front of Second Chance Books on Main Street in Independence from 10 am to 2 pm. Shad has written nine books for all ages; come by and check out the books that are right for you.

For children of all ages, “There Are No Penguins in Alaska” offers the opportunity to color while learning about the animals that people find in Alaska. The humor at the end will keep you smiling.

For those from 8 to 11 and for fans of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, the Adventures on the Amur series is two great adventure stories that take place in Far East Russia. Explore a little history and enjoy Steve and Irina’s adventures as they search for the Lost Treasure of Nikolai Nikolaevich or learn firsthand about the Curse of the Golden Kopeck.

For those in high school or older, “The Pirate Union” finds out what would happen if bureaucracy regulated pirate activities. This comedy with a 1990’s sensibility promises magic, puns, and fun as the crew of the Jolly Rogue tries to find out what the nefarious P.U. is up to.

Want to know what it was like growing up poor in the 1980s? “My Life in the Projects” is the mostly true story of how I survived living in government housing as a child.

For nonfiction fans, “Disneyland Is Creativity” and “the Haunted Mansion Is Creativity” offer looks at Disneyland and the Haunted Mansion with an eye toward creativity principles. Take a tour of the Happiest place on Earth and let Walt’s dream bring you greater joy and inspiration through greater creativity, or go through the Haunted Mansion as your Ghost Host leads you on a tour of the beloved attraction while materializing habits to become more creative.

If you need a bathroom reader or are looking for activities to improve your creativity and life, “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories” and “Penguinate! The Disney Company” are the books for you. These collections of short stories and essays provide suggestions for activities to do after each section. Penguinating is the power of positive creativity.

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Free Chapbook from Brian C. Baer at Amazing Las Vegas Comic Convention 2019

Lilac City Comicon 2019

While supplies last, you can get a free chapbook “I Haunt the Spaceship” written by Brian C. Baer, author of “How He-Man Mastered the Universe” and “Bad Publicity,” at the Penguinate table (B91). These chapbooks contain three short stories that center around death and the afterlife. Ghosts on spaceships, a serial killer at a “recovery resort,” and the delay of a film production are all part of the fun.

Baer’s extensive knowledge of the pop cultural phenomenon is on display in “How He-Man Mastered the Universe.” His interviews and research are part of the work that he put into the book, but just as important to the book is the reason behind his passion for He-Man. Baer explores how deregulation changed the world of children’s television and how He-Man led the charge.

Baer’s fictional work, “Bad Publicity” is a noir story involving a tabloid reporter and his ghost informer. The trade-off for great information and what it leads to may be more them the reporter is willing to surrender.

Supplies of “I Haunt the Spaceship” are extremely limited. Make your way to table B91 and claim your copy on Friday! (They will be available all weekend if they last that long!)

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What did I get from Ogden UnCon? Literally…

If you’re considering organizing a convention, “The Land of the Lost” group was amazingly fun. The stars of the original TV show were upbeat, funny, and brought more to the Ogden UnCon than I thought possible.