I need your eyes!

I am working on an eBook of 1-minute stories and poems. What looks better when you are reading on a tablet or phone in portrait mode? (I formatted to page to fit on an iPad in portrait mode and assume most tablets or Kindle readers would be similar.)

Is it the first one with the poem on the image? 

Or do you prefer the second one with text on the page but below the image? 

Please share your preference in the comments below. Thanks! ~Joe

Behind the Scenes

A few months back I wrote about observing my wife, Shelley from Here Come The Blooms and other wedding and event professionals as they worked behind the scenes to do a styled photo shoot that was published in Strictly Weddings. I couldn’t resist doing a photo essay on Steller.

Forgot a page: Violen p. 4.5

beach glazed 1

For what seemed like many weeks, Lenny  passionately practiced the song his uncle taught him.  He practiced in his bedroom before school, at his secret spot during recess, Mondays after school with Mr. Trumbo, and in his bedroom before he went to sleep. Lenny’s mom loved going to the beach, and it only took them fifteen minutes to walk to the beach from their house. Whenever his mom went to the beach, Lenny brought his violin. It was his favorite spot away from school. The park was also one of his trusted spots. Lenny and his new violin had become inseparable.

Notes: You are reading an excerpt from my 1st children’s picture book, Violen. Yes, I missed including some text on a previous post, so I will call this one page 4.5. Violen is a story about a young boy who has an extraordinary gift and passion to play the violin. If you like my story, please share this post. Thanks for your support. Image shot by Albert Montes and edited by me using an iPhone and Glaze app.

Collaborating on Illustrating The Story

I finished the initial draft of my first children’s book, Violen 15 years ago but didn’t know how to publish it or even how to share the story. Today’s technology with the explosion of social media gives me the opportunity to share my writing to a much wider audience than I ever had before. I don’t have the drawing skills to illustrate my own photos, but not too long after I got hooked on mobile photography, I realized that I could illustrate my stories with photography.

I asked Albert Montes to photograph my first story. We had met years ago through church, then we reconnected on Instagram. After seeing Albert’s incredible work, I asked him to be the main photographer for the story. We shot in 4 locations in different parts of Long Beach, California. I wanted to illustrate the story in black and white. Albert shot with Hipstamatic on his iPhone 4S. Now, looking back I realize that I should have been shooting a lot more behind the scenes. I only took a few, and this one was during our first photoshoot.


Time to Reboot!

violen and violin

I’m in the middle of a reboot. When I self-published my first children’s book, Violen there were a number of “Doh!” moments, like finding typos. The young man who allowed to be photographed had reminded me that he wanted his identity to be obscured. I wanted to be good to my word, so I re-edited all the photos with an oil-painting app “Glaze” on my iPhone. I also, went through the story and now submitting with with my educator friends to be my editors/proofreaders. Going to start a Kickstarter campaign at the end of the month to self-publish books to get into as many educators in as many schools, libraries, and indie bookstores as I can. If I can get over some silly typo error that I’ve done twice now with where my name belongs on the credits page, then I can publish the eBook version on iTunes and Amazon. I will be sharing the story, a page a day, here on my blog and as social media at the start of the Kickstarter campaign. I’m excited to share my first story.

Somewhere in Long Beach

20131111-105759.jpg Hipstamatic on iPhone 5 with my most used combo: Tejas lens + Blanko Freedom 13 film. I took this in California Heights area of Long Beach, California where the neighborhoods have the old street lamps and the streets themselves are still concrete. I walked through the tree-covered avenues to get to my junior high school. Many times, I chose to walk the 2 miles to get to school instead of getting a ride, that is, until I got a blue Schwinn beach cruiser in 9th grade. I wish I still had that cruiser. Cali Heights is one of the charming spots in Long Beach.

At The Local Library

I am rediscovering the wonderful resource called the library. In the midst of information and content being delivered and accessed digitally, it is refreshing to sit down in a place dedicated to literature and read a book. I just started Holes by Louis Sachar.

Violen For Sale on Blurb.com

Violen can be purchased as an eBook for 99¢ and print book starting at $14.99. Thanks for your support!

An Excerpt from Violen

This story is currently sold on Blurb as an eBook and printed book. 

My book in hard cover!


I finally got my first published children’s book in the mail. It’s currently sold as an eBook download or printed book on Blurb.com.

Read more about it on Backspaces (@joe_montoya) and the Violen Project page of my site.