The End of the Road for Amazon Advantage

Since I first published my book in 2011, I have sold both the paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon. Each sells through a different venue: the Kindle version via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and the paperback book via Amazon Advantage. I never did feel that Amazon Advantage was a great deal for me as a small vendor–I must pay shipping fees, a higher than usual wholesale discount of 55%, and an annual fee of $29–but a book that’s not on Amazon just hasn’t made it, right? I justified the extra cost by considering my access to the huge international market, name recognition, and one-stop shopping Amazon provides. They would stock a few of my books and order more as some sold. I haven’t had any complaints.

Until recently, that is. On April 14, I received an email from Amazon touting a host of new marketing services such as pay-per-click ads, vine reviews, and special “A+ detail pages” to give my buyers a rich shopping experience.

Sounds good, right? Well, they also mention that the fee will be going up to $99 per year in May. That’s just over two weeks away from when they sent the email.

There is no option to remain at the lower fee and opt-out of the new services. It appears that Amazon is trying to weed out their small vendors. If I close my Advantage account with them, I can never re-open under the same company name and contact information. I don’t quite understand why it must be such an ultimatum, but it is their policy.

I will continue to sell my paperback version on my website here at Starflight Press, and the Kindle ebook on Amazon. Wholesale print orders will continue to flight schools and shops. But the print book on Amazon, sadly, will be a thing of the past. I have to wonder how many other small vendors have also decided to leave the Amazon Advantage program this week. It’s unfortunate that Amazon is making their Advantage program not so much of an advantage for me anymore, but change can often bring new opportunities. At the very least, it’s got me writing my blog again. We’ll see what other advantages I can take away.

Donated drawing of Jerrie Mock helps raise money for WAI chapter

A short time ago, I was featured in a short blurb in Aviation for Women magazine publicizing my custom drawings of airplanes. One of the responses I received from this mention was an email asking if I’d be willing to contribute somehow to help out a new WAI chapter. Named Spirit of Columbus after Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock’s airplane, this chapter needed to raise funds for its charter and its mission of spreading the word about Jerrie Mock. I’m all for supporting women in aviation, so I told her I was in!

So who is Jerrie Mock? She is the first woman to fly solo around the world. She did so in 1964, becoming a true pioneer for women in aviation at a time when aviation was still very much considered a man’s world.

pencil drawing of jerrie mock and her airplane, the spirit of columbus
My pencil drawing of Jerrie Mock and her airplane, The Spirit of Columbus.

My drawing was based on Jerrie’s favorite photo of herself in front of her plane, wearing pants (as she preferred), and was raffled off during an unveiling of a statue honoring her in Columbus, Ohio. I’m happy to report that enough money was raised from my drawing and other item sales for the chapter charter! The winner of the drawing will display it where she works at NetJets. I’m happy that in a small way I was able to help this chapter spread the word about Mock’s amazing achievement and inspire more women to reach for the skies!

women around a statue of woman pilot jerrie mock with a framed pencil drawing of her and her plane
WAI Spirit of Columbus Chapter members at the Jerrie Mock statue dedication. See my framed drawing to the right of the statue!

From the WAI blog:

Funds are now being raised through the Columbus Foundation to place a sculpture at Port Columbus International Airport where Mock flew in and out in 1964. Learn about upcoming event, contribute to the sculpture fund, or purchase Jerrie’s book at

Read more about the event at the WAI Connect Blog: Statue Unveiled Honoring Jerrie Mock, First Woman to Fly Solo Around the World.

Publicity in Aviation for Women Magazine!

If you’re a Women in Aviation, International (WAI) member, you may have noticed a little blurb on me in your July/august issue of Aviation for Women magazine! Look at the lower right corner on page 17, and you’ll find a small picture of a recent custom drawing I did (originally 18×24 inches) and some information about what I offer, as well as a link to my Etsy shop.

Do you have a photo of a plane or something else you’d like to turn into a pencil or pen drawing? I’d love to create a special gift or keepsake for you. Often subjects for this purpose are airplanes and houses as gifts for owners. I even recently drew a lion for a special boy that was very well received. Contact me and we can talk about your ideas!

Thank you so much to Amy Laboda and everyone at WAI who generously offered me some publicity.

magazine page with custom artwork article
Page 17 from the July/August issue of Aviation for Women, with a blurb about my artwork!

Pioneers of Aviation History: The WASP Museum in Sweetwater, Texas

During a cross-country road trip last month, I stopped in Sweetwater, Texas, where the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) trained at Avenger Field during WWII. The surrounding landscape is dominated by forests of huge windmills stretching to the horizon, with farms and small towns dwarfed below. In places there were so many, it was a bit eerie. As we turned off Interstate 20 and approached the WASP museum, we imagined the women pilots of the 1940s would have been startled to see these white giants scattered across their training grounds.

The WASP Museum is located in a hangar at Avenger Field. Admission is free. A friendly woman with a wonderful Texas accent was there to give us a short guided tour of the exhibits and answer questions. A gift shop had books, t-shirts, and posters for sale.

The museum is small but has some very memorable exhibits. One of these was a target flag donated by former WASP Beverly Beesemyer. We smiled at the thought of this pretty girl next door flying a military plane out in the desert, towing this surprisingly small cloth flag (about 2 feet square!) for the male pilots, who used it for in-flight target practice. It is pockmarked with colorful bullet holes. The bullets were color-coded by pilot to later see who was hitting the mark most often. A video interview of Ms. Beesemyer plays in a loop, so we were able to hear her speak firsthand about her adventures. We felt grateful someone took the time to record her story in this way.

We were able to get a glimpse into the daily life of the WASP with the barracks display. Small, tidy beds and wooden wardrobes were arranged against the walls, with study desks in the middle of the room, just as they were in the 1940s. A spartan lifestyle focused entirely on flight training! Though surely a box of candy or two was hidden away once in a while?

Also in the museum is one of the instrument simulators used in WASP training, with a complicated arrangement of gears and circuits to work the instruments and record the pilots’ inputs. We marveled at the things accomplished back then without computers!

During a recent reunion at the museum which included big band music, all attending WASP made hand impressions and wrote their names in cement slabs. These are displayed in rows in the museum, with a corresponding 1940s photo and biography of each woman. What fascinating and diverse lives they led. Even today they would be an extraordinary group of women, but in those days they were even more exceptional–and in some cases, undoubtedly colorful! It seemed to me to have been a very special moment in time when these women were gathered here together, making history.

As a side note, if you’re hungry while in Sweetwater, you’ve got to try Allen’s Fried Chicken. A real down-home Texas family style restaurant, you sit at large tables with other guests while fried chicken and about 10 sides are served up, all you can eat. When you’re done, you pay $9 per person at an old punch-button cash register. It was a great way to soak up the local flavor and meet some nice people.

Rich Stowell’s eBooks Now in Apple’s iBookstore

Pilot, flight instructor, and author Rich Stowell, known as “The Spin Doctor,” is an expert on the subject of loss of control in airplanes. He has produced books and four DVD programs covering spins, emergency maneuvers, and aerobatics. He also provides personalized training to make pilots safer and more knowledgeable in the air. Now his two books, Emergency Maneuver Training and Stall/Spin Awareness, are available in ebook format in Apple’s iBookstore!

An excerpt from his news release:

In June, Stowell will celebrate 25 years as a full-time aviation educator. He is the 2006 National CFI of the Year, an eight-time Master Instructor, and a charter member of the Society of Aviation and Flight Educators. He has logged more than 33,000 spins and 24,000 landings.

It was an honor and a pleasure to work with Rich on this project! If you are a pilot of any experience level, Rich’s books and flight training programs are well worth your time, and just may save your life someday.

Wings Club recognizes Patty Wagstaff with Outstanding Aviator Award

Tell me something I don’t know, right? Patty Wagstaff is a role model in so many ways, for women, for pilots, for anyone who wants to pursue big goals. Here’s an excerpt from the story in General Aviation News:

Wagstaff’s accomplishments broke barriers and opened doors for other women to follow, club officials noted. In 1991 she became the first woman to win the U.S. National Aerobatic Championships and she would go on to win the Nationals three times, for three consecutive years. In addition to these U.S. Championships, she has earned a position on the U.S. Aerobatic Team at the World Aerobatic Championships six times, and six times won the Betty Skelton “First Lady of Aerobatics” Award.

…Wagstaff volunteers with the Kenya Wildlife Service, giving recurrent and aerobatic training to law enforcement officers patrolling for poachers of elephant tusks and rhinoceros horns.

What a lady! It is truly a high honor to have Patty’s endorsement on my book, when I’ve looked up to her for so long. I’ve been able to see her perform once at the Reno Air Races, where she made my jaw drop with her amazing octagon. It was unforgettable. Yet she remains a friendly, down-to-earth person with all her fame. If you have the chance to see her fly, I’d encourage you not to hesitate—and bring some young people along with you, too! It might be the spark that starts the career of a future pilot. At the very least, they’ll become an instant Patty Wagstaff fan.

Visit the Official Patty Wagstaff website to learn more and see her show schedule.

All Clear in Holland

While Holland may be small in size relative to the United States, their enthusiasm for aviation is very big! All Clear is a magazine that just featured a book review of Flight Emergency. The review was written by Rene Verjans of in The Netherlands. Rene, a pilot, aviation enthusiast, and avid book reader, writes excellent book reviews (56 as of the day of this post) in Dutch and English, all aviation-themed. Many of these books are in English and easily found online, so take a look! Thanks, Rene.

Discover a World of Handmade Items (and my Aviation Illustrations!) on Etsy

Have you ever visited Etsy? It’s a fantastic online site where people from all over the world sell handmade and vintage items of all kinds, from furniture to clothing, candies to iPad cases. Members can create “treasuries,” or collections, of their favorite items within a theme of their choosing. As an example, here’s recent treasury featuring a print of one of my illustrations from Flight Emergency, entitled “Traveling on the Wings of Angels” from Fiona Zakka in Europe. This particular one is from the chapter “On Thin Ice” where, depending on your decisions, you might face icing in this scary storm during your approach to land!

ink drawing of a cessna 172 flying in a rainstorm
Illustration of the scary, stormy approach from the chapter “On Thin Ice” from the book Flight Emergency by Reya Kempley

Take a look around Etsy and you’ll find some beautifully crafted, unique items made by talented people from all over the world. Most are happy to create custom orders as well. Once you see what inventive entrepreneurs can create outside of mass production, I bet you’ll be hooked!

P.S. If you’d like to see more of my illustrations like the one above, check out the Aviation Illustration section of rockplanet’s shop, or the book Flight Emergency.