Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rainy Day Blogfest Entry- "Rainy Day with Sam and Bea"

Over at The Writer's Hole Christine is holding a Rainy Day Blogfest. Splash on over and read everyone's entries. We're having triple digit temps here in California, so this is quite refreshing for me.

This little scene involves two characters from my fantasy enovel, Syzygy, available on Smashwords and Amazon. This scene isn't in the book. I wrote it especially for the blogfest.

One more tid-bit before I jump into it- found this article about what you're smelling in the air after the rain.

Now, without further ado...

Rainy Day with Sam and Bea


Bea flipped back her black hair and leaned over her notebook to add shading to the hat she had doodled.

"Bea, it's raining."

She dropped her pencil and sprang up at the sound of Sam's words and hurried to join him at the open kitchen window.

Rain pinged as it hit Sam's bike, which was parked just outside the window. Drops pattered on the roof and somewhere out there it was trickling like the sound of a tiny brook. Sniffing the air- moist, sweet, and earthy, almost made Bea's mouth water.

"Rain." It was like a mystical phenomenon for the two friends who'd grown up in sunny California where the word "drought" was muttered ruefully every year.

"Yes!" Bea punched the air with a leap and knocked into Sam's skinny arm, jostling his cup of cola.

Sam licked soda off his thumb. "I'm going out."

"Wait for me," said Bea.

"You snooze, you lose. It might not last."

Three-and-a-half minutes later, Bea sprinted down the front porch to join Sam on the concrete path which was darkened from the rain to a steely gray that matched the sky. She tipped her head back and let the raindrops pepper her cheeks, lips, and eyelids.

"You like the rain," said Sam with a note of skepticism, "but you have to get into all of this gear to go out in it?"

"I love the rain and I'm excited for an excuse to wear my new things." Bea looked down to admire her black raincoat spotted with little white lightning bolts and her matching rubber boots, which were tasting a puddle for the first time. Then she noticed Sam's bare feet. She giggled at him in his "Edward Scissorhands" t-shirt and shorts. "Aren't you cold?"

"Nope." When he shook his wet head, his blonde hair remained plastered down. "I'd run naked in the rain if I could."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Tips for Electronic Publishing at Smashwords

Now that life has settled down- the grand-nephew was born, the novel was published, I've watched "The Machinist" (fascinating movie)- I'll tell you what Smashwording has been like for me. (He he, I just created a verb.)


It's a wonderful experience, even the bumpy bits. I'll offer some tips that may help make it less rough for those who'd like to embark on the Smashwords journey. Some of these can apply to other epublishing paths.

Note: This is just my experience and my tips. I do not speak for Smashwords. I'm just a happy author who uses it.

1. Read the dang style guide. Read it again. Look at the sample manuscript they link to. Read what others have published on Smashwords.

2. Write your manuscript using Microsoft Word. If you haven't done that, without haste, go perform the nuclear option described in the Smashwords style guide. It's not difficult. I did it and I have a pea-sized brain. (Except it didn't clear up my problem. More on that later... No, wait, I'll tell you about that now.)

2a. I began writing my MS in Word Perfect. That was eons ago and I'd transferred it over and thought it was fine, but the format was bad for a couple of the versions at Smashwords (html and one of the others). The technical term for my problem was, "The first line indents were stripped out." Mark, the super nice Smashwords guy worked with me and he finally solved it for me. He had to do something magical beyond the nuclear thing. I'm in utter awe of him. And mind you, he did it in the middle of the night on a weekend!

I can't guarantee you'll get the same service. Maybe he was just feeling very generous. I think it was a special weekend. My niece was in labor... well, he didn't know that, but maybe he sensed it.- that particular baby magic in the air. Um... you probably don't need all of these particular details for your own publishing plan. Just know that this man is awesome!!!

3. Upload a practice story. I put up a short story, complete with a nice photo cover. I offered the story for free.

This did two things: It allowed me to check out the procedure and make sure my format was right (admittedly, that would have worked had I used the same word processor for both items) and it populated my site so I didn't look like such a newbie.

I chose something that wasn't entirely unlike my novel. An even better choice would have been a cute spin-off story with the same characters as the novel which would have really whet the reader's appetite. Oh well, live and learn.

In my profile I mentioned that I had a novel coming out soon, where I'd published before, and my blog.

4. Timing!!!

Be prepared to wait after you upload it. You are put into a queue. So, don't plan a party for the moment it appears. You don't know if it will take an hour or hours. But you don't have to babysit it. It's there even if you click off the page.

Better yet- If you are pre-announcing the launch date, upload it a day or two before. That way you can work out any bugs that crop up. You have the option to unpublish a work after it's uploaded into the system. It's visible right after it's uploaded, but if you watch it, you can right away hide it. Then, take a GOOD look. Check for centering, margins, white spaces, indents, italics, etc.

Check whatever formats you can- html, pdf, mobi, etc. If you have a friend with an e-reader device, see if you can check it out on theirs.

Be aware that it won't be in the premium catalogue for quite some time. This means it isn't allowed in the Apple Store just yet. I plan to ramp up the marketing of Syzygy when/if that happens. (They aren't all allowed in .)

*Know what? I couldn't put my short story in the Apple Store, though it's in the premium catalogue, because it is free.

5. The Fun Stuff!!!

Smashwords is associated with Wordclay, a print on demand place, and Podiobooks, an audio book site. I'm considering audiobooking, though that's a big project. They allow you to post in segments. Smashwords also allow you to add a link to where your book is already available as an audio book or in print. That is very nice of them. :)

Smashwords lets you to link in a video to promote your book. (Going to work on that with Jasmine, my art lady, soon.)

After you're uploaded, you get to make coupon codes which you can pass on to people so they can get the book for free or a at a discount.

Don't forget to do a blog tour. Yeah, I gotta plan that. Anybody interested in doing an interview or reviewing Syzygy? You'll get a free ecopy! And I'll reciprocate.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Syzygy and Mogli Take Two

I am so grateful to Mark, the angel over at Smashwords.com, who helped me get Syzygy's formatting straightened out. :) It was such a mess, but it's now simply lovely! I highly recommend this place for publishing your ebook. They're also affiliated with some folks who do audio books. I haven't checked them out, but I plan to do so very soon. What fun!  Coupon code AL58U will get you Syzygy for only .99cents until Sept 15th.


This weekend was such a whirl. My niece went into labor practically at the moment I first uploaded Syzygy and nearly 42 hours later, like an hour after Mark cleared up the format problem for me, my niece gave birth to a beautiful baby boy named Mogli.

Seriously, do tech geniuses take weekends or sleep at night? He sent this email after 11pm on Saturday night.

Novel creation isn't nearly as awesome (and I use the word in the profound, not the slang sense) as birthing a baby. I've done both. Three babies and one novel to date. But I've thought about the similarities. The amazing timing of these two events brought back the parallels.

My Fiona holding Mogli
My Daphne holding Mogli

Friday, August 13, 2010

Syzygy and Mogli

(Edited again)

Today is a grand day! My niece is in labor- getting ready to give birth to little Mogli.
But I have to tell you that my novel, Syzygy won't be available just yet. It was up, but I'm pulling it down for now because there's a horrible problem with the format. Strange, the short story I put up at Smashwords worked just fine.

Happy Friday the 13th. :)


Monday, August 9, 2010

Rainy Days, Trademarks, and Publishing

Rainy Day Blog Fest
Down at the Writer's Hole, Christine is having a Rainy Day Blog Fest. I think that's a super idea. How often do you think about how your characters feel about the rain? Rain is an important feature in my new novel, Syzygy. But I was just thinking how I have been neglecting the rain in my newest w.i.p.

Trademarks in Fiction
I stumbled upon this useful site, the Publishing Law Center, that discusses the fair use of Trademarks. I had some concern because my characters drive Mustangs (the car, not the horse), wear Converse, and eat Skittles. I'm not disparaging the products or even drawing attention to them. They are incidental and the appearance could in no way lead a reader to believe there was any sponsorship involved. So, I think I'm safe.

Smashwords
"As He Sat Brooding" seems to be a success at Smashwords. It's getting an ISBN number. Can you believe it?!? I'm hoping to publish Syzygy on Friday the 13th. My artist (and niece) Jasmine sent over the final cover image.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I published a short urban fantasy (or perhaps its a paranormal romance- not sure) at Smashwords. Oh wait, it's an urban fantasy. It says so right on the cover. Those are my motorcycle boots, by the way. LOL 

It's free to all who are interested. I'm testing out the system before I self epublish my novel, Syzygy.

The story is called "As He Sat Brooding." You will find it here: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/20770

It has all of the formats including html and pdf if you do not have an e-reader device. I just discovered they have a link to an audio book thingy-doodle. I'm going to look into that next. It'll be nice to have more audio books available for the visually impared and other people who just happen to like audio stories.



Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Half Birthday Contest for a Novel and A Friendly Award

Nicole Green is holding a contest for the half-birthday of Love Out of Order at her blog. Slip on over to find out how you can win a free copy of this awesome romance novel. :)

AND

Medeia Sharif so sweetly gave me the Circle of Friends Award. The rules for this are easy: pass it along to five other bloggers, tell them you are doing so, and post a link to their blogs. So, I'm passing it along to... oh gosh this is tough, only five? Okay, here goes:

Nicole Green at Chapters
Mohamed Mughal at Thoughts and Ponderings
Carole Gill at Demon Vampire Horror
Hannah Kincade at Musings of a Palindrome






Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Condensing Your Novel: An Analogy

"I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." That's a quote from Blaise Pascal. (I adore his Pensees and his triangle thing. I'm now going to gratuitously insert the triangle because the Pensees is a bit long.)



Those words came to mind as I sat crafting... scratch that- failing to craft my book description for the e-novel I'm publishing on Smashwords. Distilling down a 75,000 word story into less than fifty words makes me want to scratch out my eyeballs. Instead of finishing it, I decided to blog about it.

I've written, as I'm sure have you, query letters and summaries. This is similar. Why does it seem to take so long to write something so short? Why do I hate this process so?

It's like a hiking trip... with small children. When packing, each item (word) should be useful or it's nothing more than dead weight. Choose each one with care. Sometimes, for practicality, you must avoid the interesting little trail on your hike (book), and stick to the main path so the hike doesn't take too long. (You have to leave out a unique minor character or a brilliant subplot.)

Of course, you're also expected to make this distilled version of your story intriguing so somebody will want to read it!

And you'll be exhausted by the time you're finished with the effort.

Below you can see my nine-year-old daughters on a recent hike. You can't tell, but they were just complaining they were too tired to go on, when we crested a hill. They caught site of the old cemetery, which signaled we were on the last leg of the journey, and sprinted away toward it.







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