Friday, December 30, 2011

Have you hugged your blog today?

How important is your blog? Do you keep a backup of your posts? Would you mourn the loss of all your content?

I think some of my best (and some not-so-best) writing resides in my blog posts. In fact, I often review some older posts for inspiration.

This is why I decided to back up my entire blog using the settings tab on blogger. It took only a few seconds and the result was an xml file but all the posts were there, with the html code.

This is a good thing. Not only will you have a complete blog backup, you'll also have the files you need should you (gasp) decide to move your blog to another format or site.

Hug your blog. Embrace it. Keep it. Export it frequently.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Doubt

Can one be "more" doubtful? Is doubt, like the word unique, so emphatic that it can't (or shouldn't) be modified, embellished, or increased in value?

I guess it doesn't matter. What's more important is how the word applies to you (and me) as a writer.

Once I put the finishing touches on The Mine, a different kind of thriller, I set it aside for years. It had been gone over by an editor who enthusiastically recommended some changes and polishing, which I attended to -- before storing it on a floppy disk, a CD, and a backup drive. Storage and backup had nothing to do with doubt, understand. I just didn't want to face the arduous task of looking for an agent. Something to do with rejection, I'm sure.

As I began working on other projects, I allowed this manuscript to linger until finally, I decided to put it in eBook format.

It was well after submitting the work in kindle and smashwords format that the doubt set in. Was it good enough? Would anyone buy it? Did I have what it takes to promote the book myself? Was it priced right?

Months and months later, I decided to look for answers to some of these questions, and to do that, I pulled up my final draft and read the novel again.

I think overall it's good enough. In fact, it's pretty darn good -- except. I think it starts too slowly. After the prolog, the pace could use a little help. However, about half way through, the plot gets more involved and eventually, it turns into a rather exciting finish. People have purchased it, although not as many as I'd like. As for self-promotion, I'm working on that. But, even at the bargain price of $2.99, only one person reviewed the book on Amazon.

I hate to tell you how I feel about my second novel, the start of a detective series, but I will. It, too, starts slowly.  I think the twists and turns of the plot are good enough and the ending is great, if I say so myself.

I'm just wondering ... how does doubt fit into your work? Do you ever wish you could have a do-over? More importantly, do you make amends for your doubts in your next work?

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ten best science fiction/fantasy books of the decade

More than a month ago, I took some of my Las Vegas bookstore owner friends to task to name the top ten books in specific genre. The challenge was not just the number – ten and only ten – but also the time frame, the last decade, 2000 to 2010. Oh, and the books had to be printed on paper.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Despite the fact that my work is electronic, I figured people in the business of selling and trading books in brick and mortar stores should stick to that format.

The first person to respond to the request was Ann DeVere, owner for seventeen years of Plaza Books. Her customers might try to stump her but they know better. Ann’s familiarity of this genre goes beyond extensive. (I believe she’s read every one of the thousands of titles on her shelves.)

Here then is Ann’s list submission.
There have been many excellent SF/Fantasy novels published since 2000. The list below is not an order of preference since all can be considered outstanding examples of the genre.
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi -- Some of the best science fiction writing since early Heinlein. Read them all.
The Traveler (The Fourth Realm Trilogy, Book 1) by John Twelve Hawks -- This dystopian novel, beautifully written, will really creep you out. Just because you’re paranoid …
The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, Book 1) by Patrick Rothfuss  --One of the best new fantasy series around.
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi -- A Fantasy thriller, winner of the Hugo Award in 2010
The Final Empire (Mistborn Series, Vol. 1) by Brandon Sanderson -- The unusual premise of the series makes it well worth reading. His stand alone novel, Elantris, is also great.
The Blade Itself (The First Law, Book 1) by Joe Abercrombie -- Violence, bloody battle scenes and extremely compelling story. The whole series is great.
Faith of the Fallen (The Sword of Truth, Book 6) by Terry Goodkind -- Okay, I’m cheating. Start with the first one in the series, Wizard’s First Rule (1996)
The Way of Shadows (Night Angel Trilogy, Book 1) by Brent Weeks  -- Another good  fantasy trilogy
Fool’s Errand (Tawny Man Trilogy, Book 1) by Robin Hobb -- Continuation of the Farseer Trilogy. Another cheat. Start with Assassin’s Apprentice (1995)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, Book 1) by N.K. Jemisin -- Author’s first novel, Hugo nominee, 2011.
So sue me for leaving out Robert Jordan’s epic. I never read the second book. Same with George R.R. Martin’s series, Game of Thrones. I may revisit them at a later date, but so many books, so little time….
Don't sue me, either. Just leave a comment. And if you prefer electronic sf/fantasy, submit your own list.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Back from the unintentional delay

It's hard to believe this space has been blank for a month! Not that the delay occurred on purpose.

Yes, I decided not to blog every day, mainly because I wanted to spend more productive time on my writing. I figured to post once or twice a week. However, the unintended consequences of life and death intervened, putting the blog on the far back burner till now.

I'm about to pick up where I left off -- with the top ten novels in various genre for the past decade.

The contributors are local (Las Vegas) used and collectible bookstore owners who know the market as well as an astronomer knows the universe. (Sorry, that's the best metaphor I could come up with.)

So, look for a new post in a couple of days and thanks for coming back to read.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Top Ten Books in Ten Years: Part One

I was talking to Ann Devere, owner of Plaza Books in Las Vegas, one recent afternoon. She’d been reading the NPR online list of the top 100 science fiction/fantasy books as picked by readers.

 “That’s too wide a category,” I said. “The true test of ‘the best’ would be to narrow the selection down to a mere ten, a mere ten from the last ten years.  
Which ten books would you pick from your shelf  
(and she has over 1,000 soft cover titles) 
to take with you to that desert island? What are the ten best of the past decade?

Hard? I think so, but far more succinct and timely.

As the discussion developed, it occurred to me that this would make an interesting post. Forget the hundred. Narrow it down. Get rid of the dead wood and the also-rans.

What are the ten best genre specific books of the past decade?

Ann is a member of The Las Vegas Antiquarian Book Guild, a group of booksellers who specialize in used and collectible books. These are the people who meet, greet, and talk to the readers. These are the people who can name titles and authors and summarize plots the way a kid can recite the alphabet. These are the people who know what they like and what their loyal customers like.


What better group, I thought, to ask for input.

And who better to kick off the list than Ann Devere herself!

Thankfully, she agreed and next post, I’ll be listing Ann’s choices: Her list of the ten best science fiction/fantasy books of the decade, 2000-2010.


BTW: When you're in Las Vegas, drop in Plaza Books. Ask Ann about a title and I bet she will know if she has it in stock and exactly where it would be on the shelf.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A writer’s dilemma

When I’m in my car, I listen to the radio, either the public radio classical music station or the public radio news station, except on Sundays when I tune into the local university station for folk, blue grass, women’s voices and world music.

Every once in a while, I’ll hear lyrics to a song or parts of an interview that compel me to make a quick note for future investigation. Trouble is, to ensure I’m not totally distracted from driving, I use a self-made shorthand. Generally, I don’t have a problem deciphering my notes.

However, since my writing comes from all the busybody people who are living in my head, I also often jot down phrases, descriptions, notations, reminders, and quick summaries that would otherwise be lost by the time I get to a word processor.

These are the notes that, when I find them wedged between the seat and the console or in the glove box, or on the floor in the back seat, that I have to wonder:

Did I hear these words on the radio or did I hear them in my head?

Happened today. I grabbed a piece of paper to record a phone number. On that paper were eleven words I absolutely don’t recall writing, yet alone pulling out of my head. They are good words, deep, almost poetic, but totally useless unless I can trace their origin. I think they’re mine because they fit a plot that’s been churning for a few months but I hesitate to use them for fear they might be labeled as plagiarized.

I know I’ll never be organized enough to transcribe the notes in a timely fashion. They’ll always be waiting for me to find them and follow up as originally planned. That’s the way I am.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to use a quick grading system for these notes. I’ll use a question mark to denote something I’ve heard and an exclamation point to indicate the words are mine.

I think this will work. Now, those eleven words … I guess I’ll just have to dig deeper to find out if they come from my imagination or from the radio.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I’m not an expert but …

I’m not an expert but …

I’m not a poker expert.

I play poker – not as much as I did in the past but I play poker.

I am not a poker expert but I know how to play, I do play, and I study the game. I visit the local poker rooms here in Las Vegas, I read poker blogs, I’m acquainted with a number of professional poker players, I’ve worked for poker magazines, I’ve written for several poker magazines, and I keep up to date on what’s going on in poker news.

I write about poker in my weekly column for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

I’m not a poker expert. I am a student of the game, an avid fan and a somewhat fierce competitor.

I’ve never won much money playing poker and I probably never will. I’ve never won a major poker tournament title and I am close to lousy at figuring out pot odds, implied odds, knowing how many times a pair of aces before the flop will win.

Someone posed this question to me a few years ago:

If you’ve never made a lot of money or won a major tournament, how can you write about poker?

I usually answer that with an air of smugness.

If you’re an obstetrician who happens to be a man, do you need to have a baby in order to deliver one?

The point is obvious. Serious students who do the research and study related topics can write about something they’ve never physically experienced.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your main character has just been shot. You’ve never been shot so how can you write about it? You describe the character, how she normally reacts to pain (Celia had withstood the pain of childbirth, knew what it felt like to break a bone, but she’d the pain of the bullet in her leg was nothing like either of these.)

You can go on to describe the wound; after all, you’ve seen enough gunshot wounds on television and in the movies. (She glanced at her new white blouse, watched the crimson stain of blood seep into it, looking like a bad imitation of a Rorschach test.)

You can equate the situation directly to something from the past. (Once, when she was fasting for some medical tests, as she waited for the technician, the room began to spin. She felt lightheaded, woozy, shaky, and everything around her appeared to grow dark. She’d fainted then, and she knew she was going to that again, here in the garage, as she bled from her wound.)

None of this is great literature; it’s just a group of quickly written scenarios to show that a creative writer doesn’t need to have experienced what she writes.

By the way: Nope, I'm not a poker expert but based on my studies and research, my tutorial software, and a lot of friends who play professionally, I can more than hold my own in a game.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Three cheers for: James Patterson

Ha! Take that, Publisher!

Selling 220 million books worldwide, James Patterson should be hero to all creative writers. Those 220 million copies cover a wide swath of genres.

Sure, most people think of the Alex Cross series when Patterson’s name comes up, but the man has proven that as a serious writer, he doesn’t (and we don’t) have to limit ourselves to one particular theme.

James Patterson has written children's bestsellers, young-adult books, character-driven detective novels, novels featuring strong female characters, emotion-packed family novels, fantasies … and probably a few genres I’ve missed along the way, including those in the nonfiction category. (Along the way he’s picked up some credible co-authors who always get credit for their contributions.)

Patterson isn’t the lone wolf in this matter. Plenty of other print-published writers have crossed genres successfully and continue to explore their creativity. I’ll give them due in this space as time permits.

Meanwhile …

Agents and publishers like to deal with people who fit neatly into their matrix of what they’ve (They being the agents and publishers) done all their lives. Don’t let them do it. Write the stories that capture your imagination, the plots that just won’t stop unraveling, the characters that will charm the pants off whatever age group they belong to … just write. And if you can’t find an agent or publisher who appreciates your talent and skill (it’s likely you won’t), go forth and publish eBooks!
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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Bloggers - Clean up your act, please

Monkeys BloggingImage via WikipediaI have a very selective list of blogs I follow. I keep them listed here for quick access and check them out each time I post. When I visit one of these interesting sites, I check the links to sites these folks read. Intermittently, depending where I am on any task, I'll click on one, two, three, more sometimes.

I know that blogging is mostly about content itself but I have to wonder if the people who list their favorite blogs actually read anything from their lists. At least once a click, I come to a blog that hasn't seen a post in months or, worse yet, no longer exists.

I make it a habit to clean up my blog list immediately when I notice something's awry. In fact, I just deleted a listing that posted a notice about a major upgrade -- months ago!

While I'm griping, I might as well take a shot at the Zemanta list I use to find related posts that readers might want to see because obviously they're kind of guilty of the same cyber sin. I clicked on one of Zemanta's suggestions to see if it fit here -- and guess what.

Page not Found

Okay, that's all the time I have to whine. It's back to send copy to my editor for proofing and then back to the next manuscript.



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Monday, July 18, 2011

Spelling errors, typos and other odds and ends

If you're on a quest for the world's worst speller, look no further. I can identify him. (But I won't). That this person can't write an entire sentence without spelling errors is an understatement. I have to say his instant massages messages and emails to me are quite creative, and they do make me smile.

I know there's no hope for people like my friend. To him and his peers, English classes in school were just another hour's worth of agony that had to be suffered.

Now, for writers, spelling errors should never happen. To help eliminate them we have dictionaries, spell check, and for the lucky (make that "smart,") proofreaders and editors.

A manuscript should be clear of mispellings misspellings and typos from the get go. That doesn't always happen. The odd mistake often creeps into your work and misses the eagle eye of a reader -- and very often gets skipped over by the spell check.

Here are a few of the misspellings from Desert of Deceit that my spell check missed, some caused by typing too fast, others, well, who knows. They are kind of finny funny, though:
  1. Perhaps she’d been a marked woman from the day she was barn, or at the very least from the day a stepfather came into her life at the age of twelve. 
  2. Now, inside with the coffin brewing, he removed his jacket before he spread the pictures of Marta Borgen on the table in front of the sofa. 
  3. That included the man with for or five or six layers of clothing who was turning the corner from South Casino Center Boulevard and heading in his direction.
And here are a few my proofreader found:
  1. Not as bad as you might think. What are you, the local weathermen?
  2. Skipping his intended destination, Atkins ran the red light at North Hollywood Boulevard and continued on the Lake Mead route, through the mountain, winding around the narrow two-lanes at unsafe speeds until he came to the stop sing.
  3.  Kelly could feel the man’s gripe making indentations in his arm. 
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I'm sure I corrected all the errors I found and the ones pointed out to me before I formatted the manuscript for kindle ... Didn't I?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What's your novel about?

One of the toughest tasks for a writer comes after the last period on the last page.

It's summarizing all that hard work, all those words, all those characters and plot developments into a comprehensive summary for submission to an agent or a publisher or to use as detail information on their ebook sales page.

I found this very interesting and helpful blog post from another author's site. Mike Wells has done a good job of identifying the points to include by using The Wizard of Oz as his example.

If you have a kindle, you can download this and the entire related archive for free.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Why I'm not blogging every day

I took the advice and now I'm not so sure I should have.

I read the books and articles about blogging and learned that everyone placed as one of the top ten "must-do" rules for bloggers is writing every day. Some gurus say it in bold face, upper case, extra-large type with one or more exclamation points.

BLOG EVERY DAY!!!

Maybe that works for people who are using their blogs as a source of revenue, or groups that are writing about current events; or folks who are using their blog as a journal; it doesn't necessarily work for the rest of us.

I don't run out of topics for this blog; I don't run out of time to write.

I just think that unless a blogger has a very large number of followers that read posts daily, the better approach is to write good, solid, focused content that's available for more than a day.

Good, solid, focused content can get buried quickly. I just think it's a better idea to let a good post attract attention before speeding off to something new.

I know. I'm flying in the face of the blogger's box but I'm going to take a stand by choosing to wait a day or two or three between postings. Meanwhile, I'll be reading other blogs, working on my next novel, writing my regular poker column, checking in with my facebook friends, visiting friends and relatives, reading email, and enjoying the summer.


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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Search engine optimazation and the writer

In my last post I ranted and raved a bit about my disappointment with the way websites required writers to write to a certain formula – specifically one that used target words that would draw searchers to the article.

Shortly after, while checking out my twitter page, I noticed a reference to some software that writers can use to turn one article into a half dozen different versions of itself. I guess it could be considered cloning? I guess I could be old fashioned but the very thought of this takes me back to high school and using the Cliff Notes or Classic Comics to avoid the real work of reading,

The idea behind the software is that it will save the writer tons of time in the originality seeking department while providing different ways to extract saleable material from a single article. The purpose is kind of wonky, if you ask me, because instead of requiring that a person write solid, well-researched, informative content, the software agrees that the real reason to have articles published on the web – beyond the monetary reimbursement – is to provide a website with search engine optimized verbiage.

All this certainly flies in the face of the rules George Orwell wrote should be followed by every writer.
    Picture of George Orwell which appears in an o...(Image via Wikipedia)They are:
  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
To read Orwell’s entire essay, check out Politics and the English Language.
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Friday, July 1, 2011

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and the real writer

a chart to describe the search engine marketImage via WikipediaIn the early days of the internet, research was, if a bit sparse, so convenient. With no library open at two in the morning and needing some vital statistics, my articles sometimes had to wait until sunrise to see completion. Then came the internet and the handy search engines – at that time one provided by AOL, another from Yahoo, and a third really spiffy one called Infoseek – which made life so much easier.

As time passed, however, savvy businessmen discovered how valuable the internet could be to their businesses. They started taking out banner ads, setting up their own retail outlets, and began using the net as a marketing tool.


It seems as if overnight the web became one big shopping center!

I’m not condemning the direction the web took; I’m totally sold on going to the big web stores to find bargains. I love being able to window shop other outlets in search of an item I’m interested in owning.

I’m also disappointed with several aspects of the web. The one that really irritates me is the focus on search engine optimization. It seems that if a company wants to rank high in the search engines, it has to use the right words in every version of its print appearance. The purpose? To catch the searcher who is looking for that particular item or word, usually so they can sell something.

Overall, I understand. It’s business. However, as a writer, I find it both annoying and insulting to be requested to use specific words when writing an article. Where’s the creativity in that? Where’s the originality? Where’s the integrity?

A quick look at the freelance market for web articles gave me additional insight in that web site owners and managers blatantly advertise for writers who are SEO savvy. Never mind talent; after all, anyone can write. Just use a word processor that will catch your spelling and grammar errors,a

I supposed I shouldn’t be bothered by all this because for the most part, these companies looking for writers usually offer such a minute stipend for each word that it boggles the mind. Maybe that’s why so many real writers don’t mind recycling their content to meet one or more web site needs.

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Some random thoughts about John Locke

Just a couple of days before the media blitz revealing the news that John Locke had reached (actually exceeded) a million sales for his eBooks, I downloaded a sample chapter of his Vegas Moon (A Donovan Creed Novel). I did so because my sister purchased a copy -- she has an abiding interest in Las Vegas since it's my home -- and because it has a Vegas theme, much like my
Desert of Deceit.


After wading through the preliminary and obligatory pre-book verbiage, I was ready to rock and roll. But after reading just the first sentence, wasn't sure I wanted to read further.

Understand, I'm not a grammarian; I'm average, which I'm told isn't good enough for readers. I rely on a good editor to point out flaws in the structure of my sentences. One of my biggest problem areas is the use of commas. I guess I should say overuse.

And that's what stopped me in my tracks with the Locke book, a little phrase, offset by commas, that just didn't sound right in my ears. Maybe the comma belongs there; I'll ask my editor.

Okay, so I didn't let that stop me because sometimes even a book with misspellings and bad grammar has good plotting, interesting characters, and some kind of redemption ... I read the rest of the sample and decided not to buy the full version. I've read a lot of hard-boiled mysteries, police procedure novels, and suspense but I just couldn't get involved with this one.

What the heck was wrong?

To figure it out, I turned to Amazon where the first three pages of reviews talked about how hilarious the character (Donovan Creed) was and how the author keeps you laughing all the way through the book.

Okay. Just how funny is getting a colonoscopy without sedation? Just the prep for the procedure is enough to make you throw up!

Maybe I'm getting too sentimental as I age but I can't see myself falling in love with Donovan Creed; I can't even see myself having dinner with him!

Then there's the dialog. Three pages of single sentence conversation left me wondering who was talking to whom about what.

Finally, I take issue with stretching reality. I know how to suspend my disbelief but I live in Vegas. I know there's no casino that's going to take the kind of action this Lucky character throws out. I also know a lot of professional gamblers personally and they'll all admit that they've never been able to achieve a 68 percent win rate.

All in all, though, a million books! That's impressive. Just not my type, I guess.
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Getting readers to your blog

I'm on the hunt for readers.

Actually, I've been hoping to increase my readership since the day I started blogging. That's why I subscribe to bunches of newsletters and blogs that focus on luring interested folks to my party here. The trouble is, since starting this little gig, I haven't seen anything new that has increased my readership!

Of the dozens of tips I've explored, just a couple have brought positive results. But for the most part, each has been little more than a repetition of another. It's been so frustrating, I'm wondering if I should just rewrite some of those repetitive blogs. After all, they drew me in; maybe I can use them to draw someone here.

So far, I've resisted some of the hard-sell stuff because, athough it would be nice to see some green, my focus isn't on money making.

I look at the blog as a journal I've never been able to keep, a place to lay down the random thoughts that come to me like fireflies at night, to let the voices in my head be heard, even when they don't make sense to me.

It make sense to me to do this because I have an interest in random thoughts and advice -- not just from other writers but from readers of everything and anything. It's an unfathomable universe out there with a huge amount of information. And since life seems to be a never-ending learning experience, why join the hunt?

I can't see how search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click would do much more than take readers away from the blog.

But then ... I'm not about to second-guess the people who are touting their advice for blogging so I'm off to explore some of the ideas I've tabled.
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Free graphics software for starving writers and artists

Last time around, I promised some links to free graphics software and I’m about to deliver.

Back when I was a devout Mac user, I purchased all the software necessary to have fun creating graphics, do page layouts, and edit documents. You can imagine the cost was high. But I learned enough to put my new skills to task, and for many years, I worked in editing and production jobs for several different publications.

Then one day, one of the companies that employed me as a freelancer decided to go PC, which meant I'd have to acquire different skills to keep the job. The learning curve wasn’t a problem, but as an independent contractor, I had numerous assignments that had to be done at home. That meant a new computer and all new (costly) software.

Time passes; I’ve moved away from the gainfully employed world and morphed into a full time writer. From time to time, as it happens to every user of technology, I have to replace equipment.

A couple of months ago, my aging (only three years old but full of fragments of junk accumulated over those three years) laptop decided to develop a mind of its own. Crashes, slow response, programs refusing to work, that kind of thing.

So it was off to the marketplace for a new laptop.

A screenshot from the vector graphics editor I...Image via Wikipedia
A screenshot from the vector graphics editor Inkscape
Trouble is, my older software wouldn’t work with my newer technology.

That’s when I started searching for an alternate choice and that’s when I found Inkscape and Gimp.

Inkscape is a super piece of vector graphics software similar to Adobe Illustrator, except it’s FREE.

Gimp is a free image manipulation software similar to Adobe Photoshop, except it’s FREE.

If you’re in need of either kind of software, try these out before spending big bucks on the other products.



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Friday, June 10, 2011

ebook, eBook, Ebook, or EBook - I messed up

I just realized I've been messing up.

I've been spelling eBooks and all related eStuff with lower case second letter.

Even more embarrassing: I didn't realize could create a proper noun in the middle of a word.(Yes, I realize iPod is an example.)

And to add what looks like I never took an English class (yet alone taught English), I didn't know a word (actually several words) existed to explain this. Oh, and by the way, the spell checks all show the words as questionable.)

It's called CamelCase (camel case, camel-case, medial capitals ...) -- Thanks to Google and Wikipedia.

So, to apologize, I created the graphic that accompanies this post, and next time I'll tell you how I did it without spending a cent on the software used.
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Free eBooks: What's up with that?

I’m a bit discouraged about the world of eBooks.

Even though the electronic age unofficially belongs to a generation to which I no longer belong to, I’m a big fan of the changes of the “revolution.” However, I’m not happy about the residual effects, the innocent ravages of change.

Note please: The malaise has nothing to do with my own endeavors in the field. It’s something I’ve been ruminating about for a while now and it surfaced from random thought to full-blown reality this morning. That’s when I read my newsletter from American Editor

In the newsletter, the author listed 22 eBooks recently added to his eReader. Great! He also listed four hardcover books he’d acquired. Then, without mentioning how he acquired those tomes, he admitted that of the 22 electronic books he added to his TBR (to be read) pile, most (90%) were free!

I can’t remember the last time I walked into a bookstore, picked up a dozen books, and walked out without paying for them. I’m not talking about stealing; I’m saying free!

Why are so many new-age author/publishers willing to give their work away?

I’m sure part of the reason has to do with advice. Just about every blog, article, chat room and discussion board recommends that newly published authors should offer freebies. I think another part of the reason has to do with the competition. With so many books flooding the electronic world, competition is becoming fierce; getting noticed is tougher.

Writers who thought finding an agent or getting through the hallowed doors of the print publishing buildings was daunting, now find themselves in similar disheartening circumstances.

I’m not so sure we should follow the trend by giving away our work. Is there another profession so hard up for “customers” that does so?

We all know the annual income for many writers falls below the poverty level. My biggest concern is that it’s tumbling even further because of the free trend.

Like the big publishers, I’d offer review copies to qualified reviewers. That’s a legitimate avenue toward publicity. I could be wrong but I don’t believe giving titles away randomly to a large population will enhance a writer’s public image. So I stand against what looks to be conventional wisdom (everything’s fast in the electronic age) and say NO TO FREEBIES.



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Monday, June 6, 2011

Print publishing is not dead

Because I publish my work in electronic editions, I frequent the ebook forums and chat rooms and in particular the kindle boards to keep up to date on all topics that focus on ebooks. One of the most talked about topics on these sites is whether or not the publishing world as we have known it is doomed.
A 12" record, a 7″ record, and a CD-ROM.Image via Wikipedia

No, I don’t think print on paper, hardbound or paperbound books, will disappear from the face of the earth. I believe the subject can be compared to the music industry.

There was a time (through the 1950s) when a handful of record companies ruled the world of music. If musicians couldn’t get a deal with one of the five or six big outfits, they were relegated to obscurity. Their work was virtually invisible. But with the emergence of rock and roll, independent producers created their own labels to showcase singers who didn’t fit the traditional mold. Then came Motown and the music industry changed forever.

Technology changed, of course, and the 45 rpm record took a back seat to the vinyl LP for a while, then the eight track hit the market only to be overtaken by the cassette, which eventually fell out of favor, replaced by the CD, and now we have the mp3 player. And with the advancements came independent producers and companies.

But, did jazz die? Did classical music become obscure? Did big labels suddenly fall off the face of the earth?

Guess what? Changes in taste and technology aside, the big record companies of the past are still alive. Music is still alive.

I think publishing will follow suit. Tastes will shift; technology will continue to make headway; the dominant publishers will continue to publish and independent publishers will make their voices read.
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Thursday, June 2, 2011

The letter writer

Last month, I attended a high school class reunion. Actually, the reason for traveling cross country was more to visit family (and a few bookstores) than to see how much my old mates could "lie" about how great everybody looked and how much they haven’t changed.

What surprised me about the gathering of old graduates was a “gift” from an old bud … a packet of letters I’d written during my first few years in college.

Reading them, I was surprised that my letter writing style mirrored my fiction writing, and that it remained similar decades later.

I used to write letters all the time, to friends and relatives, because back then, I enjoyed the process. I used fountain pens, ballpoint pens and pencils and carved my feelings and thoughts into lined and unlined paper. Sometimes I wrote on the inside and/or outside of the envelopes.

I recall hearing from some letter recipients about how my messages inspired or created a smile.

I don’t remember when I stopped writing letters; I think I’ll blame the electric typewriter since I don’t recall typing letters. But, reading these epistles created in another life made me smile … and made me wonder: Does anyone write letters anymore?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Is blogging a waste of time?

Friend of mine asked, “Why do you waste your time blogging?”

I’m not sure what kind of expression registered on my face but I think I looked totally blank, stunned into a frozen posture of disbelief, not certain I heard her right.

“Did you read my early posts?” I asked.

“Yeah, I read them. You’ve got all these people living in your head, talking up a storm. But this blogging doesn’t make money, does it?”

I didn’t want to get into a philosophical discussion about the value of blogging. A quick search and she’ll find hundreds of posts about the purpose behind the blogging urge with a ton of the results focusing on how to make money with a blog.

That last part doesn’t interest me – much. Sure, I’d like people who read these pages to click on the titles I refer to now and again and buy them. But the purpose of the links is to add flavor and to point out content that will fulfill the reader’s search for related information.  

Those affiliate links aren’t going to pay my rent; hell, they won’t even pay for the pens I need to write the rent check.  

Sure, I wouldn’t mine supplementing my income from blogging revenue. Sure, I’d like readers to buy the ebook titles I’ve authored and flog here. But blogging for dollars isn’t part of the master plan.

I don’t do it for money any more than I walk two miles a day for money, any more than I pet my dog for money, any more than I spend an evening carousing the Vegas Strip with friends for money, any more than I listen to music.

Are any of those endeavors a waste of my time?

I don’t think so.



(And now for the shameless commerce part ....)


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Six phrases a writer should NEVER use

Why would you say something that’s “needless to say?”

Every time I see these words as they introduce a statement, I’m tempted to skip anything that follows them.

After all, if something is “needless to say,” why say it?
Do we really need to write “for example?”

Admittedly, I do it all the time. I know if my words are clear, concise and comprehensive, I don’t need to tell someone I’m citing an example.
I guess the usage goes back to my high school English teacher who insisted we use examples in all our writing. I vow to stop using these two words together again.

Do you really mean you “could care less?”

If I hear this phrase one more time, I might slap myself on the forehead. If I see it on a blog or in an article again, I will definitely respond.

Think about how the phrase breaks down. If you COULD care less then you must care.
Here’s one I find strange: “Let me state …”

No! I’ve already allowed you to state numerous things. Why do I have to give you permission now?

Who’s saying (writing) it anyway? “If it were me” (also known as “If it was me”) I already know it is you.

Finally, this one bothers me: “Plan on.” From what I know about the English language, “on” needs some kind of contact. You can put your plan on something but you plan to do something.

Redundancy lives. It breathes – in books, articles, blogs, columns, practically anywhere a writer writes. We’re probably all guilty. I know I am. At least, though, I won’t uses these six demons again.

Monday, May 23, 2011

A new vocabulary for ebooks

Now that I’ve successfully formatted and uploaded two novels for the Kindle (see the links on the sidebar), I’ve started researching ways to get people to read them. Of course, the first step is to use a search engine to look for advice from other (successful) ebook writers and publishers.

That’s when the first two problems crept into my journey.

Naturally, I expected the results to bring a ton of links to Amazon and the gazillion ebooks already online. These were rather easy to cull.

What I was surprised to find is many references to methods for publicizing and selling how-to publicizing nonfiction works aimed at making money. Too many of these touted affiliate marketing and reselling the rights to tired old manuals.

This directed me to an idea.

Why don’t we get more specific when we refer to our work?

Why not call our work:

enovels
efiction
enonfiction

These can be further delineated into subcategories that reflect genre or content. For example:

emystery
esuspense
eromance
epoetry
etextbook
espritbook
ereligiousbook

Now when it comes time to research methods to promote a ebook novel, the engines might be more amenable to returning results targeted at the specific request.

Just a thought.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gaga teaches an old broad new tricks

I’m a writer first but I have a passion for art, for exploring my universe and for music. I’m not a big fan of television, especially when any interesting program has to be interrupted by up to a dozen commercials, and when the network has to float previews and banners on top of a show I’m watching.

This week I will end my cable connection, won’t install an antenna and will use my high-def TV for watching videos and music that appeal to me.

To celebrate the upcoming event, I decided to spend yesterday with the set running as background noise. That’s when I stumbled upon a network called fuse and a show called the Gaga-Thon.

Now I’m fully aware of the presence of this performer, Lady Gaga, and I’ve heard her music on the radio. But like many people of my generation, I dismissed her as a show woman on a roll. Honestly, she clothes herself in meat, wears high heels that would give most women a nosebleed and presents herself in some very provocative videos, all of which separates her from the accepted ethics of most of us who are over the age of thirty.

Gaga talked about the reasons behind her “outrageous” look, her suggestive videos and her evocative lyrics. She is, in essence, a woman with a mission, a woman who represents a movement via popular culture to bring attention to important social issues.


The program captivated me and taught me a lesson every writer should learn.

Open your mind a well as your eyes and ears. Don’t dismiss anything until you’ve had time to research, investigate and experience it. Use BOTH side of your brain.

Maybe you won’t fall in love with Lady Gaga but you might. And if you don’t, you’ll still have some new tricks to add to your writing.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ebook, print book, audio book: Which one?

As I was reading The Brain that Changes Itself, I found myself keeping a spreadsheet listing references and topics, something to look at later. I used the spreadsheet because the book was on loan to me from a friend and I couldn't use a highlighter.

So, today, I started doing some research on the list, and that's when I hit the wall of question: Should I opt for the ebook, the audio version or the hardcover or paperback?

To tell the truth, living on a relatively fixed budget makes the decision somewhat easier. Whenever the opportunity arises, I'll choose the least expensive option, selecting good condition used books whenever possible. Of course, when money was (sort of) no obstacle and if the book was going to stick around in my library, my first choice would be the new hardcover; the second would be the new paperback; or for certain types of books, especially those that required following directions, I'd pick the audio.

Today's research brought up a new question, one that helps narrow my decision but also makes me wonder: What's up with the price of ebooks?

If I have to choose between hardcover (new or used) or ebook version, what's the point of buying the ebook if the price is just a dollar or two less than the hardcover?

I know. The electronic book is more portable, and truth be told, in better economic times, I'd buy both print and electronic versions -- if the latter had a better price structure.

So tell me, what makes issuing an already published book electronically is so expensive? The editing has already been finished; the marketing has already been finished; the distribution has already been finished; calculation of the sales figures has already been finished.

So subtract those figures from the original bottom line for producing the print book and offer the ebook version for a reasonable cost.

Maybe the real question is: Looking to the future, are publishers trying to set a precedent for the price of ebooks




If that's the case, then the publishing world is doomed because writers will soon learn that the cost of hiring an editor and an illustrator on a per project, then pricing the work reasonably, is a better way to go.

Sure, the author will give up some of the marketing and distribution offered by the publisher but face the evidence, the mega publishers have already cut chunks of that part of the cost out of their budget. Too many authors have to market themselves already so that's a moot point.

Good thing we still have small, aggressive publishing houses that understand.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The future of the bookstore

I’m really fortunate to be a participant in a local group call the Antiquarian Book Guild. The members either own or have owned independent bookstores, or are long-time book collectors, or are book restorers. Me? I’m just an apprentice. That’s why I consider myself lucky.

The guild meets once a month for dinner at local Las Vegas restaurants to exchange ideas, discuss specific topics, and, of course, enjoy each others company.

At the last get-together, the topic under discussion was The Future of the Bookstore. In light of the recent mega-store closures or pending bankruptcies, the question was timely and pertinent.

Being devoted and passionate about their trade, the booksellers affirmed that the small, independent stores will flourish, not necessarily because the powerful competitions are failing, but because people who love to read print books and collect their favorites, have not gone belly-up.

Personally, I prefer a neighborhood bookstore, particularly the used and antiquarians. I visit them frequently because not only do I get a chance to find old classics, authors new to me, my favorites (genre and author), but I get an education. The sellers talk to me, enlighten me and teach me.

I’m wondering, what do you think about the future of the brick-and-mortar bookstore? Take the poll above and I’ll pass your thoughts on to the group.

(P.S.) This is my first attempt at polling. As I figure out how to post more than one question, I'll try again. I just hope this one works!)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Setting aside a day for reading

I usually have two books open and available for reading at all times. One sits on the nightstand by my bed; the other on the coffee table, next to my laptop. But my reading is sporadic, squashed in between meditation, walking, writing, dusting, and eating.

All this is a far cry from long ago when I would devour a book without thinking about the stereotypical tasks of life that should be attended to ... things like washing the dishes, vacuuming, answering mail or calling friends.

Yesterday, I decided there was something fundamentally wrong with the way I have been treating my recreational reading, and I determined to do something about it. After all, a writer should read as much as possible.

I've set Tuesdays aside for nothing reading.

I've just finished the book on the coffee table: The Brain that Changes Itself The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D.(loaned to me by a friend) and I'm now picking up Deception: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman (purchased because Kellerman is one of my favorite fast-read mystery writers.)

I think this is  going to work out well. Of course, I'll still read sporadically, but now I won't feel guilty about reading just one more paragraph before getting back to the mundane.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring arrives in Las Vegas

Spring doesn't last long in Las Vegas.

A week, two weeks of cool nights, warm days, and hollyhocks in bloom. Perfect weather for just about any outdoor adventures.

Trim the branches on the mulberry tree, pull the weeds from the wildflower plot, water the hibiscus and the spearmint plantsthen lounge on the wicker chair with a good book.

Evenings are great for writing in the cool darkness on the porch, listening to some good old rock and roll.

It's the desert so spring won't stick around. Soon it's gone and the sun takes up permanent residence heats the day and, soaks into the concrete so the nights rarely cool down.




Friday, April 15, 2011

Duplicate book titles

I don’t know how other authors do it, but when I start writing a novel, I usually get about three chapters into it before I come up with a tentative title. (Right now, I have six works in progress, all with working titles.) As the work progresses, I keep that title in mind.

The title for The Mine came instantly and never changed. To me, it was perfect! Now, when I finished formatting the text for kindle, I uploaded it to Amazon. Only then did I discover another book with the same title! I know there are plenty of books with identical titles: it’s not a crime, but it can confuse the reader.


When I started writing Desert of Deceit, I started out with just a one word title: Deceit. That didn’t quite satisfy me, and as I was working on the rewrite, I revised the title, twice, settling on Desert of Deceit.

Wouldn’t you know? There’s another book with an identical title.

One positive note: Neither of my titles is in the same genre as the other two with like titles.

The manuscript I’m reworking now has a tentative title. I’m not even going to mess with it until I get to the end. Then, before considering changes, I’ll do some research.

They say “The third time’s a charm.” I hope on the third book, I’ll not run into dupes!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why do you blog (revisited)

)After I typed the headline for this post, I thought about reworking it. Maybe I should have asked: Why do I blog? I'm still waiting for that light bulb to appear over my head that indicates an eureka moment.

Back in February, 2008, one of the net's most successful bloggers, Darren Rowse, conducted a poll that asked the question: Why do you blog?  If you don't care to check out the results, I'll give you the highlights. Overwhelmingly, the top two reasons were for money and for fun.

Granted, Rowse focuses on blogging for money in his posts so the results could have been skewed by the fact that his readership is made up of people interested in making money with blogs. But I was surprised that such a readership would include fun as one of the major reasons for blogging.

I'm absolutely sure I blog just because I write and sometimes what I write doesn't belong in an article or a novel, or even in a notebook. Blogging is my journal about writing because I don't keep a written journal.

Blogging doesn't make money for me but it's definitely more fun than work.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Life without internet

A couple of days after my last post my access to the internet hit a roadblock. There I was, cruising along at a moderate speed (my DSL connection is just a few miles per hour above dial-up) when all of a sudden, my browser informed me "The page cannot be displayed."

Having been in a similar situation before, I performed the usual tricks. Disconnected the router, the modem, shut down the laptop, checked to make sure the phone was working, waited, restarted everything.

Nothing.

The next step: Call my provider.

Usually I can expect immediate help, but this time, response took a detour. My tech guy was stalled at another call and couldn't make it to our appointment the first day, I was going out of town the second, so two days crawled by before Pistol and I greeted him at the front door. It took two hours to determine that the phone company had made some changes that disabled my connection.
Pistol, waiting by the door.

I can live comfortably without television, can go a day without food (well, maybe not my morning coffee), wouldn't miss the phone if it went out for a while but life without the internet?

I use the net to research everything, to stay in touch with friends and relatives by email and social networks, to find phone numbers, directions and products. to make reservations, to pay bills, and, of course, to post to my blog.

Luckily, I still have music to listen to, books to read, a word processor to work on writing, friends to visit and the great outdoors to explore. Life does go on without the internet, but I sure did miss it!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Mine - Sample text available at Smashwords

Just downloaded the Smashwords guidelines and formatted The Mine so it can be purchased for all the different readers.

You can read the sample chapters here:



Thursday, March 31, 2011

Promoting your eBook: Part Two

One of the pieces of advice I picked up recently recommended having more than one title to offer on your eBook journey. This move tends to lend credibility to your profile.

While I have one more novel in the tidying up stage and two more that need work, I'm not ready to convert any of them yet.

However, I did have a short story I wrote about ten years ago. Conversations with Marilyn is a little bit of suspense, a little bit of Vegas and a little bit of coming to terms with your life. I decided to add that to my list on Amazon. I priced it at 99-cents because that seems a fair price for a short story. I think it gives some insight into my style of writing in this genre.

I hope you'll take a look at it and give me an opinion.




Meanwhile, take a look in your stash of stored writing and pull out something you like to add to your list. It could be some poetry, a short story, a collection of short stories, or even a memoir. Add them to your list of published works.

Who knows, maybe one day you and I will be as recognized in the eBook world as Amanda Hocking.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Promoting your eBook: Part One

Promoting your eBook has to be one of the tougher parts of the writing and publishing process. You have to sell yourself and your title. If you're the more reticent type, someone who is good with words as long as they aren't "personal," you have to figure out how to come out of your shell and spread the word.

I used to be that reticent person but the more I read and learn about self-promotion the more I realize there's no sin or crime or negativity attached to tooting your own horn.

Shameless commerce works!

As I figure out ways to tell the world about my own work, I'll post them here so you don't have to travel all over the Internet trying to figure out how to get more sales.

I started out by announcing The Mine on my facebook page. That encouraged my friends to post the news on their pages.

Immediately after, I tweeted the announcement.

I'm not sure the twitter thing has brought any visitors to look at the title. I know facebook resulted in a couple of sales.

Next, I joined the Kindle Board Community because I see that many independents use the boards to hype their work and discover what's going on in the eBook world. I started by reading other posts, making lists of books that sounded appealing to me, and then dropping into the Indie Authors: Plug Your Book Here discussion to introduce myself and my work.

For now, I'm off on the hunt for more. As soon as I find them, you'll know about them.

Monday, March 28, 2011

More on the future of the publishing industry

Joe Konrath's latest blog post features an interview with Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. His comments on the future of the printed book are interesting and his comments about the publishing industry are on target.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The future of publishing -- from my view

Just because I published my first novel as an eBook doesn’t mean I’m thinking or hoping that the print book will disappear from the face of the known universe. I love print books, have a lovely little library of my favorites, mostly hardbound, and I read them--often. I’m also privileged to have good friends who loan me books to read.

I’m also not thinking or hoping that the publishing industry fades into the sunset. The inherent value of this media is obvious. Publishers have editors who find typos, grammatical errors, inconsistencies, talented cover artists, typesetters who know the difference between an inch mark and a curly quote, all of which, the independents probably can’t afford to hire. This leaves the self-publisher working within the boundaries of their own knowledge and education--and sometimes (probably most of the time) that isn’t enough to get the job done right.

I know, for example, I can’t proofread my own words. In fact, two people read the finished product before The Mine went live and while making their edits they presented to me I found two additional mistakes in the manuscript. (And we all know, most word processors fall short when it comes to recognizing grammatical errors and even certain typos.)

Publishers also handle all the accounting, the royalties, even (although not so much anymore), the publicity for their authors.

The biggest problem I see regarding publishers is their reluctance to take on new authors. They prefer the big name (celebrity, politician, guru) and established (published and successful) names. Emerging writers stand a miniscule chance of ever getting their work to a publishing house.

Then, that no-name writer has to try to enter the hallowed realm of the agent with a spot-on query letter and breathless hopes that the letter, the genre, and the sample chapters hit home enough to whet the agent’s appetite.

Now agents apparently have very little time to commit to unsolicited requests.

How is it, I wonder, that I can read a book in a day but agents can’t read a query letter for months or more?

When I was polishing up another novel, I sent one query letter by email to an agent. After months without a response I fired off a second letter to another agent who took three months to proffer a rejection message. A third attempt brought an almost instant “No thanks, not for me.”

If an agent does take on an unknown author, there could be a year or more lapse of time between a sale and the actual appearance of the work.

These observations (some could call them complaints) are so old they might even be considered tradition by now, but they make up the hurdles a novelist or non-fiction author has to scale in hopes of seeing his or her work in print.

Of course I’d like to see my books on the shelves of bookstores that still exist but I prefer not to go to my grave while waiting.

However, I love the look and feel of a hefty novel. I like sitting on the porch enjoying a glass of iced tea and a good story. I appreciate the way the words look on paper. So I will continue to support the authors who have been fortunate enough to make it in this tough field.

I will buy the hard covers I want to keep. I will buy the paperbacks I want to read. I will download whatever suits my fancy.

I’m sure there are a lot of other folks who, like me, will buy tangible books for their own personal tastes and reasons, for a long time to come – if publishers do a little trip into the present and realize they must make some changes, I figure they can last a long time as well.
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The ebook journey - Part Ten: The Wait is Over

It official … The Mine is now a finished ebook for sale on Amazon.

I put up a quick description as a placeholder weeks and weeks ago and am now researching how to change it because it’s as weak as a very poorly written query letter. I’ve managed to modify it on the pages that Amazon calls author central and I believe that will transfer to the sales page eventually. We’ll have to wait and see … but just in case it doesn’t, I’m inserting it here. In a few days, I’ll check the page description again to determine if I have to resubmit from the bookshelf page. (Actually, the description consists of the first few paragraphs of the book with thanks to a great suggestion from Phil, owner of Greyhounds Books and author of Books of Worth. )

I’ve expanded the excerpt here:

Something was ripping Terry Baker’s arms and legs out of their sockets, pulling and straining at the muscles and tendons, trying to separate them from bone. The boy tried to open his eyes but his lids were pressed hard against the searing pain behind them. The ache in his limbs was dull but powerful, like the breathless strain of a chest-cold cough.
It’s nothing to worry about. I’m just asleep and this is a dream, Oh, gosh, don’t wet the bed again and raise Father’s anger yet another time. I promised I’m not going to do it. Am I? No …

No! That wasn’t right. He wasn’t home in bed under his Roy Rogers flannel sheet. This was some place and something else that would cause his daddy’s wrath to erupt from beneath the thin layer of tension where it seethed like an angry swarm of bees.

If Father knows where I went, I’ll be black-and-blue for a month. He’ll tell me that as he raises the belt to spank me another time. Whatever …

…Whatever was going on, Terry wanted it to be sleeping so he could wake up because waking up would mean the end of this dream that was rushing out of control toward a nightmare. But he couldn’t remember ever being inside a dream and knowing it.

I don’t care what that half-baked teacher tells you about the woods. They’re not safe, Terry. And the only thing you’ll see there are the same trees and flowers and bushes and weeds we’ve got in the backyard, which by the way I told you to clean up, so you better get to it before the end of tomorrow. Get out and work some of that fat off. Be good for you. You go in the woods and you’ll come back with poison ivy all over you. Remember what it was like when you and that Winslow kid decided to go stomping off across Whitaker’s field to his pond for a swim last summer? Your eyes were swollen shut for two weeks. Goddamn kid. Should be playing ball. What kind of a shit teaches twelve-year-olds that kind of shit anyway? And don’t forget what I said about the yard. You do what I say because I’m your …

Father hadn’t always talked in shouts. The new voice started when he lost his seat in the House, which, if Terry remembered right, came to pass just after mommy started disappearing and coming back again.
Terry felt something sharp and cold, like an icicle, tracing its way slowly across his naked stomach. Then came a warm, burning wetness. Was it pee? Was he wetting the bed yet again? No. Pee would ooze between his legs to his backside and soak into the sheets. It wouldn’t flow down both sides of his rib cage.

Writing the novel was a great journey but admittedly, getting it in proper ebook form was the proverbial labor sans love. But I learned a lot and soon, I’ll be at it again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The ebook journey - Part Nine and a Half: The Wait is Over

Let me rephrase the headline for this post.

The wait is almost over.

It took more than 24 hours for The Mine to go live. I downloaded a sample to my kindle and almost cried. The images did not show up!

So it was back to the proverbial drawing board, an hour of searching, and a quick review of where I went wrong. Apparently, when I uploaded the file, the images (a color cover, a black and white cover and a vignette) didn't upload. Actually, I missed that step somehow.

To rectify the error, I had to download the title -- it's comes as a zipped file -- add the images to the to the zipped folder that contains the title, and upload again.

Not a problem except that it will be another 24 to 48 hours before the book goes live again.

As soon as it does, I'll sample it and make sure it's okay before making the final announcement that it's available for purchase.

The ebook journey - Part nine: Waiting

It took a bit longer than 24 hours for The Mine to pass the review stage on Amazon's Kindle page.

I believed the review process would be the final step but apparently there's one more -- publishing. The novel has been in that stage for about the same 24-hour time period and my sense of dread is growing. Those people who live in my head are having nonstop anxiety conversations.

What if there's a mistake? What if she missed a typo? What if it doesn't look like an ebook? Are you sure the cover is going to be sufficiently attractive? What if it gets stuck in the publishing stage? Did she miss a step along the way? How is she going to promote this baby? And finally, the worst question: What if nobody buys the darn thing?

Then somebody up there chimed in with a totally unrelated question: "What's the correct way to spell ebook (eBook, Ebook, EBook)?"

Think I'll take the day off and work in the yard.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The ebook journey - Part eight: Uploading to kindle

Surprise!

The uploading of The Mine to Kindledesktop publishing went through with just one minor problem.

It seems there’s a blank I “forgot” to fill in. I say “forgot” because I never saw the blank in the initial form.

What was missing? Something called Additional Contributors.

Well, I’m the only person who contributed so why would have to list any additional names?

Don’t know. Just have to.

I just filled in my own name and clicked the save button and the minor problem disappeared.

Now it's a waiting game while the folks at Amazon go through some review process.

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The ebook journey - Part seven and a half: Images

Okay, so I guess the real answer to getting everything right the first time around is simple: Read the directions!

But, being adventurous, I usually don't resort to that when all else fails.

And, of course, previewing The Mine on Amazon had me upset because my images didn’t show up … so all else failing, I read the directions – and there are tons of them.

Seems images don’t show up in the preview.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The ebook journey - Part seven: Finding formatting gliches

Finally!

It’s time to upload the spiffed up, cleaned up, formatted, reformatted, html file of the novel.

Or so I thought.

After following the directions and confirming the coding by searching for and finding several sources, I believed the product was ready to upload and preview.

Hmmm. We know about those “best laid plans.”

Apparently, after fifteen reformats, there’s a problem getting the images to show up in the preview. I’ve used only two – a version of the cover and a little vignette to separate some of the sections in the novel.

Neither image shows in the preview. In fact, there’s some little camera icon with that scary little exclamation point inside a triangle – you know, the one that serves as a warning that you’ve done something wrong.

Interestingly, both images displayed properly in the two ebook readers I used to review my changes.

So it’s back to the drawing board to see if I can figure out what the deal is.