Tag Archives: amazon

Some Musings on Motivation and #ROW80

And when I say musings, I mean that I’m looking at some things that I’ve done right, and trying to figure out how the hell that happened.

There are three big things I’ve done in the last several years that I can easily point to and say: these are things which required a lot of motivation and I made them happen.

  1. Got my house together– When my daughter was finally done nursing and I was once again free to move about the cabin, I really did a lot of work to get my home in order. It was the first time in our marriage (about 15 years at that time, I guess) that we lived without any cardboard boxes in view. I decluttered, I cleaned up, I got routines together, and when disasters happened (as they did daily as I had a toddler around) I was able to take care of them and get things back to order.
  2. Wrote a book– Meaning I finished it. I started at the beginning and I wrote until the end. And it was even good. I made an outline, I had a list of scenes, and I tried to write at least one every day. I didn’t write every day, but I averaged more than one and I finished 30 days after I started. No putting it aside 2/3 in and starting something else, no putting writing aside to pick up another activity.
  3. Lost weight– I got married while I was still in college. Between the weight everyone gains in college and the weight everyone gains when first married, I was kinda screwed. My senior year I made a big effort at diet and exercise and lost half of what I’d gained those four years. But after that it was a slow but steady increase until I got pregnant almost a decade later. After losing enough of the baby weight to get out of maternity clothes and back to a size 14, I pretty much maintained 160-165 for a number of years. Today I weighed in at 127.5, a weight I haven’t seen this century.

So if I went through this period where I was good a keeping up my house, why is my house a wreck? Why am I always struggling with this? What am I doing wrong?

Why did it take me a month to write the first draft of Hush Money and close to ten months for Heroes ‘Til Curfew?

If I have the self-discipline to just say no to binges, over-eating, stress-eating, etc., why can’t I seem to apply that in other areas?

This is stuff I’ve been thinking. Reading about motivation can be confusing. A lot of it seems to come down to this concept: You just have to really want it. I can’t make you want it.

Well, um, I think I do want it. That’s why I’m here. I don’t know how to make myself want it anymore than this. I’m not even sure I’m comfortable with the notion of a greater level of want. That doesn’t seem like it’s going to help with my crazy level.

I mean, did I not want to write Heroes ‘Til Curfew? Of course I did. Did I want it enough? I think so.

It’s hard to talk about this stuff because nothing happens in a vacuum. I was better at housekeeping when I wasn’t also trying to run an Etsy shop or a writing career. I was better and just writing when I wasn’t in the throes of second book syndrome. There are definitely other factors at work.

But other people manage do more than one thing at a time, and I’d like to as well, so I’m looking at these three successes and trying to figure out what they had in common.

  1. When I was good at housekeeping, my goal was not to have a perfect or even beautiful home. I did not own the house I lived in, I knew I couldn’t afford to make the improvements it needed. It was never going to beautiful, but I was going maintain it and keep it as clean and comfortable as I could. The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process of making it better and maintaining the progress.
  2. When I was good at getting a book written, my goal was not to produce the greatest book ever. I had no standard I was going for, except for it to be finished and as good as I could make it. The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process of writing a book from beginning to end.
  3. When I was good at losing weight, I never had a goal weight. I might have said, I’d like to lose x amount, or I’d like to be x by the end of the summer, but those were just things I would throw out in conversation, like wishes. They were never subgoals of some greater endgame I was trying to achieve. In fact, when I did really start to lose weight, it wasn’t about losing weight, it was about changing my eating habit. The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process of learning to be mindful about eating and making better choices.

The goal was not on the end result, it was on the process.

That’s what I’ve pulled out of this. I’m not sure what it means, what to do with it, how to apply it. Not yet. Plenty of people do great by focusing on an end result and breaking that down into smaller tasks. I don’t think I’m that person. Some people make the decision to change their actions and they follow through. I don’t. When I tell myself to do stuff, most of the time I just don’t.

Maybe because it’s always easier to just stay where I am.

I’ve already determined that I need to change my thoughts before I can change my actions. Now I’ve determined that thinking about my goals as big end result things, or even smaller, successive results, doesn’t really work for me either.

What is going to work for me? Still don’t know. But if I figure it out, I’ll pass it on.

#ROW80: I have 10 threads for Heroes Under Siege. My goal for the week is to make sure I understand what happens in each one from beginning to end and how they interweave. That’s going well so far as I’m at 7/10 mostly done. I’d like to start brainstorming specific events and jotting down scenes next week.

Meanwhile, I should have a guest post up over at Book Lovers, Inc. today. The post is about taking something often considered boyish–superheroes–and taking it for Team Girl. And there’s a giveaway. Go, read, comment, make it look like people like me.

5 Comments

Filed under GIT

#ROW80 Update and Sunday Mashup

My goals this week were to get the book launched, survive getting the book launched, and to not babysit my stats. We’ll call that a 2 out of 3. While I haven’t been as bad about it as I was last time–I haven’t been refreshing Amazon hourly–I need to stop. It’s already at the point where I’m dropping about 200 points every time I look and I don’t need to watch that. The launch peeked almost as soon as it started, got within about 50 points of the top 1000, but I didn’t have the customer base to get a foothold and stay there. While I made it to page two of my category bestseller list, I probably didn’t have enough ratings and reviews yet to entice browsing customers to take a closer look.

So what happens now should be a drop in rank concurrent with a trickle of sales, and then I’ll need to hope that the book bloggers who have responded to my offer of an ARC, and the fans who were excited enough to snap up the book in these first few days, will be able and willing to enthusiastically recommend it and give me a push back up to visibility again. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll have to come up with something else.

Mostly I just need to write the next book, and then the next book, and wait for my time and some more luck, though surely I’ve already had my share of that.

I don’t mean to sound bummed out here. Mostly I’m just tired. Getting back in touch with some of the fans of the series has been great. I had girls write to me who snapped up the book as soon as the links went out, read it that night, and had to drag themselves to school the next day. Hopefully learning absolutely nothing between being sleep-deprived and thoughts of Joss and Dylan. (I mean, they’ll be okay, look how I turned out.) After two weeks of crazy work toward this launch, I’ve just hit that point where it feels like it’s over already and it’s time to reflect and see what I’ve learned.

I’ve lost another 3.5lbs. Let’s all party because I just weighed in like it’s 1999.

Recommended Reading

Konrath gets lucky
So I’m on Twitter and @jakonrath tweets: “Konrath on How to Succeed: LINK.” And I’m like, Oh yeah? What’s that post going to be like? “Do the work, bitches. The End.” And it pretty much is, only much funnier. And it’s really worth reading because it ends with a sincere and important message. (via Twitter, @jakonrath, but I also subscribe)

Your writing is interfering with me reading this story
I can’t tell you how often this is a problem for me, to the point where I start to think: maybe it’s just me and I’m picky and being a bitch. But then I find this post over at KidLit.com. That’s what I’m talking about. Sometimes I just want to say, “Relax, find your own voice, stop trying to sound like your favorite book–I think it was from the 80s anyway and that’s not working anymore. I think there’s a great story here, I just need to hack away the metaphors, complex sentence constructions, and fifty-cent words to find it.” Anyway, I find this post dead-on and nicely instructive. (via @JamiGold on Twitter)

Have I ever mentioned practice = good?
I dunno how much I harp on it on the blog, but I totally believe in it. Dean Wesley Smith has an awesome article on how many writers tend to think about practice. As usual I think he totally nails it. Now he talks a lot in here about not reworking the same piece, but mailing it off or self-publishing it and then moving on to the next one. While I agree with the moving on to the next one, I’m not sure how I feel about inflicting something on the world that may be best shoved in a drawer. But hey, it’s a free world (void where prohibited). (via @dlmartin6 on Twitter)

Ticket to ride.
I’m going to try to get back on the Flylady wagon. Last year I was totally out of control with everything and it hurt my ability to get stuff done. If there’s anyone who reads my recs who feels like they can’t write (or [insert life thing]) and keep up with their home at the same time, check out the program. You don’t have to agree with everything she says, you don’t have to manage your stuff exactly the way she lays it out. But there’s a lot here worth learning. I’ve already opened up a #flylady column on TweetDeck; it would be nice to see some of my friends there. (I am a former Flybaby and know this helps.)

I’m still trying to get my head around this one.
Lastly, a post from Kristen Lamb that I found very complex in the fact that it is just chock full of an overwhelmingly large amount of helpfulness. Kristen says, again, that we need to stop being so…homogenous. Just go out and make friends with normal, non-writer people. Yeah, that’s so easy. But then she explains how to find them on Twitter. Oh, yeah, Twitter. I know Twitter. Okay…so maybe this is doable after all? Let’s go get sticky. (via subscription)

What I’m Reading

I read a lot of stuff I never talk about on the blog for one reason or another. So I thought maybe I’d start mentioning what’s at the top of my TBR pile at the moment.

3 Comments

Filed under Recs and Links

Interview: Kait Nolan on Red

Yes, today is Heroes ‘Til Curfew release day. It’s up at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords now and things are going great. But you’ve got to be getting kind of tired of nothing but HTC launch news around here, so we’re going to talk about someone else today.

Okay, you all know my bestie and CP, Kait Nolan. Or you should, I talk about her all the damned time. Kait’s just released Red, her first YA novel. Which rocks for me, not only because we’ve been wallowing in teen angst bullshit with a body count together, but because it gives me more opportunity to promo her awesomeness. So here she is today to answer some questions.

But first, a quick blurb so you know what we’re talking about.

Red Cover Image

Red by Kait Nolan

Every fairy tale has a dark side…

Elodie Rose has a secret. Any day, she’ll become a wolf and succumb to the violence that’s cursed her family for centuries. For seventeen years she’s hidden who and what she is. But now someone knows the truth and is determined to exterminate her family line. Living on borrowed time in the midst of this dangerous game of hide and seek, the last thing Elodie needs to do is fall in love. But Sawyer is determined to protect her, and the brooding, angry boy is more than what he seems. Can they outsmart a madman? And if they survive, will they find a way to beat the curse for good?

  1. I know you’re here to talk to about you, and talk about Red, blah blah blah. But let’s talk about what we all really want to know about. Let’s talk about me. Tell my readers how we met and what you thought about me in those early days.

Five years ago I decided to take myself seriously as a writer.  I’d spent years listening to other people tell me to be practical and get a real job, but I wasn’t happy, so I decided I was finally going to treat writing as a real job.  And part of that was trying to find a critique partner.  I don’t know what possessed me to look at LiveJournal communities, but in one I came across a posting by someone who seemed to be the only other person there who wrote romance.  I don’t remember anymore who introduced themselves to whom, but suddenly I was faced with someone who wasn’t afraid to give me legitimate critique on stuff other than that comma I forgot to insert.  She was actually willing to really work on my stuff.  It was a match made in heaven.

  1. Welcome to YA land! We’re so happy to have you. You’ve been writing for adults in the Mirus series. What’s different about writing YA? Tell us the good, the bad, and the ugly.

One of the initial frustrating things for me was writing in first person.  Which isn’t necessarily a requirement of YA, but it’s what Elodie positively demanded.  Girl simply would not talk in third person, which is my comfort zone.  And I think the other really hard thing for me was trying to be a teenager again.  It’s exhausting to feel like that!  And since I really wasn’t a normal teen when I was that age, I had some trouble finding a balance in how I presented these extraordinary teens in a way that’s still believable and authentic.

But the fun…the fun is in the freedom to explore so many interesting problems.  Teens are at that great point when the unbelievable can still be believable, when they’re (usually) less weighed down by responsibility.  And it’s fun to look at the world through their eyes for a while.

  1. You are one of those un-querying and yet agented self-published authors. How did that happen?

I am living proof that you always need to watch what you say on the internet!  Kristen Lamb (of We Are Not Alone fame) did a post about self-publishing in which she called it the American Idol of Publishing.*  Being not self-published herself, Kristen opened the floor to those of us with more experience, and I think I wrote a tome in the comments.  Repeatedly.  Answering questions in a sensible, business-like manner and countering naysayers with fact.  This is something I do from time to time when I feel motivated to correct misconceptions about the indie publishing movement, and I didn’t think a thing about it.

Then I got an email from Laurie McLean of Larsen-Pomada out of San Francisco saying she’d seen my comments on the post, though I sounded smart, checked out my platform (read: she interwebz stalked me via the social media platform I’d spent three years building), read the sample of my work on my blog, bought my other novella, and did I have representation, and if not, would I like to set up a phone conference.

I think I fell out of my chair.  After I got over hyperventilating, we had that conference and I found out she’s totally progressive and recognizes that the publishing industry is changing and that the usual way of doing things isn’t gonna keep working.  She totally acknowledged that I would be successful on my own, she just thought she could help me be successful faster and bigger via a hybrid career of traditional and indie publishing.  And I was sold.

  1. You and Laurie have a somewhat…non-traditional vision of what your career can be. You’re purposely releasing Red before submitting the manuscript in New York. What’s the idea?

Well the concept is two-fold: One, if New York decides they don’t want it, for whatever reason, I haven’t lost any time or done anything differently than if I had opted to keep it straight indie.  Two, launching it gives us proof of the platform I’ve been building, and shows my viability as an author via real-time sales numbers based entirely on what I can do on my own—with the theory being that if I can do this on my own, imagine what I could do with a house behind me.  Publishing is changing and self-publishing something is no longer the kiss of death for a traditional contract.  We’re going to reach a time when authors are picked based on actual indie sales performance instead of the slush pile—when readers tell publishers what they want.  I’m getting in on that from the front end.

  1. This is one I don’t really remember the answer to. Where did the initial inspiration for Red come from?

We watched or read some kind of fairy tale reboot.  I can’t remember what.  You and I were talking about it, and I got to thinking about what fairy tales I liked and what would lend itself to paranormal, and the question of What if Red Riding Hood was the wolf, popped up.  I was originally thinking something adult, urban fantasyesque, that involved a meeting of the paranormal and romantic suspense I love.  But I set the idea aside and didn’t think much about it until Elodie started talking to me, and I realized she was a teenager.  Then it was mostly an issue of the fact that she was talking loudest.  😀

  1. We all do it. There’s no shame. Okay, well maybe just a little. Tell us anyway, what personal teen demons did you use to craft Red?

Amber is totally based on a compilation of my middle school and high school nemeses.  I was never as meanly bullied as Elodie, but I was absolutely an outcast freak as a teenager—one of those socially inept smart kids who don’t know how to relate to “regular teenagers”— so it was really easy to go back to what that felt like and multiply it exponentially.  I also firmly believe (yes, that’s still present tense) that high school boys are morons.  I distinctly remember my mother telling me I needed to tone down the smart if I wanted boys to like me, and I was like “Why would I want to be with someone who’s threatened by my brain?  High school boys are idiots.”  College was a GODSEND.  To have guys think I was hot because I was smart?  Where had they been all my life?

  1. About Sawyer…does he like older wom—I mean, uh, was there any person or character who provided particular inspiration for Sawyer—or any of the characters in Red?

Not so much, no.  I think Sawyer is what I would have wanted back then, and of course he’s got that whole protect with his body and life thing going on that we all love about Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander.

  1. Your tagline for this is: Every fairy tale has a dark side. How much did the tale of Little Red Riding Hood figure into the writing of this book?

For me it was backstory.  If Red was the wolf, how did she get that way?  The story of Red Riding Hood has a couple of different layers/interpretations.  One, it’s a tale about the consequences of talking to strangers.  But there have also been interpretations that it was a morality tale, that the wolf represented a man who would steal away virtue.  And I thought, well what if the original Red fell in love with a werewolf.

  1. I once took a class on fairy tales in which the instructor said, “Rule #1, kill the mother. Because if there were a mother around, she wouldn’t let any of this bad stuff happen and there would be no tale.” That’s the case in Red. Do you buy that?

Well yes and no.  I think certainly there’s the maternal instinct to try and protect your children from harm.  But absolutely bad things continue to happen even if Mom is still around.  I often have one or both parents dead or not part of the hero/ine’s life because it’s more convenient to the plot.  Teens in YA typically have to do all kinds of stuff that real teens with two involved parents would have difficulty getting away with or pulling off.  Sometimes parents can provide additional conflict to the story, but most of the time they just seem to get in the way.

  1. Hate me all you want, the dreaded open-ended question of DOOM, what’s your favorite thing about this story?

I think, probably, the fact that I wrote a kick-ass heroine who continues to be strong in the face of horrific adversity instead of lying down and letting the world beat her.  I think Elodie is a good example to teen girls, and we definitely need more of them out there to counter-balance the popularity of certain teen series with simpering, idiotic, wimpy heroines who let their heroes run their lives.

That’s all I’m going to ask Miss Kait because she’s on a blog tour and has a lot of questions to answer. To follow her around and soak up her answers, just swing by her blog each day for a new link. She’ll be doing more interviews as well as interesting articles about darkness, fairy tales, and other good stuff. More importantly, you can READ THE BOOK, which I really love. It gets my romance HEA seal of approval. Here are some links for you…

Smashwords, Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, Barnes and Noble, and All Romance EBooks.

 Kait Nolan's bio picKait Nolan is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss.  When she’s not working or writing, she’s in her kitchen, heading up a revolution to Retake Homemade from her cooking blog, Pots and Plots.

You can catch up with her at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

*The link Kait provided goes back to that original post in which you can read her comments. In what I swear is just a bizarre coincidence of Kait-love, Kristen Lamb re-ran that post on her blog today. Check it out if you’d like to get in on today’s conversation.

9 Comments

Filed under books

Remarkable Amounts of Productivity, Heroes ‘Til Curfew Available, #ROW80

Partly because Heroes ‘Til Curfew went live on Amazon, and partly just because, I went out today with my IRL friend, Kristy. Had celebratory lunch and avoided refreshing Amazon to check rank, KDP to check sales, etc. Very attractive waiter who made us totally forget what we were talking about every time he came to the table. Good times.

The initial uploads are done. I’m still waiting for a buy link for the NOOK peeps, and then I can be more announce-y and send out my newsletter to the email list.

I’m having some problems with the print version, so that’s going to take a while longer.

So the ROW80 update is that I’ve been working on all this STUFF. I’m still getting new ideas for the next book and the series and jotting those done, but nothing like actual writing right now. But that’s okay. I know that I’m a one thing at a time person and didn’t put that kind of pressure/goal on myself. I hope to be able to put this stuff behind me by the end of the week.

11 Comments

Filed under ROW80

#ROW80 update, upcoming release, and some recommended reading

Heroes 'Til Curfew postcard with release information

Click to share

So whew, it’s good to have this all settled and to say, “Thanks for asking, it’s coming out around September 2nd!”

Really good.

I’m still wrapped up in this book and not so much active in the next one. I continue to lack true multitask finesse. Once this week is behind me and the book is out, my new ROW80 goal will be to try really hard to leave it be. To not babysit my stats, to not read reviews, etc. To move on to the next thing and let this thing do what it’s going to because once it’s out, it’s no longer in my control anyway.

Been extremely busy this week, so my reading has been limited to my subscriptions. There was some good stuff, though.

Recommended Reading

Big News (Look! My agent!)
Yeah, ’cause it’s all about me, right? LOL. If you’re an indie and you missed this, what have you been doing this week, writing a book? When I read Konrath’s piece on John Locke’s deal with Simon & Schuster in which they’re going to print his books but he’s keeping his erights, I thought Wow, that’s something. And then, Jane, what a BAMF you are. Good job! I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say the end is necessarily nigh. It’s hard not to agree with Jane’s assertion that publishing is full of brilliant people who will find a way to turn things around for themselves. And I figure if she can do HER job every day and still think that, there must be something to it. (via subscription)

Konrath goes #MyWANA?
That’s what I thought when I read this post in which Konrath and Crouch have a back and forth about the future and who has the power in publishing. Where it gets particularly interesting is where they start talking about author to reader direct sales. I sell PDF sewing patterns and have some knowledge of how to set up to sell digital goods directly. I could do it tomorrow, in theory. Notice how I don’t. Because, as a small fish (without a 10K member mailing list), developing web traffic is a marketing issue I don’t want to deal with. And the idea of carrying other authors’ books, having to keep track of THEIR royalties and pay them out…accounting nightmare for me. Not to mention the fact that building a high quality brand means having to tell some people “no” and that’s just awkward. I need to write more books, not manage a store. Never say never, though. And I did like the idea that this post sort of represents a convergence of Konrath and Kristen, two smart people I always want to listen to. (via subscription)

I’m a sexist pig
Okay, not actually a pig, maybe, although I did participate in an objectification of Tom Welling on Twitter the other night. Again. My double standard about men should be men but women can be anything, is something I know about myself and am working on. Andrew highlighted that in his Girly Man post this week. He picks up a discussion about how the issue of fewer young male readers maybe shouldn’t be about the lack of “boy” books, and moves it into his take on life as an open-minded guy who doesn’t need gender bias to make his choices for him. Which is, undoubtedly, part of his charm. (via subscription)

#UnicornLoverz Unite
Beverage warning applies to this brilliant bit of hand-drawn comic goodness from Claire. Claire reveals what it’s like for an author and her unicorn when the author gets in “the zone” and the world is blotted out by her own awesomeness. A must read. (via subscription)

6 Comments

Filed under Recs and Links

Runaways: Teen Superheroes? I’m so there!

Yesterday (the day before this post was written, not actual yesterday…as though you care) I got and read Runaways vol 1: Pride and Joy*. This was a fantastic recommendation from my comics guru Andrew Mocete.

Tag of note: Teen superheroes! Come on, had you at Hello, didn’t it?

Premise: So here’s this group of teens who see each other once a year when they’re forced to hang out together while their parents have their annual meeting for some charity they secretly run. The kids don’t seem to have a lot in common and they don’t really like each other, so obviously they’re thrilled. This naturally leads to spying on the parents and realizing that they’re…da da dummmm…super-villains!

Ouch.

A bit more of the plot: The first volume in trade paperback collects issues 1-6. After that initial setup, with the zealous morality of rebellious teens, the kids decide they need to have their parents brought to justice. But shockingly, reporting your parents as super-villains to the police does not have the desired effect. Our heroes now have to find some kind of evidence in order for the police to take them seriously, while trying to stay under the radar of their ruthless parents. And yeah, they pretty much suck at that.

Characterization: Friggin’ awesome. Seriously, this book was a delight. The writing is absolutely fantastic with dialogue that just pops. I loved it. After a brief introductory skit on the first kid that sets up his character and the idea of the meeting, we meet the other kids and their parents in a series of 1-2 page character sketches that are just brilliant in their ability to deliver a real taste of these kids and their families in such a small space. As a novelist who can’t say 2 words when 10 would certainly make it better, I stand in awe.

Romance: Oh heck yeah! It’s there! New, awkward and sweet, and ever so promising that I had to order the next two volumes and I’m telling you that I paid to get them express. Dude, I never do that. Now I’m not saying it’s a romance. For the most part the boy/girl stuff is subtle and besides the point. I’m just a maniac for that shit.

Style/Readability: As a comic book newb I can tell you that I had no problems with this one. Some I find hard to follow but everything in here really flowed for me. I always knew where we were, it was easy to determine when a scene ended and we shifted into another one, I didn’t have any problem following the order as far as whose speech bubble to read first.

Suitability for younger readers: There’s a T+ on this one, so I set it aside from the mail I was going to share with my six year old daughter and read it alone. In retrospect, I think it would have been fine to let her have at it and to read it to her if it interested her. I don’t remember any foul language, there was no gore, no sex, not even a whole lot violence. If you let your kids stay in the room while you watch the evening news or they channel surf network TV such that they might catch one of those really questionable promos they put on way early or 5 minutes of banter from a show like How I Met Your Mother, honestly, this book is tame. I’m not sure it would hold the interest of a young child, but I don’t think it would damage them.

Note about shopping: If you go hunt these down, the term “volume” may be confusing. The single issues seemed to have been written as three volumes. It would easier to think of them as “seasons.” Then there were two side trips that might be considered mini-series. So what happens in the retailer descriptions is that more than one book called Runaways is said to collect volumes 1-7, etc, because they’re not labeled Runaways Season 1, etc. Add to that the fact that retailers are taking pre-orders for a new printing, so yet more listings, and retailers don’t always provide complete information. The trade paperback “volumes” are all numbered sequentially, such that volumes 1, 4, and 9 are all said to contain issues 1-6, but volume 4 has 1-6 of volume season 2. I found this Wikipedia article helpful. Comics people just seem to know all this stuff, but all the different printings, special issues, and I don’t know what just make me a little crazy.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Superheroes, Heroism, and Romance

Formatting for Print on Demand

Ok, so last week I started talking to you about getting started with CreateSpace. We talked about some things you can do and think about before you really dig into formatting. The last step we talked about was doing one last, careful, super final pass to make sure that text is completely typo-free and just the way you want it.

I should preface the rest of this by saying that there’s actually a lot you can do with interior layout, and if you want to be fancy, you’ll want to find references beyond what I’m going to talk about. This post is about get it done, get it out there, and quit being held back by fear or perfectionism. What I’m going for is a nice, clean, legible read, because I really believe it’s your story that matters. But if you want to dive into the fancy stuff on your first time out, go for it. One book I’ve seen recommended may times is Aaron Shepard’s Perfect Pages. That book deals a lot more with the ins and outs of making Word do what you want it to than it does about design type things. I’m sure there are tons of books and blog posts out there if you poke around long enough.

Hopefully you’ve been looking through some books to see what the insides look like, and to think about what kinds of extra information you’ll add. This is your space. As long as you don’t wind up costing your customer too much money, you can add promo for your other works, the works of your peers, a bio, etc. You should definitely leave a little room to tell the reader where to find you online so they’ll know where to go for more info about your future work.

A quick word about margins, which we didn’t get into the other day. I used equal margins on each side, partly because I had read somewhere that just in case the printing got a little off, it seemed a safe thing to do. In retrospect, I think I might have a wider inside (gutter) margin next time around. If you want to do that, in Word, you’ll go to File, Page Setup, Gutter Position Left, set the Gutter amount that you want (1/4″?), for Multiple Pages select “Mirror Margins.” Don’t be surprised if you page count has changed.

You’ll want to go through that section at the beginning of the book before the story actually starts, the “front matter.” Use Insert, Break, Section Break Next Page to make each page a new section. Use this method for any blank pages you want to add to make text fall on odd or even pages.  For example, the title page is on the right-hand side, or an odd page. The copyright info is usually on an even numbered page. Page 1, the way CreateSpace is counting, is the first page of your document. You can’t print anything on the inside cover (save it for your autograph).

When you start Chapter 1, make sure that’s the start of a new section. All Chapters should be the beginning of a new section (meaning there should be a section break, not a page break.) Continue to scroll through your document. Now you’re looking to make sure each chapter starts on an odd page, and if it doesn’t you’ll add extra section breaks as above. Remember to always work from beginning to end of your document. Each blank page should be its own section, and each new chapter should be the start of a new section. This is probably the most tedious part of the whole thing. This is about page numbering, which we’ll get to later.

Once you’ve added all your blank pages and you’re SURE about your page count, you can go back to CreateSpace to make the cover template. That’s as easy as entering your book size and number of pages and downloading a zip file. What you do with this, I don’t know. I sent mine to Robin and she sent me back a cover. (I ❤ Robin.) CreateSpace has some kind of cover creator thing for you DIYers. Remember to look at some books on your shelf to see what goes on a cover. You’ll probably at least want a short blurb for the back. CreateSpace will take care of your barcode, and the blank spot you leave for that is on your template.

Now you’re going to add headers. Go to File, Page Setup, Layout tab, and under Headers and footers check the box for Different odd and even. Also check the box for Different first page. In your document, skip to the Chapter 1 page. Select View, Header and Footer. A menu bar pops up and so does a text box where your header should be. Page down to the header of the next page. Use your regular old alignment buttons to center the text and type your name. Page down to the third page of your book, center the text and type your title. Now page through the rest of the section. You should have your book title on the odd pages and your name on the even pages.

Hover over the buttons on that little menu bar until you find the one that says Link to Previous. When that button is live, the section that you’re in takes the information from the section before it. Go through and click that button for every section. Go back to Chapter 1 and make sure that what you have is

  • your title on odd pages
  • your name on even pages
  • no headers on blank pages or “Chapter” pages

All of the headers and footers in the “front matter” section should be blank (but only if you’re doing it my way–you can actually do whatever you want). If they’re not, check those link to previous buttons and make sure they’re not activated.

Next step is to add page numbers. Go to the first page of your story, Chapter 1. If you’ve lost your footer box and menu, go to View, Header and Footer to get it back. Click in the footer and click the button for Format Page Number. Select Starts at and put in 1 so that this is where you start counting pages (story pages, for the reader, not actual pages for the printer). If you find there’s a 1 in the footer box in your document, delete it.  Go to the next page’s footer. This time, click the Insert Page Number button. Use the alignment buttons to center the number. Check page 3 and see if there’s a page number.

Page through your document. You should have no page numbers on blank and “Chapter” pages (because those are all the first page of a section). All other pages should have consecutive numbers. If this is not the case, play with it.

If you want page numbers on your “Chapter” pages (I have them, because the convention of not having them annoys me as a reader, but it is more common not to have them), that’s doable. You just have to unlink your sections and insert page numbers on the “Chapter” pages. It’s a pain in the butt.

Double check your front matter section and make sure all headers and footers are blank. Double check that all your headers and footers on blank and “Chapter” pages are empty. Double check, again, that all blank pages fall on the left, or even, and that all new chapters start on right or odd pages. And when you’re done checking, check again.

Another thing that’s worth mentioning is your curly quotes and apostrophes. When characters interrupt each other, as they often do, Word has a habit of making the end quote turn the wrong way. (“Hey, wait a min–“) Additionally, make sure any apostrophes at the beginnings of words are turned properly. When you type a word like ’cause, Word always puts the apostrophe the wrong way. These are things I now fix as I type, but had to go back through and fix when formatting for epublishing and print for Book 1. Make sure your double hyphens became em-dashes (the long, unbroken ones). There are probably other common things to look out for, but these are the ones I can think of and you probably worked a lot of this out when formatting for e anyway.

Once you’re all done, you should be able to Print to PDF. If you don’t have a program installed that allows you to do this, you might try something like PDF Creator or other free program. Google is your friend. Then you’re in for another round or two of just get your eyeballs on it and make sure it’s perfect before uploading.

We’re running long, but if you’re actually doing this, I know you just want me to finish it out.

Once you upload your PDF and your cover, it takes a day or few for CreateSpace to look it over and make sure it’s not going to be crappy in some way. Basically they’re checking to make sure you’ve followed the submission requirements, that all your text is in the printable area, stuff like that. Once it’s been accepted by them, you’ll order your proof.

What you pay for your proof is the cost you were quoted based on the page count. You’ll probably pay about the same for shipping via media mail. This should take about 7-10 days depending on how the mail is, although the site quotes longer. Once you get your book, after you’re done oohing, ahhing, stroking it, taking pictures of it, etc., you’ll want to actually crack it open and make sure everything turned out ok.

Go back to CreateSpace and approve your book. Make sure you’ve got your price set the way you want and that you’ve enrolled in ProPlan if you want (you can go free right now and add that later if you choose), and that you’ve opted into the Expanded Distribution Channel if you choose and have done ProPlan. Your book should show up on Amazon within a few days. If you entered your title exactly as your DTP title, your Kindle and paperback versions should link up automatically. If your page finishes building and they don’t, contact DTP customer service and let them know.

There’s a lot more that can be learned on the subject than what I’ve told you, which is mainly the highlights of what I remember having to learn when I did this, only once, about six months ago. But I hope it helps move you toward getting a print edition out there.

My book uses 12pt Times New Roman with 1/2″ margins, no gutter. Headings, headers, and footers are done in Engravers MT. I did no kerning of the text at all. The text is left-justified. If you’d like to see how that came out, you can Look Inside the Book on Amazon.

8 Comments

Filed under self-publishing

Beginning Steps in Print

I don’t know why I’m so all-fired motivated to get you guys to put out print books, but yeah, here’s another post about it. I wrote this before I went on break, but while I’ve been away I’ve read yet again that it’s Soooooo hard to format for print. For CreateSpace even! Arg. It’s enough to make a girl come back and schedule some posts.

This is going to be some more nuts and bolts type first steps, and is going to be about CreateSpace. That’s what I used, I liked it, I recommend it. If you want to do something else, that’s cool, and this post may or may not be helpful to you. Welcome to the crap-shoot that is my blog.

Stuff you can easily do today, so get off your ass.

Ok, possibly unnecessary, but if you’ve been dithering or otherwise dragging your feet on this (like I did), for whatever reason, here’s a little kick in the pants.

Today, just go create an account. You don’t have to do anything with it, you’re not obligated to use it, but it’s a good first step. It’s just your basic username/password, email addy, and they’d like to know what you’re planning to publish (book, DVD, etc.) While you’re there, go find the places where you enter payment info. You’ll need to put a credit card on file for when you buy stuff, like ordering your proof copy, or later when you order your copies at cost for giveaways and reviewers. Also, find the place where you enter your payee info. Because they’re gonna need to know where to send your big fat royalties.

A good next step would be to choose your book size. You don’t have to do anything or commit to anything here, I’m just saying figure it out in your head, so you know. My method for choosing my book size was very scientific. I IMed Zoe and asked, “What size did you go with for Blood Lust?” She said 5.5″ x 8.5″. I went back to CreateSpace and double-checked that that would be a good size with the Expanded Distribution Channel and all that, and it was all good. So if you don’t have a preference, you can also go with 5.5″ x 8.5″ for the simple reason that we did. Decision made.

Can you handle another to-do today? Assuming you have a completed manuscript, open it up, do a Save As, and then in the new copy change the page size to whatever you chose for your book size. See how many pages you’ve got. Go back to CreateSpace and play with the calculators. If you can’t find them, try the Publish tab, click the Books on Demand link, then the Pricing tab. The other calculator is under Sales & Royalties. Between the two of these, you can start to get an idea of what this book is going to cost and how you can price it. You can go back to your document and play with margins, fonts and font sizes, extra content, etc, and more or less decide on a number of pages. (You can find recommended margins based on number of pages under the Submission Requirements tab.)

Do NOT finalize your cover or send a CreateSpace template to your cover designer until you are certain about the number of pages. Changing the page count will affect the cover template.

Now that you know how many final pages you’re shooting for, you can start your formatting. The biggest part of this will be the most thorough proof-reading ever. Be certain you’ve got as many bugs out of this manuscript as humanly possible because once this is done, you will be charged a fee to make changes in the future.

Set a goal for this proof-reading pass, and schedule proofing a set number of pages per day to reach your goal. Because proof-reading is boring. To avoid being caught up in the wonderful awesomeness of your story, I very much recommend starting from the end. Read each page from top to bottom so that you’ll still understand the context, but turn the pages from right to left instead of left to right. If you’re like me, working this way will help you catch a lot more of the missed word/incorrect word typos that your brain typically fills in automatically. If you’re not good at this, consider shipping this off to a professional copy-editor.

That should keep you busy for a little while. Next week I’m going to talk about things like headers and footers, page numbering, blank pages, etc., and how I handled those. It’s easier to do that stuff AFTER the rest of the text is perfected. Trust me.

3 Comments

Filed under self-publishing, writing

Out of Hibernation With An Announcement

First let me say right off that no, it’s not Heroes ‘Til Curfew time yet. Sorry. And second, I miss you. Third, after an illness, I’m feeling much, much better, and I am back to work.

Click for Kindle

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, the swell announcement. I have a story published in the newly released paranormal romance anthology, Kiss Me, Kill Me.

This anthology brings together short stories from nine great indies for the ridiculously low price of 99cents. What’s more, proceeds from the sale are being donated to GreaterGood.org which is involved in literacy and children’s education along with a host of other good deeds.

While I’m just really proud to be involved in this project alongside these awesome indie authors, my favorite part is that it encouraged me to write this Talent Chronicles story which came from background/backstory details, and might never have been fleshed out had I not been going: OMG I can’t write a short story! and I have no ideas! what am I going to do?? given this opportunity.

Click for NOOK

Impulse Control brings us our first look at what it’s like inside a NIAC State School and introduces a number of characters who will be important later in the series. You’ll see what the story’s about in the description below, but here’s some extra info for you guys who like superpowers. The cast for this story includes:

  • Ethan– shape-shifter
  • Karen– telepath
  • Rand– gravity manipulator
  • Elle- fixer
  • Anderson– influencer

And now for the rest of what’s inside…

Voyage into the realm of the paranormal with this nine author short story anthology. Sink your teeth into:

A Ghoulish Valentine by H.P. Mallory:
Dulcie O’Neil can’t help her attraction to Knight Vander, much though she tries to fight her feelings. When she begrudgingly accepts his invitation to dinner and a movie, the last thing she expects is that she’ll be defending herself against a cemetery full of hungry ghouls and one incredibly sexy man.

Cat Fight by Zoe Winters:
Cat Fight takes place in Zoe Winters’ “PretVerse”. Greta is a cat therian (shifter). She’s been involved with Dayne, a local sorcerer since she sought his protection from her murderous tribe. After a fight, Greta shifts into cat form and refuses to come back out.

Impulse Control by Susan Bischoff:
In the world of the Talent Chronicles, kids born with supernatural powers are taken from their families and forced into government research facilities called State Schools. At one such school, a group of Talents must work together to stop a dangerous experiment that’s already killed two of their peers and threatens others. If they’re caught they face Detention, and Detention at a State School has a whole different meaning.

Wild Passion by Lori Brighton:
James is a treasure hunter intent on collecting a deadly, priceless statue. Then he meets Adelaide, a stubbornly beautiful and mysterious woman who knows more about the statue than she admits. Suddenly, James is tempted to give up everything for the one treasure he can’t seem to own … Adelaide.

A Fairytale Ending by M.T. Murphy:
An unlucky actress discovers that there is no good and bad when it comes to vampires and werewolves, only bad and worse.

Blind Sight by Kait Nolan:
Isla’s ability as a Seer has made her a life-long captive of a paranormal crime lord. Fae assassin, Ransom, offers her a chance at escape, but when she touches his hand she sees only blood, horror, apocalypse. What reason can Ransom have for wanting to rescue her, and can she possibly trust a man who deals in death?

The Sacrifice by Toni LoTempio:
After a chance meeting with the mysterious Alfred Barstow, Jennifer is swept off her feet by his whirlwind courtship of her, so much so that she accepts his proposal of marriage. Leaving her boyfriend Peter behind, she heads off to start a new life in California, unaware there’s more to Alfred than meets the eye – and a sinister plot behind his proposal. The Sacrifice is a story about what happens when the man of your dreams turns out to be your worst nightmare…and then some!

Until the Breaking of the Day by Daniel Arenson:
The Underground. A realm of flame, blood, and knives in the dark.When its prince returns from exile, a young demon girl will learn his secrets.

If You Leave by Stacey Wallace Benefiel:
Despite their devotion to one another, Gabrielle and Jorge have been living separate lives. That is, until Gabrielle’s life ends. Reunited and it feels so…complicated?

Other Stuff To Note:

DRM info: I can see that the Kindle edition has DRM. DRM was something I didn’t think to bring up, and of course once that’s done it can’t be changed. I would assume that the NOOK version also has DRM (I don’t actually know how to tell that from looking at a NOOK listing). If you need a DRM-free version, please go pick up the anthology at Smashwords.

Formats and outlets: Ebooks for Kindle and NOOK, and Smashwords multi-format listings are all currently available. Other ebook outlets will be coming along once the listing is distributed by Smashwords and posted by the various retailers. As far as I know, there is no intention of producing a print edition of this anthology. Hopefully, since these are just little bites, even those who haven’t fully embraced digital will be able to enjoy the ebook version.

PubIt! authors: We could use you help with something that could affect you in the future. There are nine authors on this anthology, yet PubIt currently limits contributors to five. A thread has been started on the PubIt! Help Board, letting BN know about the issue and that it’s important to us to be able to credit all authors who participate in such a work. If you’re registered with PubIt, you’re registered to post on the board. It would be great if you could take a few moments to post even something as simple as: “Yes, this is important to me too. Please fix this problem.” Just to let them know that we care about seeing this issue fixed.

Help spread the word! The usual methods apply. If you love any of these authors and the stories in this book, please help us get the word out by using the sharing buttons, tweeting and retweeting, leaving reviews, and all that good stuff. Book bloggers who need more information should contact the project’s coordinator, HP Mallory.

Thanks so much for your support. I’ll be going back into my cave now until I get a lot closer to releasing Heroes ‘Til Curfew!


13 Comments

Filed under books

The Hero Had a Certain Owenocity About Him…

Whenever you have an Oweny character named Owen, some blog titles are just moral imperatives. Nuff said.

I finished reading Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia. This book was originally self-published, then picked up by Baen, which seems to be a division of Pocket/Simon & Schuster. Excellent book. I said somewhere, while I was reading this 700+ page monster (in paperback!) that it’s not exactly romance. I really find I have to take that back. It actually really was.

What’s more, while I rarely read books by male authors because I so often find myself disgusted or insulted (and this is probably because I tried to read “classic” SF/F), I found this author delightful. Which may be a strange word to use for a fic that’s got a gun culture following due to lots of weapon specifics (and the author is so good that my eyes didn’t even roll back in my head as I read those), and is just packed with scenes of super violent, gory, monster-slaying action. It’s also well-constructed, really well-written, highly imaginative, and this guy’s got a great sense of humor.

What really endeared the book to me was the portrayal of the first-person protag, Owen Pitts. Yeah, there’s a heroic name for ya. And Owen Pitts is an accountant. He’s a big, awkward, self-described oaf of a man, who doesn’t get a lot of chicks, and, in the absolutely fabulous opening scene of the book, is unhappily working as an office drone for the nightmare boss that most of us have felt we’ve had to put up with at some point. And then he throws the boss out of a window.

But he had a really good reason. Trust me.

The character of Owen is brilliantly done. He’s confident in the skills that he has, but not proud, in the sense that he would brag about them. Because a lot of the things he can do haven’t been doing him much good. His military vet father trained him up to be a great shooter, and Owen loves the hobby, but that’s all it is. He’s a good brawler, and while that earned him some cash in the past as a bouncer and at other things, it seemed to be more bad than good and he’s trying to put all the violent stuff behind him. So he sets about trying to use his brain, and he’s very smart, but then he ends up in the shitty job with the shitty boss from Hell. And all this makes for a character who’s not dark, damaged, and tortured, but sees himself as tends to see himself as sort of socially awkward and oafish, pushed around by life in general.

My Mary Sue warning sirens were going off like anything (not that I’d want to have to call this big guy with all the hardware Mary Sue). He’s got all these skills, and some pretty interesting stuff starts happening to him–this thing was obnoxious wish-fulfillment waiting to happen. But it did not go there.

Instead, the author kept it fully in check. Kept the hero challenged. Let him make bad decisions. Let him fail. Let him want to curl up and die after a hard workout, and have to stand there, trying not to throw up, while talking to the girl he liked. Somehow, as badass as Owen kept becoming, as his importance to the events of the story kept building, he managed to keep both the confidence he needed, an amount of self-doubt and anxiety that made sense, and a humility that made him endearing all the way through.

Probably the most endearing thing for me, though, was the way he thought about his love interest. This guy showed so much respect for his lady that I wanted him to date my daughter–not now when she’s six, but you know. When his ardor for her increased, it was never due to the way her boobs wanted to spill out of the barely there dress she was wearing. It was because of things like courage, competence, brains. (Kind of like “just the way you look tonight” except “just the way you wielded that spear against the undead.”)

Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed it. This book was a great package, a book outside my usual reading zone that delivered on a lot of levels. Recommended.

Now this is interesting. I carried this paper monster around in my purse for the last few weeks–which really shows my devotion. Since it wasn’t even on Kindle, I figured it wasn’t available in E (plus, we had the paperback in house, so it was easy to pick up). While investigating for this post, I FOUND E! Not only did I find it, I found in cheaper than paperback, in multi-format, and they seem to be DRM-free–at least, I was able make sure the EPUB I downloaded would convert for future unknown device. Everything we want. Plus PayPal option. (Yes, you’ve figured out that even though my husband had already bought the paperback and I’d already read it, I had to buy it again in eformat. Is that wrong?)

The only drawbacks I see are that they play this subscription thing out so that you have to wait until they’re done serializing a book before you can read it as a whole. I don’t even watch TV series that way, so hopefully that’s more a sneak preview thing that comes before the actual release. The other is that they don’t also sell the books in e on other sites–like it’s not in the Kindle store–and I think that’s a big loss of browsing customer sales for their authors. I just stumbled across this because I was looking for info about the author, and that only because I had heard he was an indie-to-contract story. At least now I know that if I’m intrigued by a Baen-published book, I can probably actually buy it instead of going through the library. Yay for that! /tangent

12 Comments

Filed under Superheroes, Heroism, and Romance