Oct 202016
 

081215_1754_WW8Publishi1.jpgIt’s been a few weeks since I posted here.  Last you heard, I had just published  the short story, The Burning Land. Since then, I’ve been working like a fiend on my next two releases, Chucklers – Book 1, and Year 12, both of which are very close to being published.

CB1 – I have to admit to a bit of panic when Severed sent me the CB1 ebook file for approval.  See, I had requested a copy of the formatted .mobi file with the cover, table of contents, front matter, back matter, etc.  Basically, I wanted to see exactly what it was going to look like when a reader loaded it onto their Kindle.  I’m one of those readers who reads my Kindle with the nighttime mode on.  I find it easier on  my eyes.

If you don’t already know, night mode is the setting on most Kindles wherein you can invert the standard setting of black text on a white background, to white text on a black background.  There is even a sepia setting for those who prefer black text, but find the white background to tiring on the eyes.  However, I’ve run into documents that have formatting issues that only become visible in night mode.  Things like a bad tag on the text color that makes it black, even when the color of the background changes.  Yeah, try reading black text on a black background sometime.  See how well that works for you.  Dazed

Another common problem is when certain parts of the work refuse to accept the night setting. You’re reading along, relaxing with your low light, white text/black background setting, when WHAM!  You click to the next page and there is a section that has black or gray text that is “highlighted” with a bright, white background, like in the picture above.

I’ve dealt with those, and other issues, either with my own titles, or in other books I’ve read.  As a result, I’m a little cautious.  I like to make sure my titles are as problem free as I can make them.  So when I opened the file they sent me, only to find no cover, no TOC, no front or back matter at all, and more than two dozen formatting problems, I have to admit, I began to panic.  I contacted the fine folks at Severed with a list of the issues and got a puzzled reply.  They weren’t having the same problems, even after testing on multiple devices.  They sent another copy of the file, and when I opened it, lo and behold, the cover, front matter, back matter… everything that had freaked me out when I found it missing in the first file, was there.  There were four minor problems, one of which was an error I had made in the original manuscript, that I didn’t catch until going over it again for this pass.

I have no idea what happened, but can only assume that the first file was somehow corrupted in transmission.  Whatever it was, Severed responded quickly, and I’m now confident that CB1 is going to come out as a fine product.  Better yet, it’s close enough to being ready, that I think it will probably be out pretty quickly.  So again, if you haven’t signed up for my new release mailing list, please consider doing so here.  I always make my first announcements and cover reveals there, before anyone else gets to see them.

 

Y12 Year 12 is off to Red Adept Editing.  I’ve used RAE for editing almost everything I’ve self-pubbed, and they’ve never disappointed.  They’re the people I always recommend whenever anyone asks for a good editor.  Since this is the beginning of the editing process, I know I probably have another month or so before Y12 is ready to publish, but believe me, I’m going to keep you all up to date as it winds its way through the process.  Besides, I still need to do a blurb, dedication, acknowledgements, and all the other finishing touches that go on a manuscript before it’s published, not to mention the cover.

And speaking of covers… I had a short conversation with Glendon at Streetlight Graphics that leads me to believe they’re already working on cover design for it.  To be perfectly honest, when they contacted me, I was so busy, that I don’t even fully recall the conversation.  But I do remember answering some of the basic questions they always ask before putting a cover together.  By the way, they’re another company I can recommend with the utmost confidence.  They do great covers and formatting if you’re in the market.

So, Y12 is getting close to publication, too.  I feel pretty confident that it will be out before the end of the year.

 

Other projects –

EPPEnd Point Pangaea is back on top as my priority WIP.  I hope to have the first draft done by the end of the year.

TBLThe Burning Land – But wait!  That one is already published, isn’t it?  Well, yes.  But I’m going to use it to try my hand at producing an audiobook.  I’ve already got a few titles out on Audible, but I’ve never taken the time to actually record one, myself.  But TBL, as a short story, is short enough that I hope to learn that process, and so open another income stream.

After those?  Well, I have several titles I plan on doing.  I just don’t know which ones will top the list.  I need to do Chucklers – Book 2, End Point Pangaea 2, the second Amber Payne book, or any one of several other projects.

But for now, I need to go fix dinner.  Sausage-stuffed portobello caps and salad.  Yum!   Big Smile  So stay safe, everyone.  I’ll talk to you next time.  Bye

 

Oct 052016
 

tblcover02Those of you who are on my mailing list got a sneak peek at The Burning Land on Monday, the day before it published.  Last night (Tuesday), I got the email from Amazon that it had gone live.  I was out at the time, so when I got home, I checked it online and was initially tickled to see that it was true.

I say initially, because it didn’t take long for me to discover that there was a minor problem with the “Look Inside” sample.  When you click the link (above the cover on the Amazon page), the sample you get ends at the Dedication page.  It turns out that this is evidently common when publishing short stories on Amazon, and has to do with the fact that Amazon normally defaults to a “first 10%” setting on their end.  When looking inside a novel, the first 10% usually gets you well past the forward matter (the title page, copyright material, table of contents, and all the other little requirements at the beginning of a book).  But with a short story?  Not so much.

The good news?  Because it happens so often, it was simple to find the solution.  All I had to do was contact Amazon’s KDP tech support and, using the proper online form, give them the specifics of the problem, the ASIN of the title, and ask them to override the default, setting it to 20% instead.

Simple!

The bad news?   The requested change won’t take effect for three to seven days.  That means that during the first several days that it’s live, sales will likely be hampered by the fact that anyone going to check it out, won’t be able to see a sample before they decide to buy it.   IDK ww58

However, word of mouth evidently has an effect, too, because I was pleasantly surprised this morning when a friend let me know that TBL is climbing the charts, despite the glitch.  As 11AM this morning, it is #18 in Kindle Short Reads (Science Fiction & Fantasy), #106 in Kindle Short Reads (Literature & Fiction), and #287 in Kindle eBooks (Hard Science Fiction).

Funny thing is, I never registered it in the Kindle Short Reads category.  I can only assume that’s an automatic thing with Amazon, based on the length of the work.  And I know a lot of this quick rise in the rankings is based on the fact that it’s newly published, and the ranking will likely start dropping pretty quickly.  But it’s still pretty awesome to see.   Grin

And who knows? Maybe it will get another boost once they get the 10% / 20% glitch fixed.  That would be great!

So, enough about TBL.  In other news, I’m beginning to get feedback from some of my Year 12 beta readers, so it’s looking good for getting the notes in time to incorporate them before sending the manuscript off to the editor.

And as soon as it’s off, I’ll be able to get back to concentrating on End Point Pangaea.  Looking at my calendar, it looks like I should have three new titles out before the end of the year (TBL, Y12, and Chucklers), and hopefully another one (EPP) in the first quarter of 2017.  Of course, Chucklers and EPP are a little trickier, since they’re part of a collaboration with the publisher.  That makes it a little more difficult for us to coordinate with one another, so things move a bit slower, but I think Chucklers is in the last stages of production.

And I’m at the point where I have to start thinking about what I need to do next (after EPP).  There are a lot of projects that need to be done.  The second book in the Chucklers series, second book in the Pangaea series, second book in the Amber Payne series, I have a couple of short stories (possibly novellas) set in the Half Past Midnight world.  Hmmm…. and now that I think about it, one of them is probably about halfway done already. Yeah, I think it’s time to finish Crazy Larry.  Then, maybe the next Chucklers novel.  I don’t know… maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.

For now, it’s time to get back to work on the Y12 edits.  So take care, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you next time!  Bye

Aug 242016
 
WW53b

Children often have trouble when they’re learning to speak, and some of those troubles lead to fun little sayings that stick with your family for many years. Most of you have probably experienced this. A prime example in our family is when my oldest daughter was about nine. At that age, she used to occasionally mix up song lyrics, as we’ve all done from time to time. But some of hers were so memorable that they became ingrained in the family history. For instance, the chorus to the old song “When Smoky Sings” by ABC, begins with the line “when Smoky sings, I hear violins.” To this day, my wife and I can’t think of that song without remembering it as “when smokin’s a sin, I hear firemen…”   ROTFL

When my son was at that stage of his life, he had trouble with “yesterday”. For him, moving back in time consisted of going from today, to this morning, to last night, to “lasterday”, (which does have a kind of logic to it, right?)

For a great-niece, dogs were “goggers”. And for our youngest daughter, the color yellow was “lellow.”  (Ironically, she just got her BFA in painting, and depends quite a bit on the color palette.)

Now we’re on the next generation. When my oldest granddaughter was younger, and still learning to talk, she loved penguins. But for whatever reason, the word “penguin” evaded her grasp. Instead, she called them “poogins”. My dad loved that so much, that he began calling her Poogin, and even though that was a good four or five years ago, she still remains “Poogin” to us.

Well, now she’s nine years old, just starting fourth grade. As a matter of fact, last week was her first week back in school after summer vacation. When we spoke to our “smokin’s a sin” daughter, we asked her how Poogin liked the fourth grade. She told us that she had asked the same question when she’d picked the little one up after her first day. And with all the drama that a nine-year-old can muster, she related the tragedy of her first day…

“It was absolutely horrible!”

“Why? What happened?”

“I lost my tooth!”

“Well, that’s all right. You’ve lost teeth before.”

“No mom, I lost my tooth… and then I lost my tooth!”

“Oh. You mean you lost it, lost it?”

Poogin nodded woefully. “Somewhere on the playground. I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find it.”

“Well that’s okay, baby.”

“No it’s not. How is the tooth fairy going to know I lost it, if I don’t have it to put under my pillow?”

Grin

You have to understand, Poogin is a very smart young lady who speaks with a vocabulary beyond her years. That conversation was a reminder that, while she might speak with the conviction and vocabulary of a teenager, she still has the beliefs of a nine-year-old. We got a good chuckle out of her mom relating that the tooth fairy was a lot like Santa Claus, and that she would know about the tooth, whether it was actually under the pillow or not.

WW53aBut the real kicker was when Poogin decided that just to be safe, she should leave a note for the tooth fairy…

Dear tooth<>fairy,

I have lost a tooth today, (literaly) but if you are still generous enouph, mabe you could still give me the money. (‘.

So does the mercenary nature of the note come from the child, or the adult struggling to come out?   Big Smile  Either way, I love the fact that she didn’t simply give up on the lost tooth, and that she turned to writing as a solution.  She’s a Poogin after my own heart.   Cool

And speaking of writing… (how’s that for a segue?) …another round of edits for the first Chucklers book is done.  Better yet, I received an email with a proposed new cover on it, and it’s looking really good, folks. I sent back a request for a few tweaks, but I think we’re quickly approaching a publishable product.  Woohoo!! Want a sneak peek?  Here you go….WW53b

How’s that for a tease?  Grin

My other big project, End Point Pangaea, is still moving well (you can see the progress meter at the top of the column to the far right), and though I did stall for a couple of days, I’m back on that horse and riding for all I’m worth.  I’m still waiting for that magical mental and emotional breakthrough where everything falls into place just right, and I’m suddenly consistently breaking the 2500 word a day mark.  So far, I haven’t seen that breakthrough.

And I can tell you that today isn’t very likely to be it, either.   Wink   But the progress is consistent, and I’m happy with it, as it is.  Of course, just like my Poogin, at the end of the day I just can’t help myself.  When it’s all said and done, I just really want to see that big payoff.   ROTFL

But that’s not going to happen if I don’t get back to writing.  So take care, and stay safe everyone.  I’ll talk to you again next week.  Bye

Jul 132016
 

WW47Hello everyone. I’m going to hit on some of that boring “writerly” stuff today… getting back to the whole “Learning to Write” roots of this blog for a minute. So if that’s the sort of thing that causes your eyes to glaze over, then you may want to stop reading here.

Still with me? Really? Okay, it’s on you then. Here we go.  Grin

If you aren’t a writer, then likely all your exposure to the “rules” of writing was probably drilled into you in school. Writing professionally though, you learn that there are other standards (or style guides) for writing, and that much of those standards were written by people who were concerned with how much space your words take up on a printed page. A few commas deleted at the right places can make the difference in a 300 page book, and a 295 page book. Five pages spread across a 10k book print run comes to 50k pages that a publisher doesn’t have to pay for.  Multiply that several times (since a publisher is going to have several authors in their stable) and all the paper and ink saved translates into money in the publisher’s pocket.

So various kinds of writing have developed “style guides”. If you’re a journalist, you may be required to write according to the Associated Press Stylebook (AP Style). Or if you’re a college student, you may be required to conform to Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style”, or possibly one of the Modern Language Association (MLA) guides geared specifically to writing research papers or “Scholarly Publishing”. And medical publications have all sorts of publishing guides depending on the discipline you’re writing for.

For genre fiction writing though, most people in the business use the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) as a guideline.  At least, most people I know in the business. And as such, I’ve gotten used to writing in a manner that more readily conforms to the CMOS rules. I’ve learned that if I write according to CMOS rules the first time, it minimizes the amount of time spent editing my manuscripts. So I minimize punctuation… fewer commas, hyphens, etc. And colons and semi-colons are avoided like the plague. Even then, I’m used to my editor going through my work and slashing even more “extraneous” punctuation.

I’ve been told in the past that I tend to get carried away with the comma, and I’m a glutton for punishment when it comes to ellipses. Not this time, though. I’m working on the edits for Chucklers and I don’t know if the editor is using a different style manual, or if she just has a different style, personally. Whatever it is, my new editor has been plugging in extra commas, ellipses, and even hyphens like there’s no tomorrow. It’s taking a bit of getting used to.

I don’t suppose it really matters all that much.  As long as the book flows well and doesn’t pull the reader out of the story, then it shouldn’t matter whether the car is “well stocked” or “well-stocked”.  Right?   Struggle

And if all goes according to plan, I should be finished in the next few days.

Once I finish approving or rejecting the edits, the book goes back to the publisher and… and what?  I don’t honestly know. This is the first time I’ve worked with this publisher, so I don’t yet have a good feel for how they work. I don’t know if they give it another editing pass, or send it off to formatting, or what. I’m just trying not to be too big a pita for them while we work on getting this book out to you fine folks. I know I still have to get the dedication and author bio to them, and they will need to be worked into the formatting. And I don’t know how much their formatters will expect me to do, or if they would rather I just get out of the way and leave it all to them.

All the little things, like how many lines before and after a chapter heading, is there a particular symbol they want to use to denote scene changes, or simply divide with the old “triple asterisk”? There are a myriad of tiny little details involved where I typically know in advance who will be doing what. This is a new ballgame for me, and I’ll have to learn it the same way I learned when I published HPM.

But I do know that I’m moving forward, and that Chucklers is almost born.  I know that End Point Pangaea is moving forward, slowly at the moment, but that progress on it will be much faster once I’m finished with the Chucklers edits. And I know that I’m looking forward to getting some more titles out to you folks.

But in order to do so, I need to finish this blog post and get back to work. So here I go… writer at work.

Talk to you next time. Stay safe, everyone.  Bye

Oct 052013
 
BellaCricket01

Bella and Cricket

You know how when you buy a pack of eggs, no matter how carefully you check, it seems there’s always one of them that gets cracked on the way home? Well, we typically use them as special treats for Bella and Cricket.  Yep, any eggs that we find broken, we scramble up and cook for our furry, four-legged children. This morning, my better half wanted to try something different. She handed me the egg, pointed to a saucepan full of water she had set to boil, and challenged me to poach the egg for the kids.

Quick confession time – my wife and I are foodie fans. We like to watch cooking competitions like Top Chef, and Master Chef on television and pretend we have a clue as to what the competitors are doing.  Well, I pretend.  My wife is actually an excellent cook, as my girth will attest.

Anyway, she already had the water boiling, and was determined that I should poach the egg.  “We should learn how to poach eggs,” she told me. Now, I had watched it done on television before, and it didn’t look like it would be too difficult, but I was curious as to why I should poach an egg, especially for the dogs?  To be perfectly honest, the very idea of poaching an egg has always seemed a bit strange to me.  I mean, it’s basically just boiling an egg without it being in the shell, right?  Wouldn’t it be easier to simply drop the egg, shell and all, into the water?  Okay, not in this case, since this egg had a cracked shell, but the way she said it made me curious.  “We should learn how to poach eggs.

PoachedEggCooking“Um, just why exactly do we need to know how to poach eggs?”

My beautiful wife of nearly twenty-eight years seemed to stammer for a moment. “Well, they’re supposed to be good for you.”

“Better than a regularly cooked egg?”

“Yes, there’s no butter, or oil, or anything like that in them.”

“Better than a boiled egg?”

She stopped for a second, then grinned and shrugged her shoulders. “Old people seem to like poached eggs.  We’re old.  Poach the egg.”

I love my wife, but she didn’t fool me for a moment.  She just wanted to see if I could manage to poach it without making a mess of things.

Well, I managed — barely.  And clumsily.  And not without help. But I did manage to poach the egg.

For the dogs. (sigh)  Question

I guess that sometimes it’s all about the challenges in life.  LOL.

 

On the writing front: 

IMPs – The plot of the story is moving ahead.  However, I seem to be having trouble with the character’s voice.  Neil started out with a much more formal narrative style, but has suddenly morphed into a much more relaxed and informal person.  I’m not really sure what this means, but I’m afraid it can only lead to re-writes.  (sigh)  I just have to let go of wanting it to be perfect at first.  To paraphrase some of the valuable lessons I learned on The Dead Robots’ Society podcastIt’s okay to suck.  The story really gets written during the edits.

Chucklers – Ed Lorn is buried in his many other projects, and since he is considerably more prolific than I am, has asked that I move forward on this project without him, with the understanding that he will catch up (and I’m confident that it will be pretty effortless on his part) at a later date.  That means no more excuses on my part.  Frown

Y12 – The sequel to Half Past Midnight is really banging around in my head lately, so it looks like I’ll be opening a new folder.  I’m excited that I’m going to finally get started on that project, but concerned that I’m spreading my writing time so thin on each project.  I don’t want to spend so little time on each project that I don’t make nay real progress on any of them.  I guess I’m going to have to find some way to get more disciplined with my writing.

All right, that’s enough for now.  Time for me to start some of that discipline and get back to writing on these stories.

Stay safe everyone.  Bye