Authorgraphs

No, the title’s not a typo. Authorgraph was formerly Kindlegraph, a site where authors can promote their books and offer signatures for eBooks.

All three of my books’ pages (click on the Published Works tab above) now have an icon, which you can click to take you to Authorgraph.com. There, you can request I “sign” your eBook of Blood Vengeance, Fences, or Spy Flash. The personalized signature and message comes to your eReader’s e-mail account.

If you can’t make it to a book signing I’m having, this is a virtual one. Give it a try. You might find other authors–including famous ones–participating.

I look forward to “signing” your copy!

It’s My Birthday, and I’ll Cry if I Want to!

Seriously, today is my birthday. A significant one. One you don’t look forward to, but considering the alternative, I’ll accept that I’m leaving a specific decade behind. And, no, I won’t say which one.

It’s been a great week–the two eBooks of the updated, revised, polished short stories from my 2000 print collection, Rarely Well Behaved, are now available for your Kindle or Kindle App. That was exciting; just as exciting as when the book itself came out nearly twelve years ago; perhaps more so because I had to transcribe it, edit it, and format it myself. Now comes the hard part–all that self-promotion that makes me cringe. Just think of all the “buy my book” Tweets as a necessary evil.

If you want to buy my two, new eBooks–Blood Vengeance and Fences–just click on their images in the sidebar to the right. 😉

To read today’s Friday Fictioneers’ story, hover your cursor over the Friday Fictioneers tab above and click on the story “The Day After.”

I’m an E-Book Author!

I finally cracked the code on uploading my manuscripts to Amazon Publishing without formatting errors. Tucked away on an obscure “Help” page is the phrase, “Converting your file to .htm will help with formatting errors.” What? That couldn’t be in big, bold letters (capital letters) up front? That would have saved a lot of sobbing, hair-pulling, and disconsolate DM’s to writer friends. But discovering that it worked made me do a happy dance. (Good thing the web cam was off.)

Regardless, both books–Blood Vengeance and Fences–are uploaded, and if you look at the sidebar to the right, you can buy them both by clicking on the image.

If you happen to buy them, I can send you a message and a signature through Kindlegraph–who’ll be first?

So, now off to send self-serving Tweets begging people to buy my books. 😉

Formatting an eBook’s a B***h

Before I get into the topic for the provocative title of this post, let me take your time to discuss a few blogging changes.

If you come here on Wednesdays to see “Politics Wednesday,” well, I’ve changed things around again. I’ve decided to separate my political blogging from my writing blogging–not because I’m ashamed of either or because I don’t want them to be associated, but because logistically it makes sense. For months I’ve been putting the same post on this WordPress site and on a Blogger site. That led to a lot of confusion, not to mention work. For me.

People have often commented that they like both sorts of postings, some like only the political, and some like only the writing. Now, it’ll be easier for me and for the reader seeking just one type of post.

From now on, this site remains as “Unexpected Paths,” and will feature my posts about writing and the writing life on Mondays and Fridays. So, if you visit here to read the writing posts, you don’t have to do a thing. However, if you want to see my political commentary, you’ll have to go to my Blogger site and follow “My Musings” there.

Now, on to eBook formatting. I recently transcribed my print book Rarely Well Behaved, published in 2000, and separated it into two files for two eBooks. I finished polishing and editing, had someone proofread, got eBook publishing advice from an experienced indie author, downloaded an excellent guide for formatting your file for eBook publication, spent several hours Saturday night following that guide to the letter, uploaded the first book, Fences, did a preview, and was discouraged beyond description.

Despite my careful following of directions (anyone who knows me, knows I operate from checklists), there were a plethora of formatting errors. Now, I could have been the typical indie author and clicked on “Submit,” but I withdrew the file, went back over the formatting process, and uploaded it again. (No offense intended. I’ve found from reviewing indie published books, the conscientious indie authors are atypical.) The same formatting errors prevailed. I took it down again, and did a Scarlett O’Hara–as in, thinking about it tomorrow, because tomorrow is another day.

Now, it’s two days later, and I’m about to give it another try. The issue may be that the guide was written for MS Word for Windows, and I have Word: Mac. This guide is excellent, as I said, because it includes illustrations for various formatting menus, i.e., “This is what it should look like.” But they are slightly different in the Word for Windows and Word: Mac versions. In some cases, I had to give it my best guess.

The other issue is the file you upload goes through a conversion program, in my case, to make the file viewable on Kindle. (Smashwords, for example, calls its conversion program the Meatgrinder. How apt.) That means you can have some basic formatting–e.g., font type and size, first line indents, and centered text–but not much more. One indie publishing friend who received a discouraged DM from me suggested perhaps I’d left in the “curly quotes” instead of using “straight quotes,” and that may have caused the formatting issue. The formatting problems did involve multiple lines of dialogue; all lines of dialogue were indented, instead of the second line’s being flush left.

Today, then, is attempt number three, from the beginning through 30 steps and uncounted sub-steps and then another upload and preview. Wish me luck. If it doesn’t work this time, I may have to resort to something drastic. Like hire a professional.

As my indie author friend said in trying to console me, “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Choose the Cover of My New eBook!

I initially intended to transcribe my collection of short stories published in print in 2000 (Rarely Well Behaved) and re-issue it as an eBook, but, of course, I had to tweak. I refreshed all the the stories and merged a couple of them into a novella length work and handed the file off to my proofreader. She had a wonderful idea–split the book up into two or more eBooks by type of story.

The result is Fences, which includes the literary short stories and some sci-fi/spec-fi/magical realism stories (See the cover in the right sidebar under “Update About the Update.”), and Blood Vengeance, which includes the espionage/thriller/suspense stories. The cover forFences is pretty logical and set, but I need a little help in deciding on a cover for Blood Vengeance.

Two of the stories in that volume involve the war in the Balkans in the 1990’s. The title story and another entitled “Giving the Dead Back Their Names” deal with the aftermath of ethnic cleansing events there. The latter story involves the forensic identification of the remains of the massacre at Srebrenica. The title story involves getting revenge for a massacre of men and boys in a small village.

Take a look at the possibilities below and leave a comment about which you prefer, or you can just leave the comment “Skull” or “Coffins,” per the captions, and I’ll know which one you mean. I’ll put all the names of commenters in a hat and let one of my grandkids pick a name to receive a signed postcard of one of my Friday Fictioneers’ stories. You have until April 22 to choose.

I know which one I’m leaning toward, but I think it will be fun to get some additional input. Thanks for helping out!

Coffins

Skull

Friday? It’s Friday Fictioneers!

I love it when people buy your book then send you an e-mail telling you they love it. That made my writerly week, I tell you. My collection of short stories is almost twelve years old, but the stories still resonate. That’s what every writer wants, to have people find their work meaningful. I’ve recently transcribed that book, Rarely Well Behaved, so that I can publish it on Amazon as an eBook. My proofreader had a wonderful suggestion: break it up into two or three eBooks with stories of the same genre in each book. What a great idea. I got started on it right away.

At my local writers’ group (SWAG Writers) open mic on Wednesday, I read a short piece which was a flash fiction exercise to write a story about an article of clothing. As soon as I saw the exercise, I remembered my mother complaining about the prosthetic bra she was supposed to wear after her mastectomy some thirty years ago, and the story happened. After I read the story, women in the audience, and a couple of men, came up to me to tell me how meaningful it was to them.

So, all in all, a good week for the writer-me, and now it’s capped off by Friday Fictioneers!

Here’s this week’s inspiration photo:

And I’m sure you know where I’m going with this story:

Appearances are Deceiving

He lured the child into the tunnel with the promise of Harry Potter.

“It’s like the train station. You go through the wall to get to the Hogwarts Express,” he said. “Come on, if you want to see.

He knew she followed him without question; he was her father’s friend.

“You’re not afraid of the dark, are you?” he asked, midway through the tunnel, where no one would see.

“Not at all,” she said.

He spun around at the sound of an adult’s voice.

She willed the disguise spell away and stood before him, a warrior now, with a blade.

—————-

If you want to read more 100-word flash fiction by other Friday Fictioneers, go to Madison Woods’ blog.

Virginia Festival of the Book – Fourth and Final Day

It seems like yesterday when I attended my first panel at the 18th Virginia Festival of the Book, but here I am done at last and eager for next year.

Today was “Pub Day,” with panels focused on all aspects of publishing from eBooks to agents. Running concurrently were “Crime Wave” panels, featuring authors and publishers of crime fiction, mysteries, and thrillers. I picked some from each.

My first disappointment in a panel for the entire festival was “Pub Day: eBooks,” so I won’t list the panelists. When the first question from the moderator to the panel is “What is an eBook?” and the answer from a panelist is, “It’s a book without pages where the text flows,” you know it’s a waste of your time. I’m certain the vast majority of attendees at the Festival were aware of what an eBook is, given the number of Kindles and Nooks I saw about. Add in the fact that the opening panelist hemmed and hawed and even asked the audience for the word she sought, I decided to leave and prowl the Book Fair.

“Pub Day: Making the Breakout Book” was an interesting offering. On the panel you had Robert Goolrick (A Reliable Wife); his agent Lynn Nesbit; his editor and publisher Chuck Adams of Algonquin Books; and his publicist Kelly Bowan, also of Algonquin Books. This was an in-depth glimpse to the entire process of querying a book, having your agent sell it, editing and revising it, then having it marketed.

I broke away from Pub Day to go to “Crime Wave: Thrilling Me Softly,” which featured four authors of successful suspense, mystery, or thriller books. Jane Bradley (You Believers) based her novel on a true story–after a visit from the dead victim in a dream. John Milliken Thompson found the idea for The Reservoir while researching Richmond, VA’s Civil War history. Gary Kessler also drew on a real event and some local Charlottesville history for What the Spider Saw. John Gilstrap writes a series of books featuring a hostage rescue team, the latest of which is Threat Warning. All four had lots of good tips about pacing, and though there was a difference of opinion about the importance of characters versus plot, each had good suggestions for doing your best on both.

It was back to Pub Day for “Agents Roundtable.” Three agents–Erin Cox of Rob Weisbach Agency, Byrd Leavell of Waxman Agency, and Deborah Grosvenor of Grosvenor Lit–gave a frank and detailed talk about how to approach an agent, how to query them personally, and to “match” your work to a specific agent. The most interesting aspect of this was none of them indicated they would be deterred by a query from someone who had self-published. Each of them stated that with the publishing industry in such turmoil right now,  they couldn’t ignore a prospect from any source. That was more open-minded than I had expected.

And, the day was done for me. It’s hard to believe that this year’s Virginia Festival of the Book was over so quickly. Even though it’s not particularly craft-focused, I got a wealth of helpful information in bits and pieces. I’m glad my Commonwealth supports creativity in this way. I’m already looking forward to next year.

As each of the moderators said, the Festival is free but it’s not free to produce. Please consider going to the Web site and contributing to a great way to bring writers together.