Where We Last Left Off

Sounds like I’m coming back from a cliffhanger of an episode, doesn’t it?

In many way publishing is episodic, and can turn into high drama when you least expect things to go sideways.  My experience has been very minimal to this point, as there are only two stories in my collection, but with Her Demonic Majesty being such an endeavor  it was bound to hit some snags.

Snag One:  the novel loaded to Amazon Kindle Direct without issues, and late Sunday night I was told it was live and ready for download.  Only one problem:  every time I tried to go to the novel page, I was getting a 404 message, saying the page didn’t exist.  I let that go for Monday, but by Tuesday the situation was the same, and I was having a not-so-good feeling taking hold in the pit of my stomach.

Snag Two then showed:  all of my work on Smashwords was rejected for Premium submission.  Going Premium on Smashwords means getting set up on Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, and a few other distributors.  What happened was this:  I’d altered the name on my Smashwords account to reflect the name on my new cover, but that was a no-no, because the cover names on my other works didn’t match, and all hell broke loose.

So I switched the account name back, and therein appeared Snag Three:  Her Demonic Majesty was rejected for Premium submission because, it would seem, my Table of Contents links were bad.  Could be they were pointing at the wrong thing, could be they were formatted wrong, could be there were hidden bookmarks–  Oops.  Yeah, I remembered that I did that during the creation.

With that in mind, I set about getting things right.

First, I created new accounts on both Smashwords and Amazon for Cassidy.  Then, I pulled up the Smashwords version of the uploaded document, removed all the bookmarks and hyperlinks, and started over, making sure there were no hidden bookmarks this time.  Put them in, linked them, checked the links–everything was super.

Then I uploaded again.

The novel processed in two minutes, because I watched as it ran through the meat grinder.  Everything came out fine, and the novel was at a new home with a new ISBN–yes, I couldn’t use the old one, because that one was assigned to my other name.  Another thing to keep in mind.  Right now the novel is going through review for Premium submission, and I’m hoping that all is well this time though.

What next?  Tonight I’ll pull up the Kindle version of the novel and redo the Table of Contents as I did with the Smashwords version.  Then, once that’s done, I’ll upload it to the next Amazon account, wait for the word that it’s been published, and look to see if it is, indeed, ready for selling.

Then I’ll get the world out.

Of course I could end up with errors I haven’t anticipated, but I’m hopeful that the current snafu came about because of the accounts, and not because the book format was sucky.  After all, the meat grinder told me all was well, and why would it lie to me?

I’ll be right here, keeping my fingers crossed.

Publisher Row

It was a rough day yesterday.  It was raining, it was cold, it was windy, there were assholes on the road, three whom nearly wrecked me, and one guy who felt that driving over 75 mph in a hard rain was completely legit, and nearly took himself and a few other cars out when he almost lost control.  When I am allowed to mount heavy weapons on my car, idiots like that will vanish quickly . . .

Thus it was that when I sat down to continue my conquest of my current novel formatting so that I can transform it into the epic story that folks will line up to by.  The way it’s suppose to look is good:  I’ve figure out the ways that compile time formatting should work, and I’ve begun employing that process.  I also tried a epub creation, then converted that to mobi, but the phantom pages issue remained.  Hummm . . . phantom pages.  I could use that as a movie title.

One question that I received this morning was, “Why is this Scrivener so great?”  What I did last night is a prime example.  I have a story that I’m trying to convert to different formats, all three which are nowhere comparable to each other.  And yet, I’d make one change in the Scrivener compiler, and off I went, creating a .doc, then a few seconds later creating a .epub, then trying a .mobi format a few seconds after that.  Nothing else was required; information I’d used for formatting on one format was good for information on another, and where I had formatting styles particular to .epub and .mobi, that information was retained when I switched over to .doc.

I could call Scrivener “Out of One Comes Many,” but that is stretching things just a little.

Though I’ve not gotten to the very root of my phantom page problems, I’m learning a great deal about the creation of an ebook without having to do a lot of extra work.  Trust me, though:  I will work this out, one way or the other.  Part of the issue could be that the Windows version of Scrivener is not quite as powerful as the Mac OS version of Scrivener, but it’s getting there.  I’m a programmer, which means I not only understand this concept of “getting your software up to speed,” but I know work arounds.  I’ve created an ebook before, and I’ll do it again using my work around.

I will not be found wanting.

It’s back into cleaning up the chapters tonight.  I think I’ll throw Scrivener into Outline view and just pick chapters and go through them, so that I get a feel for how that part works.  I love my Corkboard, but trying the Outline view is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and tonight is just as good a time to play as any.  Besides, with the change I’m going to try with my story, the Outline will work better than the Corkboard.  At least that’s how I see it at the moment.

Editing is boring?  Are you kidding?

I’m having a blast.

Up the Escalator to Madness

A very quick conversation this morning opened a little window into that thing I call “My Life”, such as it is.  I wasn’t saying much, just what I did last night, and what I’ll do today.  Those things I spoke of?  Writing.  So for yesterday I blogged, wrote a couple of theme descriptions for Windows 8, edited some three thousand words, and wrote nine hundred word of an article before going to bed.  What will I do today?  Blog, edit a couple of thousand words, write a couple of Windows 8 theme descriptions, and finish my article.

Sounds like fun, no?

I made the joke, “When am I getting paid for this?” but I know that will come in time–so I hope.  I’m heading in the right direction, and eventually, maybe with this next novel I’ll get noticed, picked up, contacted, rich, buy an abandoned mansion, and become a Bond villainess, because if there’s one thing Bond needs it’s bad girls who screw him.  Got the cover coming, the editing and formatting is coming, and in a month or so the novel will be a reality.

(By the way, a friend turned me on to a rant by the same person who gets into fights with her fictional characters and loses, and said that she can’t self publish because she’s not rich.  Ummm, last time I checked you didn’t need to be rich to self-publish, you just had to be able to write, edit, work with someone who’ll give you honest criticism, maybe get a friend who’ll make you a cover for cheep, and then set up an account, format your book, then upload and wait.  But then, this person is one of those vampires who lives to suck the life out of you, so the moral of the story is laugh at these people, kiddies:  they deserve it all.)

There is the fear that I don’t have an idea ready for when all this is done.  The mind seems to have shut down with the ideas while I concentrate on getting stories ready.  I suppose that’s the way thing go; you concentrate on one thing, and the mind files everything down in the back until you need them.

There is the fear, however:  what if the new ideas never come?  What if I’m stuck writing lots of stuff I already have imagined out, and nothing else ever comes to mind.  Not that I don’t have a lot of stories to tell:  you’d have to see some of my time lines to know this.  Still, it does bother me a bit–

Which means I’m driving myself crazy with things I need not drive.  I’m on the up escalator to the crazy house, worried that I’m never gonna have a new idea in my entire life.  I already know this is bull, because my ideas have left me with a whole lot of material, and my other fear is I’ll never write it all before I shuck this mortal coil.

You think this keeps George R. R. Martin up at night?


The Emerging Picture

If you put any time into self publishing, you’ll quickly understand that one of the most difficult processes that needs to be finished before you can upload your story isn’t the editing, or the formatting, or even getting out the word that you have, once more, published something for the masses to read.

It’s getting your book cover created.

I’ve done two book covers, though only one has seen the light of day.  (Both have, actually; you’d have seen the second cover if you’d visited my NaNoWriMo page for my 2012 novel.)  Both are very simple; they give a hint at things within the story without actually telling the reader anything.  As a friend told me yesterday, “My opinion on covers is that less is more,” and there is a lot of truth to that.

But there is something to be said about having a cover that’s, well, slick.  The cover printed for Captivate and Control made my heart sing when I first saw it, and even to this day I can’t help but look at it and feel a lot of pride for the work that went into making that cover.  But I know there was a huge amount of work that went into producing that cover, and if you want something that detailed, and lovely, to grace your ebook, then you’ve got to shell out some coinage.

I’ve begun working with Blender, trying to make landscapes, and my first render isn’t that bad.  There is a lot more work that needs to be done, but I’m getting there.  I’ve also played with DAZ 3D a bit, and I’ve begun looking through Bryce as well.  There is a bit of a learning curve here for all this software, but there is always a method to my madness–

See, this is all about making all the book covers.

Bryce and Blender can help with creating landscapes; DAZ can help with getting figures set up, dressed, lighted, and posed so I can put them into a scene.  Once that’s all finished, it’s a matter of doing a render (that’s the same as actually building the picture) then maybe doing a little photomanipulating on said picture before turning it into a cover.  With Blender it’s even possible to create an animation, so if I really wanted to get into some viral marketing, I could try my hand and creating an animated short that would become my book trailer–oh, you didn’t know those existed?  Then you need to get informed, no?

It’s been pointed out many times that as self-publishing becomes more of the norm, a writer is going to need to understand, and maybe even know, all the skills that go into making a worth-while story, collection of stories, or a novel.  It’s not enough to simply write:  you need to get involved in everything.

I understand that some people just won’t get this software stuff that may allow them to build a cover for their latest opus.  That’s okay:  if I know how to do this, then I can sell my skills to you.  So when I have a little down time when I’m not working on a story–like now–I can go around asking people if they need someone to whip up a cover for their novel.

Because I’ve seen some of the covers that people have created.

And . . . damn.


Bring Down the Sadness

Just as a week ago I’d finished the draft on Replacements, last night saw me finishing the draft on Echoes.  Last chapter, a few words added, a couple of things edited . . . ta-da!  Final Draft is in the bag.  Now all that’s required is one more pass, another good polish, a book cover, and it’s ready to take its place next to Banging the Cheer Squad, which is one of the tomes that appears on my Smashwords front page.  (There’s even an interesting first sentence:  “Gretchen thought she was the only cheerleader who had been turned into a gangbang slut.”  Definitely not my high school.)

The last chapter has always made me cry–my story Echoes, that is, not the one about slutty cheerleaders.  I wrote it last year, starting it almost about this time, and it was a reflection of something that I was feeling at the time.  I wanted to get everything down inside words I’d remember, everything that I felt would convey how I felt then, and I think–I think–I got it right.  It was the first real story I wrote that touched my emotional side, and it’s really one of the first stories that isn’t just words, but possesses feelings as well.

Which is why the ending makes me sad, because the feelings are still there.  Probably will be forever.

The thing about Echoes, though, is that if I couldn’t have finished it, I’d have never been able to write the ending to Transporting.  The later was delving into some deep, emotional waters as well, and as I’ve stated in other, older posts, in order to finish the story, I needed to get into some feelings I couldn’t access.  I’d always been a touch unemotional, and it showed in my writing.  I could plot and do prose, but there was something missing.

It’s a fact of life that sometimes your writing is going to make you cry.  Can’t be helped, because when you, the writer, goes over a piece, no matter how long before it was written, you’re going to remember when that writing happen, where it happens, and maybe even what you were feeling when you wrote those particular words.  That’s assuming you aren’t Scriptomatic 3000, which was something I think Dan Aykroyd called himself when he was developing scripts.

If you’re just hammering away at your stories, getting the words down one after the other, and you’re not putting yourself into them, then maybe you won’t feeling anything when you’re editing them later.  I think that will show up in the story, however, because as many of you know, when you’re reading another author’s work, you see things in your head, see the characters a certain way, and the emotions that trickle out are pretty much a combination of yours mixed with those of the writer.  But if the writer didn’t put any of themselves into their work, the reads may just feel that.

There is one other thing about getting your feelings onto the page:  it means you’re will to open yourself up to things you may not like to remember, or feel, or even admit ever happened.  It’s not a pleasant thing to do–I know, I’ve done it.  There are a lot of things in my life that I wish hadn’t happened, and would like to forget completely.  But when you’re writing . . . damn it, those feelings just seem to pop up, you know?

All that remains are the covers, and a little polish . . .

I’m almost there with the new stories.  Here’s hoping people like them.