Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lessons learned while proofing

Look at all the pretty flags...not! Yikes.

Lesson 1 - build in more time for the proofing. The best way to look for errors is to read the book aloud. That takes a lot longer than you think. And when reading, you fall into a rhythm and can easily lose focus or start scanning. So you need to stop, walk around, get a beverage, whatever. Proofing this book took me almost 2 weeks.

Lesson 2 - proof before you format. I thought my final doc was very clean. I was wrong. As a result, when I split it out to format for Smashwords, KDP and CreateSpace, I created 3 different docs that had to be corrected. All of the errors that I found in the print proof had to be fixed in all of them. More time needed for that!

Lesson 3 - keep notes! There were a couple times that formatting went awry and I couldn't figure out what I had done previously to fix it. I created worksheets this time to help keep notes as I went through each format.

Lesson 4 - It's all okay. The longer I worked on it, the more doubtful I became. Is this a good book? I got good feedback, but will people like it? Whew. Just power through and get it done.

Lesson 5 - Take your time. A couple times I was tempted to say - good enough - and rush through a step. But there is no reason for that. I would only cheat myself. The deadlines I set are mine and I can change them if need be. Take a breath, calm down and proceed with care.

These are the things I'm sharing from this round of publishing. One more week till Lethal Seasons is released!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Garden Report

Taking a little breather from the marketing. I am working my way through the print proof for Lethal Seasons now. I started a countdown for Dark Deeds, the sequel to White Lies. The tentative publication date is January 2, 2015.

Last year's carrots. I always miss a couple. I let these go to seed because they are so pretty. They make a nice cut flower. If you let them scatter the seed, you'll have volunteer carrots all over the yard.

This is the Czech Black Hot Pepper. Fairly prolific and very striking in the garden. The ripe peppers are supposed to turn a garnet red. We've eaten a couple black ones, haven't had the patience to wait. They are very mild with a good flavor.

Hungarian Pink Oxheart tomato. A huge, meaty tomato. This is one of the smallest and it weighed in at almost 1/2 a pound. Last year the blight got them all. I am being more careful this year and spraying with an organic fungicide. This is the first ripe one. I'm looking forward to making a lot of sauce with these.

Pattypan squash. I'm not a big fan of zucchini or summer squash, but pattypan has won me over. I think it has a stronger flavor and firmer flesh. This year the garden gave me lots of dill and catnip volunteers. I also planted nasturtiums all over. I am hoping that the combination of strong smelling herbs will keep the squash bugs away. I haven't planted dill in years, but every year I find it coming up all over. I've picked 4 small squash so far. This little guy should be ready to eat by next week.

Ground cherry or tomatillo. This is a tiny tomatillo, about grape-sized, with a sweet flavor reminiscent of pineapple. Yummy in a salad or just snacking. The husks turn tan and papery when the fruit is ready. The last time I grew these they were so prolific I was giving away baskets of them. But they are very hard to start. I tried three times before I got a couple very tiny, very fragile seedlings. They do not like cold weather at all.

The past couple weeks have been rainy and gray. I am worried about the tomatoes getting blight. The drying tomato I like best - Principe Borghese - is very susceptible. But it is also the sweetest, yummiest dried tomato ever. I hope to get a good crop this year. Last year I lost all the tomatoes to blight and was forced to buy dried tomatoes for the first time in years. Very disappointing.

So far it's a good garden year. Fingers crossed that it continues!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lethal Seasons Giveaway ends and exerpt

First of all, here's a wonderful flyer that Alex made for me.

The Goodreads Giveaway ended. I think it was very successful for getting the word out - 913 people signed up for it and 453 people put it in their "to be read" file. I am expecting the first proof of the print book next week. I hope to have copies in hand, to mail to the winners, in another week or so.

And as promised, here is an excerpt from Lethal Seasons:

Wisp could sense the person waiting for him. It was a girl, and she was frightened. Her fear tasted sharp and too long held. She was worn down with the burden of it. He paused in the darkened corridor of his home and pushed his senses out into the surrounding woods. There was no one else in the vicinity of the old factory where he had lived for the past three years. The aging site had been a derelict long before the virus hunted his kind. Thick brick walls and steel beams still stood against the ravages of the weather. But it was the cellars and sub-cellars that he called home.

He continued upstairs to ground level. Twilight softened the harsh angles of debris in the yard. Old pallets and piles of stone, a tumble of bricks where a retaining wall had given way, cans and broken glass and the skeletons of weeds made a labyrinth of unsteady steps to his door. The girl waited where she was told, in the potholed remains of a parking lot. Hulking stacks of crumbling sidewalks took up much of the cracked asphalt. It held a certain symbolism for him. Someone had ripped up the sidewalks and piled them here, perhaps to be recycled. But to him it said that pedestrian traffic was no longer possible in this area. He held it as a totem, hoping it would ensure his solitude.

She was small. Not more than ten or twelve years old. A mental shiver wracked her as she stood alone in the fading light waiting for a meeting with a monster. Wisp regretted the charade, but fear was often his only weapon.

“I am here,” he said stepping into her line of sight.

She jumped. A gasp, cut off, shuddered into a whimper. “Are you the finder?”

“I am.”

“Can you find my brother?”

“What do you offer?”

Her fear was suddenly drowned with loss, with desperation and hopelessness. He could taste the ashes of her grief, the spiky pain of regret. “I have nothing.”

She was a refugee, a fugitive. Her pain was something he understood. This close he could smell her unwashed body. A child, hungry and alone and knowing there was no solace. She trembled with exhaustion. He knew he couldn't refuse her.

“I will help.”

She cried then, the relief so great. It pushed back on her burden of grief, and eased his own pain. She swallowed the tears away, stronger than her years. “What should I do?”

Wisp looked up at the clouds scudding in from the west. A storm was approaching. He smelled rain on the rising wind. The child needed food and rest. They couldn't start out until the morning. “Come.” He reached out a hand to her. “We will prepare.”

Her steps were heavy, the fear rising up. In the half-light, he wondered how much she could see. What startled her the most? His thick white hair falling loose below his shoulders, eyes so pale a blue they were almost white, or was it the tattoo down his neck that marked him as not human? As she touched his hand, he had his answer: just a man. She registered his calloused hands and muscled arms. He was a big, strong stranger, and she feared all the things that could come from that.

“I won't hurt you, child.”

“Lily. I'm Lily,” she spoke in a bruised whisper heavy with tears.

“They call me Wisp.”

She looked up at him in the growing shadows. “Is that your name?”

He bit off his response. My kind have no names. She was too young to know that story. “It will do,” he said gently. “Come. I have food and water.”

He felt her wariness lose ground beneath her hunger. She was too young to be out in the world alone. Too sweet, too innocent. He'd find her brother and send them somewhere safe. Then perhaps it was time for him to move on.
Just a little taste to get you interested! Lethal Seasons ebook is available for preorders at a discounted price of $2.99 at iTunes , Barnes and Noble , and Kobo through August 8, 2014. The price will go to $4.99 on the 9th.
Paperback will be available at Amazon on August 8, 2014.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

And the marketing continues...

Spent most of the morning finishing up a Powerpoint about Lethal Seasons for Slideshare. It's fun. I like doing it. For once, it's graphics I understand. However, I should have paid more attention to what was on the site. All my clever little fades and fly-ins of text didn't work once it was loaded. So I shouldn't have worried about it at all. Oh well, live and learn. The next one will be that much easier.

If you want to check it out go here SlideShare.

Marketing. Well. What can I say? I am reading tons of advice and boiling it all down to what I can handle - skill-wise, time-wise and budget-wise. There are so many options out there, and I haven't a clue which ones will work. This SlideShare thing was one of the new things to try. It's free and very easy- my kind of thing!

I sent out a press-release about the pre-orders to one site. I am curious to see if I get any feedback on that. Hopefully all of these little things piled on top of one another add up to something in the end. I think a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time with a quality product. So fingers crossed and full speed ahead.

Newsletter! Yes, it's true. I have started a newsletter. I will only send one out when I have something new - a new book, a sale, discounts, whatever. So it won't be going out every month. For the few of you who received the first one, I'd love some feedback. And please pass it on to any other Scifi or Mystery fans you know.

Ebook Discounts!
White Lies and Unintended Consequences ebooks are on sale at 50% off at Smashwords.

The Goodreads Giveaway runs through to midnight on July 18. I am giving away 8 books.

And now I get to start formatting Lethal Seasons for all the various publication platforms. This is the trickiest part. I lost my patience on the last book, rushing it out before it was perfect. I will try to be better with this one!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Garden update and giveaway

The gladiolas are blooming. Along with the crepe myrtle, hollyhocks and echinacea.

The blueberries are doing especially well this year. It just amazes me how they get bigger and better each year. Even when I forget about them, they are busily doing their thing. Incredible.

I am picking wax beans and a few tomatoes every day. The shelling peas are on their way out. The peapods are chugging along in 2nd gear. I see a couple of baby patty pan squashes forming. The fava beans are just starting to form pods. All of the tomatoes are doing well this year. After last year's catastrophe I almost didn't do tomatoes. Now I am glad I did. All of them have lots of green fruit forming. Yum. Except the Tumbling Tom in a pot on my stairs - that is already giving me ripe tomatoes. They are either a very large cherry, or a tiny slicer, being about golf ball size

Goodreads Giveaway!
I am running a giveaway on Goodreads for 8 copies of Lethal Seasons. (print only)

Barnes and Noble pre-sales
Lethal Seasons is available for preorder at B&N. The price is discounted to $2.99 prior to publication on August 8

It's a very busy summer this year!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

No more yappy dog!

The neighbors moved away and took their noisy little dog with them. What a relief! I didn't realize how much of an ingrained annoyance it was until he'd been gone a few days. In my lovely, quiet neighborhood, the constant racket of a barking dog is very intrusive. Especially next door. Something inside me relaxed and I realized with shock - no yapping!

The owners of Yappy Dog would tie him outside several times a day for him to get a little fresh air and exercise. (and do whatever else needed to be done) From the minute he was out until they brought him back in he would bark. Yapyapyapyapyapyapyapyapyapyapyap...sometimes for hours. Sometimes at 7am on a Sunday morning. Or midnight on a workday.

I learned to block it out. It wasn't until a visitor of mine snapped, "Shut up!" that I realized I wasn't the only one going nuts.

Tying him out was a solution arrived at after several neighbors complained. Previously they were letting him roam the neighborhood. Before we spoke up, Yappy Dog would wander down the street barking as he went. (What makes a dog bark constantly?) He would also poop on my lawn, which I discovered while mowing. Not a happy discovery. Luckily, Yappy was a small dog.

So I have lovely new neighbors and extra bonus points Yappy Dog is gone.

Otherwise things are very busy. The veggie garden is starting to produce so I am picking something everyday. Lethal Seasons is out to the final reader. Yay. The line edits are nearly done. Once that is wrapped up, I can get back to working on the Asher Blaine sequel.

This is turning out to be a very busy summer.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Trailer and other things

First of all:

Lethal Season's book trailer

Please check this out! I think it is really well done. And you will get a chance to hear Alex's wonderful music. I would appreciate any feedback!

And the other things...

Here's a daisy. They are blooming right now. The yard is out of control, but the vegetable garden is doing really well. I picked nearly a pound of blueberries this week, and there are a lot more to come. The peapods and shelling peas are producing wonderfully. My tomatoes are all full of buds and green fruit. This year looks to be an especially bountiful one. And luckily the raised beds aren't demanding too much of my time.

I don't care if the grass gets too long, but the edibles always take priority. So what little free time I have this summer will go to the vegetable garden and fruit trees.

I am feeling a little overwhelmed and it is all my own fault. I want to do this book launch correctly... But I'm making it up as I go. The big publishers buy advertising and set up book signings, things I can't afford to do. So I am posting where I can and trying to make a little noise about this. And since I am making it up as I go, I can't be sure I'm doing the right thing. But the book isn't published yet, so I shouldn't be worrying yet, but...I am. Whew.

And here's Bertie hanging out, watching me work. Whenever I get too crazy, there's always a little cat ready to jump into my lap and demand attention. All three of them remind me that I am just here to do their bidding, and that always puts things in their proper perspective.