Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bad apples with squeaky wheels

Over on Chuck Wendig's Blog today he was discussing the problem of the bad apples in self publishing getting all the attention.

It's true there is a lot of dreck available. And often the writers of dreck work very hard to market it. I am astonished at what you can find on the net. I try to sample lots of self-pubbed books and review them, for karma points. Maybe if I do it, someone will return the favor. But, boy is there a lot of unpalatable blather out there.

There's a million coming of age stories where he/she didn't know they were wizards/witches/the sole heir to...and their parents never said a thing. I've been known to read one or two of these, but holy moly there's A LOT!

I downloaded a bunch of freebies over the weekend. Even though I always sample, I still ended up with duds. Of the 3 I started recently, only one made the cut. The other two were so badly written I couldn't bear it. The third was well done - Breakers by Edward Robertson. An apocalyptical story with a very satisfying ending.

But the point is - how to sort through it all. I will be really interested to see how this develops. People are already talking about conglomerates and author associations. Some way to help the cream rise to the top.

Publishing keeps evolving.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The final proof arrived!

WooHoo! The final proof came from CreateSpace. How cool is that? A book I wrote as a real book!

I've had to redo it a couple times to fix mistakes, formatting, rewording the blurb, changing the type... It's been an interesting lesson in what goes into a book. This one is pretty simple. Just plain old text inside, no fancy chapter headings or illustrations.

I'm just waiting for the OK from CS and I can publish. Whew. What a relief to get this all taken care of. Now I can concentrate on all the other things that I put on hold to get this done.

White Lies is also up on Smashwords. That took a lot less work.

I'll do a little marketing, but for the most part, I want to concentrate on writing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Poison Ivy

Did I mention I got poison ivy? Or contracted, or encountered? Whatever.

I will assume it happened weedwacking the fence line. Hidden behind the groping tendrils of bittersweet, Virginia Creeper, honeysuckle and cat briar, there may have been poison ivy. I was on a mission, cutting it all back.

There's a swirl across my face and down my neck of red, swollen, blistering flesh. Lovely.

So lack of sleep (from itching) and antihistamines (for the itching) have made me especially slow today.

In other news - the proof arrived from CreateSpace and I found a number of problems. I spent some time getting to know the formatting better. The fixes were easy but very time consuming. I think it's all good now. We'll see when the next proof arrives.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Reptile day

I live in a suburban area in an older development. The trees are mature and most houses have a screen of trees between them. I am used to seeing birds and squirrels and chipmunks.

Yesterday I found a king snake in the compost, a toad in the trash can and lizards on the driveway.

In other wildlife, there was a visit from a baby bunny (glad I fenced the lettuce bed!)

We'd been hearing this loud croaking in the side yard for days. And wondering if it was a bird, insect or frog. I was astonished to find a toad/frog (not sure of the difference) clinging to the inside of my empty trash can. Maybe it was like singing in the bathroom - he liked the acoustics. Since I freed him, we haven't had any evening chorus. Hope he found his way home!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Honeysuckle!

The honeysuckle is blooming and my backyard is so fragrant it makes my eyes water. Sometimes I forget it's the flowers and when I am knocked over by a wave of sweetness I just assume one of the neighbors went overboard with the dryer sheets. It's THAT strong.

Honeysuckle is an insanely invasive vine. I'm constantly pulling it out of...well, everywhere. But it's a piece of my childhood and the birds like to build nests in it.

When I was a kid, my mother showed me how to pull the stamen out, collecting a drop of "honey". I don't remember if she licked the sweet drop off the fragile fibers, but I did. It's one of my earliest memories.

If I remember correctly, honeysuckle is one of the flowers that changes color after it's been pollinated. The flowers open white and change to yellow after the bees visit.

Now if I could just get it to stay on the fence.

Monday, May 14, 2012

CreateSpace

I have been spending a lot of time working on putting White Lies into the proper formatting for CreateSpace. I went into this with completely the wrong idea. It isn't like Kindle or Smashwords where you just upload a clean doc. Oh no. You are designing the book!

Which for me is fun. I took a bookbinding course once. It was essentially for artists creating their own books of original artwork, but it helped me understand some things for CreateSpace. I got to choose the look of the book. But wow, was it time consuming!

I've been busy with pay-the-bills work lately, which eats up my writing time. Add the book designing in and I didn't do any writing at all last week. At first I felt guilty, but all my spare time was going into getting White Lies ready for print, so that isn't bad. It isn't like I spent all that time shopping or surfing the net.

I'm pretty much done with the interior text and cover. Unfortunately, the cover I designed for the ebook won't work for the print. It was easier to go with their template and come as close as possible to the original version. The next step is to get an actual book to proof. Way cool!

Now maybe I can get some writing done today!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Random Ramblings

First of all, I got a very nice review on Catburglar on the Smashwords site. Thanks Pete McCumber! And best of all, I don't know him. It's always a treat when a stranger likes your work.

Of the nearly 600 free copies of White Lies out there, I have 1 review from someone I don't know. Sigh. That makes 2 reviews on the Amazon page. And I am sure that anyone browsing through could think they were both from friends or family. Which is always suspect. I am impatient for more reviews to come in, but what can you do? There's no way to force someone to read a book, or read it faster, or even review it when they're done.

Some days I am just terribly impatient.

The weather roller coaster has taken a dive. I have all the windows closed and the heat came on. Last night I even regretted taking the flannel sheets off the bed as the temps dipped down into the 40s. Sheesh.

I am sure what spring flowers that weren't blasted to dust by last week's 80s are very appreciative of the lower temps. I've already got a handful of radishes that bolted. Maybe the cooler days will soothe them back into forming roots.

My garden routine was shifting towards cleaning up and planting. Now every morning I have to pick strawberries and peapods first. I'm getting about a basket of berries every day and a handful of peapods. Last year the strawberries were overrun with weeds and I just didn't have the energy to sort it all out til the fall. So this year they are recovering and much happier.

I shouldn't complain about harvesting, but it does cut into my maintenance time. I need more hours in the day, and more sleep!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lupine, Foxglove and Artichokes

The lupine finally bloomed! I have been waiting for this for years. I started this guy from seed, maybe 3 years ago. Between drought and runner grass it has really struggled. I think the mild winter and wet spring really helped. It was from a mix, so I had no idea what color it would be. Since it is surrounded with yellow irises, this is a perfect contrast color.

I love foxglove. Not only is it a pretty flower, it reseeds itself. This lovely pink one is right next to a white one, and I didn't put either one there! In fact, the original plants are on the other side of the yard. I think the squirrel has been farming again.


Last year's artichoke is forming flowers. That's the part you eat. This stalk will grow up the center and eventually branch. I've harvested about 5 buds from a single stalk. And if I'm lucky, it'll put up another stalk.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Learning Curve

I am trying to take all the advice and pull out the bits that make the most sense to me. Like:

Don't keeping flogging your only book to the detriment of all else.

Keep writing.

Don't obsess over the sales.

Think long term.

And then I panic because my book isn't selling and I should be out there shilling it and I haven't a clue how to do it....

Whew. Big breath. Small steps.

So I am looking into various places to promote the book, carefully, politely.  I started a Facebook Author page. If I can figure out how, I'll add a link to it. And I posted the book on Wise Grey Owl.

And I am working on the next book. A little slowly, but I'm making some progress. Now I need to stop futzing around and get to writing!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another watercolor, among other things

I have posted another painting under the artwork tab. The first few pieces will all be small, as that's the easiest to deal with.

I have to comment on the heat here in NC. 80's! All week! I'm breaking out the shorts and tank tops. Slept with all the windows open last night. We've even had the ceiling fans running. This is SOOO not normal for this area. And I just cannot turn the ac on this early in the year!

Last year I had to push back all my planting/sowing dates because the weather was so cold. This year, I'm already behind.The rhodys are spent, roses are blooming. All the spring flowers are long gone. Weird.

White Lies is not selling very well. So, it just goes to show that no marketing results in no sales. In case anyone had questions about that. I will be putting my toe in the marketing water soon.

I am also about to delve into CreateSpace to publish White Lies as a physical book. Another learning curve. But I have to say, it'll be so cool to actually see it in print.