Saturday, December 31, 2011

Amazon Freebie Weekend

I put Schtupid Cupid on Kindle Select because it wasn't selling on BN anyway.  It had always been linked to Not Low Maintenance and Unspeakably Desirable because Lis is Viva and Bel's cousin, they're in the book/novella and Viva is doing her shadchan (Yiddish for matchmaker) thing.  It was always heavy on the cross-promoing and when I decided to leave it as a novella, if I could have made it free forever as a gateway/intro to the other 2 books, that would have been fine.

The Verrine book was always about using the D7k for a food photography experiment.  Sure I had to invent the recipes and go through the whole process legitimately but since I was assured cookbooks don't sell, and this is a pretty narrow topic, I didn't hold out much hope.  After all, the Ice Cream Parlor has always been dead in the water.  I saw it as a vacation from fiction and enjoyed doing it.

Not much thought was given to putting either of them up as free, except Cupid on Valentine's Day.  I figured everyone would use the time between Christmas and New Year's to put their books up for free and mine would be lost but I decided to do a free weekend and use up 2 of my 5 free days.  (Kinda stingy on that part, Amazon.)

I don't know if they're lost or not compared to others but the response has been excellent so far and it's just getting light here.  I don't know how people are awake enough to be downloading books.

Do I want to put the Miller sister books on Kindle Select and remove them from BN?  No, I don't want to but I could see that I might.  The numbers are that I sell 3X more books at Amazon than BN but also the reality is also that the reviews are nicer at BN.


This is another effort at HDR photography.  Nothing dramatic, I'm experimenting for the cookbook I may do next year.  (That would be tomorrow.)

Me and food photography.  Everyone else is just content to put down some discolored utensils and old linens and be done with it.  I have to make an orange scream "I am not simply citrus fruit, I'm an orange" and all the lemons are groaning "just shut up".

Gives me an idea for what I'll do this afternoon instead of working on the novella.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Added Content

Is this what digital has over paper?  Yes.  Probably.  Maybe.  I was reading Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (got stalled) and that's illustrated with vintage photos.  It's not unheard of that a paper book for adults has illustrations.  Tolkien's books have maps.

But, come on, that's not really what we're talking about--a family tree or a map or even a recipe.  We're talking about illustrations.  I wish I was talking about video but that's beyond my capabilities.  My multipli-talented friend, Michal Towber, wrote a wonderful novel called Witch and did the soundtrack for it.  That should be in there.  There should be a way to play the song/music at key points in the story.  I don't have the programming knowledge to do that but someone surely does.

And don't say illustrations are reserved for children's digital books.  Some of my adult books are illustrated.  Yes, it's true they're romantic comedies.  But my friend, Chris Westphal, wrote Inhuman, and created 150 illustrations to go with that and it's a police/psychiatrist forensic procedural.

As a thought for the New Year, think of ways to add content.  Even if it's an author interview, or a short piece on some aspect of the story, consider including it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I'm Calling This a Tri-Fecta

Dream Horse on Amazon (and amazingly someone recognized it as Impossible Charlie on BN--good for you, you deserve a balloon)

Rights in the Known Universe

Over at The Passive Voice, PG is having a multiple post discussion on contracts.  New and unique ways publishers are trying to squeeze their writing "partners" for every dime.  They're suing.  Isn't that about the last resort--to throw a "legal" temper tantrum.  Sue surviving families for rights that didn't exist when the contract was signed.  Cool.  That's inventive.

My pal Allen Atkinson was a wonderful illustrator and once signed away rights to his work in the known universe.  The publisher figured we'd wind up in space and they wanted the rights to Allen's watercolors of Mother Goose when we got to Mars.

On one hand it's silly but at the heart it's evil.  This well is poisoned. 

Let's try to finish the year on a high note.  I was searching for a tutorial on HDR (High Dynamic Range) photography and found a site with lots of stunning images.  Trey Ratcliffe.  Poke around and you'll find things like this

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Week After Christmas

So many people are on vacation.  It's kind of a by-week, isn't it?  Nothing happens.

The way traditional publishing works is that nothing happens in December, because they're all doing Christmas parties.  Certainly nothing happens this week because they're on vacation.  Then they show up.  The same goes for Summer except more so.

I'll tell you what happened to me with a book that didn't happen for me.  I had an agent who is with a top boutique agency.  I knew an authority in a certain field (okay stretching, call it a "field") and we all thought there could be a book there.  Nonfic.  So I moved in with this person to get the book done pronto.  The contract was signed.  Okay great, I thought.  Now we have 3 months of summer  to focus on the book and soon enough I can move to California.  But this authority wouldn't start work until receiving part of the quite substantial advance.  So I begged for 3 months.  Please work because that's how it is in publishing.  You sign the contract and start the book.  Nothing doing.  I go to the agent.  I go to the editor.  I'm begging.  Pay This Person so I can get them to concentrate on the book.  Meanwhile tick-tock, the book is due Dec. 6 I think it was.  360 pages.  I'm getting no help but all the tape recordings this person had ever made were dumped on me while they continued to work at their "day job".  The contract went from one desk to another.  Each time it landed, that person was on vacation.  For 3 months.  Finally in September--this is one of the Big Six publishers,  not Warm Cookies and Milk Ink in Clearwater Kansas--everyone is back in the office.  By now I'm in a panic.  Having written a number of books I'm thinking this is getting to be not humanly possible time-wise.  I'm begging, please pay this person!  Finally at the end of September the check arrives.  I breathe a sigh of relief.  It's going to be very hard but it can be done.  The authority then goes to Greece for 2 weeks because the process thus far has been so stressful.  I take this person aside and say "You can't do this.  The book can't be done in 6 weeks."  And I get yelled at.  "Why are you so negative?"  The agent is mad at me.  The editor is mad at me.  Of course the book cannot get done in 6 weeks because the authority used all the money to party in Greece and has to stay with this "day job".  I was fired.

What's the moral of this story?  Digital.  Amazon isn't going on vacation.  I'm not on vacation  I'm still going to get my novella done very soon.  I don't have to wait and I don't have to tolerate being abused.  What's the downside.  There isn't one.

Let me wish traditional publishing a happy and fulfilling 2012.  And if they're still here for 2013, I'll repeat myself.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Post Christmas Post

Last year it was Summer Horse that was a real star.  This year it's Dream Horse.  Everything else, not so much.  I wonder if it's because there are so many books priced at 99 cents, or free, that people are scooping those up, or those with a pedigree--familiar names.  It's very hard to make an analysis after 36 hours.  At least for me.  Especially when numbers are involved.  Maybe next week we'll be able to tell what just happened.  Sales have improved in the UK so I guess I should attribute that to more Kindles sold over there.

I'm sure some authors did spectacularly well yesterday.  It'll take a while for the rest of us to see an increase in sales?  Does anyone know?  Let me quote William Goldman again "No one knows anything."

I love that Amazon is now publishing with the speed of BN.  Thank you very much.

Then tweaked with a special program.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ukrainian Carol of the Bells

New Fling Cover

I woke up and a deep need to change the cover was upon me.  I blame Joe Konrath.  It was only days earlier that he stated he had changed some covers 40 times.  What a slacker I am!  I can't even remember what the original cover was to Fling.  Then I got that cute vector art girl.  What could be next?  A nude guy.  But it had to be a nude doctor guy because Jay is a doctor.  Actually so is Jem's mother but I don't want to see Penny without her clothes.  I found a workable image quite easily (and too expensively so I definitely will not recommend the site to you, but I bought 5 images last year and only used 2 so the money is gone and should be used) and put it together quickly because really how much is there to do with a nude torso.  I did tweak it in Lightroom.

I know Lightroom is Photoshop real light.  Anything PS can do, Lightroom can do.  I don't know that there's anything Lightroom does that PS can't but the reverse is very true.  LR only does the image itself, no layers no text no filters.  The strength for me with LR is my lack of expertise in PS.  Sure all these functions are there but where, how and can I understand them (no).  LR just streamlines the processing of an image so beautifully. 

I warmed up the skin tone because the original had a slight blue cast to it.  The story takes place in the heat of the summer so I went with that.

Would Jay be happy on the cover?  No!  Would Jem mind?  Not at all.  Especially when there was a scene where he strips to his shorts, jumps in a pond and swims out to a dock to rescue a woman having overdosed on grass cookies  (no, real grass, not "grass") while Jem and her psychiatrist mother discuss how Jay is so well built.

Am I happy with this semi-nude guy on my cover?  Not particularly.  Altho I did a good job of tweaking the image.  That I'm happy with.  But it's a test and with 6 million more kindles being fired up tomorrow morning, we'll see if that's eye catching at all.  The problem I can't do anything about at the moment is the cover images inside NLM and probably Fling itself.  They should be changed.  I was busy on the cover for the novella yesterday--gorgeous--so I didn't do Fling.  Sorry for the discordance.

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

Maybe.  Maybe not.  But it is great.

Remember several months ago I alerted you to Josh Krajcik's audition on X Factor.  He came in #2 last night.  Melanie Amaro was probably impossible to beat and I'm sure he's going to sign a recording contract by the end of the year.  Well done, Josh.

I changed the cover for NLM yesterday then changed it back.  This morning I changed the cover to Fling.  If I don't change it back by the end of the day, I'll post it for you and try to rationalize my decisions.

Still working on my novella and found a nice photo at one of the stock sites that will work for it better than my attempt to reproduce a fountain.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Does This Work? 2

I have no idea what these books are, they can be in the Top 10.  All we're looking at is design elements.

The first thing I think is--can you explain this to me?  I'm sure there's a reason why you would combine a curly font and a scriptish font but I don't know what it is.  Then I don't understand why you would combine brown and black on white.  I am being serious when I say I'm confused by this.

Normally I don't do black and white.  Hey I have a blog.  The background is white and the text is in dark blue.  Black and white is stark and dramatic.  It's serious.  Look at the cover to Rise.  2 colors.  Black and white.  That is not a book filled with humor, light-hearted incidents and happy-go-lucky people.  Neal is trying to avoid being killed.  Yes, she's in love with Tru and Tru is in love with her.  That is also very serious.  It's not about teen puppy love.

Solution.  Stick with 1 bold, easy-to-read font in a single color.  I want to say stay away from white as a background but since I do it myself it's hard for me to say no.  The drawback to white is that it is demanding and uncompromising.  It gives you no place to hide.  If you are off, boy, it's going to show.  If you are confident that all your choices are spot-on, go with the white.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Ice Cream Parlor

I can't remember why I had to change it about a month ago.  Maybe I wanted it under my name not Silly Girl, Robin O'Neill's name.  That meant I had to rebuild the cover because the original Photoshop file was lost in that incident a couple months ago.  I didn't have the pieces anymore so I used what I had and went with that.  This morning I decided I would use a cover I liked but a friend said "But there's no ice cream."  Yeah but it was originally called The Soda Fountain and this is a beverage and it's colorful.  BN isn't uploading at the moment for me.  Maybe because it's raining or something.

Then I thought I'll just upload it to Kindle.  When I got there I realized it's still a Robin O'Neill older version there and the amount of work needed to get that into html with all the images is too daunting for today.

This is all quite a long way of saying Amazon needs to make it easier to upload books with images.  And here's a second thing that should be easier to do--create links to all the chapters.  I don't do that, I should, but I can't face it.  I looked at the instructions and it's like Photoshop.  You really have to be in the mood to address yourself to something that complicated.  Maybe it's something you can do with relative ease with Sigil but again, that's something you need to be prepared to learn.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Does This Work?

This may be a series of posts reflecting on aspects of cover art I've seen in my travels.  I'll point out what works or doesn't work about it for me and maybe that will get you thinking when you do your cover.

Obviously I'm not going to take someone's cover and post it here but I will take the element that caught my eye and attempt to reproduce it.

That pink (and it's color sampled so it's that color) is really really eye-catching.  For me it's too eye-catching.  It nearly vibrates like Pop Art.  But it's not that it's practically a neon color--even for Pantone--, it's that there's a heavy black outline.  It's very harsh to my eye.  Trust me, I don't know what color background this could work against, but the beige doesn't do it for me and that's essentially the color used in the original.

The other problem was the font which was much more involved than this, resulting in still more black.  It wasn't so much that it is hard to read--it's dark, it's bold, it's blocky, it's that it's too much.  It's heavy and not simple/stylish enough.

There comes a point when you can over-design.  You do too much.  Less is often more.

Solution.  Look at your image.  If the background is dark choose a color for your text that is light.  If you background is blue, don't choose orange for your text.  Make text in the same or related family.  If I had an image of a field of hay, that would be green.  I would look for the darkest or lightest green in the image and try that.  I would look at the sky.  Can that be sampled and used.  I wouldn't choose school bus yellow even if there is a school bus in the background.

Try to stay within the confines of the image.  That's your best guide for the choice of fonts and of colors.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Am Not A Number!!

And I'm not--and by now, you know how I am with numbers.  If I was one, I'd never be able to remember which one it was.

"Hi.  What's your name?"
"Wait.  I know the answer to that.  Um.  12.  No, 21.  No, that's not it.  Let me think.  Um.  Don't rush me on this!  Can I buy a clue?"

Luckily John Smith didn't have that problem in I Am Number Four.  Of course the threat of death might focus the mind.  Or just repeating it endlessly.  I am number 4, I am number 4, I am number 4.

I understand why it was a popular book (and an unfortunately poor movie).  John is human.  Actually not since he's Loric, but he has emotions we can relate to.

If the character shows no emotion, there are no stakes.  Drama is heightened by how much there is to gain or lose.  If James Bond is Mr Cool Cucumber, who really cares if he stops Spectre?  Yeah let's save the world but we know either way, Jimbo is going to walk away to his next smooth babe.

So John fell in love and it's forever.  Well, I like that.  But I'm not a 14 year old boy.  Why is this such a strong thread in this story?  Because girls will read this, too?  Okay.  Fine with me.  I liked the relationship between John and Sarah, well spun out, believable, realistic.  I liked the book.

It's interesting to see how these destined-to-be-popular-series-with-a-movie-deal are constructed.  I've read 3 of them and will get to Hunger Games eventually.  Just as a clue--when I say these things, it's not about my narcissism, it's a suggestion for you to research and study what's popular in your genre, I'm just describing my process.

I imagine with the problems "Pittacus Lore" aka James Frey is having with the writing situation, this series may not be a long as intended, but maybe he'll get it together.  Book 2 comes out in Aug.

Let me use that as a demonstration of the lag time in trad pub.  You have a hot hot series and you're seeing 24 months between releases.  If this was digital, how many days would between Book 1 and Book 2?

Here's a technique I've been working on in Photoshop.  How to create ripples.  Filter.  Don't look in Ripple.  Look at Zig-Zag.  Seriously.  That's where you find Pond Ripples.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Early New Year's Resolutions

1) Be a better writer.
2) Create a new pen name because I want to get away from myself as Walker Percy suggested most writers do.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Put The Blame on Mame, Boys

Tradpub is desperately seeking someone to blame for their current predicament.  Since Amazon is doing so well, it's obviously Amazon's fault.  After it stops being Amazon's fault, and no one is submitting books to the great stinking dinosaurs in quantity, they will blame the writers.

Some years ago I had an idea for a YA.  Of course I submitted it and everyone reacted the way I did at the Nature Center when they said "Put your hand in this bag and tell your classmates if you can discern what it is."  "Uh no."  "It's a wasps' nest."


That's how they reacted.  And that's the reason why they need lots and lots of people to blame since they can't blame who rightfully deserves the blame--themselves.

I remembered those 6 chapters today and I think I'm halfway to a nice novella.

The camera works just fine.  Did some preliminary shots for the cover of the novella this morning.  Photoshop still has the capacity to make me nuts.

Update:  For some reason, there is no "obvious" easy way to center anything in Photoshop.  You click the center icon and nothing  Those are the instructions at  Okay.  It's really easy.  Select all.  Click on the Move arrow.  All the alignment choices will magically appear.  Click on any one you want--like center.  Presto-chango, the text or the image centers.

Friday, December 16, 2011

To Be or Not To Be Broccoli

Or cauliflower as the case may be.

Do you want to be produce?  Do you want tradpub to think of you as something past its sell-by date.

Speaking of which, I was told by a fill-in-the-blank agent that I was too old to write for kids, I didn't understand them.  Class.  What's my best selling book at the moment?  Anyone?  Bueller?  That's right.  Dream Horse.  That's older than the beech telling me I stink as a writer.  Do you have to be 9 to write for 9 year olds?

Writers are routinely mistreated and humiliated but here's the thing.  The kind of money you make in television makes it worth your while.  I am so uninterested in hearing about how it's business.  There is nothing and SHOULD BE NOTHING that forces publishing houses to do the right thing and treat people better.  And there's nothing to prevent us at this point that we finally have a choice to abandon those buzzards and go off on our own.

If there are hard feelings, "hurt writer feelings" to quote Laura Zigman from yesterday's animation, there's a reason for it based in fact and experience.  If a writer chooses to go with trad pub that's fine with me but I don't want to hear the explanations and excuses for their bad behavior.

Writing is not "produce".  A writer is not the manufacturer of hula hoops any more than a ballet dancer is the manufacturer of tap shoes.  This is not a production line.  You're dealing with a person, a human being with an emotional investment in their work.  They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Content Is King

Publishers can't provide content.  Editors can't provide content.  Agents can't provide content.

Only writers provide content.

Isn't there something about killing the goose that lays the golden egg?  Isn't that what they've been doing for decades?  If writers "hate" agents, maybe that's the reason.

Well, gee, too bad.  Writers and geese found someplace else to put their eggs and now Publishers, Editors and Agents are trying to pretend they are still relevant and there's a point to their existence.   Good luck with that.

Have you been following this Jon Corzine/MF Global thing?  Me neither.  1 billion dollars evaporated and Corzine, who was running the show, the former Democrat governor/windbag in chief of New Jersey sits there under oath and does a Sgt. Schultz "I know NOTHING!"

Reminds me of tradpub.  Playing clueless.  Tradpub knew they were screwing authors all along and now they act surprised when it caves in on them.  More than surprised, annoyed and angry.  Blaming everyone but themselves.

I hope Corzine shares a cell with Madoff.

Nikon.  Probably not the final word but new settings and a front focus tweak improved image quality.  So a public thank you to Joy N of Nikon Support.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Should You Pay For Reviews?

Why ask me?  I barely believe in reviews. 

Dean Wesley Smith had a post about starting out as a writer and there was math in the piece so you know that was a big turn-off for me.  (Break out the cross and the garlic, you can't fool me, I know a number when I see it!) 

I think it comes back to the same 3 or 4 points which admittedly are time-consuming.  I'm sorry about that.

1) Write the best book you can
2) Get the best cover you can
3) Write the best description you can
4) Repeat 1-3 until you take up a lot of shelf space and potential readers can't help but run into you.

I know this will take years.  Too long?  Okay.  Come up with a really great book that will get everyone's attention without the shelf space part.  What's a really great commercial book?  Probably something that's a lot like a Hollywood movie.  Go to Amazon and look for a book written by a guy who wrote a bunch of Hollywood movies and made lots of money doing it.  Sorry I can't remember the title.  Maybe something he says will give you a hint on how you should be thinking about it.

I'm not convinced posting on forums and being reviewed helps.  But maybe if they love love loved me at Goodreads, I would be saying to do that.

There is a small uptick in sales at BN--the horse books.  I knew I shouldn't put them in the Kindle Prime Lending (how many more words go with this program?).

Nikon.  The support person is very convinced it's simply a matter of the correct settings.  My feeling is this thing should work without so much working at it.  But she's being very professional about it.  After 300+ test shots, at least ONE should be in focus.  Or am I crazy?

I had an idea for something in the new year.  I'll have to think about it.  When it comes down to the writing, I've never been a good writer-for-hire type person.  I write what I want to write, and other alien ideas don't come to me like they do to other writers.

Linksmų Kalėdų

Monday, December 12, 2011

Nothing New To Say?

There was a blog post somewhere this weekend that said it's all been said before.  Everything's been said before, don't we all know that?  I don't think anyone's coming here for my insights, they come here misdirected by google image searches.

Since my camera is broken big time I can't really provide images for the book I obviously cannot write before Christmas.  Which means I just have to try to write a sequel to the horse books.

I'd like to say one thing about One Life To Live.  Since you tape weeks in advance, they are done.  The sets are all gone--they used to be stored downtown but maybe ABC ditched them--the studio is empty.  The writing of these last few months is as bad as I've ever seen.  Every time I see Clint, I think it's Ross Marler from Guiding Light.  I hope Jerry Ver Dorn has a great life from here on.

A lot of people, maybe hundreds, are out of work now and maybe forever between  the loss of AMC and OLTL.  ABC came up with cheaper shows to produce.  Couldn't everyone just accept a little less?  Apparently not.

The Doctors last show aired on New Year's Eve Day.  Very sad.  NBC killed it.  They wanted something cheaper to produce, too.  Things change.  Maybe more people are out of the house in the middle of the day and unable to watch television.  Maybe soaps aren't relevant anymore in the way they once were.  People don't watch television in the way they did.  Don't you prefer to watch it when it's convenient for you rather than because a show airs at a certain time?  I love to watch Pan Am but I don't have networks on my satellite and I like to watch it during lunch on the weekends.  Hulu makes this possible.

You don't have to drag around a book anymore, you have a reader jammed full of books.  You read when and where it's convenient.  You find what you want not what a bookstore thinks you should want.  You have access to books tradpub doesn't think you want.

I'm surprised there's not more experimentation going on either in television or publishing or even digital publishing.  Maybe in the new year, we'll see people stepping away from the old pathways and trying something they want to do.

Maybe people don't even know what they want to do anymore.  Freedom is like that.  Confronted by the ability to do anything, people become paralyzed and do nothing.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


I heard from Amazon.  That's great, it was within 48 hours.  (I'm still here all weekend not hearing from Nikon.)

Hello Barbara,

Thanks for letting us know about the pricing concern with your book. 

We'll look into this and update the price. You can expect to see it changed within the next couple business days. 

Thanks for your understanding.


Kindle Direct Publishing
Wait.  I don't understand.  Please explain how this happened.  Was it a normal thing, part of a promotion, was it a computer mistake?  Intentional?  Evil?  Benign?  Do I deserve some insight into what happened or I should just accept that it's getting fixed and move on.
I took about 200 test shots with the camera yesterday.  See if you focus the lens on an old camera, the shutter opens, the light strikes the film and and image is created.  WYSIWYG.  With a digital camera you focus, the camera assures you it's in focus, you can see it's in focus and then when you look at it, something potentially evil has happened and it ain't in focus.  I don't know what of the thousands (it seems like) buttons and combos you can press to impact this result.  I'm too dumb.  I'm back at the you point the camera and focus and that's what you wind up with.  There is ZERO Depth of Field no matter what I do.  DOF is how much of the image is clear/in focus.  The faster the speed the larger the aperture the greater the DOF but also the greater the potential for noise or grain.
It's like the aperture doesn't work.  It doesn't matter what I set the thing at all the photo is out of focus.  This runs counter to anything we know about cameras, even expensive digital ones. 
So maybe there will be a Christmas Breads Made Easy book this year or maybe not.
Maybe there will be a Christmas Horse or maybe not.  If I could write like that woman who does 10,000 wds a day, it could be finished by Wednesday!  Yay me.    I've never been that fast even when I knew what I wanted to say.
Today the cute plumber is coming here to fix some things before the really cold weather begins so that means more likely test bread than writing.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Should We Stay Or Should We Go

with Kindle Lending?

It seemed so obvious it was worth a shot and then when I got there I said no.  Since I am not writing in a popular genre--suspense, paranormal, predictable romance, I started to say "what's in this for me?"  I tie up my books for 3 months and watch people borrow Joe Konrath, Karen McQuestion and fill in the blank.  Some people are going to do great.  More of us would do great if it wasn't restricted to 1 book per month.

The Fire comes with a month free of Amazon Prime which you need in order to borrow a book.  So you have the 1 month and the 1 book.  Why waste it on someone you've never heard of?  Fling with 2 5 star reviews instead of John Locke with 250 5 star reviews (whatever).  It doesn't make psychological sense.

So that's why I said no thank you for the moment.  There's no point in tying up my books for 3 months when I don't have a good feeling about this.  Amazon offers you a 5 day free promo over the course of 90 days?  Like you're kidding me?  What good is that?  Am I missing what's great about it?  You do it now and what about on St. Patrick's day.  You have nothing in March.  You have nothing in February.  You have nothing in January.
You sit there with your hands tied 1 of a million books available.  Is it still for sale?  I'm lousy at reading contracts so I'm sure I missed a lot.  Okay so if it's for sale then I guess as people are scrolling through all these other books they'll make note of you.  So being in this program offers us greater visibility?

My crystal ball is cloudy at the moment so I have no idea how this is all going to shake-out.  You can always sign up later.

Update-ish:  I made a hash of my bookshelf at Amazon, enrolling then backing out of the lending deal.  I was just checking up to see if everything was back to right and decided to go thru the foreign sites.  This is so unbelievable to me.  The verrine book sold a copy in France!  I had to send for a book on verrines from France to research for this book.  There are a ton of them there (none here).  But apparently not digital.  I hope she thinks I did a good job.  It's more of an American take on verrines than a strictly French perspective.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Did It Again

Last night I watched, partially rewatched, a movie on The Man Hating Channel aka Lifetime Movies.

I admit I'm confused as to why these stories are popular.  That includes TV, books and movies.  I don't tell these kind of stories and but for the anomaly of NLM earlier this year, my sales reflect how off-genre I am.  So here's my advice--don't take my advice.  But I'll talk about this story anyway.

It was a haircut on the actual Yorkshire true story about the WI (is that what it's called, Tina?) and their nude calendar.  The book this movie was based on was a chicklit (?) by Phillipa Ashley.  (No American women are named Phillipa altho they should be because then you can be called Flip.)

So tres diminuative Kristen Chenoweth who sounds when talking like Alvin of the chipmunks but when singing sounds like Beverly Sills--she's a star of Broadway musicals, great voice.  She's a NYC bitch who loses her job (no, I didn't like the character, is that coming through?) and the ONLY gig she can get is in beautiful Kalispell Montana which requires many snide remarks from Miss Wonderful.  She openly mocks, to the camera, all the residents.  They're so provincial, so prosaic, so pathetic.

It brings to mind the also NYC bitch, real one, who wondered why the NYFD rushed into the WTCs on 9-11 to try to rescue people.  Answer--some people care about other people and want to help because life is precious.

Just like that real bitch, this bitch can't understand concepts like volunteer fire department and volunteer rescue service.  "You couldn't PAY me enough to do that."  I'm sure that's true.  Helping your neighbor is stupid and what do you get out of it.  If she's in a burning building, let's consider leaving her there until she figures it out. 'K?

For some fantastical reason, or an extremely dysfunctional childhood, the guy she has demeaned the most takes a liking to her.  She sleeps with him (this is...what, modern?) but apparently has no deep feelings for him.  Then she goes back to her life in NYC where the real real action/life/thinkers are.  When he's hurt, she can't get back to him quick enough.  See?!?!  She's a nice person after all!  Her feelings are deeper than a saucer!  Oh joy!

I do not understand this story and the 1000 others that are just like this.  Didn't we just go through this with the Renee Zellweger movie that was EXACTLY the same except she was from Miami and went to Deep Freeze Minnesota. 

That's all I have to say about this reeking movie.  I will say the Hallmark Channel does a better job of programming away from such shallowness.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Amazon Makes Move In Kiddie Lit

They acquired some 450 titles.  Here's the press release.

Good.  That means they'll market those titles and increase awareness.   Since that's where I started my career and where I've landed again, I'm not displeased.  Other people are commencing with a great wailing and gnashing of teeth, wringing of hands and bemoaning Amazon taking over everything.

All Amazon is doing is making one good business decision after another.  Why shouldn't it be praised and not faulted?  Yet there are people who can't handle this.  Go sniff a paper book, you luddites, maybe it will sustain you.

Schtupid Cupid sold its first copy--at  Yippee!  The free version's been downloaded 70 times at Smashwords.  Has it been live 28 hours?  Maybe NLM will get a fire lit under it again.  I'm not sure how any of this cross-promoting works for the rest of us.  It kills for Konrath.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Schtupid Cupid

It will be done today so technically I'm jumping the gun but it's either mention it now or tomorrow because I'll be working on it for the rest of the day, formatting and all.

This is the first novella I've done.  It was something I started years ago and there was an editor or was it agent who found it tres amusant, but no one wanted it.  I put it aside and aside and aside.  As I've said, I'm giving up adult lit for the time being but there were good moments I didn't want to see lost.  So I decided to just find an ending for it basically where it was.  It did mean that the guy I thought she would be with turned out to not be the guy.  Since it's about Viva and Bel's cousin, it's a "good" loss-leader for Not Low Maintenance and Unspeakably Desirable.
We'll see how long it takes Amazon to match the Smashwords price.

I hope in the new year Amazon makes it easier to upload documents with images.

Lis Miller isn’t looking for a man, a boyfriend, a husband or a companion but her cousin, Viva, the nationally known Mating Maven, can’t resist butting into her private life.  The result?  Duress Dating.  In order to keep peace in the family, Lis is treated to, or is that tormented by, a series of attempted matches each one more hair-raising than the last.  With the Jake, the pilot, Lis’s hair is literally raised as he turns the plane upside down on the way to Block Island and a gourmet meal of fried Mars Bars.

When Viva arranges for Lis to go to California to do the flower arrangements for a friend’s wedding, the flight makes national headlines.  All she wants is some peace and quiet.  And has it until she realizes it’s all a set-up to pair her with the owner of the ranch.

Cupid proves to be more unpredictable than expected because on her way to living a happy life as a singleton, Lis Miller falls in love.  Running true to everything that’s happened in the past weeks, the match is crazy, insane and heart-thumpingly mad.  Just how stupid is Cupid?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Latest Word On Kindle Lending For Indies

"Please know, work published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) isn't currently eligible to be included in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. If this changes in the future, we'll communicate details about the program in the KDP Help pages and in our Community Forum."
They won't send us an email?  Okay.  Whatever.
The reason I wrote to KDP is that I had a stupid, no really it was stupid, review for Dream Horse at Amazon UK.  Dream Horse is a middle reader book.  And this adult bought it and was "cross" she had wasted .88 euros or whatever (99 cents) on a book that was not about adults and did not tell her what to do when she was so foolish to buy a horse and find herself overmounted.  So she left me a 1 star review.  Which according to the comment left by someone else, this person does all the time. 
So there's Charlie, dead in the water, because of this drunk troll.  Then on Dec. 1 Amazon put all the US reviews over on the UK pages as a beta test.  I thought that was great because all my American reviews are from kids shouting "This is the best book ever!!!!"  I want them to keep this practice.
And BN after 11 months can't remove 2 malicious reviews written by kids who didn't even read the book.  Sheesh. 
Amazon and BN need to do better at handling indies.  They both need strong support, which BN doesn't have at all.  We need to be able to publish at $0 without going through Smashwords.  We need some kind of recourse or defense against malicious reviews.  We need some kind of recourse or defense again the websites who may make whimsical and inappropriate judgments regarding content.  The time to publish and make the book live should be no more than 24 hours. 
Everyone has just been so grateful and thrilled to have an option other than the hellhole of tradpub, that we've accepted whatever Amazon and BN offer.  The reality is they weren't ready for how big this became so fast.  They didn't think it through and now they're playing catch up.  They need to be aware they have to do better for us while they make everything so beautifully shiny for their customers. 
Again.  Famous words-- Content is king.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mocking Luddites Wherever I Go

I lose track of time but wasn't it only a couple months ago that tradpub was insisting that ebooks posed no threat to them because it only represented 8% of the market?  It seems today that all blog posts are about the enormous increases in ebook sales and the enormous drop in paper sales (they have to put more of that hmm hmm good book smell in them!)  which some are rightfully seeing as no phase but permanent.

If you like your RenFaire life, you can keep your RenFaire life.

Here's a tidbit from the middle ages.  They really ate with their fingers for the most part, it wasn't until later that forks showed up.  But they only ate with one hand.  The other was used to scratch flea bites.  It was considered dirty to scratch your arse and eat with the same hand, so you have to admire them for figuring that much out even if they thought forks were stupid.  You want to go back to that?  Go back to that.

I wanted to do a book on menstruation  some years ago.  All the women editors in NYC, in their wisdom and wymyniess thought it was yucky.  Perfectly natural female experience which assures the continuation of life on the planet and things called babies but ick!  Still I did research it to some degree and I asked my pal what her mother used in place of sanitary napkins which they did not have in China.  Folded brown paper bags.  That wasn't 200 years ago.  That was in the 20th century and probably very close to the 2nd half of it if not already past the 1950s.

If you like your RenFaire life, please keep your RenFaire life to yourself and remember to recycle all used paper products.  Someone else would like to use that paper.

I have to go finish my novella.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Death of the CD

If you like your tradpub, keep it.  The rest of the world is moving to a digital only format.
Here's another thing I don't understand.  Why do people who seem reasonably intelligent want us to return to an era before modern technology was developed?

But anyway, if you really love those CDs stock up because after next year--morte.

Good luck with your RenFaire existence.
PS--It's not the higher moral ground.
I have a question.

Why is the style of food photography, and not only on the blogs, I've seen it in books, to use antique utensils that look like if you used them, you'd be poisoned?

The photos are always lovely, artfully designed, well lit and the "silverware" is always not stainless or not silver.
It looks like white metal from the 1930's, stained, corroding, peeling and absolutely unsafe for use.  Sorry.  I'm dense.  I don't get it.  Is the point to look like it came from Grandma Sadie's kitchen?  If so, why?  Grandma Sadie used lard in everything.  She wasn't a chef.  She maybe made fluffy biscuits but that's about it.

The mythology of the Amish is that they are such great cooks and so back to the earth.  This is wrong.  Their quilts are made with polyester fabric, they use margarine, food coloring, artificial flavors and everything else we stay away from because they're NOT GOOD FOR YOU.

Who knows what metal they used 50 years ago?  This is nuts.

So how do we find out about Kindle Lending?  I thought they would email us or send up flares.  Something.
At midnight.  Now it's well into morning and not a peep.  Did Jeff change his mind?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

If You Like Your Legacy Publishing

You can keep your legacy publishing.

There was a post by someone yesterday somewhere--if you can find it good/bad for you, it wasn't that pleasant to read--that basically said "Indie writers suck!" AND AND AND "I am so much better than they are because I am a literary writer, an artist and I appeal to the elites of the world, not the stupid semi-literate peasants."

It's funny how Charles Dickens wrote for the masses and now he's considered one of the greats.  Ditto Shakespeare.  And double ditto Chaucer who actually WROTE in English when the language of the court in England was French.  He wasn't writing for his royal pals, he was writing for the "underclass".

Here's another funny observation.  The more people talk about classlessness, the more you know they believe they are in the elite upper class.  Not to put too fine a point on it--the insufferable elite upper class.

Did you see where in Communist China the off-spring of the ruling class live like royalty driving around in Mercedes wearing tailored suits and going to the best restaurants?  I thought the point of China was that EVERYONE rode a bicycle and ate maggoty rice.


I am such a prole.  All I can think about...well is about my car getting fixed, but also that tomorrow Kindle Lending opens to indies.

When Bad Apple went free on BN, the sales of BA 2 and 3 (Burning Daylight & Rise) increased even though I upped the price of them.  So yeah, I'm very interested in making BA 1 free on Amazon.  Although my YA sales at Amazon are not anything to brag about.  Different sort of readers at Amazon and BN.  Different.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Speed--It's What's For Dinner

Not that kind of speed.

When you're thinking about something it seems to find you.  I do think about writing fast, or too fast, quite a bit.  I was much faster when I started out than now.  In order to write for television, you have to be fast so I fit right in.  Television is an arena where you don't question if something really works, if it comes to you, it's good enough.

Then I had a long stretch where speed didn't matter, asked a lot of questions and massaged everything.  Now I thought I was someplace in the middle of the two but yesterday a former sitcom writer told me how really fast I write.  I'm not.  He must be REALLY SLOW  ;-) .  There was a blog post somewhere about writing 10,000 words a day and how to achieve that.  Wow.  I'm encased in concrete compared to that.

I like to play computer games to think about nothing.  I'm sure that's one reason why I don't do particularly well but then I found out the big scoring gamers do lines of coke before playing.  This is nuts.  So I just felt like well I'm not doing drugs to score an extra 50 points in Crescendo Catcher.

How your mind organizes information may have a lot to do with this speed issue.  It's all about your brain, isn't it?  I have a friend who is always telling me to write X or Y and I say "I don't have those ideas, where am I going to get them?"  Because he's not a writer, he doesn't understand you are limited by the way your mind works.  You're limited (Sorry!  This may not be a popular thing to say but it's the truth) by your life experiences, your philosophies, your background, your upbringing.  I could not write a police procedural well for $50,000.  If the money dangled in front of me kept going up, obviously at some point I would give it my best shot.  But it wouldn't be as good as someone who really thinks in that way.  It would be mechanical for me, not organic.  It would show.

Why are we writing so fast?  Is it because it's so easy to be published now?  Is it to make money?  Is it excitement?  Because we have so much to say it's like a mental dam burst?  It's nice that there are so many readers, isn't it?  Everyone kept saying no one would write letters anymore and then email showed up.  Then it was people don't read and ebooks show up and people have 500 books on their To Be Read list.

If speed's for dinner, what's for dessert?

Kobo Touch e-Reader $70 at until 11/29

My latest experiment with lighting effects in Photoshop.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ice Cream Parlor

Since I forgot to publish it on BN, I rectified that today and I'm not looking forward to doing that again anytime soon.  There were a myriad of computer/programming type problems that stumped me and they weren't easily solved.  My last resort was downloading Sigil which I struggled with the first times I tried it and I still don't have a clue but it did what I needed.  I know I lost all my page breaks.

I also had to remake the cover since it was lost when all my pictures were wiped out a while back.  Most of the psd (Photoshop) files weren't recoverable, so that was one of them.  I simplified it and even still it took much longer than I wanted to invest.

At some point I may redo it but heck, I'm busy! 

I had a good day yesterday at BN.  I honestly can't tell what each day's sales are at Amazon since they're cumulative.

I saw where Amazon UK pulled some bestselling book without notifying the author and they lost thousands of dollars in sales.  That's a very unfortunate story but as long as indie publishers have no recourse at all against the Kronos of Amazon, we'll keep hearing about these incidents.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Light Beams and Other Thoughts

Currently making the round on the internet is a "sad" picture of a dog standing by his master's grave.  The dog is in an incredibly heavenly beam of light and we're assured it isn't Photoshopped.

Some people really like these sentimental, heart-touching images.  The story is plenty sad for me and I won't go into the details and I won't show the image.  But the photo looks fake to me.  In that it's not a beam from heaven it's either a crap camera doing what it does best--making a hash of things--or someone helped it with Photoshop and did a crap job.  Why do I say this?  Because if I tried to reproduce mist or a beam it would be less substantive.  This is pretty dark/heavy handed.  The beam is so thick the dog is almost obscured.   Have I ever seen a beam of light from heaven, well, no, can't say that I have.  So maybe this is real.

Remember a couple months ago there was a picture of a dog laying by his master's casket at the funeral?  The family insists that the way the image was reported was completely incorrect.  I'm not saying dogs have been known to not leave their human's side, I'm just saying in these 2 instances I'm a skeptic.  OTOH, I think dogs are a blessing from G-d even if Caprice is sitting here expecting me to do something for her and I have no idea what.  Criminey, if it was Lassie, she'd tell me!  I suspect G-d works in more mysterious ways than this.

After what seems like forever The Ice Cream Parlor got a review on Amazon.  And apparently I forgot to publish it on BN.  How did that happen?

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars a nocalorie delight, November 5, 2011
This review is from: The Ice Cream Parlor (Kindle Edition)
this is a delicious is a well written history of ice cream.what surprises me is that i am the first reviewer.i love ice cream and i love this book.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Flash of Light

Is live on BN and a copy already sold so thank you whoever you are.  I just uploaded it to Amazon so who knows how long that will take.

I wanted an eye-catching light effect and there are a number of things you can do in Photoshop to get you there.
This time I chose 3D.  I'm not sure when that became available but it's in CS4.  My somewhat older computer has just enough power to manage 3D which I'm told puts a lot of demand on the system/video card. 

While this looks complicated it's really pretty straight forward and simple to achieve.  You create the text then go into 3D mode, create the ghost effect and then pull it forward thereby expanding it.  You can make it any color you want with hue/saturation and you're done.  I used a Photoshop filter to create the lens flare because, after all, Kip is a photographer.  Again very simple.  I don't think it takes more than 10 or 15 minutes.

I'm looking forward to Kindle Lending opening up to indies in 5 days and learning what the specifics are.  I suspect as long as you can get out of it, I will give it a whirl

I "watched" the movie Country Strong this morning because of a free premium channels weekend.  When you're rooting for the main character to die, something is really wrong.  So what was Kelly's problem?  I don't know.  She was kind of a horrible person.  If everyone else is okay with adultery, I'm actually not, so her sleeping with her husband and boyfriend at the same time seems kind of emotionally sleazy to me.  I think instead of the spa she went to for rehab, she should have gone to the ranch that Gabe Milne went to in Flash.  Anyway I see so few movies, I didn't know who any of the actors were except Mrs Coldplay.  All the men seemed to have beards which made it hard for me to tell them apart.  They were all quite furry.  Is that the same Tim McGraw as is married to Faith Hill or some other Tim McGraw?  That was very confusing and I spent a lot of time pondering that instead of trying to unravel the stupid plot.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wow Amazon DE

I don't make it a point to check the books very often here or any other country so I was quite surprised to see this for Mr Mitnick's Harem

Fremdsprachige translates to foreign language according to the google translator.  So maybe it's possible to sell in Germany without being in German.  I'm sure it would help but I'm not convinced $3000 worth which was what the translator woman quoted me.

Mr Mitnick's Harem is a book that hasn't found its audience yet which is disappointing but probably predictable.  It's not like other mysteries.  A lot of lip service is paid to nonconformity but when it comes right down to it, people want the same thing but different.  They don't want different.  Some people do but most people find their comfort zone with everyone else.  I didn't think this was that off-genre but apparently it is.

I included a number of illustrations in it.  Why?  Because I like to.  Didn't books used to be illustrated?  Not just children's books?  I don't know.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving The Audience What They Want

This would seem to be a no-brainer.  It's perhaps not as simple in practice as it seems.  Some people can tap into what people want and others don't quite hit the mark.  Don't read further if you think I'm going to give you the solution but I can say a couple things.

Know your audience and be true to them.  How do you know your audience?  Decide who your audience is.  Is the audience people like you?  That's fine.  Figure it out and then don't annoy them.

Longtime readers of this blog know I worked on the soap opera One Life To Live.  I had been a fan of the show for years (with some interruptions)  and knew it inside out.  I think my favorite soap of all times  was probably Days of Our Lives.  What I really liked was the normalcy and goodness of the core characters Tom and Alice Horton.  I liked how they celebrated the holidays.  Today, Thanksgiving, there would be a big family feast.  Iconic family.  Tomorrow, the women would go shopping and come home to have turkey sandwiches.  Not the stuff of drama but the stuff of life.  Every year, same thing.  I loved it.  Since the show is still running, I was not in the minority.

Yesterday on One Life To Live Bo and what's her name... Nora (gee, I should remember since she's played by Hilary Bailey and I gave Hilary her first major role in TV on The Doctors when I was the headwriter there) spent all day with their comatose son.  It was a semi- voice over narration with Matthew commenting on the various characters throughout the hour and the show ended something like "Everyone had a memorable day.  I did, too.  It was the day I died."  Close-up of heart machine flatlined, cut to horrified parents.

Way to go OLTL!  You just violated every rule in daytime.  This is the reason you were cancelled.  Good.  Killing a child on a holiday.  Is that supposed to be edgy?   Thank you for that.  The show has about 5 weeks left and you spoil it.  Good going. 

People watch Law & Order: SVU to see children raped, maimed and murdered.  You don't do that on a soap.  Or let me say you can, but few people are going to praise you for those kind of choices.  If you'd like to argue that point with me just let me point out when I took over The Doctors it was the lowest rate soap.  Even then I had 4,000,000 viewers a day.  This year OLTL 2,500,000.  There may be a lot of reasons why viewership is down over the years, and I'm going to say crappy writing by arrogant writers who don't know and respect their audience is right there at the top.

Be sincere.  Write from your heart.  Respect yourself, your characters and your audience.  Do the best work you're capable of.  Strive to do better.  You may not be more successful but you will be a better person.  One last thought--Be grateful and give back to the life that gave you so much.

Happy Thanksgiving.