2017- The year of Writing Dangerously.

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2017- The year of Writing Dangerously.  I took the jump and decided to go all in as an indie author.  It takes huge amounts of promotion and dedication to go down this road, and I put this decision off for years … Continue reading

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Making a Cover Blues

Making a Cover Blues

I’ve spoken about the trials and tribulations of an author making their own book covers before, and now I’m back again.

There are good reasons that it’s smart to hire a professional. Book cover designers know about what the current trends in a specific genre are and they know the psychology behind what draws people to books. Professionals know their typography and how to make those words shine.

I don’t know any of that. What I do know is that I cannot afford a professional cover at this stage in the game. Hell, I still have to use free pictures or use my own.

I have an upcoming book that needs a cover. It’s suspense with a touch of speculative fiction thrown in, about a guy in the here and now that has fallen afoul of an old legend. The book, Nick of Time, was my NaNoWriMo project last year. I did a mock up cover for NaNo, and I was fairly pleased with it.

Nickkindlecover1a

Pretty, but just not good enough.

No one liked it but me. The most common comment was that it didn’t reflect the genre, and looked too literary. They are right. I might think it’s pretty, but it isn’t what’s needed. Folks suggested I look at some covers for the bestsellers in suspense. I did, and that confused me further. Those covers are all over the place style and design-wise with no clear markers for what makes a good suspense cover.

Nevertheless, I tried a couple more covers and the truth is that I like them both better than my original one, but now I can’t decide which one is best, or if either is good enough.

Image1NofTnewcover2     NoTnewcoverroof

I’d love to have some opinions. Let me know in the comments if either strikes your fancy, or it you think neither of them rocks.

 

Teatimepromo1

My Kindle Scout campaign for Teatime of the Living Dead is live!

What is it?

Kindle Scout is an awesome program where people nominate books they would like to see published. Nominations won’t guarantee success, the editors have final say in who gets published by Kindle Press and who doesn’t. However, nominations can help get their attention.

What can you do?

Head to my campaign page here, and nominate Teatime of the Living Dead. Make sure you check out the excerpt for a sneak peek of the book! Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate. Each person gets three nominations at a time, but you can only nominate each book once. If you want to help further, share this post to help spread the word!

What’s in it for you?

Anytime you nominate a book on Kindle Scout, and it gets selected for publication, you get a free advance copy of the book. I’ve gotten 19 so far! Because the books are vetted and edited by Kindle Press, you can expect a certain level of quality. All of the books I’ve read so far have been worth reading, and some have been amazingly good.

A little about Teatime:

Andrew Hamilton believes in friendship, good theatre, and that Twizzlers are an underrated member of the candy family. He does not believe in magic. His current play is going great, until the actors playing the zombie horde turn homicidal. Zombie madness spreads through the city and the creepers have one thing in common: they all want to kill Andrew. Magic not only exists, it has rules and deadlines. If he can keep ahead of his stumbling and drooling fan club until teatime, he might survive.
They’re coming for you, Andrew.

Posted in Book Covers, Ebooks, Kindle Scout, Self Publishing, writing | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Other People Shouldn’t Suffer for Your Art

It’s clear to all artists that to make your art, you have to be willing to make some sacrifices. No artist makes enough money to make a living right off the bat, and most artists never make enough money to quit their day job. It’s nice to dream about making a living as an artist, but these days it’s a long shot. Even if you get there and can finally quit your day job, it takes time to get there.

Actor’s find whatever work they can between acting gigs. It’s so normal that we talk about actor’s waiting tables like it’s a joke. Moms and Dads wait until dinner is over and the kids are asleep to spend what time they can on their writing. Painters go without food so they can buy paints. Everyone gives up a certain amount of free time, luxuries,  and social activities so that they can create. It’s expected.

When an artist believes that they are somehow owed the time and space to create–you know, because they’re all fancy and shit–that is when the trouble starts.

The phrase is “starving artist,” it’s not “starving artist’s family.”

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This duck is young and doesn’t have a family, so if he wants to starve for his art that’s nobody’s business but his own.

Enter Bob. (Stunt name of course.) Bob had a nice writing gig that paid the bills, but he lost his job a few years ago. He has looked for another job, but he has issues, and troubles, and a sore left toe, and there are just so many lame reasons he can’t get work. Besides, he can’t find another writing job and non-writing jobs are beneath him. He’s an artist, you know, so he shouldn’t have to work some other sort of job. He should be free to create, and his family and friends should respect that. They should support him in his decision.

Support is a fine thing. We all should have supportive people in our lives. However, the minute we expect that support to go from moral to financial, we are being a douche. If we choose to suffer for our art that’s fine, but if we expect others to suffer for it, that makes us a selfish dick.

I feel sorry for Bob’s wife. Her husband has decided for her that she should support him so he doesn’t have to get some crappy non-artistic job. The trouble is that Bob’s wife doesn’t make enough money to support them. Bob’s been off work for a couple of years now, they’ve lost all their savings and Bob has even cashed out his retirement plan. They are running on fumes and the fumes themselves are almost exhausted.

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If your dream is to swim this river, then train, and work, and do it.  Don’t expect other people to leap in the water and tow you across.

Bob is very angry at his wife’s family. They call her often, encouraging her to leave Bob. Bob won’t work and he and his wife are out of money. Her family’s phone calls leave her crying, and Bob blames both her and her family. He thinks his wife’s family should do more to support him. He seems to think they should hand him money instead of telling him to get a job. He thinks his wife should tell them to bugger off and stop making his wife cry.

Bob has no idea that she’s crying because of him. She’s crying because he has put her in an impossible situation, and isn’t doing a thing to help her.

My opinion is that Bob’s wife should leave him. She should move in with her caring and supportive family and let Bob wallow in his pride and laziness. Because his wife’s family is being supportive, they’re just supporting their daughter, and that’s the way it should be. Bob himself has pretty much resigned from the family with his selfish attitude. He doesn’t want to be a partner, he wants someone to take care of him so he can wallow in his art. That’s not his wife’s job, and it certainly is not her family’s job.

Bob should swallow his pride and go out and get any damn job he can. Instead of whining about the money running out and refusing to admit it’s his fault, he should stop looking for jobs that don’t exist and get a job anywhere. Amazon is always looking for people, as are all the other warehouses.

riverbelle5

He could go work on a riverboat.  I’ve mostly been a costumer, but I’ve worked all kinds of jobs between gigs.  Not a riverboat, at least, not yet.

The real problem is not Bob’s wife or her family. The real problem is Bob. He’s using the fact that there are no jobs in his field as an excuse not to work anywhere. And he types away on his books as his life falls down around him, and then blames everyone else for not being supportive of his art.

Bob should try being supportive of his wife for a change.

Bob’s story is not the first I’ve found of this nature. I have little sympathy for people like Bob. They seem to think all the people who read their tale of woe will rally around them and bad-mouth all those non-supportive people in their lives, and they get confused when other artists tell them to get a job. Most of them have jobs outside their art, after all.

Now, I also know families who have decided together that they will make sacrifices so the artist in the family has time for their art. That is perfectly awesome. If the family can make it work, then the artist is very lucky to be able to do that. I know a woman whose husband makes a good enough living that she can stay home and create, as long as they don’t get too lavish with their lifestyle. My fiancé and I moved into my parent’s house. I’m my mother’s caretaker, I take care of the house and the meals and the shopping, and my sweetie works. I know that this situation may not last forever, but it’s working for now. When I need to, I will totally go get a job at Amazon or the nearest whopperburger if that’s what I need to do.

Families and spouses may chose to make a certain level of sacrifice in order to support a loved one’s dream, but the minute that an artist feels entitled to that, regardless of the feelings of their family or the ability to pay the rent, then the artist is a selfish douche. If the family cannot get by at a reasonable level of comfort without the artist working, then the artist needs to work. Just because one is creative, one is not entitled to a living.

Starve for your art if you must, but don’t expect others to starve with you. That’s no way to treat your loved ones.

Teatimepromo1

My Kindle Scout campaign for Teatime of the Living Dead is live!

What is it?

Kindle Scout is an awesome program where people nominate books they would like to see published. Nominations won’t guarantee success, the editors have final say in who gets published by Kindle Press and who doesn’t. However, nominations can help get their attention.

What can you do?

Head to my campaign page here, and nominate Teatime of the Living Dead. Make sure you check out the excerpt for a sneak peek of the book! Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate. Each person gets three nominations at a time, but you can only nominate each book once. If you want to help further, share this post to help spread the word!

What’s in it for you?

Anytime you nominate a book on Kindle Scout, and it gets selected for publication, you get a free advance copy of the book. I’ve gotten 19 so far! Because the books are vetted and edited by Kindle Press, you can expect a certain level of quality. All of the books I’ve read so far have been worth reading, and some have been amazingly good.

A little about Teatime:

Andrew Hamilton believes in friendship, good theatre, and that Twizzlers are an underrated member of the candy family. He does not believe in magic. His current play is going great, until the actors playing the zombie horde turn homicidal. Zombie madness spreads through the city and the creepers have one thing in common: they all want to kill Andrew. Magic not only exists, it has rules and deadlines. If he can keep ahead of his stumbling and drooling fan club until teatime, he might survive.
They’re coming for you, Andrew.

Posted in Kindle Scout, writing | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Motivation is a Cop Out

“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”
– Thomas Jefferson

I’ve written about this before and I’ll no doubt write about it again. It’s a subject that is near and dear to my heart, as well as one that I think many people need to rethink. I hear the same thing everywhere. I hear it from writers, folks looking to lose weight, athletes, artists, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers.

“How can I stay motivated?”

“I just can’t seem to stay motivated, I haven’t done anything in weeks.”

“I’ve tried everything and I can’t stay motivated.”

Why? Because motivation is crap.

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If I waited to cook dinner until I was motivated, I’d eat this every night.

The pure truth is no one is going to be able to stay motivated all the time. How could you? You can take hours out of the day to read thousands of affirmations and you still won’t be motivated every day. Don’t get me wrong, motivation feels awesome when you have it, but the idea that you can’t work without it ridiculous. It’s as if we are all motivation junkies and instead of buckling down and doing the work, we’re wasting time waiting around for our next fix.

We get sick. We have to work overtime. We take care of our homes, family, pets, gardens, and everything else under the sun. We get mentally weary or emotionally overset, and it is so much easier to wait for motivation.

It’s the opposite of what we should be doing. Certainly there are going to be brutally busy or difficult days when we simply cannot find time to work on our dreams, but what about those days when you had the time but didn’t feel motivated so you did nothing?

If motivation doesn’t work, or at least doesn’t work consistently, what does work?

Build Good Habits.

Bob wants to get more fit, for example, so he decides he’s going to exercise every day. Nothing crazy, just a good walk after work. He starts out as we all do, with oodles of motivation and wonders why he didn’t do this sooner. A few days go by, he has a tough time at work, and he loses steam and quits walking.

Bad boy, Bob. A few days aren’t enough to build good habits. If Bob had stuck it out for a couple weeks, he’d find he has become so used to that after work walk he misses it if he can’t take it for some reason.

Want to get stuff done? Make a habit out of it. Do it every single day, whether you want to or not. After some time has passed, you’ll find that it is easier and easier to accomplish. Certainly there will be the odd day when you cannot do it, but the habit will make it easier to get back to.

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It doesn’t take much time of effort to cook something like this, you just have to do it.

Find a Time That Works for You.

Let’s say Bob works at a warehouse and he discovers he is simply too tired after work to take that walk. It’s impossible, so he gives up altogether.

Don’t give up, Bob! The problem here is the timing. After work isn’t working, but if Bob got up a half hour earlier, he could do it before work. He could also take a walk during his lunch break, or decide to take extra long walks on the weekends. Find the time of day that works best for you.

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I wouldn’t plan this for a busy work week, for example.

Set Short-Term Goals.

Let’s say Bob is walking because he wants to lose weight and has sixty pounds to lose. He builds a great walking habit before work, and at the end of a month he’s lost five pounds. He’s been trying his best to keep his eyes on the prize of sixty pounds gone, and is so disappointed he’s still got 55 to go, he stops walking, gains ten pounds, and is worse off than where he started.

Bob sounds silly, but people do this sort of thing all the time. They are so focused on long term goals that they don’t enjoy the journey itself. Instead of worrying about how far I have to go if I want to write a 100k word book, I could concentrate on a daily goal of a smaller amount of words. I could write no more than 1,000 words a day and write three of those 100k books a year. But only if I stick to it.

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My short term goal might be to have delicious smoked ribs for dinner.

Be Stubborn.

Say Bob is a stubborn fellow. If he sets his mind to taking that daily walk no matter what, then he’s going to do it every day he possibly can.

Forget motivation, get good and stubborn. Set those short term goals and stubbornly bull your way through them. Maybe it won’t be as easy as those times when you are at the height of motivation and the goals are easily achieved, but I’ll trust stubbornness over motivation every time.

Build a habit, find a time of day that’s right for you, set some short term goals, and get stubborn about achieving those goals. It’s your dream. If you don’t buckle down and do the work, it’s never going to happen. Just do it.

Teatimepromo1

My Kindle Scout campaign for Teatime of the Living Dead is live!

What is it?

Kindle Scout is an awesome program where people nominate books they would like to see published. Nominations won’t guarantee success; the editors have final say in who gets published by Kindle Press and who doesn’t. However, nominations can help get their attention.

What can you do?

Head to my campaign page here, and nominate Teatime of the Living Dead. Make sure you check out the excerpt for a sneak peek of the book! Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate. Each person gets three nominations at a time, but you can only nominate each book once. If you want to help further, share this post to help spread the word!

What’s in it for you?

Anytime you nominate a book on Kindle Scout, and it gets selected for publication, you get a free advance copy of the book. I’ve gotten 19 so far! Because the books are vetted and edited by Kindle Press, you can expect a certain level of quality. All of the books I’ve read so far have been worth reading, and some have been amazingly good.

A little about Teatime:

Andrew Hamilton believes in friendship, good theatre, and that Twizzlers are an underrated member of the candy family. He does not believe in magic. His current play is going great, until the actors playing the zombie horde turn homicidal. Zombie madness spreads through the city and the creepers have one thing in common: they all want to kill Andrew. Magic not only exists, it has rules and deadlines. If he can keep ahead of his stumbling and drooling fan club until teatime, he might survive.
They’re coming for you, Andrew.

Posted in Kindle Scout, writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

It’s Alive!

My Kindle Scout campaign for Teatime of the Living Dead is live!

teatimecover2_23_17newtext

What is it?

Kindle Scout is an awesome program where people nominate books they would like to see published. Nominations won’t guarantee success, the editors have final say in who gets published by Kindle Press and who doesn’t. However, nominations can help get their attention.

What can you do?

Head to my campaign page here, and nominate Teatime of the Living Dead. Make sure you check out the excerpt for a sneak peek of the book! Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate. Each person gets three nominations at a time, but you can only nominate each book once. If you want to help further, share this post to help spread the word!

What’s in it for you?

Anytime you nominate a book on Kindle Scout, and it gets selected for publication, you get a free advance copy of the book. I’ve gotten 19 so far! Because the books are vetted and edited by Kindle Press, you can expect a certain level of quality. All of the books I’ve read so far have been worth reading, and some have been amazingly good.

Teatimepromo3

A little about Teatime:

Andrew Hamilton believes in friendship, good theatre, and that Twizzlers are an underrated member of the candy family. He does not believe in magic. His current play is going great, until the actors playing the zombie horde turn homicidal. Zombie madness spreads through the city and the creepers have one thing in common: they all want to kill Andrew. Magic not only exists, it has rules and deadlines. If he can keep ahead of his stumbling and drooling fan club until teatime, he might survive.
They’re coming for you, Andrew.

I think of Teatime as a Horror/farce, though Paranormal Suspense is also a good description.  The tale focuses on Andrew and his journey.  While there is a little gore, that is not the focus of the book.  There’s quite a bit of light humor throughout, which is my standard writing voice.

Teatimepromo1

Posted in Ebooks, Kindle, Kindle Scout, reading, Teatime of the Living Dead, writing, Writing News- Plots and Plans | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Wyrd House News

My paranormal mystery, Wyrd House, was not selected for publication by Kindle Press.  Not to worry, I have Teatime all ready for it’s Scout Run, and I have good feelings about it.

Wyrd House has already been formatted for paperback, I just need to format for Kindle and then I will be ready to publish it.  For those of you who nominated it, you should get an email when it’s available for purchase.  Thank you all for your support.  Selected or not, it means the world to me!

Now, Teatime of the Living Dead is going to give them something to think about. 🙂

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Posted in Kindle Scout, writing, Wyrd House | Leave a comment

Two words…or not two words? That is the question.

I’m in the middle of formatting a book for my mom so she can print it on CreateSpace. It’s her second book and she’s very excited about it. I’m not proofreading it (because I suck at proofing) but inevitably when you look at something long enough, you find a few things that need adjusting. Even when you aren’t looking for them.

One of the errors  I think is particularly difficult for a writer to catch in their own work is when you have two words and it should really be one. Heart broken, in tact, and the like, are sneaky errors that someone too close to the story will read right over because they know what’s intended. It’s one of the dangers of using yourself as your primary proofreader.

The grammar checker in Word or Grammarly will usually catch these errors, if you keep your eyes open. However, make sure you study each instance, because no grammar checker will be correct in every situation.

Then there are little ninja words in the English language whose only mission is to trick you into using the wrong one.

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Pictured: lurking ninjas.

Everyday vs Every Day

“I wear my everyday jeans during the workweek and my fancy ones on the weekend.”
“I wear jeans every day.”

Don’t be fooled by this one. ‘Everyday’ is an adjective, so it goes before a noun, but something you do on a daily basis is working as an adverb so it’s ‘every day.’

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This is not my friend Elizabeth’s everyday look.

Everyone vs Every One

“Everyone hates rabid wombats.”
“Every one must decide if they hate rabid wombats.”

‘Everyone’ means everybody, or all the people in a group. ‘Every one’ emphasizes each individual in a group. In our first example we are assuming all the peoples of the world hate our little water-phobic critters. In the second, we acknowledge that each individual must decide for themselves if rabid wombats are to be hated.

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Everyone loves Mickey. Look at that face!

Awhile vs A While

“Go walk awhile.”
“I’m going to walk for a while.”

Tricky little bugger. ‘Awhile’ is an adverb, and you could replace it with another adverb. “Go walk energetically.” ‘A while’ denotes a period of time. Yeah, I know, they both are periods of time, but you use the two-word version when it’s working as a noun. Big clue, if you are using a preposition (for, after, in, etc.) then ‘a while’ is two words.

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I haven’t seen a lake loon in a while.

In writing news, I’m ironing out the last little bits of Teatime’s Kindle Scout campaign before I start it up. I’m excited about this one. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. Still no news on Wyrd House’s KS campaign. Fingers crossed!

I heard that Amazon has hired more folks for the KS program, so it’s good to know they are expanding and moving forward with the program. If you haven’t checked it out, you should. I’ve gotten something like six free books so far from nominating KS books that were selected for publication. A couple of them were awesome reads. Free books! And they are free books that have been selected by publisher and gone through a round of professional editing, so you can expect a certain level of quality from them.

As I mentioned in my last post, my newsletter is live and ready for you to sign up. Just click on the shiny button towards the top right of this blog. You get a free book of my short stories for subscribing. In the newsletter you will find writing news, a free short story, and a book rec. Subscribe now! Everyone’s doing it! It’s been live for a while. Every one of you should check it out! 🙂

Posted in Grammar, Kindle Scout, Newsletter, writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

My New Newsletter is Live

My newsletter is live and you get a free eBook of short stories for signing up.

OMG! I’ve set up my author newsletter, and it ate my brain!

All the things I read about the process made it seem easy easy. Get an emailer like Mailerlite. Combine that with InstaFreebie, and it will be a piece of cake to get some folks signed up to your newsletter. I even have a nice Gmail set up to use to communicate with folks reading my newsletter.

Then I tried to set it up, and my brain hurt.

argh

Have you seen my brain?

Now, for a 50-something gal who spent most of her life in the theatre, I’m fairly tech savvy. The rare times I’ve gotten a virus on my computer, I’ve fixed it myself. I’ve even swapped out a hard drive on my computer before. I’ve taught myself to use programs over the years like Paint Shop Pro and Frontpage. Over the years, I’ve learned tons from Brian, who is a computer whiz.

So, I’m fairly techy, especially for a woman my age.

Then I run into something like setting up my Mailerlite, and I feel like a noob again. I have a website through WordPress and I have a Gmail, but Mailerlite wants an email from my domain. Poopyheads!

I end up having to upgrade my WordPress blog, which is fine. I probably needed to upgrade it at this point anyway. It’s been a free account for years, but it will be much easier to point people towards JulianneQJohnson.com than it was for Julianneqjohnson.wordpress.com. I simply wasn’t counting on that bill today, but it’s only 18 bucks, so why am I even complaining?

Next step was to go over to Zoho where I could set up an email attached to my domain. That involved some changing of the webpage’s DNS. I managed it, though I still don’t really even understand what DNS is. I guess I don’t need to understand it. the Zoho is free for a little user like me, so that is super cool.

My Bike

The best things in life are free, after all.  Okay, so my cute bike was not free, but all the awesome rides I’ve taken are.

Then I have to verify everything with Mailerlite, which was fairly easy. Then I waited for my account to be reviewed and cleared for takeoff.

All in all, I ended up with not one, but 2 new emails, an updated fancy blog address with my own domain name, a Mailerlite account, and a slight headache. But I did it!

The fun part of my day was writing the content for my introduction email. It has some upcoming events, a book rec, and a freebie short story. It is now live, and has Magic and Mayhem, a free eBook with 5 short stories as an incentive for signing up for the newsletter.

The KS campaign for my novel Wyrd House is now over. I’m waiting, waiting, waiting to hear if it got selected, as well as preparing for launch if it has not.

To join my fancy new newsletter and get your free copy of Magic and Mayhem: Click Here!

You should get a confirmation email, and then Newsletter #1 with links to download Magic and Mayhem and a free short story.  If anyone has any trouble signing up or getting their content, let me know.  I signed up myself and did a test run, so I hope everything is working properly.

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Teatime of the Living Dead- Cover Process

As I’ve mentioned before, this early in my self-publishing journey, I’m creating my own covers for my books. To be clear, it’s not usually a good idea to make your own covers. Cover designers have design experience that can’t be faked and a good looking cover sells books. However, for folks just starting out, this simply might not be an option.

That said, with every cover I create, I’m getting better. For an amateur, I’m doing all right. I do have some background in art and some basic experience manipulating images digitally. I’m also taking serious advantage of free fonts and online programs which offer filters to manipulate photographs.

For Teatime of the Living Dead, the next book I’m going to publish, I started by taking a photograph of a little scene I set up myself, complete with a broken plate and homemade stage blood.

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It ended up looking too fussy for me. And the cover itself looked both a little too amateurish and a little too cozy mystery. I consider Teatime a farce. It’s not a comedy, but there is a hint of madcap lightheartedness to the book, and I really needed the cover to reflect that. I needed an image with a little playfulness. The first image was painstakingly set up, photographed, sent through some filters and digitally hand painted.

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I scrapped it completely.

For my second–and more successful– attempt, this is the picture I took. My hand holding a teacup. Easy Peasy. Doesn’t look like much, but huzzah for the magic of filters!

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My second cover is so much more what I wanted. Less fussy, more playful. It has an old horror movie poster vibe around it that I adore.   The filtered pic of my hand is layered over a manipulated bit of free clip art. A horizon filter darkens the top and bottom, then I added the text. So here it is– the new cover for Teatime!

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I love this cover!

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It’s not too late to nominate my book, Wyrd House at Kindle Scout. My campaign ends March 3rd, and I could use a little help. All you need is an Amazon account and a spare minute. If you nominate a book on Kindle Scout, and it gets selected, you get a free advance copy of the eBook. It’s a great way to pick up free reads. You will find my campaign here.

Posted in Book Covers, Kindle, Kindle Scout, Self Publishing, writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Writing Plots and Plans

I am busy as a bee! Wyrd House’s Kindle Scout campaign is nearing its end, and I have tons to do. Here’s what I’ve been working on:

-Did a re-write to fix typos on Descending, made it a shiny new cover (cause the old one wasn’t good enough) and uploaded new version to Kindle and Amazon. If you have purchased an eBook, make sure you update it.

-Did a minor rewrite of Wyrd House, due to friend’s awesome proofreading. I still need to format it for paperback and Kindle. I must be ready to roll if it is not picked up by Kindle Publishing.

-Redid the cover for Teatime. Teatime is fast approaching its own Kindle Scout campaign, and I was not happy with my previous cover attempt. New cover is much improved.

teatimecover2_23_17newtext

So much better!

-Did a re-read and first re-write of my current work in progress, Nick of Time. Now I need to finish it. It’s so close to done!

-Starting to prepare to make a newsletter. I still need to get a PO Box, but I’m getting my ducks in a row. Today, I put together an eBook of short stories to offer as a freebie to everyone who signs up for the future newsletter. From everything I’ve heard, Instafreebie is the way to go, and the most success comes from having a book or story to offer for free. Magic and Mayhem is a collection of five short stories, and clocks in at just over 10k words. I think that will be perfect for a free offering. It has the short story that inspired the novel, Descending, and a short story that will end up being a prologue for my upcoming book, Ghost in the Park. Made a quick cover, figured out how to format so I’d get a table of contents, and Magic and Mayhem is ready to go when the time comes.

kindlecovermagicandmayhem

Short story book!

-Plans for now:
Finish Nick in Time.
Get newsletter going and do an Instafreebie thingy to get my mailing list going.
Get Teatime completely ready for its KS campaign.
Do a re-write on Ghost in the Park.

So much to do!

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Don’t forget to nominate Wyrd House on Kindle Scout! Click the picture above to go to the webpage for Wyrd House.

What it means:
Kindle Scout is an Amazon program where anyone can enter a novel and have a chance to get it published by Kindle Press. A successful campaign helps get the Kindle Press editor’s attention, but doesn’t guarantee selection; they have to like the book for it to get published.

Why Kindle Scout is cool for readers:
Any book you nominate that gets selected by Kindle Press for publication gets you a free advance copy. I’ve gotten around ten free books so far just from nominating. And the books selected have been vetted by the KP editors, so you can count on a certain level of professional writing from the books you win. If you love a nominee that is not selected, KS will alert you when the author publishes it.

What you can do:
If you have an Amazon account, head over to Kindle Scout and nominate Wyrd House! The link is here. If it gets selected, you get a free copy and a chance to read before anyone else. Help me get this campaign going and get the editor’s attention. My campaign ends February 3rd.

How you can help:
Spread the word! If you can, reblog this post, or share my campaign on social media. The more eyes I get on it, the better off Wyrd House will be.

Posted in Book Covers, Kindle Scout, writing, Writing News- Plots and Plans | Tagged | 2 Comments

Grammarly- Help or Hindrance?

Grammarly is a grammar checking program for writers. There are several forms of the program, but today I’m here to talk about the plug-in for Microsoft Office. This plug-in also works for Microsoft Word, you don’t have to actually own Office to use it.

If you want to check this plug-in out, you can find it here.

I tried a version of Grammarly many years ago and was not impressed with it. At that time, it cost money, and what the program did was not especially useful. It would point out many things that were not issues, and ignore actual issues.

While there are still paid versions of Grammarly that do additional things, the plug-in for Word is free.

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Grammarly is kind of like this giant chair.  Most of the suggestions won’t be useful, but the part that is useful will really support your writing.

What it does:

The free version of Grammarly catches what it calls “critical grammar mistakes.” It catches possible punctuation errors, misspelled or wrong words, and various grammar mistakes. It will catch wordy sentences and things like incorrect pronouns. It will point each one out and give you an opportunity to take the advice given or ignore it.

What it does not do:

The paid version catches further grammar mistakes, makes vocabulary suggestions, makes genre specific checks, and searches other WebPages for plagiarism issues.

My experience with Grammarly:

I tried Grammarly again yesterday on two projects that are finished, been beta read, and had multiple re-writes. The program has been greatly improved from what it was the first time I tried it. It catches those pesky punctuation mistakes I simply do not see no matter how many times I re-read. Commas after introductory phrases, for example. And those times when you accidently use a period instead of a comma before a dialogue tag. It also caught some British spellings I seem to be in the habit of using, and the fact that I often use “grey” instead of “gray.”

Gold star catch of the day: Yes, Grammarly, I did mean ‘assess’ instead of ‘asses.’ How embarrassing!

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Look!  Asses!

But wait, there’s a warning!

Grammarly is a useful tool, and I do think you should try it out. However, all such programs are going to have difficulties. You have to check each correction suggestion carefully. Never assume Grammarly is correct. That “ignore” option is there for a reason.

No mechanical grammar checker will be correct 100% of the time.  Mine asked me constantly if I really meant to use the word “potion.”  Yes, Grammarly, I really meant it.  it also hated that I use the spelling “Theatre” instead of “Theater” and would not give me an option to ignore.

I can’t stress this enough, every suggestion must be considered carefully before you make the change. Grammarly was truly helpful to me yesterday. It caught enough typos in Descending that I did a re-write to fix them, and that’s a book I’ve re-read a million times. Now, the new version of Descending is live on Kindle. (If you already have a copy, be sure to update it.)  Of the ‘issues’ Grammarly found, more than 70% were not issues at all.  However, the issues it did find, I was very happy to get corrected.

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Descending also got a shiny new cover.  I was never happy with the first one and I finally made a new one that I am very pleased with.

Grammarly does not take the place of a real editor.

Nothing takes the place of having your work professionally edited. If you can afford editing service, you should do it. Period. Grammarly is a helpful tool, but it is only a tool. Give your work the best chance you can to be its shiny best.

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If you haven’t already done so, my paranormal mystery, Wyrd House, is in the middle of a Kindle Scout campaign and could use your nomination. Anyone with an Amazon account can nominate it, and if it’s chosen for publication, you get an advance free copy of the eBook. Free books rock! You can find the campaign here.

Posted in Descending, Grammarly, Kindle, Kindle Scout, writing, Writing Advice, Wyrd House | Tagged , , | 3 Comments