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GUEST BLOG: Earl Staggs

August 15, 2011 2 comments

THE GIFT OF WRITING

Remember those “Paint by Number” kits from years ago? Anyone could pick up a brush, put the right color in the right space and produce something called a painting. Would it be great art? Not likely. You can’t produce great art simply by following the numbers.

Two people can tell the same joke. One will leave an audience rolling on the floor in laughter, one will leave them yawning. People will sigh and say, “Some can tell ’em, some can’t.”  Call it talent, call it a gift. You either have it or you don’t.

It’s the same with writing. A lot of people learn the basics of writing and write by the numbers. They take one writing class after another, try one genre after another, one formula after another, and reach a point where they can string words together and tell a story.  Can they turn out truly great writing?  Very unlikely. It depends on whether or not they had genuine talent to begin with.

Spencer Tracy, legendary actor with a wry sense of humor, used to say when asked how to be an actor, “Learn your lines, say them at the right time, and don’t bump into the furniture.”

Anyone can do that and be an actor. There’s no mistaking, however, those actors born with genuine and immense talent within them. Every once in a while, for example, a Meryl Streep comes along. For her, the furniture moves out of the way.

I believe it’s the same with writing. Anyone can learn the basics and produce acceptable, even good writing. To lead readers to tears, rapture, rage or revulsion, however, you must have a special gift. You’re either born with it or you’re not.

When the truly gifted ones sit down to write, they may have to write, rewrite and rewrite again, but eventually, the best words, plots and characters appear, and no one bumps into the furniture.

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For a few good laughs and a trip down memory lane, read “The Day I Almost Became A Great Writer and “White Hats and Happy Trails” at: http://earlwstaggs.wordpress.com


Derringer Award winning author Earl Staggs has seen many of his short stories published in magazines and anthologies. He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine and as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. His novel MEMORY OF A MURDER earned thirteen Five Star reviews online at Amazon and B&N. His column “Write Tight” appears in the online magazine Apollo’s Lyre. He is also a contributing blog member of Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery. He hosts workshops for the Muse Online Writers Conference and the Catholic Writers Conference Online and is a frequent speaker at conferences and writers groups.  Read about his latest, SHORT STORIES OF EARL STAGGS, at http://earlwstaggs.wordpress.com

GUEST BLOG: Boyd Lemon

July 29, 2011 4 comments

MEMOIR WRITING: TRICKY, BUT HEALING

 

When I decided that I wanted to publish a memoir about my role in the destruction of my three marriages, “Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages, I struggled with the fact that I would be disclosing intimate details about my marriages and the conduct of my ex-wives. Ultimately, after much soul searching, I came to the conclusion that I must simply tell the relevant truth as I perceived it.

There would be no point in publishing a watered-down version.  The word, “relevant” is important.  The memoir is about my role in the failure of the marriages. It would be unnecessarily cruel to disclose facts that were not necessary to the theme of my book, if I disclosed details for the mere sake of embarrassing my ex-wives, to show what bad people they were or for revenge. But to disclose relevant parts of their conduct in the marriage was necessary to understand my truth.  I was very careful not to talk about extraneous conduct of my ex-wives. In the end, the memoir was my memoir, not theirs, so it had to be from my perspective.  I recognized that.  But I didn’t have to trash them in the process, and I don’t think that I did.

I dug deep to see the issues from my wives’ perspective, but in the end, they collaborated with me in destroying the marriages, no doubt about it. So I decided to tell the whole truth, as I saw it.

I tried to be as factually accurate as humanely possible and as memory allowed, but I concede, I wrote from my perspective and my memory.  I did consult with two of my ex-wives who agreed to talk to me about several specific issues, and I mentioned those in the book, but otherwise, I didn’t ask them for their points of view. I decided not to do this, because it is my memoir, not theirs, and I wanted to keep it as purely that as possible.

I didn’t intend to write a debate about who was at fault.

I told each of them in advance that I was writing the memoir; I didn’t want to hide it from them. I got no reaction to that, except from my third wife, who said it made her nervous, and she hoped I would decide not to publish it. I decided not to show them any pre-publication drafts, because that would have resulted in endless debate about the accuracy and fairness of what I wrote.

Their reactions after publication: My first wife said it was well written and that she thoroughly enjoyed it and read it twice. My second wife did not respond to me, but from our adult children, I understand she was very upset. I’m sorry about that. My third wife told me she would not read it because it would upset her too much.

Although it seems obvious now, I wasn’t aware when I started writing the memoir what its affect on me would be.  As I began trying to see issues from my wives’ perspective, my role in the failure of those marriages became increasingly apparent to me, something I had kept buried previously.  To realize this was emotionally devastating at first.  I consulted with a therapist, initially in hopes that she could shed some light on my role.  But what she ended up doing was helping me with the guilt I felt as I unearthed my contributions to issues in the marriages.  I was especially guilt ridden about the four children of the marriages.  Fortunately (I don’t know how), all of them have turned out to be productive, reasonably well adjusted adults.

What was surprising to me was that after I finished the book, having understood for the first time a lot about my role in the destruction of these marriages, I felt healed, at peace with myself about my marriages.  I hadn’t realized what a burden it was to carry around those unexamined issues, and how rewarding it felt to be relieved of that burden.  I now realize how important it is after the breakup of a marriage or any committed relationship to examine and understand one’s role in what happened, rather than just burying the issues and “moving on” as I had done.

I also realized that not just thinking about these issues, but writing about them, was a big part of the healing.  There is something about expressing these insights in writing that makes them graphic and permanent.  So for anyone who likes to write, I especially recommend writing as a means of healing.  I would have been thrilled to have written this memoir, even if I hadn’t published it, or even if it hadn’t sold a single copy, simply because of how it healed me.

 

Boyd Lemon-author of “Digging Deep: A Writer Uncovers His Marriages,” a memoir about the author’s journey to understand his role in the destruction of his three marriages

http://www.BoydLemon-Writer.com

Guest BLOG: Bob White

Writing a mystery novel when you’ve never committed the crime or investigated one like it… where do you start? My newest novel, Abducted, came like an unbidden muse after an assignment in a Creative writing class. We were asked to write a short story about a crime in a point of view (POV) exercise. I wrote about a young girl taken from her bed in the middle of the night. A few weeks later the muse overtook me. My story had a victim and a villain. I needed a hero to rescue the girl. So was born my fictional detective, Tony Petrocelli.

As I researched child abductions in talks with police officers, reporters, and through stories on the Internet, I discovered that according to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children every day over 2,100 children are added to the lists of missing. While many are taken by estranged parents or are runaways, others are victims of pedophiles and other sexual deviants. Some meet a tragic end. Even when they are found they have deep emotional scaring to overcome. My protagonist’s passion was fueled by his desire to save one of the missing.

As a writer I was fortunate to have two police officers (both also writers) to review my manuscript and keep my story realistic. Another interesting thing happened to me while Abducted was in its final stages. My detective began to tell me secrets about his life. He’s allowed me to hint at some in this book. What will you find between the covers?

Adducted in the middle of the night, ten-year-old Ashley Gibson needs a saviour. Small town detective, Tony Petrocelli, must find her before it’s too late. To achieve his goal he must break solemn promises, violate his own code of ethics, and bend the law. Despite a troubled marriage, an uncooperative police chief, and a talented but flawed partner he must work though false leads and a media frenzy in a race against time to rescue Ashley.  Detective Petrocelli has one ally in his quest, Ashley. The young girl must rely on her wits and experience with her controlling, and sometimes cruel, father to manipulate her captor and keep herself alive long enough for help to arrive.

You can find the book on Amazon.  Click here for the link.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Guest Blogs Tags: ,

GUEST BLOG: Walter Ramsey

July 2, 2011 2 comments

Finishing before you start

 

A lot of writers seem to be stuck when we first begin to write. The question for many is where to start. Yes, we all sketch out our ideas, create character charts and develop a general plot outline to help us along. What works best for me, is when I finish, before I start.

When I wrote my new novel, Beneath the Dune, I wrote the very last chapter first! I’ve looked at most of my writing as a road map. I have a destination, and a number of routes to get there. For me, the journey is half the fun. Which road should I follow, which turn should I take and what detours will divert me. All this comes together as I make my way to my final destination, my final chapter.

The other concern is inspiration. Where does it come from? You may be surprised to find it can, and will come from the most unlikely sources. In writing Beneath the Dune, I intertwined the present with the past with a number of dream sequences through out the novel. Why not, since that very last chapter I wrote came straight from a dream I had, yes a dream. The last chapter I mentioned earlier is a dream I had, so I went with it and used it as the destination at the end of the route I was planning to take.

For me, writing is a choice of avenues. For many others, it can be what ever you imagine. What is important is that you find a working process, the route, which fits you best. Sometimes it will be the road less traveled. So take the road, explore the scenery along the way, and make it what ever you perceive it to be. Most importantly have fun with what ever you decide to do!

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After years of teaching others to read and write as a high school language arts teacher, Ramsay was inspired to do a bit of writing himself and produced this novel. Intended to engage and entertain, the book was written for fans of light murder mysteries.

About the Author

Walter Ramsay holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in education. He has worked as a high school language arts teacher and athletic coach for more than 25 years and enjoys working and learning with young people. Ramsay currently resides in Ocean County, N.J. and spends his free time at his house in Brevard County, Fla. Married with four children and two grandchildren, he enjoys the outdoors, following sports and learning about history.

“I enjoy writing stories that will engage the readers mind and bring pleasure to them,” says Ramsay. “This book, my first novel, offers a unique look at the possibilities that can link the past to the present.”

Categories: Guest Blogs

GUEST BLOG: Catherine Robinson

February 25, 2011 3 comments

Blog It

Almost six years ago, I stood in front of a classroom and talked to my students about the importance of community involvement. I focused on recycling efforts, boycotts, and letter-writing campaigns in the news that needed young volunteers. My kids seemed eager to get out in the world, apply what they’ve learned, and make a difference.

One of my favorite students wanted to know what I was doing to help.

Stumped for a moment, I then referred to my own stories from the late 1980s and early 1990s, regaling the class with tales of anti-apartheid, animal-rights, and other progressive campaigns. They rolled their eyes and a few yawned.

“What have you done lately?” they asked.

I mentioned my five year-old twin sons, explaining that motherhood is a full-time job. I spoke about my dedication as a high school social studies teacher and devoted wife. Then I mentioned a good book I was reading. What was I supposed to do, I wondered, spend precious free time chained to a nuclear power plant in order to impress my students?

But they were right. If I was asking them to make the world a better place, shouldn’t I practice what I was preaching?

Then it hit me. I could write. I’d had some success writing op-eds for local papers and my letters were routinely published in magazines that raised my ire. Writing was a way of contributing to my community and could be accomplished later in the evening after everyone went to bed. After discussing this idea with the hippest group of seventeen and eighteen year-olds ever assembled, I decided to start a blog and call it Out in Left Field. I envisioned the site as a humorous place, where progressive parenting and politics would meet, and fellow moms could laugh about all is fun and frustrating about our lives.

Before long, local editors and publishers took an interest. My opinions were featured in Tampa Bay newspaper articles about everything from the struggle to find acceptable food during Passover for vegetarian Jews to advice for Britney Spears when she had her second baby. I didn’t let blogging take over my life, or teaching career, but it was a great way to improve as a writer, focus my arguments to make better sense, advocate for what I believed in, and vent about the frustrations of dealing with opinionated children.

These past six years have been terrific, painful, educational, and exciting. I now have two regular humor columns that appear in The Tampa Tribune and Creative Loafing as well as magazines and sites all over the country. I have two self-published e-books, Olivia’s Kiss and Learning Curves, garnering positive reviews and a growing audience. I’ve also acquired an agent who is actively trying to sell my parenting guide: Too Bad About You – How to Raise Kids Worth a Damn.

Not bad for a part-time writer. And all because a couple of teenagers challenged me to get out there and do something.

Categories: Guest Blogs

GUEST BLOG: Lala Corriere

February 14, 2011 Leave a comment

My thanks to Rasana for inviting me to chat with you today about my experience in producing my first video book trailer for my new release, Widow’s Row.

That should act as your first caveat. My experience is limited to one production. But I had a good team of advisors. Brandon Croy is a professional filmmaker in Denver, Colorado and Cameron Bruns is Vice President of an international marketing company. Like I said, I kept good company.

Let’s face it. Even with a big publishing house behind you, today’s authors are carrying the burden of their own promotion. The video book trailer has become an explosive tool in marketing books.

There is a maze of tutorials on the Web specific to Windows Movie Maker and this little guest blog is in no way an attempt at trying to replace their technical instructions. Most of these tips you read here should transcend well to any other movie-making program you use. These tips should make your experience with movie making grow ripe without aggravation.

Through my trial and error, here’s what you can learn from my mistakes:

Do invest the time to look at the tutorials. You’ll quickly learn how to incorporate the elements that will turn your book trailer into a professional piece of film, such as transitions and special effects.

Do make a study of the scores of book trailers already out there. Watch the ‘homemade’ trailers as well as those with big blockbuster budgets, including any new Big Screen teasers. Just as in the book business, trailers are subjective. Tune into your genre and your own voice and make your work a reflection of both. Evaluate your feedback, but tune out the naysayers!

I didn’t lay down my soundtrack first and this was a huge mistake. I wanted the images to be in sync with the varying beats of the music. Boom. Boom. Boom. Image. Image. Image. You get the idea. It’s far easier to lay down the audio and then drag the images into your storyboard and timeline once you have the soundtrack in place.

Music clips are available through various sites. Search under Royalty Free Music, but remember it probably isn’t going to be exactly free. There are usually membership fees involved, and maybe even small stipends per track.  There are also plenty of talented musicians out there that would love to help you with your own recordings. Buddy up with your local bands.

Most of these sources for short sound clips are designed so that you can make your video exactly the length you want, but just like the commercials that grab your attention on TV, remember less is best. You can choose from several coordinated timed segments. Some will be 60 seconds, 30 seconds, and even less than ten seconds. Rhythm. Pacing. All key elements to your ‘commercial’.

Do get permissions for everything you use! There are sources for images on the web that are royalty free. Many of the photographers will request credit for use of their images. Double check. When seeking permissions I recommend doing it via email so that you have a permanent record of correspondence.

If you’re currently writing a manuscript, always wear your producer’s hat. What scenes are you developing that lend themselves to an image? Is it the rolling hills of Ireland? A chase scene? Fava beans and a nice glass of Chianti? Keep a journal of anything that might make for a good still or short video. It’s no time to place yourself in the critic’s corner. Jot down every possibility. I like a good mix of the mundane and the ordinary, paired with the outrageous and unexpected, but I write suspense. I want my final film product to be arcane in nature. If you write in other genres such as historical, literary, or romance, I would still suggest the idea of blending the familiar with the not so familiar. Keep your viewers engaged and guessing.

If you plan to use speaking actors or a voice-over narrator, the Window’s Movie Maker is designed to allow you to lay that audio directly over your music.

If you are the photographer, make sure your camera is set with the date stamp turned off. Sighing, here.

Now this part is no secret. You will read it elsewhere on the web. Unfortunately some of us have to learn the hard way. Save everything. Save every still and every video and every audio, separately. And while engaged with your program open, save your work and save it often.

So, friends, here’s my first video trailer, Widow’s Row.

 

Widow’s Row The Trailer 0001

 

What did you see? I’m a perfectionist and I’m crazy mad about my boo-boos. The most obvious is the red lettering in the church video clip. Having a little trouble reading it? That’s because I manipulated the video after inserting it and deleted the original file.  Because I was stuck without the original, I was able to use the program to warp the imagery. Something to distract from the words you can’t read. Between you and me, I handle my film critics by claiming there is subliminal messaging in those words. LOL.

Did you notice the date stamp on the church still? Oops. And again, because I’d deleted the original and turned my movie into one single file, I was unable to remove the nasty yellow date stamp.

Give yourself time. And plenty of forgiveness. Remember this tool is a reflection of your book. Your name is on it. You’ve written and rewritten your book until it’s perfect. If you aren’t satisfied with your trailer, help is all around you.

And I leave you with my favorite tip of all. Have fun! Make mistakes. Start over. Start with a family movie or vacation memories.

Lala Corriere

http://www.lalacorriere.com

A writer’s life @    http://lalacorriere.blogspot.com/

GUEST BLOG: Kaye George

February 7, 2011 5 comments

I’ve ‘met’ a lot of authors on the internet who chose to go the self-publishing route. Self published authors run the gamut from first time authors, to previously published authors who initially went the traditional route, but felt their publishers did not do a great job marketing their book, so are reissuing their own books are ebooks. Here are one author’s views (Thanks, Kaye!):

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One Author’s Take on Self-Publishing

 

Rasana asked me to blog on the subject of self-publishing because I’ve put out a little booklet detailing how to do it. I’d like to start, however, with reasons for doing it. Some are good, some not so good.

 

If you’re self-publishing because you’ve been turned down by less than 100 agents, I’d encourage you to keep going with the query process. At least try the smaller publishing houses.  If you’ve also been turned down by every small press you’ve tried, I’d take some courses, swap manuscripts for critiquing, or hire an editor to find out why no one wants your work. If you know you have the best book you can write, then go for it!

 

One of the best reasons for self-publishing is to revive an out-of-print backlist, especially for an on-going series. Another is to put out an e-book that you’ve had published through a publishing house. I saw several writers put out short story collections with success, and I’ve done that, too.

Here are some pros and cons to consider, whatever your reasons.

ADVANTAGES OF SELF-PUBLISHING

(1) You have complete control over:

(a) cover design

(b) editing

(c) timing of the release

(d) pricing

(2) You keep a higher percentage of your list price.

(3) You can get a book out as soon as you’ve written it.

(4) You won’t get dropped by your publisher.

(5) You have all the time in the world to establish a readership.

 

DISADVANTAGES

(1) You have to either know how to design a cover, or pay someone to do it.

(2) If you don’t have someone else edit or critique your work, it probably won’t be as good as it could be.

(3) You won’t get reviewed unless you send copies to reviewers. Even then, you might not.

(4) You won’t be shelved in a bookstore.

(5) It’s hard to get the word out, since you’ll get no help on PR or publicity.

 

If you’ve decided this is for you, here are some tips on doing it well.

 

EBOOKS

 

All the information you need is on the web, but it’s not all in the same place. After I ferreted it out and had it all gathered together, I decided to put it together in a booklet. I had the most trouble coming up with instructions on doing covers, so I included quite a bit of detail on that. I also put as many helpful links as I could find at the end of the booklet.

 

Others may advise differently, but I found it relatively easy to put my books out with Smashwords first. Smashwords guides you through their process with a downloadable guide. Be  careful and make sure you pay attention to the guide. Amazon has its own formatting for the Kindle that isn’t compatible with anything else, so you have to go through their process separately. The document you’ll have as a result of the Smashwords process, however, works just fine for Amazon Kindle. You can also use the cover you create for Smashwords on your Amazon ebook.

 

You can get an ISBN free from Smashwords. Amazon will assign an ASIN, so you won’t need one there.

 

If you are seriously trying to sell an ebook, you’ll have to put it on Amazon for their Kindle. That’s the biggest market for ebooks right now and most of your sales may very well end up there.

 

TRADE PAPERBACK

 

I created a book with Wordclay, which is what Smashwords recommends, but I found the price to the buyer would be higher than I wanted it to be. I tried Createspace, on the recommendation of a friend, and found I can put out a much more reasonable product there. I’m tickled pink with the product from Createspace, in fact.

 

For the paperback, you’ll have to start over on the cover and go through their process. This only makes sense, since you just have a front cover for an ebook and for a paperback you need front, back, and a spine. I’d advise you to save a lot of copies of the background you choose for the ebook, at every stage, so you can mess up and start over. You can also use the same background for the paperback so they will have a similar look.

 

I’d use both Smashwords and Createspace again with no hesitation. In fact, I have done so! After I created my short story collection as an ebook and as a paperback, I put out the self-publishing booklet to try to help guide some other writers. If you’d like to take a look at it, the booklet is available at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004IEA8EM) and Smashwords (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/36453). You can also click to these sites from http://kayegeorge.com/, my home page. (Watch for my small press novel, coming out in May!)

 

Thanks for asking me to blog here, Rasana! I hope your readers get some good out of my post.

GUEST BLOG: Gargi Mehra on Short fiction Markets

January 31, 2011 1 comment

Where do I put my shorts?

If you’re anything like me, the first time you finished up a piece of short fiction, you asked yourself, ‘Where can I send this stuff?’

The answer to that question is: plenty of places. The internet will throw up a slew of markets where you can submit your fiction, but how do you dig up the places best suited to your story? Here are a few of the resources you should use to locate the best home for your piece:

Duotrope.com: This is the one-stop shop for all things fiction. It serves as the ultimate resource for writers who want to search a market for their fiction. You can specify the genre, sub-genre, literary style, word count, and even whether you are looking for high-paying or low-paying markets.

One of the highlights of Duotrope is that response times are detailed out for each magazine, as also their acceptance and rejection rates. Duotrope has risen to such high levels of popularity as a referral source that most magazines encourage their contributors to refer their response times to Duotrope.

Ralan.com: Targeted specifically towards humorous and speculative fiction, Ralan.com has proved an invaluable resource over the years. This site too lists response times for each magazine.

NewPages.com: In addition to market listings it also provides reviews of literary magazines.

When you finally do zero in on a list of markets that suit your work, do take a moment to read the current and past issues which are almost always available online. Reading a few pieces might give you an idea of where best your work will fit.

Gargi Mehra is a software engineer by profession, but a writer at heart. Despite the best efforts of her family and friends, she writes humor pieces in a determined effort to unite the two sides of the brain in cerebral harmony. Her fiction has appeared in Everyday Fiction  and Six Sentences. She blogs at http://gargimehra.wordpress.com/

GUEST BLOG: Terry Hayman

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Guest blog: Terry Hayman

Avoid or fix the most common e-book formatting problems

If you’re just getting into the e-book game, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered some problems with getting your work to appear the way you want it to in e-book form. And while there are a bunch of “How to” guides out there that go into great detail, unless you’re doing something really tricky like forcing a particular font, or inserting columns, pictures, etc. into your text, getting a cleanly-formatted e-book is easier than you think.

Biggest rule is keep it simple. Use Microsoft Word as your creation/preparation tool. If you’re a Microsoft hater (I personally prefer WordPerfect to Word), use it anyway. The e-publishing tools of Smashwords, Amazon, and Pubit! (Barnes & Noble) are all designed to work with Word documents. Yes, they’ll take other stuff too, but unless you’re a tech-head who’s into HTML and such, stick with Word.

Now, take that manuscript that has been created or ported into Word and strip out anything but the basic text done in Times New Roman 12-point. (You could instead choose another standard font like Arial. Doesn’t matter. When you put it through the Amazon or other uploaders, they’ll switch it to their own preferred font.) You can include italics, forced page breaks, and paragraph first line indenting and 1.5 line spacing selected via the Paragraph’s Indents and Spacing setup.

Take out all tabs, headers or footers, page numbers, underlines, section breaks. Oh, and don’t use more than four paragraph returns at one time because it can end up giving you an entire blank screen on an e-reader.

All these rules and a few less common ones (like how to insert pictures, chapter points, hyperlinks, etc.) can be found in the free Smashwords style guide if you want to pick your way through the process point by point, but if you’ve done the basics listed above, when you upload your book the formatting should be fine 90% of the time.

But wait! You’re not done yet. You need to check your work.

With Smashwords and Pubit!, you can download an epub file into your e-reader or a program on your computer which can read epub and check for errors. For Amazon, before you go to the second screen on Amazon’s publish site, click on Preview Your Work. Go through at least five or six pages and you’ll catch the most common errors that show up, namely weird symbols for smartquotes and weird indents when you have multiple short paragraphs for things like dialogue.

When I get weird symbols, I usually fix them in Word itself by copying and pasting the offending quotation mark or whatever into the “find” of Find and Replace, where it will show its true form. Then I put the proper symbol into “replace” and do the switches. (But be careful about doing an indiscriminate “replace all” if the symbol is something common like a capital A!)

For weird indents I’ve found I have to, from Amazon’s “preview” screen, download the HTML.  Take note of what the to-be-downloaded file is called so you can find it later. It downloads as a zip file, though it may not be identified as such. You need to unzip it, then put it into an HTML editor that lets you see the actual HTML (there are some free ones available online, but I use Microsoft’s ExpressionWeb), find the offending code that shows up just before the bad indents, and do a search and replace, changing that bad indent code to one of the good indents code strings you’ll find before a properly indented paragraph. Then save your corrected file, re-zip it, and re-upload it to Amazon. Again check the preview and everything should be fine.

(Note: Some friends of mine have recommended instead that you convert the file to .mobi format via a plugin Amazon offers for InDesign if you happen to have that program. Others say run your work through Smashwords, which tends to fix some of the problems and then download the .mobi version of your work and upload it to Amazon. The latter technique, Smashwords notes on its site, may bring about bad karma since you’re essentially using their formatting work to upload to a competing distributor.)

If all the HTML and .mobi stuff sounds too difficult to deal with, remember that the formatting problems should only happen on a few of your e-books and, as long as you tell a great story, most e-readers will forgive a few formatting errors.

Don’t let fear of formatting stop you from getting into this game.

You can learn as you go. You can go back and fix errors if you discover them later. Remember that, unlike traditional print publishing, this is a long-term play you’re making. Your books will not go out onto shelves for only one month to a year and sink or swim. You have decades for your book to find its audience.  Decades for it to earn its keep and communicate your great story to the world.

So do the best you can. Get help if you need it. Keep learning and growing. But get your stuff up there!

About the Author

Terry Hayman is a former lawyer, actor, and professional speaker who now writes full time in North Vancouver, BC. He’s actively working with Fiero Publishing to make his novel Chasing the Minotaur, his backlist of published stories, and some exciting new fiction available as e-books. You can visit his blog for some regular story ideas as well as other thoughts on the writing life.

HYPERLINKS (in case you need to add them in manually)

Terry Hayman http://www.terryhayman.com

Fiero Publishing http://www.fieropublishing.com

Chasing the Minotaur http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-the-Minotaur-ebook/dp/B004D4ZPL8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&m=AZC9TZ4UC9CFC&s=digital-text&qid=1295400988&sr=8-3

stories http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=terry+hayman&x=0&y=0

blog http://www.terryhayman.com/blog

GUEST BLOG: Phyllis Zimbler Miller

January 17, 2011 1 comment

How to Write Blog Posts When You Are Blogging to Market a Novel

By Phyllis Zimbler Miller

Publishing a non-fiction book will usually make it easy for you to
write a blog dedicated to your book. The non-fiction subject of
your book and related topics can provide ample blogging material.

For example, if you wrote a book on cooking low-fat diets, you
could post one low-fat recipe a day along with insider tips to
ensure the recipe turns out well. Or if you wrote a book on new
social media platforms, you could write each post about one new
social media platform and probably never run out of new posts.

The problem of writing ongoing book blog posts really presents
itself to fiction writers. If you’ve written a romance novel or a
mystery novel, what are you going to write about in your blog posts?

With a little imagination (and you are a fiction writer, aren’t
you?) you can come up with interesting posts for your book’s blog.
Let’s look at some examples:

You write a novel that takes place in 1970 during the Vietnam War
(yes, such as my novel MRS. LIEUTENANT). Because the Vietnam War
plays an important role in the novel, you could write posts about
historical events that took place during that era or historical
events that led to that era. And you could write about the military
today fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan and about military families
back home. There’s no need to mention your book in every post; the
overall context of the blog is about your book.

Now let’s stretch our imagination farther. You write a mystery
novel about a series of medical-related murders. You could write
posts about deaths that were not murders but were actual medical
mysteries. You could also write posts about new hospital procedures
that are being implemented to reduce medical-related deaths. And
you could write posts telling the family of hospital patients what
to look for in suspected medical malpractice.

What if you’ve written a children’s picture book about family
members learning to get along? Children are not going to read your
blog and their parents aren’t going to read your blog aloud to
their children. You could write posts about parent-child issues; if
you’re not an expert, you can quote other experts. You could review
other children’s picture books on similar topics. You could write
posts about children’s literacy issues.

The truth is that you can cast your imagination net far and wide
for subjects on which to blog. Just remember that every few posts
you should mention your book in connection with that post. For
example, if you were writing a post about children’s literacy
issues, you could mention that a specific second-grader in your
book could read long words but not short words and that her teacher
suspected dyslexia.

Or you could quote an entire (short) scene from your novel to
illustrate a point you’re making. And, yes, it’s okay that people
reading your blog may not know who the characters and situation
are. If you choose an appropriate scene, most readers will be able
to understand the context of the excerpt.

Fiction authors should be as active as non-fiction authors in the
use of blogs to market books. Give your blog readers interesting
and well-written posts, and they will read your blog and hopefully
buy your book. How to Write Blog Posts When You Are Blogging to
Market a Novel

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

For a free report 7 DYNAMIC REASONS FOR TAKING A VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR
and other book marketing information, visit
http://www.queensofbookmarketing.com Follow Phyllis Zimbler Miller
on Twitter at @ZimblerMiller and connect with her on Facebook and
LinkedIn as Phyllis Zimbler Miller.