Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Monday, May 20, 2019

Snippet from ALIEN VOWS

The Science Fiction Romance Brigade Facebook fanpage has a recurring feature called Snippets where members post a brief excerpt from a book. Below is an excerpt from Alien Vows.

To set the scene, Yulayan is a hybrid being. Her mother is human (Terran) and her father is Wakanrean. Wkanreans mate for life purely from biology. This has had a profound impact on their cultures, as sex is not seen as a matter or morality or even choice.. Yulayan has grown up on Wakanreo but has recently met a young Terran physicist named Kamuhi and has invited him to her family home for a two-day holiday. Everyone there is Wakanrean except for one other Terran guest named Shandrika. Kamuhi has just asked for a tour of the house.



 “Let’s start with my father’s rehearsal room,” Yulayan said.
 “Be sure to show him your room,” Juoam said. “We’re putting the two of you in there since the guest rooms are all full, and Hushi and his friend have your parents’ room.”
 “All right.” Yulayan turned to go and was surprised to see a look of astonishment cross Shandrika’s face. It was gone in a flash, but Yulayan was quite sure it had been there. She shot a quick glance at Kamuhi and noted that he, too, looked almost taken aback.
 She pondered this circumstance as she led the way through the main room and into the corridor to her parents’ wing. Kamuhi said nothing at all until he stepped through the doorway into the rehearsal room.
 “Neat,” he said, looking around at the oddly-textured walls. The whole room was built to balance sound. Even though there was very little furniture, there was no echo when he spoke. In the middle of the room, a gleaming sphere hung suspended almost two meters in the air. “What’s that for?”
 “It’s to provide a focus for my father’s mediation,” Yulayan said, with barely a glance at the sphere. “He mediates before every performance.”
 “Interesting.”
 “Why did that woman look so strange when Juoam mentioned we were staying in my room?” Yulayan said, coming straight to the point.
 Kamuhi spoke matter-of-factly, but Yulayan could tell he wasn’t entirely at ease. “I expect she thought we’re sleeping together.”
 “We are. There’s only one bed.”
 “I don’t mean literally sleeping. Terrans sometimes use that phrase to mean . . . something more intimate.”
 Yulayan was astounded. “You mean she thought we were going to have sex?”
 A smile tugged at the corners of Kamuhi’s mouth, but he didn’t let it get out of hand. “I’m sure the thought crossed her mind.”
 “How about your mind?”
 “Not for an instant,” he said promptly.
 “You looked very surprised,” Yulayan said, not convinced.
 “I was very surprised. But not because I thought sex was in the picture. It’s just that Terrans don’t usually share a bed with a member of the opposite sex unless they’re very young or they’re lovers.”
 “When you say lovers, you mean people who have sex together?”
 “Yes.” The smile tugged at his mouth again, and won the fight this time.
 “So Terrans only have sex when they’re in love?”
 “No.” He shook his head. “It’s something of a euphemism to call having sex making love.”
 “Hmmm. It seems very restrictive to me to say people of the opposite sex can’t share a bed unless they’re currently having sex, also. What do you do at holidays and festivals?”
 “We don’t have that many times when extended families stay together. Usually, if you have out-of-town company, they go to a hotel.”
 Yulayan was shocked. “Even if there’s room for them at your house?”
 “Well, where I came from, there’s not often room. Terra is very crowded, you know, and housing is limited. Even with emigration, the Terran population is still in the billions.”
 “Good heavens. Why do you have so many people?”
 Kamuhi was examining the sound equipment on one wall. “What? Oh, I guess the answer is that Terrans are based on a different evolutionary model. Our species favored excessive fertility to ensure continuation of an individual’s genetic line, instead of ironclad monogamy to be sure all or most of the offspring survived.”
 Yulayan frowned. “Sometimes you talk like a professor giving a lecture.”
 He grinned, not exactly apologetic, but at least with some level of contrition. “I know, and I’m sorry. Can we see the next room?”



Wednesday, May 8, 2019

My book is a finalist!

I entered an unpublished manuscript for a book called Bag of Tricks in the Diamonds in the Dessert contest, and I was recently notified that my book is a finalist in the Fantasy Romance category.

The contest is sponsored by the Dessert Rose chapter of RWA. I liked that in addition to a score, you got to see actual comments from the judges. Feedback is always welcome.

I won't find out if I won until the middle of June, but making it to finalist is a nice ego boost regardless.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Guest blogging today on NO WASTED INK

I've got a guest blog post today on the No Wasted Ink site. It's about how easy—or how hard—it is to make money self-publishing. Note that it's written for folks who know little or nothing about publishing.



Thursday, April 4, 2019

Technology and the writing process

This post on Tor's website about J.R.R. Tolkien and how he developed Éowyn of Rohan as a character made me think about how technology has changed the process of writing a novel.

For most of the twentieth century, writers wrote in long hand and then paid someone to type the work, or they typed it themselves. The resulting manuscript could only be changed (in any but the tiniest of ways) by rewriting or retyping it. You could mark it up and add notes in the margin, but eventually, if you wanted to make changes, you had to write or type it all out again. If, like Tolkien, you kept every version you typed (or possibly hand wrote), then you, in effect, created a sort of fossil record of how the book evolved.

I really wonder if any writers do that now. With word processing, you can constantly revise the same file over and over. Unless you make a point to copy your files in a different location or to a different name, you won't have the earlier versions. Personally, I only copy a file in that way if I want to revise a story it in a way I'm not sure about.

It used to be that I would have backup copies on floppy disks, but even that has gone the way of the dodo as I now rely on Dropbox for backup. Every now and then I might email a manuscript to someone, which creates a saved version in a sense, but there's no pattern to when I do that.

Actually, when I first started to write, decades ago, I typed a short novel on a typewriter. I think I have the pages somewhere, but I have no idea where they are. Probably just as well.

Besides the biggest impact of technology on writing and writers isn't the loss of a book's fossil record, but rather the sheer number of people who are writing. You no longer need to be so obsessed by the need to get a story down "on paper" that you're willing to churn out reams and reams of typescript pages. All you need is a computer and some spare time. Not a totally insignificant barrier but nowhere near as high as it was in 1973.

So, technology has opened the floodgates. It remains to be seen what the impact of the deluge will be.




Tuesday, March 19, 2019

KDP Print versus Nook Press

One of my most popular blog posts is from 2016, when I compared using Amazon's CreateSpace to using Barnes & Noble's Nook Press Print. CreateSpace is gone now, replaced by KDP Print, but I recently published Tribes as a paperback on both KDP Print and on Nook Press, so below is a comparison of print publishing via Amazon and Barnes and Noble using the versions of those platforms in use today.

Both platforms have fully integrated print and ebook publication. Each title appears once in the author's list of Projects (B&N) or on the Bookshelf  (KDP), with the ability to add it in a second format and neither one makes you create the ebook first.. Basically, most of the features/options below apply to both ebook and print formats.

Pre-order

Nook Press offered the choice of putting the book on sale now or using pre-order but it didn't give me a chance to say when it would be available. After processing finished, I saw this message on my projects page.

  • Your pre-order print book Tribes has a publication date of March 26, 2019. You must upload your final files by March 11, 2019. If you’re unable to do so, you must push your publication date or your book will go off sale.

And that was that! So pre-ordering was available on B&N but without a lot of options.

With KDP, pre-ordering is an option only for Kindle books. It does let you set the date, though. In fact, the pre-order option is the only way you can launch the book with the X-Ray feature enabled from the start. 

Categories:

KDP only allows two categories but it was very easy to add both.

Nook says it allows 5 categories but after I added the first, I could not figure out how to add more.  Also, selecting a category required me to specify three levels: category, subcategory, and sub-subcategory.


ISBN:

Both KDP Print and Nook Press provide free ISBNs for print books, but if you use their ISBN, it cannot be used anywhere else. I always buy my own ISBNs and register them to my imprint, Cracked Mirror Press. I want the paperback to have one single ISBN.

In the past, B&N has rejected the ISBN I used on Amazon KDP, but this time  I had not yet clicked publish on Amazon when I set up the Nook version. Also, I didn't select "expanded distribution" on KDP, which causes Amazon to make the book available on other online bookstores such as Barnes & Noble, Consequently, I was able to use my own ISBN for the Nook Press version.

Formats:

Both platforms offer paperback, but Nook Press can also do hardback. I have no idea of the requirements because I have never used that option, but it is there.

One advantage B&N has is the "Buy online, pick up in store" option that shows up on the product page. It's only really an advantage if a reader lives near a store with an Espresso Book Machine to print the book, but it's there.

Pricing:

Amazon stated my cost to print (which is the cost of author copies) as $4.44 and B&N estimated it as $5.00. This does not cover shipping, of course.

Proof copies:

Both platforms allow you to order a proof copy; the one from KDP had a "Not for resale" stripe on the front cover, but the Nook one did not.

Linking the print and ebook versions:

Both platforms allow you to create a new version of an existing title in a new format just by clicking a button on the entry for the existing format. I had, in fact, pulled the Nook Press version of Tribes from sale before I published the Nook press paperback, but it was still in the system (it was, in fact, still for sale, because before I published it to B&N directly, I made it available to B&N via Smashwords; this was years ago, well before I published it directly on Nook Press, I had quite a time getting that version pulled from sale). .Anyway, B&N automatically added the Nook book description and other details about the ebook when I clicked the link to create the print book .On the B&N product page, it showed one entry for Tribes but with two formats. So, linking product pages was no problem on the Nook end.

On Amazon, for some reason even though I created the paperback by clicking the "Create paperback" button on the Kindle version's entry, it did not link the product pages. If you searched Amazon for the title and author without specifying Kindle, it showed both formats but with two entries, like this:



If you limited the search to the Kindle store, you would see only the Kindle version, with no indication a paperback exists. Likewise, clicking one entry brings up that product page with no link to the other version. Amazon claims linking will happen automatically within 72 hours, but I have always had to ask them to link the books, which is what I had to do for Tribes. It didn't take them long and now it looks like this:



Conclusion

In terms of ease of use, the two platforms are actually pretty similar. Also of note is that the PDFs for the interior and the cover worked fine on both platforms. Of course, in both cases, I had selected white paper instead of cream, which I suspect is why the covers worked for both.


Monday, March 11, 2019

TRIBES is now available in paperback and through Kindle Unlmited!

My ThreeCon novel Tribes, which is set on Mariposa, a world started as a penal colony, is now available in paperback! The new cover emphasizes the romance at the core of the story, and as romance readers appear to be the bulk of Kindle Unlimited subscribers, I also pulled the ebook from other platforms so that I could add the book to Kindle Unlimited.



Also, if you buy the paperback from Amazon, the ebook is free through Kindle Matchbook  Here is the buy link for the paperback on Amazon.

I'm also publishing Tribes as a paperback via Nook Press from Barnes & Noble; Here is the pre-order link for B&N.

This makes the seventh title I have in print. When Alien Skies comes out, it will be my 12th ebook and my 8th paperback. It was interesting to use the two different platforms for paperback publishing.  I will soon be updating my blog post comparing the two. 

Friday, March 8, 2019

Updated info on sending files to a Kindle

I've noticed that Amazon has changed some of their pages, so here are updated directions for how to email files to a Kindle. You can send an MS Word file, an ASCII text file, a PDF, or a *.mobi file to your Kindle if you first do this one-time set up procedure:
  1. Log on to Amazon and hover the cursor over Account & Lists
  2. This makes several lists appear. 
  3. About 2/3 of the way down on the far right column, click Your Content & Devices 
  4. On the Manage Your Content & Devices page, click the Preferences tab 
  5. Scroll down to Personal Document Settings and click that.
  6.  A list of your Kindle devices should appear with the email address for each shown. 
  7. Make a note of the address for the Kindle you plan to use
  8. Next, scroll down to where it says Approved Personal Document E-mail List and add the email address you will use to send the file; if you don't add the address, then nothing will reach your Kindle via email
Now all you have to do any time you want to put a file on your Kindle is to create an email to the Kindle's email address, attach the file, and click Send. Note that if you attach a PDF it will arrive as a PDF, unless you put the word "convert" on the subject line of the email. This will convert it to reflowable text and you can then change the font size  on the Kindle, if needed. 

Important Note: once the file is on the Kindle, it is considered a "personal document" and not a book. If you set your home screen to show only "books" you will only see books you bought from Amazon. 

Very important note

There is no charge for emailing documents UNLESS you are using a 3G connection. Be sure you are using wifi when you email a file, to avoid per/MB charges to your account.



Monday, March 4, 2019

Do you have to buy champagne for a relaunch?

Because of a family medical situation, work on Alien Skies is behind schedule. The manuscript is with the copy editor now, so hopefully it won't be too much longer until it's ready to go.

However, in the meantime, I had decided to re-launch of one my ThreeCon novels, Tribes, as a science fiction romance. I didn't write it as one, but the love story in it starts on page 3,continues to the last page, and is central to the plot, so I think it will fly as a science fiction romance. In addition, I am issuing a paperback version at the same time. I commissioned a new cover for it, from the same studio that did Wakanreo books 2 and 3.

Here's the new cover! It will be available as a paperback as well as an ebook.


 

I'll post the paperback link as soon as it's available.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

It's Read an eBook Week! Half price ebooks!

Smashwords is having a sale celebrating Read an eBook Week! . All my books are either half price at $1.50 or free (click here for the list)! Lots of authors are participating, so check it out!

The main page has the participating books featured and you can filter them by genre, length, etc.