Sunday, October 30, 2016

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo 2016

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is upon us, so get ready. It runs the month of November and starts on All Saints Day, right after Halloween. The goal: Write 50,000 words toward a novel.

Sure, go trick-or-treating and have some fun the night before, but then throw out the junk candy (okay, pick out the good stuff), and clean the coffee maker. Sharpen your pencils even if its simply to tuck behind your ear. Set your alarm...hit snooze. Whatever. Just put your butt in the chair and clickety clack every day for thirty days. Create a habit. Cry. Try. Do it. Be proud.

If not for you, do it for the dogs. Do it for Tilly Bean. I mean, really...look at that face!

Wonder Underbite
Tilly Bean

But for some reason, the official NaNoWriMo web banner wasn't doing it for me. I put it up on Facebook, but my portrait covers the 2016. Poor design, peeps. The Dudess can't abide ;)

NanoWrimo 2016 Participant Web Banner
Sorry, but no.

So I made my own Facebook banner. I pulled up my Destination Moon illustration from long, long ago, the one inspired by the song of the same name, sung by the awesome Dinah Washington.

My Version: Destination Moon
Feel free to share!
Hell, Yeah!

My November Facebook Portrait
Moon Faced

YA Romance #3 in the Works

I'm in between a pantser--some one who writes by the seat of their pants, guided by inspiration and caffeine--and someone whose a planner, one who writes an outline, character sheets, knows their plot points and when the starter pistol goes off, they've got a stack of notes to boost their confidence. So does that make me a plantser?

Yes, I like it :)

So my temporary cover is done. I've researched my character portraits on Pinterest. I've written up some bullet points on character development sheets, and this time, I even wrote a synopsis. I'm sort of ready. I'll sit in the basement with my computer, my cup of coffee, my dogs, and my space heater...stare at the screen...and wish I'd planned a little bit more.

Fun! Join me! My username is EspialDesign.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Currently: Celebrating Formatting Success!

With my personal tech guru, Gosho, by my side, I downloaded my Riding with the Hides of Hell* files from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) in HTML format. We reviewed the KDP supported formats section and got to work.

Gosho downloaded HTML Tidy (Google says: "HTML Tidy is a web browser application whose purpose is to fix invalid web code, beautify the layout and formatting of the incorrect markup. The user interface is composed of two main editors where you can edit your content in a visual and a source editor.") and "we" got busy eliminating unnecessary code as per KDP's HTML guidelines. Basically, I watched while Gosho did all the heavy lifting (and swearing, etc)...

...and my loyal companions were equally helpful, offering up their morale support...

Tilly Bean and Tango "The Rug"
Heat-Bathing and Dreaming of Mexico

"How could I be so blind? He's in love--with a machine!"

"Let's plan a weekend getaway in the basement on our computers."

"Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant." ~ Mitchell Kapor

"Tech Support Made Easy"
Hello? Can you hear me now?

Gosho...are we done yet?


After getting KDP confirmation (after a 5-hour wait) Gosho and I eagerly checked the "Look Inside The Book" previewer and nearly cried. The spacing was off just like before and where the hell did my image go? Well...after another hour of research, Gosho found this on the KDP site: "That's it -- the new file will overwrite the old file within 24-48 hours. The 'Look Inside' sample will update within a week."

Maybe all this fuss was for nothing? More wait-and-see? I think Gosho needs a drink. a week, I hope it all turns out so readers will have confidence in the ebooks they're buying.

* Riding with the Hides of Hell has a new title: Burnout.

Still in Formatting Hell

I posted a big ol' whine fest earlier about my formatting woes with regards to the Holy Mess Fest that is Amazon's "Look Inside The Book" feature. My .mobi files look pristine in the Kindle Previewer and on Calibre. So without taking hours, days, weeks of my time to shoot in the dark, I chose to start over.

I took my formatted text and exported it into TextEdit. Then I copied and pasted this "cleansed" version back into a brand new Pages document and went about reformatting the whole damn (pardon my swearing) thing again...with italics, bold, indents, justification, table of contents, and inserting my image.

Here's what I got after the eight hour turn around from the time I uploaded the new file onto KDP to the time it's published and visible to the public and moi (ahem - it was actually four hours of waiting this time):

"What's with the spacing, yo?"
"Look Inside The Book" (LITB) on Amazon

Now, I'm wondering if the image could be causing the problem? It's my next attempt at fixing this dismal rendering of my ebook! When I published Dealing with Blue, I did not have these problems (tired of me grumbling yet?)--I set up the manuscripts in the same way, so I'm confused at what the problem could be. Is it me? Or is it Mac Pages? Or is it Amazon?

* Riding with the Hides of Hell had a title change and is now called Burnout.

Friday, October 28, 2016

In Formatting Hell

I was so excited to push that button! Voila! Everything looked perfect when I converted my .ePub file for Riding with the Hides of Hell* to a .mobi one via the Kindle Previewer ("Kindle Previewer is a graphical user interface tool that emulates how books display across Kindle devices and apps,"~ says Google).


A Thing of Beauty
View on Kindle Previewer
Riding with the Hides of Hell - first page

So I hastily blogged about my new book release, shared the news with my friends on Facebook and then immediately regretted it when I checked the "Look Inside The Book" (LITB) on Amazon. What the hell?

What a hot mess!

Apparently, even though the .mobi file looks good in the Kindle Previewer, the LITB is another ball of wax...reading HTML and Cascading Style Sheets and all that mumbo-jumbo that I can't see using Mac Pages. How to fix it, if it's fine everywhere else?

An Unholy Mess
"Look Inside The Book" on Amazon
Riding with the Hides of Hell - first page

So I did a little search and found this program called Calibre. Writers use this to reveal the code in their .ePub files, and they can manually fix it. I opened it and was immediately overwhelmed by the interface. I poked around, but realized very quickly, I had no idea what I was doing, and it would take me forever to figure it out. I don't want to code, I want to write. I don't want to learn a new program. I want to hit the publish button and have everything work. Is that too much to ask?

Back to a Thing of Beauty
Calibre eBook Management
Riding with the Hides of Hell* - first page

Plus, when I opened my .mobi file in Calibre, it shows up all formatted and pretty like it's supposed to look. How can I fix something if it's correct?

The turn around from uploading my file on Kindle Direct Press (KDP) and it going live to the public is about eight hours, making it very difficult to trouble shoot and keep the "Look Inside The Book" problems under the veil of magic. Anyone who opens Amazon's LITB feature will have been turned off immediately, thinking...assuming that the ebook will look just as dismal.

C'mon Amazon! Get with the program and fix the "Look Inside The Book" feature so its user-friendly to indie authors like me. I like doing things myself, but the next stop is paying someone to do my formatting. I found these three suggested formatters in the KDP forum:
Polgarus Studio
Ebook Pioneers

I'll keep you posted, but right now I'm waiting for my eight hours to go byto see if my complete manuscript overhaul worked. If not, it's eeney-meeney-miney-moe from the list above.

However, if Kindle Previewer and Calibre are worth their salt, then the ebook is in working order. Forget the "Look Inside The Book" preview for now and just sit back and enjoy the read :) I'll get it handled, don't you worry.

"Technology makes it possible for people to gain control
over everything, except over technology."~ John Tudor

* Riding with the Hides of Hell has a new title: Burnout!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Currently: Enjoying a New Book Release!

Bouncing Book Baby #2

An ebook was born today! I woke up and said, "What the hell. Why not?" and I hit the publish button. It's available on Amazon as I write this, and it's up for grabs on Kindle Unlimited, too. And... as if it's kismet, the paperback proof arrived today. Thank you, Mr. Mailman! I've only been waiting for FOREVER.

Squeee! I'm so excited to share this with the world. It was a fun one to write. What you say? You don't like adventure? You don't like a kickass heroine? Then this might not be your cup of tea.

For everyone else...enjoy!

Danger up ahead.

* Riding with the Hides of Hell has a new title: Burnout!

Friday, October 07, 2016

October's Reading Challenge: Skinny Books

Don't judge a book by its cover, but how about by its size? My Goodreads reading challenge says I'm eleven books behind schedule, and this bothers me.

I perused my TBR pile and cobbled together a nice mix of skinny books that should be quick reads to get me back on track. So, my October challenge is to finish reading my current ebook: 1.) Double Clutch: A Brenna Blixen Novel by Liz Reinhardt, then start on these thin mints:

A 4.75" Short Stack

2.) The Giver by Lois Lowry* - Middle Grade (179 pages)
3.)  Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead* - Middle Grade (180 pages)
4.) The 48-Hour Hook Up by Sarah Ballance - Contemporary Romance (188 pages)
5.) Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl - Childrens (81 pages)
6.) The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams* - Childrens (44 pages)
7.) Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson* - Middle Grade (163 pages)
8.) Trouble in Paradise by Carolyn Brown - Romance (182 pages)
9.) Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli - Middle Grade (184 pages)
10.) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson* - Young Adult (198 pages)
11.) My Mortal Enemy by Willa Cather* - Classic (85 pages)

Eleven books to read for the remainder of October! Can I do it?

It's a pile of good stuff to read, so...definitely worth the try ;)

* A recommended read!


"I've found that worry and irritation vanish into thin air 
the moment I open my mind 
to the many blessings I possess." ~ Dale Carnegie

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Nerd Night: BrickCon 2016

Swamp Creature with Kelp'cicle
Mini Fig Necklace

Went to BrickCon 2016 in Seattle's Exhibition Center today, and talk about packed! This hermit and her little hermitses wore down pretty quickly. There was a lot of cool stuff to see and a lot of people to contend with. Cool thing? Everyone there had something in common; they love Legos!

BrickCon 2016
Seattle Exhibition Center

Talent was in every corner...the replica of Multnomah Falls in Oregon was phenomenal, as was the Game of Thrones "Ice Wall." So many bricks and time and structural know-how--not to mention creativity--all of it fabulous. There were also boxes of Legos to buy, bricks in bulk, jewelry (see above) and t-shirts. There was a lot of other stuff, too. Into bricks and blocks? Worth a vista at $12 a ticket.

Yes, Please!

Each Letter Represents a Word
Mini Fig Alphabet

Cool Water

Apartment Building
My Favorite!

High on bricks and Mini Figs, we decided to stop in Bricks & Wheels in Factoria to check things out. What a cool store! The guys there buy old Legos and sell new and used bricks, including bulk and out of date Mini Figs. We wanted the Genie Girl so bad...but since I'd been throwing $20s around on plastic, I put my brakes on. It'll have to wait. But I know where I'll be visiting come Christmas.


"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." ~ Milton Berle