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Friday, November 29, 2013

Book Trailer: Because what else does one do on Black Friday?

Hello, everyone! Today I decided to sit down and make a book trailer. I spent a several hours googling public domain images and music and sketching out "scripts" before I came up with this twenty-seven seconds of absolute video awesomeness (is my sarcasm showing?).

I know it isn't that good, but I had a good time making it. It's just a quick look into the world of Dragon's Curse.

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Be A Crafter xD
The Chicken Chick

Self-Publishing: Tips on Proofing Your Book

To start off, you  can already  find plenty of advice out there for how to proofread (read things aloud, read things backwards, print it out, etc. I'll provide some links to articles on the subject at the bottom of this post.), so I'm going to hit on things I didn't see mentioned at all or in great detail.

Also, this post refers to the ABSOLUTELY FINAL DRAFT. The one you  are so sure you got right that you are prepared to click "submit file" and put it up for Amazon, no more questions asked. You have gotten it peer reviewed, had others critique it (maybe through an online site such as Scribophile). You have prepared and formatted and are ready to go.

Here are some things that are easy to miss, things that might not even be there until AFTER you hit submit on the Createspace site (or whatever site you are using. I  only have experience with Createspace, so other sites might be different.).

I already gave some tips on this subject in my "How to Use Createspace" post (here), but at that point there were things that I didn't even notice.

1. When you upload, even if you used their provided template, Createspace does a conversion that can slightly alter things like margins which in turn can change things like page layout and page numbers. Even if you have double checked and triple check your personal version for things like unwanted spaces between paragraphs or empty pages, double check again. Just because they weren't in the file you uploaded doesn't mean they haven't suddenly appeared.

2. Because of what I mentioned in item 1, page numbers can be off, so if you included a "table of contents," it is wise to go back over the piece and check that every chapter does indeed start on the page number you listed. This one was something I didn't even THINK to look at until just this morning. I was prepared to push that submit button and send my novel out there. I had NO IDEA every  single page number on my table of contents (except for chapter one starting on page one which is a given) was off.

3. How easy to read is it? For this I definitely suggest splurging to  get a hard copy proof (as seen here.), unless you are some sort of super genius  who can tell exactly what a printed page will look like based on the computer screen.

4. Scan it. Look for big blocks of text. This is generally  a sign that you need to break paragraphs up into smaller sections.

5. Are the spacing and font choices consistent for Chapter Headings? You don't usually see these side by side so it is an easy place to be accidentally inconsistent.

Those are just some quick tips of things I wish someone had warned me about earlier. As promised, there are some links below for "general proofreading advice." Good luck and have fun out there!

PS I found that some of the page number problems can be avoided simply by choosing to upload as a .pdf rather than a .doc, so if you  are having formatting difficulties try switching your file type and see if that fixes things.

Grammar Girl/Quick and Dirty Tips
Writing Center-UNC: Editing vs Proofreading
Daily Writing Tips: 8 Proofreading Tips

The Chicken Chick

Preparing a "Special" Edition for my Novel

I'm preparing to re-launch my first novel A Tale in Two Parts: The Ordinary  Knight and the Invisible  Princess in a "special edition." What's so special about it?

1. I  corrected a handful of typos that I missed in my self-edits but which helpful readers have kindly pointed out.
2. I added a dedication, a table of contents, and a blurb for my next book Dragon's Curse (available in January if all goes according to plan).
3. I increased the font to a 12 point font I personally find more attractive and easier to read.

The increased font size and other formatting changes did drive the  page count up to almost 300 (it had been sitting at 231), which in turn increased the production price, so to keep within my desired but still puny profit margin, I increased the price from $7.99 to $8.50. This may increase again after the new year because Amazon is offering free expanded distribution channels but these have a minimum list price of $9 and. . . something cents, I forget.

Of course, none of this affects the availability or price of the ebook. That sits at an (in my humble opinion) very reasonable $1.99.

Also, whenever I upload a file for my paperback even with a small change, it takes it off the market for 24 to 48 hours (maybe more over weekends. I usually do it midweek because  I'm afraid to find out) which is why even when I find a typo it may take me a few weeks to correct it. I like to make multiple changes at once rather than fixing each error immediately. If the book were overridden with typos, then of course, I would want to take it off the market until it was fixed, but it is hard to give up my book existing at all (even for 48 hours) because of an "of" that was supposed to be "off" that 90% of  my readers didn't even notice or mention.

So I made my major changes two days ago, but when the files were approved, I used the digital proof and found that something had changed between uploading it and them accepting it (the file conversion does weird things sometimes) and I had to go through and correct some page numbers and the like. I am working on a post on "what to look for when proofing" which I hope to have up later today, for anyone else interested in self-publishing.

In summation: my book will probably not be available in paperback (though it is still for sale as an ebook) for another 24 to 48 hours. After this period there will be a "new and improved" version up, sans typos. Be on the look out for a post about proofing methods if you are interested in self-publishing.

Oh, and please check out  my giveaway on Goodreads and share with your friends.


    Goodreads Book Giveaway

        The Ordinary Knight and the Invisible Princess by H.L. Burke



          by H.L. Burke

            Giveaway ends December 28, 2013.
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.

      Enter to win

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Another Book Giveaway! -Goodreads-Tale in Two Parts

 I should've done this when I first released The Ordinary Knight and the Invisible Princess: A Tale in Two Parts
, but I was so green to self-publishing and promoting that I didn't even know about the feature. In some ways this book has been my "experimental" book. I didn't know if it was possible to self-publish well, but I learn by doing, so the only way for me to improve was to just jump into it. There is a huge post of all  the things I learned how to do better since I put A Tale in Two Parts up on Amazon. It has been less than three months, but I  have figured out so  many ways to make my next book better, to promote it better, and to hopefully get  more sales (we'll see how that pans out). 

One thing I plan to do immediately for Dragon's Curse (which I plan to released in mid to late January) is a Goodreads giveaway. I didn't even know about Goodreads three months ago, but now that I am aware, I thought I would do a late giveaway for A Tale in Two Parts as well, just in time for Christmas! (note, the giveaway starts tonight, but the winner won't be chosen until December 28th, so I guess it really isn't in time for Christmas.).

One thing that might disappoint some of my readers is that I did choose not to make this giveaway available outside of the states. This is mainly for budgetary concerns. International shipping is becoming increasingly expensive. The last few Etsy orders I shipped overseas I pretty much broke even on. I didn't want to do it because  I do  have some loyal readers outside of the US, but for the price of sending one book overseas I can easily send four or five within the states, so I decided to do multiple books but restrict entries to the US purely for financial reasons.

If you are a Goodreads member, please check out my giveaway below and share this with your friends. I am giving away five copies total, so I can't wait to see your entries!


    Goodreads Book Giveaway


        The Ordinary Knight and the Invisible Princess by H.L. Burke



          The Ordinary Knight and the Invisible Princess

          by H.L. Burke


            Giveaway ends December 28, 2013.
            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.

      Enter to win

General Thanksgiving Stuff

So, here is a quick recap of Thanksgiving for four (which ended up being three because Claire slept through it). 
One thing off my plate was the Turkey. Matt smokes that in the barbecue. Here he is, sampling as he carves. 

Coryn and Caen watched his every move.
I'm not a decorator. I'm just not. But last minute I dug through my supplies to see what I had to work with. I found some candle sticks and pillar candles which used to be in our entry way (haven't used them since San Diego), a turkey platter my mother-in-law gave us last year (or the year before, I forget) which I had completely forgotten about because it's seasonal, so I had it stashed somewhere, and my red table cloth which is actually our only table cloth if you don't count the plastic one I use when the girls are painting.
The center piece didn't feel complete, so I took some photos and taped string to the backs, and hung them from the light fixture.
I told Coryn they were pictures of people we were thankful for. She informed me of all the people we were missing, but I never had the time to find more pictures.
We did make some "hand turkeys" the day before who sat on the wall behind our table.
We had two pies for after dinner because Matt doesn't care for pumpkin but I can't have Thanksgiving without it.
I made this cranberry sauce recipe (pinned here) which I really enjoyed.
And I made the dough for the rolls a day ahead using the recipe in this pin here. I also  went to pinterest (here) for a gravy recipe because I don't really understand gravy. I don't like it, don't really understand what it is supposed to taste or look like, and if it were up to me I would just  not have it on the table, so I need all the help I can get making it.
We did a pretty good job of cleaning as we cooked but there were still more pots and pans than fit in our dishwasher.
Afterwards I had to strip down the carcass and boil it a few times for broth/stock. I  also boiled the remnants of the clementines I juiced and zested for the cranberry sauce with some spices to make the house not smell exclusively like boiled turkey.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Level Up! NaNoWriMo Style

I've completed my word count goal for NaNoWriMo (Actually did two days ago but I'm just now stopping to breathe and celebrate).

Now back to editing and crafting Dragon's Curse (you can read the synopsis on my writer site here.).

As always, if you are interested in checking out my first novel A Tale  in Two Parts, you can look it up on Amazon (link below).

 Its Hump Day!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Tale of a Homeless Reindeer-Why I now ask for payment up front

I'm pretty casual about my crochet "business." I started the Critters for Coryn Etsy shop because I  needed a way to get rid of the massive amount of crochet projects my hobby was producing. To date, I've only made about seven sales through Etsy. When we were stationed in Japan I sold a lot through word of mouth locally and at a few craft fairs, but I  haven't had the time to develop the same sort of marketing here, so mostly my stuff just sits  in bins. I long to sell it. My husband begs me to sell it. But in between my lousy photography skills and the amount of competition there are from other sellers on Etsy (I'm not the only one who makes this sort of stuff), I just can't seem to unload it. 

So right now I'm focused purely on making things I fully intend to give away (presents for friends and family and charity hats), but I do still take occasional special orders. I would much rather sell what I already have than make new stuff, but I love crocheting and if a person wants something special I'll make it for them.

That said a lot of my customers really enjoy throwing me for a loop. Just when I think I've learned every pattern anyone could possibly want, someone comes up with a request that completely throws me. Can you make a manatee? A hat that looks like a cartoon character from this cartoon that you have probably never heard of? A  spatula cover? (Okay, I made that last one up)

Generally my answer is, let me google it and get back to you, which I do, I make it, and they buy it. Works well for everyone. Except every so often I send them the pictures of the completed project and . . . silence. 

So here I am with a finished project I don't want that was special ordered so it may be impossible to sale. 
The most recent incident of this was the little reindeer in the title (now available on Etsy because his buyer backed out. You can purchase him here.). Now I do a lot of special orders and about 75% of them come through with no problem. Some even have offered to pay ahead but since they are people I know I generally wave it  off and sometimes don't even charge them until after the item is shipped. However, the 25% of the time that the people for whatever reason back out of the deal is truly frustrating. Prompted by this last incident I posted the following on my Critters for Coryn Facebook page.

This has been a long time coming, but as of this day, I'm creating a policy of prepayment on special orders. 
I am always happy to research and create a new pattern for someone who has a specific need, and generally people are good about coming through. Also, considering most of my clients are people I know in real life, I usually have been comfortable not charging up front. However, about a quarter of the time, when people request special orders from me, they are unable to pay or unwilling to purchase once the order is complete.
For one thing, this is an extremely awkward situation for me. I know that things come up and sometimes money is tight, but my time and resources are not infinite. If I devote time to researching and creating a new product for you and you back out after this is complete, that product is not necessarily easy for me to resale to another. It simply makes more sense for me to receive payment up front. If something happens to me and for whatever reason I cannot make your order to your satisfaction, I can refund you your money. It is impossible for you to refund me my time.

I probably lost the person who ordered the reindeer as a Facebook fan, though I was careful not to mention their name, but it needed to be said. 

It is one thing to inquire if I can make something and then when I say yes and quote a price, change your  mind about actually wanting it. People are always sending me pictures of things they  have seen asking if I can make something like that.  Sometimes they aren't interested in buying them. They just want me to know that this cool pattern is  out there in case I want to give it a go.  I like to think it is pretty  clear when I have agreed to make something for a price. Generally the exchange goes something like this:
Customer: Can you  make this?
Me: Yes, I can make that. I would charge you $10.
Customer: Okay, I want it in blue.
Me: It's made! My paypal address is....What address can I send it to?
Customer: . . . 

I've had the exact opposite, of course. I have had customers insist on paying up front which makes me very  nervous because if I get hit by a bus or break my crochet hand, how are they going to get their ten dollars back? This anxiety (the what if something goes wrong and I have to refund them their money and they get mad?!?!? anxiety) was what always stood in the way of  me asking for money up front as a policy. But as I  said in my Facebook post, money CAN be refunded. Time can't.

And look at that reindeer. That reindeer that nobody wants. Doesn't he break your heart?

The perils of accidental plagiarism

In my original notes for my  novel Dragon's Bride the fairy queen was named Idora. It was a nice, solid fairy queen name, but I wasn't particularly fond of it.

Then one day I was writing a scene with her in it without my notes handy and couldn't remember what I named her, only that it started with "Id" so Idora morphed into Idriss. I realized that  I liked this name much better and rolled with it, changed all previous mentions to her to the new name and kept on writing.

Until today when I was browsing Pinterest and saw this clever little meme.

Note the name midway through.

Yeah, it had been over a year since I had watched "The Doctor's Wife." Apparently Idris had been fermenting in the back of my head since then and popped out when I tried to think of an "original" fairy queen name. So much for original. Adding an extra "s" on the end really doesn't help. So it is either back to "Idora" or back to the drawing board.

Almost finished-NaNoWriMo

Just to start out with some Geeking out, aren't those eyes just intensely amazing. It's kind of like Gandalf and Sherlock Holmes had a love child. That's weird, but that's what I'm thinking right now.

Anyway, I did a lot of writing yesterday (over three thousand words) and a little bit this morning and went to casually input my word count.

This is what I see:
If for whatever reason that chart is hard to read, it says, in order to reach my 50k goal, I have less than 2k words to go, a lot less, actually.

Of course, my story is going to stretch a little past that goal. I am sensing at least another 4k words left it in, maybe twice that depending if I include an optional battle with some satyrs (cause, why not?).

As a teaser treat, here is a scene  in which a main character is tempted by a vamp-ish fairy (called "Fey" in my books) queen. (Unedited. Mea culpa)

“I am alone,” she said. “You can stop looking for an ambush. Like you I am just here to talk.” She shivered and drew her cloak about her.  “I dislike the cold. This cloak is hardly sufficient. I could use something more substantial to wrap myself in. Something like you.” She reached out, touched his shoulder, and walked her fingers down to his elbow. He jerked away.
“Where is Martin?”
“Really, is that all you can think about?”
She stepped up to him, rubbing herself against his chest. When he tried to push her off she melted through him and embraced him from behind. Ewan scowled and grabbed her about the wrists to untangle himself only to find her smiling before him again, her face inches from his inspite of his advantage in height. He glanced down and found her hovering a foot above the snow.
“No point in ruining my best slippers. Think of what we could have together, Sir Dragon. I sense that you are not completely tied to your human form. That is a convenience for your bride. I can offer you the best of both worlds. A dragon in the skies during the day and a man in my bed at night. I love a human form, the muscles, the jaw line.” She freed her hand and touched his face. “Fey men are so insubstantial by comparison. Unfortunately humans are short lived. I’ve never been able to keep one for more than a few decades. You, however, have a dragon’s strength and a dragon’s life span. We could have centuries of passion.”
“I have a wife and compared to her, you offer no true temptation. When one is married to an angel, a demon’s embrace offers little fascination. Now, where is my friend?”
She withdrew and grimaced at him. “He is alive, if not unharmed. I was about to go tend to him myself when you called for me. He resisted my first attempt to pry information from him, but I sense a second session will be enough to get what I need.”

Ewan’s stomach twisted but he forced his face to remain impassive.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Week Three NaNoWriMo Update-I'm a Dragon now. Dragons are cool.

The above image is my "dashboard/personal stats" for this year's National Novel Writing Month. As you can see, I'm on track to finish ahead of schedule, but I'm behind for the day. I really should be writing that instead of this, but, gah, I don't know what to write today.

I think I'm going to break a character's leg out of spite.

Oh, and my profile picture is now a dragon. Watch me devour this word count! RAWR!

Amanda’s Books and More

Willamette Valley Wonder Woman

Life in a Break Down

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cara Box Reveal-Fall Box

This season (since they are now doing it seasonally rather than monthly, which honestly, is kind of  a relief financially speaking) my Cara box matches are Holly and Hayley. Since I'm Heidi I have to think there was some alphabetizing going on.

You  can find Holly (who sent to  me) at Little Hip-ster Girl and Hayley at A Beautiful Exchange.

To start with, I am a lousy photographer, so I thought I'd try and just do a video reveal. Watching back my  video, however, revealed that my video skills are about on the same level as my photography skills, so I took some pictures anyway.

We talked a lot about  tea. My favorite wasn't available in her area, but she sent me her favorite which is even better because it means I can try something new. This cinnamon tea (and local honey sticks) are going to be gone soon (I haven't had  HT teas in ages. They were available in the Barnes and Noble I worked at when we were in San Diego, but I haven't seen them here in Florida, but they were a weakness partially because I coveted the tins.).

Everything needs a cat!

And on the Fall theme here is a scary cat.

And a cool braided bracelet.

There was also a mug which I pictured in an earlier post (here) and a jar of pumpkin apple butter that met a sad fate (watch the video if you must know). It was an awesome box. Now excuse me while I go make some cinnamon tea!

If you are interested in this exchange, sign ups should start soon. Check it out here.