Zip it for kindle upload

I can’t believe it took me so long to grasp the simple zip-folder necessity for kindle formatting. I kept getting those nasty ‘picture of an old-fashioned camera’ icons instead of my lovely images in the final version I downloaded or previewed. I ended up writing myself a reminder on a post-it note “zip it or lose it!” Takes a few repeats, even if those are a couple months apart, before the process sinks in.

So, for those who haven’t created their first kindle book yet, when you get there, here are the reminder steps in converting from word.

  • Save the file as web-filtered
  • Make sure the resulting file + the images are in the same folder
  • Zip the folder with the images + the web-filtered file inside
  • Make any necessary corrections to the HTML file
  • When uploading to the dashboard at KDP, choose the zip file to upload

Hopefully, next time I’ll remember. If not, there’s that handy post-it note and this reminder on my blog. Am gathering together all the cheat-sheet notes and memory tricks into a short guide to share at some point.

Bye for now – I’m headed off to work on a short story about a web designer who discovers how to add magic to her designs and code.

If you like my blog, you might like my fiction too. Join my mailing list for a free short story and very occasional updates.

Reading DeLint

I have been reading Charles DeLint again lately. One of his later books, The Painted Boy, is a particular favorite. I like the shape changing that occurs, and how it is tied to a family legacy and responsibility. It has a multicultural layer, with the inevitable clash of cultures, however, what intrigues me is the way DeLint talks about things that draw people together, the ways in which they find connection in the pursuit of service to their chosen community. This story stands alone, away from the world of Newford, yet it echoes a bunch of the themes present in those stories.

MoonheartI was enjoying myself so much reading The Painted Boy, I decided to go back to some of the earlier works that spoke to me. I am currently re-reading Moonheart by DeLint. The online version has lovely illustrations, which are a happy addition to the original work. I first read Moonheart in 1987 when I was traveling for the first time. It seemed, at the time, that the journey of the protagonist, Sara, was echoed by my own journey at the time. I remember thinking that the traveler sees things more clearly because they are ‘out of context’ and cannot help but engage from a place of stillness. I recall thinking that if I could ‘act from the listening place’ that ‘right action’ may follow. I’m not sure how well I did in comparison with my fictional role model, but it sure made for good reading.

In reading the stories again, I find I am looking for the familiar threads that run through them. Along the way, I am discovering things I missed the first time around. I had not remembered there were so many threads of government agencies tampering, or attempting to, with the paranormal for instance. That added to the tension of the story by racking up a body count to contrast against the much more thoughtful actions of our newly talented heroine. The obstacles against her were not only paranormal, but physical. There were many levels to the layers of conflict. Nice job.

After this, I think I’ll give another couple of his early works another read. He’s the master of weaving together urban fantasy. I particularly recommend ‘Riddle of the Wren’ and ‘Moonheart’ for new readers. Check out his amazon author page.

Now I’m going to dive back into Moonheart.

Fevered days

Last couple of days have been a blur. It started with my trip to the dentist and ended up with a couple of days of fever and flu. It has felt like sleeping and waking at one and the same time.

coiled in the serpent

dreaming red dreams

of ochre rich with minerals

deep pockets in the earth

and magic traced in bones

I wonder if ley lines might change the junk in land fills, leeching magic into the machines? I wonder if rain might drown the night until it runs down like ink into the dark caves underground? I wonder if children are born with the traces of ancient sea creatures whispering into their shell like ears. There may be a story there, but not while the fever holds me.

I will drink cool water and wait for clarity.

Free or nearly free images for blogs and covers

infographic

From vectorstock.com

I have a bunch of sources that I use for images for blog posts and cover inspiration. For the most part, I purchase images and then modify them or resize them, however, sometimes the free sites can surprise you with incredible image content. I tend to avoid using search engines to find images for professional work though if I’m going to use one, Bing.com has better image search and categorization.

I find that having a working cover for a book or article helps focus the words. Purchase happens later on in the process, once everything is much more nailed down.

Here are few of my favorite direct sites.

  1. Morguefile
    This is a terrific free site. It is great for inspiration. The license allows you to repurpose images, combine them, modify them, or use as is. You can choose to include attribution, or not. It has a mix of photography, vector images and is great for landscapes. It may not always have book-sized images, but is great for blogs. When I was putting together a quick deck of inspirational images (3″ x 2.5″ think cards) it was one of my ‘go to’ places. I was only going to use one of each image, and for single use for a party. I like to give credit in projects where I am using something that has some distribution though.
  2. Vectorstock
    This is a low cost rather than free site. I purchase images from here for $1 each. I am a full time designer, and often need to comp up ‘directional’ images. This is a great source to save time, especially when creating quick ideas. There was recently a time when I needed high quality photographic images of various screens (desktop, laptop, tablet, hand held device) for a quick powerpoint. Zero time to draw something but Vectorstock came through like a champ. Ten minutes later I had images to use for a quick internal demo. It is also a great source for images to layer for book jacket design. You do need an account. Happily, you can use paypal to pay for credits.
  3. iStockphoto
    One price for image credits ($15) and you don’t need much more than a low-fidelity image for web use. Only good up to 499K print editions, but it’s easy to buy an extended licence if you need it. The credits expire, and you need to purchase packages. High quality offsets this little annoyance.

There are great free sites too and if you want a well-written article on the top 15 of the legal and free sites, go on over to a blog I follow – LiveGrowWrite – she has the latest scoop in her article and it weighs the pros and cons of each site.

How about sites you use?

Share your experience in the comments section. We’re all looking for good, legal and free sites to use where it’s easy to find an attributed image.

6 books published in a year: now we are six!

It’s a little crazy, right? Our tiny publishing company, Impish Press, has launched six new books in the past year. After the writing, that includes all the traditional and hybrid indie tasks of

  1. Line editing
  2. Proof reading
  3. Continuity
  4. Book design
  5. Conversion to kindle
  6. Design for print
  7. Cover design
  8. Back cover / description writing
  9. Web site design
  10. Marketing

All while I held down a full-time job at Microsoft, and Raven took care of everything with the house plus full-time writing. Admittedly, I have a past life in publishing, web development and design. However, there was guerilla time management in there, along with more than a dash of persistence. My partner is encouraging me to think about making the next book I write on how we managed to write AND publish a book every two months on average. It’s beginning to look more than likely I’ll oblige him. From what I read, short kindle books for the Do It Yourself market are a good niche.

I thought I might start with a quick guide to exactly how I format styles in word (after scrivener export) to avoid tears before bedtime when I convert to kindle. With screen shots and measurements. Think that’d be interesting?

What subjects would you like to see covered, dear readers? Use the comments section and I’ll try to answer questions.

10 Things I’ve learned about writing and publishing

Some of the most important things I’ve learned over the past year of writing and publishing are

  1. The first (or fifteenth) draft is not ready. It needs an editor.
  2. There are many editorial passes (characters, plot, sensory, place, continuity, tone, tightening up, grammar, spelling, formatting, design)
  3. A beta reader is worth their weight in gold. They answer questions:
    • What was unbelievable, in context of the story
    • What was confusing?
    • What did you want to see more of?
    • What was cool?
  4. Follow the directions of the publishing house – if you don’t, it will not ever get past the mail clerk. Margins, font, spacing, cover letter, synopsis (1000 words max – some prefer 350-500), elevator pitch (Firefly = A western, in space)
  5. The content of a book needs to (mostly) be in the same voice (1st person, 3rd person – it’s rarer than you’d think that it switches at all)
  6. Research is important – tell the reader where/when they are, get the facts right, especially historical facts need to be accurate)
  7. The story needs to be marketable – it needs to fit an exact niche
  8. Sensory information is important (taste, sound, smell, touch, sight)
  9. Characters have motivation, feelings, internal voices. Use them.
  10. Place can also be a character in a story.