Here you can follow the blow-by-blow account of my attempt to transform myself into a (regularly) published author.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Keep Moving Forward

Since making all those phone calls about North Country Cache, we've packaged up books to send to the store that wanted more (and mailed them, along with several invoices), made a stack to hand-deliver to a local store, and have a review copy ready to leave at the Ludington Center for the Arts gift store.

I also found another venue to sell News from Dead Mule Swamp, so it's now listed at IWriteReadRate.

A long time ago I once read that anything worth doing is worth spending five minutes a day on. I've really taken this to heart because my life is so fractured and I always have so many projects going at the same time that it's hard to keep moving forward on them all.

However, I have learned that this concept really works. If I can manage to do some small piece of any project it does keep it moving forward. Even if there is some huge task... if I do a few small bits, after a while the rest of it eventually becomes doable.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Marketing- Follow-up on Consignments

Today, my sister-in-law helped me get organized and make calls to follow up on consignment placements of North Country Cache. I really despise doing this kind of work, so this feels like a huge weight off my shoulders.

Marketing is one of the most difficult parts, OK, THE most difficult part, of self-publishing. You have to get books into book stores for people to see them. Many stores won't buy books outright. They want the author to take all the risk by placing books on consignment.

Consignment is a huge risk. Not only do you need to do all the follow-up, finding out if books have sold and requesting payment, but there is a hidden risk as well. Independent bookstores can go out of business in a flash, and if they do, your books will probably disappear into a black hole and you'll never see any money.

At least four stores where I had books on consignment are just gone. In one case, I know that all six copies they had were sold, and I never received the money. In other cases, I don't really know, but suspect that the books all went to discount houses. Cost to them... nothing, since they never paid me for the books in the first place. Cost to me... at least the cost of printing each book, if not more.

Only one store that I called today wanted to order more books, and one store wants to return the rest of what they have, and I have to pay the shipping.

It's interesting how various stores feel about keeping inventory. Some stores won't keep your book in stock if they don't sell in a year. Others are willing to keep a few copies, apparently indefinitely.

Well, at least now I've done the checking on all these for a while. I wish I could say I won't do any more consignment sales, but that's not practical either. Sigh.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Review of News from Dead Mule Swamp by Cozy Mystery Book Reviews

Cozy Mystery Book Reviews has just posted about News from Dead Mule Swamp. This great blog reviews only cozy mysteries, and the owner, Bella, also runs some great giveaways.

Bella says, "It's fun discovering new mystery novels, and getting introduced to a host of new characters. That's how it felt when I started reading NEWS FROM DEAD MULE SWAMP. There are so many interesting characters... I was a little sad when it was over, because I wanted to read more about Anastasia and her new town."

Be sure to check out Cozy Mystery Book Reviews for more great reads.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Smashwords Now Offers Gift Giving Option

You can now give e-books as gifts at Smashwords. Here's how:

Any book that is not free shows an additional button under "Add to Cart," that is "Give as a Gift."

You will need to know the email of the person you want to give the gift to (there is a way around this). That person will be sent a coupon code to download the book at no cost to them after you pay for it.

You can alternatively use your own email address, then print out the coupon code and give it to the person (if you wanted to gift wrap it, for example).

The recipient will need to join Smashwords, but it's free... that's no burden.

Why not give some copies of News from Dead Mule Swamp as gifts? It's an inexpensive way to spread some fun!

Complete instructions for How Gifting Works at Smashwords

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reader Reaction to News from Dead Mule Swamp

Reader Barry says, "Loved the story. It kept me reading past my bedtime last night. I barely put it down until I was finished and skipped dinner to read it. Waiting anxiously for the next one."

Music to an author's ears! The next one, Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp, is begun.

You can order this cozy mystery at Smashwords or Amazon.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chapter One "Meanders and Undulations"

With some concentrated effort yesterday, I got an actual beginning for North Country Quest that I like.

I'm at 443 words, and have the opening written and the concept for the way the chapter will come back to a conclusion.

I borrowed ideas on perspective from a passage in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard that I've always loved. Hopefully my efforts will be somewhat as appealing.

When I finish each chapter I may share a tidbit here. I'm thinking about that.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

I Spent an Hour and Wrote 44 Words

I spent an hour yesterday on chapter 1 of North Country Quest and wrote 44 words, of which 22 are going to be moved to the preface, and the rest are junk.

Why am I so slow? It's all part of the writing process. I listened to part of the tape again. I made two additional false starts and deleted them as horrible. I looked up the section of this hike on the map and read the description. I opened my mapping software and tried to find the name of a creek where I ate lunch (it has no name). I spent some time just getting the memories of that hike arranged in my head. Some were very clear, and others I had to work on.

I've had the name of this chapter, "Meanders and Undulations," settled since the date of the hike (October 2003). It's a phrase taken from the actual trail map description, and it's a perfect lead-in to the second half of my meandering journey along the North Country Trail.

But the next step, getting a catchy opening on to paper (screen), isn't that simple. I think maybe I've got an idea now. We'll see if I can get somewhere with that today.

This first chapter not only has to be an essay about the particular hike, but be an opener to the entire second volume, so it needs to be GOOD.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Poem to be Included in Elements of Life

I don't have a contract yet, but it is pretty certain that I will have a poem included in the next anthology to come from Twin Trinity Media, called Elements of Life.

The book includes stories which were submitted for contests of the themes of Birth, Life, and Death. These contests took place before I got involved with Twin Trinity/ Accentuate Writers. However, Michelle (Michy) Devon, editor and publisher has requested poems to use as fillers between the stories.

This summer I wrote a poem entitled "Now, Then, When," and Michy requested that I send it to her, yesterday.

Elements of Life will be the next volume published. It follows Elements of the Soul, Elements of Time and Elements of Dimension, already in print.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Editing Article for North Star

Not much writing happening today. I'm swamped with work for pay which I sure have to keep doing. (Of course higher pay would mean I could afford more writing time, but these days, I'm just glad to have a job.)

I did do some editing and providing additional material to the magazine editor for the next edition of North Star. It's entitled "Those Irrepressible Girls," and focuses on women who have made significant contributions to the North Country Trail Association.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

West Side Gang Writers' Group

The West Side Gang met tonight. It's a twice-a-month get together where we share works in progress for critique. I'm not much of a joiner, but I've come to value this group.

It's a talented bunch of folks! Some write poetry, some essays, some fiction, others non-fiction. Some of us just write all kinds of things because we can't stop.

Tonight, even off-season (several people go south for the winter), we had eleven people show up, and eight of us took something to read. Since I'm sort of in between projects, I took two short poems I had written over the winter.

Who knows what I'll ever do with all my poems? Poetry is a real tough sell, and I write it mostly just because I like to. But I do have them all collected in one notebook. That was a project from last winter.

And, there were holiday goodies to munch on, too. Can't beat that!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Meager Beginning, but Working on North Country Quest

Somehow, I have to work on both North Country Quest and Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp at the same time. I honestly don't know how possible that is going to be because I usually get my head so deeply inside one idea at a time that there isn't room for much else.

Nevertheless, I found the tape covering the hike that will be the first chapter of NCQ today, and began to listen to it. I already know what the theme of the chapter will be. Each chapter in North Country Quest and North Country Cache is an essay that can pretty much stand on its own, so as soon as I know the thematic idea the essay is usually fairly easy to write. However, the fact that this will be the first chapter of the second book means that it needs a lot more filling out.

The book is following the format of the first book, a continuation and completion of the hike along the North Country Trail. In some ways, finishing the story excites me, and in some ways it seems boring. I think I can't really tell until I get into it. But, in either case, I've made a commitment to write the second book.

They say the most difficult part of any journey is the first step... so I've made a first step.

Friday, December 9, 2011

First Review of News from Dead Mule Swamp is Positive

Jennifer Malone-Wright, author of several vampire novels, graciously agreed to review News from Dead Mule Swamp, and I sure like what she says!

Although I did provide her with a free copy, Jenn says "I cannot guarantee a positive review... I simply write what I think about a book and that's it."

Basically, she feels that I've captured the small-town feeling well, and recommends the book. Please visit her blog and read her review of News from Dead Mule Swamp.

You can order this cozy mystery at Smashwords or Amazon.

If vampires are your thing, be sure to check out Jennifer's books, too

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Beginning Paddy Plays in Dead Mule Swamp

Is it possible that spending some time each day writing is becoming a habit? I have so few good habits that would be delightful!

At any rate, I had made notes to outline the general plot for the next Anastasia Raven mystery, and now I have a chapter and a half done.

Paddy is an Irish Setter puppy that belongs to Ana's cousin. She has agreed to keep Paddy for a few weeks of the summer. What kind of mischief can Paddy get into?

If you want to get acquainted with Ana, be sure to buy News from Dead Mule Swamp. It's only 99¢!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What is an LCCN and Why Get One?

LCCN stands for Library of Congress Catalog (control) Number. It is a unique identifier assigned to any book which has applied and is accepted into the Library of Congress. Libraries use this number to find information to catalog a book which they have acquired. Some libraries will not accept books that do not have an LCCN.

If you want your printed book to look professional and be readily accepted by stores and libraries, you should apply for this number.

It's easy to do, you just need to do it well in advance of printing.

Go to and create an ID. Then apply for the number. You'll need to know the title, author(s), approximate number of pages, ISBN, and approximate printing date.

Click submit, and wait to hear back!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Winner of a Free Copy of News from Dead Mule Swamp

Winner of a free copy of News from Dead Mule Swamp is Ivy of Spinning Lovely Days. She found all 15 names and thus earned two entries, one of which won.

The rest of you will have to fork out 99¢- sorry about that. But I'm not too sorry, it's really a great deal.
You can order at Smashwords or Amazon.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Star City Short Story Contest Results

The Star City Blog sent me a message. "We regret to inform you that due to insignificant participation, Star City Blog was forced to cancel the contest."

I'm a bit bummed out that they couldn't have figured that out right after the deadline instead of six weeks later. But, o well.

I wonder what they considered insignificant? I wonder why they couldn't have said in the rules that awarding of the prizes was contingent on having X number of entries?

But, I do have another story that I can do something with on my own.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

News from Dead Mule Swamp - Ready for Orders

You can now order News from Dead Mule Swamp at either Smashwords or Amazon.

The author gets higher royalties if you order from Smashwords, and they offer many formats, including HMTL (to read in a browser), text and DDF for those without readers of any kind. They also offer ePUB which works in many readers, mobi for Kindle, and LRF and PDB for Sony and Palm.

Amazon offers one format, mobi, for their Kindle Reader, and the author only gets 35¢. So, if it makes no difference to you, it would be much nicer for me (any author) to order through Smashwords.

Here's the best news. News from Dead Mule Swamp is only 99¢! I want you to meet Anastasia Raven, and the book is rather short. So, have a bit of fun without spending a fortune!

Go buy it!