I’m about to let you in on a secret that will help you write that book that’s been dying to get out. The best part is, you can do it without having an existential crisis.
It’s been too long since I’ve posted anything about writing in the trenches in this genre I love so much. Back when I was locking myself away in my room, tapping out words and getting nothing but rejection or worse, silence, I never dreamed I’d be in the position I’m in today. Sure, I did it with the goal of legitimate publication (whatever your own definition of that may be), but I just never thought I’d have a year like this one with three books coming out and writing four more for three different publishers for next year.
I’m not a full time writer. Writing doesn’t have health benefits, and if you’ve stopped by the…
The first thing you will need is a template in the size you want with the spine the correct width for the length of your book. You can either create this yourself using the instructions on your publishing site (here for CreateSpace), or download the template built by CreateSpace when you enter the details for your book, which you can do here:
“O cup of coffee, black and foul, thou bitter bean who swallows sleep and leaves me wild-eyed as an owl.” – ODE TO COFFEE (Steve Vernon)
There used to be a little coffee shop on Blowers Street that was known for its owner who was a great supporter of the local arts. Once a week he would hold a Poetry Night where local unsung underground poets would come and read their latest work.
The coffee shop was called THE GREEN BEAN and has been closed for an awful lot of years – although I have heard that there is a GREEN BEAN coffee shop in Dartmouth.
I do not believe there is any true link between the two shops.
The Blowers Street GREEN BEAN was a bit of a dive but it was ALWAYS a great place to hang out and I really enjoyed their breakfasts – which were all-organic, a big thing back then.
There were about a dozen or so poets who would show up nearly every week and we would stand and shout out our poetry – mostly to the same old audience, meaning mostly to each other. My wife and I used to love going down there and reading our poems and just enjoying the atmosphere and the weird word-nerd camaraderie.
I always made it a point to order a cup of coffee – just because I knew that the owner wasn’t making much money in general – particularly during these poetry evenings.
So I was tickled by this article that I read this morning concerning WORLD COFFEE DAY.
Click this picture if you want MORE info on WORLD POETRY DAY
Today is World Coffee Day and the Julius Meinl chain of coffee shops have been honoring this day since 1982 by giving a free cup of coffee in exchange for an originally written poem.
This coffee shop poetry-for-coffee event is going on mostly in Europe. I checked the map and the only cafe in the entire continent of North America is a coffee shop in Chicago – which is too bad because I would LOVE to walk into our local Starbucks and shout out a poem and claim my free coffee today!
Well, even if you cannot take part in this event you can still blog about it or Tweet about it over on Twitter, using the hash tag #PayWithaPoem.
So – to celebrate WORLD POETRY DAY allow me to share with you a short poem that I wrote an awful lot of years ago. It was published in the June 2002 issue of CANADIAN WRITER’S JOURNAL as well as in the pages of Nancy Purnell’s LUNATIC CHAMELEON.
Let My Words Take Wing
By Steve Vernon
Writers have to sell to live –
this is truth, or so I’m told
but the moment you believe this lie
is the moment you begin to die
Take a look at sparrows
squatting on hydrowires
like so many feathered clothespins
indifferent to the megavolts
of stolen river current
winding through their brittle feet
independence of existence
indifference to power
and if you’re lucky, wings.
Yeah, that was the thing about poetry. Back then, selling a poem was basically a cup of coffee proposition. You get paid two dollars or five dollars and you were a huge success. I had a couple of fifty and seventy five dollar poem sales – and one poem that was actually picked up for the princely sum of five hundred dollars – but truthfully, poetry was NOT a financially feasible form of art for me.
Which is why I don’t write much poetry these days.
So – how many of you folks out there have shouted out poetry in a coffee shop?
How many of you Haligonians remember the Green Bean on Blowers Street?
How many of you fellows have successfully got away with wearing a black beret?
So I was just reading THIS ARTICLE telling me that I ought to start being responsible for clearing our sidewalk corners.
Newsflash – I have ALWAYS been responsible for clearing the sidewalks around our house. I am old school, that way.
But last winter the city confused the issue by hiring a small army of sidewalk plows and announcing that THEY were going to clear the sidewalks.
Okay, I thought. So THEY will clear them now.
So I started leaving the sidewalks go.
First winter it worked pretty well. They got out there regularly and kept the sidewalks reasonably clear, although their tiny little sidewalk-plows never did manage to clear the sidewalk down the pavement like I used to with my one lone shovel.
I could live with that.
But this year they have forgotten how to drive straight and have plowed over about six of my rose bushes – the ones that I planted around my yard. Some of these rose bushes are two or three feet in from where the sidewalk ends and they still seem to somehow manage to avoid the sidewalk and roll across my yard.
Then, to make matters worse the street plow has begun pushing the snow from the street up onto the corner of the sidewalk, completely obstructing our side street sidewalk from the main street sidewalk.
I am talking about a Volkswagen and a half sized hill of compacted snow pushed across our sidewalk.
And now this councilor is telling us that WE ought to go and shovel that up.
Okay, so like I said I don’t really mind shoveling sidewalks. In fact every year that I lived here in Halifax my sidewalk has ALWAYS been cleared. By me. With one shovel.
Monday morning I hacked a path through that snow drift – building a makeshift stairway up over the drift so that myself and my wife could get over the drift and down to the bus terminal.
Wednesday night – after all that snow fell, I went out to try and hack it clear and while I was out there shoveling buddy with the plow came in and heaped up two more microbuses worth of snow.
I am sorry. There is no phone booths around anymore so I CANNOT step into a phone booth and turn into Superman.
You click this image and it will take you to a really cool article on the history of Superman and the public telephone booth.
When did snow removal become pushing-the-snow-aside-and-letting-the-public-deal-with-it?
I am done ranting now. It won’t change a damn thing.
This is what I looked out to on our front deck yesterday morning. Click the picture and it will take you to the latest news story on this snow-maggedon blizzard-from-hell.
I kicked my way out of the side door this morning to go and clear a path for Belinda’s trip to work. The side door was frozen as well as the front door and by the end of this winter we may need a new screen door on the side – and possibly a new front door as well.
May would be a GREAT month for a door-to-door door salesman to come knocking on our door.
I may have just sprained a neural synapses or two in that last sentence.
For those who haven’t been following the story Halifax had about 30 cm of snow dumped on it’s head this Sunday. Then, Wednesday we got gifted with about another 50 cm or so.
It is hard typing this with shovel-weary arms – but I feel as if I have to get word out before the city gives way to the weight of the snow and tips off sideways and slowly drifts out into the gray Atlantic.
Neither of our sidewalks have been touched by the city – and the end of our sidewalk that leads out to the street that leads to the bus terminal is buried beneath about a Volkswagen and a half of plowed-in snow. On Monday morning I managed to dig a sort of a staircase so that my wife and I could climb over that Volkswagen and a half to get to work – but I have tried these last two mornings and the snow is just too heaped up to get through and too softly-packed to hew out a makeshift staircase.
So I stomped down the sidewalk in the other direction until I came to a wee path that somebody had cleared from their own house to the street. The path had been plowed over by the snowplow – but I cleared that and then stomped up and down the sidewalk in my size ten gum rubbers to try and snowshoe out a path for my wife to walk upon.
Turn left at Albuquerque and just keep was what I told her when she headed off to work this morning.
I have had the last two days off of work – due to the snowed-in city. The buses were not running and so the office was closed. The city was ALMOST shut down. Nearly everything closed – shopping malls, offices and such.
Yesterday it was warm, so I clambered up our extension ladder onto the roof and shoveled most of the roof clean. I was a little surprised and somewhat unnerved to find about four feet of snow drifted directly over my writing office. No wonder the ceiling had been creaking.
Our car out back in the driveway has been buried for sometime. When this whole snow-maggedon first began back in February I came down with a murderous case of walking pneumonia and spent a good part of the month on my back – and so that whole driveway-clearing-thing got a little out of control for me.
Just last weekend I had cleared the whole driveway and was working on the North Wall that the street plows had built across the exit of my driveway – and then that Sunday storm hit.
I might go out again today in the afternoon to attack that driveway a bit. I would like to go for a ride in that car with my wife – seeing as we paid for new snow tires in the beginning of winter, before all of this snow buried the car.
Well, at least there hasn’t been much wear and tear on those new tires.
Laugh if you want to. Me, I am too tired to chuckle.
Back in February of 2015 I first heard about BUCK BOOKS from an author on kboards.
Cool, I thought. Here is another chance to promote my book sales.
Now, I run into an awful lot of book promotion sites. Some of them are good and some of them are bad and it is ALWAYS a crapshoot – but I felt I had to check them out.
The deal with BUCK BOOKS is simple. You do not have to pay a cent for a promotion with them – but you do have to agree to tell others about their service. Besides that, they currently offer an affiliate program that pays you a full dollar for each subscriber who signs up for their list through your link.
Cool, I thought.
That is a REALLY good deal.
But sometimes – friends and neighbors – stupid just gets in your eyes.
I applied to BUCK BOOKS for a promotion of my scarecrow horror novel TATTERDEMON – and then I promptly forgot all about it.
Do you want excuses?
I’ve been tired. Walked around with walking pneumonia for a full month. Have been trying to shovel out a small Himalayan glacier’s worth of snow from my driveway – just take a look at the Halifax, Nova Scotia weather report, would you?
The fact is – stupid just got in my eyes.
I did not tell a single sole about BUCK BOOKS.
Oh sure, I tweeted them out once or twice but that is a pretty half-hearted attempt at promotion.
Yesterday – March 16, 2015 – my BUCK BOOKS promotion went live and I sold FIFTY-TWO copies of TATTERDEMON.
And not just in the USA. I sold copies in the United Kingdom, in Germany and in Canada.
Then – today – I sold another 7 copies.
Now, you have to understand that I usually only sell a copy or two of TATTERDEMON every day or two. It moves steadily but awfully slowly. This bump of sales has moved TATTERDEMON up to this Amazon.com rank.
HOWEVER, lately I have been kicking around the notion of writing myself a romance novel.
Well, for starters I have to blame it on my wife. She keeps asking me just why does a fellow who has actually read THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY three times because he enjoyed it; who yells at his television when he doesn’t think that unrequited lovers are moving fast enough – “KISS HER, YOU IDJIT. JUST TELL HER YOU LOVE HER!”; and who got choked up watching the romantic conclusion to the final episode of the fifth season of DOWNTON ABBEY.
GET OUT INTO THE WATER, WOULD YOU!!!
So, I decided that if I was going to TRY to write a romance novel I had better start reading some of them as reference. Well, I have read a few so far and have a few more downloaded on my Kobo.
But let me tell you about THE AWFUL MESS.
I knew that this was a love story. It says so right on the front cover. But somehow as I started to read I began to wonder just what sort of a novel I was reading.
The one thing was for certain – I could not STOP reading it.
The book has a gentle gravitational pull that just draws you into the story. The protagonist has a charming and oddly compelling voice.
But is it a LOVE STORY?
AT first I began to worry that it was a Christian novel. Not that I have anything against Christian novels. Actually, I have written a couple myself – but I was looking for a contemporary romance and I wasn’t particularly looking for a CHRISTIAN romance.
But there was a priest and a question of faith and even a semi-mad wife who might as well have been locked up Bronte-style in the attic.
BUT – as the author herself makes a point of noting – this is NOT particularly a Christian novel.
AUTHOR’S WARNING – (as cribbed from the Kindle posting for this novel – “This book contains some religious themes, but if you require piety and reverence in such matters, this is not the book for you. Skeptics, you will probably be able to cope.”
I should warn you folks that this novel DOES have a couple of hot scenes. Heck, there are at least three entirely hot chapters.
Mind you, I am NOT talking about smut. These were hot love scenes partly on account of my not expecting them and partly on account of their totally believable “ordinary-ness”.
And I know that “ordinary-ness” ISN’T really a word – but that’s the wonderful thing about writing – you get to make up words whenever want to.
Funny thing was, I hadn’t expected those hot scenes, even though the cover had a picture of a naked woman on it.
Click here if you would like to purchase a copy of THE AWFUL MESS from Amazon.com
If memory serves me the first hot chapter was around chapter ten. It might have been nine or it might have been eleven – but I want to warn you readers to be ready for this chapter.
I was on my way to work on a really cold and snowy morning when I came across that first hot chapter and after reading it discretely tucked in the shadows of my black pea coat I had to ask the fellow sitting beside me to give me a cigarette.
“But you can’t smoke on the bus,” that fellow said.
“I know that,” I said. “I don’t even actually smoke, but this chapter I just read was so hot I feel I ought to take up the practice.”
So he took a look at my e-reader and read that chapter and then lit up two cigarettes – Paul Henreid style, for those folks who remember Bette Davis in NOW, VOYAGER – and we sat there and smoked.
Only then the bus driver pulled the bus over to the nearest snow drift and told me that we weren’t allowed to smoke on the bus.
So I showed him the chapter.
He sat there and read it aloud and then he started up the bus and drove us all to the nearest tobacco shop where he purchased a carton of cigarettes and treated EVERYONE on the bus to a smoke, even the lady with the purse puppy chihuahua.
So make a note of that.
Sandra Hutchison causes cancer.
That cover kept on confusing me. I kept waiting through the whole book for that woman to get into the water – and it turned out that is exactly what the book is about.
I am not going to tell you anymore about this novel – except to say that if you are looking for a oddly compelling read you might want to try this one.
If you are looking for a romance – only you HATE reading romance novels – then you REALLY ought to look at this one.
As for me, I have finished it and read the last couple of chapters twice and I can’t wait to read her next novel. Only problem is it is NOT available on Kobo yet, but I am hoping that is in the works.
Here’s Sandra’s latest novel – only on Kindle so far – but isn’t that a crackerjack of a title!
And finally, here is a link for those Kobo users, like myself.
Click here if you would like to purchase a copy of THE AWFUL MESS from Kobo.
Formatting your self-published book for print on demand (POD) is very different than for ebook publication, another level of difficulty entirely. But as with most things, the first book is the hardest, and after that it gets progressively easier. In this installment of my series, I will be referring exclusively to CreateSpace because that is the only POD publisher I have experience with. I suspect most of the these instructions will be similar for other POD publishers, however.
Preparing you book for POD consists of two main steps: formatting the book’s interior, and making the wrap-around cover. This week, I will only go into interior formatting. Next week (hopefully) I will explain what is involved in creating a wrap-around cover for your physical book using the ebook cover you already have.
Formatting the book’s interior
For hard copy publication, Createspace requires a correctly formatted PDF file. There are different ways…
I don’t have any particular bizarre writing spot. I do most of my writing at home in my office – which allows me the luxury to sit around in my favorite Batman boxer shorts and tap out earth-shattering epic nothings without anyone complaining about the sight of my big bare feet.
I will mention that the weirdest place I ever wrote was on top of a double-bladed industrial table saw…but that’s a whole other story.
With two young children in the home, finding time to write is difficult. While I’d love to say that I get up at 4am everyday without a problem to get a few hours in, I can’t. That would be lying. But, what I can say is some days I get a few hours while the kids are playing by themselves and some days I get, well, not even a second. *sigh* Ah, the life of a writer with small kids in the house.
So with this little “problem”, I’ve had to come up with a “grab the bull by the horns” plan to combat it. Every other Saturday, I take the whole day away from the house. I leave in the morning, go to a little nook corner of one of my favorite writing spots, and I don’t come home until late in the afternoon. It’s a grand day. I love…