The Calm Before…

So I’ve been rather quiet lately. I’m sure you thought I forgot about you.

NEVER!

I have been writing and editing and creating up a storm. Soon, very very soon, I will be publishing a collection of poetry I am in the final stages of editing and putting together. I often talk on here about project that go unfinished, or take longer than expected, so this time I waited until I was certain this would see the light of day before I mentioned it, thus the radio silence.

 

I’m not telling you the name or the content, because I will reveal all when it is in the proof stage. But to give you a slight peek, here is a picture I took in Venice Beach that is incorporated into my overall cover design. Cheers!

 

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What I Am Up To

I know, I know, it is really late in the day and I should have posted much sooner. But wait until you hear about what I spent my day doing (then you might forgive my flakeyness). Since it is summertime, my good pal Kristin Swartfager is out of school (she works at a preschool), at which point she switches hats from teaching young-ins to illustrating and arting up the place.

Curoius?

 

I knew you would be. Here is a taste:

Yarn for title page

Yup. It’s a ball of yarn. This is one of many adorably irresistible images that will appear in our first collaboration, Timmy Tommy Tum. It is a picture book with a rhyming story about a human-like kitten who refuses to go to sleep. Yes, it is for children.

The reason (and my excuse) for being so un-bloggy today is because Kristin and I spent the day refining our work. You will see the results of our cooperation very soon.  Until then, bask in the cuteness of the characters she drew to represent us in all of the books (yes, there will be several more to come) we do together specifically for kids.

KS&AL (1)In other news, my webpage got an update. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here: authoralsant.com

I will give you updates as our happy partnership produces more awesomeness. Until then, Happy reading!

 

Progress report

I have known for some time that Fayling belonged to a series that has been forming in my head. I am pleased to announce that series has found a title, The Gatestone Chronicles. Fayling will be book one. I have commissioned artwork for the cover and secured an editor, so I can safely promise you will see it in print before summer is over. Work on Fayling began a long time ago, but I have learned to work more efficiently, and to feed the creative monster that lives in my brain. As a result, years worth of work are finally seeing real results.

With this new found method of writing, I can comfortably promise my readers that book two of The Gatestone Chronicles- which I will not name until closer to it’s completion- will be released sometime in 2016.

Between book one and two, I am working on a collaborative project with my artist friend from Nitsirk’s Grotto. I will give you more info on this project as plans solidify.

So that’s what I am up to reader. What are you working on?

Tilted Tales Update

All right, It took a bit of finagling, but the Kindle edition of Tilted Tales is live. Feel free to order a copy. If you do, I would be eternally grateful if you left a review. Click on the picture below to find it on amazon:

Tilted_Tales_Cover_for_Kindle

Happy reading!

Helpful CreateSpace Tips

As you know, I published Tilted Tales to Amazon.com via CreateSpace. It was not overly difficult to do, and they give you plenty of instructions/advice. Even so, I had a little help with the formatting from my previously published friend, and I leaned so much from her during the process. But, as with any first time project, I learned some things not to do the hard way. I’m happy to share it now.

1. If you are working under a deadline, give yourself at least a month to edit and proof your copies, so you are certain the final project is everything it can be. I was pushing for a Christmas deadline, and I feel like a mistake or two I made might have been caught sooner, or avoided, had I not felt so rushed.

2. Don’t trust the color balance on the digital proof- ordering a physical proof is an absolute must. I ordered bookmarks from Gotprint.com, and the color balance on my cover image was perfect. I (wrongly) assumed that meant the digital image was perfect, and I submitted Tilted Tales without getting a hard copy- after all, it was already printing out correctly, right? Wrong. Different printers have different color balances. I have discovered that Amazon.com’s printers are about two shades darker than the ones at gotprint.com. I ended up having to resubmit and order new proofs of a lightened image. Don’t make my mistake.

3. PDF files do not convert well to Kindle format. You will note that the Kindle edition of my book is not up yet- that is because I am still working on getting the correct format. When submitting your manuscript, you will need to save one file as a PDF, and one in HTML. Now, if your version of Microsoft Word is older than 2010, you will not have this option in the drop down menu in the save as window. There is an alternative option. Google docs has the option to save your document this way, however you will have to fiddle with the formatting a bit. Also, the file name of your manuscript does show across the top of every page, so I recommend naming the file by the title of your book so it reads like a header. I also recommend buying a newer edition of Word. I certainly will.

If you take only one piece of advice from me, then let it be this: Take your time, check everything twice. Your book is your baby- you worked very hard to complete your manuscript. Don’t cut corners at the moment when you need to shine.

Tilted Tales: A Deviated Journey

I am pleased to announce, with no shortage of pride, that Tilted Tales is officially published.
Tilted_Tales_Cover_for_Kindle

Three short months of writing felt like five minutes, especially toward the end. I am satisfied with the results, though if I am completely honest, the journey was a harrowing, albeit rewarding experience.

Inspiration for this project stemmed from a summer poetry book my writing group put together, A Tapestry of Verse. I thoroughly enjoyed working with my friends and fellow poets, and the inspiration to write more poems did not stop with that publication. Fun ideas were rolling around in my brain, begging to be let out. Up until that point I was focused on completing my novel, but my brain set it aside for a while to become poetically obsessed.

To exorcise this fixation I devised a challenge that would keep me focused and motivated while still aiming at a short deadline so that I could return to my novel. In hindsight I see that I was entirely overzealous and impractical. Creativity takes time and finesse, and anything rushed out for the sake of speed will not be worth publishing. I did not meet my own challenge, so technically it was a fail.

I will not pepper you with excuses, but I will say this: Life came at me from every angle, my own health included. After everything, I was getting a bit sick of producing poem after poem, many of which that I didn’t even like. Still, The concept behind Tilted Tales was important to me. I began to put off writing. I did have creative ideas, but rhythm and rhyme were evading me. That is when (after some encouragement from my very supportive husband) I decided to manifest those ideas in the form of short stories. Ultimately, this was the right way to go. So the end result of Tilted Tales contains both the poems that I am very pleased with, and the short stories that I felt fit with my theme.

Something both wonderful and frightening occurred during the end stages of completion. I had several people in my writing group clamor for copies of Tilted Tales in time for Christmas. This is the highest praise I could possible imagine receiving. To have people seeking my very first book before I’ve finished it was both exciting and surreal. It was also terrifying. My deadline to be done writing had just become my deadline to have the published book in my hand. That shaved precious weeks off my time to write, and I had already been put behind schedule by life’s little uncertainties. I sheepishly admit that the computer simulated ink wasn’t even dry on the last short story before it was strategically placed in the last section of the book, on the day I submitted it to CreateSpace. It would not have been possible at all without the last-minute editing help of my brother Izlain at Me vs. Myself and I, and my friend, Jazzy.

With Tilted Tales submitted and approved by CreateSpace, and my copies merrily on their way to my front door, I now wait for the anticipated moment when my book is in my hand. Until then, I will endeavor to figure out how to make my PDF file Kindle friendly, and try not to clobber the post man in hopes of seeing my beloved tome.

If you are interested in ordering a paperback copy of Tilted Tales, you can find it HERE.  All proceeds will go to the Ashmo Needs A Car foundation. (there is no foundation, I just like money.)

Brief Update

I am on a time crunch, so I shall keep this brief.

The bad news: I will not have 150 poems for my book.

The good news: I Will have my book done in December.

I have been inspired to write some short stories alongside my poetry, and I decided to include that in Tilted Tales. There are many many poems that I did write, but will not make it into the book because my dog has laid steamers that made me more proud. That is not to say I can’t improve upon them, I just don’t want to force it if it’s not working. The short stories do work with my theme, and my husband has given his stamp of approval on the mix of styles, so that is what I am going to do. I will be sure to share the link with you when I get the formatting all finished and published.

 

Happy Turkey Day and Happy writing!

My Foray into Create Space

Lately my sparse posts have been wrought with despair and self-doubt over my personal poetry challenge. Today, however, I am feeling pretty good about my progress.

I have been working on the formatting for Tilted Tales, the projected fruits of my poetry challenge. I decided to self-publish via Create Space, the Amazon powered self publishing company. They have some very helpful tools on formatting your book, if you are willing to hunt around a bit on their website.  I am entirely new to this process, so I am figuring it out as I go.  I have opted to go with the 5×9 book size because (as they so helpfully tell you) this is the most commonly published size, and the most widely distribute-able.  I am going with black and white pages, as I have opted not to bother with illustrations. Taking the time to do drawings would delay my collection indefinitely, because frankly I am a slow artist. I want to get this collection done and out there so I can go back to focusing on my novel. Besides, there is no rule that I can’t have an illustrated edition release later.

You can design your own cover art via Create Space, and I have opted to do so with my own original artwork. They offer artist services, but I cannot speak to any of it, since I am not in need of an artist.I played around with a few design ideas, before settling on my now complete cover. I went with a shadowed, simplistic design that hopefully is interesting and conveys the dark and whimsical style I have. The only thing I have left to do is adjust the spine size, based on the final page count.

They offer a Microsoft word template for the inside formatting of your book, and I downloaded that template. Today I completed my title page, my copyright page, my acknowledgements, and my about the author page. Then (giving myself a big pat on the back) I managed to be creative and write several poems. I am not caught up to where I want to be yet, but I am satisfied that I will have a full book ready for my December 12th deadline. I’m exceptionally proud that I have stayed motivated, even when it seemed like I was getting nowhere. I may or may not have the 150 poems I had intended on, but there will be more than enough for my first collection.

As always, I will keep you apprised of my progress. Happy Writing!