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All eBooks for Free? August 24, 2011

Posted by ninapaules in eBooks, ePublishing, free.
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As reported by theguardian, Ewan Morrison, author, set forth a rather bleak vision for the publishing industry during his attendance at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

In part, Morrison said that Generation Y-ers (the children of the Baby Boomers) already consume 78% of their news digitally, for free, and books will follow suit.

I disagree. 

Here’s why.

 1. As long as Amazon and iBooks and Sony (et al) are in it to make money, ebooks will never be completely free.  Yesterday, I purchased Hurricanes in Paradise by Denise Hildreth Jones from Amazon, for free.  I paid Amazon nothing for it, but Amazon still had to pay to maintain their Whispernet, and their site, and pay their CEO so I could get it.  Multiply my actions by thousands and thousands of free eBook purchases and Amazon still makes nothing.  Somehow, I don’t see this mighty giant falling for all ebooks being sold as free.

 2. As long as authors view their work as valuable, ebooks will never be completely free.  Authors, new and veteran, when banded together, have the power to set eBook pricing.  The time has come for authors to decide how much their time is worth.

3. In this era of digital publishing and distribution, author advances are retreating.  Over a year ago, UK publishers reported cutting author advances by 30%-50%.  Soon, the only way to make money in the author-biz will be on book sales, as they happen.  When I purchased Denise’s book, for free, she didn’t make a penny.  I may have contributed to her rise in the “Lists”, but Denise can’t take that to the bank.

What are your thoughts?  (comment link is at the top)

eBook Formatting: Look Good, Sell More August 23, 2011

Posted by ninapaules in How 2 Write, Writing.
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Want to sell more eBooks without giving your work away for free?  (I think every author does.)

What to sell your next eBook almost as soon as you sell your first eBook?  (I know I do.)

The key is creating a reader experience that is e-bump free on every eReader Device, app and software program out there.

Here’s three formatting tips that will put on your way.

Chapter Heading: Dropping a chapter heading in the middle of a page is a perfect way to toss your reader out of your story. Design your book to clear the eReader screen at the start of every chapter, using the process designated by your eBook conversion program. That way, each chapter will start on a “new page”. (Technically, eBooks don’t have pages, but that’s an article for another day) Lowering your chapter heading a few lines and adding a flourish or glyph will also make your reader’s experience feel more familiar – more like a paper experience – with all the comfort and portability of an eReader.

Scene Break: Avoid using a single blank line to indicate a scene break. Kindle for PC, and the Kindle app for iPhone and iPad ignore blank lines, making it visually impossible to tell where one scene ends and another begins; major e-bump. Here’s an easy fix. Place a centered #-sign or a series of asterisks between scenes. Not altogether traditional, but your reader will (subconsciously) thank you.

Ellipses: A series of three (or four) spaced ellipses (. . .) have been the way of traditional publishing since the early nineteenth century. But in the World of “e”, spaced ellipses are viewed as individual words and thus breakable. Encountering an orphaned period (or two or three) at the left margin is another great way to derail your reader’s experience.

The fix is simple. Keep your ellipses together (no spacing in-between) and connected to the left-hand word, only. Connecting your sans-spaced ellipses to both words will cause an eReader device to view the left-hand-word + the sans-spaced ellipses + the right-hand-word as one long single word. Depending on the font-size set by your reader on his/her eReader device, a jarring early-line-wrap could result.

Here’s another tip. Avoid HTML coded ellipses. Some eReader Devices (apps and eReader software) interpret HTML ellipses as a series of numbers, or simply ignore the HTML code (and thus the ellipses) altogether. Not good for the reader experience.

The self-publishing author’s ticket to looking good and selling more is packaging a good story inside a familiar and e-bump free reader experience. 

 Written by Nina Paules

 Nina Paules is the founder of eBook Prep, a full service eBook design firm that caters to the busy print-published author working on a budget. Headquartered in New Freedom, PA – the last stop to freedom on the Underground Railroad – eBook Prep connects e-reader savvy readers with their favorite authors’ backlists and authors with a bright new source of royalties. www.ebookprep.com  www.epublishingworks.com

Blood Libel: If the metaphorical shoe fits… January 13, 2011

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life.
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Political rhetoric… so not my thing.

But, when it comes to trashing someone’s imaginative use of words…

Well…   Read on at your own risk.

Sarah Palin’s early morning Facebook post, yesterday (In case you missed it).   “Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn.”   This “status update” is in response to accusations that imagery and rhetoric associated with her may have contributed to the recent Arizona violence.

But, blood libel?  Really, Ms Palin?

Blood libel (or libels), as you may already know, are allegations that a person or group engages in human sacrifice, often accompanied by the claim that the blood of victims is used in various rituals and/or acts of cannibalism.  Historically, the term has been used to falsely accuse Jews of using Christian children’s blood to prepare their Passover matzoh. This myth is said to have begun in Europe as early as the 12th century, perpetuated by the death of a small boy in England in 1144.  Please note, this is only a myth!  And, like fiction, myths are rarely true; but are almost always birthed and verbally perpetuated by those who desperately need it to be true.  Sound familiar?

Which brings us back to the crux of this post.

Metaphorically, Sarah Palin has it right.   The Press, the Right, the Left, the Talk Show Spewers, the special interest groups, are indeed sacrificing our Nation using the words of her people in various rituals and/or acts that cannibalize us; our time, our money, our energy and our economy for the single purpose of personal gain!

And this is not a myth, folks.

Its is sad commentary indeed, that we, as a Nation, would rather engage in fruitless playground mudslinging than putting shoulder to the wheel and set our economy to rights.  Stirred mud produces nothing but stink and sour. The men and women who actively fought and died, sacrificing all so that we might live free, deserve more than that from us. Come on America! Do what you do best; make our Nation, our world, our children’s future a better and safer place.

Engaging in anything less will truly be blood libel — the real, non-mythical kind.

Sitting in a Regency Corset July 23, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life, Writing.
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If you missed Living in a Regency Corset, posted earlier in the week, click here.  To the scads (and scads) of folks who’ve already visited that post, THANK YOU, and welcome to Sitting in a Regency Corset.

First off, allow me to say that standing and walking while laced in a Regency corset is an absolute delight. 

Sitting… not so much. 

So, if you don’t mind, let us first indulge in the delightful.

If I could get away with wearing my Regency corset everyday, I promise you, I would.  (There I am on the right, peticoat over my corset) Not only does lady-like posture become a no-brainer — shoulders back, spine straight, tummy tucked — the weight of your upper body is automatically transferred to your hips, bypassing the lower back.  I’ve spent hours dancing quadrilles, reels and cotillions while corseted (below, right), and nary a back complaint have I faced.  Gliding along is the only way I know to describe it. 

But sadly, today’s fashions brook no tolerance for the armpit level bust a Regency corset produces.  Nor do low-slung bucket seats and soft-seated chairs allow for an unbendable lady.

And that’s exactly what you become while wearing a Regency corset.  Unbendable.

The inch wide wooden (or ivory) busk is to blame, you see, running from breast to just below the navel.  That, and the six companioning lengths of boning, four running down the back with one governing each side. 

Bending at the waist is simply not an option.  

Which brings us to the heart of this post; sitting in a Regency corset.  

It is an art form best practiced in private, which is why there are no pictures.   In today’s modern world, we employ leverage to sit.  Regency ladies used their thighs.  It’s easier than it sounds, I promise you.  The key is…well, here, I’ll let Lady Grace, intrepid time-traveler, enigma extraordinaire, and handler of my 21st century heroine, do the teaching.

From Love’s Freedom (where Sara would rather believe her 19th century experience is a nightmarish dream courtesy of a fall ending with a blow to the head, than face the truth.)

     Sara shook her head.  “Quit babbling and send me home.  Or wake me up.  Or do whatever it is you need to do to fix this.”

     “I see I must speak more plainly.”  Grace pulled out the vanity chair and pointed at the round pink cushion.  “Sit.”

     Tamping down exasperation, Sara collected the yards of fabric clamoring around her bare feet, then squeezed between the vanity’s marble top and the chair, her torso stiff as a board.

     “Oh no, dear, don’t sit in the chair.  Sit upon it.  That’s right, touch the backs of your knees to the edge, center yourself, then lower straight down upon the seat.  There, much better.”  Grace flashed a smile at her in the oval mirror, added a motherly pat, then pulled a jeweled blade out from between her own breasts.  “Now, where was I?”

 A few pages later, Sara is standing in her reluctant hero’s cavernous foyer that’s been closed up for months.  Surrounded by his curious servants hastily removing Holland covers from the lavish furniture, she faces thwarted plans and lots of dust.  Another thing you might need to know.  During the Regency, shoes made no allowance for left and right feet. They had to be worn to make them comfortable.

      “Milady.”  Peg appeared at her side, a frivolously feathered bonnet in hand, and pressed a pair of lady-like gloves into hers.  Gripping the soft leather, Sara considered the sweeping staircase leading back to her rooms.  Forcing the Lord of Wayfair to face his PTSD when more desirable work commanded his attentions would be a waste of effort.  They could talk at the picnic. 

     The chocolate brown bonnet in Peg’s hands came to rest on her head.  “I am sorry for my lateness,” the girl whispered, swiftly tying the bonnet’s soft velvet ribbon beneath her right ear.  “But I returned for these.”  The girl produced a pair of slightly worn ankle boots. 

    “Bless you, Peg.”  Shucking the tortuous slippers, Sara bent to pick them up, the corset’s unyielding busk issuing a harsh reminder that Lady Ashland would do no such thing.  Neither would she be pulling on those soft leather boots for herself. 

     Her feet hurt too much to care.

     Peg motioned her to a large gilded chair a pair of footmen had just uncovered.   More dust clouded the air and suddenly she sneezed, the ruling busk making even that task difficult.  Every eye on her again, the sounds of her sneeze echoed through the cavernous room as Peg pressed a lace kerchief into her hands and she tried hard not to wring it while struggling to remember the steps to sitting upon a chair, not in it.  The backs of her knees making contact, the ensuing and highly observed effort proved more worthy of a beached whale.  Or a woman in her ninth month.  But at least her feet didn’t go flying over her head. 

As to what a Regency corset does to a well-endowed woman’s décolletage while she is sitting… I’ll leave that to your imagination. 😉

Hugs,

Nina

Living in a Regency Corset July 19, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Writing, Writing Life.
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Yup, I’ve spent time in a Regency Corset.  Days, in fact.   It is true; we writers will do the craziest of things to empathize with the characters living in our heads.  And since I can’t locate a time-traveler willing to drop me off in 1815 England,  where I’ve relocated my 21st century heroine, I made a corset. 

Well, actually my mom made it for me.  There it is on the left, with me in it.  That little stripped beauty is more comfortable than it looks, if you don’t mind not being able to bend at the waist, are willing to give up the right to raise your shoulders and (in my case) see your feet when you look down.

Without doubt, wearing a Regency corset proved to me that the world has changed.  First off, dressing in private, as we do now, was definitely not a luxury enjoyed by women during the Regency.  It really does require a lady’s maid (or a sister, aunt, or willing friend) to work those laces up your back.   But, freeing one’s self from its boned confines is entirely possible without the help of a sexy hero, much to his chagrin.   Though it is always advisable to play nice because you will need him come morning, if you plan to get dressed. 

So, what does if feel like to be laced up in a Regency corset? 

I think I’ll let my poor, unfortunate, relocated (or would that be dislocated) 21st century heroine, Sara Kensington, field that one.

From Loves Freedom

     “M’lady, please” Peg murmured, “be still.”  The corset strings pulled tighter.  Sara turned back to the mirror before her, the boned garment claiming her attention as it slimmed her hips.

     “You must lift your arms, now,  if I’m to complete the lacing.”

     Sara mutely obeyed, watching her tummy flatten, her hourglass waist grow narrower, and her DD’s globe out from the shallow cups like two ripe honeydews destined to be plucked from the grocer’s self.  “Peg.  This can’t be —“

     “I’m sorry, m’lady.”  Peg went to her knees and began tugging the undergarment’s knee-length hem.  “The chemise has risen out of place.  I’ve not worked with one quite so fine as this.”  She continued tugging.  “I’ll have the right of it in a moment.”  And the garment’s wide neckline kept slipping, to just above her areoles. 

     Peg popped up in front of her and grinned, brightly.  “There now.  His lordship should be rightly pleased by that.” 

     Sara nearly flushed to her toes. 

     Peg kept going; flipping the corset’s offset straps forward, threading the ribbons at the ends through small holes near the shallow cups.  Then she tugged, sending Sara’s shoulders straight back, intensifying his lordship’s preferred globing affect.  Sara rapped the ruler thick piece of wood, now pressed between her breasts and running to just below her navel.  “Do you wish your ivory busk?” Peg asked, tying the restraining straps off in two neat bows

    “Nope.”  Ivory or wood, there’d be no bending at the waist, today.  Hopefully, when she tried to sit down at breakfast, she didn’t go flat on her back with legs flying up in the air. 

Tune in next time for Sitting in a Regency Corset.

Until then, what crazy thing have you done for your art just so you could get it right?  Do tell.  This inquiring mind wants to know.

Unspoken Desire July 15, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life.
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Last time we munched through the magical power of fortune cookies.  Today, let’s talk fortunes – of the unspoken variety.

More than once, I’ve stood accused by someone of being a mind reader.  Thankfully, I’ve never been convicted.  But, my knack, ability, gift — whatever word you want to stick on it — is un-nerving, even for me, because I never know when to trust what floats unbidden through my mind when I’m talking to someone, or just chalk that strange idea/thought/image up to this vivid writer’s imagination of mine.

But then, some things in life are hard to deny when I see them.

One is regret.  It’s important to be careful with regret because it mimics guilt so well.  Guilt is giving your child a new toy because you feel bad about something you did/said or forgot to do.  Regret is laying on your deathbed wishing you’d spent less time at the office.

But never does regret start there.

Which leads me to my most favorite magical Fortune Cookie fortune of all time.

“Your unspoken desire is the road not taken.”

This favorite fortune of mine is actually from the 200th episode of JAG, a legal thriller that ran nine seasons, starting in 1995.  If you ever get a chance to watch the episode, titled “What If?”, do. (You can get it from Netfix.)  “What if?” is a vivid depiction of how one moment, one word, one yes that wanted to be a no, one fear that should have been trumped but wasn’t, rules the road not taken.  What remains is the life we lead.

In truth, I don’t know why I’m posting this, today.  I just know I need to.  So I will leave you with this.  The greatest gift you can give to another is a picture of the road not taken.  Then let them decide.

Hugs,

Nina

Chewing on a Fortune July 13, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life, Writing Life.
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My fortune, compliments of my most recent fortune cookie. How, in the entire universe, did the churning Chinese-Fortune-Cookie-Stuffing-Machine know I was a writer in need of such a vague encouraging fortune? 

Hard to say. 

But that’s what attracts us to those oddly bent and brittle cookies, isn’t it?  Even though we know that tawny exterior is tasteless and the words have no meaning, we eagerly break them open and mindlessly munch away anyway while absorbing our Chinese Fortune.  After all, everyone knows the wondrously mythical Chinese possess an unexplainable connection to the fortune whispering universe.  Three billion of their fortune-delivering-devices are consumed by the Western World every year.

But, did you know that the fortune cookie is not the least bit Chinese? 

We, the Americans, were the inventors.  Yup.  It’s true.  We invented the Fortune Cookie and all the little prophesies stuffed there in.  

Now, if we can do that, surely we can invent something that will keep our economy from repeating well-known history.  Because, if there is one thing that casts doubt upon the magical power of our tasteless fortune cookie, it’s when the same fortune is repeated at the same table.

Unless, of course, you wrote the 200th episode of JAG where fortune cookie fortunes do repeat.  Successfully.

See, we Americans can do anything if we’d just put our minds to it.

Do you know what the repeating fortune said? Its advice is worth considering.

My Writing Chamber, 179 days later July 9, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life.
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I have a writing chamber.  It’s in the basement of my house.  I mostly built my chamber myself.  And I absolutely love it!  The walls are burgundy and navy fabric that I snagged at a box-lot auction.  The ornate Louis XVI styled end tables situated at my left and right were an amazing $5 yard sale find.  And, the comfy sea-foam green wing chair, upon which I now sit, is a castoff from my daughter’s late great grandmother.  All around me are my favorite things: research books, dolls, statuary, mementos from beloved writers (some who are now gone), framed prints that first hung in my grandmother’s house when she was newly wed.

Today is the first I’ve absorbed this space since Jan 11, when I broke my ankle, making the basement trek impossible then ill-advised.  Upon the library desk in the corner sits proof of absence.  My WomansAdvantage.biz flip calendar stalled at January 10th.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to be back!

If I was in possession of my camera right now, I would include pictures of this momentous moment (momentous for me, anyway).  But my camera is some 2600 miles to the west, in Hollywood, with my daughter, Anna, recording her YA adventure of a lifetime, complete with her best-friend-forever, Rachel Lauffer.  (If you’re reading this, Girls… I love you!)

So, let me give you something a mite more useful than pictures of me.  A few inspiring calendar quotes which I found while ripping away 179 little square pages, looking for today.

Enjoy! [bracketted words are mine]

Jan 12th: The happiest women don’t have the best of everything; they make the best of everything.

Jan 13: Treat every customer [reader] as if they sign your paycheck… because they do.

Jan 14: Stop Global Whining!  Work on what you can change.  Stop complaining about the things you can’t.

Jan 24: How are you creating a legacy?

Jan 26: If your foot is on the gas and the break at the same time, you can’t move forward.

Jan 28: Confront your problems head on.  Issues that you run from, run your business [and your life].

Jan 30: During good times, ideas flow like sunlight.  Record them in an idea book to draw from when times are tough.

Feb 1: Eliminate one habitual time-waster a month, like checking e-mail too frequently.

Feb 3: Thriving in this economy [publishing world] is like being on American Idol: pick the right song [story], put your heart into it, and ignore Simon! 

Feb 8: You can’t do everything.  Pick two priorities each week.

Feb 12: Successful people all have setbacks.  What separates them from others is that they don’t give up.

Feb 15: Remember what made you happy when you were little, and when you’re feeling sad, do one of those things.

Feb 21: You can’t change yesterday, but you can ruin today worrying about tomorrow.

March 20:  The one who angers you, controls you.

March 26: People are more interested in who you are than what you do.

May 22:  Deal with what is, not with what you wish was.

May 26: Regardless of your past, your future is spotless.

May 26: You can do anything.  You can’t do everything.

June 3: When you’re finished learning, you’re finished growing!

June 8: There will be bumps, so savor the journey.

July 2: She who asks the questions has the power!

And my absolute favorite… Today, July 8: Failure is not a four-letter word.  FEAR is.

What are some of your favorite quotes? This newly inspired mind wants to know.

A Moment on the Lips July 6, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life.
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A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.  You’ve probably heard this before.  It’s the skinny-person’s warning levied upon someone about to savor something utterly yummy. Yesterday, while standing in a Wal-Mart checkout line, this dampening phrase challenged my eternal perspective. 

As I unloaded jars of marshmallow fluff, peanut butter, and bags of sugar and chocolate pieces from my cart onto the rolling conveyer belt, the elderly gentleman standing in line behind me asked what I was making.  “Peanut-butter and chocolate fudges,” I told him, the deserts coveted at an annual party my family and I have attended every year for the last then years.  The gentleman made a deep throaty sound that told me he hadn’t allowed himself to enjoy such sugary confection in a very long time.  Then, he laughed. “I can already feel my teeth rotting,” he said.  “And I can see my waist expanding,” I added, matching his jovial tone.  That’s when the cashier chimed in.  “Oh, it won’t add that much,” she told me.  “You do have to live, after all.”

That’s when it hit me.  This body I worry about, and the daily pain I now live with, is not forever, even when it feels like it.  As surly as my skin is temporal, my soul is eternal.  Long before this century winds down, I will be living inside a different body, a perfect body as demonstrated by my Lord and Savior. 

Now please, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for proper nutrition along with enjoying yummy fudge in proper moderation. (see comments) But I’ve spent far too much time absorbed by the wrong things. 

Funny what a quick trip to Wal-Mart can teach you.

Nina, thinking that viewing this life by the light of eternity is a much better way to live and give.

What’s life been teaching you?  Do share!

2am w/Alan Alda July 2, 2010

Posted by ninapaules in Living Life, Writing Life.
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I have been living in a brain fog for the last ten days or so, fighting tooth and nail to escape. 

You see, surrender (however sweet) is so rarely an option for me.  

Yesterday, I took Anna to the library where she volunteers, and I spotted Alan Alda (well, one of his books) sitting on the Book Sale table.  Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself.   The title was so apropos to my aimless grey mental state — rolling along, my own creative voice echoing, fading in and out — that I bought the book.  Maybe, I too could make something out of my own disjointed murmurings just by listening.

At 2am this morning, rudely awakened by throbbing legs that just wouldn’t quit, I cracked open Alda’s book.  And, was amazed.   All my life, Alan Alda has been the funny yet serious, Hollywood-overdone yet undeniably authentic Hawkeye Pierce of M.A.S.H., and a few other characters in movies I can’t remember at the moment. 

But, in reality, Alan Alda is a man of all-encompassing, oceanic-like depths.

His book cradled in my hands picked up where he ended his bestselling memoir Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, having been saved by emergency surgery after nearly dying on a Chilean mountaintop.   From that mountain top experience, which according to Alda marks his new birthday, he plummets deep into the black abyss of suicide.  The stories told were not his own, but of others, people, mostly young, who wrote to him just as M.A.S.H was on the upswing, begging him for advice on how to keep living. 

As a member of this human race, I’ve walked those black endless nights that grow only blacker, trudging slippery mental roads that seem to plunge ever deeper while climbing impossibly upward, sapping every ounce reasoning and faith while proving fatalistic in the process.  As a writer, I commend Alda for bravely juxtaposing his mountaintop experience with the truth of life. 

But, I was not altogether thankful for what his brave choice brought to the fore of my mind.  A story I’ve never found courage to write. Why?  Because, quite simply, I fear mining those suffocating depths to flesh out an authentic main character, never mind what the writing community would think of me if penned such a thing.

See, we, in all our selfish optimism, which we defensively wear, ignore suicide for the same reason we’ve relegated vampires to the world of fantasy.  We prefer that such things don’t exist.

So, I kept reading, flowing along with Alan Alda’s chatty, easygoing humor and listening  

“Be brave enough to live life creatively,” Alda said.  “The creative is the place where no one else has ever been.  It is not the previously known.  You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition.  You can’t get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you’re doing, but what you’ll discover will be wonderful.  What you’ll discover will be yourself.”

And then, I overheard myself talking.