Late Tuesday night, I checked the Amazon site one more time. The Kindle version was there at last. I ordered it right away and uploaded it to the Kindle app on my iPad. I was afraid it would be a jumbled mess, but it looks fine. What a relief!
Both versions are now available, and Zen Flowers is officially launched.
for the Kindle version to appear on Amazon. Since we have to do all the formatting ourselves now, did I mess up somehow? I’m hoping that with the new staff people, things are just backed up. I’m quite happy with the paperback.
From Zen Flowers: Doug circles the flower arrangement on my coffee table, contemplating the broken horsetail stalks and red petals scattered over the ebony wood surface. I cleared everything off the table for maximum effect and moved the completed arrangement from the kitchen into the living room. The cat hasn’t destroyed it yet; if she does, it will merely reflect the transitory nature of all things.
Doug frowns. “Looks sort of grim. What’s it about?”
“Impermanence.” I shrug, like it’s not important.
“Uh, say what?”
Zen Flowers, also the title of my upcoming book, is a florist shop. Sabina, the owner and a Zen practitioner, is all about impermanence after the many losses she has experienced.
The irony of it. I expected CreateSpace, the publishing platform I have used for my past three books, would be the same. Writing Zen Flowers was hard. I was trying to tie up all the threads created in the first three books in the series and leave my characters in a good place. It was sprawling and disorganized, and I despaired of ever publishing it. I told everyone it was a hot mess and put it aside for a few months before I went back and rewrote the whole thing, and revised, and edited… and finally, it all came together. I thought I was done with the actual book. I uploaded it to CreateSpace, had them assign it an ISBN number, and called them to order a new cover and the same beautiful interior formatting they had given my previous books, part of what they called their “professional services.” I thought I was done, but that wonderful CreateSpace staff has been laid off, and the formatting and cover design are gone, even though they are still offered on the website. Everything is changing.
Since then, nothing has run smoothly. CreateSpace didn’t like the cover, even though it was the same resolution and exactly the same file size as the previous covers CreateSpace had done. It took three uploads of the same cover, with different complaints about each one, before they accepted it, and the book went to print.
The Kindle version was a similar experience, and another formatting nightmare er… challenge. And the cover? This time they said it wasn’t RBG, whatever that is. A couple more uploads of the same file, though, and it was fine, but I’m still waiting for the Kindle version to show up for sale. This sort of thing is a serious (brutal) lesson in impermanence. Amazon, once a boon to indie authors, is not as friendly anymore.
I bought a license to use the Silas Manhood cover image I mentioned in my last post and hired the CreateSpace custom cover service to do the actual cover. When I got the email notifying me that the cover proof was ready, I was afraid to open it. What if I didn’t like it? I have invested so much of myself in my characters and their story that a disappointing cover would be so much more than, well, a disappointing cover. I needn’t have worried. I’m so excited. Thrilled. Happy. It has continuity with the two previous covers, but is also a bit more ominous, as this novel is darker than the others.
Book Three in the Divine Presents series, Deliver Us From Evil continues the story begun in A Shack on the Outskirts of Heaven and Stolen Son.
Kidnapped during an assignment in Afghanistan, Irish photographer Niall O’Sullivan and American journalist Philip Korda are hostages in a remote underground bunker outside war-torn Kandahar. Will they be ransomed before their captors run out of patience? Starved and beaten, they despair of ever seeing their loved ones again.
As if that weren’t enough, Niall’s ex-brother-in-law, Conor, wants him dead and will stop at nothing to make sure that happens.
I’m waiting to receive a proof copy of the paperback book, and after I approve that, it will be available on Amazon. There will also be a Kindle version.
It took almost a week of sorting through drawers and heaped-up piles of junk and shredding reams of papers. When I started, it looked like this. Here’s the same room today.
Amidst the clutter, I found this “Groovy Girl,” Natalie. As a child, my granddaughter Bridghid used to collect Groovy Girls. I bought one for her and couldn’t resist buying this one for myself because she reminded me of the writer, Natalie Goldberg, who wrote some cool books about combining writing with Zen practice.
I dedicated a couple of shelves to my two favorite authors, Charles de Lint and Margaret Atwood. Both have overflowed their allotted space, but, oh well.
So… will ideas flow more freely in an uncluttered space? I keep reading that this is the case, and I already have new ideas for ratcheting up the conflict in my latest first draft.
I have way too much stuff. How I manage to work, or even think in here, I have no idea. So, I’m gonna clean it up, and I’ll post again when the job is done. It’s the perfect time to do it: wintry weather makes it tempting to stay inside, and I just finished the first round of revisions to my next novel. Now I need to take a break and let it sit for a while so I can see it with fresh eyes when it’s time for the next rewrite. I have been writing and revising for a long time. That was my focus instead of tidying, and I let everything pile up. In stacks, and more stacks.
Reams of recycling
This is a stack of printed-out, revised manuscripts of my three books now in print. They need to be shredded and recycled. They represent years of work, and I’m sort of attached to them, and shredding takes a long time. The rubber bands holding each version rotted while I procrastinated, and I finally got started. I had actually shredded a bunch before I took the photo. It wasn’t as hard as I thought; having the books in front of me reminded me that these stacks were only the means to an end and it’s time to say goodbye.
My three books
Saying goodbye to some of the books on my overloaded bookshelves is going to be a lot harder.
A Shack On the Outskirts of Heaven is finally done, available here. Getting a book out had a steep learning curve, I found, and I messed up along the way. I had gone over the novel through multiple drafts in Scrivener and reread the converted manuscript again in Microsoft Word. I was confident there were no more typos when I uploaded the book to Amazon.
The book proof looked very different from the Word document. Beautifully formatted, it looked like a real book. I was thrilled… until I read it once again and found yet more mistakes. The biggest one was misspelling one of my main character’s names! “No way I did that!” I yelled at the computer screen. I found the original page in Scrivener, and there it was. How I managed to miss it is beyond me, but getting it fixed delayed the whole process.
I also messed up when it came to uploading an author photo. I have to say, the Amazon CreateSpace people were incredibly kind and helpful.
I was overwhelmed. There’s a lot involved in getting a book out, but it’s all coming together. I just received the cover image for my new book. I’m thrilled with the way it came out, and now I can finally talk about it. I’ve spent the last couple of years writing a series of four books. The series begins with Eileen…
Sculptor Eileen Gordon is at the breaking point. Her mind-numbing day job is crushing her, and her loneliness feels overwhelming. Then there’s her fiercely independent daughter, Celeste, who returns from travels in Ireland to discover she is pregnant. Mother and daughter decide to team up, take life by the horns, and rescue themselves by opening an art gallery. But their plan to “take life in big bites” threatens to backfire when past relationships resurface and present seemingly endless complications.
Playing in the Apocalypse is available now at Amazon as a paperback book!
Formatting a book turned out to be incredibly hard–I won’t be trying that myself in Word again. I admit I’m a beginner when it comes to things like section breaks, but I kept ending up with headers on the first pages of chapters, where they didn’t belong, as well as blank pages that didn’t show up in the manuscript but nevertheless ended up in the proof. I don’t know how many proofs I went through before I let it go, but it was a LOT.
At UCSB, my friends and I carted around copies of the “Yellow Book,” The I Ching, a Confucian text full of Chinese wisdom. We had no bamboo sticks, so we’d toss quarters like dice to get readings, which came out uncannily appropriate for whatever situation we found ourselves in. I most remember the phrase, “perseverance furthers” — good advice for authors. I mutter it to myself during tedious proofing, formatting, and even writing when it’s going slow.
I’m so glad I went. This is the last year Wordstock will be at the Oregon Convention Center, and the next Wordstock literary festival won’t be until Spring of 2015.
A few photos from around the book fair…
Saturday, my first stop was a panel discussion with thriller writers, “The Dark Side, Creating Suspense” with Adam Mansbach (The Dead Run), A.M. Homes (May We Be Forgiven), Mark Sullivan (Rogue), and Chelsea Cain (Let Me Go). These guys were having a ball talking about writing thrillers, and I will be reading their new books.
Jennie Shortridge reading from Love, Water, Memory, about Lucie, a Seattle woman in a dissociative fugue, who “wakes up” knee deep in the San Francisco Bay, remembering nothing. I’m halfway through that book right now; I can’t put it down.
Gene Luen Yang, author of American Born Chinese, Boxes, and Saints, and Craig Thompson, author of Blankets and Habibi—all graphic novels. Creating a graphic novel is hugely time-consuming. Yang said, “Comics have a way of eating your life.”
Alissa Nutting, Leni Zumas, Tom Barbush, and Benjamin Percy.
Sunday, I arrived early to catch this panel, “The Short Story vs. The Novel,” because Benjamin Percy was on it. I had never heard of him before I heard him read from his book, The Wilding two years ago. His stuff is very dark, scary, and creepy, but his writing is gorgeous, maybe the best I’ve ever read. I’m not familiar with the other authors on the panel and will check them out. Alissa Nutting was hilarious– “The good in the world is, like, extinguished daily.”
Adam Mansbach read from his new book, The Dead Run, and Mark Sullivan read from Rogue. I can’t wait to read their books.
Tom Spanbauer read a whole chapter from his upcoming book, I Loved You More. It was So. Incredibly. Sad. Wow!
Benjamin Percy read from his latest book, Red Moon, a terrifying episode that kept building and left me wrung out and shaken even though I had read the book a couple of times. Listening to anyone else after that would be a let-down, so I called it a day. I don’t know when I’ll go to the Convention Center again since Wordstock is moving. I took a couple of farewell shots on my way out.