Saturday, September 24, 2016

Wee Eoghann chases a cat in Ch 14/Sc 2a RAGING SEA by @KimHeadlee #amwriting

Graphic overlay (c) 2016 by Kim Headlee.
Please join me in congratulating my nephew Nathan and his new bride Jett who are getting married later today!

And please forgive me if today's post intro is short. I've had all sorts of family-crazy-trains running full steam from one end of the eastern seaboard to the other since before Labor Day, and they all seem bent on barreling through my mountainous little corner of Virginia.

Any prayers, thoughts, and positive vibes you would like to waft our way -- for the newlyweds as well as for the rest of the family -- will be most welcome and gratefully appreciated.

In today's excerpt from Raging Sea, Gull doesn't know it yet, but he has a crazy-train that's about to thunder into his station too.


Previous excerpts of Raging Sea 
Chapters 1–6 in PERMAFREE Raging Sea: Reckonings
 Chapter 7: Sc 1 | Sc 2 | Sc 3 | Sc 4 | Sc 5a | Sc 5b |
Chapter 8: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 2 | Sc 3a | Sc 3b |
Chapter 9: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 1c | Sc 1d | Sc 1e |
Chapter 10: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 2a | Sc 2b | Sc 3a | Sc 3b | Sc 3c |
Chapter 11: Sc 1aSc 1b | Sc 1c | Sc 2 | Sc 3a | Sc 3b |
Chapter 12: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 1c | Sc 2 | Sc 3 | Sc 4a | Sc 4b | Sc 5a | Sc 5b |
Chapter 13: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 2a | Sc 2b | Sc 2c | Sc 2d | Sc 2e | Sc 2f |
Chapter 14: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 1c | Sc 1d |

Raging Sea Chapter 14, Scene 2a
©2016 by Kim Headlee
All rights reserved.

Gull was haggling with a leather merchant over the price of a new pair of plain but tough bracers—constant wear obliged him to replace them far more often than a warrior ought—when stern shouts, gleeful squeals, and frightened yowls drew his attention. Across the square, a woman was chasing her wee son, who had dashed after a cat.

The lad’s hair was a familiar flame-red hue.

While keeping the family in sight, Gull concluded his business with the merchant, paying perhaps a bit more coin than he ought, but he hoped that the expediency would yield much more important benefits. He set off across the market square, fastening his new bracers in place as he walked, his pace and heading designed to appear purposeful without betraying his intentions.

The child, enthralled with his mission to capture his furry target, paid no heed when the cat raced between the wheels of a stationary handcart. He misjudged the cart’s height as he tried to dive after the cat and cracked his head against the sideboard. The impact caused the cart to shift, the rare glass vials and bottles it housed tinkling softly as if trying to decide among themselves whether to fall and break.

Dazed, the lad reeled backward, hand to head and chin quivering.

The handcart’s owner looked nigh as stunned as the child, no doubt more worried about his fragile wares; the gods alone knew what that glassware housed, but in his travels Gull had seen perfumes and expensive salves come in such pretty containers.

The merchant kicked a wee stone in the direction of the fleeing cat to convince it to keep going, and then started checking his handcart’s contents. Gull stooped to examine the child. A knot had begun to form in just about the same spot as before, if Gull’s memory proved sound, but he seemed otherwise unhurt.

Loholt—Eoghann, Gull corrected himself; he dared not alert anyone that he knew the truth—waited until his “mother” had arrived, panting and gasping and fuming, before throwing back his head and wailing as if tomorrow would never come.


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Friday, September 23, 2016

Stargazing in Australia and New Beginnings by Iris Blobel (@_Iris_B) #RomanticTravel

Photo credit: Drachenfels castle in Koenigswinter, Germany,
Depositphotos.com Image #74467597 c2016 by :jurajkovac,
Meme c2016 by Linda McLaughlin.
Today on The Maze I welcome new contributor 
Iris Blobel and her novel New Beginnings!


Iris writes:

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to travel to the Australian Outback. One night, we sat by the campfire and with clear skies we were able to locate the Southern Cross, the Milky Way, as well as planets that were only visible due to the clarity of the atmosphere.

Since then I consider “stargazing” as very romantic.


New Beginnings

Genre: Contemporary Romance

The chance to start life all over with the help of a stranger.

Synopsis:

Twenty-two-year-old Sophie Levesque has been guardian to her eight-year-old sister Mia since their mother’s death a few years ago, and it hasn’t been easy. Luck comes their way when they inherit a small house in Hobart. Problem is, though, they don’t know and have never heard of Clara Bellinger, the testator. Settling into their new life, Sophie is still afraid it’s all a mistake.

Mark O’Connor, attorney in Hobart and the bearer of the good news for Sophie and Mia, curses himself for the lack of information about the testator. However, researching the questions gives him an opportunity to see Sophie again, and the more time he spends with the two, the more he realises that his life is missing something. And it’s not his casual lover Linda.

But then there’s Zach, Sophie’s sexy neighbour from across the road… and a very good friend of Clara’s.

Will unravelling the mystery unravel Sophie and Mark’s promise of a future?


Buy New Beginnings at Amazon US ~ UK ~ AU ~


About the Author:

Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London, as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only emerged recently, but now her laptop is a constant companion.

Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her two beautiful daughters.

Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.


Click HERE to subscribe to Iris’ Newsletter 

Follow Iris via: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram |


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— Leave a comment on any page of The Maze, especially if you have done the Twitter, Pinterest, and/or YouTube follow<

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Business of Writing: My Book is Bi-What?? (BISAC codes demystified) #ASMSG #MFRWOrg

Underground logo by transportation systems in London
c2012 by nanka-photo, Depositphotos ID, 9911981
EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
There is no magic-bullet formula for getting your book noticed out of the millions of titles that are published each year.

The right subject matter categories and keywords, however, can help your work float to the top of potential customers' search results pages.

For assistance with defining keywords, I direct you to this post published earlier this year on The Maze. Today I discuss...


BISAC Basics
If you’ve spent any time defining your book’s information in Bowker, CreateSpace, IngramSpark, or any of the e-book vendor accounts, you’ll see the acronym BISAC, or Book Industry Standards and Communications. Managed by Book Industry Study Group Inc., BISAC is a list of several hundred classifications for identifying a book’s subject matter.

Amazon calls this classification the browse category and likens it to major headings you'll find labeling the aisles of a brick-and-mortar bookstore. It's an apt analogy.

As of this writing, the BISAC 2015 edition is the most recent list.

For the record, the BISAC category Non-Classifiable (NON000000) applies to books containing no subject matter, such as blank books. It is not intended for use with a book that contains multiple nonfiction topics or elements of many fiction genres. (Fess up: if I thought about applying it to one of my books, you considered the idea for yours too. :D)

Some distributors, like Amazon and Draft2Digital, kindly lead you through the selection process by giving you expansion choices when a BISAC code (e.g., Fiction, FIC000000) contains subordinate codes. Others, like Google, expect you to know the codes off the top of your head… or else you must know where to find the latest list.

I’ll save you the headache. The BISAC 2015 edition may be viewed via this page. If you write fiction, save yourself a click by starting here.

In theory, you may assign as many BISAC codes to your book as you wish. In practice, you must heed each distributor’s rules.

Amazon and IngramSpark, for instance, limit a book’s BISAC identification to two codes; with Kobo you may choose three. Nook Press, on the other hand, permits the assignment of up to five codes. Most third-party book distributors, such as Draft2Digital, will allow you to assign the maximum number supported by at least one of their partner e-tailers, but they advise you to make your selections in order of importance because not all e-tailers will accept that many BISAC codes for your book.

I’m not certain when BISG plans to publish the next BISAC edition, but I will endeavor to keep you informed when it does.

Best of luck with classifying your books!


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King Arthur's Sister in Washington's Court!


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— Leave a comment on any page of The Maze, especially if you have done the Twitter, Pinterest, and/or YouTube follow<

… and each action this month is good for one chance to win a copy of any of Kim's e-books.

Please enter often, and good luck!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Visit Venice #RomanticTravel and spotlight on The New York Saga by @DianaLRubino

Photo credit: Drachenfels castle in Koenigswinter, Germany,
Depositphotos.com Image #74467597 c2016 by :jurajkovac,
Meme c2016 by Linda McLaughlin.
Visit Venice with author Diana Rubino!


In Diana's words:

I believe the most romantic spot on earth is Venice, Italy. When you get off the train, walk through the station, and open the doors, it’s like stepping into a fairy tale. The streets are all canals, and ornate ancient bridges span the canals, including the famous Bridge of Sighs, where prisoners gazed upon the city for the last time on their way to be locked up. On our last trip to Venice, I planned the trip to coincide with the full moon. When darkness fell, my husband and I had dinner and walked around. No moon yet. We stopped at a café and had gelato and cappuccino. No moon yet. We crossed a bridge and strolled some more. Still no moon. Finally, at 11:30, it rose, glowing and sending shimmering moonbeams over the canals. So I hadn’t figured what time that full moon was supposed to appear!


The New York Saga

Genre: Historical romance

Poverty, prejudice, and murder won't stand in the way of true love.

The New York Saga spans three generations of the McGlory family, starting in 1894 amidst the poverty and crime on New York’s Lower East Side, through the wild, boozy years of Prohibition, and ending in 1963 as the country mourned President Kennedy’s assassination.

In Book One, FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET, it's 1894 on New York’s Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. While Tom works undercover to help Ted Roosevelt purge police corruption, Vita's father arranges a marriage between her and a man she despises. When Tom’s cousin is murdered, Vita’s father and brother languish in jail, charged with the crime. Can Vita and Tom’s love survive poverty, hatred, and corruption?

In Book Two, BOOTLEG BROADWAY, it’s 1932. Prohibition rages, the Depression ravages, and Billy McGlory comes of age whether he wants to or not. Musical and adventurous, Billy dreams of having his own ritzy supper club and big band. On the eve of his marriage to the pregnant Prudence, the shifty “businessman” Rosario Ingovito offers him all that and more: fame, fortune, his own Broadway musical.


Can anything go wrong for Billy? Only when he gets in way over his head does he stop to wonder how his business partner really makes his millions, but by then it’s far too late…

THE END OF CAMELOT begins on the day Camelot truly ended—November 22, 1963. The assassination of a president devastates America. But a phone call brings even more tragic news to Vikki Ward—her TV reporter husband was found dead in his Dallas hotel room that morning.

Finding his notes, Vikki realizes her husband was embroiled in the plot to kill JFK—but his mission was to prevent it. When the Dallas police rule his death accidental, Vikki sets out to find out who was behind the murders of JFK and her husband.


Vikki falls in love with Aldobrandi Po, the bodyguard her godfather hired to protect her. But he's engaged to be married, and she’s still mourning her husband. Can they find happiness in the wake of all this tragedy?

An Excerpt from FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET

As Vita gathered her soap and towel, Madame Branchard tapped on her door. “You have a gentleman caller, Vita. A policeman.”

“Tom?” His name lingered on her lips as she repeated it. She dropped her things and crossed the room.

“No, hon. Another policeman. Theodore something.”

No. There can't be anything wrong. “Thanks,” she whispered, descending the steps, gripping the banister to support her wobbly legs. Stay calm! she warned herself. But of course it was no use; staying calm just wasn't her nature.

“Theodore something” stood before the closed parlor door. He’s a policeman? Tall and hefty, a bold pink shirt peeking out of a buttoned waistcoat and fitted jacket, he looked way out of place against the dainty patterned wallpaper.

He removed his hat. “Miss Caputo.” He strained to keep his voice soft as he held out a piece of paper. “I’m police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt.”

“Yes?” Her voice shook.

“I have a summons for you.” He held it out to her. But she stood rooted to that spot.

He stepped closer and she took it from him, unfolding it with icy fingers. Why would she be served with a summons? Was someone arresting her now for something she didn't do?

A shot of anger tore through her at this system, at everything she wanted to change. She flipped it open and saw the word SUMMONS in fancy script at the top. Her eyes widened with each sentence as she read. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing.”

I hereby order Miss Vita Caputo to enter into holy matrimony with Mr. Thomas McGlory immediately following service of this summons.

An Excerpt from BOOTLEG BROADWAY (my favorite passage, which made my aunt cringe)

Pru had kept closemouthed all day about what she was giving him for his birthday. He badgered and hounded her, but she wouldn’t give in.

As Ma began divvying up the rum cake, the doorbell rang, and Da came back with a long box. “This thing’s heavy. What’s in here, Pru? Billy’s tombstone?”

Billy cut the ribbon with the cake knife and slid the lid off. Wads of tissue paper filled the box. As he removed the last layer of covering and revealed what was inside, they all gasped—a sculpture of a naked man, in all his masculine glory—and fully aroused. He had one hand on his hip and one foot upon a pedestal on which was inscribed in bold letters, “BILLY.”

“Oh, crap.” His face turned red hot.

An Excerpt from THE END OF CAMELOT

Billy came down the stairs for a nightcap and glanced into the living room. He noticed the glow in the fireplace, Vikki’s eyeglasses and the anisette bottle on the table. The couch faced the other way, but nobody was sitting on it. “Where’d they go?” Then he realized they hadn’t gone anywhere—and they were on the couch, but not sitting. Before he got out of their way, he placed a long-playing record on the phonograph. Jackie Gleason’s “For Lovers Only.”

Purchase THE NEW YORK SAGA via Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle | The Wild Rose Press |

About Diana
I'm a self-confessed history nut, my favorite eras being Medieval and Renaissance England, and all American history. I've written several novels set in England and the U.S., two time travel romances, a vampire romance, and an urban fantasy, FAKIN’ IT which received a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I'm a longtime member of Romance Writers of America and the Richard III Society. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano and devour books of any genre.



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— Leave a comment on any page of The Maze, especially if you have done the Twitter, Pinterest, and/or YouTube follow<

… and each action this month is good for one chance to win a copy of any of Kim's e-books.

Please enter often, and good luck!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Not more than half were still alive in Ch 14/sc 1d of RAGING SEA by @KimHeadlee #amwriting

Graphic overlay c2016 by Kim Headlee.
It's official.  I now have an embarrassment of riches. :)

On Monday I received input from my primary editor regarding my forthcoming nonfiction book, The Business of Writing: Practical Insights for Independent, Hybrid, and Traditionally Published Authors.

Two days later my proofreader returned her annotated version of Raging Sea: Enemies & Allies.

Yep, you guessed it. I am wading through a truckload of editorial comments.

Since I need to publish The Business of Writing first so I can have copies in hand for my upcoming workshop presentations, I haven't yet looked at Robin's notes for RS:EA. Soon, however, I will assess how much work I need to apply so I can establish a publication date and associated preorder period.

Stay tuned for more announcements about both books!

Meantime, enjoy today's excerpt from Raging Sea—if indeed "enjoy" is a word that can apply to this particular, gut-wrenching situation


Previous excerpts of Raging Sea 
Chapters 1–6 in PERMAFREE Raging Sea: Reckonings
 Chapter 7: Sc 1 | Sc 2 | Sc 3 | Sc 4 | Sc 5a | Sc 5b |
Chapter 8: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 2 | Sc 3a | Sc 3b |
Chapter 9: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 1c | Sc 1d | Sc 1e |
Chapter 10: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 2a | Sc 2b | Sc 3a | Sc 3b | Sc 3c |
Chapter 11: Sc 1aSc 1b | Sc 1c | Sc 2 | Sc 3a | Sc 3b |
Chapter 12: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 1c | Sc 2 | Sc 3 | Sc 4a | Sc 4b | Sc 5a | Sc 5b |
Chapter 13: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 2a | Sc 2b | Sc 2c | Sc 2d | Sc 2e | Sc 2f |
Chapter 14: Sc 1a | Sc 1b | Sc 1c |

Raging Sea Chapter 14, Scene 1d
©2016 by Kim Headlee
All rights reserved.

Sgeir heaved a sigh but didn’t get a chance to begin. A stone-muffled commotion seeped into the chamber. Eileann took it to mean the clan was welcoming the war-band home. Of a sudden, she had never wanted to see her father and sister and husband so acutely in all her life.

Over the women’s protests, Eileann rushed from the chamber. When Fioruisge gripped her wrist to pull her back, she yanked free and surged out the door.

In the corridor, the shouts grew louder… and transformed into lamentations.

Eileann burst out of the broch and into the worst hell she could imagine.

The war-band had indeed returned, to the last man.

Not more than half were still alive.

Horses not being ridden were bearing their fallen riders lashed to their backs, led by the survivors.

Fist to mouth, Eileann hitched her skirts in her other hand and sprinted toward the wave of mothers and wives and sisters searching for their menfolk. Some reunions were punctuated by relieved if weak whoops. Others ended in a flood of tears.

Eileann found her father in the midst of the bedraggled troop, sitting as tall in the saddle as his wounds would allow. They did not appear life threatening, thanks be to Nemetona. Her sister Rionnag rode beside him, her armor bloody but not breached, as near as Eileann could tell.

Rionnach was leading Iomar’s horse. Iomar’s throat had been slashed.

Pain twisted Eileann’s gut.

Her father halted the band, and he ordered the warriors to dismount. Dynann appeared from somewhere to throw herself into Rionnach’s arms.

While Rionnag held the reins, Eileann dropped to her knees beside Iomar’s horse, her face on level with her husband’s. With trembling fingers she reached for his face, trying to summon thankfulness that the enemy had left her this small mercy. Pain knifed her gut again. Willing it away, she forced herself to trace the eyelids that would never open, the lips that would never again kiss hers…

The pain would not be denied. It ripped through her like the sword wielded by a ro h’uamhasach, that most terrible of battle-frenzied warriors who stabs and slashes and hacks at his foes until nothing remains but a mass of bloody flesh.

“Eileann!”

Who had spoken? Her mother? Her sister? One of the wisewomen? Eileann couldn’t tell through the merciless pain.

She threw back her head and uttered a great keening howl, powerless to stop it, even to inhale, until at last she collapsed, sobbing, in the dirt.


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— Leave a comment on any page of The Maze, especially if you have done the Twitter, Pinterest, and/or YouTube follow<

… and each action this month is good for one chance to win a copy of any of Kim's e-books.

Please enter often, and good luck!

Friday, September 16, 2016

#RomanticTravel in Louisiana and spotlight on Circles of Fate by Pamela Thibodeaux (@psthib)

Photo credit: Drachenfels castle in Koenigswinter, Germany,
Depositphotos.com Image #74467597 c2016 by :jurajkovac,
Meme c2016 by Linda McLaughlin.

Today on The Maze I welcome back longtime contributor Pamela Thibodeaux with her thoughts about fall romantic travel and her novel Circles of Fate.


In Pamela's words:

Most folks find traveling exciting and romantic, but sometimes great fall romantic travel can be found right at home.

Home for me is in Southwest Louisiana, just 43 miles from the Texas state line.

I don’t know about you but few things are as romantic as sunrise or sunset on the lake, or a seafood feast.

If you don’t find anything in SW LA that’s romantic in your opinion, you can always travel East…Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Orleans where you’ll find horse drawn carriage rides, riverboat tours, night life and fine, Cajun/French cuisine.

But, no matter what you decide, or where you go, romance is in the heart.




Synopsis:

Set at the tail end of the Vietnam War era, Circles of Fate takes the reader from Fort Benning, Georgia to Thibodaux, Louisiana. A romantic saga, this gripping novel covers nearly twenty years in the lives of Shaunna Chatman and Todd Jameson. Constantly thrown together and torn apart by fate, the two are repeatedly forced to choose between love and duty, right and wrong, standing on faith or succumbing to the world’s viewpoint on life, love, marriage and fidelity. With intriguing twists and turns, fate brings together a cast of characters whose lives will forever be entwined. Through it all is the hand of God as He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Excerpt:

What?” Todd Jameson’s hand trembled so hard the phone he held threatened to slip through his numb fingers. He wiped a sweaty palm down his thigh and grabbed the receiver then switched ears. The anguish in Mike Ferel’s voice made the pleasantries they shared the first few minutes of the call seem like a distant conversation.

“I’m sorry, Todd, to be the one to tell you this, especially after what you’ve been through this last year.”

He’d spent nine months at war, nine months facing and dealing with death, but not even those things prepared him for the death of his hopes and dreams in nine short minutes. “When?”

A heavy exhale preceded Mike’s answer. “Margaret died six months ago. Shaunna married three months after.”

She said she loved me. He hadn’t meant to utter the thought aloud, but somehow the words slipped past the knot in his throat.

“She cried a long time after you left, didn’t understand why you never wrote or called.”

Though his voice held no accusation, Todd heard the chastisement in Mike’s tone. “I...”

He blinked hard and cleared his throat. “What was I supposed to do, blurt out my feelings over the phone or in a letter and ask her to wait? I thought she was too young to go through that, especially with the war and all. Not knowing if, when, I’d get sent over there was hard enough on me; she didn’t need that on her heart. What if I didn’t come back? I couldn’t fathom putting her through such an ordeal. Not with all the responsibilities she shouldered from her mother’s illness.”

“I’m sorry.”

Todd raked a hand over his face. “Is she happy? Is he a good man?”

“Seems to be.”


Circles of Fate Buy Links:
Kindle | Amazon Print | CreateSpace | Nook | B&N Print | Smashwords |


Author Bio:
Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”


You can find Pamela via:
Website | Blog | Twitter @psthib | Pinterest | Facebook | Amazon Author Page |


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All this month, you are invited to…

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Please enter often, and good luck!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Business of Writing: e-Book and Print Book Layouts #MFRWOrg #ASMSG

Today on The Maze:
Everything you want to know about 
e-book and print book layouts...*

Book of Kells, Folio 19v, Breves Causae of Luke
(The Gospel of Luke), Wikimedia Commons.
*...but were afraid to ask!

So, you’ve written your Great [insert_your_nationality_here] Masterpiece, edited it to within an inch of its life, submitted it to an editor so that she or he can edit it to within a micrometer of its life (please invest in professional editing, for the love of All That Is Holy)… and now what?

Formatting it for publication, of course.

There are many companies that offer formatting services, and they charge varying rates. Unless you can code your own e-books (as I do), or you can create your own print book layouts (as I have learned to do), perform a search on “book formatting services” and then pick your poison, so to speak.

Some “poisons” are more lethal to the pocketbook than others, and your mileage may vary with regard to the output quality too.

In general, your best value will be to select a company that charges an up-front fee for services, not a fee plus a percentage of your royalties. To charge you a percentage on sales is patently absurd, because once the work is completed, the service provider adds no more value to your work and therefore does not deserve to receive an ongoing percentage from it. Period.

Such a policy knelled the beginning of the end between me and my ex-literary agent, who was trying to hedge his bets by publishing his clients’ unsold manuscripts. If your literary agent has started up such a side business, beware. All that practice does is line his or her pockets at the expense of performing his or her contracted job for you. Exclamation point.

The book service provider I have relied upon for several years is Lucky Bat Books. They offer a wide range of author services, including cover design and marketing, as well as e-book and print book layout. Their prices are very reasonable, they are a joy to work with, and I get nothing for sending you their way; I’m just very happy with the quality of their work. They do not charge a percentage of your sales.

Whether or not you choose to work with Lucky Bat Books, do not select any book services provider that charges you a percentage of your book’s sales over and above what you have paid up front for the work, be it cover design, interior layout, editing, e-book formatting and distribution, or promotion.

I realize that not everyone can afford to lay out the huge chunk of change required for professional services, but as a former software engineer who cut her programming teeth, decades ago, on conversion software, I am here to beg you not to rely on the Word-to-EPUB or Word-to-PDF software offered by such companies as Smashwords and CreateSpace. I have seen other authors’ books generated by these programs, and they are—shall I say?—less than ideal.

At least Smashwords is honest in nicknaming its program the “Meat Grinder.”

I even ran a test to export an EPUB e-book file from a print layout that I had created using Adobe’s InDesign book layout software, and its quality left a lot to be desired too.

My recommendation is to set up crowdfunding for your book rather than relying on these cheap-but-less-than-optimal conversion options.

The book layout process I follow varies by edition type, e-book versus print.


E-book layout process
  1. I code the HTML, including setting up CSS templates for margins, line spacing, indentations, etc. An EPUB file is simply a rigidly formatted ZIP file, and HTML is its source language. I admit I'm not a CSS expert; a mentor shared her e-book template with me years ago, and I've been tweaking it ever since. For quick answers and to look up the latest HTML code sets, I rely upon the web site HTML Dog.
  2. To test the book's format prior to conversion, I read it in a browser window that's sized to approximate the aspect ratio of the average e-reader. This also gives me another avenue for spotting last-minute typos and items to wordsmith.
  3. Once I'm happy with how the HTML file looks in a browser window, I import it, the cover, and metadata into Calibre free library-management software.What is metadata? It is literally anything you wish to define about your book. Specific metadata tags that import directly into predefined fields in Calibre include:
    • Author
    • Series
    • Tags (Keywords)
    • Publisher
    I also code the book's description in the metadata section just to include it in the file for my reference.
  4. Then I use Calibre to convert the HTML file to EPUB. Calibre offers a slew of output formats, but the two I use most often are EPUB and MOBI (primarily for reviewers who can side-load the MOBI into their Kindle devices).
  5. At this point I check the EPUB file in as many e-reader emulators as I can. Calibre offers its own e-reader emulator; on my laptop, clicking on the MOBI version imports it into my Kindle-for-PC application, and if I upload the EPUB file to my Android phone, I can import it into my Nook-for-Android app.
  6. Once I am satisfied with the result on as many platforms as possible, I run the EPUB file through EPUBCheck, a free online validation software created by the International Digital Publishing Forum. E-tailers such as Amazon and Smashwords also run your submitted EPUB file through EPUBCheck, but it's best for you to do this first and avoid any unpleasant surprises. Smashwords has finally upgraded the four years outdated and buggy version of EPUBCheck that it was using internally, so now I'm not gnashing and pulling teeth to upload my EPUB files to that platform.
  7. If EPUBCheck has reported any errors, I fix them and revalidate. The biggest "gotcha", if you have been otherwise careful in your coding, is to have referenced image filenames that include embedded spaces, a practice that's allowed on Microsoft computers but not Apple or Unix machines. EPUBCheck flags this as a warning, but even warning messages will cause your submission to be rejected by Amazon, et al.
  8. Once you have an error-free, warning-free EPUB file, you may upload it for publication on all your chosen platforms: Amazon, Nook, Kobo, etc.


Print books that don't have a lot of complicated interior art insertion
  1. I import the Word doc into InDesign, the de facto standard book-layout software for the publishing industry. I don't know InDesign well enough yet to execute complicated layouts, which is why I am still happy to employ Lucky Bat Books for titles such as the forthcoming, fully illustrated hardcover edition of King Arthur's Sister in Washington's Court!
  2. I tweak the layout—defining custom paragraph styles, drop cap styles, etc.—until it all looks good, right, and salutary... and everything lines up across each "spread," which is a pair of pages representing an open book. If you have no scene-break graphics to insert, then this step is almost a no-brainer. I embed graphics for chapter headings and scene breaks, so this step can be time consuming for me, and it's more cost effective for me to do it myself these days. BTW, "spreads" PDF output is an economical way to produce a printed ARC, especially if you have access to a duplex printer.
  3. I export the finished layout to a press-ready PDF file in "pages" (rather than "spreads") form. The "pages" (single page) PDF output is what is required for submitting your print layout to CreateSpace and IngramSpark.

Best of luck with your book layouts and all aspects of your writing!


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