Author of: Twilight Healer Steel Rose Life Raft: Earth City of Brotherly Death Close Liaisons Infinite Sight When Blood Reigns Infinite Sight Publisher / Editor of Night to Dawn Books & Magazine

Learning Curve Conclusion

Last time I posted, I was struggling with KDP paperback publishing. Three Mylar balloons and two of my best curse words later, I hired Judi Fennell of Formatting4u.com to help Night to Dawn 35 to meet KDP specs. The process started out messy, but thankfully Judi had a lot of patience. The upshot was, Night to Dawn 35 is now available on Amazon. I’ve started mailing copies of Night to Dawn 35 to the respective contributors, not from KDP, but from Lulu Press.

Night to Dawn 35 of Amazon won’t look like Lulu’s or Barnes & Noble’s version because of these specs. For one thing, you can’t have a title on the cover and list of contributors. You need an author name, or in Night to Dawn’s case, “Edited by” name. So the cover page will read “Presented by Barbara Custer.” For the folks who haven’t read the book, I like to use two columns for many of the stories. That didn’t work for the KDP files, so all the stories and poetry in the Amazon version have one column. The illustrations, poetry, and tales are the same in both versions. 

Amazon had a great thing going with CreateSpace and moved too fast by switching over to KDP. CreateSpace used to supply their own manuscript and cover templates for people that needed them. KDP has interior and cover templates, too. Trouble was, I downloaded an interior template and received the Idle Buddy Trojan virus into my computer, necessitating a trip to the computer repair shop. Esther Mitchell, a good writing buddy, sent me templates I can use for the trade paperback and Night to Dawn magazine. These templates have worked on KDP and are safe to use. The 6×9 template was made by Publisher Gail Delaney.

My takeaways? I learned I wasn’t the only author having problems uploading. Formatting4U has been getting a lot of business thanks to KDP managing paperbacks. I also found out I may need to look at photo editing software so I can resize images without messing up the DPI.

Also, KDP does provide you with specs on margins and page layout, and I recommend that you use that instead of their templates. You don’t want a computer virus. If you wish, contact me at barbaracuster@hotmail.com, and I will be glad to mail you a blank template. I am using the template to format L. M. Labat’s The Sanguinarian Schwartzwald, but referring to KDP’s page for margins and adjusting as needed. Before I work with KDP again, I may want to fortify myself with another Mylar balloon. Your thoughts? 

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Learning Curve

I need a balloon. Mylar balloons have a way of easing stress for me the way chocolate or beer might for other folks.

Night to Dawn 35 is ready for publishing, and I’ve started processing orders for contributors to get copies. Things worked out well with Lulu. They do an excellent job on the cover, as I can promise by the looks of the proof. CreateSpace no longer exists, and all of its books transferred seamlessly over to KDP. So why do I want a balloon? KDP paperback printing is not as user-friendly as CreateSpace was.

For starters, none of the templates Lulu and CreateSpace used are compatible with KDP. CreateSpace and KDP (both working under Amazon) had an arrangement which facilitated the transition of the paperbacks. That arrangement went bye-bye, and KDP has its own templates.

That means I’m on my own, and I have to reformat NTD 35 on a KDP template. KDP reports “problems with uploading your file—please send another,” but don’t tell you what the problem is. They don’t accept my PDF files at all and manage to butcher the Word files, and the proof will have skipped pages. It could be that the problem lies with KDP. ” /><

A writer buddy suggested distributing through Barnes & Noble. You can publish your print books directly through Barnes & Noble if you use a separate ISBN number. What’s more, the CreateSpace/Lulu templates are compatible with Barnes & Noble. The cover takes some work, but for the magazine, I can upload the front and back cover, and do the spine online. font:m

There is still the issue with KDP. I’m glad NTD 35 will be available through Lulu Book and Barnes & Noble. However, people like to order from Amazon, especially if they have prime memberships. So I finally bit the bullet and contacted someone who does formatting. Maybe I can learn a way to make a file KDP ready. I still want a balloon.

In the meantime, I’d like to know if any of y’all used Amazon KDP for publishing your paperbacks. How was the process for you? What problems did you run into, and how did you fix them?

Barbara Custer loves Mylar balloonsand horror fiction.
Quest for a friendly KDP template

Neil Benson’s Unholy Embrace

Years ago, Night to Dawn published Neil Benson’s Unholy Embrace, a vampire romance which garnered many 5-star reviews. A different company has given new life to Unholy Embrace, and the second edition is now available.

Blurb:

Frank Thornton’s night of passion with the vampire Nessa Harcanu ignites the love that binds them to each other. He learns of the great power she gained from her 500-year fight for survival. Their commitment to each other forces Frank to enter a dark world he never imagined. Together, they battle werewolves, vampires, and other creatures of the night, leading to a confrontation with an immortal, seemingly invincible demon. They must use all their strength and wit to survive the greatest battle of their lives.

Excerpt:

On a crisp April night, Nessa and I held hands as we walked to Broadway on a narrow side street from a theater on the Upper West Side. Without warning, she pushed me aside and turned toward the alleyway on our left. A dark, hairy form raced at her, emitting a growl that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Nessa ducked, put her hands under its body, and flipped her attacker through the air into a light blue delivery truck. A second dark-haired creature emerged from the same alley, snarling and displaying three-inch-long incisors glistening with saliva. When the second beast tried to bite Nessa, she grabbed the creature’s throat and snapped its head backward. She sank her fangs into its neck and ripped the carotid artery. I gagged at the sight of the blood spurting from the gaping wound.

The first beast rose and was about to charge Nessa when I raced forward to tackle it.

“No!” Nessa yelled, and she put herself between the beast and me. The creature swiped a hairy paw at her head, but she ducked and stepped behind her lethal adversary. The creature tried to turn, but she grabbed its throat and raised the beast two feet into the air. She squeezed its neck until the sounds of bones cracking made me cringe. She let go, and the creature fell to the ground. Nessa closed her eyes and sniffed the air.

“Any more of them?” My thumping heart banged against my ribcage, and perspiration ran down my forehead.

“I don’t smell or hear anything for a quarter of a mile,” she replied. “How do you feel after surviving your first attack by werewolves?”

Nessa inspected the creatures she had killed with such little effort.

“Terrified but happy to be alive.” I stood by her side at the nearest werewolf and examined its paws. Three-inch claws tapering from one inch around at the base to razor-sharp tips made lethal weapons.

“That’s why I screamed at you. I admire your courage, but the creature would have eviscerated you in one swift stroke.”

“I know you’ve told me about the damage werewolves can inflict, but hearing about them isn’t the same as watching them in action.” I shivered at the thought of how easily either of them could have killed me.

She stared at me. “Frank, are you OK?”

“I think so.” My pulse had slowed down, and my lungs no longer screamed for air. I glanced upward at the night sky. “No full moon?”

“They can inject themselves with a serum that enables them to become a werewolf whenever they choose.” The werewolves terrified me, but the creature Nessa became frightened me almost as much. I stepped back and watched her fangs disappear, and her eyes return to normal.

A Mylar Balloon in your Home …

Barbara Custer loves Mylar balloonsand horror fiction.

A Mylar balloon in your home is worth two at the store. Why moon over the balloons on display if you’ve already got a thriving one in the house? Sometimes, the store balloons are either too pricey or not for sale at all. Better to go with the sure thing.

That was my conclusion when I contemplated applying for freelance assignments from Upwork.com. You see, several weeks ago, I contracted with L. M. Labat to publish her second book, The Sanguinarian Schwartzwald, a sequel to The Sanguinarian Id. The Sanguinarian Id was well received by reviewers, and its excellent cover had drawn quite a few readers. I’m editing the book now and loving every moment of it. The Sanguinarian Id was a haunting tale of a woman who battled hordes of Nazi soldiers in her quest to hunt down a dangerous madman. The Sanguinarian Schwartzwald promises all that and much more. Methinks 2019 looks promising.

I’m still mindful of my work on the website. That means redoing a few pages and getting a new theme. Recent unexpected expenses made me hesitate to get a premium theme. That and the need to find a theme I like. A WordPress theme has to talk to me the same way a Mylar balloon does at the store before I’ll consider using, let alone buying. So now, I’ve put upwork.com on the shelf until a later date.

My Mike once said, “Stick with the one who brought you to the dance.” I think he had it right. That saying can be applied to publishers, projects, day jobs, and anything that has worked for you. With that in mind, I’ll stick with the Mylar balloons at home. However, I won’t complain if another materializes in my cart during my next visit to the supermarket. 🙂

L. M. Labat penned science fiction / vampire romance tale of medical malpractice.

 

 

Life Got in the Way

science fiction tales by Barbara Custer

Well, here we are in mid-November, and my Mylar balloons reminded me that I hadn’t blogged since the October Frights promo. The promo went well, and I settled into a routine with Night to Dawn, working from noon to 8:00 p.m. most days, with weekends off. I started some work on the website, cutting expenses and was about to install a different, more reasonably priced SEO. All that changed on October 30th when I had my car accident.

First up, I’m okay; my bruises and abrasions have mostly healed. I’ve gone back to the gym twice and was able to do the Pilates plank for the first time. I can’t say the same for my car; it was totaled. This means time spent with insurance agents and online researching cars. There are also trips to the doctors, to the stores to test drive cars and follow-ups with the insurance people. That meant cutting hours back to 4:30 to 8:30. I’ve had to hold off any work on the website, except for posting announcements and doing updates. Night to Dawn 35 is on schedule – I’ve always been obsessive-compulsive about getting the stories edited, so this helped.

My takeaways: If you’re ever in an accident, see a doctor fast. When you’re in shock, you don’t feel pain, and the docs may catch a problem before it gets out of hand. You can replace a car. Second, if you’re contemplating retiring from the day job, think twice. No matter how much money you’ve saved, it’s never enough. I had no choice on retiring because the lack of night vision and other health issues prohibited my working at the hospital, but I do plan on signing on with upwork.com once the dust settles.

I hope to be back in business fulltime in December. I’ve got a blog in mind on revising, too. We’re supposed to have a harsh winter—Pennsylvania winters usually are—which means I will have my butt in a chair working on Night to Dawn projects and routine chores, and my Mylar balloons to supervise me.

Oldie but Goodie Writing Techniques

 

featuring horror and SF by Barbara Custer

Lately, the sequel for Steel Rose and When Blood Reigns has been haunting me. Okay, I’ll confess, I used the pantser style for writing this book. I tried to outline—actually summarized chapters but then found myself lapsing into writing scenes, and I couldn’t work from an outline. The balloon lady in me wants to work on everything else—chapters for Darkness Within Magazine (love doing this); blogging, documenting my latest Mylar Balloon adventure on Facebook.

Why this sequel should give me a problem I can’t say. One of the protags thinks about, buys, and sleeps balloons, but she can quiet zombies in short order. When you get down to it, a book consists of nine types of scenes. The opening is the hook should be written within the first few paragraphs. This will set your story in motion. For the Night to Dawn magazine, I’d better see some tension on page one—you can’t pussyfoot around with a short story. All the same, I find opening scenes the hardest to write, and each book requires multiple revisions for the opening scene.

Set-up scenes are used to feed in primary background information such as the characters’ careers or motivations. It’s nice to know where your protag works, especially if the bloodletting takes place at the work site. What’s more, your protag’s career and family life may influence how he or she approaches the horrors in your story.

Verifying scenes establish the evidence for others you’ve set up and will reinforce the information you already included. I’m thinking along the lines of foreshadowing, but also if you mention that your protag is a nurse on page one, you might want to include reminders especially if that detail is essential to the story.

historical fiction novel by Michael De Stefano

Conflicts are critical for every fiction work. The battle could be with another person, an inner demon, or nature—perhaps a snowstorm, hurricane, or earthquake, and your character’s reaction to it. It must come across natural; with what you know about your character, ask if he/she would really act in a given way.

In the hindrance scene, your protag takes one step forward, then one or two steps back. Every time he/she making progress, throw a wrench into it. For example, maybe your protag finds an escape route, but the villain, being one step ahead, plants a minefield along that path.

In your turnaround scene, you’ve got the darkest moment. The character thinks he/she’s come thus far when something horrible happens, and it appears all is lost. For example, the serial killer traps the protag, their spouse, and children and pulls out a gun.

Flashback scenes should be used only if necessary. Perhaps something happens which causes the protag’s mind to flash back to previous events. This should appear in the early part of the story and have more dramatic action than what is happening in the present. If the flashback is too long, you may have started your story in the wrong place. Consider weaving this information into the story some other way.

During the climax, all conflicts are resolved. Perhaps the protag managed to slay the villain responsible for releasing the zombie infection; in a romance, the hero and heroine reach a commitment.

You’ve got your conclusion once you’ve reached a satisfying ending and have tied up all the loose ends. Endings are really tough to write. I’ve used up two or three of my best curse words, plus several Mylar balloon purchases to get the ending right.

Your thoughts?

I will be sending a $10 Amazon gift card to a random commenter.

 

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