Thursday, November 1, 2018

Earth to Thoeba: Contest Wnners!

Earth to Thoeba: Contest Wnners!: Cover by Emma Hibbs. Thank you everyone for participating in my contest! Please know that I deeply appreciate all the exposure you have ...

Contest Wnners!

Cover by Emma Hibbs.
Thank you everyone for participating in my contest! Please know that I deeply appreciate all the exposure you have generated for Her True name: Volume Three. The publishing details have been fixed, we're good to go. I apologize for the delay.
Get yours here:

The winners of this contest are no surprise. These people are already supportive of my work on a continuing basis, so it is no great shock that they won. I'd still like to thank my friends, neighbors, writers, a few strangers, and I DID notice people from my hometown of Fox Creek, Alberta came to bat for me too. THANK YOU.

Winners will receive, as promised, paperback copies of Her True name: Volumes One and Two. (The special edition.) Winners have been notified.

Winner #1 is: Michelle Ashley Gordon. She actually managed to talk a couple of her friends into buying Chasing Monsters while she was at it. She had more than double the entries of anyone.

Winner#2 is: FULL DISCLOSURE....Winner #2 is Jody Lean, who is my younger sister, so she doesn't count. Well, she does--She's always so supportive, but I'm going to give her copies just because. And that means the person with one less post than her is Kevin Warren. He is Winner #2

Winner #3 is: Is one of my new readers, and he had only one less post than Kevin did. Congratulations Aaron Jeffrey

Thank you to every last one of you for participating and I hope you all had a fantastic October Halloween Month. Now that October is over, I am returning to the Graveyard shift. I'm going to rest peacefully now that this is all done!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Earth to Thoeba: Reasons to Hate Self-Publishing and How to Fix The...

Earth to Thoeba: Reasons to Hate Self-Publishing and How to Fix The...: Check the cover size before you publish. With traditional publishers locking their gates against new talent, self-publishing has become ...

Reasons to Hate Self-Publishing and How to Fix Them

Check the cover size before you publish.
With traditional publishers locking their gates against new talent, self-publishing has become more popular than ever before. I'm writing this blog in the interest of turning my embarrassment into something useful for independent authors such as myself, or maybe you're just curious. I don't have all the answers, just the few I found in my latest misadventure.

First and foremost. I despise numbers. I don't just hate math. I abhor it with every nerve in my grinding, sensitive teeth. I don't have dyscalculia (Number dyslexia) so much as I have a mental block brought on by a vicious grade two teacher who used physical violence and humiliation to help her students learn better.  I'm sharing this because it might explain why I react to large numbers with hyperventilation, panic and sometimes rage. It might also explain how I made some unfortunate mistakes.

Mistake #1 I chose the wrong cover size. Createspace offers several options in both inches and centimeters. The SMART thing to do, when in doubt, would have been to check previously published novels to compare. I don't really understand inches, but the centimeter numbers were too large. I panicked, and I chose the 8.5x11, because I knew that was about as large as a page, in my mind. I actually needed 5.5x8.5.

Createspace warned me. They told me my formatted manuscript didn't fit my 8.5x11  cover and I still didn't clue in. I had Heather Savage reformat the file. Createspace begrudgingly accepted it, sending me a passive aggressive message about how they 'fixed' the files for me to meet their requirements. Everything else was fine, so I placed my order for print books.

It wasn't until the books arrived that I realized my mistake. Too late. Since these books are Print on Demand, that means they were custom printed for my order alone. No refunds. So now I'm stuck with eighteen paperback novellas the size of a children's coloring book. Did I mention that I accidently ordered double because I didn't think the order went through the first time?

The bright side: Because they are Print on Demand, there's only eighteen of them. Could you imagine a warehouse full of those?

The solutions: I offer them as 'Special Editions', because they're still cool looking, and they're going to be extremely rare when I pull them off the shelf. I call Createspace and speak with a human. The worst is confirmed. Since there is an ISBN attached to that particular edition, I have to START OVER. New file, new ISBN code, etcetera.
No need to change the cover. Whew!

Here is when being Canadian comes in handy. ISBN codes are free in Canada. All they require is that you keep them appraised of your publishing dates and when you sell a certain amount you must send copies to their archives. They give you these codes with the promise you'll pay your taxes on the profits.

I logged in and marked Her True Name: Volume Two as 'Cancelled'. Then I reapplied for an ISBN for Her True Name: Volume II and marked it as 'Forthcoming'. It worked.
During this time, Createspace had sent several notices that they would become amazon/KDP, and if I didn't move all my files over, they would be moved for me. So I went ahead and moved my previous novels over, intending to start HTN:V2 with amazon. How different could it be?

The cover file didn't fit. Createspace had demanded a PDF file, then they demanded a PDF file below 32 MB. Emma did a great job of adapting, switching to a PDf at 1000 pixels without compromising the integrity of the cover, but KDP didn't want it. The result looked like a postage stamp centered at the bottom of the page.

Fortunate happenstance. Before that happened, I had sent KDP an email because in addition to my ISBN number, KDP required a number that proved I PAID for it. Um...A quick google search told me to just re-enter my Canadian ISBN, and it will be recognized. Whew!

Just then, my phone rang. It's KDP with the answer to the ISBN. Do I have anything else I need help with? HELL YEAH, since you're here...

KDP customer service is far superior to Createspace. She put me in touch with a cover designer. He went into my file, and got me to send Emma's cover to his KDP address, where he changed it to a JPEG file. (After all that fuss to make it a PDF...) Then he walked me through Cover Creator. This took over 45 minutes and he stayed on the line the entire time. <3

Ugh... I was mad. Why am I doing all this? THIS is what I pay other people for! I don't even WANT to learn this! I just want to write the damned books! What's all this other crap on my cover? Heather Savage, my editor, is right. Sometimes you have to learn things you don't want to, for growth. It exercises your brain. To be honest, I'm glad I did it. And to that KDP rep? I'm sorry for swearing so much. I know I explained I wasn't mad at you, I was just mad, but I hope you didn't take offense. It really was a s simple as you said it was. I downloaded Emma's JPEG cover, and removed the excess titles, fonts and additional texts with a few clicks, and it was my book cover once again.

So I send the new changes for review, confident that everything is fine and I'm done.

More mistakes? I check my email a couple of days later to see if I'm back on the shelves, and I am greeted by another message from KDP. It basically says, "We can't publish your book. The pages are in the wrong order." WHAT?! How is that even possible from a digital file?! The email came with several suggestions and links, and it also suggested I check the trim, counting my pages and calculating them against this OVERWHELMING number that was about 38 digits long and it included a decimal point and AUUUUGGGHHH!

My editor is in Italy. So I vent to my cover artist Emma Hibbs. Besides being great with art, Emma is also a fantastic writer herself with her own experiences in self-publishing and she has an idea. She needs to go into my file and possibly reformat.
I love you EMMA!!

The solution was simple. They wanted the page numbers on the LEFT side of the odd numbered pages, and page numbers on the RIGHT of the even pages. Page one needs the number on the left, page two requires the page number on the right, etc. That's all they wanted. And Thank God for Emma, and her sweet, calming demeanor. <3

Now Her True Name: Volume II is back on the amazon shelf. You can find it here: Her True Name: Volume Two

If I haven't bored you yet, you must be a writer, and I hope this gives you some insight. This was a learning experience for me, one I hope I'll never repeat. I've also learned to calm down and look for the solutions before I panic. Numbers still suck, but maybe I'll get through this next time without undue freaking out.

Oh...and sharing this blog counts as another entry to the contest. Thanks for indulging me.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Earth to Thoeba: Her True Name: Emma's Interview!

Earth to Thoeba: Her True Name: Emma's Interview!: This is part three of my contest. This is also a blog I'd like to see shared and tagged. Why? Because this is EMMA! This is the brilli...

Her True Name: Emma's Interview!

This is part three of my contest. This is also a blog I'd like to see shared and tagged. Why? Because this is EMMA! This is the brilliant imagination behind the cover of Her True Name: Volume Two. So please share and tag. Each share counts as an entry, and I need you to tag me so you can be counted for each one.

Emma and I met through our mutual former publisher, Staccato Publishing with Heather Savage.  I have also participated in her Sophie Lancaster Project,  Dare to Shine. 

As always, she's awesome to work with--Total Sweetie. I finally got around to sending Emma some interview questions. Thank you Emma Hibbs, for the glorious cover, and for taking the time to tell us about yourself.

Emma please list your many and various creative outlets.
I first entered the indie publishing scene in 2012 as a YA fantasy author, and to date I’ve released 6 fiction titles and contributed to 3 charity anthologies, with one of my short stories being featured in the British Fantasy Society Journal. But it wasn’t long before I also branched out into my other lifelong love: art. Most of my work in that respect comes from creating book covers and graphics for my fellow authors, but I work in several other mediums too, including graphite, acrylic on canvas, pyrography, and scherenschnitte (German-style silhouette papercutting). As well as all that, I host a YouTube channel focused on helping my fellow writers and uncovering the real-world origins of fairy tales and folklore. So it’s never a dull day in my house!

Tell us where you're from, where you live now, and the interesting way you spend your winters. 
I was born and still live in Cheshire in North West England, close to the Welsh border. It’s a place of ancient Roman fortresses, steeped in Lewis Carroll lore and award-winning ice cream (believe me, it’s delicious!). But every winter I leave it all behind and move into a log cabin in the middle of the Finnish Arctic. I spend my days telling stories and my nights under the stars and northern lights. I’ve called Finland my second home for four years now and winter is a time of year I always look forward to.

What inspires you? 
Anything and everything! I find that specific themes tend to come out in certain creative outlets – acrylic painting is a way for me to express my love of nature and landscapes, while my papercutting focuses more on Victorian-style fantasy illustrations. But I always find myself coming back to inspirations like dreams, songs, folklore from around the world, philosophy, my own experiences… I suppose I like to capture all the ways I see life and beauty, and explore them in new ways – perhaps even with a message behind it if you care to look for that.

What were your processes for this particular book cover? 
As an author myself I understand how important it is to have an eye-catching cover, but also how it should be a true reflection of what the book is about, so I always try to involve the author in the creative process. I started off getting as much information as I could about the story and themes, and that gave me an idea of colour palettes and designs. I went hunting for some resources – all of which I passed by Donna, and we eventually found ones we both liked but which needed a little work to match the vision of the book. After several hours of digital painting and lighting effects, we ended up with the finished cover. It was an absolute joy to work on.

What in the future for you?
I’m currently on the hunt for a literary agent so I can take my stories to the next level, but in the meantime I’m contributing to a new fairy-themed charity anthology due to be released next year through Dreampunk Press. I also have plans to continue working as an artist and graphic designer, and do some travelling around Europe if I can manage it!

Where can people find you 
and your work? 
The wild Emma is usually found on Facebook (, in the Batty Brigade Facebook Group (, and on YouTube (, but I also hang around Twitter ( and Instagram ( on occasion. You can also find everything about me and my creations by stepping through the Violet Door (

Wednesday, October 10, 2018