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

Earth to Thoeba: Her True Name: Volume Two: An Excerpt.

Earth to Thoeba: Her True Name: Volume Two: An Excerpt.: Cover By Emma Hibbs Here is part two of my month long contest, also to be shared. (Don't forget to tag me!) I will be posting, for t...

Her True Name: Volume Two: An Excerpt.

Cover By Emma Hibbs
Here is part two of my month long contest, also to be shared. (Don't forget to tag me!) I will be posting, for the first time, a nice, long excerpt for Her True Name: Volume Two. Please share this and tag me as many times as you can. Each share counts as an entry.

Also, I would like to point out that Chasing Monsters is a great read for Halloween, and is available at Audrey's in Edmonton Alberta, Amazon, and Ebay.

Her True Name will be available at Audrey's and Amazon.

But enough promotion and babble. Here's the excerpt I promised. I chose the Prologue for Her True Name: Volume Two.

     Freya stared at the groaning surface beneath her feet, watching in fascination as deep fissures spread like spider’s webs. Not terra firma, she realized. Ice. Fragile frozen water. So Odin’s stories were true.
     This world seemed to be covered in pure white, and the air bit into her skin. There were swaying trees--evergreens--in the distance. The sky was just as blue as the skies of Eden, but flat, stretching clouds marred the purity.
     More cracks appeared by her feet as two violent thuds announced Odin and Loki’s landings, and the crunching roar made her ears ring long after the echoes faded.
     Her orange-haired companion sniffed at the air, his russet colored eyes narrowing. “This place stinks of wet pine and rot,” Loki grimaced. “I may have made an unfortunate decision coming here.”
     “Why?” Odin asked, shaking flakes of white precipitation from his black and silver beard. “I like the chill, and seasons here are ever changing. Besides,” Odin winked at them both. “The cold will not last long. Not by our measure.”
     “We should make haste to a drier surface.” The bubbles at the edge of Freya’s toes were interesting, but alarming with their growing frequency. Her feet were growing more wet and cold. “We seem to have damaged this one. We should go to the trees beyond.”     Both men glanced down, agreeing telepathically. A few short, clumsy hops created new confusion. Only then did they notice the smoke, smell the acrid odor of burning protein.
     Freya gawked at the shoulders of Odin and Loki. “It seems our...departure has cost us our wings.” So strange to behold her companions without feathers flowing from their backs, and she knew she must appear as odd.
     “The price of our betrayal,” Odin said. “I had not foreseen this outcome.” He glanced to the skies, his face twisted in regret and agony.
     As terrible as it looked, it hurt worse. Naught left but burns that itched skin and spine, making them sweat. Freya grit her teeth against the unwelcome sensations.
     No matter.” The pain would pass. Freya accepted her fate, her decision, and the physical discomfort that served to remind her why she came to this realm. “We will walk.” Lack of flight would not hinder her. The Energy’s punishment would not discourage her. She would be worshipped, revered. And the humans who would become her chosen were a brief journey away. She could already smell their musk.

Volume One

Chasing Monsters
Aphrodite's War


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Earth to Thoeba: Pears are Great

Earth to Thoeba: Pears are Great: I LOVE Fall. I love the cloudy skies and cool temperatures. I love the colors of the leaves and the CRUNCH they make under my feet. I even...

Pears are Great

I LOVE Fall. I love the cloudy skies and cool temperatures. I love the colors of the leaves and the CRUNCH they make under my feet. I even love the yard work and the wall washing, because those are nice little workouts with the instant result of tidiness and cleanliness. I love harvesting and canning my own home grown foods the most, and a big part of that is canning and processing pears.

It's not really my pear tree....It actually sits in my neighbor's yard. My sweet, easy to get along with and very busy neighbor Ashley. Ashley doesn't have time for canning and is NOT a fan of picking fruit off her lawn. So she gave me her pear tree.

This year's harvest was good, but not even a quarter of what it was last year, so I have to be very choosy about which recipes I use. I've decided to share them here...And I'm including a picture of my new book cover and a link to my page, so sharing this blog will be counted as an entry to my month long contest as well. Advertising...

Donna Milward Books

There. That's done. (Note: Current copies are oversized. Do not purchase if you are looking to buy Paperback size.)

My first recipe that I tried is definitely a favorite--not just to me but to my friends and family. It's a pear liqueur, and I like to put it in pretty little bottles and give it as gifts. DIY Pear Liqueur Last year I ran out of vanilla beans, so I used cinnamon sticks instead. That was delicious as well.

This one is my husband's favorite. That man loves ginger. I hate it. More for him. A few years back, my former boss Nevin Fiske from Drift Food Truck fame showed me how to peel real ginger with the edge of a spoon, thus making my canning life a little easier. Dan has been getting double ginger in these preserves ever since. This recipe is found on page 69 of the Bernardin Complete Book of Home Preserving, but I've typed it up for you.

Ginger Pear Preserves (Makes about seven 250-ml jars.)

5 ½ cups finely chopped cored peeled pears
Grated zest and juice of 3 limes
2 1/3 cups of sugar
1 Tblsp. grated gingerroot

1. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
2. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine pears, lime zest and juice, sugar and gingerroot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens—about fifteen minutes. Remove from heat and test gel. If gel stage has been reached, skim off foam.
3. Ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 0.5 cm headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot preserves. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to finger-tight.
4. Place jars in canner, ensuring that they are completely covered in water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Last year I got buried in pears. I was literally giving boxes of them away, and I STILL had to plow through six weeks of canning every single day. This is the recipe that saved my sanity as well as HOURS of work. Easy Canned Pears (no sugar) I especially liked the fact that no sugar was involved, because my diabetic mother loves canned pears. And I love Pinterest, which is where this recipe came from.

And finally, MY favorite. Pear Bread <3 This is a perfect snack or maybe for breakfast. It's not too sweet, and pretty easy to make.Favorite Pear Bread

Anyway, hope you enjoy. Officially speaking, I have two more blogs to go before the contest is over, but I wanted to switch it up. Next blog is tomorrow, where I will share an excerpt from Her True Name: Volume Two.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Earth to Thoeba: OOPS.....Adventures in Self-Publishing

Earth to Thoeba: OOPS.....Adventures in Self-Publishing: It took me a long time to write this blog because it's humiliating. This is the part where I tell you NOT to buy my book yet. Because ...

OOPS.....Adventures in Self-Publishing

It took me a long time to write this blog because it's humiliating. This is the part where I tell you NOT to buy my book yet. Because if you're expecting a paperback, you might be surprised. Here's why...

Bit of a size difference...

You see, when I began the process of publishing Her True Name: Volume Two, I accidently checked off the wrong size. Createspace told me that my text didn't quite fit with my chosen cover size, but gave me no way to go back and change what cover size I had. I decided to move forward, and fix it later. Guess what? I forgot to look into it and fix it.

I have to call Createspace, and find out how to change this and hope that I don't need to start over. I have to pull this version of Her True name off the Amazon shelf. I have eighteen of these.  I don't think I can return them, as they are 'Print on Demand'.

So here's the thing. I'm still giving them as prizes. They are the wrong size, but they are still beautiful. I'm going to call them a "Special Edition". When I'm famous, these will be collector's items, as they will be in incredibly short supply.  Less than two dozen.

I've calmed down. Someday I will laugh at this, but right now I'm dying of embarrassment. I'm letting you all know because if you do not one one of my 'Special Editions', you might want to drop out of the contest. I will definitely keep you informed of when the proper sized copies are out on my social media.

I'll have a new blog to share for the contest tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


Here it is! The cover for my new novella! This is the continuation for Her True Name: Volume One. Introducing...Her True Name: Volume Two! The woman responsible for this epic artwork is my friend, Emma Hibbs. The character on this cover is Freya, who plays a a huge role in this book.

Note how the goddess Freya is white haired with extremely light blue eyes. That's because I modelled her after my beloved cat.  THIS Freya...
See the resemblance? 

As you can see, we went in a different direction with this cover. It's a little brighter than the others. I told Emma I envisioned tall trees in green, maybe some sunlight peeking through. She gave me ethereal forests, as I suspected she would, and let me choose my favorite. The cool thing about self-publishing and working with a cover artist like Emma is getting to choose pretty much everything you want for a cover, from the font to the model on it. I chose the model, and Emma changed her hair and eyes to match my vision. She put it all together and made it work.Emma, or E.C. Hibbs as she's sometimes known, was fantastic to work with, as always, and I look forward to our next cover for this series. And I finally got around to a quick interview. More on that later.
Here is the back blurb: 

Her True Name is an open-ended series about the human incarnations of Sage and Virtus,

 two angels finding their way through the Earthly realm. Each book can be read alone, or 

consecutively. The gods are often against them, but The Energy will make certain that they 

will always be together, somehow.

                                                          VOLUME TWO

Three naked travellers arrive at a village in ancient Sweden. They learn the language, and possess talents as unusual as themselves. Agneta is suspicious of them, until Freya soothes her with magicks and stories of a land Agneta has never seen, yet longs to experience...again. But the strangers bring betrayal and peril. Can the village trust these 

new gods? Or will it be the ruin of their peaceful way of life? 

Anyway, here's where I tell you about the contest. Her True Name: Volume Two is already available in paperback. I had planned for Halloween, but I was able to get things rolling faster than expected. I want LOTS of attention for it. I'm offering THREE sets of both volumes for the winners. That means three winners will receive THESE...

In paperback. They are on their way to my house as we speak. Here's the link if you want to go ahead and order: Her True Name: Volume Two

For the contest, all you need to do is share and tag.  SHARE this blog, and the next two that follow, (The interview with Emma will be in the third blog.) or anything else from my author page. And TAG me, so I can count your entries. The more shares, the more entries. The tags are important. I can't count your entries, if I don't see them.

Please post them on Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter. If you share them in another media site, please point it out to me so I can include them.

Thank you, and best of luck! I'm already excited to post the other blogs, and I'm excited to see who wins!

This contest is NOT connected to Facebook, Twitter or any other social media site in any way.