Gail's Book Nook

Monday, October 22, 2012

Looking Out the Window: Multi-published, Award-winning Author Mildred Colvin Takes Up Self Publishing and Tells Us How. She'll Also Give Away a Book.


Less than two years ago in April of 2011, I started a journey I have yet to regret. With fear of the unknown and the possibility of failure hounding me, I joined the ranks of the Indie-Published, otherwise known as self-published. The publishing world was not new to me after more than ten years of writing for Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line. But there, I had the backing of editors and all the many people who bring together a manuscript into a polished book. Once I stepped across the line to the do-it-yourself side, I found that most, if not all, of that work fell on my shoulders. Since that first book, Learning to Lean, I’ve published ten more in seventeen months. Eight were never before published, while three are from my back list. Two of those, Cora and Eliza, each grew from 50,000 word books to over 80,000 words. They now contain the full story of Cora’s Deception and Eliza’s Mistake. Readers who have read both versions have commented that they seem like new stories now, and they like them better. I have two more books planned for the Brides of Cedar Creek—Rebekah’s Scorn and Deborah’s Secret.

Mildred will give away Lesson of the Poinsettia. Read below to see how to get your free copy.   
In Lesson of the Poinsettia, through the eyes of a child, Abigail and Seth learn to see beyond the darkness of their lives and in the process find love to last a lifetime
Welcome, Mildred. I imagine you've gotten lots of questions since you started self-publishing. Would you share some of them with us.
I’ll try to answer them as best I can and hope to be of help to anyone who is interested. If you have more insight into any of these issues, please feel free to share in the comments below. Here are answers to some I've been asked in no particular order:

1. Do you put your books on Smashwords and Amazon?
Yes, although I still have one more book to publish with Smashwords. I simply haven’t found enough to get everything done, but my plans are to do that with every book I publish. Amazon has been a better selling avenue for me, but Smashwords provides an opportunity for those with an e-reader other than Kindle to buy my books. I want my books available for everyone.

2. What is Create Space?
Create Space is a print on demand publishing company affiliated with Amazon. I publish in paperback first with Create Space. This allows me to buy a proof copy of my book for editing purposes and to see how the book cover looks. Create Space also handles the selling of my paperbacks through Amazon and other retailers.

3. Could you share links to information about these sites?
http://www.amazon.com
http://www.smashwords.com
http://www.createspace.com

I recommend you go to each of these sites and read everything you can find there about publishing. Smashwords has a detailed step-by-step guide to publishing called Smashwords Style Guide. I follow it for all my e-books.

4. Do your format your own books? Is it the same for both sites?
Yes, I format my own books. It isn’t hard if you follow the Smashwords Style Guide as I mentioned above. Formatting is similar for both Amazon and Smashwords, and I make one file formatted as directed in Smashwords Style Guide. The one for Smashwords is saved in Word 97-2003 document. Save another for Amazon in Web Page, Filtered. Other than that, the main difference between the two is the copyright page. My advice on what to put on your copyright page is to look at published books and make your own decision from those. However, for Smashwords, you will need to mention that this is the Smashwords Edition. That should be covered in the style guide.

5. How long does it take to get a book ready for the sites after it's written?
After my book is written and edited, I set aside a day to format and publish. I’m getting faster at this after publishing eleven books, but it still takes me most of the day to publish.

6. Do you make your covers? If so, is there special formatting for this?
I make most of my covers. I’ve even started taking my own pictures for many of my books. Sometimes that isn’t possible, of course. Yes, there is a certain pixel requirement for the covers. I believe 1600 pixels wide x 2400 pixels tall is right for either site, however, it’s a good idea to check with each one before you make your cover. Both Amazon and Smashwords have more information on that in their instructions.
 
I use a free download, Gimp 2.6, to design my covers. I use the many Gimp Tutorials on YouTube.com or in articles to learn new ways to use Gimp.

7. Where do you get your pictures?
As I mentioned, I try to take my own pictures. If that isn’t possible, I buy photos from Dreamstime.com. The Preacher’s Outlaw Bride needed more on the cover than I could come up with so I turned to Dreamstime and found my beginning action scene played out in an illustration. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find something appropriate for the other three in that series.


In The Preacher’s Outlaw Bride, a pretend wedding gives eight-year-old KodyAnne the assurance that even the Orphan Train cannot separate her from Michael forever. Their love transcends time until her father, a banker, and a sheriff change their lives.



You will find several photo sites if you google them, and you may prefer one over the other just as I do.

8. What about trademark or rights?
I’m no expert on this, but I would be very careful to determine the picture I use is copyright free. Those on Dreamstime are and also have model releases on most. Watch for the ones that are useable and stay away from anything that might come back and give you more trouble than you want. There again, your best course of action is to read all the fine print at whatever site you buy your photo. Both copyright and trademark is something you want to consider before you buy and should be covered in the terms of use.

9. What's the out of pocket cost to get started?
The cost of publishing can vary with the individual. If you are very careful, you can publish for free. I paid approximately $15.00 for both the illustration and photo for The Preacher’s Outlaw Bride. I also purchased the paperback proof for $7. 05 so I could get some final editing and proofing done on the interior.

 10. Why did you decide to Indie-publish?
The idea of publishing the many books I had written that were taking up file space with no place to go rolled around in my mind for months before I found the courage to do anything about it. I talked to my crit partner, Regina Tittel, author of The Ozark Durham Series, about this new method of publishing. She was interested, too, and sent me some info from a fairly new author, Victorine Lieske, who wrote Not What She Seems. Victorine is generous in giving information to new authors trying to learn. Her blog, http://www.victorinewrites.blogspot.com, has a wealth of information for authors and is encouraging. After reading all I could find, I decided to try it.

 11. What marketing advice would you give other Indie-published authors?
I published Learning to Lean near the middle of April 2011 and sold three books. In May, three more books sold. Another seven sold in June. Not one to give up, I decided to add a couple of more books, so in July, I published A New Life and Lesson of the Poinsettia. My sales increased to a total of 21 books then dropped to six in August. That should have discouraged a normal person, but I added two more books by December, Love Returned and Cora’s Deception. As 2011 drew to a close, after nine months of trying to sell e-books on Amazon, I had sold only 135 total books.
 
 
 
 
 
In Learning to Lean, six kids seem like too many to Matt and Heather. Learning to lean on God can take a lifetime or maybe only a lesson in trust.
 
 
 







In A New Life, Kim and Travis have a problem. She’s city. He’s Country. She just found out they have something in common. Her son!




                                                                          

In Cora’s Deception, betrayal, abandonment, and a brush with death shake Cora’s beliefs. Lies—easier to believe than truth.

 

 I tried blogging, doing interviews, forums, etc. I didn’t know how to market. I still don’t, but near the end of December 2011, I put Love Returned on for free at Smashwords. It had been selling an average of two books a month, so I figured if I gave it away I wouldn’t be losing anything. In January, Amazon price matched, making my book free there as well. That’s when everything changed. Approximately 10,000 free books were downloaded before I re-instated the 0.99 price after which Love Returned sold 629 copies on Amazon during the remainder of January. Giving away copies may be one of the most effective things you can do.



In Love Returned, Megan falls in love. But circumstances say Scott’s son is the baby she gave away nine years ago. If she confronts him, she’ll lose his love, and he’ll take his son away. If she marries him without telling who she is, she’ll have both husband and son, but be living a lie. Is there a happy ending?

 12. Do the sites have any special tips for promoting?
Yes, if you browse through Amazon’s publishing information, you’ll find tips for promoting. Smashwords also has a free download titled The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success and another titled Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.

13. What do you like least about Indie-publishing?
That’s an interesting question, but I’m not sure I have an answer for it. Like anything there’s room for improvement. But overall, I believe Indie-publishing is a good system for author and reader. I would like to have a better way of promoting my books on Amazon. I believe the author should be allowed to offer a book at a reduced rate or for free for a limited time. I see that as a win-win-win situation for readers, authors, and Amazon.

14. What do you like best about Indie-publishing?
I enjoy the freedom of writing the story God has laid on my heart. If I write a sequel to a book, I don’t have to fear an editor’s cut. Although I still have to write blurbs for each of my books, I don’t have to worry over a synopsis. Also, I can write at my own speed, and I like that. I’m grateful for the royalty system, which is much fairer than traditional publishing.

 15. Where should a first-timer start?
My advice to someone who is just thinking about publishing his or her own book would be to go to each of the sites I’ve mentioned and read everything there that has to do with publishing. There’s a lot, so it’ll take time. Download the free how-to e-books from Smashwords and read them. If you decide to try your hand at publishing something, you might like to start with a novella. It’s shorter so won’t take as long to write. You can price it for 0.99 without feeling as if you’re losing money, which leads me to the last question.

16. How much can you make when you Indie-publish?
There’s no one answer to that question. You might make enough for dinner out for two or you could make a few million dollars. I’ve heard of both happening. No one knows how well a book will sell. There is a sort of trend, however. Most authors publish their first e-book and find it’s invisible, which means very few or no sales. After a month or so, the book is discovered and sales begin to grow. Some very slowly, some by leaps. Some authors recommend publishing several books to make them more visible. I’ve heard you should have a minimum of three books. My experience would be to double that. Amazon pays the author royalties of 35% for e-books priced below $2.99 and 70% for e-books priced at $2.99 to $9.99.
 
I hope I’ve helped someone who is teetering on the edge of Indie-Publishing, unsure of what to do. If something I’ve said is still unclear, leave a comment, and I’ll try to answer or maybe write a second blog addressing those issues.

Thank you for sharing, Mildred.

Mildred's giving away Lesson of the Poinsettia, a free Christmas e-book. To download your free novella clikc here. The offer will be good from now until November 3, 2012.

Find Mildred's books on Amazon here

Find Mildred's books on Smashwords here

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Winner of Hidden in the Heart

The Winner of Hidden in the Heart is....

Drumroll....

Congratulations, Jackie!

The Winner of June Foster's Prize Package will be announced on June's blog on Saturday, October
20th. It's http://www.junefoster.blogspot.com

Monday, October 15, 2012

Looking Out the Window: Read About June Foster's Blog Tour. Win Prizes and Learn About June's New Book, As We Forgive.


Enter to win prizes on June Foster's As We Forgive Blog Tour

Leave a comment and email address on this interview for a chance to be entered into the As We Forgive Blog Tour Giveaway. The prize pack includes two sets of handmade cards (one monogrammed, one miscellaneous cards) A San Juan Island Pendant, and an Amazon Gift Certificate for $10.00. Visit June's Blog here for more chances to enter.  Deadline to Enter will be October 18th. The winner will be announced on October 20th.


Hi. Welcome, June. First, tell us a little about yourself.
I am a retired teacher with a BA in Education and MA in Counseling. I'm the mother of two and grandmother of 10. I began writing in January 2010 the same month my husband and I began our adventure in our RV. We now live and travel full time. My sweet resourceful husband took out the couch and replaced it with a writing desk and two file cabinets.

Neat. Tell us about your latest book.
As We Forgive is book #2 in the Bellewood Series set in Washington state. Tim Garrett is a youth pastor with aspirations of becoming a pastoral counselor. He has a difficult assignment - working with rebellious teens who won't let up. Since he deals with his own personal anger issues, it's an explosive situation. Roxanne Ratner doesn't trust men any more than she trust her father who walked out on her and her mother. When Tim and Roxanne fall in love, sparks fly, but not in the right direction.

What inspired you to write this particular book? I've known people who've dealt with anger issues in their lives because they survived dysfunctional childhoods. I wanted to show that people can find victory when they allow God and His infinite mercy to work in their situations.

That sounds like an inspirational story. Where do you get ideas for your books?
I think of issues that people I've known struggle with and place characters in the worse possible situation to provoke the problem. Then I allow God to help them find their way out.

In three words describe your style of writing.
Simplistic, dramatic, redemptive

How do you get to know your characters?
Sometimes I take on-line personality tests, but from the stand point of the character I've envisioned. Generally, the assessment as a result of the test gives me personality traits of the character. But more importantly, I like to interview the character and ask them lots of "why" and "what if" questions about aspects of the plot. It's amazing how they "reveal" themselves to me.

What themes do you write about?
I love to write about tough subjects. So far I've tackled obesity, anger, self image, abandonment, abortion, drug abuse, homosexuality, irrational fear, and non-Christian cults.

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
This is the trickiest part of traveling in an RV. I love to get up early and write to mid-afternoon then take a break from my makeshift desk. But often I have to put away my computer, tape my drawers shut, bungee cord my chair to the desk, and hit the road.

Does your faith affect your writing? How?
I could not write if I was not able to communicate my faith. I love to write stories where characters overcome the issues in their lives by the message of the Bible and God's power.

What are you working on right now?
I am putting the final edits on the third book in the Bellewood series, Deliver Us, which will be out April 1, 2013.

Watch a video of As We Forgive



Buy As We Forgive here


Monday, October 8, 2012

Looking Out the Window: Cathy West, Who Writes Books of Hope and Healing, Talks about Hidden in the Heart and Offers a Give Away

Cathy will give away a copy of her new book, Hidden in the Heart. To enter to win leave a comment and an email address.




First, tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised on the beautiful island of Bermuda. I love flowers of all kinds, but especially roses and orchids. I’m a dog lover and have a rambunctious border collie called Noah. I’m the very proud mother of two amazingly talented children – my son is in his second year at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and my daughter is finishing up her degree in photography and planning her wedding next May!

Wow! What a wonderful place to grow up and live. Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
I’ve always loved books! Growing up in Bermuda, a British colony, I read a lot of Beatrix Potter and then later, Enid Blyton. I read so many books that I didn’t have enough room on the shelves for them all!

Now for your writing, is there a special reason why you write?
I write because I love it! Truly. I love creating fictional worlds where characters take over and tell me their story. Sometimes they don’t shut up until I’ve written it all down word for word! I love being able to share the message of hope, forgiveness and restoration that comes through Christ, with the world.

Tell us about your latest book.
Everything Claire wants
seems to be beyond her reach…

After losing her mother to cancer and suffering a miscarriage soon after, Claire
Ferguson numbs the pain with alcohol and pills, and wonders if her own life is
worth living.

Adopted at birth, Claire is convinced she has some unknown genetic flaw
that may have been the cause of her miscarriage. She must find a way to deal
with the guilt she harbors. But exoneration will come with a price.
With her marriage in trouble and her father refusing to answer any
questions about her adoption, Claire begins the search for her birth mother.
For the first time in her life, she really wants to know where she came from.
But what if the woman who gave her life doesn’t want to be found?

For all those who have loved, experienced loss,
and lived life’s roller-coaster

What inspired you to write this particular book?
I grew up as an adopted child. About twelve years ago, I made the decision to search for my birth mother. Hidden in the Heart is loosely based on my own journey. I really didn’t intend to write my story, but the more I talked about it and shared it with friends, the more I felt led to write it down. While it is a book of fiction and I haven’t experienced all of the things Claire goes through, her emotions are all based on first hand experience.

That sounds like a book to tug at the heartstrings. Where do you get ideas for your books?
They usually come to me. Sometimes if I read an article, see a picture, take a drive – inspiration just hits and I run with it.

In three words describe your style of writing.
That’s easy, it’s my tagline.

Stories That Resonate…

How do you get to know your characters?
Usually it’s through the process of writing. Their personalities seem to unfold as we go along. Sometimes this takes longer than I’d like, other times they tell me who they are right away. Sometimes they take me totally by surprise, which is always fun!

What themes do you write about?
I write about the things that have touched my life the most - Brokenness, Forgiveness, Healing, Redemption, Restoration and Hope.

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
I usually write in the mornings when I’m not going out anywhere. It really depends on the day and what I have planned. If I have nowhere to go, I could literally sit at the computer the entire day! Fortunately, my dog doesn’t allow me to do that!

Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?
This is our second year of being empty nesters, so hubby and I are finding our way down that road. At first it was a little strange not to have the kids around, but now I think I’m getting used to it. I do like the quiet house. But of course we love it when they’re all home too.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer?
Oh, definitely NOT a plotter. I wish I was. I’ve tried, but I just can’t do it. At most I may work with  a very rough outline, but I’m a tried and true pantser!

What are you working on right now?
I have two completed manuscripts that my agent is getting ready to send out, so at the moment I’m really just working on marketing and promoting Hidden in the Heart. I do have another book that I’ve started, called First Harvest, and I’ll be working on that a bit more once the dust settles.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Follow your heart, follow your dreams, and don’t give up!

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
I can’t imagine not writing, so I honestly don’t know!!

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Just a huge thanks for having me here and for the interest in Hidden in the Heart. As you may have surmised, adoption is a theme close to my heart. I’m always happy to chat about it and I love hearing from my readers!

It was my pleasure, Cathy.

Bio
Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two college-aged children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books and Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com

Visit Cathy's Website here

Vist Her Facebook Page Here

Read about Cathy's Book at OakTara 

Visit Cathy's Blog

 Cathy at GoodReads

Amazon Buy Links:

Yesterday's Tomorrow

Hidden in the Heart

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Winner of Twice Promised


I was scrolling the screen up and down looking for a winner when my husband entered.
He asked to pick. That made my job much easier. He narrowed down his choices and flipped a coin.

Congratulations to Kelly Z!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Looking Out the Window: CBA Best Selling Author Maggie Brendan Shares a Beautiful Fall Devotional and Talks about Her New Book, Twice Promised. She'll Give Away a Copy..


Read about Three Heavens. She'll Give Away a copy of Twice Promised. To enter to win leave a comment and an email address.




AUTUMN SOVEREIGNTY

We are having perfect fall weather today, and I relish walking through my neighborhood each afternoon admiring the canvas of God’s handiwork. Many times I’ll carry my camera or cell phone to snap a picture of autumn’s beauty.

As usual, I’m energized when leaves will soon change from deep orange, brilliant reds, and burnished gold from the oaks, sweetgums, and maples on either side of our boulevard.  I think God speaks to my heart through what I see reminding me of His goodness, and the fact that he remains faithful beyond what we humans can begin to conceive or even comprehend.

He does this in many ways, but one that’s so evident to anyone with a pair of eyes, is by ushering in fall with all its brilliancy on time without fail. The cerulean sky is cloudless and bright as I look up knowing that beyond this atmosphere is the third Heaven in all its splendor where He sits at the right hand of the Father. I contemplate my loved ones who’ve passed from this life, awaiting the time that they will return to this earth to reign with him right where Kind David ruled in Israel and my soul is comforted.  Isn’t that a wonderful promise? God said Heaven is My throne and earth is My footstool, from where he observes the poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word. Psalm 14:2.  He’s not saying that we should be scared of Him, but rather that we take His Word seriously and be humbled at His sovereignty. 

Did you know that Heaven is mentioned 559 times in scripture? Did you know that there are three Heavens?  One is the atmosphere where the bird, the wind and clouds are.  The second Heaven is the celestial Heaven where the sun, moon and our solar system hangs.  The third Heaven is where God dwells.  God has placed eternity in our hearts and nothing else will entirely satisfy us while we have our temporary existence here on earth.

As I take my daily walk contemplating our bad economy, terrorism that we face, and our changing world status, I’m reminded that my hope is in Heaven and not Washington politics as America faces another presidential election.  Have you considered this? So I dwell on the sovereignty of God’s glorious autumn and this verse comes to mind: Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. (Psalm 20:7.)




About Twice Promised

Two beautiful brides. One unsuspecting groom. Three weeks to figure it all out.
Greta Olsen arrives in Central City, Colorado, as a mail-order bride, expecting to marry Jess Gifford, the man she’s come to know through his tender letters. But when the dust clears, she meets Cora Johnson and discovers she’s not the only bride waiting at the train station for Jess.

Already shocked to find they must compete for Jess’s affection, the young women can hardly believe it when not Jess but his brother Zach picks them up from the station—and reveals that Jess knows nothing about any mail-order bride, let alone two. Will either bride make the match she hopes for?

Filled with surprises, misunderstandings, and tender romance, Twice Promised is the story of how two unlikely women become twice blessed.

 Praise for Twice Promised
Twice Promised is another great love story by Maggie Brendan . . . with fast-paced plot twists as the characters find their way to true love.”—Mary Connealy, author of Over the Edge, In Too Deep, and Out of Control

“Memorable characters and solid storytelling abound in Maggie Brendan’s delightful tale. The two romances will double your reading pleasure, and the twists and turns will keep you guessing until the end. I loved it!”—Margaret Brownley, New York Times bestselling author of the Brides of Last Chance Ranch series

Bio
Maggie Brendan is a CBA bestselling author, was nominated for the Rita, a finalist for Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards and a finalist for Heart of Excellence award for Deeply Devoted. She is a member of the Author’s Guild, the American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Faith, Hope and Love and Georgia Romance Writers. She is the author of the Heart of the West series. Her latest series is The Blue Willow Brides. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, singing, painting, scrapbooking and being with her family. You can follow Maggie on her website here and her blog, Southern Belle Writer She is also a resident blogger on Bustles and Spurs

Buy Links
CBD

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Monday, October 1, 2012