Around the World in 80 seconds, give or take a few . . .

19 Aug

No, not in real time, that’s for sure. But I’ve noticed that a lot of folks are not aware of the world-wide presence of Amazon. Even more so, for Kindle. So, here we have a ‘show-and-tell’ glimpse at the global reach.  There are currently eleven other Amazon sites around the world. (China is temporarily not available, but all the others are.)  For instance, here’s a screen shot of the US page for my newest novella. (Might as well pitch myself, right?)  Kindle books that are available to US readers living in the US are not available to us from the UK site. Actually, I’m not sure that a US resident ordering from the US can purchase from any of the international sites, and that’s not the purpose of this post. It’s only to demonstrate the fun of seeing one’s book being available to readers all around the globe!

(Apology because these didn’t all cooperate like I wanted them to. They moved around to suit themselves! However, if you click on any of the pix, they will enlarge. I hope that helps!)

 

1 Bella - US The UK page is not very much different, although we are one people separated by two languages. Or however that goes.

2 Bella-UK

The fun starts really, when you take the chunnel over to France.

3 Bella-France

Or Germany

4 Bella-DE

Or Italy

5 bella-Italy

Or Spain

6 Bella -spain

But  suppose you want to go in the other direction:  Here’s Japan

7 Bella - Japan

Here’s India

8 Bella - India

And here’s Australia

9 Bella-Australia

Or go north to Canada, another great country with fewer language difficulties, as a rule.

10 Bella-Canada

Or south, to Mexico:

11 Bella-Mexico

And finally, our last stop  — Brazil

12 Bella-Brazil

There now! Wasn’t that an easy trip?  Thought so! In spite of the confusion, I hope you enjoyed my little travelogue! Now you should aim for the day when your books are so readily available world-wide!

Comments?  Questions?  Write to me at bookmechanicATgmail.com

There’s Publishing, etc.,  —  Part Two 

6 Aug

A few months back, I promised a discussion of e-books, and then (as usual) was side-tracked by more enticing topics. Or something. So I’ll try to catch up with myself here and see where it goes.

E-books, meant to be read on an electric or electronic device of some kind, have been around for more than 35 years, believe it or not! True. But, they were not terribly workable, plus being slightly clumsy. Greater progress has been made in the last 15 or so years, however. I still have some I bought that were on a 3½ floppy or CD. For the most part these were prepared in HTML, and were not at all compatible with trying to print them out on paper. I’ve never read most of those older works, because trying to print them out was such a difficult thing to do that I just gave up. I did, however, actually buy them, so the author did get something out of it all.

There have been several devices made for this purpose, most of which are now part of history. Rocket Reader and Sony (several models) were the major producers in the mid-late 1990s, and then MicroSoft created a reader as part of Windows. At that time, we were still reading on our computers, however, and let me tell you, it’s really hard to cuddle up in front of the fireplace with a monitor and keyboard on your lap! Laptops of that era were not much better, either! (Nothing at all like the little tablet-gizmos of today. Really!)

In 1998, Amazon along with Barnes & Noble, began to sell e-books, but the first Kindle didn’t come along until 2005. NOOK followed in 2009, and the iPad in 2010. That did it! Soon there were all sorts of devices available for reading books, but of course, to put a big crimp in the competition, they always had to be in their own individual and very proprietary formats. One device could not speak to another. Oh, no! Google put the kibosh on that notion, with their Android OS and devices, and this has now become probably the biggest seller. Or if it isn’t Android, it’s iTunes.

And – they keep getting smaller all the time. I cannot imagine reading a book on my phone! I can’t even picture reading a way shorter ‘article’ that way. What will happen, I wonder, 40 years from now when all these 30-somethings will have to resort to the old ‘coke-bottle’ type (thick, in other words) lenses in their glasses or contacts? Of course by that time, they’ll probably have a port built into the skull somewhere in which an e-book can be downloaded into one’s head, without bothering to go through a device first!  I have to say I’m happy I won’t live that long. I don’t really want to know!

Of course, in the meantime, the MP3 format revolutionized the music industry. And guess what? It works for e-books, too! Much easier and way more convenient than the old cassette or newer CD versions of audio books. And of course, between Amazon and iTunes, there’s a sizeable market, not to mention AudioBooks.com. You can easily carry your entire library around in one small memory card or stick!

I think it behooves any author to at least consider this latter medium. I know I’m going to. I have years of reading/taping experience for the Cleveland Sight Center, and one of the books I taped for the Library of Congress Talking Books is still in their catalog nearly 20 years later. I was thrilled to make this discovery earlier this year. (Of course it doesn’t hinder the longevity that the novel is  by Nora Roberts!) I may not make it for any of my Regency Christmas novellas this year, but without a doubt I will do it during 2015.

I’ve just added a new novella for this year (Bella’s Legacy) at Kindle, and with a little bit of luck Francie’s Feast will be available before the end of August. (More about them next month, but in the meantime, here’s Bella’s cover!)   

bella cover-2

As always, if you have questions or comments please do write to me: bookmechanicATgmail.com

 

 

What’s in a name?

23 Jul

I am not a sexist, although I’ve been a victim of it too many times in my life to be able to entirely overlook it, but there’s a reason why so many excellent women have taken men’s names in order to be published. Even today, there is  J. K. Rowling, a name that is totally androgynous, and not easily identifiable as either sex. It also, of course, depends on what you’re writing. Again, a woman faces an enormous amount of criticism if she wants to write hard-boiled crime novels or really explicit erotica. If she happens to live in a small town, where everyone knows her and her family, she might be very wise to use a pen-name.

Just this week, here in Cleveland, an author who calls herself D.M. Pulley won the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award for her mystery, The Dead Key.  The author, an engineer and 38-year-old mother of two young children decided to remain anonymous to protect her family’s privacy. However, full-face photos of her have appeared in the newspaper, and I’m sure her family and friends know who she is, but I’m not sure anyone else really does. I’m also not sure anyone else really needs to!

When Secret Shores (my first book) was published in 1993, I thought it very sexy, but no one else thought so. I was asked, more than once “is this THAT kind of book?” nudge, nudge, wink, wink! And I had to say yes, because there were love scenes in it. But the h/h weren’t promiscuous, and were in love with each other. All the reviews called it a ‘sweet’ novel, which was the kiss of death, because it wasn’t sexy enough! And furthermore, there was a lot of history in it! Duh. It’s a ‘historical romance’. Same thing with Windsong.

At that time, in Romance Writers of America (to which I then belonged) the feeling was that if one wrote different kinds of romance novels, then perhaps a different name was in order. The idea being that a reader who likes one particular kind of book over all others, will go for the author’s name, and if it’s a totally different kind, and upsets the reader, it is always the author’s fault. So, when I sent out my Regency novel Bertie’s Golden Treasure to publishers in 2006, I created the pen name of Hetty St. James, which sounded British to me. I kept it entirely secret (only my publisher and a couple of friends knew the truth) until last year, when I finally ‘confessed’ on this blog.

A man wouldn’t usually face this kind of nonsense, although there was a man in RWA at that time, whose name was Harold something or other. He wrote wonderful romance novels, usually western-based, or southern. His pen name was the ambiguous Leigh Greenwood. If you didn’t know before reading any of his books that the author was male, nothing in the book would give you that notion, either. I know several other men who have written romances, using a pen name. I don’t blame them one bit, either. It’s very difficult to change the mind of the public.

If you intend to write in vastly different (from each other) genres, then maybe. Or there might be some other reason why a pen name might be useful. My current name is a great one for an author, I think. There are very few people in the world with my last name, thanks to my late husband’s forbears who came through Ellis Island in the early 1900s, and who didn’t speak English. Your name, on the other hand is probably not Ty Drago, for instance, which is another one of a kind. You might perhaps use at least a middle initial, or maybe put a y in the middle of James – to then be Jaymes.

One last thought. An editor friend read my first book before I submitted it. I had my name in the header as Ferjutz, Kelly and he really climbed all over me for it. “THAT is not your name!” he bellowed. (He was really good at that!) “That’s not how people speak to you! Your name is Kelly Ferjutz, and that’s the way it should always appear on any paperwork connected to your career. That’s your BRAND!” I decided he was right, and have never done it any other way since then.

After all, a rose by any other name still smells as sweet!

Comments or questions appreciated – write to me at bookmechanicATgmail.com

Promotion possibilities — and how to mess up big-time!

8 Jul

I confess, I did just that last weekend. I can’t imagine where my brain was to have allowed such a monumental boo-boo! I’ve certainly known better for the last 25 years!

What did I do? I participated in a grand (50 plus authors!)Local Author Festival, and other than the books themselves that were there because of the bookstore manager, I was totally unprepared. Eeegads. I still can’t believe I really did such a dumb thing.

Of course, when I started in this business, in 1989, there were lots of local-type bookstores. Independents (as the above-referenced one was) but also branches of national chains. At that time, those stores loved to have book-signings, by local as well as nationally-known authors. It was a big deal to have people come to a bookstore to see the author and hopefully buy a personally-autographed copy. Generally speaking, one could have every Saturday for three months spent in a different area book-store. And I’m not referring to New York or Los Angeles, either. No, I’ve lived in Cleveland for 50+ years, and this is where I had lots of book-signings in 1993 and 94.

The situation is much different now – there aren’t so many indie-stores, and even fewer national chains that might be inclined to host such an event.

How I messed up was in not having any promotional material to hand out! I did at least have my business cards, and I did give out quite a few. And, a few copies of my books were sold. But still . . . there’s just no excuse for this lack on my part.

My first book came out in May, 1993, but it was the weekend of Thanksgiving six months earlier which brought me copies of my cover. For a romance author, there’s nothing better than having a cover to work with – for stickers or bookmarks or any other hand-out materials. Color copiers were brand new in the self-serve copy centers of the time, and I had planned on making some smaller copies to put on book marks and post cards that I would make for myself. (Once on a shoe-string budget, always on a shoe-string, it seems. Nothing much has changed in that part of my life.)

However, on my way to the copy shop, I made a quick stop at the camera store to pick up the photos for which I’d previously dropped off the film. (That’s certainly different these days, too!) Anyway, while waiting at the counter, I noticed a SALE basket of goodies, with, among other things, packets of adhesive-backed magnet stock – the kind to which you’d affix a business card or photo. Something clicked in my head, and I promptly bought all they had.

From there, I went to the copy shop and made hundreds of greatly-reduced-in-size copies of the front cover. (I’m probably the only person anywhere who didn’t like that cover, but that’s okay.) Then it was home again, and I spent the weekend cutting the little cover pix apart, and affixing them to the magnet stock. I think the entirety was 4” x 6” which made for four decent-sized magnets per sheet. I had already created the bookmark design, so I printed them in the colors used in the cover art.

I then mailed out a letter with 15 bookmarks and a magnet to some 400 carefully chosen bookstores and a few libraries. To the best of my knowledge I was the first romance author to make these magnets. Did they work? I don’t know for sure, but I do know that during the following years – until the bookstore world changed so drastically – I would see my magnet in bookstores in the area. And in fact, several friends still have them on their refrigerator – after 25 years! I think that’s awesome!

I won’t ever be so unprepared again, I can promise you that. And if you’re an author, please learn from my ineptness. Make bookmarks or postcards or something that you can hand out to anyone who even glances at your table or desk space.

In fact, the co-author of my most recent book – An Intensive Care Guide For the Family – suggested a brilliant idea, which he will implement – acquiring a QR code which when scanned will take the holder directly to an e-store, and thus make the purchase even easier! In fact, you could do the e-book on one side and the print book on the other. Whoda thought of that – 25 years ago? We barely knew anything about the internet back then. WOW!!! We’ve come a long way, baby!

But now, there’s almost no end to promotional ideas: I’ve seen pens and pencils, erasers, decks of cards (this works best for very prolific authors!), pre-paid phone or other gift cards, charms for bracelets, stickers for envelopes (remember them?) and even – digital memory sticks! Take a look around your world and see what might be a good match for you and/or your book(s)! The sky’s the limit!

If you have a really great promo idea that you’re willing to share, please tell us about it? Write to me at bookmechanicATgmail.com Thanks!

Image

My first ever guest author speaks!

25 Jun

One of my very best friends – ever!! – lives in England, from where she has crafted an enviable career as an author. Because she loves happy endings, her books have mostly been in the romance genre, specifically set during the English Regency period. She had become virtually a walking encyclopedia of all things Regency, and has been of enormous help to me as I struggle to produce a novella in the time it used to take her to craft a scintillating and sparkling full-length novel!  Recently, she has turned her attention to the Medieval years of 1480-1500 or thereabouts.

Someone else (not me, this time!) asked her for some helpful hints about writing, and she sent them on to me, as well. “Oh, joy!” I cried, a guest author for my blog! The first ever. Somehow that seems quite fitting, because I believe her to be a fabulous writer, and who better to share her wisdom with us than the multi-published SANDRA HEATH WILSON!!!  Here are her eleven commandments.

(1)    Always keep your story within its setting – if it is to be in the past, then choose your words accordingly. Modern anachronisms soon have a reader laughing instead of taking it seriously. Inappropriate speech will soon cause the reader to give up on it. For instance, someone from the Jacobean period would not use gangsta rap, and a Norman warlord would not take out his pocket watch and say, “Good lord, is that the time? Must fly. Byeee”. An agent of mine once told me that a manuscript was submitted to him that had Joseph, Christ’s earthly father, ploughing a field in the heat and taking out a red-and-white spotted handkerchief to mop his brow. A red-and-white spotted handkerchief? Really? The manuscript was not accepted, even by the agent, let alone a publisher. People of the past did not speak, behave, think as we do now. It is important to always bear this in mind.

(2)    Punctuation, grammar, spelling – all must be synchronised and correct. No jumping from tense to tense, and always use the same quotes for conversation, not curly or straight as you feel like it. Be consistent in everything. (Except being dull!)

(3)     Break your story into reasonable paragraphs. NEVER have long paragraphs that become difficult to read because the place can be lost by the eye. The eye will pick up again more easily with smaller paragraphs. L-O-N-G paragraphs = BORING. A whole page taken up by one paragraph is likely to be skipped in its entirety.

(4)    If you are writing non-fiction, the same rules apply regarding consistency, punctuation, paragraphs, etc. Never preach, but set out your case in an agreeable, reasoned way. If the subject matter is contentious, don’t make it worse by stating your view aggressively, as if you are right and everyone else is wrong. If the subject can be written about in an inviting and engaging way, do so. Brownie points are gained by being eminently readable. Plod along, and you won’t be particularly liked as a writer. Nor will your reasoning/arguments be as well absorbed.

(5)    In fiction, unless you intend your characters to be unpleasant, which doesn’t happen that often, always be sure to keep the reader on their side. It’s no good creating people for whom no one gives a tinker’s.

(6)    Describe your characters, fix them in the reader’s mind. Just giving names or writing he/she isn’t good enough. You want your readers to see what you see, so make sure they do.

(7)    To go back to setting, make sure you give at least a sensible inkling of where they all are. If it’s Greece, describe Greece. If it’s New York, make sure the look/feel of NY is almost tangible to your reader. The same with time of day, weather, seasons, and so on. One of the things my readers like about my books is that I obey the above rules. They like description and scene-setting, but don’t go on for page after page. Pick out salient details that will create a picture in the reader’s mind.

(8)    Remember to move your characters around with some sort of continuity. If someone has just been seated, don’t have them take a seat again a few sentences later. In your mind’s eye you are seeing it all as if it’s a film, so no bloopers, please, about who is doing what, to whom, where or when. What you see and feel, your reader must see and feel, too.

(9)    Keep the action flowing. No doldrums. You don’t want your reader nodding off because they—and you—have lost the plot. So – definitely do not be tedious. Don’t be tempted to dwell on something that is really immaterial to the plot or general story. Ask yourself, if I take all this out, will it make any different to the flow of the plot? If the answer is no, then ditch it. Keep finely focused on your story.

(10)    If writing anything historical, include some known background, but don’t go into too much detail. Fewer people these days know a great deal of our history, and their interest will only be held by just enough information—too much and they’re nodding off again. They want to open the pages and ‘see’ a rattling good costume drama, not the Close Rolls of the reign of Henry VIII. So entertain them, be a story-teller, not a historian. You want them to enjoy your writing and share your enthusiasm.

(11)    Respect your reader. It is no good if you think you are writing for fools. Being a writer does not make you superior. You need readers, but they might soon not need you. Never forget that.

Sandra’s newest book is the first of a trilogy about Cicely Plantagenet, second daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville.  Richard III is also a major character – thus the title of the book is Cicely’s King Richard. It is available now from Amazon.co.uk, and will soon be available in the US. It is a ravishing story that will not let you put it down, once you’ve begun to read it.

Thank you for this very helpful treatise, my friend!

Thank YOU for reading, and as always, if you have questions or comments, please write to me at: bookmechanicATgmail.com

 

What if — or Just in case . . .

11 Jun

Cover MockupWhat would you do if one of your loved ones was suddenly admitted to an Intensive Care Unit? Even folks with medical backgrounds don’t always know who is who and what is what in an ICU. Regardless of the kind of unit, generally, they all operate under similar rules and policies.

But, what if you need extra help – of whatever kind – and don’t know who to ask?  What do all those people do, anyway? Why are there so many people in there? Are they all necessary?

I’d like to tell you about the latest book of which I am a part.

I am fortunate to live in Cleveland (by choice!) where we have nationally-ranked hospitals. The Cleveland Clinic may be the best known of these, and perhaps ten or so years ago, the Clinic (as it’s known here in town) formed its own publishing company, with an expansive program of books to be co-authored by one (or more) of their physicians and a free-lance writer.

I was fortunate enough to be selected to work with a bright young man – J. Javier Provencio, a neurologist and intensive care specialist. We were to collaborate on a book about Intensive Care Units. Neither of us had a real clue as to what we wanted to do, or just how to approach the topic, which is much like an iceberg – 90% of it and what it does is mostly unknown or understood by non-medical personnel.

Javier took me on a tour of several of these units, and left me with so many unanswered questions, I hardly knew where to start finding answers. I made notes and by the time of our next meeting, two weeks later, I had a list of things to which I would want answers, under those circumstances.

I remembered when my Mom was in the hospital for the final time – in an ICU, as it happens, and I knew nothing, and they weren’t going to tell me anything, either. I was the only child, but she had married again, and so, her husband was the only one they really wanted to talk to. He was about as talkative as a rock, so I finally pitched enough tantrums to get some answers, even if they weren’t exactly the ones I wanted.  Five days after Mama died, my 11-year-old daughter ended up in an ICU with a ruptured appendix that had been untreated for several days. Kris nearly died, as well. However, being young and strong and stubborn, she refused to die, and set about proving the doctors all wrong. But that’s another story.

Still, these two episodes made a strong impression on me, and a few years later when I ended up in an ICU, Kris was there to badger the medical staff into telling her what was going on.  Once they reversed themselves and assured her I was probably not going to die – at least probably not then – she settled down, somewhat – and became a fabulous advocate for me. No one ever had a more staunch supporter than I had in my daughter. This last episode was in 1978. It might as well have been during the Flintstones’ era compared to the units Javier demonstrated to me in 2006.

Patiently, he explained the process and we worked out an outline of what we wanted our book to be. First and foremost, although the medical portions HAD to be accurate, we weren’t writing for medical personnel. We wanted our book to be a guidebook for the family of the patient – a non-medical family who would have no good idea what was happening or why, or by whom?  And so, over the next 18 months, we devised our book, with which we were well-pleased. We made a final version of the manuscript to be submitted to the Press.

A week later, the Press was closed down, and a week or so after that, it was sold to a small but well-known publisher in New York. They kept the ms. for about a year, finally deciding that although it was well-done, it wouldn’t fit in their catalogue, so they were returning it to us, with best wishes.

Over the next four years, that happened again. Twice. Two different publishers agreed it was a well-done book, but they didn’t think they’d be able to sell it, so, with regrets, they were returning it.

I had been in favor of publishing it on our own through Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle, and this time around Javier agreed with me, and we are pleased to announce that our book is now available to hopefully answer the myriad questions any family member might have when faced with an Intensive Care Unit.

Since we started the book, Javier and his wife have added a third child to their family. The charming picture at the top of the cover was a collaborative effort by the three of them!

The book is now available as a Kindle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KIXZHS4

e-book, ($4.99) and in print for $9.99 at https://www.createspace.com/4822447

We now also have a web-site — http://www.intensivecareguidebook.com    In addition, you may send either of us an e-mail to:  intensivecareguidebook@gmail.com

Of course, the hope is that you’ll never need to have this information, but just in case . . .

Best regards,

Kelly Ferjutz  and J. Javier Provencio, MD

We would truly like to hear your questions or comments – at either location: intensivecareguidebook@gmail.com or bookmechanic@gmail.com  Thank you!

Dreams – day or night? Maybe both, eh?

28 May

If you’re a writer, your imagination never sleeps.  Of course, if you dream while you’re sleeping, your conscious may not recall it, once you wake up. But – suppose you wake up in the middle of the night, for whatever reason, and there’s this truly amazing idea running around loose in your head. What do you do about it?

Well, to be sure, it isn’t always possible or even a good idea to start up the computer in the middle of the night, just so you can make notes. There’s an alternative, you know. Remember that paper and pencil (or pen) that you used to use in school? I promise you, they’ll work just as well for this purpose as does your computer. And furthermore, if you look hard enough, you can find a pen that’ll light up to illuminate whatever you’re writing down. I will say it does help to have white or at least light-colored paper for these midnight inspirations.

I have an entire mini-legal pad (the 5 x 8 inch size) full of such notes, produced during a two year period, when I was probably the most creative I’ve ever been. I was working on several books, a play or two, song lyrics, poetry – you name it – all at the same time! But I’ll tell you what – those midnight scrawls stand up as well today as they did ten or so years ago! Some of them have even made their way into published materials.

I think the most recent time this happened to me was in January of this year – 2014. I wanted to publish a Regency novelette, but I couldn’t quite figure out a major plot element. Even though this story was only to be about 10,000 words, it still had to make sense, and I was stuck! Big-time. It was so irritating. And then, one morning, the whole plot presented itself to my bleary and blurry eyes! I couldn’t believe it, and really hurried to get the ideas on paper before anything could interrupt my progress. An Improbable Duke was indeed published as a Kindle book on February 16, 2014.

When I was writing my very first book Bertie’s Golden Treasure in January, 1988, there was a plot point that eluded me. I thought about it quite often during a particularly gnarly couple of days, and then whoopee! There it was – the result of a dream. I was thrilled, and several people have remarked favorably about it through the years.

But I’m really small stuff in this department, compared to my good friend Sandra Heath of England, who has written and had published more than 70 Regency novels in the last thirty or so years.  A little secret here – she cheats! She has been known to dream entire novels in one night’s sleep! Don’t get between her and her computer, let me tell you! If I don’t hear from her for a day or two – chances are, she’s busy writing down the specifics of a dream she had. 

Another friend of hers, has also had this sort of success. So, I think it’s safe to say, if you get stuck in your writing, think about it BIG-TIME as you drift off to sleep. And if/when a sudden deluge of words and ideas presents itself to you, WRITE!! Fast.  You won’t regret it.

Questions?  Comments?  Send them to me:  BookmechanicATgmail.com 

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