Naima's Published Titles

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Author Facebook Page

I follow Shelley Hitz's blog; she's a self-publishing coach. Tonight at 8EST, she and John Kremer are hosting a webinar about setting up an author Facebook page and best practices for its use. She'll follow up with more webinars on the topic throughout July. Tonight's webinar is free. I haven't set up a Facebook page with a focus on writing. I've been meaning to, so now's my chance. The link to register is:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Avoiding My Bliss

Wrote last night. I didn't want to. I was kind of afraid of the task. It's a recurring fear. I spend half my time running from writing and the other half fulfilled and made happy by it. It's an odd endeavor, making something out of nothing, that must then feel true and real to people (most of whom I will never know). So I told myself, "It's 8 now. I'll write badly for an hour and call John back at 9." I wound up finishing my scene between Gilbert and Julian, and I really like it. So many scenes ahead of me. Many of them are written and need revisions. Some aren't written yet. I thought of a great scene between Eugenie and Gilbert that will explain his actions in later scenes.

The John I refer to is my friend, John Urbancik, a very prolific writer whose novel Once Upon a Time in Midnight was recently available as part of a 3-novel set in Thunderstorm Books' Maelstorm series ( Thunderstorm sells limited edition, hardback copies that are signed by the author, for about $45 to $60. The Maelstorm series is a set of three novels for $125 in a limited run of 300 sets. It strikes me as an odd business model to have in a wrecked economy where good e-books go for 99 cents to $2.99.  Thunderstorm authors are not household names but have a cult following of readers who are insatiable for the latest horror written specifically by these authors. The set that includes John's novel just sold out. I mean, think about that. Three hundred people thought it was desirable or at least reasonable to pay $125 for three books. I've been trying to figure this out and the conclusion I've drawn is that it's a matter of projected legend. If you could go back to Lovecraft's day and buy a fresh print of his stories, signed by him, because you knew he would one day be a legend ...You'd do it, right? If you are not one of these three hundred people and you are bummed at missing out, you can read excerpts on John's site: He's so talented. And nice. And we are still playing phone tag.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What I'm Reading

I started reading the Author Platform white paper I downloaded from That first section was about blogging. In addition to content, it contains links to such resources as an author community blogging platform and a guide to accessing blog analytics. Now I'm reading the section about Facebook. The paper is interesting and easy to follow. I'll probably use it as an ongoing reference as I expand my marketing reach.

I read a very disturbing article on Salon about how easy it is to pirate a book and how prevalent such a practice is, plus how little Amazon does to prevent or punish piracy. Also, they don't reimburse for the percentage they made off the pirated copies that sold. One commenter suggested that Amazon start charging $20 to publish an e-book; this would weed out any pirate seeking to make quick buck. I'd agree to that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Paths and Unfamiliar Alleys

The blog Taleist had features yesterday that I found very useful. One was a podcast interview with Brian Lawrenson, a travel writer who self-publishes to e-readers. He talked about some of the perils he'd learned to avoid in Amazon's pricing structure, talked about the benefits in publishing to other e-readers through Smashwords, and told his figures for the last month from non-Kindle sales. It's nice to get a real sales figure because the Internet-wide cry, "There's gold in them thar hills!" can sometimes seem urban-legendish, rather than real. I want to say, "Yeah, but how much gold? How many nuggets?" Also, Taleist offered a 20+ page white paper called "Author Platform Health Check" for free (well, for the price of a tweet). You click to tweat about the paper and are then given the download link for it. I thumbed through the printout this morning and saw good advice. Taleist is at or scroll down and look left because the link to this particular post is currently available there.

I wrote last night for about two hours, getting more into the plan between Gilbert and Julian. Anika had an idea for the plan. What bothers me is that having characters hatch a plan for you is like committing to someone else's plan. Now readers expect them to do these things and I hadn't planned on writing any of that. It's like snapping a leash on a dog and finding yourself walked instead, pulled down unfamiliar alleys.

Monday, June 20, 2011


I have my first short story packaged and uploaded to, ready to publish! Daniele Serra ( designed the cover art. The whole time I was complaining about the difficulty of packaging a story for Kindle, I just needed to follow the tutorial I'd bought to the very end. The tutorial is available at and was created by Steven Lewis, a prolific and successful author/publisher of Kindle books. It is a peculiar habit of mine to think, "This task is instinctive. I can wing it." This usually leads to frustration; you would think I'd learn. The tutorial is very detailed and thorough, with downloadable exercises and demo videos. I used the html editing tool Steve uses for PC; a 30-day trial is available at It's better than the one I was using, because it opens the web preview in a pane next to your html pane and any changes you make to the html immediately show up in the web preview pane. The tutorial takes you from preparing your Word document for formatting, through packaging your e-book using Amazon's free mobi-creator software, to viewing it in your Kindle. Let me tell you, the moment I saw my story in my Kindle I did a happy dance in my computer chair! I even have the cover art in my Kindle! The one thing I want to do before publishing is find out how to put my short story in the Kindle Singles marketplace, so that shoppers looking for Singles can find it when browsing. I have two more short stories ready to format and publish after this. So I'm on my way!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Writing, Cover art, and Graphs

Wrote last night. Just a little but it was good. Very good. Love the quick dialogue between the brothers, Gilbert and Julian.

I learned last night that Alfred Hitchcock made a graph for each movie that showed the ups and downs he put the audience through. The script was the embodiment of the graph. I could do that with my novels. It would look sort of like a roller coaster. It would identify lags so I could fix them.

I told Dani his last design was perfect. (see Dani's portfolio at At first I thought the figure in the drawing needed to be greyed out a little because it fought for attention with the white-lettered title and my name. But when I toned the figure down in GIMP, I saw it made the whole design less dramatic. So I told him, keep it as it is. This 3rd fulfills our contract. He's expensive but worth it.

Tamara came over and I sketched out the cover idea for The Entrepreneur. A 1950s fridge and lots of shadow and I want it to look sketched, not photographic. Tamara is a versatile artist. I've seen her draw wildlife and I've seen her draw people with varying degrees of cartoonish license. She created a cast of characters, a redneck family that she writes into hilarious situations of their own making. She also writes an agony column in the guise of the family's matriarch, Meemaw Skaggs. You can see them here:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Onramp to Normalcy

This morning, we suddenly got a lovely rain outside. The sun was still shining bright. I felt happy, which is so weird. How can I be content on the couch, watching the rain, with a cat curled up on my feet, when at the same time I miss my babies so much? How can I feel grateful, as I do? But it's a good life. There's no denying it.

I wrote Tuesday night the scene where Gilbert comes in. I like it very much. I'm going to write tonight and tomorrow night. Saturday, I'll catalog and network on Sunday, I'll try to publish to Kindle again. Last night I tried this a second time and still my short story previewed in Amazon's viewer not as story text but as straight HTML. This is maddening. If I can't publish a 4-page short story, how will I ever publish an entire novel? I remembered that I vowed to pay someone to do anything I found to be a pain in the ass. I took the vow back because I worried about mounting costs. But now I feel ready to reconsider the vow. I really understand Amanda Hocking's decision to be NYC published despite her success self-publishing. She said on her blog ( that she'd made the decision partly because of her frustration over time-consuming publishing chores. She said she'd once spent an entire day trying to get a program to give her the right page margins. She'd rather write and social network with readers. I know just how she feels. Writing brings me joy; wrestling with publishing tasks does not. And publicizing through social networking results in new friendships, which is just wonderful.

My friend Maria, who is a powerhouse consultant, sent me two cover ideas she'd designed for a book on marketing she intends to self-publish. I'll tell her which one I like best. I think I'll tell her to drop the "by" before her name; no one seems to use it anymore. And I could warn her about her title, which is something like "Leadership Uncensored". It had better be uncensored if she promises it. What does she mean to tell them? Her failures? Client mistakes? Will she name names? Mostly, I should say to her "good for trying". Really. Good for us. We could be passive consumers. Lots of people opt out that way. An epitaph on every tombstone should read, "Here lies so-and-so. Good on her for trying." Life is beautiful but so damn difficult.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Where I've Been

My dog and cat died within the last three weeks. It knocked me down hard. And I'm having a hard time. Magsie, my dog, was with me for 13 years. Boo was with me for 8. Boots is still with me, which is a comfort. I'll show you a picture of my sweet gal. She's very literary, you know. Calls my writing desk her second home.

I have been writing the scene I last described for House of the Apparently Dead. I've brought Julian from being completely undone by the supernatural stuff he saw to being his old Man with a Plan clueless Alpha male self. I'd like Anika and Prince, his valet, to have more influence into his plan. Hopefully, I'll get some inspiration on that. But this is working out nicely because Julian's plan will drive the action for the citizens of Charleston in the next few chapters.