Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Doctor, The Plutocrat, and The Mendacious Minister

Glyn Pope and I've hinted for months now that his book, The Doctor, The Plutocrat, and The Mendacious Minister, will be the debut novel for Cactus Rain Publishing. It is his third novel.

Their could be some sanity questions regarding going with an unknown publisher. I think, though, Glyn is fine with his choice.

This still isn't the official-official announcement of "the deal." I'll get to that when the CRP website gets launched. More on that at a later date.

Let's talk about what it was I liked about "Doc" that made me offer Glyn a contract. I like the title, but it was a long time in coming and we had a [different] working title for about 6 months (longer for Glyn).

I wasn't requesting submissions at the time Glyn queried his book. (Honestly, people need to work on their query letters. Even I'm getting more picky about that - just a tip for aspiring writers.)

What I liked about Doc: Glyn was certainly enthusiast about Doc. He pitched the project with all his heart. That got my interest right away.

Another thing in reading the ms was that he really put the reader back in time to post WWII, England. The story was 100% believable. It fit with what I knew of history, meaning it wasn't heavy laden with historical facts for history geeks; it was readable for a general audience.

The characters were well developed and there was a good balance of secondary characters for the main characters to stage with. He balanced age and youth, wealthy and regular (normal) people. There was greed, innocence, and the vicar was funny. Basically the characters mirrored real life quite naturally; nothing was forced. There was a good amount of dialogue, which is a commercial element too.

Certainly there was a need for rewrites and I'm sure I must have seemed demanding at times, but Glyn always got to work and did them without complaining or arguing. Let's face it, arguing with one's publisher is a fast way to get dropped.

There were formatting issues which I probably won't have time to deal with in future acquisitions.

Overall, Glyn's attitude and his writing carried the day and here we are 9 months later sending the galley to the printer.

I've turned down far more mss than I've accepted. Two broke my heart because I thought the themes had great commercial potential, however the writers thought they knew everything and that a first or second draft was ready for print. Um, NO!

There's a bit of a glimpse inside Cactus Rain acquisition mindset and a really quick peek at Doc. Congratulations, Glyn...we're almost there!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Last Friday was our first furlough day. That means our next paycheck will be for nine days rather than ten. I put my three day weekend to good use prepping Glyn's galley.

In the industry there are galleys, ARC (pronounced 'ark'), and proofs. Some people use the terms [nearly] interchangeably. There are distinct differences in the three. You can google them for more information (which varies from source to source), but in a nut shell they mean:

Galley is a rough out of the coming book. It is gross (as in rough) formatted. There is no cover art. Only a handful of galleys are printed. One for the author, of course. A couple for advance reviews. It likely has not been fully edited and certainly not line edited (proof read).

Most people in the industry who do book reviews understand that this is about the storyline, not about the polishing yet to come. Amateur reviewers will comment on grammar or typos. Professionals don't. They know galleys aren't the finished book.

ARCs are advance reading copies. They are generally nearly the done deal and are often the final book. They have cover art. Some printers print 500 of these give away books for their better known authors. They are strategically given to key people with the understanding they are to promote this book. As you might guess, Cactus Rain Publishing does not print ARCs. They simply aren't in the budget.

Proofs or proof copy or proof books are just that - the final version of the book. It is the last chance to see the book before the print run. Very few corrections or changes are made at this point. Those should have been caught by now.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

New video

Switching gears to another media, here is the new YouTube video I made. This is from a PowerPoint presentation. I have to say, I don't plan to ever convert a PowerPoint to YouTube video again. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't; it means I don't plan to do it.

I am very surprise that Microsoft didn't consider that people would want to upload their PowerPoint projects. It must be a proprietary thing that there wasn't sharing between the two companies.

Well, anyway the thing that I didn't like about the project was that the slide transitions available on PowerPoint were not available on Windows Movie Maker. You'll notice that I didn't use them in the video and it does make for an abrupt transition in places.

The music file was much easier to add in Movie Maker. It wasn't difficult to embed music into PP, but it was tricky to figure out how to package it so the file would play the music on other computers.

Both programs were easy to learn and with patience can produce good results. The key to making any of these projects is the material must copyright free. If you want to use someone's music or photos, you must get permission in writing. Email is fine, but print a couple of copies and keep it in a file.

So here is the end result. Thank you Carolyn Sheppard for the use of your song, Broken Rock.

Please watch:

Comments, please.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The story behind this post is my friend Joy commented on my hair cut post. My hair was cut two more times in the week and I was going to add to the post a current photo. I tried to upload it twice and Blogger said it had done the deed. However, I have no idea where or to whom it was done. Therefore, I posted this pic.

Soooo, this is me after working all day and a bit of rain this morning. Now the ceiling fan is messing my hair. A glamor shot, it ain't. Just messing around. It looks like a hand puppet? (I really need to buy photo shop if I'm not going to put in much effort staging shots.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I'm not ignoring that I didn't post on Monday. I deleted it because the aspect ratio of the YouTube wasn't fitting on the blog page. I went back to the blog party, almost a year ago now, and have looked at the coding for the YouTube items posted then.

The changes have been made to the post for Thursday. I didn't save Monday's post.

Glyn, his graphic artist friend (I'm not sure if I'm supposed to say his name), and I have been discussing the next edition of his book cover art. It is a much more detailed task than most people realize. I really appreciate the efforts being made and can't wait to show everyone the new version.

In the mean time, I'm posting the PowerPoint project that I converted to Window's Movie Maker so I could upload it to YouTube.

The biggest disappointment to me in the project is that the slide transitions in the PowerPoint were awesome and nothing really compared as choices in the MM software. After several weeks of working on it, I simply removed all the transitions except the first one, which was not in the PowerPoint.

The project is a collection of unsolicited comments about my books from some of you. All were used with permission, of course, and most of them are on my website. There are some of my beach photos too, for you to enjoy.

The headliner for me is Carolyn Sheppard's song "Broken Rock" recorded by the UK band, Shave the Monkey.

Please watch and listen. To view a larger version, click on the video and view it on YouTube or go to

Thursday, July 15, 2010

more covers...

One thing about it, my first drafts of cover concepts sure inspired others. Here is one sent to me (below). I like the seeming simplicity of the background, it doesn't rival the people. Keep in mind that these artists have not read the book, so they are working off of my concepts.

In the book, the people are the story. There is little discription of the estate. I'm sure I'm not the only American with a somewhat lacking understanding of British estates or council estates as I'm learning to call them. That might even be where we borrowed the idea of HOAs - Home Owner's Associations that govern the basic conduct of the area (housing development).

So back to art... this is balanced. If I could, I'd remove the larger tree on the left because I'm thinking less about art and more about getting the copy on the back cover to pop out to the shopper. On this one, I'd probably transluse the spine and back cover background. Lots of nice space on the front for the title, but not sure about where the author name goes.

There is a bit of unwritten rule about author names. If you look at the big name writers, their name is almost always larger or as large as the tile. With lesser known writers, the pitch is to have a catchy title and use it to sell the book more than the author's branding.

I like the people placement on this one because the story is the doctor (the guy in the middle). Gotta have doc's feet in the scene though. That drives me nuts to have him standing on his lower legs.

This one takes Glyn's background photo and fixes many of the elements that drove everyone crazy with my concept drafts. The focus in the title and the photo needs to be on the doctor. He is very much the main character. Nice artistic touch to reverse the light/dark on the spine from the light/dark in the background. I don't think I would have thought of doing that. That makes the spine text tricky and it certainly needs to have the author name on the spine and a copule other fixes. Ignore the fence post, we aren't going to leave that, but drafts are concept pieces, the details get worked out later.

This one takes the background and moves it to a residential setting. Either works for the storyline. I rather not have a pink tint, but that is easily fixed. Mostly the same issues exist in this one as the others, but as I said, this is a concept stage of development.

No way is this book that fat, but nice pitch for the concept.

The main point of posting this exercise is to make writers aware that while it is easy to upload to one of many online DIY sites, just plopping a cover on a template isn't all that great of an idea.
Anyone who wants to play with concepts for this cover, be my guest. Send them to me in an email, preferably as a pdf file.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Evolution continues

Your comments from yesterday were helpful. I played around a bit (mostly with fonts - I have hundreds of them, most I've acquired slowly over the past 10 years).

We aren't finished yet. At any time could scrap the whole thing and start over.

The differences in this one from yesterday (scroll down to the previous post) is the front cover and spine font. Plus the gentleman on the left has been lightend to mirror the man on the right, thus leaving the Doc in the center, darkest.

On this one, I took the background and played with it. The original file was rather small, so there is only a certain amount of enlarging before it gets grainy (pixelated). I totally forgot to deal with the distracting fence post, but that is easily fixed. I lost contrast on the synopsis text and no, can't do the text in more than one color. I removed the boxes from behind the guys. Actually, I simply moved those layers below the background so they are out of sight. The background is full, no translusing. Yes, I think I did make up that word.

I could make each word in the title a single layer and change font sizes with the articles a smaller size. Might do later. No time tonight.

The font is Bernard MT Condensed in case you want to goggle it. Hmmm, let me see if I can make a screen shot of that enlarged for you. BRB

(The red line running through the middle is the spine area, so this isn't what it would look like at all.)

Okay - now that I've looked at it 'big,' I'm not loving it.
Right, well comment and let's see where we go from here.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Book Cover Evolution

Glyn wanted to run this by everyone for comments. You saw the cover synopsis the other day. Here is the book cover that goes with it.

Glyn sent a photo of the snow last winter, then the three men (and some others). So this is what we have at the beginning.

I thought the men needed an anchor, something so they weren't just pasted on top of the background, and also so they didn't get lost in it. So I put them on black boxes.

It was still too monochromic so I translused the background by 50% and changed the boxes to burgandy color. Looks more real with the spine text and the ISBN box, doesn't it?

Here is the synopsis as it stand now:

Doctor Peter Latymer, full of innocence and hope, arrives at his new position on a council estate in Leicester. He quickly becomes the local miracle worker. Without a grasp of the complexities of life, he sets out to right injustices that he doesn't fully understand and unravels the delicate balance between nobility and poor, and the struggling economy still reliant on rationing and the black market in post WWII England.

And Glyn's Bio:

GLYN POPE lived on a large council estate in Leicester, England. He studied theology at Nene University. Glyn and his wife and daughter moved to France where he pursues a full time writing career.

This isn't close to finished, but there is your sneek peek.

Or there is this...please watch.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

July newsletter

The july newsletter is posted on my website. If you'd rather get the notice emailed to you, sign up on my website I don't always remember to post the notice on my blog or I have something else to say and never get to it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

POP Quiz

This is just a fun activity with two purposes: 1) To familiarize yourself with industry terms; 2) To give away handmade bookmarks I was given for my birthday.

As always, following instructions is important. Post a comment that you have entered the quiz, send your answers via email to

Prizes (bookmarks) will be given to each person with 100% correct answers until I'm out of bookmarks. I'll need your mailing address and a real name in the email.


1) What is the difference between a galley and a proof book?

2) Define the following terms: Literary Agent; Acquisition Editor.

3) What is the difference between editing and rewrites?

4) Define a content editor and line editor's role?

5) My books have a theme. What is each theme? (Hint, look on my website if you don't have my books).

I'll post the answers when the entries cease.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Test, mic check...

Well, this isn't really a mic check and no band is going to start playing shortly. However, this is a test. Would you read this book after reading the following?

Why or why not? What works and doesn't work in this blurb for the back of a book. Please comment.

Set in post WWII England on a country estate, a doctor arrives full of hope and the innocence of youth. He quickly becomes the local miracle worker. But without a full understanding of the realities of life, he sets out to right injustices that he doesn't fully understand and unravels the delicate balance between good and evil, rich and poor, and the struggling economy still reliant on rationing and the black market.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Worthless Moment

I've done no work on writing or publishing - not even house work this evening.

I've had cut 13-14 inches of hair and donated it to a place that makes wigs for kids on chemo. I've done my nails, messed with my short hair, thought about many publishing tasks waiting for my attention, but tonight I've been on holiday being all girly. (The photo is right after the cut, before I did "stuff" to my hair.)

This is how I look on my work ID badge:

Remember that look?

Anyone remember when it was this short?

Media Marketing

Several months ago, you might recall, the Scottsdale Microsoft Store hosted an event for Arizona authors. I created a PowerPoint presentation, per the list of requirements sent to us.

It was my first time to use PowerPoint, but it wasn't hard to figure out. I should say, I use 2007, the one with the ribbon toolbar. Carrie Sheppard gave me permission to use her song, Broken Rock. I imported a font that not everyone has, but I thought added to it. I've attached the first slide for you to see.

The problem was that I wanted to use it elsewhere and not everyone has PowerPoint on their computer. The other problem is that PowerPoint doesn't upload to YouTube.

I called my buddy who runs a media company. He said they could make the PowerPoint into a Flash file for $80 an hour and it would take about 6-8 hours. Now my PowerPoint is pretty good, but probably not that good for that amount of money, at least not with my current budget.

Being the geek that I am - kidding, I learned to use Windows Movie Maker when I needed a video for something else several years ago. Those files easily upload to YouTube.

Once again, PowerPoint doesn't just drop in to Movie Maker and convert. With some research, I learned how to make my PowerPoint slides into jpg files and began the process of rebuilding my presentation in Movie Maker. I'm almost finished with it. Hopefully, I'll have the YouTube to show you when I post next time.

So why am I saying this? Because writers need marketing skills. They aren't hard to learn if you're a patient and inquisitive person. The point is, people will watch a short YouTube, 3-5 minutes (the max that YouTube uploads is 10 min). Those can be linked on a blog, website and nearly everywhere else on the internet. Plus, it is a good idea to put the link in your email auto signature.

The only thing to remember is that all the content of your YouTube must be used with permission or under your own copyright. The other thing is that an enterprising American has trademarked the terms, "Book Trailer," so you can't use that because they do pursue people who do.

It is never too soon to think about the media promotions you can make for your book.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Rose by Any Other Name...

The rose bit might work for roses, but it doesn't work for genre definition.

It has been a busy week at Cactus Rain Publishing. My day job allowed me only a few minutes in the evenings to attend to Joyce's emails ( We have been through seven test pages just to get to the point of having a fairly decent (awesome) opening page from which she can build the website template for Cactus Rain Publishing.

Now we have some working links and back pages to the site. I'm getting jazzed as this takes shape. In polling the Cactus Rain authors, the general opinion is thumbs up. Now how many authors get input or even sneak peeks at their publisher's website?

For those who are curious, I'm using the site at the link below to define the genre for the titles on the Cactus Rain Publishing site. If some of you are having trouble deciding what genre you write, look here. There are tons of these lists on the internet, but this is the one I've used from the beginning. If you are thinking of querying Cactus Rain, then use this genre list when specifying your genre in the query letter.

I've seen query letters where the writer has no sense of what genre they have written, for example, historical-horror-fantasy. Nope, don't go there. For one thing, historical and fantasy don't actually go together. Pick one.

I write, as I've said before, literary fiction. It is one of the hardest genre to pitch (and sell) to an agent and publisher. People want fast reads, like adventure or thriller, things that skim the cream on the top. The storylines cover short time periods and the voice is quick - page turners. Literary fiction is a meandering style. It is more sensual in the exploration of the characters and setting. It isn't a mindless diversion from real life.

If you're the type who plans, then start with the genre and write from there. For those who are even more of a business planner, research the market and try to anticipate where it will be three years from now - there you go, a nice little weekend project - or maybe not.

Just so you know, this is post number 299! Not bad for someone who didn't want a blog. I let the first anniversary of First Draft (April 2009) pass quietly.