If Practice Makes Perfect…

…how long do we have to practice before we get it down pat?

Here’s the story:

Quite some time ago, I thought it would be fun to send my Tasmanian friend a copy of The Story in the Stars. Rather than paying to ship it from here in the US, I figured I’d just order it from Amazon.au and have them send it directly to her. Simple, right? Well, imagine my surprise to discover that in Australia, my books are only available on Kindle, not in print.

Turns out CreateSpace has no printing facilities in that part of the world. To have it printed elsewhere and shipped there would be cost-prohibitive, so they don’t offer their print titles in Australia.

This caused me considerable consternation. When we discussed the possibility of helping my friend self-publish her book, we were talking about doing it through CreateSpace. However, it would make no sense to publish on a platform that doesn’t have the ability to print books in the country where she lives.

After making some inquiries, I learned that IngramSpark does have printing facilities in Australia. As I looked into it further, I decided that of all the various self-publishing options out there, that seems to be the best for our situation.

So, once I finished the manuscript for the JS Freeman project and while waiting for the covers to be completed, I decided to do a practice run (or four) with IngramSpark by publishing the Gannah series with them.

Starting with The Story in the Stars, I reviewed the CreateSpace manuscript, looking for errors and little things I wanted to tweak. I assigned it an ASIN and reformatted it for IngramSpark. I created a bar code for the cover and inserted it in the appropriate place. I uploaded the whole thing, it was accepted, and I received an electronic proof.

I didn’t look at the e-proof very closely, though, because I preferred to review it in print. So I ordered a print proof. It didn’t come… it didn’t come… it didn’t come… Finally I looked to see what the hold-up was and discovered I hadn’t completed the process of ordering it. Ah, that explained it… So I ordered a copy of the print proof and did it right, and when it finally arrived, I went through it with a fine-toothed comb.

My description of all this sounds pretty cut-and-dried, but it’s not. I’m not very techy. Through all the process, I ran into various complications, confusions, and frustrations. And I was very glad I’d ordered a print proof, because I found a number of rather substantial things I wanted to change.

Which I did. And then I uploaded the new-and-improved manuscript, only to discover that the cover needs to be changed, because the spine width was no longer sufficient for the number of pages. Argh!

I contacted the cover designer and asked if he’d be able to make that change for me—and while he’s at it, could he add the Gannah’s Gate logo? (That’s the name of the publishing company I established for these purposes.) Sure, he says, no problem – except he couldn’t use the logo in any of the formats I provided him.

Back back and forth with the company that designed the logo – finally got that wrinkle ironed out. But while we’re doing the cover for Stars, I’d better see how many pages the new-and-improved manuscripts will be for the other books in the series, so I can get all the covers appropriately revised. That meant going through each of the other three books carefully and making revisions and adaptations for the IngramSpark platform, then giving the cover designer the page count and spine width requirements for each.

At last, I think all that’s completed, and I think I’m ready to begin the uploading process, followed by examining the proofs, and then taking the plunge and making them available on IngramSpark.

Every step of the way, I feel like I shouldn’t have to struggle with it so much. I’ve self-published books before, right? I’ve done formatting before. I shouldn’t have to work up such a sweat over it. But yet, I do.

I hope by the time I’m ready to go through all this over again with the JS Freeman series (which I plan to do on both IngramSpark and CreateSpace), and eventually my friend’s book, I’ll be more comfortable with it.

They say practice makes perfect, and I’m practicing! I really am! But I don’t anticipate the end result to be perfection. Only God is perfect. I’m just shooting for acceptable.

I’ll keep you apprised as to developments.

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Gratitude: It’s Worth More Than 13 Scrabble Points

thanks-1804597_1280This is the time of year when people talk about things they’re thankful for. Gratitude is a healthy thing, and it’s refreshing to hear people express it instead of whining.

Today, I’d like to comment on how thankful I am that I don’t have to earn my living by writing.

Yes, I enjoy writing, and I’m probably fairly competent at it. But earn a living at it? Ha! In order to make money, you have to actually market yourself. And your product. And I loathe, abhor, detest, despise, and abominate* marketing in any form. Besides that, I dislike it rather intensely.

Though I might phrase it a bit more passionately than most, the majority of my fellow-writers feel pretty much the same way. We’d rather write than do promotion. But if you want to sell books (or articles, or whatever you write), you have to let people know your work is available. And worth buying. And there’s no way to do that without putting a good bit of effort into it.

I sell a book now and then. I think since my first self-published book came out in 2014, there’s only been one month when I didn’t earn a few cents’ royalties. (And when I say “a few cents,” I mean that literally. There have been more months than I care to admit when my total month’s royalties for all four books have totaled under a dollar.) But I figure even if I sell only one ebook, that’s one new reader who might tell one or two others about the Gannah stories and/or buy another book in the series. In other words, though I can’t really call it progress, it’s better than paying people to take a book.
So I’m thankful my husband has always been a good provider. His provision allows me the luxury of spending my time writing without having to stress over marketing.

Which is not to say I don’t do any marketing. Awhile back, I submitted The Story in the Stars to Rabid Reader Reviews, and they liked it. Though the review was published a few years ago, they recently tweeted about it, and I thought, “Hmmm, that was a good review, wasn’t it? Maybe I should remind people it’s out there.”

So, in case you care, hop on over to their site and check it out. And if you haven’t bought the book yet, treat yourself to a good read. If you have a Kindle, you can pick it up for a mere 99 cents, so you shouldn’t have to break into the kids’ piggy bank to afford it. And I’ll get a 34-cent royalty payment. We both win!


*apple-1603132_1280In case you’re curious, that heart-felt phrase is borrowed from a poem I loved as a kid. While you’re clicking on links, check it out too!




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Who Doesn’t Love Free?

This post’s title suggests a number of interesting possibilities, but I really only have one thing in mind: free books!

New coverTwo of my fellow author-bloggers are currently conducting book giveaways on my behalf. Anna Weaver Hurtt is running a contest in which the winner gets a copy of The Story in the Stars, and India’s Crown blog is providing one lucky reader the opportunity to win The Last Toqeph.

Not only that, but both blogs offer the chance to read brilliant, scintilLost and Foundlating interviews with yours truly. That’s right, brilliant. Scintillating.

Or at least mildly interesting. Well, maybe not even that — if you’re a reader of my blog, you’ve probably already heard the answers to all their questions. But hop on over to both blogs anyway and enter to win a book or two. Even if you already own one, it’s nice to support the bloggers. And if you win, you’ll have a head start on your Christmas shopping.

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As The Old Saying Goes…

file0001772520894A man may toil from sun to sun, but a writer’s job is never done.

Oh, wait… it’s supposed to be a woman’s job, not a writer’s. But what if that woman is a writer?

[Side note: I looked online for free images for working, laboring, toiling, tired woman, and so on, but couldn’t find what I was looking for. So these guys with the jackhammers will have to do.]

Using a jackhammer is work — a lot more physically toilsome than writing. So much so, in fact, that it isn’t fair to compare the tasks.

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)
(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

BUT… at least when you’re done breaking up concrete, it’s done. I doubt any of the guys in the picture above went back to the job site later and said, “Hey, I want to revise that.”

Which is what this “elderly woman with laptop” (the caption given to this image by FreeDigitalPhotos) has a bad habit of doing. (In case that statement wasn’t clear, I’m talking about me, not the model in the photo.)

Okay, so I guess I’m not elderly yet. But I’m a gray-haired woman with a laptop, and that can be dangerous.

Old cover
Old cover
New cover
New cover

As you may be aware, Risen Books recently released me from my contract so I can self- publish the first two titles in the Gateway to Gannah series, with new cover art. And, although they offered me the manuscript files, I elected to use what I already had on my computer from the first time around, as I intended to revise them anyway. I didn’t plan to change either of the story details, just tweak a word here and there.

I embarked on that project about the time I contacted the designer to talk about doing new covers. So when he completed the first one last week, I had the first book revised and formatted and ready to go. I uploaded it to CreateSpace and checked the digital proof.

Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.18.47 PMHmmm… there were a few glitches. For instance, I omitted a drop cap here and there, or indented the first paragraph of a scene when I shouldn’t have. So I fixed the issues in my document and uploaded the corrected version.

Oops. Somehow one of the chapters was in a different size font. Redo. Upload again.

But then…. I’d put a fleuron at the beginning of each chapter (that little star-like thing you Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.24.36 PMsee in the example on the right) as well between scene changes. But it looked too cluttered that way, so I took out all the flourishes between scenes but left them at the beginning of each chapter.

Upload again.

Eventually, I was ready to order a print proof, which required a wait of several days until it arrived. During that time, I sparred with the cover designer over what to do for the next book. (I say “sparred” because I always feel like I’m a pain in the neck in these discussions. But he’s very nice through the whole process, and if he grumbles about it, I never hear him.) We discussed numerous options and he did a few preliminary sketches, and we finally came to an agreement as to what scene to depict and what it should look like.

to flourish...
to flourish…
Screen Shot 2015-03-10 at 7.33.17 PM
…or not to flourish…

Meanwhile, the print proof arrived, and, highlighter at the ready, and with a pack of little sticky flags at hand for marking pages, I went over it verrry carefully.


And made a change to almost every page! I didn’t find many actual errors, but I found LOTS of places where I wanted to reword something. And, hey, if I’m going to make any changes, I might as well make a lot of them, right?

Correct this, correct that, for 330 pages. Upload again. Review the digital proof once more!

WAK! Here’s another paragraph that’s indented, though it’s not supposed to be. And there’s one where the drop cap is missing. ARGH!

Correct. Upload. Review. Oh, and did I mention, each time I thought I was satisfied, I had to wait for CreateSpace to look it over before I could do the final proof? The whole process took several days.

But then, finally! After an uncounted number of repetitions of this exercise, I approved the proof. Publish the puppy!

And then there’s the Kindle version. When I first uploaded it and checked out the result, I remembered–belatedly–that I didn’t want those fleurons at the beginning of the chapters in the ebook version; I only wanted to use them to delineate scene breaks. (Just the opposite of how I did it on the print version.)

Revise. Upload.

Oh, you know what? The drop caps don’t translate well into that format. I should get rid of them in the ebook version.

Revise. Upload.

Well. All that to say… the new-and-improved The Story in the Stars is now available on  Kindle, and it should be available very soon in print. (If not, I’ll have to find out why, because it should be; but at present, the only print version I can find is the original edition. Which I thought was supposed to have been taken off Amazon as of February 15, but it obviously hasn’t been.)

Next, I get to do the same thing with Words in the Wind, once Ken Raney finishes up the beautiful cover he’s creating for it.

James Michener in 1991 (Wikipedia)
James Michener in 1991 (Wikipedia)

After that, maybe I can concentrate on some of these other projects I have on the back burner.

Oh, yes — another thing about writing that makes it never-ending: you can continue doing it long after you’re too old to use a jackhammer.

James Michener published his last novel at the age of 87, and shortly before his death at the age of 90, he published a collection of poetry. Maybe by the time I’m that age, I’ll have hammered out the ins and outs of this business…





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I Give My New Cover Five Stars

Lost and Found


The new cover art for The Story in the Stars is finished — and I don’t mind telling you, I’m delighted with it!

I hadn’t planned to reveal it before republishing the book, but I was too excited about it to keep it under my hat. Doesn’t this make you want to skate to Gannah just as fast as you can get there?

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Ken Raney of Clash Creative.


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Friends and Book Covers

In The Story in the Stars, no one wears a space suit. So why is there one on the cover?

I’m not quite finished meandering through the topic of faith that I began two blog posts ago. However, I’ve decided to take a break for today and revisit the subject of writing. (Once upon a time, this was a writers’ blog, as you may recall.)

The idea for this post started with contemplations on book covers. Probably everyone reading this knows I was never happy with the first impression the covers of my first two books give, and so I made cover art a high priority for the next two.

While I was working with Ken Raney of Clash Creative on the covers of Ransom in the Rock (released in May) and The Last Toqeph (to be

Ransom in the Rock: A cover that represents the book's content!
Ransom in the Rock: A cover that represents the book’s content!

released next month), two of my writer friends revealed the covers of their novels. The artwork on both intrigued me, for different reasons. Both titles are debut novels. Both novels are through the same publisher. And both authors are special friends of mine.

I asked them about the possibility of appearing together on my blog, and they liked the idea. So that’s what we’re doing today, and I’m delighted to welcome them to Y’s Words. Instead of a typical guest spot or interview, we’re just going to sit down and have a chat with the three of us. Pull up a chair!

I met Ane Mulligan back in 2002 in an online writers critique group. Hard to believe that was more than 12 years ago! But we stuck together through thick and thin, and although she lives in Georgia and I was in Ohio, we’ve also met personally. (At a number of ACFW conferences.) Ane’s always been one of my most enthusiastic encouragers.

I met Susan Lawrence at a writing retreat in Kansas City. That would have been… I don’t remember the year. Do you, Susan?

SUSAN: Hmmm. It must have been 2009. That was the year I wrote my first novel.

Yes, that sounds about right. We’ve been friends ever since, and we’ve even had the opportunity to view one another in our natural habitats. In fact, I made Susan’s hubby get up early one morning to take me to the Des Moines airport. He probably didn’t mind much, though, because it meant he could finally get me out of his house.

Ane’s a multi-talented lady whose literary bent used to be toward drama. I understand you’ve published quite a few plays, haven’t you, Ane?

ANE: I have. I started writing scripts in 1996 for my church. Our pastor loved to illustrate his sermons with sketches. I’ve written over four dozen, everything from the 90-second sermon starter to one-act plays and full-length musicals. LifeWay was my first publisher and published several of mine. After they closed the line, and I got my rights back, I self-published them on a CD.

Yes, Ane always was a bit of a drama queen (ha ha). But I didn’t meet her until she decided to try her hand at writing fiction. Never one to be half-hearted, she jumped in with both feet, even quitting her job in order to leave more time for writing. And working with American Christian Fiction Writers—she’s been very active in that. What offices have you held with ACFW, Ane?

ANE: I was the Zone Officer on the Operating Board for four years. I love ACFW and I love setting up chapters around the country. I’m now on staff as the Zone Coordinator, doing the same thing, overseeing the chapters.

SUSAN: And I’m attending my very first ACFW conference in September, where I’m looking forward to meeting Ane in person.

I’m a little worried about that, Susan. Whatever she tell you about me, don’t believe it, because she has an overactive imagination. But I’m happy you’re going to the conference—and that you’ll get to meet Ane and some of my other friends. You’ll have a wonderful time.

Atonement for Emiy Adams But let’s talk about covers. Ladies, you’re both at the mercy of your publisher. How much input were you able to have on your cover art?

SUSAN: My publisher did let me make suggestions but ended up going a different direction altogether. Now I think it is the perfect cover art and I can’t imagine my story in any other cover.

ANE: I ended up with the sweetest deal of all. Lighthouse agreed

Chapel Springs Revival
Chapel Springs Revival

to allow my hubs, who is an artist, to paint my cover. Poor man. It wasn’t easy pulling an imaginary town from my brain. To me, Chapel Springs was more of a feeling. Even though I could picture the buildings, I hadn’t given them form. So, Hubs would paint, then call me to come down to his studio and look it over. I’d tell him, “It’s a little more like this,” and show him a photo I’d found online. And I’d say, “But not quite like that.” We went this way through a good dozen photos until he got it. I love the end result.

I can’t help but notice, Susan, there’s a quote from a distinguished author on your front cover, talking about how good the book is. (And it is good – for sure and certain!) Seems to me endorsements like that should be on the back, not splashed on the front. What do you think about that?

SUSAN: I love the quote from one of my favorite authors and my dear friend, Yvonne. I think it fits perfectly on the front cover.

Aw, shucks. Thanks. Ane, do you have an endorsement on the front?

ANE: I do, from Gina Holmes. “Like coming home to the place you wish you were from.”

Well, maybe that’s more common than I thought. I guess I just never noticed before. As readers, do you judge a book by its cover?

ANE: It’s the first thing that catches my eye. Then I read the back cover copy. But the feeling the cover evokes will be what I notice first.

SUSAN: I agree. I know a cover does not a book make, but I will grab the book with the cover that appeals to me.

I think we’re all on the same page (pun intended) on this subject. But do you think a book cover should show a scene from the book itself? Is factual accuracy important? Or is the key thing to create the proper feeling or mood?

ANE: I think the key is the feeling or mood it evokes is the most important.

Susan, did you have something in mind for your cover initially?

SUSAN: I did. I thought I wanted something to show the accident scene. The actual cover of Atonement for Emily Adams shows Emily in a cemetery. In the story, she isn’t ever in a cemetery. But it could have happened. And I agree with Ane that the feeling or mood evoked is what is critical for a cover.

Ane, tell us about Chapel Springs Revival.

ANE: It’s a romp through miscommunication in marriage. Claire and Patsy, my two characters, are a hoot. A little like Lucy and Ethel, they’re both artists. Claire moves without thinking and goes through life without any filters between her brain and her mouth. Patsy says, “With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.”

Susan, tell us a little about Atonement for Emily Adams.

SUSAN: It’s the story of a young woman who accidentally kills a child. She tries to atone for that unspeakable act by doing all the good she can do. It doesn’t work out so well for her. The message is that true atonement comes only through faith in Jesus Christ.

What does it feel like to hold your book in your hands or see it on a shelf?

ANE: After eleven years, it feels GREAT! It’s like giving birth. I don’t think anyone but another writer can appreciate the journey, but for one whose journey has been a long one, it was worth every frustration!

SUSAN: I love to see it and hold it, but an even greater joy is to get feedback from those who read it. To know that my writing has encouraged, inspired or uplifted someone is a blessing beyond compare.

For any reader who has been trying for years to get a novel published, like the three of us did for so long, what advice do you have?

ANE: Don’t ever give up! Your time may be just around the corner. Besides, if you’re truly a writer, a storyteller, you couldn’t quit writing anymore than you can quit breathing.

SUSAN: Work at it – attend conferences, join a critique group, read books about writing, and write, write, write.

Sounds like good advice. In fact, it’s pretty much what I’d say. Thank you, my dear friends, for stopping by to chat. I wish I could be with you at the conference next week (insert pouty face here), but I spent all my money on cover art…

Ane Mulligan – Southern Fried Fiction

More about Ane: While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane on her Southern-fried Fiction website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.

More about Susan:
Susan grew up on a small farm in the heart of Iowa. As a small child she learned to love

Susan Lawrence
Susan Lawrence

country life, writing stories, and her Savior, Jesus Christ. A graduate of Kansas State Teacher’s College, she taught special needs children for thirty-three years before retiring to devote more time to writing, speaking, and storytelling.
Susan lives with her husband, Gary, the love of her life and her best friend of forty-four years. She is the mother of three and grandmother of seven beautiful and brilliant grandchildren. She enjoys spending time with family, biking, and traveling. But most of all, she loves to tell the story, the good news of Jesus Christ, in writing, in speaking, or in living.
You can find more about or contact Susan at www.susanrlawrence.com, on Facebook or email her at srlauthor at mchsi.com.

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We Have The Winner (times three)!

file0001699656351As I’ve been promising for the past three days, I put all the entrants’ names into a plastic bucket this morning and pulled out three.

(Insert drumroll here)

The winners are:

1) C. P. Bialois (who entered by tweeting)

2) Brenda Pace (who entered by leaving a comment)

3) Jil Getner (who also left a comment)

I’ll be contacting each of these directly to see which book they’d like and where to send it.

Meanwhile: thanks to all the others who entered. And I mean that; I truly appreciate your interest in Gannah and your support for my writing addiction.

If you’d like to try again, I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway during the month of June. That involves only Words in the Wind and Ransom in the Rock, and because Goodreads is huge, there will be a lot more competition for the five free copies I’m giving away of each of those titles. But you’re certainly welcome to hop over there and enter there, too.

There’s also the option of buying them from Amazon, of course. If you’re in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, you’ll find all three titles for sale at Dayspring Christian Bookstore on West High in New Philadelphia. Both the Dover and New Philadelphia public libraries have the first two books available, and if you ask, they’ll probably buy the third for you. (Please do, in fact!)

Congratulations to the three winners, and thanks once again for helping to keep Gannah growing!

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