Print-on-demand Prices

At our self-publishing meeting last night, we discussed the price of getting a book printed. My only experience has been with Blurb and CreateSpace.

Besides prices for printed books, the biggest difference between these two companies is that if you create a book with CreateSpace, it can also be listed online at Amazon and other distributors. Blurb doesn’t do that. This is why I’ve gone exclusively with CreateSpace.

On October 25, 2015, I placed an order with CreateSpace for 24 books. The shipping came to $43.39. To calculate the base price of each book [the price to print and get it to my door], I divided the shipping fee by 24. This means I paid $1.81 per book.

Because CreateSpace is in the United States and I live in Canada, there is an added cost of Import Duty and Taxes paid to DHL Express on delivery. If you buy less than a certain amount [I’m told the magic number might be nine (9)], there are no import duties.

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First Draft Skeletons

My son is writing a novel for a school assignment. I’m walking him through the process. Sometimes he gets stuck and doesn’t know what details to add and which to leave out. I remind him that he’s writing the first draft; it doesn’t have to be perfect, it needs only to be written.

I tell my writing friends the same thing; it’s the philosophy I live by.

I compare the first draft to a skeleton. The flesh and muscles along with the finer details (hair, eyes, freckles) are added later in future edits and revisions.

Often when I write, I add details, but if I’m stuck, I don’t spend time thinking them up if they don’t come on cue. I write on.

Here’s an example of what I might do if I’m stumped on a scene. The key in this passage is to get the character out of her home and on the way to work. Instead of spending unproductive time working out the details—or worse: being stalled in this one spot and not moving forward—I list what will happen and keep going with the story.

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Faster Than the Speed of Wow

Hats off to CreateSpace for their delivery speed. It’s even faster than I remember.

I placed two orders in the past week, and both arrived, as they say, lickety-split. The first was for a box of books. I placed the order on Friday September 25th. It arrived Thursday October 1st. Count ‘em: six days! And that was the slow shipping method, the least expensive one.

The second order was for two proofs—Throw Away Kitten and Quarter Castle Chronicles-Volume One. I placed it on September 29th. It too arrived October 1st. That’s two days—two days to print, package and ship those two books to me. Again, I used the cheap, slow shipping method.

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Self-publishing Writers’ Group

I’ve been a member of the East Hants Writers’ Group for more than four years. During that time, we’ve discussed a lot of things. Sometimes meetings were filled with chatter, news and advice. Sometimes they were not. New members have come and gone, but for the most part, we have a dedicated membership who continue to show up when they are not committed to be elsewhere.

At some meetings, the few who have self-published talk only about that, leaving no time for craft of writing-related discussions.

I’ve had the feeling for more than a year now that a few new members have decided to not return because the group is a mixture of a lot of topics, and ones sometimes not interesting to those who only want to write.

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Thought for the Day – Secret to Wellness

Throught of the DaySick time can really take a bite out of work time for many people. Since I work at home most of the year, I can easily keep working regardless of the cold or flu attacking my immune system. There have been a few bouts over the past ten years, however, that landed me in bed, unable to even look at a computer let alone make any sense of the words hopping around on the screen.

Usually I get a bad cold in October (about four weeks after the kids start back to school). Another one invades the house around February (you guessed it: brought home from school). March brings another round of sickness before spring delivers relief. Throughout these illnesses, I typically lose only one day’s worth of work because I struggle through them.

However, not everyone is as lucky as me. They may be exposed to germs more often or they work in positions that do not allow them to come in sick.

In May 2014, I was working out of the house with someone who shared their secret to wellness. It was simple and cheap to do, so I gave it a try. The results: I haven’t been sick since.

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Thought for the Day – Breaks

Throught of the DayAll work and no play make Jack and Jill…boring.

A seasoned entrepreneur said this last week during the business workshop I had attended. He went on to say we should work hard at our businesses, but we must also work hard at allowing ourselves some regular time off to enjoy life.

I’ve heard many others say the same thing over the past few years. It’s easy for business owners to work every waking hour. After all, if we don’t work, there’s no money coming in, and if there’s no money coming in, our business will fail, and we will have to work for someone else.

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Thought for the Day – Learning

Throught of the DayFor about ten years, I searched for a manuscript for a western novel I had written in my late teens. It had been packed away when I moved. I knew it was here—somewhere—in a box. I just had to open the right one.

Looking back to that time in my youth, I recalled I had written a good story. I had done extensive research on the old west, read several western novels and even took notes when I went horseback riding. I knew it was a gem. It would need a little editing, and it would be ready for readers.

When I finally found the manuscript, I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t as well-written as I remembered. To be honest, it was poorly written and would need extensive editing. My punctuation and sentence structure was okay, but far below my current writing ability. I read only about 20 pages (all hand-written) before I put it on a shelf and marked it as a future project.

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Thought for the Day

Throught of the DayLast night I attended a workshop where four business owners talked about what it takes to operate a business.

Here are three key notes I walked away with. They are true for all types of businesses.

Network: Get out there, meet people, talk about your business, listen to how others run their business.

Smile: Regardless of what is going on in your life, when you’re with a customer, present a positive attitude. They’ll remember if you don’t. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

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Impressions OR an Overview of CCMA

ImpressionsWe are often told you don’t get a second chance at making a first impression. Those first impressions brand themselves in our memories. We recall them every time your name is mentioned or your work passes our eyes. By the time you get to make a second impression, we may have recalled the first impression a dozen or more times, making it difficult to bump it aside for a different impression to take root.

Bad impressions imbed themselves deeper than good impressions—for the most part. This means if you made a bad impression the first time, you’ll have a mountain to climb to mend the fence.

Obviously, good impressions are important in our personal lives, but they are vital in our professional lives. They can make or break our business (which is gaining a reading audience), so it’s important to pay attention to your actions and words when in public, particularly if you’re in the company of readers and writers.

The flip side of that is we are always judging the impressions of others, both new and old acquaintances. We may not consciously do this, but we do it because it’s our nature. We use our morals and opinions to apply that judgement. So while something you did was great in the eyes of one person, it might not be so hot in the eyes of another.

It’s a tough road, but one we travel every day.

I was reminded of first and lasting impressions over the weekend when I attended several events associated with the Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMA) held in Halifax, NS. This was my first CCMA show, so my mind was wide open to what may or may not happen.

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Create, Organise, Rearrange with MS Word

G. Kaye wrote a post not long ago regarding Scrivener, the software that is meant to make our writing life easier. Like me, however, many writers have found the program’s large learning curve frustrating and time-consuming.

Some writers love it, wouldn’t write without it, but my brain—and obviously those of many others—don’t function the same way as those lovers of Scrivener. So Scrivener not only looks confusing, but it also becomes illogical to use because other programs work better for us.

Personally, I organise my ideas—including story lines—through memory and patterns. I’m a visual person. I see words in my brain as shapes, and when I see a misspelt word, I recognise it as such because it’s not in its correct shape.

My brain records all things—words, people, places, feelings—in shape form. Yes, you are a blob that floats through my brain, but a blob I recognise easily if your aura has left a marker in my subconscious.

Being a visual person with blob properties, I have to see either the big picture or a large section of it to work efficiently. Scrivener doesn’t allow me to do this easily. It’s like their windows have curtains over them. MS Word allows me to have curtainless windows, giving me a perspective on the entire project while closing off those unnecessary to a particular section of work.

Because here’s the kicker: too much information amounts to clutter. Too many blobs floating around my peripheral vision confuses my brain and reduces my ability to concentrate. That’s the downside of having a wide peripheral view of the world. Narrow glasses drive me nuts because my eyes keep focussing between what I want to look at and the frames. I’m a ‘John Denver, wide-rimmed glasses’ kinda gal.

So while Scrivener may be the cat’s meow for some writers, it doesn’t correlate with my brain. MS Word does, and I can do everything in Word others can do in Scrivener, including rearranging scenes and chapters. Here’s how you do it.

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Happy Canada Day

Canada Day - July 1, 1867

Pig on Trial

Diane Tibert:

Darlene Foster has just released a book, one that is very different that what we’re used to seeing. Check it out on her blog and leave a comment for a chance to win a copy.

Originally posted on Darlene Foster's Blog:

These past six months have been quite crazy. Moving to another country is not for the faint of heart. There is so much to learn. Since travelling around for the first month, we have lived in three different places. It feels good to be in a more permanent place now. It goes without saying that my writing has taken a back seat. I´ve been working on the fifth book in the Amanda series, but it has been slow going.

However, I was fortunate to be introduced to Pablo Solares Acebal, from Ediciones Camelot, by Mary Barr, a fellow writer from Canada.  Pablo agreed to translate and publish my story, Pig on Trial, as a bi-lingual book called Cerdito a juicio. I am very pleased with the final result.


The book is written in English on one page and Spanish on the opposite page.


The Blurb:

What is Sebastian to do?…

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Book Review: A Fool In France, by Christina Keith. Part One: The Daintiest of Tan Suede Shoes.

A publisher told me once: books come in two categories; those for men and those for women. Men buy books about Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill and war; women buy novels. Apart from books about cookery and cats, that’s the English market. Writers of men’s books saw the 2014 centenary of the Great War approaching well in time but, so far, few of their books have captured the public imagination, perhaps because too many of them hit the market in one go and too many of them look the same. Most publishers are not mavericks in the herd. Instead of giving us interesting new stories they prefer re-garnishing the old ones. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend every time. Lions led by donkeys; mud, blood and self-sacrifice; in Flanders fields the poppies grow, in industrially homogenised formats.

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Business Tip: Claiming Travel Expenses

Business TipOver the weekend, I bumped into a gentleman I had met a few months earlier at a market. Like me, he makes and sells his own soap. We talked about business, and the tax man soon came up.

Obviously no one likes the tax man whether you’re making lots of money, no money, claiming everything and being honest or hiding things and being a crook. That’s just the way things go. For most of us, taxes mean piles of paperwork that is not always comprehensible.

Still, we plough on and learn what it takes to please the tax man.

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Lesley Crewe on Making a Film

Atlantic Books Today asked Lesley Crewe to share five things she learned while turning her novel, Relative Happiness, into a movie.

  1. Always answer “yes”, when someone calls you out of the blue and asks if you own the movie rights to your novel. The only reason I did, is because Jane Buss of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia told me it was absolutely necessary, and I was not to sign a book contract without it. I was anxious to sign any book contract, and did it really matter if I had sole ownership of film rights? I mean it wasn’t like my novel would be made into a movie. That was ludicrous. It was my first book. Who the heck would want it? Turns out someone did. And because I listened to Jane’s advice, I didn’t have to share my movie earnings with anyone other than my agent.

To read the four other things she learned, visit Atlantic Books Today.

Black Widow is a Slut

Female SuperheroesWhose fault is that?

We could easily blame it on Hawkeye’s vision of her, but is he to blame? Although Captain America agreed, is he to blame?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, view this clip in which the interviewer starts the interview with the following question, “I have a very serious question to start with about shifting(?) (difficult to make out). Because I know a lot of fans were actually pretty invested in the idea of Natasha with actually either/or, or both of you guys, and now obviously she’s with Bruce. What do you guys make of that?”

A tired and bored-looking Hawkeye replied, “She’s a slut.”

Captain America released a whole-hearty laugh and agreed.

In reality, neither of these superheroes are to blame for the image of Black Widow and the idea she is a slut. They didn’t write the story or the script. They also didn’t write the comics in which Black Widow appeared.

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East Hants Fine Art Show

If you are in the Milford Station, Hants County, Nova Scotia, area this weekend, you might be interested in stopping at the East Hants Fine Art Show. Dozens of artists will have their work on the display. Visitors can also purchase a selection of artwork.

The show is open to the public on Saturday and Sunday May 1st and 2nd between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. If you are interested in joining the East Hants Fine Art Association, you can pick up an membership form there. If not, drop me a line, and I can help you get in touch with the right people. Read the full post »

Author Solutions and Friends: The Inside Story

Originally posted on David Gaughran:

ASandfriendsweboptAuthor Solutions has forged partnerships with a long list of famous names in publishing – from Simon & Schuster and Hay House to Barnes & Noble and Reader’s Digest.

Recent disclosures in various lawsuits, along with information sent to me by a Penguin Random House source, detail for the very first time exactly how these partnerships work and the damage they are causing.

Since a second suit was filed at the end of March, Author Solutions is now facing two class actions, with the new complaint alleging unjust enrichment and exploitation of seniors on top of the usual claims of fraud and deceptive practices. It also has a wonderfully precise summary of Author Solutions’ operations:

Author Solutions operates more like a telemarketing company whose customer base is the Authors themselves. In other words, unlike a traditional publisher, Author Solutions makes money from its Authors, not for them. It does so…

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Character Sheets

Know your charactersIn a recent blog post, I discussed the importance of Style Sheets. Another form sheet equally important is the character sheet. Even if a story has only a handful of characters, a detailed list will help keep them in line and their hair colour from changing from chapter to chapter.

A character sheet is a life saver if a novel contains many characters or is one in a series. During the first edit of Shadows in the Stone, I created one to save my sanity. The story contains 74 named characters. Some of these individuals were mentioned only two or three times, but it was important to keep their individual stories straight, along with their age and the weapons of their choice.

What to put on a character sheet is up to the writer. Personally, I use the following headings.


The full name of the character is written in the first column along with nicknames, ranks, titles and keys to pronunciation (if it is an unusual name). With regard to nicknames, I add a note about who uses them.

For example, we may know a character as Chris, but his mother might still call him Christopher while his best friend calls him Shortie.

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The Relatively New Hostage Virus

New FlashComputer viruses are our arch nemesis. In the first attack on my system in 1999, I lost everything. The computer was new with few personal files, so it wasn’t a tragic loss. The biggest headache was taking the system to a shop and having them delete the harddrive and reinstall the software.

Since then I’ve stood as the front line defence against many attempts to infect my system. The famous worm that shut down our server did not get to me because I acted quickly. Every email is scrutinized. Those suspected of carrying a virus are deleted without opening.

The attempts to damage my system were minor inconveniences. Not everyone has escaped these viruses with as little damage. But knowledge is power, and everyone who is aware of these sorts of infections can take immediate action to reduce the damage.

So when my files were taken hostage with a click of a false update, it came as a complete surprise.

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