Careful with E-Book Formatting

Some words of wisdom if you are formatting your own e-books, or even if you are paying someone else to format them. I am only speaking about the Kindle, since that is the e-reader that I own, but I am sure that other formats/readers would be similar.

Notice how I have a line break between these two paragraphs. That’s because this is non-fiction. This isn’t a story, or a novel, or a novella. But in case you’ve not read a physical book lately, fiction doesn’t use line breaks unless it is a scene change. Did you hear me? No? Let me say it again. Fiction doesn’t use a line break unless it is a scene change.

I have experienced this style of formatting from multi-published authors, and I just want to grab them by the throat and tell them to stop it.

I downloaded a book for my husband recently. I liked the premise, so I decided to read it too. It wasn’t one of the romances that I normally read, but sometimes I slip out of my genre. I won’t recommend it. The writer used larger paragraphs, not a lot of dialog, and a lot of telling. But aside from those weaknesses, it almost gave me a headache to read it. Every paragraph had a scene-break style line. If the paragraph spanned two pages, my subconscious mind would interpret this as a scene break, but it wasn’t. It was a new paragraph. It didn’t matter how many times I told myself that he had formatting issues, I couldn’t get past it.

A blank line in the text should only be used to indicate a scene break, or a change in the action, not a paragraph switch. In the free book that Amazon published on how to format for the Kindle, it explains how to have blank space between paragraphs, but I ignored that. I think that is for non-fiction.  Please beware when you are using this feature. Preview it and make sure that you don’t have huge amounts of space between your paragraphs.

Thank you for listening to me rant. Anyone else have any formatting issues they want to whine about? I’ll listen.

American or British English?

There are the obvious differences, such as spelling words using -ise and -ize, or adding an -our instead of or (e.g. colour instead of color), but there are a few other anomalies I’ve picked up reading books by authors not from the U.S. Here are a few that I had to look up in the dictionary to discern what on earth the author was talking about:

We’ve all learned a long time ago that the gals in London share a flat, while the girls in New York share an apartment. In Manhattan, they take the elevator, while in London, everyone takes the lift. But what other differences are there?

What is a jumper?

In the U.S., it’s a dress, usually worn over a shirt, that comes down mid-calf. It’s often considered frumpy. Here’s an example.

Button-Front Denim Jumper

Well, apparently, in other countries, a jumper is also a sweater. See this picture from a UK website. Who would have thought?

(Now him in a jumper, not a bad idea!!)

Another one: Trainers.

We call work-out shoes sneakers or tennis shoes, although they may come nowhere near a tennis court. Over there, across the pond, they are called trainers. That’s complete craziness.

Last but not least, from the Southern hemisphere, what on earth is Vegemite?

Vegemite: This one hails from Australia. In the song “I Come from the Land Down Under”, the band Men at Work mentioned a Vegemite sandwich. I remember the song from the eighties, but never thought twice about it until I read it in a romance set in Australia or New Zealand, I don’t remember which, but the leading lady was eating Vegemite.

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Image Source: <a title=”By Tristanb [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons”

What differences have you noticed? Do you read books from both sides of the Atlantic? Or even from down under?

Here in the Southern U.S. we take our tea sweet and cold. Enough said.

Stephen King Says No to eBooks for Latest Release

One of the most prolific and popular novelists of our time has opted to produce his latest novel, Joyland, in paperback format only.  This is just the latest shot in an ongoing battle between physical books and eBooks. Stephen King has come down on both sides of the fight.

In 2010, he argued that it’s the story, not the method of delivery that matters. You can see his opinion in this 2010 video on CNN.  2010 – Stephen King Speaks in Favor of eBooks (Link to Video on CNN Money)

In 2013, he hearkens back to a vintage era and is going old-style, paperback only. See an article about this here.

2013 – Can Stephen King impact eBooks’ Future?

We have had a Kindle in our house since 2009, and I rarely read in any other format these days. Stephen King argues that he wants to support the independent bookstore with this new release, and I admire the sentiment.

Our house is split. My husband says he will read it in paperback. I have mixed emotions. I have so many books, and am such a voracious reader, I don’t want any more paperbacks in the house. On the flip side, I am considering uploading No Strings Attached to Create Space to make physical books available, because several of my family and friends don’t like eBooks.

 What do you think? If you are a Stephen King fan, will you buy his new book in paperback?

Comments are welcome.

Early Praise for No Strings Attached

It’s been a week since No Strings Attached went live. Take a look at some of the comments that I’ve gotten to see what you’re missing!

So far, I’ve gotten one five star review on Amazon from Jessica. She writes, “You’ll want to make time to read this one straight through. The end of each scene just makes you want to start the next. Flowing dialogue, great tension, and racy scenes make this a must read. I’ll definitely read more from this author.”

On my Facebook page, I’ve heard from others…

“I’m 80% through. I like her [Laura’s] character – not a doormat.” – Sara

“Chapter 8 and I’m already in love with Fox!” – Rebecca

“I can’t wait to read the sequel!” – Chesa

“I’m so happy to be settling down for the night so I can get back to this book!” Leigh

“I read the first five chapter last night…loving it so far!” Ame

To give you a taste of what you’re missing, here’s the opening from Fox:

Fox Thornton stared at the cards nestled against the green felt. Focus, man, focus. Something had to change. A fun hand of blackjack had turned into a bloodbath. After being in meetings all day, he had planned a quick hand of blackjack, but two hours later, he had lost more than he intended. He blamed his losses on the gorgeous blonde at the end of the table and her sexy silver dress. How could he leave with her if she made no effort to leave?

Her hair reminded him of wheat in summer and it curled around her shoulders with a devil-may-care attitude. Her eyes shone like dark amber whiskey and glowed with an inner fire when she smiled—which was often—and frequently in his direction. She leaned forward and he caught a glimpse of a little dark hollow between her breasts. He stifled a groan.

He shifted position to relieve the pressure caused by a wave of desire. How long had it been since he’d been this hard for a stranger? Not since college ten years ago. As she considered the cards, her tongue peeked between rosy lips. What a turn-on.

Fox looked for any of the managers he knew from the remodel, and saw James, a pit boss who had joined him for drinks one night. He sent him a text and then moved over to the vacant seat beside her.

“The luck’s better over here,” he said with a smile, but then he cut his eyes away, not wanting to appear too eager. She spared him a quick glance before turning back to her cards.

Sitting beside her made things worse. He smelled roses every time she moved, and now he had a full view of her long, tanned legs. One of her legs bounced up and down, betraying her nervousness. He blocked out the image of those legs wrapped around his waist or he would never be able to stand. As soon as James closed the table, he would ask her to dinner.

Her bizarre play was screwing up the natural order of the cards. She laughed when the cards fell her way, and when they didn’t, she seemed stunned, as if she should be able to predict the card order.

If anyone else had been playing that inconsistently, he would have switched tables and cut his losses. Now he was so intrigued he couldn’t walk away without a phone number.

The girl’s strapless dress fit against her like a second skin, and he couldn’t look away. While they waited for the next round of cards, she fidgeted with a silver-threaded scarf. He could imagine that scarf in his hands as he pulled her to him … He had to get control of himself.

When the waitress brought drinks, he took care of the tip, and his blonde beauty flashed him a smile. When she won for the third time in as many hands, he saluted her with a flourish. She repaid him by blowing him a kiss. Now he had her attention.

 

Buy No Strings Attached for just $2.99 now. Click the link below to go to the Amazon page.

No Strings Attached

Cover Reveal for No Strings Attached

No Strings Attached

Isn’t it just gorgeous?

I promised this earlier in the week, but with the attack in Boston I decided to wait a few days. Here she is — the cover of my debut novel, No Strings Attached.

I have to thank Deborah at Tugboat Designs. She has been amazing to work with, and her rates are very reasonable. (Check her out at http://www.tugboatdesign.net/)

She finished this cover long before I even had a title, and waited patiently while I debated different options.

Remember my struggles over a title? If not, you can relive them here. http://lilybishop.com/2013/04/14/big-title-reveal-today/

So when is the big release date, you ask? Soon, baby, soon. I’ve finished the last edits and have two final readers scouring for pesky typos. It should be clean by this point, but I will be mortified if I get dinged in reviews for stupid errors.

Here’s a peek at the (virtual) back of the book:

Laura Todd attends a conference in Las Vegas where she presents a workshop on marketing. Caught up in the glitz and glitter, Laura has a spicy weekend with Fox Thornton, a sexy consultant. Since he lives in Atlanta and she lives in Miami, there is no reason they will ever see each other again, and they both agree to a “No-Strings-Attached” affair.

Back home in Miami, she learns that her boss has been fired, and her temporary hook-up is now in charge of her office on a temporary basis. Sparks fly as she realizes that everyone in the office is under suspicion for embezzlement, including her.

Fox is drawn to Laura before he realizes that she works for a company that his stepfather wants to acquire. When he is sent to Miami to investigate mismanagement, all of the evidence points to Laura and her former boss. It doesn’t matter how much he desires her–he won’t tolerate theft. Under increasing pressure to make a decision on the purchase, he brings in a team of auditors to follow the money. All signs point to Laura’s involvement in the missing funds.

When Fox learns she has a flight to the Bahamas, he’ll do anything to stop her from leaving the country with the money, even if it means trapping her on his yacht. Which is the real Laura—the sexy, smart woman he spent time with in Las Vegas, or the vixen advancing her career by sleeping her way to the top?

I can’t wait for the moment that others can share in Fox and Laura’s story, and meet this wonderful couple. These jet-setters will travel from Vegas to Miami, to Atlanta, then the Bahamas. Just remember, what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

Big Title Reveal Today!!!

I will be releasing my debut novel in a few short weeks on Amazon, and it’s time to have the big title reveal.  I’ve waited for a while until I was closer to publication, but my team is almost ready for the release, so now’s the time.

How is a title developed? In my case, very painfully.  Since I’ve rediscovered romantic fiction in the past few years, I read a lot of book with horrible titles, and Harlequin, bless their hearts, are the worst offenders.  I swear many of their titles are generated with a simple algorithm:  The _____________ (insert noun of male hero here) _____ (Insert verb meaning to acquire) His __________ (insert noun of female hero here).  The Billionaire Gets His Bride. The Millionaire Takes His Secretary.  The Rogue Captures The Runaway. Yes, I’m making these up, but have you looked at some of their real titles? They are like a bad SNL skit.

I am not poking fun at the authors who work with Harlequin, because I know they don’t control the title of their work, but come on. Surely the editors at Harlequin can do better.

So I tried to stay away from that style title, but early on I couldn’t focus. I even had a cover before I had a title, but more about that when I do the big cover reveal this week. I’ve had a cover since September. Here are some of the ideas I struggled with.

  • I liked Mistaken Identity, but the focus of the book changed from how i originally conceived it, so this title no longer worked.
  • For a long time I used A Corporate Affair, because at its essence, the book was about an office romance gone wrong.  But affair seemed dated, right up there with the term mistress. I briefly tried Corporate Hookup, but that seemed like it was trying to be too hip.
  • The next title I tried for a few weeks was grounded in accounting terms (that should have warned me off right there): A Strategic Alliance. There were so many things wrong with that title that I moved on fairly quickly. It conjured too many visions of WWII Axis and Allies.

I was getting closer to having a final book, but still had no final title. In December, I finally found my gem.

My characters Fox and Laura meet in what they both expected to be a one-night stand, but there were complications. Late in the book, Laura reminds Fox, “Remember, what I said in Vegas. No strings. That hasn’t changed.” There it was. The title is…. Wait for it….

No Strings Attached

The title captures the essence…So, here’s a teaser for you…

After an explosive Vegas weekend, can Fox and Laura survive a trip back to the real world, where suspicions and misunderstandings lurk behind every corner? He’s her new boss and she’s accused of embezzling funds. Will their no-strings-attached affair become a tangled web of deceit, or can they build a solid foundation for a real romance?

I can’t wait to show off my cover tomorrow!  Make sure and check back.

 

Every Author Needs a Photo Shoot, Right?

I’m on the last leg of my journey to getting my words and stories in front of people. It’s scary. I feel like I’m on a roller coaster going up a giant, terrifying hill.

When I was a child and I dreamed of being an author, I had a photoshoot, a book tour, and lots of people wanting my autograph. Now that the publishing industry has collapsed and I’ve decided to become an independent author, I’m responsible for creating my own traditions and dreams.

For Christmas, I gave myself a photo shoot. I learned about a photographer here in town that works with a hair and make-up artist and does great work. I haven’t had such in-depth pictures taken of me since my wedding in 1999, so I was nervous, but Annette, the photographer, worked hard to put me at ease.

Now, let’s get this straight. I write about everyday women thrust into glamorous situations, but I am not at all glamorous. I’ve never been the foo-foo type as I call it. I don’t typically wear a lot of make-up, and my hair does its own thing. But I let Annette have her way, and her stylist worked wonders.

At first I was nervous, but she got me talking about my book, and that got me laughing pretty quickly.  We were three girls giggling about the ramifications of my character’s one-night stand in Vegas.

I felt like a princess.  All that I was missing is a tiara.

So Annette, thank you. You’re truly magical.

If you live in the South Carolina area and you are interested in a great photographer, Annette can be reached through her Facebook page, at https://www.facebook.com/EveInYou.

Here are a few of her masterpieces…

Black Coat

Are we really ready for this?

Writer with Pen

As I was saying…

In the next few weeks, as I march toward publication, I’ll be talking about my journey, and more importantly, about my book. I’m having fun along the way, including creating my own rituals and milestones. Come back tomorrow for the big title reveal!

 

The Valentine’s Day Backlash

Glancing at my Facebook feed, I’m not seeing a lot of love for Valentine’s Day these days. A few married couples have tossed out Happy Valentine’s Day wishes to their spouses.  A few moms have wished their children a happy birthday who happen to be born on St. Valentine’s Day. A few singles have posted pictures of a broken heart followed by Happy Single’s Awareness Day (SAD). My circle of friends appear to be over the holiday.

On twitter, the hashtag #CandyHeartRejects continues, and Commander Hatfield @Cmdr_Hadfield is retweeting the best of #ValentineFromSpace.

If you are a romance writer, how your characters deal with this holiday could be very informative.  For example, the stereotype of a man who rails against Valentine’s Day as a made-up holiday comes to mind. However, what if the female character is the one who hates the day and all of the fake love associated with it? One of my long-time male friends from college posted a story on Facebook this morning that his spouse of many years hates Valentine’s Day, and always has.

What if Valentine’s Day was also your wedding anniversary, but then there’s an ugly divorce? Would the day forever be tainted, even if you are close to finding new love?

What if a character is not very materialistic and a new beau gives an expensive bracelet for Valentine’s Day hoping to impress, but it has the opposite effect?

What if a first-date on Valentine’s Day goes awry because the fancy restaurant loses the reservation?

Why can’t I get these people out of my head?

Happy Valentine’s Day. 

What are your feelings about Valentine’s Day? Which stereotype do you match, or do you have a unique story?  I remember when I was single it was a very depressing holiday for me. Now that I’m married with kids, we typically avoid going out because of all the crowds.

Finding Time to [Insert Activity Here]

Everywhere I look, writers are looking for time to write. There are only 24 hours in the day, and when you subtract sleep, working at your full-time job (which most of us do), taking care of children and the house, that doesn’t leave much.  People who don’t write are having the same issues fitting in their hobbies, whether it be playing board games, golfing, running, sewing, or baking.

At our house, my hobby is writing fiction, and my husband plays golf. As a a family, we like to put puzzles together, play board games, and going exploring/hiking at battlefields. Lately, I think we have done a good job fitting together all sorts of things we like to do.

Writing is a solitary hobby. If I spent all of my spare time at a keyboard, I wouldn’t be a very good wife or mother. So here’s to our attempt to find balance.

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Here are a few tips to make the most of your day:

  • Make an appointment with yourself. Instead of just saying I’ll fit it in later, give yourself a specific time and stick to it. Be as specific as possible. For example, at 9:00 after the kids are in bed I’m going to work on revising Chapter 7. Or, While the kids are at basketball practice I’m going to the gym to exercise.
  • Set realistic goals and deadlines. It helps you find time to make those edits if you know you’ve committed to have them by a certain date. This can be problematic if you are an indie writer. First drafts and edits can drag out longer than they need to. I am guilty of this.
  • Brainstorm constantly. I’m using Evernote on my phone and computer to track random thoughts about characters, future scenes, and plot ideas for future projects. We all have dead time, whether it’s standing in line at the grocery store, waiting at the DMV office, or waiting for a child’s event to start.  Fill it by typing away on your little phone, and you’ll be amazed what gems you can keep.  Quietly type in bits of conversation that you may overhear to study later and perhaps throw in as dialog. Everyone else will think you are just playing a game.
  • Cut back on scheduled events. You don’t have to attend every invitation that comes through your inbox or even your mailbox. Be choosy with your time. If you are going out of a sense of obligation and not enjoyment, sometimes you can bow out and send a gift instead.
  • Cut back on the frequency of “maintenance” activities. Grocery shop only once a week instead of making multiple trips to the store. Don’t go shopping at all unless it’s something you absolutely have to have. Cook enough for two meals and have the second portion later.
  • Delegate. My kids are old enough now that they are helping with laundry and household chores. As they get older, this will increase. It’s important that every child learn what it takes to make a household run smoothly.
  • Hire it out if you can. My husband and I agreed a while back that we would have a lawn service because it’s not something that either one of us enjoys. Soon I hope to add a house-cleaning service into the mix.
  • Cut back on television, and the Internet. I know, ouch, right? Enough said.

These are just some ideas. Don’t feel guilty about finding time for fun. Our lives shouldn’t be all drudgery. Sometimes we get sucked into doing nothing but work, kid’s activities, cleaning, and sleep.

Take time to do a puzzle.

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Or go to a battlefield. Here’s a picture from a trip we recently took to a local battlefield where participants were dressed in period costumes from the Revolutionary War.

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Carve out time with the family to go on hikes, explore local battlefields, and play games. Carve out time for yourself to do what you like, too. I think it’s important for kids to know that mom and dad have interests away from them, whether it’s golf, writing fiction, or going to a movie for a girls’ night or afternoon out. Laundry can wait.

(Note these pictures are all mine. Please do not use without permission)