Monday, September 27, 2010


I think I may have rounded a corner in my understanding of cover art. I'm still a huge novice, but a few days ago I finally came to understand that the font is more important than the image, and that it's okay to obstruct image with text. But how to create a cover without Photoshop? Not easy, and I'm still using Picasa. Tried to download Gimp, but my computer froze (which never happens!) and I'm afraid to try it again.

I'm excited about this last cover attempt because I think I may have finally come up with something better than the original. Of course a lot of that has to do with the fantastic image in the new version, and the poor quality of the artwork on the original cover. That poorly-drawn man with his skinny lips and swollen neck!

Original Penguin Putnam cover:

My cover design:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

An Interview With LK Rigel

LK Rigel's Space Junque is receiving rave reviews on Amazon. So exciting, especially considering that LK recently joined the brave new world of self-publishing and Space Junque has just come out.

As some of you already know, I had the extremely fun job of editing Space Junque. Back some time ago, I was thinking of starting an editing service and possibly attaching my name to projects that I felt were of high quality. I’ve since become pretty busy with my writing career, but I’m still intrigued with the idea of an editor or writer being a small part of the self-published release. I think one thing self-published books lack is that voice of authority and the understanding that this book has gone through a process of vetting. One way to instill reader confidence would be to include some stamp of approval. I honestly don’t think my name carries enough weight for that, but I’m stamping SJ regardless because it’s a damn fun and fine read.

And now a few questions for LK Rigel:

AF: Could you give us a brief description of Space Junque?

LKR: Space Junque is a paranormal space opera romance, set about eighty years from now when earth metamorphoses into an alternate reality.

At the brink of world-wide catastrophe set off by oil spills, sea level rise, and massive pollution, Char Meadowlark accepts an invitation to the Imperial Space Station from Mike Augustine, her dead sister's fiancé. While Char is in orbit, eco-terrorists set off a planet-wide environmental cataclysm.

Though Mike pressures her for more than friendship, Char can't stop thinking about the man who saved her life, Jake Ardri, the pilot of the shuttle Space Junque. Meanwhile, Char confronts threats normal and paranormal before she can return to the transformed planet where the very survival of the human race is uncertain.

It's a light romantic romp! But, as I like to say, is love even possible in flagrante apocalypto?

AF: I don’t believe you ever considered a traditional publisher for SJ. Could you share your reasoning behind that decision?

LKR: This could take up an entire post. Maybe I'm a lazy narcissist.

AF: Yes, that was certainly a clueless statement, because nobody works harder than the self-published author. And as far as the narcissist comment goes, let me roll my eyes. I think all writers, bloggers, tweeters, facebookers, whatever, are narcissistic to some extent. We live in a narcissistic society.

LKR: The simple answer is: I didn't consider a traditional publisher for Space Junque because I didn't have to.

For an unknown author, querying agents these days is degrading and soul-crushing. If you get to a deal, you give up over 90 percent of the proceeds, have no say on the cover art, and wait another 18 months to publication.

Publishing on Kindle and Smashwords, Space Junque was available to readers three days after the manuscript was ready. I can track my sales in real time. I can choose what promotion I want to do. The story will be available forever. I can price the book reasonably. Instead of 8 percent, I get 70 percent, and I am paid once a month.

Now, I still don't actually "get" 70 percent because I'm paying for quality editing and covers and advertising -- but in this case that expense money is going to promote and improve my book, not the book of my publishing house's current star or the CEO's bonus.

Plus, I get to tell the story I want to tell without forcing it into some commercially proven template.

AF: I have to step in to make a point about traditional publishing. The potential for units sold is much, much higher with a traditional publisher. 8% isn’t bad when you think about the possibility of selling 100,000 copies. Most self-published books will never come close to that number. But I totally understand about agents and queries and wanting to be in control of the whole process.

LKR: Oh, that’s absolutely true.

AF: Space Junque has an amazing cover. How did that come about?

LKR: Isn't that cover wonderful? I found the source images at and played around with them in Gimp until I had the feel for what I wanted. The result was certainly good enough as a working cover but definitely not done by a pro. The fonts were never right, and it was so dark that you had to turn the screen at a certain angle to see it properly. I sent the cover to Robin at Robin Ludwig Design, and she worked her magic. I love the cover.

AF: The edit was done a little differently. Rather than sending an entire manuscript, you were gracious enough to email me a few chapters at a time because I like to work on small pieces of material. Do you think this helped you in the process, or was it an annoyance?

LKR: I loved doing it that way. First of all, you were able to stop me in my tracks before I ventured too far onto -- shall we say a mistaken path? Getting that feedback on an ongoing basis was invaluable. Also, breaking it down into smaller chunks made the whole process more enjoyable and less overwhelming.

AF: When it comes to DIY publishing, readers sometimes point to quality control issues. You used the services of an editor, a copy editor, and proofreader. Could you lead us through that process?

LKR: I can't stress enough that content editing is not copy editing or line editing. As content editor, Anne, you looked at the story and the gross mechanics or technique involved in telling the story, the pacing, the authenticity, the ideas -- the creative content.

By the time the story is in its final shape, it's too late for the author and the editor to do any decent copy editing or proofreading. They've looked at the words too many times. You need a fresh eye to find the typos, misspelled words (I spell minuscule "miniscule" and Word never catches it). I recommend Cara Wallace for a last look at your ready-to-go manuscript. She's thorough and always right -- even when I disagree with her.

AF: What are your plans for future works?

LKR: Space Junque is the prequel to a series set several generations later on an alternate reality earth. That world is based on a blend of Ancient Near East mythology and Gnostic Christian creation stories -- and also has shapeshifters! The first book, Bleeder, is going through its last run-through before content edits. I hope to have it ready in November. There will be at least three novels set in that world.

I had to cut some events from Space Junque because they didn't fit the arc of the narrative. One event in particular is so delicious that it's screaming to be told, so there will be another novella set in that time period.

Beyond that, who knows? As you can probably confirm, telling stories feels good. Now that I've actually put something out there, I don't think I can stop.

AF: Would you ever consider a traditional publisher?

LKR: Of course! But unless I get the big offer, I don't see traditional publishing in my future. I've had a lot of fun putting out Space Junque, and I don't think I'd be happy giving up control. The traditional model is fantastic for bestsellers and established authors, but I think that train has passed me by.

AF: I don’t think that’s the case. Publishers still love and still promote debut authors.

LKR: I'll tell you what I do dream of: being selected for Amazon's Encore program.

AF: I hope that happens! Thanks for visiting, and best of luck with Space Junque!

Be sure to visit LK's blog for details on how to win an Oberon gift certificate worth $100.00!

Friday, September 17, 2010

orchards and cemeteries

I've been jotting down a lot of things for my next project. In the process, I sometimes come upon notes that I wrote for previous books, notes that I never used. This is something I found today, written for The Orchard:

And I myself am fooled by time and distance. The photos represent an idyllic life, and I contemplate that life with the eyes of a stranger, feeling the pull of a perfect world.

I want to live there, raise my children there. And then I remember... I did live there. I did raise my children there. And I have to remind myself of the other things, the hidden things.

Orchards and cemeteries feel the same.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


A few months ago I gave a talk at a local library. When I asked if there were any book clubs in the area, I was told about an interesting one that has been around for over ten years.

Two things I like:

1) They meet in a bar.

2) They don't read an assigned or chosen book. Instead, everyone brings the books they've read in the past month and tells the group about them. They swap books and give away books. They rave about books, and they slam books. I've been to two meetings, and the average number of books discussed in a single meeting is around 30. Not sure how many beers are consumed.

What I've learned about myself:

I will never again read a book as a reader. This is pretty much understood by all authors, but it really hit home for me as I sat among these women who were so passionate about books. Even though I'm a writer, even though I immerse myself in the world of writing almost every waking hour, I felt like an alien in this group of book lovers. Wonderful, interesting, friendly people I felt I had nothing in common with. Isn't that odd? Me? Someone who has been writing for twenty-five years? Someone who started writing because I loved books?

Since the meeting, I've tried to analyze my feeling of alienation. I look at fiction from a totally different perspective. I read to get the feel of a novel and check out the writer's voice. And here is the scary part: I rarely finish a novel unless I'm reading to supply a cover quote. I don't need to read the whole thing, because finding out what happens isn't why I read. I read to check out the book, to get a feel of the author's voice and the mood and tone of the story. Even novels I love go unfinished. Because that sample is all I need to answer my questions.

Will I go to another meeting? I don't think so. It made me a little sad, but I think it was more about a poor fit. I love hanging out with other writers, talking about books, talking about the business, but I can't be a reader. Not even for an evening.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

September 2010

I've had so many blog posts I wanted to write, vacation stories, vacation pictures, but a flare of old neck pain has kept me from blogging. I really need to just stay away from my computer for a while. And I will! But I did want to let people know that LK Rigel's entire novella is now available on Amazon. I hope to post more later (when I'm feeling better), because I think people might be interested in hearing about the editing process and how Linda came to give me editing credit. This is something I've thought about for a while. Editing books, then allowing my name to be used if the end result is something I can get behind.

Space Junque is a fun, smart read, and I really think people will enjoy it. I hesitate to make comparisons, but I think it has a bit of a Firefly vibe to it.

Space Junque

The image at the top of my blog post? Nothing to do with anything. :) I just like it.