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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Reviving the Literary Vignette

“Life is comprised of thousands of fleeting moments. These are fleeting moments in the lives of a dozen women…” Thus begins a collection of vignettes Because She Was a Woman.

The goal of the vignettes is to have the characters and a detail or two of their day or their lives seep into the consciousness of the reader – in the way that the details come alive in the readers’ own imagination. Some of the stories and characters are there to make the reader question the status quo, to turn stereotypes on their heads, to dare to suggest that women often are far more than what they appear to be skin deep.

In How Nadine and Libby Escaped Destiny, the original story that was the seed of the collection, a child is playing outside an old trailer and her mother watches her from within as the essence of the moment unfolds. It is a sad tale with haunting images; a tragedy that aspires to a happy ending.

In Rebirth a woman discovers the joys of starting anew with the help of a friend and has a moment of complete abandon.

In Imbroglio Royale, Lana goes through the motions and keeps on going desperately trying to find “normal” after wondering when her life turned into an episode of reality television.

The Proposal explores a moment of victory in a stifling situation for Lenora.

Fair Game, based on a true story, follows Rosa as she goes on a job interview that turns out much differently than expected.

Independence Day is a modern day fantasy about motherhood in which a woman makes one last ditch effort to bond with her teenager.

The Poet is the heartbreaking tale of a woman contemplating the true meaning of ‘masterpiece’ in the middle of the apocalypse.

Not Gwen is the tale of a woman living a masked existence for one last day, an exploration of cultural identity and survival. (Click here to read my inspiration for this story.)

Promises and Expectations is the transcript of a woman’s video essay explaining why she should be approved for a special program she believes will bring her true happiness.

In Is This Love? a woman visits her mother in a convalescent home and contemplates her history, happiness, and dementia.

Child of God finds Nino dispossessed because her neighbors disapprove of her lifestyle choices.

The Next ‘It’ Couple is a study of a woman of humble beginnings reaches the pinnacle of glamour and success and meets the love of her life, but does it matter at all?

The collection is available at Smashwords and Kindle Store now. The paperback is available at CreateSpace and will soon follow at Amazon. Additional online retailers like Apple, Diesel, Kobo and Sony will follow in the coming weeks.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Embracing Freelancing

I’ve just added a professional services page at the Amapola Press website including rates for e-book formatting services to insure inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog. As an Smashwords author with a dozen fiction titles (some with images) and three non-fiction titles with linked tables of content, all in the Premium Catalog, I think I’ve proven myself quite adept at e-book formatting for Smashwords Editions.

Apparently, some authors find e-book formatting nightmarish. Personally, I think most writers complicate matters because they insist on formatting documents in ways they can read on their computers and some are still thinking about the way print books look and try to emulate that. This doesn’t work…

I have seen the endless threads on Kindleboards with new authors who after numerous attempts still have autovetter errors and simply cannot get into the Premium Catalog. I understand their frustration and I can alleviate it.

Of course, inclusion in the Smashwords Premium Catalog allows distribution to Apple (distribution to iBookstores in 32 countries), Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, WH Smith in the UK and FNAC (both powered by Kobo), the Diesel eBook Store eBooks Eros (operated by Diesel), Baker & Taylor (Blio and the Axis360 library service), Page Foundry (operates retail sites and; and Android e-book store apps for Cricket Wireless and Asus).

Rates start at $35, with additional charges for linked TOCs/footnotes/endnotes and images.
A deposit, payable by PayPal, can be made at the Amapola Press website after project acceptance and delivery generally takes less than four days.

Indie authors may contact us through the Amapola Press website with details (contact form in Home Page). E-book manuscripts can be accepted in PDF, Word and Open Office documents – which may be uploaded to Google documents or instruction will be sent to e-mail. Final formatted e-books will then be returned by e-mail so indie authors can upload their files.

If the project requires more than one attempted submission, no additional charges will be incurred. Charges are for formatting only, and the goal is inclusion to the Premium Catalog. I guarantee it.

Be warned: If your book is filled with gross typographic errors, Smashwords will not accept into the Premium Catalog, even if the formatting is perfect. E-book formatting service does not include editing, copy editing or proofreading.

I had not intended on doing this long-term, but it looks like it’s beyond a hobby now and I have immersed myself deeply into this “experiment”. So this is me embracing it fully.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Penetrating the Formula

source: iclipart

A few years ago, a friend of mine turned me on to these sci-fi novels that shall remain nameless here. Set in space and with a female protagonist, I threw myself into the series with fervor and glee.

Soon a romantic element was introduced, and although romance is not my thing I was willing to tolerate its intrusion as long as that did not dominate the story.

To my surprise, “romance” was hardly the correct label for what passed as a relationship between these characters – especially because their carnal relations more closely resembled the legal definition of rape.

I want to blame Ayn Rand for this trend but I don’t know that she was the first to write in a rape scene and pass it off as some sort of relationship. It certainly was the first time I read such a thing. I chose to disassociate the rape scene from my reading experience and I cannot say that it ruined The Fountainhead for me, but the shock of it has stayed with me my entire adult life.

As far as the writer of the sci-fi series, I also read another of her fantasy series and she repeated this habit.

I was horrified. (And no, I will not add to the ridiculous discussion on the subject of sexual assault that passes for political discourse these days.)

Yet, as offensive and baffling as this idea was to me, what turned me off to her writing eventually was the increasingly annoying and ever more frequent and glaring typos in her books. It was like she couldn’t write that drivel fast enough for her publisher to actually copy edit the shit!

Don’t get me wrong, the stories were fun. And I suspect that they sold precisely because they were quick and fun reads. Who doesn’t love a quickie?

I bring it up because there is an ongoing conversation at Kindleboards and at countless blogs about the success of 50 Shades of Gray.

Craig Ferguson summed it up perfectly. He said he doesn’t mind sexy bits in his literature as long as what precedes it includes clever words.

The Shades of Gray series is notoriously badly written, by all accounts, and yet remains in the bestseller lists for print and e-books alike (with no signs of going limp, if you’d pardon the vulgarity).

It turns out that most readers don’t give a flying fuck. Apparently this Reading Elite that constantly complains about the quality of e-books are not the same majority who actually buys them, because only the Grammar Nazis and other writers seem to be offended by the spanking E.L. James gives the English language.

This makes me wonder whether I should deliberately allow typos and run-on sentences to remain in my work; throw in a bitch slap and a pair of fuzzy handcuffs, and KA-CHING!

If only life were as easy and submissive as Anastasia Steele. Actually, that wouldn't work for me... I prefer my life to come with a little more kick. Sigh, I'll stop now.