Monday, December 12, 2011

New Cover Design

Well, I know I spent a lot of time here on the blog testing different programs to do my own covers.

Then, I got sick and discovered I had neither the time nor energy to do it. So I looked around and asked around and I found a wonderful graphic artist/designer. She's great to work with and I hope to have a new cover to show you in the next week or two.

I know I've missed the Christmas buying rush, but some things just can't be helped.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Liar! Liar!

I know, I know. Panzer and I said we'd post on Mondays and Fridays. We lied. We didn't mean to. An unexpected doctor's appointment came up Friday and there was no time to post.

But ... we've got big news coming on Monday. So ... I hope you'll forgive us.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Return of Cats and Crime

We're going to try and get Cats and Crime back on a reasonable schedule. Starting this week, we'll post on Mondays and Fridays for the next few weeks until I feel better.

If you've got any news, you'd like us to consider drop us an email.

Fiona and Panzer

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Blog Update

We've been very ill for the past several weeks.

If you belong to an h.m.o., be afraid. Be very afraid of managed care! It's not what they promise.

News as it comes in.

Fiona and Panzer

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Apple iBookstore Expands Smashwords Ebook Distribution to 26 New Countries


You go away for a few days and look what happens with Smashwords and how the iBookstore Expands Smashwords Ebook Distribution to 26 New Countries .

Panzer can't believe it. He wants to go on another vacation and see what happens while we're gone.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Protection or My Life Is A Joke

If you've been reading this blog since the beginning, then you know I'm married to a pirate. One of the reasons I married that pirate is because he makes me laugh. One of the unfortunate ways he makes me laugh is by tickling me. You see, I am the most ticklish person you have ever met. All you have to say is, tickle and I start giggling.

Okay; so we were on the couch watching a movie and that pirate started tickling me. I was laughing and kicking and laughing and screaming and ... Panzer came in the living room to see what all the noise was about.

Seeing him standing in the doorway watching us, I couldn't help myself ... I screamed, "Panzer! Help me! Panzer!"

All I saw was a black streak flying through the air.

Hissing and scratching, Panzer landed on the pirate's back. The pirate jumped off the couch and turned around and around trying get that cat off his back. Panzer was not about to let go. He continued hissing and scratching, until the pirate grabbed a glass of pop off the coffee table and, reaching over his shoulder, poured it all over Panzer.

Not appreciating all that sticky pop in his fur, Panzer jumped down. He stood there looking at me and waiting for me to say Thank You. Then, tail straight up in the air, he sauntered over to the doorway. He sat there cleaning his fur like nothing had happened.

Panzer has owned me a lot longer than I've been married. Let's just say, he has agreed to put up with the newest addition to the household as long as there's no more tickling involved.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book Review: Impulse Control

Panzer and I are back from vacation! And, if we're back, this must be Tuesday. If it's Tuesday, then it's time for this week's ebook review.

This week's ebook is Impulse Control by Susan Bischoff. (No cats this time. Boo hoo!) This is a YA ebook. Actually, this is a novella with the beginning of two of Susan's other ebooks in the Talent Chronicle series at the end.

The story is about a group of teens and pre-teens who each have a special talent. The talents range from mind reading to super-human strength. Because of these special talents, the group is sent to a facility to be studied and controlled.

Everything is told through the viewpoint of main character Ethan who has super-human strength. After some of the younger children are taken to be experimented on Ethan and some of his friends set out to stop the experiments. In the process of stopping the experiments we learn that, perhaps, at least one of the older children isn't as much of an innocent victim as we were led to believe.

Panzer gives the ebook three paws up. (Panzer would have given it four paws, but that one evil teenager was pretty unexpected and scary for him.)

Impulse Control is available at Amazon for the Kindle.

Friday, September 30, 2011

On Vacation

No posts until Tuesday, October 4.

See you later!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

JA Konrath's Ebook Predictions

I had a dentist's appointment today (ouch, ouch, ouch!) so this is a short post.

Now that Amazon has lit a Fire under the Tablet market with the new Kindle, Joe Konrath is blogging about his prediction back in 2009 about the ebooks and ereaders. He's also got some predictions for the coming year in the e-marketplace.

Come on! you've got to admit, you either think the guy is a visionary or you hate him. Either way, he's a fun read most of the time. Head over to Joe's place A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Picking and Using Your Pen Name

Earlier this month Panzer and I discussed the reasons to use a pen name according to Bella Andre (aka Lucy Kevin)(aka Bella Riley). She suggested that when writing in multiple genres or sub-genres it was necessary to have a separate name for each. In this way as a writer you can create a platform for each genre.

Today, steampunk writer Calista Taylor is blogging about how to choose and then research a pen name. Finding a name isn't the end of the journey when using a pen name. There are some necessary steps you should follow to make sure the name is available. Calista lists the six research steps she took to verify the pen name she's chosen.

Read how Calista Taylor researched her pen name at A Rose By Any Other Name.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: Writing Critique

If this is Tuesday, it must be Panzer's book review day. He picked Writing Critique: A Horror Short Story by Canadian writer Rebecca M. Senese for me to read to him.

Panzer loved this ebook. Although it's billed as a horror story, he knew right from the beginning that it's more black humor than horror. The story is told through an omniscient viewpoint with the God-like narrator telling what's happening to You. Any writer who has ever belonged to a writing critique group will know exactly what the narrator is describing. You take your baby, um, manuscript to the group for their adoration. Instead, they tell you your baby, um, manuscript stinks and she needs her diaper changed. Oh, and you should give her a bath too. We've all been there. Well, this story is even worse!

Panzer gives the ebook three and half paws up. He didn't like the little tail twist at the end. ('Nuff said about that; you'll have to read the ebook to find out what it is.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Designing Your Book Cover

Panzer and I have been working on a new ebook cover today. We decided we'd put together a cover for a short story we finished last week.

While looking for an image to use, we came across fiction writer S.M. (Sara) Reine's posts. She has three posts explaining how she put the cover together for her YA novel Six Moon Summer.

Her instructions are: Post 1: Concept, Post 2: The Rough Draft, and Post 3: Revisions, Titles, and Printing. She has samples for each post and explains how and why she did each step. As you finish each post, you can click to the next in the series.

I love the cover for this book! You'll find the instructions at S.M. Reine's blog at Designing Your Book Cover.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

What's Your Author Bio Myth?

Okay, you know Panzer and I have been tootling around the blogosphere for the last few days checking into marketing strategies. Today, we cruised over to writer Susan Sipal's blog Harry Potter for Writers.

Nosing around there Panzer found an interesting post. In the post Sipal puts forth the idea of writing your author bio myth and using it in your marketing. The example found in the post is how the story about J.K. Rowling's rags to riches story (as the on the dole mother who made it big writing) has become Rowling's author bio myth. Even though this wasn't strictly true, since she was working as a teacher when she got the book contract as Sipal points out.

I've seen the same kind of author bio myth with a romance author (no names here, so don't even ask)  I went to college with. This author says in her author bio myth that she was a stay at home mom who hadn't finished high school. She was writing her novels on rented equipment when she sold her first book. Another rags to riches story, but not entirely true as we were in college together when she sold that first book.

I have to admit, neither Panzer nor I are very comfortable writing an author bio myth about ourselves. I mean what are we going to say? (Tongue firmly in cheek here!) Panzer was the sixth of eight kittens born in a barn. His mother did her best to raise the kittens alone. His mother was too poor to send him to school. One day, Panzer decided to find a human (me) to write his adventures for him.

See what I mean? It's that myth part we're having a hard time with. What do you think Panzer should include in his myth? We've got to write something. Smashwords and Amazon both want author bios.

You can read Susan Sipal's post at Harry Potter for Writers. Then come on back and give us some ideas.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How Ebook Buyers Discover Books

Panzer and I have been cruising around the blogosphere looking for marketing tips. And guess what? We came across Mark Coker's post today about how ebook buyers discover books. How serendipitous is that?

Mark has posted the results of a survey he conducted at Mobileread about buyers' habits when purchasing an ebook. He gave the respondents 12 choices and then tallied the results.

The top two answers aren't too surprising to me. The first is through recommendations from blogs, forums, etc. What do you see here every Tuesday? What I'm reading to Panzer and he's recommending. The second is looking for the buyers' favorite authors. If you like what an author has written in the past, why would you look for an unknown, untried author?

Read Mark Coker's post How Ebook Buyers Discover Books to help you put together a marketing plan for your ebook sales success. I know I'm going to.

By the way, Panzer wants you to know he can be bribed with a few kitty treats to do a book review for you.

(Just kidding. Just kidding! Remember what we said about why we do book reviews.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dorothy Parker's Ashes' Macabre Dance

Today, attorney Passive Guy is sounding the alarm about the dead authors.

Dead Authors? Watch out! It's the Dead Authors!

No. No. Not zombie authors. Dead Authors.

Dead Authors who didn't make preparations for their demise. As a result of this lack of preparation there are all kinds of problems for their executors. Not the least of the problems is the disposition of the author's remains.

Passive Guy is posting about writer Dorothy Parker's ashes and the long journey to a suitable resting place for them. Hence, the macabre dance (I love that phrase) of this post's title.

Interesting stuff here. Makes you think about getting your own affairs in order.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pie and Cream at Joe Konrath's Place

Joe Konrath is blogging about the often repeated argument by detractors of the indie publishing world that the e-market place is becoming glutted with ebooks. Along with that argument, detractors also say you might as well not even get into the marketplace. There isn't enough pie to go around for everybody so you can't possibly make money ebooks.

I totally agree with Konrath's rebuttal to these arguments. The ebook marketplace can't become glutted, just like the traditional book world marketplace didn't/hasn't become glutted with books.  As long as people keep buying ereaders the market can't become glutted no matter how many ebooks there are. Each new ereader bought is increasing the size of the reading market. It follows that of course you can make money in the marketplace as it expands.

His rebuttal is so obvious to me,  I have a hard time believing he has to even blog about it.

To read Joe Konrath's rebuttal to the detractors' arguments against indie publishing, check out today's A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.

Panzer says Joe has got a lively comment section there, so be sure to read it, too.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Book Reviewer and Writer Needs Our Financial Help

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I don't usually post about serious issues. This is my place to play and have fun with Panzer and you. I like to share information with you about what I'm learning in the indie publishing world.

However, this is going to be a serious post. Book reviewer and writer Kevin Tipple and his family have gotten into a serious financial situation and need help. Kevin has an as yet undiagnosed disease which makes it impossible for him to work. His wife Sandi had a stroke a few weeks ago and now is not able to work either. They are in desperate financial straits. Kevin and his wife both need medications. If they can not raise the money for the rent for their apartment, they (and their two children) will be homeless by the end of the month. Kevin and his family really need financial help.

If you can help Kevin and Sandi, please go to Kevin's book review blog. Kevin has posted additional information about their situation at his blog. There is a Donate button on the left side of the blog. Right now, Kevin is only asking for help with this month's rent, utilities and medications. However, it appears this will be an ongoing issue, so please help as much as you can.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review: The Dragon of Skar

For this week's book review Panzer picked the ebook The Dragon of Skar by Chris Turner for me to read to him.

Boy did we have fun reading this! It had something for both of us. Panzer loved the old time pulp-fiction feel of Conan (yes, that Conan!) and his side-kick Subotai's adventure. I loved Skar the fire-breathing dragon's adventure. After Conan saved Skar, she returned the favor. I keep telling Panzer, dragons know who their friends are. 

And they know who their enemies are. Now Panzer knows why there aren't any gnomes left.

Like all the old time pulp-fiction adventures, this is a fun read. By today's standards I'd give it a G rating. There's a little blood and gore, but no more than you see on the news on television on any night.

Panzer gives the ebook four paws up and a bag of popcorn.

The Dragon of Skar is available at Amazon for the Kindle.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Metadata And The Indie Publisher

Panzer and I have been cruising around the blogosphere looking for information on metadata. Metadata is an important aspect of the presentation of your ebook as an indie publisher.We blogged about it before back in July at Meta-Data What Are They Good For?

Today, we found an interesting post by Carla King about metadata and self-publishing. Metadata is an important part of your marketing plan. King's post includes instructions with illustrations on how to change the metadata in Word documents and audiobooks. She has links to add the metadata to Bowkers, Smashwords and Amazon. Some of the information is not specific to ebooks, but it's good background in case you intend to do a POD book later.

If you're interesting in learning about metadata, visit Carla King's post A Self-Publishers Guide To Metadata For Books.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Operation Paperback

Operation Paperback? I know. I know. Paper - back? Me who's always talking about Kindle ebooks and now I'm talking about paperback books here?

Well, this is why:

Margot Justes at Acme Authors Link is helping Operation Paperback collect paperback books for deployed United States troops and those in Veterans' Administration Medical Centers. If you've ever spent any time in the hospital, you know how boring it can be. There's nothing like a good book to get rid of that boredom for a while.

If you're interested in helping Margot with this project, read her post Operation Paperback.

Panzer is going through the paperback books in the bookcase right now to see what he's got to donate.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Getting Ebooks Into Book Stores Part 2

I've posted about fiction writer Dean Wesley Smith's ideas on how to get ebooks into brick and mortar book stores  before.  It's quite an intriguing idea.

Dean is still working on perfecting his plans for the book cards for the stores. At the World Science Fiction Convention a few weeks ago, he decided to try out his new products. He put together the book cards he designed a couple of months ago and inserted them inside a flat book cover. His sample at the blog looks great. He gave them out at the convention as gift cards.

You can read all about the cards' reception at the convention at The Writings and Opinions of Dean Wesley Smith. Be sure and read the comments section there after you finish Dean's post.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Aaron Patterson's Blog: I am giving away a FREE KINDLE!

Panzer knows how much you like free stuff and, while not everybody will get a free Kindle, you'll have a chance to get one. So, here you go: author Aaron Patterson is giving away a free Kindle. There are only three things you have to do to enter.

To find out how to enter go to Aaron Patterson's Blog: I am giving away a FREE KINDLE!: Who wants to win a FREE KINDLE? No joke... Free.

Since Panzer pointed you to Patterson's contest, if you win the Kindle, Panzer get's to borrow it!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kindlegraph is the Newest Bestseller Among IndiePub Authors

I blogged about Kindlegraph  the new technology that allows an author to provide a fan/purchaser with an autographed salutation/inscription for their ebook. The Kindlegraph went viral when authors like J.A. Konrath signed on. An upgraded version is now available.

If you're interested in reading about the additions to the technology, Emily Hill has an article at Self-Publishing Review, Kindlegraph is the Newest Bestseller Among IndiePub Authors.

Panzer wants to know if you've signed up yet? He likes to collect autographs almost as much as kitty treats, you know.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Bella Andre Guest Post at A Newbie's Guide to Publishing

Ebook author Bella Andre (aka Lucy Kevin)(aka Bella Riley) is guest posting at Joe Konrath's blog.

Bella Andre is posting about her success writing in two sub-genres of the romance genre. As Bella Andre she writes sexy, contemporary romances. And as Lucy Kevin she writes sweet romances. She has had 12 ebooks published in the past 18 months. This diversification has helped her be in the top ten sales rankings at Barnes & Noble. (Yes, you read that right. Barnes & Noble not Amazon.)

I found Bella's post to be interesting. Those of you who have read my scribblings in both paper form (magazines) and e-form (online) know I write in two sub-genres of the mystery genre.

Hmmm ... I didn't think about picking another name to use when writing for one of the sub-genres. Any suggestions?

If you're interested in reading about Bella's writing success, visit A Newbie's Guide to Publishing.

Panzer and I are going to see if we can make up another name. He's pretty adamant about not wanting to change his name, so that just leaves me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Book Review: The Human Addict

This week Panzer had me read the Kindle ebook  The Human Addict: A Dragon's Tale by Scott William Carter.

The whole story is told in the first person from the dragon's point of view. How fun is that? A lot.

The story begins when humans still lived in caves. This was also when unicorns, faeries, elves, dwarfs and dragons lived as well.

The whole problem begins when a dragon develops a taste for humans. And I mean a major taste for humans. A taste as in addicted to humans. The dragon does his best to control his eating habits, but he's already put the world as he knows it into a downward spiral he can't control. You see, a dragon may live for a long time, but humans don't forgive and they never forget.

The end was so sad. Panzer went through a whole box of tissues.

Panzer gives it four paws up.

Monday, September 12, 2011

10 Things Amazon should correct in the Kindle

In addition to being an indie author, Guido Henkel does formatting for other authors. He has identified ten things he'd like to see Amazon fix on the Kindle. He believes these ten fixes would facilitate formatting and the Kindle reading experience. He's looking for our help to convince Amazon to make these corrections.

I have to admit, as a reader I haven't noticed the formatting errors he's referring to. Now, I'm going to have to start paying more attention to letter and line spacing!

Read Guido Henkel's 10 Things Amazon should correct in the Kindle . If you agree with him, follow the instructions at the end of his post.

Who knows, maybe Amazon will listen.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Smashwords: How to Self-Publish an Ebook with Smashwords

Thirty-one authors and publishers tell their tips and tricks for publishing with Smashwords at the official Smashwords blog. These were all written in response to a call on the blog for posts on the authors' and publishers' own sites about their experiences with Smashwords.

I've read nine of the blogposts so far and they have been helpful. I've learned a couple of things I didn't know about formatting for Smashwords.

If you still haven't decided whether or not to use Smashwords, reading  Smashwords: How to Self-Publish an Ebook with Smashwords: 31 ...may provide the help you need to make a decision.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Aaron Patterson's Blog: The Real Me

We're back!

We have and unexpected friend from out of town staying with us this weekend, so Panzer and I didn't post yesterday. Time online will be short until Tuesday.

Aaron Patterson posted his list about how to be real. You can read the list at  Aaron Patterson's Blog: The Real Me:. Good stuff for writers (and everyone else, too) to remember. Print out his list and tape it on the wall over your computer where you'll see it every day.

Our friend from out of town rode here on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. Panzer can't wait to go for a ride. He keeps talking about the wind blowing through his fur. He promises to wear a helmet and chaps ... if he can find ones small enough to fit ... hmmm. Hey, wait a minute .... Panzer come back here!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

When An Author Dies

Passive Guy has a great blog post today that every author should read.

Yeah. Yeah. We're writers. Our words are immortal right? Well, we all need to prepare for the inevitable passing on of our estate and those immortal words.

So, go on over to What Happens When An Author Dies and learn what preparations you need to make.

Leave a comment for Passive Guy and tell him Panzer from Cats and Crime sent you!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Add A Newsletter To Your Blog

Panzer and I have been searching for a way to add a newsletter and its requisite signup form here at the blog o' cats. We'd like to give our visitors the option to receive news about upcoming events, contests and new ebooks.

We've found that Blogspot does offer a newsletter feature, but it doesn't seem to do what we want. We want a newsletter that would be independent of this blog. That way, if someone signs up for the newsletter at Panzer's soon-to-be launched Facebook Fan Page or signs up here, the information is all at a separate location. (There have been two times in the past month when I have had sign in issues with Blogspot and I don't want to lose all my information!)

So, with Panzer riding shotgun we went cruising around the blogosphere. We stopped in at fantasy author Linsay Buroker's E-book Endeavors blog. And ... we found the newsletter setup information we were looking for.

If you are interested in adding a newsletter to your blog, visit Lindsay Buroker's How to Add A Newsletter to Your Blog.

Got any suggestions for a newsletter site? Leave it in the comments sections.

Gotta go. Panzer wants to go cruising again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Review: Butterfly Boots

This week we read Butterfly Boots by Misti Wolanski. We picked a short story this time. We were on vacation for the three-day-weekend and didn't have as much time to read as I'd hoped.

Panzer says this is a cute little ebook.  At 1,000 words it is short. It's not a complicated plot, but it is a fun read anyway.

Kurtah Strongman, a female dwarf,  is walking along minding her own business. She gets into a conversation with a faery sitting on the side of the street. The faery is looking for her lost left boot. Kurtah makes the mistake of trying to help the faery find that lost boot. In the process of looking for the boot we learn about dwarf's, faeries, and magic. I think it's a successful short story considering how short it is.

According to the material at the end of the ebook, this story is meant to be a lead-in for Wolanski's ebook A Fistful of Fire which is the first in a series about the land of Aleyi.

Since it's so short and Panzer wanted more, he only gives it three paws up. Sometimes there's just no way to satisfy that cat!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The Rat On My Shoe or My Life Is A Joke

If you are owned  by a cat (like I am), you will understand this story.

Panzer likes to give me gifts. These gifts are meant to show he acknowledges me as the one providing his food when he demands it, brushing him when he needs it, and petting him when he wants it.

These gifts have included a sock, a ball of string, and a dead cricket. But the gift most prized by Panzer was the the rat he gave me.

Panzer had been outside for about an hour when it started to rain. As soon as I heard the scratching at the back door, I quickly opened it and in sauntered Panzer. I bent to pick up my owner and scold him for staying out in the rain, when ... he dropped a rat on my shoe.

Now, I am relatively brave when it comes to vermin and it was a small rat -- but IT ran across my shoe and up the INSIDE of my pants leg!

I screamed. Panzer ran for the living room. I jumped up and down trying to get it out. Panzer ran into the bedroom. I pulled down my pants and threw them across the kitchen. I got my broom and pushed the pants out onto the back porch.

I found Panzer sitting on my bed cleaning the rain water from his fur. He chose to ignore me while explained to him a rat was not an acceptable gift.

He still brings me gifts but, thankfully, they've all been inanimate since then.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Using Multiple Ebooks To Sell More

On Friday I pointed you to Kristen Lamb's answer to the Secret to Selling More Ebooks  that involved being sticky and having sticky ebooks.  Panzer is still cleaning his fur and not talking to me. (I swear, I did not leave that bottle of honey on the counter on purpose!)

Since having sticky paws doesn't seem to be acceptable in this house, I went looking for another SECRET to selling more ebooks.

How about writing multiple ebooks to increase ebook sales? And writing ebooks in a series?

Fantasy steampunk author Lindsay Buroker makes a good argument  for the Benefits of Publishing Multiple Ebooks.

I agree with her SECRET completely. Her argument makes sense: the more different products you have to sell the more sales you'll make.

So, what do you think?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Book Club Video Visits

Live in Florida and want to visit a book club in Wyoming to talk about your new book without ever leaving your house? There's a way to do that. It's called Skype.

Yup, we've all heard about using Skype for person to person phone calls. But did you ever think about using it for going to a book club to do a presentation? Meg Wolitzer certainly has. According to Reuters she visited nine book clubs and discussed her newest novel "The Uncoupling."

Read Reuters' article about Meg Wolitzer's Virtual Book Club Visits and then start planning your own book club visits.

See you on Skype.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Secret To Selling More Ebooks

Ahhh ... the secret to selling more ebooks. We all want to know the secret. We all need to know the secret. Tell us THE SECRET!

Now, non-fiction author and freelance editor Kristen Lamb explains the secret in Part I of her post The Secret to Selling Books. It involves getting sticky and having sticky ebooks.

Ooohhh! Panzer says there is nothing worse than a cat with sticky paws!

Oh, yeah. Read about the Pants of Shame there, too.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thursday Free Resources for Writers and Readers

Have Panzer and I got some free kitty treats for you this week! So let's get right to it.

1) Writers FM Radio . Listen to podcast interviews with some of your favorite writers 24/7.

2) Booked TV . Watch video podcasts of crime scene experts and authors.

3) Authors on Air . Listen to authors and book reviewers from your favorite genres on Blog Talk Radio.

Panzer says we need more purring and less hissing. So think before you hiss!

Disclaimer: When visiting unfamiliar sites, keep you virus scanner on and your firewall up.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Clarissa Draper: The Future of Publishing: Make Your Own Audiobook...

 Like me, have you been wondering about how to go about turning your ebook into an audiobook?

And are you also like me and hesitant about reading your own work to turn it into an audiobook?

Well, we're not alone.

Author Clarissa Draper has been wondering about making audiobooks, too. And just like you and me, she's hesitant about recording them herself. Her post today (and another to follow later) deal with using text-to-speech programs to accomplish the recording aspect.

She has her recommendations for free text-to-speech programs today at Clarissa Draper: The Future of Publishing: Make Your Own Audiobook...:.

She also begins to discuss hiring an agency to do the recording in this post and will continue in Part 2 later.

So, are you ready to do that audiobook?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review: Where Sheep May Safely Graze

Okay, Panzer picked out this week's ebook, so of course we have cats!

Where Sheep May Safely Graze by Roger Parkinson is a collection of fourteen short stories and poems.

The short story Cat Flap had Panzer going, "I told you so!"

Admission had him giggling, "All CATS do go to heaven!"

And, finally, Missing Sura had him sniffling, "That is so sad!"

There are plenty more stories in here for all tastes: slice of life, mystery, or love.

Truthfully, the ebook (Kindle version) could have used one more edit. But ... we enjoyed the stories and poems enough that, while the typos and font changes were a little annoying, they weren't bad enough to make us stop reading.

Panzer gives the ebook four paws up (with one tissue).

Monday, August 29, 2011

Microsoft Reader Discontinued

According to the Microsoft Reader  site, Microsoft is discontinuing the Reader .lit application effective August 30, 2012. They have no plans for an alternative application for the Reader.

What does this mean for you the indie author/publisher?

Well, ... if you were providing your ebook in the .lit format, it means fewer purchasers.

If you weren't using the .lit format, it doesn't mean anything to you.

I think Microsoft realized the Microsoft Reader never really made any significant inroads into the ereader market ... and ... it's a smart move on their part to pull the plug and take the Reader off life support.

So, what's your opinion?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Summer Ebook Sales Slump? Now What?

When would be the best time to publish your new ebook?

Summer when everybody has all that free time to read? Well, if that's what you think, you would be wrong. Ebook sales go into a slump during the Summer.


It's Summer. Vacation time. Time to catch up on reading.  You know, all those ebooks your prospective  readers already bought.

Hmmm. What's a writer to do?

Indie author Jason Matthews' blog has a post Indie Authors Sell Fewer Ebooks in Summer to help with alternatives to be ready when sales pick up this Fall.

Fall is almost here. What are you doing to be ready?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

SM Reine: Marketing Ideas for Indies part 2: Adding Your Boo...

I've been looking around for marketing ideas for our soon to be available ebook short story collection.

A search at the Writer's Knowledge Base for "ebook marketing" lead me to fantasy author S.M. Reine's blog. Reine has a great post explaining how to put your ebook cover up at Blogspot (here) for marketing and increased Google search optimization. The results of my efforts using Reine's instructions are at the top of the right-hand sidebar.

You'll find the instructions at SM Reine: Marketing Ideas for Indies part 2: Adding Your Boo...:

This looks like a great way to let readers know the ebook is coming and after it's available to give a direct link to the e-store. Remember: sales is all about marketing.

Now, I just need to get that cover finished. Suggestions?

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Table of Contents in the digital age

As you probably already know, when Amazon gives the 20 percent free sample read of your ebook to potential buyers, that 20 percent comes from the beginning of your ebook.

And what's at the front of your ebook? Your cover, your title page, your legal statement about the copyright, and your table of contents (TOC). All that stuff eats up a lot of the free 20 percent reading experience.

What can you do to give your reader and potential buyer an opportunity to see your writing, instead of all that other stuff?

Guido Henkel has the answer to that question at The Table of Contents in the digital age. It's to  put the TOC at the back of the ebook.

It's an interesting idea.  Given the increased potential for engaging the reader's interest without the TOC's length interfering, it's worth trying out.

What do you think?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Aaron Patterson's Blog: Guest Post by CJ Lyons: Jack be Kindle, Jack be No...

Bestselling author CJ Lyons posts at Aaron Patterson's blog about how she went from National Bestseller to Amazon Bestseller.

This is not a rant against the Big 6. This is not a rant against traditional publishing. Instead it's about a straight-forward road to bestsellerdom using the momentum from one ebook to the next to the next. CJ recommends having 5-6 ebooks on your sales shelf.

To find out how to get the momentum rolling on your own bestseller ride read Aaron Patterson's Blog: Guest Post by CJ Lyons: Jack be Kindle, Jack be No...: Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you have seen the name CJ Lyons in the eBook and publishing new feeds all over the internet. She ...


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Free Resources for Writers and Readers

On Sunday I posted about my investigation of Distribution to iTunes for a podcast of one of the stories from Panzer's ebook.

As Panzer and I continued our search for information on what others were doing with podcasts, we found three free podcast sites for your enjoyment.

1) The Creative Penn. There are over 100 free podcasts at Joanna Penn's respository. Here you'll find interviews with such writers as Zoe Winters, LJ Sellers, Scott Nicholson, and many more.

2) Free Library of Philadelphia. Here you'll find podcasts for Joyce Carol Oates, Cokie Roberts, Garrison Keillor and others who have participated in author events at the library.

3) Fluctu8 Podcasts. Here you'll find music, audiobooks, arts, cooking, just pick your subject.


Disclaimer (you know the drill): whenever visiting unknown sites, read the instructions carefully, have your virus scanner on, and your firewall up.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Book Review: Completing the Cycle

In case you haven't noticed, Panzer and my reading habits aren't always inside the mystery genre. Sometimes we just read something because we like the title or the cover or the description or just because of how the planets are aligned that day.

Today's review of Completing the Cycle by Mike Lewis is a return to Panzer and my mystery roots (sort of). This is a science fiction short story set in 2172. The planetary explorers are trying to solve the mystery of what happened to the whole Cataran civilization. (No it's not what you think. That's the same thing I thought, but there are no cats in this ebook.)

The plot is laid out in parallel stories. One is the explorers' story and the other is the Catarans' story and then the two dovetail together at the end. The story is strongly reminiscent of The Martian Chronicles, but has enough twists and turns to stand on its own as a good mystery.

While there are no cats, dragons or unicorns in this ebook, Panzer gives it four paws up for the handling of the mystery plotline and today's planetary alignment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Your Facebook Fan Page

Okay, I keep hearing the popular wisdom that to be a successful indie writer you need to have a Facebook page to connect with your readers.

Well, I admit it. I don't have a Facebook page. From what I hear from my friends, I think it's a huge time suck.

But ... I've just heard about the Facebook Fan Page. I understand it's easier to set up, doesn't need as much upkeep as a personal page, and from what I've seen it's fun.

Indie fantasy author Lindsay Buroker has a great beginner's level post for Creating a Facebook Fan Page for Authors . After you read her post, go check out her Fan Page. It's nice, simple and clean. I think it looks great. Just what a fan would like. (Hint. Hint.)

Writer's Digest contributing editor Jane Friedman has a slightly different opinion on the Fan Page at 3 Principles for Facebook Fan Pages . Ms. Friedman doesn't believe a writer should have a Fan Page until you have fans looking for you.

Uhmmm. Looks kind of like which came first the chicken (Fan Page)  or the egg (fan) to me. It seems like this would be an excellent way to get fans by including the Fan Page contact information at the end of a Kindle ebook.

I have to admit, I like the idea of the Fan Page. What do you think?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Distribution to iTunes

I've been doing a feasibility study of creating a podcast of one of the short stories from my ebook collection. I want to giveaway the podcast to use as a marketing tool for the launch of the collection.

I've been looking into using distribution to iTunes of the podcast as part of the marketing.

If you're interested in looking into using iTunes for distribution, Carsten Cumbrowski's  The Ultimate Guide to Podcasting is an excellent starting point. This really is an ultimate guide. He covers the software you'll need, the professional quality requirements you'll need to meet, and links to other material you don't even know you need to read. He includes just about everything you'll need.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why I Do Book Reviews

After reading an article about people being paid for doing online five-star ebook reviews, one of my e-friends asked me if I get paid for the book reviews I do here.

The answer is a big NO.

I do not get paid for the book reviews. Nor do I get free copies from the authors or publishers to do the reviews here.

The reviews here are strictly for ebooks I have read for my own personal enjoyment. If I start an ebook and realize I'm not going to enjoy it, I don't finish it. Reading it would be a waste of my time. And that's why you don't see any bad reviews here. If I don't like it, I don't read it. So, I can't write a bad review if I didn't finish reading it! It's as simple as that.

Now ... back to brushing Panzer. This weather has him shedding all over the furniture. There's nothing worse than a fur ball in your shoe. (Well, except maybe a rat in your shoe ... but that's another story for My Life Is A Joke.)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Use Smashwords For Your Ebook Distribution - Part 2

Earlier this month we discussed science fiction writer J.A. Marlow's post about using Smashwords for your ebook distribution. (If you missed it, read my post and Marlow's at your ebook distribution channel.)

Now Marlow has posted part 2 of his look at how to use Smashwords for your ebook distribution.  Marlow addresses more of the most common reasons authors give for not wanting to use Smashwords as a distribution channel for their ebooks.

Read part 2 of Marlow's look at using Smashwords for ebook distribution.

No more excuses.  Upload that ebook to Smashwords!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Free Kindle Ebook Download Site

There was no Wednesday Resource post yesterday so we could let you know about the new Kindle Indie Store.

Today Panzer has a free Kindle ebook download site.

1) Pauper's Book Club. This site collects information from the Amazon site, puts the covers on a bookshelf (at a nice readable size) and gives a good description of each book. The books are arranged by category and then sub-category. When accessing each category and sub-category, you have to remember to click the Free button on the top left side. When you click the Amazon purchase button, you'll be taken to the Amazon store. Yes, you will need an account at Amazon to purchase the book.

The other free sites links we've discussed here can be found at last week's Wednesday Resources post.


Disclaimer: remember, whenever visiting unknown sites, read the instructions carefully, have your virus scanner on and your firewall up.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kindle Indie Bookstore

Have you heard about the new Kindle Indie Bookstore?

Today's post at the Writer's Guide to ePublishing is about Amazon's newest endeavor. Amazon isn't letting authors submit their own ebooks for the new bookstore yet. They're deciding which ebooks are listed in the new store based on sales rankings and reader tastes.

If you're an indie author or publisher, you'll definitely want to read the post and check out the new Kindle Indie Bookstore.  


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Book Review: The Dragon Of The Dolomites

It must be Tuesday. Panzer and I are doing our weekly book review.

This week we read The Dragon of the Dolomites by Scott William Carter. This ebook includes one short story and a chapter from the author's novel Drawing a Dark Way. I'm sorry to say, there are no cats included in this ebook.

This is the story of Fanzini an aspiring portrait painter. Looking for work, Fanzini goes to the king's castle. The king sends Fanzini to paint the portrait of the local dragon. Fanzini does more than paint his portrait though. A lot more.

Poor dragon. You know how much I love dragons. And Fanzini is not very nice to him.  In fact he's really mean to him! That's all I'm going to say about it. You'll have to read the ebook to find out more.

I'd rate this a YA novel. Panzer gives it four paws up, but then he doesn't love firebreathing dragons like I do.

This ebook is available from Amazon for Kindle.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Do You Need Ebook Formatting Or Conversion?

Do you know the difference between ebook formatting and ebook conversion?

I've posted here about ebook formatting and converting. Most recently I've given you a link to do the formatting and converting yourself for Kindle at Word To Mobi = Amazon Kindle.  I've also given you a link to a free converter when I posted about Selling Ebooks From Your Site Or Blog.  So, yes, you do know the difference, because you used those link (and the others I've posted here) to do your own formatting and converting.

However, it appears not everybody reads my blog and knows you can do formatting and converting yourself ... and with free software.

April Hamilton did a guest post The difference between ebook conversion and ebook formatting (at Taleist) for those who don't know the difference. She says they even pay other people to do it for them.

Read April's post and see what you think.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Your Perfect Ebook Cover

What's the first thing an ebook buyer sees? Your cover. That makes your cover the number one draw to get that buyer interested in your ebook.

Clarissa Draper has posted a series at her blog to help you put together a dynamite cover. She has sections on background colors, background pictures, fonts, layout and the series covers.

Read the Ebook Cover Series at Clarissa's blog. The series is broken into sections. Click on the sections and learn how to put together your cover.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Using Goodreads For Ebook Marketing

Have you checked out Goodreads yet? Do you have an Author's Page  there? Is it linked to your blog?

Uhmm, why not?

Goodreads is a great place to start your marketing and begin building your fanbase. You can let readers know about your ebook even before you publish it.

First you'll want to learn about Goodreads, so you don't inadvertently alienate your readers. Indie writer Karen Johnson has a post Why Use Goodreads?  at the Indie Book Collective blog.

Read Karen's post, then head over to Goodreads and get started on that Author's Page.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Word To Mobi = Amazon Kindle

Fantasy writer Joseph Robert Lewis has a great blog for writer's and readers. You'll want to bookmark it for sure.

In the writer's section he has a super simple tutorial at his blog for anybody who wants to get an ebook up at Amazon.

Don't let the tutorial title scare you off. It's called Bare Bones Guide How To Turn A Word File Into A Mobi/PRC File For Amazon Kindle In 10 Easy Steps. But the most important word in the title is Easy. It really is laid out in 10 easy steps and you'll be ready to upload.

Go over to Joe's Blog  and get that ebook ready for Amazon. You've go no excuse now.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Use Smashwords For Your Ebook Distribution

Smashwords is one of those Love 'Em or Hate 'Em ebook distribution sites.

Smashwords gives ebook writers the ability to upload their ebook for distribution to Nook, Kobo ... and, yes, even Kindle (directly from Smashwords' own site through a mobi download). One upload, chomp, chomp by Meatgrinder, pass into the Premium Catalog, and out into the ereader world. (Okay, pun intended. Hehe.)

Or ...

It's too hard to prepare the ebook for upload. Meatgrinder -- yeah, right: chomp, chomp spit out an unreadable ebook. It's too hard to get into the Premium Catalog. It takes too long to get my money.

Like I said, Love 'Em or Hate 'Em.

Science fiction writer J. A. Marlow posted Part 1 of his two part post on why ebook authors need to use the Smashwords Distribution Channel . He addresses the most common writer arguments against using Smashwords for distribution.

Part 1 gives you some things to think about and he promises Part 2 will follow.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2 More Places To Get Free Ebooks

It's time for the Wednesday Free Resources. Today I've got 2 More Places To Get Free Ebooks.

1. Inkmesh This is a site that lists free ebooks available at Amazon, B&N, Sony, Kobo, Baen Books, and Smashwords. You don't need to register to use this site, but you need to be registered with the respective e-store site to download the ebooks. I used the site and found you need to read carefully before you download. Although, the ebook may be free at one e-store, you might have to pay at another.

2. Hooks Progress Free Ebooks. Here you'll find audio books, author sites where they're giving away their work, sites giving away single ebooks, and organizations such as Project Gutenberg. I used this site to download a pdf ebook and didn't need to register.

My previous free ebook posts can be found at Five Places To Get Free Ebooks  and  Two Places To Get Free Ebooks .

If you know of any other free ebook sites, post it to the comments section.

Disclaimer: remember, whenever visiting unknown sites, read the instructions carefully, have your virus scanner on and your firewall up.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Book Review: Horror and Crap: 11 Short Works

It's Tuesday again. That means it's time to tell you what I've been reading this week.

This is another ebook I let Panzer pick out for me to read to him.

For some reason he's been picking out short story collections lately. This week it's Horror and Crap: 11 Short Works by Joshua Scribner. The ebook is comprised of eleven (no surprise there) previously published short stories.

There are gremblins, cheating husbands, magic, cats and -- ta da -- cat crap. You read that right: cat crap. I am not making this up. One of the stories is called, Cat Crap and Cologne. I'm not saying another word about it, except there are no cats mentioned in this story.

Panzer's favorite story in the collection was, Feeling It. It's a flash story about two cats and two dogs and is so purr-fectly cats.  You'll discover why cats really, really don't like water.

Horror -- Smorror. Panzer was on his back on the floor laughing so hard, it had to be a four paws up ebook.

This book is available from Amazon for the Kindle.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tracking Your Sales And Where They Come From

I missed this post a couple of days ago, when Dean Wesley Smith posted about ebook sales at his blog.

Smith delves into the issue of ebook sales to the different ereaders: Nook, Kobo, Diesel, etc. Yes, there are more ereaders out there than the Kindle. You are limiting your sales potential by not seeking out these other formats.

Smith also addresses using Smashwords to get distribution of your ebooks into the other eretailers besides Amazon. If you invest the time to format your ebook to get it accepted into Smashwords Premium Catalog,  it will be available to the other eretailers.

Increase your ebook sales with increased distribution using Dean Wesley Smith's tips.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lee Goldberg's CreateSpace Bestseller?

Those of you looking for self-publishing success at CreateSpace need to read Lee Goldberg's blog. (Lee writes Monk and other tie-in novels, as well as stand-alones.)

This is a real eye opener from Lee's  A Writer's Life  blog on what it takes to be CreateSpace's #4 fiction bestseller, which he is right now.

It's enough to make a writer cry. I couldn't even buy kitty treats on this money!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Selling Ebooks from Your Site or Blog

Want to be your own ebook publisher? Ready to set up your own bookstore? Looking to sell your ebooks and keep all the money for yourself?

It'll take some work on your part to get it all set up. You'll need to publish your own ebooks. You'll need a Merchant's Paypal account for your sales.  You'll also need an online file storage site for your ebooks, if you don't already have one with your website or, if you're using your blog. Sounds like more trouble than it's worth, huh?

Well, I've got two sites to walk you through the set up step-by-step for all these processes.

The first is a free converter site called Zamzar. You can upload your document and pick the format you want it converted to. They offer mobi, prc, pdf, epub, and more conversions. You'll get an email when it's ready for you.

The second is  Parlez Moi Blog: Tutorial: Selling eBooks Directly from Your Site o... which instructs you in the steps to setup your website or blog so you can sell your ebook directly. This includes an illustrated step-by-step tutorial. You'll find everything here for your storefront set up.

Panzer would appreciate a kitty treat or two for finding these two sites for you.


Friday, August 5, 2011

Kristine Kathryn Rusch - The Business Rusch: Deal Breakers Continued

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a follow-up blog post to last week's Deal Breakers for Contracts post.

Her post is divided into two sections.

The first section deals with hiring an I(ntellectual) P(roperty) Attorney. It covers how to go about it and includes links to other blog posts to help you get started with the process. I admit, like Rusch, I'm a little baffled by people who are afraid of attorneys. I've used one twice and I wouldn't have made it through the process without his help.

The second section is the actual follow-up to last week's post on contract negotiations. This section points you toward her Freelancer's Survival Guide I mentioned in yesterday's Free Resources  list here. (It really is a great ebook for writers.)

So get yourself a cup of tea (or coffee) and read The Business Rusch: Deal Breakers Continued

It's a long post and you'll need that cup of tea. But it's well worth the read. It includes a lot of valuable information on how to negotiate your next publishing contract so you get what you want and don't lose any rights you shouldn't.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Free Resources For Writers and Readers

I'm posting the Wednesday Free Writer's (and Reader's) Resources today.  Our schedule got mixed up when Panzer had to go to the kitty doctor yesterday. Nothing wrong. Just his annual exam and vaccinations, but that rabies shot always makes him so cranky!  He's feeling much better today.

So, without further explanation here are your resources:

1)  Freelancer's Survival Guide  by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. This ebook has 70 different sections, including advertising, motivation, agents, and everything else you need to know to join the writing life. This is such a great resource. You can read the free ebook copy online section by section or get the whole guide. Or you can purchase your own copy.

2) Free Story Spinner  by Bonnie Neubauer. This free writer's tool is the greatest little story starter. Click the spinner and it will give you a setting, the starting phrase for the story, and four words you must include in the story. You can use the free version on the site page, or purchase your own copy.

3) Free New Monthly Ebook   from the University of Chicago. Each month the U of Chicago features one new free ebook readers can download.

4) Free Mystery Podcasts  from Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Free podcasts of mystery short stories which have appeared in EQMM.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

She Kills People or My Life Is A Joke

 My mother always loved to work in the outdoors. She had spent ten years working as a volunteer at the local park. She did everything from weeding and mowing to planting and watering. The park even gave her a pin with her name on it.

But after ten years she decided to retire from her volunteer position. I wasn't surprised when the park's Board of Directors wanted to have a retirement party.  My mother asked me to attend with her.

Arriving, we discovered my mother would be seated at the front table with the Board of Directors.  I found an empty seat at one of the small tables with three other guests already seated at it.
"I'm Josie's daughter," I said.

The women seated on either side of me moved hastily to the table next to us.

I looked at the remaining woman seated across the table from me. She gave me a tentative smile.

"You don't look like a killer," the woman whispered.

"A what?" I squeaked.

 "Your mother told us her daughter kills people," the woman whispered.

My mother was the sweetest woman you'd ever meet. But  - you knew there was going to be a but didn't you? - she had the wickedest sense of humor.

I'm still not sure if I convinced that poor woman that I only kill people on paper.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Kindlegraph Account For Authors and Readers

Okay, you uploaded your ebook to Amazon or Smashwords. You've sold a few copies.

And now ...  you're wishing you could autograph your ebook just like a real book.

Guess what?

You can! You can send a personalized inscription/note and your signature to your readers. All you need to do is set up an account at Kinglegraph. Then, you can offer your readers this personalized service.

Go to Kindlegraph  to watch a screencast about the service.

Note: You must have a Twitter account to set up a Kindlegraph account.

A tip of the fedora to Marian Allen for pointing Panzer to this service.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Kristine Kathryn Rusch Free Fiction Monday: Destiny

It's Free Fiction Monday at Kristine Kathryn Rusch's blog today.  Today's story is titled Destiny.

Guess what?

It's got a Fey shapeshifter named Solanda who's a cat. The cat lives with a five-year-old girl named Esmerelda who is in need of a little cat magick.

Find the story at Free Fiction Monday: Destiny and see what a cat can really do when she puts her mind to it.

It's rated G. It's free. And best of all: Panzer gives this one four paws up.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

J.A. Konrath Joins Benefit For L.A Banks

Author L.A. Banks is in urgent need of everyone's help. She has been diagnosed with cancer. Her insurance is inadequate to cover her medical expenses. We all need to pull together on this one and help her out.

J.A. Konrath is helping with the benefit to raise funds for Leslie Banks at this critical time. The last thing Leslie needs to worry about now is how to pay her medical bills. 

Go to A Newbie's Guide to Publishing to see how you can help.

Panzer is counting on your help on this.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Seven Elements That Can Make or Break Your Website

There are people who swear a writer needs a website. I admit I used to have one, but it's been two or three years since I took it down. It just seemed too stagnant to me.

Over at Marketing Tips for Authors it's a given that you must have a website as part of your marketing plan. Shaila Abdullah posted the  Seven Elements That Can Make or Break Your Site By Shaila Abdullah  which are worth checking out if you do plan to have a website. Abdulla gives seven elements for success and, then, gives her list of don'ts. 

I'm not sure if I could follow her rules for what not to include on the website. I mean no photos from Panzer's annual family reunion?

What do you think.?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cats and Crime?

Have you ever wondered where the Cats and Crime name of this blog came from? Cats seem to have an affinity for mystery and crime. And I seem to have an affinity for cats, especially Panzer and his friends.

Panzer has had several opportunities to help his friend Lori Stockley get out of trouble. Panzer lets me chronicle his adventures for him. You see, he has no thumbs to hold a pen. (Shhhh ... he doesn't know he's a cat.)

Today, Panzer has a little gift for you. You can read The Case of the Kamikaze Cat by Fiona L. Woods  in the Long Story Short archives. It first appeared in the Nov. 2005 edition of the ezine Crime and Suspense and was reprinted by Long Story Short earlier this year.

This is one of Panzer's favorite stories about how he helped Lori.

Let Panzer know what you think.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kristine Kathryn Rusch - The Business Rusch: Deal Breakers

Oops! Yesterday's book review for Black Silk should have included: Panzer gives this ebook a PG 18 rating.

Now on to today's post.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch will be a featured speaker at the Novelists, Inc. conference in October. In preparation for her presentation she has put together a post on her opinion of how to negotiate a contract.

Rusch lists several points to consider when negotiating your contract. She uses examples from her own experience to discuss and illustrate the points. As with all of her The Business Rusch posts this should be required reading for writers in today's changing publishing world.

Read The Business Rusch: Deal Breakers before you negotiate your next publishing contract.

Be sure to read the Comments section, too.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Review: Black Silk

I just finished reading Black Silk a paranormal romance ebook by Jan Gordon.

Used book store owner Vic (Victoria) Hudson lives with her black cat Mister. The two have lived happily in her deceased parents home ... until now. A mysterious man named Cole (Steven Colburn) has entered their lives and turned everything upside down. At first Mister is not too happy with Cole. They have a little talk and come to an understanding.

We are dealing with a paranormal romance here, so you know what Cole is, right? (Hint: Can you say shapeshifter werepanther?)

Okay, no more spoilers here. You'll need to read the ebook to find out what happens.

Panzer gives it four paws up.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dean Wesley Smith Recommends Zoe Winters

Dean Wesley Smith's post today is about the 99 cent price point for novel length ebooks. If you've spent any time reading Smith's blog, you know he's been on a writing challenge this year to write short stories. Each time he finishes a short story he puts it up at Amazon for 99 cents. These are short story length, not novel length ebooks.

Smith's blog post is in reference to Zoe Winters' post at her blog about 99 cent novel length ebooks. (If you don't know who Zoe Winters is, read my review of Kept and then get a copy of the story at her blog.)

If you're looking for the proper price point for you ebooks, these two posts  give you some good information. Be sure to read the comment section at Smith's blog after you read Winters' blog. (The comments make more sense that way.)

What's your opinion on this issue?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Vincent Zandri: So What Are You: Indy or Anal?

This is so not what you think it is!

Vincent Zandri is posting about whether he plans/outlines his novels or just goes for it.

Personally, I cheat. I write the end first, then go back and write a beginning that gets me there. The trip is so much easier, if you already know where you're going.

Just read So What Are You: Indy or Anal? and you'll see where Zandri puts himself.

Now ... where do you put yourself?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lawrence Block Reads John Locke

Lawrence Block is one of my favorite mystery authors of all time. I've read every Matthew Scudder novel and Barney is my favorite burglar. Telling Lies ... should be required reading for every mystery writer.

I'm in awe of John Locke and his entry into the Kindle Million Club.

So ... when I heard Lawrence Block posted to his blog about reading John Locke's How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, I had to go read it.

Turns out Block has used parts of the book as a road map for getting into blogging and twitter. He's got some interesting things to say about Locke and his book and marketing techniques.

If you're a fan of either (or both) of these writers, you'll want to read Lawrence Block's blog.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

4 Free Public Domain Photo Sites

Here are four sites to search for photos (and clipart) for your ebook covers or your blog.

1. Photoshop Support . Here you'll find a large list of stock photo sites. Some charge a fee but, if you read the descriptions below the list, you'll find some sites are royalty free (but read all copyright information).

2. . A small site, but the photos are excellent and free. Scroll down until you see the photos and it says Public Domain Photos.

3. PD . This site has hundreds of free and public domain photos. Search the Category Column on the right.

4. WP Clipart.  Not a public domain photo site, this is a free clipart site. (The thumbnails don't do the clipart justice. Click on the thumbnail to see what the clipart really looks like.)

To test these sites, I've downloaded from each. They were easy and simple to use.

If you've used any other photo download sites, post them in the Comment section below.

Usual disclaimer: When going to unfamiliar sites, keep your virus scanner on and firewall up.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

2 Places To Get Free Ebooks

Usually on Tuesday I do a book review about what I'm reading now. Instead, this Tuesday I decided to give you a little gift.

Earlier this month I posted here about 5 Places To Get Free Ebooks . I've found two more places to pick up free ebooks.

1. Lynn Viehl's Paperback Writer Freebies . Lynn Viehl has made several of her short stories, novellas and novels available as free PDF downloads. No registration required.

2. Free Kindle Promotional Titles . This is Amazon's own free download site. (You do need to pay attention to the list price. Some of the ebooks go off free download promotion and it takes a while before they are removed from this site. So read before you hit the Download button. You have been warned!)

If you know of any other free download site(s), please post them in the comment section below for others to enjoy!

You know the usual disclaimer: When going to unfamiliar sites, keep the virus scanner on and the firewall up.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Free Fiction Monday: Going Native

An extra post today for those of you looking for a free read.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has another free story up at her blog today. This one is an sf story about teleportation named Going Native.

Unfortunately, no cats!

It's 99 cents at all the local estores, but you get it for free at Free Fiction Monday: Going Native .


Is Indie Publishing Dead? Bestseller Scott Nicholson Weighs in on the Possibility

Today at Vincent Zandri's blog, Scott Nicholson posts about the changes he sees coming to the world of indie publishing.

Recently, I've been thinking along the same lines as Nicholson. For quite a while now indie writers have been blogging about how to attract ebook buyers. We talked about the best covers, the best price points, and what worked for us. We've done it so much that agents have taken notice. They've started moving over into indie publishing territory.

Guess what?

How much longer do you think it will be before the Big 6 follow suit? Once they do,  it won't be indie publishing as we know it anymore.

Read Is Indie Publishing Dead? Bestseller Scott Nicholson Weighs in on the Possibility and see what we're looking at in the not too distant future.

Are you ready?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another Nail in Traditional Publishing's Coffin?

Joe Konrath is giving his take (again) on the future of publishing, print and ebooks, and bookstores.

Bookstores are liquidating in bankruptcy. Amazon has lowered Kindle's price. Ebook sales are going up and print book sales are going down. Need I say more?

Read what Joe has to say to enlighten you today at A Newbie's Guide to Publishing .

Do you agree or disagree?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ebook Formatting with Kindle Tutorials

You've revised and revised and revised. Your critique group has read it. And ... you've revised and revised and revised. Finally. Your novel is finished.

What now? Now it's time to get your novel ready to upload to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

We covered how to do this once before, but I've found another site with step by step tutorials just for you. It's called CJs Easy As Pie Kindle Tutorials.

Each step in the process of getting your novel into Kindle ebook format has its own tutorial. Need to know how to do a table of contents (TOC)? There's a tutorial for that. Need to know how to set up a template? There's a tutorial for that. There are tutorials for everything. The whole process is simple because it's divided into easy to follow steps.

If you don't already have Mobipocket Creator, you'll have to download  it. You'll be using Mobipocket Creator for your finished ebook before you upload it.

Once you have Mobipocket Creator installed, you're ready for CJ's tutorials.   You'll want to click on the birds' photo to get started.

Let Panzer know if these tutorials work for you.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Using Gimp for Ebook Covers

In my seemingly neverending quest for an image manipulation program to do my ebook covers, I'm now learning to use Gimp.

Gimp has the ability to do layers which is a must do for me. I want to be able to combine images, one on top of the other. It also allows for cutting and snipping part of the image.

Gimp has some nice text manipulations too. It can do blurring and smearing of your text. Both of these features are useful for doing spooky title layouts.

Best of all this is a freeware program. 

Give Gimp a try and let me know how it works for you.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Smashwords Acquires 50,000 New ISBNs

Yesterday, I posted about the steps you need to follow if you're going to be your own publishing company and do a paper book. One of the things I mentioned to do was secure an ISBN for your book.

Smashwords' post today Smashwords Acquires 50,000 New ISBNs explains in detail about ISBNs. Smashwords has also just purchased 50,000 ISBNs to give to the authors who use their distribution services.

Just one more reason to go the ebook route, don't you think?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Future of Publishing: An Insider's Scoop

Vincent Zandri is back from Thrillerfest with his predictions for the future of the publishing world. If his crystal ball is working, it looks like interesting times for ebooks.

You'll want to read his predictions at  The Future of Publishing: An Insider's Scoop.

What do you think?  A kiosk on every corner?

5 Copyright, ISBN and CIP Resources

So, you've decided you want to publish your own D(ead) T(ree) Books. I mean, paper books not ebooks.

Yes, you're going to sell them through Amazon, but you want to be the publisher of record. You're planning to start your own publishing company to do this. There are a few rules you'll need to follow before you start to market your book(s).

Here are five resources to help you get started before and during the process of getting your book(s) to the Amazon store.

1. U.S. Copyright Office has all the rules and regulations for registering a copyright. Remember, before you can pursue a copyright infringement you must have a registered copyright.

2. U.S. ISBN Agency is the official site to purchase ISBNs for your books. (When you see the cost of ISBNs, you'll be doing more than one book.)

3. Electronic CIP: Cataloging in Publication Program is the Library of Congress's  pre-publication program allowing publishers to electronically submit their material for catalogueing for libraries.

4. Copyright  Page Samples You Can Copy and Paste Into Your Book.

5. Copyright Symbol Webpage. Scroll down the page for keyboard instructions to place your own copyright symbol on your work.

Uhmmm. Have you changed your mind and decided to go the ebook route, now?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Review: Kept

Here's Tuesday's Book Review.

Kept is an ebook novella by Zoe Winters.

The book has a vampire, a sorcerer, and a human, but best of all the heroine is a werecat.  Greta is a very special werecat: a shapeshifter who was born as a cat not as a human. Now that really is special in the werecat world.

Simon the leader of the werecat tribe is after Greta for her special power. Dayne the sorcerer is willing to protect her for his use of her special power. Throw in a full moon, a vampire, and, oh, yeah, a little romance and there you have Kept.

Panzer has been trying to convince me all week that he's a shapeshifter who just hasn't perfected turning into a human yet.

Panzer gives the ebook four paws up.

Disclaimer: just so you know, this ebook does have some scenes which may not pass your PG-18 rating.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Official Google Blog: The first Google eBooks-integrated e-reader: iriver Story HD

Google is joining the ereader market with the iriver E-reader. According to the Google Blog, it'll cost about the same as a Kindle. Their new e-reader will be available at Target this weekend.

Here's your chance to take a look at a rendition of it at the Official Google Blog: The first Google eBooks-integrated e-reader: iriver Story HD

So, what do you think? Ready to trade in your Kindle?

A tip of the fedora to PG at The Passive Voice.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

5 Places to Get Free Ebooks

 As I've mentioned here before, I've had my Kindle since my birthday last year. Now, my friends who have joined the e-revolution are asking me where they can get free ebooks to learn how to use theirs.

How about you? Did you get a new ereader and need something to read on it? Or, are you just looking for a little cheap fun for the one you got for Christmas?

No matter what kind of ereader you have (Kindle, Nook, etc.), there's a place to get free ebooks for it. To get you started here are five places to download free ebooks. Yes, you will have to open an account at most of these, but that's the only price you have to pay.

1) Kindle Nation Daily for Kindle downloads only. Lists Amazon's free ebooks and new ones are added daily.

2) Bibliotastic  is a relatively new site, so it doesn't have a wide a selection. New ebooks are added periodically.

3) Free Online Novels  has a changing selection of novels. When you go to the front page, use the column on the righthand side to pick the genre you want to search.

4) Free has several different membership levels. The standard level is free and allows you to download 5 free novels in Adobe Reader format. There is a charge for Mobi or Epub formats.

5) Free Ebook Downloads  is one of Smashwords free sites. There is no charge to download an ebook in any format.

Disclaimer: remember, whenever visiting unknown sites, read the instructions carefully, have your virus scanner on and your firewall up.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Where Does Amazon Get Your Ebook Sales Rank?

Have you ever wondered how Amazon computes your sales ranking each month?

Like me, you probably thought your ranking was based on your ebook sales for the month. According to YA author Claire Chilton it is, kinda sorta; well almost in a way.


You need to read Claire's post Amazon Sales Rank and SEO Black Magic.

Does her post give you second thoughts about that big marketing push you were planning to start next month? Can you sustain your marketing push long enough to keep your ranking or will that ranking fall like a stone the following month?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Meta-data… what are they good for?

Simply stated, meta-data are the information about your ebook. It tells your ebook's cover to appear as a thumbnail. It allows your ebook's buyer to sort by author, etc. on his/her ereader. It also tells the buyer your genre, ISBN, publication date, etc. Most important of all it must be inside your ebook.  

Author Guido Henkel blogged about his take on the purpose of the meta-data for your ebook at Meta-data… what are they good for?   

If you're interested in how to change meta-data using Calibre (You do know about Calibre, right?), watch the  video tutorial How to Edit Ebook Metadata in Calibre .

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lightning Source Books No Longer “In Stock” at Amazon

What is Amazon up to now? Just, when we start to think the tiger has settled down, something else gets bitten.

For those of you who use Lightening Source for your D(ead)T(ree) books at Amazon, you're going to want to read this: Lightning Source Books No Longer “In Stock” at Amazon

40+ Free Tools for Authors

I meant to post this yesterday for the Wednesday Writer Resources. I found this great post over at Self-Publishing Review. These 40 free tools for writers are meant to increase your writing output, help with your ebook preparation, and increase your web presence. It's a handy collection all in one spot.

Save yourself some time and money and checkout  40+ Free Tools for Authors


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dean Wesley Smith's Book Production Time

Dean Wesley Smith is blogging about the production process for his ebooks and POD books.

Smith gives an actual breakdown of the time it took him to do a collection of short stories.

When reading this post, be sure to read the comments section, too. Smith includes some additional information when he's answering comment questions.

So, if you're worried about how much time it will take you to get that ebook out to your readers, go to Dean Wesley Smith.

Let Panzer know if this helps you!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

SUNDAY BLOG in BED: The Eye of the Reader

 Vincent Zandri's Sunday blog was about the importance of good covers for your branding. Zandri discusses how authors can use their covers to help readers click that Buy Me button.

Branding is important to authors. I write in three different genres. Using my name Fiona L. Woods, I write cats involved in crime mysteries. Hence this blog: Cats and Crime. The covers for my ebooks in this series have cats on them. These are part of my branding plan. I have other branding programs for my other two genres.

Zandri uses John Locke as one of his examples. Locke uses a woman's legs on his covers as his ebook branding. That way, whenever a reader sees a cover with those legs on it, he or she knows it's a John Locke ebook.

Read Vincent Zandri's  SUNDAY BLOG in BED: The Eye of the Reader  to help you with your own ebook branding.

Book Review: Mean Little Kitty and Waiting Room at the Hero League

Okay, I let Panzer pick today's ebook for review, so don't blame me!

This is a small ebook by Kater Cheek that contains two short stories (and the first chapter from the author's new novel). Both short stories are full of kitty humor. If you're a cat owner, you'll identify with the characters immediately. If you're not a cat owner, you'll still find them humorous; but you'll wonder why in the world we love our cats!

The first story, Mean Little Kitty, revolves around a mother's love for her son and the lengths to which she will go to protect him from that mean little kitty named Spot.

The second story, Waiting Room At the Hero League, delves into the depths to which a man (or Tabby Girl) will sink when he's/she's looking for a job

The ebook is available from Amazon for the Kindle. Panzer gives it ten paws up.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

How to format for Smashwords

Yesterday, we looked at formatting an ebook (primarily) for Kindle.  Some writers have complained that formatting for Smashwords using their Smashwords specific formatting manual is too confusing. So, today, we're going to format an ebook for Smashwords.

Author Louise Wise has written  her own formatting instructions at her blog Wise Words. Personally, I find her instructions much easier to understand and follow than the Snashwords manual because she has excellent illustrations for each step.

If you've been hesitant to get your ebook uploaded to Smashwords, you don't have any more excuses. Go on over to Wise Words: How to format for Smashwords?: and get that ebook in shape. Time and money (yours) are wasting!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Secret of Successful E-book Formatting

Nick Daws had U.K. freelancer David Robinson as a guest blogger recently. David Robinson has written two books on formatting an ebook: E-book Formatting and Publishing on the Kindle and E-book Formatting and Publishing on Smashwords.

Robinson's blog post covers using MS Word to prepare your ebook to upload to the Kindle Store and to Smashwords. It's important to have your ebook in perfect shape before you upload it to make sure you'll pass the vetting process. Not passing vetting can add extra time to how long it will take to get your ebook into your readers' hands.

If you need help getting that ebook into shape read David Robinson's post at  Nick's Writing Blog: The Secret of Successful E-book Formatting.

Friday, July 1, 2011

"But, but, Officer, I'm a writer ... ." or My Life Is A Joke

Working furiously at my computer, I was well into the last third of my police Det. Matt Stockley's newest mystery. I'd been at it for three hours and I was in the zone. That mad rush to get to the end. Characters whispering in my ear. No stopping me now.

And the phone rang. I didn't answer.  It rang again when whoever it was called back.

I picked up the phone. "I can't talk right now. He's got a gun. I have to find out what he's going to do with it." I hung up and went back to writing down the whispers in my ear.

Five minutes later, I heard banging on my front door.  Throwing my hands up, I went to answer the door. I opened it to two policeman on the front porch.

"Is there a problem here?" one of the officers asked, looking past me into the living room.

"Uh, um, no," I stammered. "What's wrong?"

"We got a called from a woman who said she was your mother and you were being held captive by an armed man," the office rested his hand on his gun.

Oh, no, it was my mother on the phone. I shook my head. "Come in and I'll explain everything, officers."

Nobody understands a writer's world.

© 2011 Fiona L. Woods

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Best Search Engine for Writers

Novelist Elizabeth Spann Craig has put together a search engine just for writers. Called the Writer's Knowledge Base, it lives up to it's name.

The WKB is simple to use. You key in a word or short phrase and it searches through it's collection of blog posts. It then presents you with a list of pertinent materials. For example, I keyed in "publish" and it presented me with over 1,500 matches.

Use it once and I think you'll want to bookmark the Writer's Knowledge Base  for future searches.

Let Panzer know what you think of the WKB.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Three Resources for Marketing Your Ebook

Last Wednesday I posted a list of my favorite crime and research blogs. Today I'm posting three of my favorite ebook marketing resource blogs.

1) Book Pumper , features Promotional Tactics for the Indie Revolution.

2) The Savvy Book Marketer, by the Book Marketing Maven.

3) Book Marketing Strategies and Tips for Authors. (You will need to subscribe here to take advantage of the videos, but it's free to subscribe.)


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: The Poop Thief

It's time for another book review for your reading pleasure.

Portia Meadows runs a pet store called "Enchantment Park." This isn't your average pet store. These are very special pets for very special people. Who would have thought poop would be that special?

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a great little story called The Poop Thief up at her blog. Kristine is selling this ebook at Amazon (and all the usual e-stores) for 99 cents, but you get to read it for free. At Kristine's blog, scroll down to Free Fiction Monday  and read all about poop.

Oh, and Panzer gives it a ten out of ten.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Prepare Before You Die

Panzer and I were talking today about the passing of his friend Raistlin (Eben). The last few weeks have not been good for the literary scene.

We've lost Lilian Jackson Braun, of cat mystery fame; Robert Kroetsch, the Canadian author; Newton Thornburg, author of Cutter and Bone; and Martin H. Greenberg, anthology editor at Tekno Books.

Like everyone else, I think we tend to avoid thinking about death. Perhaps that's one of the reasons we began writing: to make ourselves immortal through the written word. But as writers we have an obligations to our readers and cyber-friends to prepare for our death.

Here are five things you should do immediately:

1) Make a list of all of your passwords. If you're like me, your computer is passworded and your writing files are passworded. Then there's your blog, Twitter, Facebook,etc.

2) Now your spouse or designated friend can post your death to your blog, etc., as Raistlin's friend did. That way you won't just disappear from cyberspace. This same spouse or friend can leave your blog up for several days to allow your readers to post their comments. Then leave instructions if you want your blog removed.

2) Add to your password list, your passwords for your Amazon account, Smashwords account, Goodreads account, etc.  so your spouse or designated friend can close these accounts, too.

3) Leave instructions for how to access your submissions program/spreadsheet/agent's contact information so your manuscripts can be withdrawn from consideration until your estate is settled.

4) You should have a list of all your sold manuscripts, the rights sold, and the copyright dates. You will need this information for the executor of your literary estate (whether this is your agent, your attorney, spouse or designated friend).

5) And finally, don't forget to leave instruction about what to do with your journals, diaries and personal papers. Do you want them given to your university,  completed or just destroyed?

This list is by no means complete. Depending on your genre, you may need to add or delete things from your own list. But, do make a list and follow up by doing the things on the list to make it easier for your spouse or friend to notify your readers and friends, and to make sure your last wishes are known and followed.