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