Why XinXii for Foreign Publication?

I had a good question in Comments about last week's post on XinXii, the European digital publishing platform.

Indie author Beth Orsoff, author of Romantically Challenged, asked: "One question for you (if you know the answer), for those self-publishing through Amazon, doesn't Amazon already sell our books internationally in English?"

I fielded the question in my Blog's Comments, but then I went straight to Dr. Andrea Schober, CEO of XinXii, and posed the question to her.

My Answer: XinXii vs. Amazon

XinXii is part of an established German publishing company. They know how to connect with European readers looking for English language publications, perhaps better than Amazon. If an author has a profile page on XinXii, it's disseminated worldwide whereas on Amazon, if an author wants a profile page elsewhere, i. e., Amazon UK, a new author page has to be set up on the UK system, and then you must customize it as you did for U. S. Amazon page.

Dr. Schober's Answer

"Of course, Amazon is a giant that entered the self-publishing market recently."

In Germany and in Europe, "Amazon's role for eBooks and/or indie authors is still small, particularly because (with the exception of Amazon UK), they haven't started selling the kindle e-reader in Europe until now.

"Also, Amazon offers an English-spoken platform with US$ and British Pounds only. XinXii is open to readers and selling authors with other currencies.

"Besides your arguments (which are correct), some of the other reasons to choose XinXii for your European book sales are:

• usability and ease-of-use – you don't have to install a program to publish on XinXii

• publishing in real-time – immediately after its upload, your eBook is available on XinXii.com (you don't have to wait 24 hours or longer)

• ability to modify, change or update any entry in real-time – again it's immediate, no long wait for the new version to be available

• every author has his or her own profile page, and it's disseminated worldwide

• fair and clear revenue model – our shares don't vary by country or territory

• authors get paid via PayPal in the currency of his or her choice

• XinXii is absolutely free – no hidden costs like Delivery Fees or List Price Requirements

• direct and personal support via Email – We care about our users."

XinXii Authors Speak

Starting next week, I'll be introducing you to some XinXii authors, such as:

Philip Anthony, author of the #8 thriller on XinXii, Desert Heat

Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick, author of The Search for the Origins of a Soul

Linda Mooney, author of the romance The Battle Lord’s Lady (Book 1 of the Battle Lord Saga)

Cynthia Wicklund, author of the regency historical romance In the Garden of Temptation.

Takeaway Truth

Since I finally got my first ebook Just One Look uploaded to Kindle, I'm now uploading it to XinXii and other digital publishing platforms.

Tired Writers Need Humor

I'm really tired this morning. Been punching the keys too long and too hard. When you add in waiting for Kindle to make my corrected book upload live, along with everything else in my life, you get a writer on the edge.

That's why, when I opened my email and read the one from my friend Frank, I laughed like a toddler with a balloon. Now I feel so much better.

So, Readers, in case you'd also benefit from the therapeutic effect of a good belly laugh, here's my prescription for you. Take as many jokes as needed. No side effects listed. Oh, I altered some of these so they're just for writers.

Laughter, The Best Medicine

1. Possessing a computer and the ability to type doesn't make you a writer any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

2. A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

3. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list.

4. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public. Or not.

5. F*** OFF is not a proper response to a book reviewer. (If you've been following that Internet feeding frenzy, you know to what I reference.)

6. How is it one careless writer can start a flame war, but it takes the rest of the Internet to turn it into a feeding frenzy that could teach sharks a thing or two?

7. Dolphins are so smart that within a few weeks of captivity, they can train people to stand on the very edge of the pool and throw them fish.

8. There are a lot of people who want to be writers, but it turns out that they just want to have written. (That's when they discover how hard it is. Maybe they should be called wroters.)

9. I didn't say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.

10. Behind every successful man is his woman. Behind the fall of a successful man is usually another woman.

11. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

12. The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas! (And, thus, best-selling authors are born.)

13. When tempted to fight fire with fire, especially in an online flame war, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water to put out fires.

14. You're never too old to learn something stupid. Or to do something stupid.

15. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target. (That way you can always say you hit your writing goals.)

16. There's a fine line between cuddling and holding someone down so they can't get away.

Takeaway Truth

Learn to take life with a grain of salt -- and a slice of lime and a shot of tequila.

Kindle Report: Is New Version Automatic

If you've followed my blog, you know about the my efforts to correct the errors I found in  Just One Look my first ebook.

Tonight, March 28, I uploaded a clean copy. I also emailed Kindle Support to see if they automatically notify purchasers that an updated copy of the book is available. It should be live by Wednesday at the latest so wait until then to buy please.

I don't know how Amazon works the publication of updates. I sometimes receive emails from Amazon telling me to reply with YES if I want to download a corrected copy. Anyone out there know if this is completely automated or does the writer have to notify someone to do this?

So if you bought my book and got the first release version, let me know, and I'll figure out how you get the updated clean copy. When I get the info from Kindle Support, I'll post it here so we'll all know in the future.

Takeaway Truth

Another learning experience. Yippee!

Kindle Publish Report #3: 6 Tips

I survived the weekend which included a hail storm in the Hill Country and the trauma of an ebook with a few typos.

Fortunately, I found there weren't as many typos as I'd imagined in my first ebook Just One Look. Unfortunately, I wasn't at home with the computer containing the HTML file that I learned needed corrected.

Now, I am at home and am almost ready to upload a corrected HTML file to my Kindle Bookshelf, and thereby hangs a tale.

6 Kindle Publishing Insights

1. Make sure your manuscript file is accurate before you convert to HTML. If possible, proof it then set it aside for a couple of days then proof again. Better still is to get a different set of eyes to read it.

My friend Cynthia Wicklund, an ebook veteran with 4 titles published on Kindle, told me to relax, that even though perfectionism is the goal, it's usually not achievable. She reminded me of something I already knew: you'll find occasional typos in all books -- print published and ebooks whether published by the author or by a publisher.

When you're working with an HTML file, it's hard to see errors on the screen wide lines of code. That's why it's necessary to get the text file perfect before converting to HTML.

2. You use your Bookshelf webpage to manage your Kindle published ebooks. When you publish on the Kindle Digital Publishing (KDP)platform, you get assigned a Bookshelf webpage, and that's where you go to manage the ebook you publish. That's also where you go to view Sales Reports.

3. When you make any change to your book, you must Upload again. Whether you change the Product Description, the pricing, or upload a new HTML file version, you must click Save and Continue and then Upload for those changes to take place.

4. Whenever you click Upload, it will probably take as long as the initial upload for your changed book or description to show up: 24 hours to several days. It looks to me as if the more people using Kindle DTP, the longer the time it takes for a book to go live.

5. When you are waiting for changes to be live you cannot access the Edit Function. The Edit button is grayed out. You cannot access Edit until the book is live again.

6. Your book will continue to be sold even though you can't access the Edit Function on your Bookshelf for that particular book.

Tune In Tomorrow

I'll post more on XinXii, the European Digital Publishing Platform for English readers.

Takeaway Truth

With digital publishing platforms, patience is indeed a virtue.

Murphy's Law Applies to Ebooks

Sheesh! This sucks. My book is finally live, and Harl is making a list of all the typos! Egads! Me? Typos? Yep, it's true. (Harl, I promise I'll buy your ebook too -- even if it's a treatise on the most obscure subject possible!)

This post is about connecting the technological dots. Let me explain. I sometimes have carpal tunnel problems and right wrist to shoulder pain from the mouse. When this happens, like when I do a lot of typing which is every day, I have to switch to a different keyboard and give up the mouse.


So last week I was using a wireless keyboard with a built-in trackball mouse. This is the keyboard I dropped on a ceramic tile floor several months ago. Something broke off inside it. I started to throw it away, but I didn't. When in pain, I pulled it out of the closet and took it apart, removed a piece of broken plastic, put it back together, and it worked fine. Or so I thought.

Friday, as I was doing email I noticed that letters were being "dropped." I was constantly having to backspace and hit the key again and again! It was different letters too, as if the wireless just wasn't communicating properly with the computer.

Exasperated, I switched out that wireless keyboard for my Microsoft wave keyboard. I never, ever, thought: "Hey, Joan, this dropping letter situation was probably happening when you were editing your ebook."

Connect The Dots, Joan

Dense? Duh. In my defense, I was operating on 90 minutes of sleep due to my husband's emergency. Now, I'm cringing with embarrassment and wanting desperately to be home (I'm at the Hill Country house.) so I can get to the computer that's got the book file. I understand it's easy to make corrections to ebooks by uploading a new version.

Oh, well, life goes on. I need to quit obsessing and get over it. I'm headed out to the porch to enjoy morning coffee with my husband and our guests. The back porch, a field of wildflowers, country air, and a good cup of java will cure most any kind of embarrassment.

If nothing else, maybe my experience will be helpful to someone else. After all, isn't that one of the reasons I blog? To help others avoid my dumb mistakes?

Takeaway Truth

Ah, life. It's all a learning experience -- especially when technology is involved.

Kindle Publishing Report #2

It's alive! It's alive! No, not Frankenstein's monster, but my first ebook Just One Look.

Sometime between midnight, when I turned off my laptop, and 9AM, my ebook went live. Now, it's available on Amazon in all its beauty. Okay, well, I'm getting a bit carried away. Just to make me stay tethered to the ground, I start looking through the Kindle version and immediately spot a typo!

Sheesh! At least it's not on the first page, but I'm sure it's not the only one. As Harl Delos, one of my wonderful Followers (thanks, Harl, for buying my book), pointed out: "You said you had updated it, and yet I hardly started reading until there was a reference to a Lotus spreadsheet."

Writers Like Self-Flagellation

Just as I was beating myself up about not changing Lotus to Excel, my husband who had been reading over my shoulder, said: "Actually, a lot of corporations still use Lotus. They drag their feet on changing over from the tried-and-true." (He went on to say he hated Lotus (He's an Excel guy.).

So, I was safe on that, but not from the aspect of a doctor using Lotus as Harl pointed out later. I'm anxious to go through page by page and make sure there aren't any other goofs and typos. I tried to do this but found the review function on Amazon Digital Text Publishing just wasn't very good.

However, Harl has turned into my reader and is catching the glitches. Unfortunately, I'm not at home where the file resides on my computer so I can't make corrections for several days.

Take Note

I think what Harl had to say is important to repeat here because it's what is fueling ebook sales: "I'm not a fan of the romance genre, but since I don't have to find room on a bookshelf, since I don't have to buy another bookshelf, since I don't have to build on a room to have more space for bookshelves, and since it was only 99c, I bought your book because of my interest in you as a blogger."

Caught Between Rock and Yada Yada

I'm almost afraid for anyone to buy it until I've been through and vetted every page. One thing I learned is that the preview mode for Amazon is like dial up 20 years ago and very erratic. I tried to preview it but couldn't get it to do every page. There's got to be an easier way to do this.

I think for my next ebooks, I'm going to trade off manuscript proofing duties with friends. If I could just find someone to trade HTML proofing, I'd have it made. Trying to read an HTML converted manuscript is a challenge for the eyesight and the brain.

So if you buy my book and find errors and typos, rest assured that I'll make corrections when I get back to home-base and reload.

Takeaway Truth

I'm excited and anxious about this adventure. In other words, it's the usual state of being for a writer with a book out.

Kindle Publishing Progress Report #1

The waiting has begun. I uploaded Just One Look, my first ebook, to the Kindle Digital Publishing Platform Thursday night.

This funny, sexy romantic comedy was originally a print-published book. In fact, it's been printed in hardcover, softcover, and large print. Now, it's an ebook, and I'm happy and excited about that.

I gave it a cover far superior to any of the covers the print publishers slapped on this chick lit story. In fact, the hardcover design was just about the ugliest book cover I'd ever seen.

I spent several days editing and updating the text. A lot of authors ebooking their backlist don't bother to make any changes in the manuscript, but life is vastly different now than it was 10 years ago. We have technology that is woven into the fabric of our daily lives, and I think contemporary fiction should reflect that technology.

So I spent more time than I probably needed to in getting the book to be contemporary again. That's one of the things I love about ebooking: the freedom to make it be the best book possible. The day of the upload, I spent the entire day going through it again -- proofing, editing, proofing, converting, proofing HTML copy -- over and over ad nauseum.

Perfectionism Sucks

Previewed, tweaked, uploaded again. Repeated this process 4 times until I was satisfied that the HTML formatting was as perfect as I could make it. Uploaded the final, edited HTML file about 10pm and received the immediate response that it would take 24 hours to a few days for my book to appear live.

Next Step

So did I turn off the monitor and go about my business? Heck no! I sat there clicking the darn refresh button like a trained monkey hitting a lever that delivers food. Somehow, I just refused to accept that it would take a day or more for my ebook to go "live."

Changes Already

I already know I want to change some of the editorial copy. I forgot Joe Konrath's advice: in the first line of the Product Description say it's a special low price. Darn! How could I forget that teaser? I'll just blame my lapses for what I am calling The 14-hour-HTML-Migraine Blues because that's what C & U day (convert and upload) amounted to and I ended the day with a killer headache.

Follow Up

I'd planned to follow up the Kindle upload with uploads to PubIt, XinXii, and Smashwords to catch all the other digital readers, but my DH called from LAX to say he'd broken a tooth and was coming home on the red-eye.

Did I go to bed like a sane woman? Heck no! I stayed up and did all the domestic drudgery I'd put off during a week of writing, proofing, and editing since I was finishing up the prequel to my trilogy The Good, The Bad, and The Girl, in addition to getting Just One Look ready for upload.

By the time my tired, pain-racked husband arrived at 3am, I had finished the laundry, cleaned the kitchen, tidied the house, and transferred all the income tax crap to the kitchen table so that it looked as if I'd actually worked on it during the week instead of ignoring it.

Oh, and every hour I went to the computer to check the status of my ebook. Guess what? It's now more than 24 hours later, and my ebook still isn't live! However, it does show a product number now. That's progress, albeit of the slow kind. Stay tuned for another progress report

Takeaway Truth

A watched pot never boils, and a watched ebook never goes live.

Discover XinXii: Sell eBooks Worldwide

Have you ever wished you could sell your books to a European audience? If so, read on because I have some great news for you.

A few weeks ago, Dr. Andrea Schober, CEO of XinXii, contacted me about her company which is a European version of a digital self-publishing platform. That's right, it's kind of like a German Kindle or Nook program, but, of course, isn't connected to either of those I mention for illustrative purposes only.

Three Years Strong

XinXii, a service offered by the Berlin-based publishing house GD-Verlag, went live in January 2008. To date they have made more than 10,000 files available for download from thousands of sellers. Financial Times Germany lauded them for enabling authors to upload all kinds of digital text content: short works, documents, and e-books, and to make it possible to sell those works online.

Now, XinXii is the leading digital self-publishing platform in Europe. They've been so successful that they started looking at the market for foreign language books in Europe. From their analysis, they decided to expand internationally and make their digital publishing platform available worldwide to authors of English, French and Spanish works.

Directly From CEO

Dr. Schober said, "This step is a logical result of the outstanding response in Germany. Our goal is to become an international leader as a do-it-yourself platform for the digital publication and online sale of authors' own writings. The launch of the international version is the first significant step."

How XinXii Works

All features are fully available in all three languages. This allows authors to upload their work to the platform, whether one page of text or a book, then to assign it to the appropriate category, to provide information such as the title, description, author's profile, and sales price, and to make the texts available for buyers' immediate download.

I asked a few questions that would be of special interest to Americans. Dr. Schober assured me that Americans would not ever be asked for their tax ID number (Social Security number), only their name and address.

Each author chooses the currency in which he wants to manage his XinXii account (that means the currency in which sales prices are settled and transactions of revenues are made). So if he selects USD, he will be paid by XinXii in USD (without conversion)."

Dr. Schober assured me that: "In connection with the internationalization, purchases can now be made in British pounds and US dollars, in addition to euros. Just like in the German version, users who speak English, French or Spanish benefit from the automated ordering and payment system and the fact that XinXii handles the customer support and does it extremely well."

Important Details

At the bottom of the main page are links to information each author should read from Terms of Service to FAQ and more. Don't skip this step. Read and educate yourself. Most of the "fine print" is what you'd expect. The work must be yours. No copyright infringement. You provide the all the information, price it the way you want, and there's no contract commitment or fees to pay.

Each time a buyer downloads a text, the author receives a commission of 70% or 40% of the actual sales price. (Read the fine print. The royalty structure is similar to the familiar Kindle ebook pricing and royalty.)

There's no limit to the type of texts that can be published: instruction manuals, checklists, templates, scientific publications, essays, scripts, dissertations and studies, fiction, nonfiction, etc. After a purchase is concluded, buyers download and read the writings immediately in their user area.

Each author has his or her own shop. Every publishing company has its own business channel without having to install its own hardware or have specialized technical skills. Using XinXii is easy for selling and buying.

If you'd like the opportunity, to upload, publish and sell your written work online, easily via a user-friendly platform, and without costs and obligations, then go to the XinXii and click for the language version interface of your choice.

Tax Situation

By the way, in case you haven't traveled in Europe, you may not be aware of VAT, Value Added Tax, which is applied to purchases. This 19% tax must be collected from the sale of each ebook so you need to keep that in mind when pricing your ebooks because it significantly adds to the cost the purchaser must pay.

I suggested to Dr Schober that they put an explanation page up for Americans who don't deal with VAT on a daily basis, and she told me she would have that done in the coming weeks.

The good news is that XinXii takes care of all accounting and monies. They collect the VAT and pay it to the German VAT tax office then they credit the authors account with the applicable percentage of the net price as provision/royalty.

In researching this report, I've gathered statistics from current English ebooks on XinXii and interviewed some American authors who are already selling their English language ebooks internationally. I'll be following up today's post with more information so check back next week for more about the XinXii opportunity.

Takeaway Truth

Digital publishing is opening up the world of readers to writers with vision. Embrace this new world of writing and publishing.

The Barry Eisler Decision

If you're not a reader or writer, perhaps you don't know about the Barry Eisler Decision. I capitalize the phrase because it's akin to a historical event, like a major battle in a war.

You can read about the Barry Eisler Decision for all the details, but, succinctly, Mr. Eisler turned down a $500,000.00 advance from print publishing for his next book. Why? Because he has decided to self-publish his next book.


Since this happened and has been reported all over the Internet, I've heard a lot of authors say that Barry Eisler is just a mid-list author as if they agree that the decision might be right for him. The inference being that an A-List, best-selling author would never consider it. You'll probably be reading a lot of blogs about this.

Personally, I wasn't aware that mid-list authors received half a million dollar advances. Who knew? (Hey, where's my half mil?)


I suspect Mr. Eisler did the math, based on his recent self-publication of a short story which stands to make in excess of $30,000.00 if it continues selling at its current brisk pace. I believe that it will. I think he'll make much more than $30K, and that's just a short story! I don't know of any market where he could make that many bucks for a piece of short fiction.

It's certainly easy to see that with a novel, never before published, this popular author will make far more by doing it himself than he would have made with traditional publishing. The added benefit is that he controls the entire process.

Takeaway Truth

I have seen the future, or at least a glimpse of it. If you're following the self-publishing revolution, you're seeing it too.

(Also published on Joan Slings Words, my other blog.)

Keep Personal Files Private

I guess you can file this under "as if we don't have enough to worry about" because the only other category is WTF!

I just read in Kim Komando's newsletter about a man who had "personal" pictures of his wife on his computer, and they were "stolen" and posted online at adult sites. This makes every woman shudder at the thought whether she's been foolhardy enough to pose for pictures like this or not.

Read what measures to take if this happens as well as how to prevent it from happening.

I've always advised: "Never publish anything online that you wouldn't want to see on the front page of your local newspaper."

Takeaway Truth

I guess you can tack onto that advice: "Never let a picture of you be stored on any computer unless you'd enjoy seeing it on the front page of your local newspaper."

Marketing for Indie Authors: Covers

I have a couple of good friends who are attempting to carve their respective niches out of the ebook market, as am I.

One of these friends is Cynthia Wicklund. Cindy and I have been kicking around ideas and brainstorming for a long time now. During the last six months, most of our conversations revolve around ebooks: what's selling and why.

We're both a work in progress as ebook indie authors, but Cindy is a step ahead of me because she's already got 4 ebooks up for sale.

We agree that all the successful indie authors are correct in saying there are certain elements that lead to ebook sales success. Fortunately, all of these are within the control of the author, unlike traditional publishing in which the author had control over only 1 aspect: the writing itself.

This is my list:

1. The Cover

2. The Product Description

3. The Sample Pages

4. The Writing

The Cover: Title and Artwork

Let's talk about what is needed to create the "perfect" cover.

It's hard to separate the title from the artwork because both serve the purpose of representing what your story is all about.

Creating a title is about choosing the right words to describe your book.

Creating the image is about choosing the right images that describe your book.

By describe your work, I mean:

• show the book's genre

• show the tone or style of the book within that genre

• evoke emotion and curiosity

• compel the reader to check out the Product Description

Ignored Cover Element

One aspect of the cover that a lot of writers don't pay any attention to are the fonts used on the cover. Most writers don't choose these with care; they just use whatever Windows fonts are available to them. The right font can do as much to convey image as the right piece of art.

My friend Cindy is working on her latest book for publication. The title is Thief of Souls. Originally, she had a cover that made you immediately associate it with Meyer's Twilight books. Since it's a much darker, more sexual book, that cover wouldn't work.

We brainstormed ideas, with my daughter the artist offering advice. Cindy changed the cover. Now, it has an erotically-charged image of a man and woman with subtle flames bordering the image. Stunning.

What "made" the new cover a winner was the font she used. My daughter had told her to go to dafont.com and search for fonts with specific keywords in mind. Cindy found one that makes the title now look distorted, broken, edgy. It totally made the cover.

Be Picky

Some writers spend a lot of time coming up with the perfect title, but then they pick generic art for the cover image. Freelance artists are now offering low-cost generic covers where all you have to do is insert the title and the author name. Adopting either of these practices almost guarantees that you won't have stellar sales.

It's simply not enough to have a cover that looks hot or cool or amazing (choose your own adjective). As I said above, the cover must accomplish these four:

• show the book's genre

• show the tone or style of the book within that genre

• evoke emotion and curiosity

• compel the reader to check out the Product Description

I'll continue this discussion next week. Join me then!

Want your own Kindle? Just click here.

Takeaway Truth

Prepare your ebook cover with care, paying close attention to all the elements. No detail is too small to ignore.

3 PC Components To Clean

Have you seen that gross report that's going around the Internet about E. Coli found on computers, cell phones, and other popular electronics? Yuk.

And I thought crumbs in the keyboard were bad! That's a cleanliness crime I'm guilty of because I find myself eating lunch in front of the computer, and I bet I'm not the only out there who does this.

Periodically, I clean my keyboard, the monitor screen, and the mouse. This is an easy undertaking, and one everyone should do regularly. In fact, I'm marking my calendar to do it every week from now one.

3 Computer Components To Clean

1. The keyboard. Don't let your keyboard be a health risk. Turn your keyboard (or your laptop) upside down and gently shake it to loosen crumbs and other debris. Use cotton swabs dipped in alcohol (not dripping with the disinfectant, but damp) and use them to get out something that might be lodged. Then take a disinfectant wipe and run it over the surfaces.

2. The monitor. There are special cleansers for monitors that you can pick up in any office supply store or the office section of a big-box store. Just follow the directions. I have a cleaning wand for monitors that looks like a padded squeegy. I just run it over the monitor to remove dust and finger prints. For anything tougher, use the special cleaning spray.

3. The mouse. If yours has a roller ball, it usually lets you know it needs cleaning because the ball gets "stuck" sometimes. Just put alcohol on a cotton ball and clean the rubber ball of the mouse. Then use a disinfectant wipe to clean the whole surface. If you have an optical or infrared mouse, you just need to clean the surfaces.

Takeaway Truth

Keeping your computer equipment germ-free is easy, and you'll feel better knowing it's not a germ factory.

Characters Becoming Real

I'm thrilled to post the cover for my soon to be released ebook, Old Enough To Know Better.Actually, this isn't the one I'd planned to publish first as an indie author, and here's my story.

For the last two months, I've been having so much fun that it's insane! What have I been doing? Writing. Writing with excitement and passion, and I owe it all to my decision to become an indie author.

I'm finishing up what will now be my first ebook. I'd already written one for epublishing, but I got this bright idea to write a "prequel" to my trilogy The Good, The Bad, and The Girly. Why? It's either because I'm crazy, or I was having so much fun with the characters that I couldn't bear to end it.

If you're not a writer, you may think that is a crazy statement to make. However, if you're a writer then you know exactly what I mean.

Quoting Myself

As I was creating this cast of characters for the trilogy (gee, guess with a prequel that would be a quartet?), I came across something I wrote for Written Wisdom a couple of years ago. It was all about accepting yourself and your decisions that created the life you live.

Ironically, what I wrote two years ago is exactly the theme of Old Enough To Know Better, my prequel to The Good, The Bad, and The Girly Trilogy.

What I Wrote That Day

Florida Scott-Maxwell in The Measure of My Days, 1968, wrote: "You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality."

My Thoughts

Not only are you fierce with reality, but once you own your actions, your past and your present, you are then in a position to be self-actualizing. That's when you can create real change in yourself and your life. Claim the events of your life – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and you begin living honestly.

If you haven't been able to achieve what you wanted in the past, maybe it's time to look at your past and acknowledge the decisions you made that have led you to where you are - and who you are. Then look at the present and see what you can do differently to make the changes you want. We can always do more, be more, because we can become more.

I ended my post with this statement: "We should always be like an unfinished novel - a work in progress that grows richer and more complex with experience and the passage of time."

Takeaway Truth

Acceptance. Change. Growth. That's what people must do in real life, and that's what fictional characters must do by the end of a story.

Watch My Friend's TV Show!

Last night I received an email from Tom Townsend, an old friend. Normally, I hear from Tom and his wife Janet during the holidays, but he had some exciting news to share.

Not only does he have a new book out, a middle reader from Royal Fireworks Press called Evil Toy Tanks, but he also has a TV show.

Swashbuckling Tom Townsend

Tom's one of my favorite people, and he's had an astonishing and adventurous life. He's the only guy I know who was a merc at the same time he was writing Harlequin romances under a pseudonym. (Buy him a Scotch, and he'll tell you his tales.)

His Army background served him well in the writing of Panzer Spirit and Reichbahn 69, books ahead of their time since they had a paranormal element to them.

Tom loves military vehicles and finally had to turn it into a business to support his habit. He eventually started renting his equipment, and his services as a stunt driver, to movie production companies. He's worked with Courage Under Fire, Universal Soldier: The Return, Harold and Kumar II, and Miracle at St. Anne just to name a few. The Deuce and a Half shown above was in Miracle at St. Anne.

Consequently, Tom has inspired a lot of indie producers who, over the years, tried to put together a military type documentary show featuring him and his company Toyland Combat Vehicles. (Yes, they're just toys to him.)

Finally, one of the producers got Tom a show Military Motor Pool, an Internet TV show from Hulu, into production. The show is all about military vehicles, preserving history, and honoring veterans.

Military Motor Pool

Tom's show began airing on HuLu’s new Military Network February 17th, and, within the first 24 hours, it became the network’s most viewed program.

The 30 minute program is written, produced and hosted by Tom in conjunction with David Franklin, CEO of Webshark Productions of Houston.

Tom said: "When we preserve the vehicles of past wars, we are in truth honoring those men and women who had the courage to ride them into harm’s way.

The first episode, which I just finished watching -- and it totally hooked me--includes segments on identifying World War II jeeps, the history and collectability of the British Ferret armored car, and military vehicles used in the Ceremonial Air Force’s Wings Over Houston Air show. I'm so impressed with the show and with my "movie star" friend.

Long Time Coming

You probably already know that HuLu is a unique and highly successful internet TV network which airs many major network programs in addition to a growing list of original programming. The newly created Military Network is HuLu’s equivalent to cable TV’s Military Channel.

David Franklin, who directed the show, teamed with Tom and Jan Townsend’s Texas-based company Toyland Combat Vehicles over 5 years ago to produce the pilot episode.

Franklin said: "HuLu did not even exist then, and we submitted Military Motor Pool to The History Channel and other similar cable/satellite TV networks. Although they were impressed with both with our content and production values, we could not break the Hollywood `good ol’ boys network. It was not until HuLu came on line and opened up a new market for independent producers, that we were able to sell the program."

Help The Show

The fate of the show is all a matter of viewership and ratings. If ratings remain as high as they are now, Tom expects to produce another three episodes by the end of the year.

Want to view an episode? Here's the link for Military Motor Pool. Watch it and tell all your friends to watch also. Please?

Takeaway Truth

If you want to know about military vehicles, military history, and hear some great stories, watch Military Motor Pool and read Tom Townsend's books.

Sharing Link Love

Today, I want to share with you some excellent blogs that you may not be reading.

Writer's Guide 2Epublishing is a great site for those interested in publishing ebooks. They have interviews with successful ebook authors as well as how-to articles and great resource links.

The Jesus Story is published by Jenna Pelias. This is probably the only religious-based blog that I read regularly since having discovered it when she became one of my followers. Jenna has a gift for writing beautiful explanations of aspects of Christianity, and she does it without condemning others of different beliefs. Her writing is doctrinally correct and elegant.

Dean Wesley Smith is a must read if you want to be an Indie author, especially his New World of Publishing, and Think Like a Publisher post.

SHarper Blog by Stephen Harper who is trying to build a blog audience as well as an audience for his ebooks. He's creating a contest for writers that's different. I think you'll like it, and I know you'll like his prize: a Kindle.

Hook 'Em and Book 'Em by indie author Mark Young who writes the Travis Mays Mysteries. I've got a sample of Mark's first Travis Mays book on my Kindle and can't wait to read it. Love the title of his blog because that's what it's all about.

Cynthia Wicklund is editing and uploading as fast as she can. That's why I'm sending you to her Amazon Author page rather than her website and blog which she keeps telling me she has no time to update. Cynthia is an author who should have been published years ago, but traditional publishing's loss is a gain for e-readers. She does it all: art work, writing, editing, formatting, and uploading, and she does it well. Her books are wonderful relationship studies, and they're so low-priced!

Takeaway Truth

Visit these authors. They'll appreciate your support, and you'll discover new must-read blogs and books.

Why Help Others?

Yesterday I wrote a post about donating for the relief effort in Japan or for any of the beleaguered countries suffering because of natural disasters.

My attitude about giving is best expressed by a young girl, doomed to die, who wrote in her diary long before I was born: "Riches, power and fame last only for a few years! Why do people cling so desperately to these transitory things? Why can’t people who have more than they need for themselves give that surplus to their fellow citizens? Why should some people have such a hard time during their few years on this earth?"

Anne Frank, who wrote this in her diary in 1944, had wisdom beyond her years.

Takeaway Truth

In giving, two are benefited: the recipient and the one who gives.

Relief For Japan

Since we're up in the Hill Country with no TV, only our laptops to stay up to date with the news, I feel kind of out of the loop watching hours-old video clips of the growing tragedy in Japan.

One thing is clear. Japan is in a scarier situation. Something scarier than earthquakes and tsunamis? Nuclear power plant meltdowns, and Japan is full of them.

People Want To Help

I looked around the web for links to organizations providing direct relief to Japan and was dismayed at some of the scathing comments people left on posts that contained these links.

Perhaps I'm naive, but I find it difficult to believe that people think church charities and relief groups like the Salvation Army "keep" donated monies. Sure, I know that some organizations use the bulk of donated monies to pay for their own infrastructure and fund-raising effort, like the American Cancer Society which receives more contributions ($848 million in 2005) than any other cancer charity.

Only 60% of its budget goes to program services not related to solicitations. That's why they get a C+ grade from Charity Watch operated by the American Institute of Philanthropy. We no longer support them.

Help The Smart Way

By contrast, the National Breast Cancer Coalition Fund receives an A rating so they're worthwhile to support, but the similarly-named National Cancer Coalition and Coalition Against Breast Cancer receive F’s.

If you want to make sure the money you donate goes to the cause you support, check out their rating from Charity Watch operated by the American Institute of Philanthropy. That's the intelligent and moral thing to do. Don't leave a trail of denigrating comments about organized relief organizations and churches.

Grade A Relief Organizations

Here are some groups that get an A rating from AIP. They're all on standby, waiting for the Japanese government to tell them what is needed.

Now, if you cynically think Japan is a rich country that doesn't need your help, then make a donation to the relief effort in Haiti or other countries devastated by natural disasters.

Catholic Relief Services

Save The Children or call 1-800-760-0011.

World Concern

International Rescue Committee

Since a lot of you who read my blogs are Aussies, here's a hotline you can call if you're concerned about a loved one who was in Japan: DFAT hotline for Australians 1300 555 135.

Takeaway Truth

The world is a much smaller place than it was decades ago. We should all put enmities aside and pull together to help where it's needed.

Save Electricity – Power Off

I guess you've been reading all the "green" tips about power usage. You know the ones that tell you to plug your flat panel TVs into power strips so you can turn them off completely.

Computers use a lot of power, but you can't just flip a switch and turn them off. You have to power down correctly.

Fortunately, there's an easy way to turn your computer off automatically by using a software app called SwitchOff by Airytec, specialists in creating small or lightweight apps with minimum system requirements.

Switch Off is a lightweight easy-to-use tray-based system utility that can automatically shutdown, suspend or hibernate your system. That means it will decrease your electricity bills by lowering your PC power consumption.

The download is free, and it works with Windows systems through Win7.

Takeaway Truth

Save money on power by powering down easily and automatically.

3 Twitter Resources

Though I'm on Twitter, I haven't had a big presence there, but I plan to change that. If you're like me, and just haven't had much time to use Twitter, here are 3 Resources to help you.

1. Feed your blog to Twitter so you'll always have Tweets posting. Twitterfeed does that for you.

It's easy. You just register and fill in the necessary information to set your blog up to feed your Twitter account.

2. Twitter Account Management with ManageFlitter.

This app will help you manage who you follow by showing you who isn't following you back. You can find out which inactive accounts you follow and search inside your Twitter stream.

3. Here's a resource of Twitter Applications so you can find even more apps to help you.

Takeaway Truth

There's so much social networking sites available, but they can be a huge time suck. Take advantage of applications that ease the burden of updating your social sites.

Goal Delayed

Darn! I'm being forced to take a step back. I'd planned to have my first ebook Good Girl Conspiracy (Book 1 of The Good, The Bad, and The Girly) uploaded and ready for purchase on Friday.

Then my husband decided to take some vacation. He's going to be traveling a lot in the next few months so he wanted a few days of intensive golf before he leaves.

Of course, that means I'm taking vacation too. Having the completion of a project postponed by vacation certainly isn't a disaster. There are worse ways to have something delayed.

So we'll be traveling to our other house tomorrow, and our daughter will be guarding the hacienda. While my husband drives, I'll be composing blog posts to keep you entertained until I return next week.

Takeaway Truth

Never get so wrapped up in work that you forget how to relax and have fun.

Celebrate eBook Week

Unless you're hiding in a cave, you probably know that this is eBook Week, officially running from March 6 - 12.

You may be surprised to learn that the first ebook was published in 1971, 40 years ago, by Michael S. Hart.

Mr. Hart published the Declaration of Independence, and, as you may know, went on to create Project Gutenberg which has produced 40,000 free titles.

Visit Read an eBook

Visit the official website of Read An eBook Week to see a list of community partners offering free ebooks as well as contests where you can win free ebook readers like the Nook and Kobo.

Many authors are offering free ebooks and discounted ebooks to celebrate the week so check their websites.

You can also enter "ebook week free offers" in your favorite search engine to get a list of other websites and their offers.

I love the ease of shopping and purchasing books with my Kindle, and the ability to carry around dozens of books in the little device. I can read anytime, anywhere. An ereader isn't a way to kill books. It's an adjunct to books that makes it possible to read in a way that's more convenient than paper books a lot of the time.

Want your own Kindle? Just click here.

Takeaway Truth

With the advent of consumer friendly ebook reading devices, ebooks have really taken off. This aspect of book publishing will continue to grow so embrace it and read on!

Spammers: Any Redeeming Value?

The ever-insightful Harl Delos posted a wonderful comment on Thursday's blog.

Do you suppose there are people who, when they are young, think, "When I grow up, I want to be a spammer. I think it would be really profitable to address an apparently mostly-American audience of mostly people interested in writing, and try to convince them to buy plumbing supplies from a foreign country."

Of course, this was in response to a Comment about kitchen faucets, which was posted on the post about Art Resources for Authors, and which has now been deleted.

Because I started my weekend early and never checked the blog after that, the Spammers had free rein until I turned on the computer again. (Thanks, Blogger Spam Filters, for a job not well-done!)

Mixed Emotions

You know, in my freelance world, I see dozens of job listings every single day for people to make comments on blog posts and forums. Desperate people, out to make a few pennies, take these jobs. (Personally, I think I'd take a job cleaning out toilets at the bus stations before I'd take a spamming job.) I have compassion for them, but what they do angers me too.

I'm not angry at the spammers because I know they're struggling to eke out a living, and, in a third world country, spamming blogs and forums allows to eke on a higher level. What they do makes them the target of anger and contempt, but that anger and contempt should be directed at the idiots who hire them.

Do these people honestly think anyone will go buy a kitchen faucet because a comment about a company selling kitchen faucets was posted on a blog about writing and publishing? How stupid does that make the person who hired the spammer to post hundreds of comments across the Internet on blogs with good Google PR?

The end result when I get spammed like this is to make a note of the website so that I will NEVER buy anything from them.

Advertisers, Be Smart

Come on advertisers. Grow a brain. Stop creating jobs for spammers. Instead, create jobs for writers that require good writing and research skills.

Hire a writer to write a short, informative, entertaining article about your product - why it's superior, why you as retailer are superior, etc. Post it on your own website and/or on article sites. Give the writer a byline, adequate payment, and respect, and you'll have someone who works hard to advance you.

Takeaway Truth

Spamming doesn't advance you and your product; it makes you, and your product, despised.

3 Art Resources for Indie Authors

Today I'm giving you 3 links to help you with your cover art if you plan to indie publish a title.

Let's face it, most of us writers simply aren't blessed with an aesthetic sense. Since book covers are so important, don't cheap out on this because nothing says cheesy ebook like an unappealing cover.

Good covers make you pick up a book in a store, and good covers make you click to read the product description online.

I recommend testing your cover image on as many people as possible. Show it then ask: what's the first thing that pops into your mind when you see this?

Sure, you want a cool cover, but, more importantly, you want a cover that instantly conveys what kind of book this is. By that, I don't just mean mystery or suspense or horror or romance. The cover should promise what kind of reading experience will be had by getting that book.

If it's a humorous, sexy contemporary romance, you should know that immediately by looking at the cover. If it's grim, dark, and violent, the cover should make you feel that.

The cover should convey: genre, style, tone, and possible reading experience. That's no easy feat, and that's why professional artists do it so well. The overriding rule is: don't mislead the reader because an unhappy reader can make you regret taking their money.

Back when Chick Lit was so hot, publishers were slapping those cartoon covers on everything. A lot of unhappy readers found they couldn't pick up just any book with that kind of cover and get a lighthearted, feel good, laughing experience.

Some books were simply not chick lit, and readers spread the word. A lot of good authors fell into the dreaded death spiral, due, not to their fault, but the fault of the publisher's marketing department.

Of course, chick lit died. Publishers have a way of running a good thing into the ground. Fortunately, for those who like to read chick lit, it's alive and well online.

3 Art Resources for Indie Authors

These three links are all to blog posts I've written on the subject in Exclusively eBooks on Joan Slings Words, my other blog.

Good Book Cover Design

A discussion of what constitutes good book cover design.

Freelance Artists For Book Covers

A listing of experienced book cover artists. Print or bookmark for future use if you don't need one now.

Art Resources For DIY Indie Publishers.

Micro-stock photography sites where you can purchase rights to a photograph for your book cover.

Takeaway Truth

Indie publishing has great rewards for authors with a can-do attitude. Just make sure you deliver a professional product because discerning readers won't settle for less.

Review: Special Delivery by Elaine Raco Chase

Today, I'm reviewing Special Delivery by Elaine Raco Chase, award-winning romance author and writing teacher. Ms. Chase has a considerable backlist of romance and mystery novels as well as nonfiction books.

She's now making her backlist available to ebook readers so I think we can look forward to some "good reads."

Last November, I interviewed Ms. Chase on this blog about the writing classes she teaches.

Book Details

Title: Special Delivery
Author:Elaine Raco Chase
Format:Kindle Edition
File Size: 190 KB
Print Length:Not given
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
Language: English
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars (2 reviews)

Plot Description

Roxanne Murdoch, CEO of Greetings and Salutations, is forced, due to a shortage of employees during the holidays, to deliver a "belly-gram" herself. Since her company guarantee is akin to the post office's famous motto, she can't not deliver the theatrical message to the newest executive VP Bram Tyler.

A howling blizzard forces Roxanne and Bram to ride out the winter storm in his deserted bank building. Staying warm and entertained? Not a problem for the two who are well-matched intellectually. Staying out of each other's arms? Big problem.

The biggest question of all? What happens when the storm blows itself out? Will they stay together or go their separate ways?


If you like to read the humorous banter between a man and woman that's reminiscent of the best of filmdom's romantic comedies, you'll like Special Delivery. Ms. Chase has a real gift for presenting heroines who are intelligent women and who can hold their own with any man. Roxanne can out-think and outsmart just about any guy, but the handsome and personable Bram is just as clever.

Throw in Roxanne's stories about her dear departed Aunt Mathilda, queen of the burlesque world in her youth, and you'll wish Ms. Chase had written a book devoted to Aunt Mathilda too.

In Conclusion

Special Delivery was originally published years ago by Dell's Candlelight Ecstasy Romance, but don't let that make you think this story is old hat. Roxanne and Bram's story is one that never gets old. If it did, there wouldn't be any more romance novels published. Ever.

The book will amuse and entertain you and make you want Ms. Chase's next book as soon as it's available.

Want your own Kindle? Just click here.

Takeaway Truth

A good book is a little vacation from the cares of life.