Saturday, May 31, 2014

Last Blogger Blog Post

I finally did the work and set up a web page.  Blotspot has been an excellent resource the past few years, but with both of my books out in virtual and physical forms, I felt it was time I had a full website for my work.

It's been an excellent run. I just noticed that I have had 11K views on this blog.

But you can now find me at Sara.Stark.Writes.  I hope you'll follow me there.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Down Time...

Today marks three months since I've written a post. I've often thought about writing something, but I have felt so apathetic lately that mostly what I do [in my spare time] is read or watch TV.  I've always been an avid reader, but to just sit and watch TV all day on a Sunday is abnormal to say the least.

And though I'm not participating, the world goes on around me, and that fuels my apathy. I often contemplate what the point is, why get up and go to work, why record my thoughts, why write stories? And to be honest, I can't come up with one good reason. Why strive for anything? It's all so tiresome. My stories tire me, and yet these characters, these people never leave my head.

Beryl keeps pestering me, but I can't find her voice. I'm not sure I relate to Beryl. I purely made her out of cloud-stuff, ether and imagination. Is she an angry young woman or resigned? I can do resigned, as that's what I'm feeling right now, but how is that the least bit interesting? It's not. It's boring. Capital B, Boring.

And I can't keep writing my story over and over again. To a degree, I've done it twice already with Janice and Maggie. I was thinking today that Maggie's ending was what I wanted for myself. Yes, there is a bit of autobiography in her story, the handsome man and his daughter that I wanted for my own. But it didn't happen. Life isn't like fiction. There are no happy endings, or at least, not many. There's just existence. Moving forward each day because there's nothing else to do.

I feel as though I have fallen into a dark crevasse, a sump hole full of foul-tasting water in which I'm drowning. Okay, that's a bit dramatic, but sometimes it does feel that way, that just making it through another day requires all my strength.

Don't get me wrong. As whiny as I sound, I have a good life, an easy life, but when I look around me, I still wonder what does it all mean. If I were to die today, nothing would change... Well, nothing except for me.

So I accomplished something today. I wrote a blog post. Yay, me! And I'll keep working at life, because there's no other option. I'm not a quitter.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Physical Cover for Couillon

This is the physical cover, or very close facsimile to what I'll use when I run Couillon through CreateSpace.

The pink is the bleed/trim part, and I left it in this jpeg for you to see where the spine will be. Since it's only 46 pages, the spine will be too thin to add any text, even the title. So I pulled part of the back onto the front and added the "instruction".

If you can't read the back, it says at the bottom: "Couillon is a women's literary fiction novella which advises you to watch what you wish for because the scariest monsters in this world are human."

I included this because I want people to understand that this is not an urban fantasy. I had a woman (probably a young woman, I suspect not older than early twenties) post on GoodReads that she had read darker "recipie" books. But instead of throttling her, I did good. I didn't reply to her post. I didn't rationalize anything because in my opinion that's just bad form for an author. 

But if I had said something, I would have said that she must have a very good life if she doesn't realize that the real monsters in this world are not zombies or vampires, that they're human. I also would have suggested that before she gives a bad review for a book not being an urban fantasy, she pay attention to the genre it's listed under. And because I'm snarky most of the time, I would have recommended that she learn how to use a dictionary before she berates a good piece of writing. Finally, I would have said, Really? You read a book all the way through, a book that only costs .99 and then you returned it? Now that is bad form. 

Anyway, I didn't do any of that. And she'll never know unless she manages to break out of her "dark" fantasy world. But I doubt that will happen. And honestly, I hope her life is easy enough that she never realizes the truths portrayed in Couillon. As for returning a .99 book after reading it, I so hope karma catches up with her on that one.

Okay, enough ranting for one evening. Back to writing.

To quote Anna Nalick, "If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Major Milestone - 10K Views

While I was watching a movie earlier this afternoon, the blog view count went from 9994 to 10004.  What a milestone!  In a little over two years, I've had 10,000 views.

Now you're probably thinking some blogs get that in a week, maybe even in a day. I say f'them. :-)

But seriously, I didn't expect it to be a well trafficked blog because it's about me and about writing and about the pains and pleasures of becoming an author. I'm not writing it just to get views. I'm writing it, mostly for me, as a diary of the process, one that I share with the whole world.... or anyone willing to read it.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

An Untold Want, the physical book

So the cover failed the first review because it wasn't sized correctly. I ended up pulling down a free tool [after paying for a month of Adobe PDF creator, which didn't do what I needed] called PrimoPDF. It's Norton approved, and suggested by one of the techs at CreateSpace.  And it's free.

So the cover passed the review the second time through, but because the DPI wasn't over 200, they're saying the cover will be blurry in spots. I submitted it for a physical proof anyway, because I need to read through again to check for typos. Yes, a friend pointed out several after I published on Amazon.

So I'm re-doing the cover again:
(1) to raise the DPI level
(2) to do a better job on matching the colors
(3) to re-do the barcode.

Why re-do the barcode you ask? Because if I use my own ISBN, CreateSpace won't distribute to libraries. I must use their ISBN for that capability, and I want that. Contrary to what you might think, libraries buy a lot of books, and if someone checks out my book from the library, they may buy one next time. Plus the CreateSpace ISBN is free. So other than re-doing the cover, it won't cost me anything.

So here are the three new building blocks. I'm posting them in several places, including FaceBook to see what the colors look like. Believe it or not, gimp (the Photoshop-esk tool I use) displays one color while MS Photo editor displays another, and so on. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Physical Version on An Untold Want is in the Works!

Tonight, after much work, I submitted An Untold Want for review by the CreateSpace reviews. 

I learned a lot of lessons along the way, but the most recent one is that if you want to distribute to libraries [and this is a very good idea], you must use a CreateSpace ISBN.  At this point, I'm not sure why I purchased ISBN numbers, because it seems that everyone is giving them away for free.  Who knew?  I didn't, at least not till now.

I learned that formatting physical books, especially the headers and footers, is not nearly as easy as you would think. In fact, it was a huge pain in the hiney.  I learned about margins and bleed space and trim sizes. That the spine [which makes sense once you think about it] is based on the number of pages.

I learned that covers have to be submitted in PDF format, which means I had to subscribe to Adobe PDF generator [for $9.99 a month], after I used gimp to create a cover [which was also a lot of work].

And that the royalties are way better on Kindle than on CreateSpace.  Their estimated manufacturing costs are way off.

So, you may be thinking, why do all this, especially considering my novel is published on Kindle. The reason I went down this path is to be able to submit An Untold Want to the Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Competition, which requires a physical copy.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that even though I love my Kindle, I really would like to have physical copies of my books to display on my bookshelves. It's one of those look what I did!! feelings.

Anyway, enough about how great I am.  I've included images here of what the cover and pages will look like.  BTW, the dashes around the text on the pages won't be there in print.  They're just there to indicate where the margins are.

Please let me know your thoughts/opinions on the formatting.  I may not change anything, but you never know. I'm still pondering whether the image with the text and crows should be more yellow.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Not My Week...

Wow, I totally got out voted this time in the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction competition.  There were a lot of good stories submitted. 

[sarcasm alert]

Mine was the obviously the best story. So, apparently not everyone recognized how brilliant I am. 

Here's how it went:


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Another Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Entry

I guess I'm subconsciously doing everything in my power to not write about Beryl, from playing with CreateSpace to entering another Flash Fiction Contest at Indies Unlimited.

The prompt:

State Trooper Tom Dewitt pulled up on what he thought was a vehicle that had gotten stuck in the snow and abandoned by its occupants. The vehicle was no longer running and he couldn't see anyone inside.

He didn't want to stop, fearful that his own car might become stuck as well. He drove slowly by, and craned his neck to look into the other car.

The two occupants were slumped toward each other, and from the blood splattered on the headrests, Tom knew the serial killer they called the Snowman had returned. What Tom did not know was that the Snowman was still there...

My entry:

Tom enjoyed working with his partner Tommy. They seemed to share something, some deeper understanding he'd never had with other partners. Tommy, normally called Tom, went by Tommy on the job so it wouldn't be so hard for the other officers to differentiate between them.

But even having Tommy in the car with him didn't make what Tom was seeing any easier. Two bodies bathed in blood and frozen stiff, yet clasping each other as if seeking solace in their final moments, a sight gruesome enough to turn the most seasoned officer's stomach. The Snowman, that bastard, had claimed two more.

"You okay?" Tommy said.

"Just makes me queasy. They're the first ones I've had to report."

"You want me to—"

"No. I got it. Thanks."

Suppressing the urge to puke, Tom called it in. With the knee deep snow, they'd need a truck to haul the car to the station.

"What kind of person could do this, Tommy?"

"Dude, maybe it's an illness. Like maybe the guy's a schizophrenic or someth—"

"That's no excuse. There's a world of difference between being a psycho and being a monster."

"I'm just saying. He could be sick, inside. Yet... Yet, look totally normal, like us, on the outside—"

"Give it a rest, alright."

Tom turned the radio up, and the two waited in silence.

Forty-five intolerable minutes later, Jameson tapped on the window.

"Tom, you okay?"

Tom nodded.

"Man, it must have been creepy sitting here all by yourself."

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Print On Demand

I've been playing with CreateSpace lately, for print-on-demand. I originally started down this road because I want to enter a Writers' Digest Competition for self published fiction. Problem is they want a physical copy. So I decided to create a physical version of An Untold Want.  Besides, it would be really nice to have a few copies on my bookshelves. I will probably end up doing Couillon as well.

This is what I've been working on:

The image to the right of this text is very close to what the cover will look like. Of course with a physical cover, a back and binding image is required.  The image below is a new chapter page.

This whole process has been interesting and entertaining because it allows me to play with visual stuff. Plus I've learned a lot about publishing. Everything is different. Some of the formatting... Well let's say that formatting the page numbers and headers was a real lesson in patience. But the up side is that I can use images within the text, which is near impossible on a Kindle due to the fact that the reader can change font sizes.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Yay, for Me!!

An email went out today to all Indies Unlimited subscribers, one titled Sara Stark Wins Flash Fiction Challenge.   Yay, for me!! 

The text was as follows:

"Congrats to Sara Stark, the readers’ choice in this week’s Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Challenge. The winning entry is recognized with a special feature here today and a place in our collection of winners which will be published as an e-book at year end."  Followed by a link to the story. [Same story listed on my last blog post.]

It feels great. It really does...

... but I have to be honest.  It felt more like a contest to see how many friends I could pressure into voting for me.  A lot of them did so before I asked, but I did ask several people to "go vote for my flash fiction entry". So to me it was a bit like cheating. Not that everyone doesn't do the same. If I didn't broadcast it, most of my friends would never know about it, because they're not writers. 

I know, I know. You're asking yourself why I can't just be happy about it? Trust me, I am!  Inside, I'm turning cartwheels.  Outside, [regarding cartwheels], I'm too old for that stuff now.  So instead I'll have a nice glass of wine and bask in my own glory. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Contest: Death for Sale

I just submitted an entry to the Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Contest: Death for Sale.

Here's the prompt:

The car was a 1954 Pontiac. Her first owner was Bill Keenan, a newspaper reporter for the Kansas City Star.

Bill drove the car home and his wife met him out on the front steps and shot him dead. She’d found out about Bill and his secretary.

Now, you can say that didn’t have anything to do with the car, and I guess you’d be right. Still, it seemed to have gotten the car off to a bad start. Over the years, she was owned by 13 people. Every one of those folks was murdered.

I don’t really consider myself to be superstitious, but I don’t see no reason to tempt fate, neither. That’s why I tried to talk Eric out of buying the car. It was useless, of course. He was in love with the thing.

In 250 words or less, tell us a story incorporating the elements in the picture.


It took me longer than I expected because I needed to do some research, but the research is a huge part of what I enjoy about putting together a story.  Anyway, below is what I wrote in response to the prompt.  I titled it Bit of a Poke.

"For Christ's sake, Eric, as if this old heap isn't bad enough, the steering wheel's on the wrong side," Fiona said. "What could possibly have possessed you to buy it?"

"The seller told me a great story."  Eric smiled the smile, the one that, long ago, had beguiled her into marrying him.  "Get this.  All thirteen owners died, uncannie like.  Murdered."

"And dunderheid that you be, you believed him. I dinnae ken what gets into you sometimes."

"The original awner, a guy named Bill from Kansas, well, his wee wife shot him the day he brung it home.  Apparently ol' Bill was giving his secretary a bit of a poke on the side."

Fiona felt her face burn.

"The seller swears a brollachan possesses this here motorcar.  Swears it pops out every now and again and enters a human's body. Poor awners always seems to get the warst of it."

She clenched her fists, digging her nails into her palms. "Really?"

"The second awner, another damn American looking to live in the Highlands, brung it over and, get this, he ended up being killt by an axe murderer. In the garage. Right beside it.  It's wickit.  A brollachan makes sense." He smiled again, darker this time. "And the murderers either weren't caught or convicted."

"So why the f--  Why would you buy it, you eeejit?"  She watched Eric's eyes go dark, then glow red.

"Did I forget to tell you, you unfaithful cow, I put the car in your name?"

I'm Back!!

First time ever, well since the inception of this blog, that I went a whole month without creating a single post.

What was I doing?  I've been sleeping a lot the past week because of  (1) getting over a bad cold, (2) going through withdrawal from cancer meds, and (3) a trip at Christmas to Georgia to visit my brother [who doesn't have internet access because of his youngest son].  Did I mention that my brother has four grown kids and a gaggle of grandkids.  And in-laws.  I don't do well in crowds.  But I love them all.  So I needed to rest when I came back. Fortunately, I wasn't doing all three at the same time.

But I'm back.  I just finished posting a story for an Indies Unlimited Flash Fiction Contest and I've been thinking a lot about how to structure Beryl's story.  Beryl's story, in my head, has undergone some major changes.  [That's what happens when you don't have the internet late at night for a week.]

You can see my entry to the contest in my next post.