Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Happy New Year


2024 is here. Time to reflect on last year and set some goals for next year.

In my second year of retirement, it was challenging to carve out writing time, but scheduling writing days with writer-friend Laura has helped a lot. I finished the first draft of Periphery, got it out and back from beta readers, and I am making great progress with the final draft. The sneak peak of the cover art came in just before the new year, and that is so exciting! Kudos to Erin Ruffino, and now it gets handed off to Aaron La Porta for cover design while Erin works on the map for the inside.

I had three very successful author signings, two with the Dollars for Scholars event at Sweet Home High School and one with the Buffalo Historical Society.

I joined Buffalo Niagara Children's Writers and Illustrators and have attended most of their meetings. I am still meeting monthly with my writer's group. And I attended an inspirational writers' retreat in Rochester this summer.

So, overall, I call it a successful year. Although the initial plan was to have Periphery out in 2023, I think it will be a better read for the time spent crafting it.

So, what are the goals for 2024? First and foremost, get Periphery into the hands of readers. After that, a sequel to Periphery might take over, although I did start working on a ballet story for middle grades while my manuscript was with beta readers. I also have a short story in the works, which I think I might try to get entered into some contests. I would also like to add a couple more signings to the schedule this year. 

Here's to 2024 and staying focused!

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Book Event

My first book event of the season is happening on Saturday October 21 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Sweet Home High School in Amherst, NY. It's great to get the holiday season underway. And it is always such a pleasure to help support the Sweet Home Dollars for Scholars program. This is a craft show with a wonderful variety of vendors. Truly something for everyone. It takes up the entire gymnasium and cafeteria. There are also sales in the lobby.

At every festival or craft show, vendors pay a table rental fee. But I love this event because the table fee goes to the scholarship program for the kids. I get to sign and sell books. Kids get money for college. It's a real win-win!

See you there!

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Thank You!

Yesterday at Sweet Home High School was a wonderful day, and I thank everyone who came out to make it so! Thank you to everyone who went home with a copy of Relic or Eye of the Peacock. I hope you enjoy them.

While people shopped and helped to support the Dollars for Scholars fund, I was able to talk with so many great folks, including one young man, who was interested in writing and publishing. I hope he visits this blog to take advantage of the tips here. That goes for anyone, of course. And if you ever have a question or are confused, please add it to the comments and I will make sure it gets addressed!

I also was given the possible future opportunity to speak with a book group, and I hope that comes to fruition. I love talking about the writing process and my characters.

And a special thank you to friends who came out and offered their support. Tina and Giselle (with a special companion) from the Ken-Ton Writer's project -- what would I do without your input into my writing and your smiles that make the day full of sunshine -- even when it is pouring outside!

A thank you as well to the friendly vendors around me. It truly was a great way to spend a Saturday!

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Next Sale and Signing!

Excited to let you know I will be at the Sweet Home Schools Dollars for Scholars
Spring Craft Show Saturday March 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. signing and selling copies of
Relic and Eye of the Peacock. The school is located at 1901 Sweet Home Road, Amherst, NY.

Admission to the event is $2 per person, and all proceeds, including the vender's table fees, go to the scholarship fund. I can't think of a better reason to shop spring crafts than to benefit kids going to college!

The show will be throughout the gym and the cafeteria. Lunch and snack items will be for sale in the refreshment area. There will also be a spring basket raffle hosted by the PTSA.

I look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Publishing Series: #15 A Closer Look at the Page

Let's take a closer look at preparing the pages for print.

Hopefully, you've been working in Word, since that is the most flexible program when it comes to formatting pages for a book. You've probably been typing in 8.5x11, but if you look under "layout" in the top toolbar, you will see the icon for changing the size of the page. Depending on the publishing program you are using, find out the size options for your published page. These are usually about 5x7, but they vary slightly. It is important that you know the exact size the published page will be.

At the bottom of Word's layout dropdown menu, you will see "more paper sizes." This will allow you to type in the exact size of the page you need. When you apply to the entire document, you will magically see your book in real book size! This is a very exciting part of the process!

Start to visualize your pages as you would a book, with a left page and a right page. The next thing you will want to do is to adjust the margins for the entire document. You have probably been using Word's default margins, which is one inch all around. Book margins are not that big. Start using a well published book from your bookshelf as a model. Bring a few samples to your workstation as references. The outside margins -- the one on the far left and the one on the far right of the double page -- should each be about a half inch, maybe even smaller depending on your preference. The two margins that meet in the middle of the double page -- the gutter, however, should be larger because space is needed for the bend of the pages as the reader opens the book. If this inside margin is too small, the words will flow into the crease formed by the meeting of the pages and your reader will struggle to read the story.

Once the margins are applied to the entire manuscript, it will really start looking like a book! These measurements are not set in stone. They can be adjusted during the process, so experiment until you are satisfied with the appear

Next Time: A Closer Look at the Front Matter

Sunday, February 26, 2023

First Step Done

This past week, I was on vacation with my family visiting friends in Virginia. On
one beautiful 80-degree morning, I was sitting on their back deck surrounded by the chatter of beautiful bird song, and -- big news -- 
dah-da-da-daaaah... I finished the first draft of Periphery.

That sounds like such a huge accomplishment, and it is, but remember, a first draft is just you telling yourself the story. And even though I was just trying to tell the story, the last few chapters were a struggle. I had to craft battle scenes, which I had never written before. There are a ton of characters, and as a writer, I had to make sure they were all accounted for. Then there is the denouement, which has to tie up all the loose ends. 

And so I finally reached an end with which I am satisfied.

Tomorrow, I start revising: making sure there are no contradictions, making sure travel times between settings are accurate, making sure I let my readers experience my character's emotions. This is my first fantasy novel, and I want it to feel epic.

Now the real work begins.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Publishing Series: # 14 They Will Judge!

There is an old saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover." But they will. Your cover is your book's best advertisement.

At this point in the publishing process, thought should be given to your cover. There are many options. If you are using KDP or a similar independent venue to publish, you will have to figure out how to produce a cover. There is help on the KDP website to pull together a cover on your own, but you have to be realistic with yourself. Do you have the talent to produce a good cover? You can also search the web for people from whom you can purchase cover making talents. You can purchase art and do the layover of the type yourself.

Sometimes you know a talented friend. This was my luck. My first two covers were designed by Aaron La Porta, who is a professional graphic designer. He was knowledgeable about computer layout, so that he could help me produce a cover that fit into the dimensions required by the program.

For my latest project, Periphery, I am embarking on a new venture, which is truly exciting. I will be working with artist Erin Ruffino. This is a totally new experience for me. Erin will be producing the art for the cover and, hopefully, Aaron will once again be adding the graphic elements to produce the cover. Erin and I met virtually last week and began talks so that she could begin to see the characters and fantasy world I've spent two years creating. She is an amazing artist and I can't wait to see the results, but I expect it to be quite a process. I'll keep you posted!