• writing

    Why I love Smashwords

    Back in 2010 I came across an eBook publishing house called Smashwords. It was kind of big at the time, but not like it is today.

    I remember trying to upload my very first book to the site and pulling my hair out because I kept getting vetting errors. I fussed and fretted about the meat grinder (that’s what they call their formatting tool for making all the different formats for the venues they submit to). Finally after about the twentieth try I did it. It was such a frustrating experience. I had two choices at that point. I could either give up hope of ever publishing my book on their site or persevere.

    Well we can all see what really did happen.

    Over the years I have heard Authors complain about Amazon. It is always the same kind of complaint. Their too big – they keep changing the rules – they don’t seem fair – but I’m making money.

    Okay – yea – so – Let’s look at Smashwords:

    I don’t like the meat grinder – why – because you don’t know how to format your book properly.

    Once you learn it is pretty easy peasy.

    What else don’t you like about Smashwords?

    I can’t think of anything that comes to mind.

    What do I love about them?

    They distribute our books to lots of great venues, plus Mark Coker is always out there trying to find us more venues.

    He never gives up. He is for the author.

    Mark gives us tips and trade secrets and hope to be a great writer someday, the hope that the readers will discover us the way we discovered Smashwords.

    He has given us ways to be found and not just by using SEO as Amazon does. Coupon codes are one of his great features on the site. These allow us to distribute our book for free or a reduced price to those who are part of our growing platform. This is a great way to secure reviews.

    He takes part in Read an Ebook week on the site and also promotes NaNoWriMo.

    The best part is, Mark Coker is always out there advocating for the authors, it does not matter if they are the little guy who has no platform as of yet or the best-selling author with millions of followers. Mark is always there for us.

    So I want to say: Thanks Mark Coker for all you have done for us since 2008

    Mark’s latest post: http://blog.smashwords.com/2013/03/how-libraries-can-launch-community.html

  • books

    Independent Bookstores Alliance Themselves with Kobo

    I guess it is now official, the Indie Bookstores have allianced themselves with Kobo eBooks and it is about time they partnered up with an eBook Powerhouse. Maybe now they will be able to recover some of their sales by being able to offer their customers some of those great eBooks coming from Smashwords authors around the world.

    I am really excited about this news.

    In the past I went ahead and loaded my books onto the Google eBook site. Their site is a horror show. It is hard to maneuver and it is just plain quirky. And when they post the reviews for my books that are coming off of GoodReads, for some reason they like to grab all the lowest review ratings instead of the top ratings. I thought this to be an odd practice for a company who was looking to sell eBooks.

    Now with the new Kobo deal with the indie bookstores, anyone who publishes with Smashwords and selects the distribution to Kobo will be able to have their books distributed to the US Brick and Mortar Stores.

    It was not too long ago that I spoke to the owner of our local bookstore. He really didn’t know what to expect with this new Kobo deal. He was kind of apprehensive about the eBook movement and was afraid that eBooks would replace print books just as mp3 files took over the CD market.

    Hopefully he decides to carry the Kobo eReader so he can actively promote eBooks from his store.

    So move over Amazon, the Independent Bookstores are back in business.

  • ages 13-18,  books,  Fiction,  novel,  paranormal,  school,  Teen/Young Adult,  teens,  writing,  young adult

    The Board Game of Death The Rest of Chapter ~ 2

    The Board Game of Death
    The Rest of Chapter ~ 2
    “Who did you get this from anyways?” Jordan asked.
    “Mrs. Krendall, she said it was her son’s. He must have moved or something. I haven’t seen him in a while. In fact he has not been around since Carley died.”
    “Oh, Brian?” Jordan held the necklace closer to her face for further inspection. “Yeah…I haven’t seen him around either. Didn’t know he was into this sort of stuff.” She then set it down on the game board.
    “Isn’t he one of Lucas’s friends?” Shawna asked.
    “Yeah…I think he is.” Alexus shifted herself, crossing her legs in front of her, sitting Indian style.
    “So you want to give this thing a try?” Shawna asked.
    “Yeah…I do. Who wants to go first?” Alexus held out the necklace. “You have to wear this.”
    Jordan chuckled, “I’ll go first…I’m not scared.” She took the necklace and placed it over her head.
    The necklace was made up of small white stones with green stones in between them. A larger yellow stone marked the front of the necklace. The stones were strung on some type of thin cord.
    “You know, that would look better on you if you were wearing your other top.” Shawna commented.
    Jordan usually dressed in the same Gothic dress style as both Alexus and Shawna. But her parents were totally against the style. She would have to smuggle the clothes out of her house in her backpack. Which she had in her bag now.
    “I guess you are right.” Jordan removed the necklace. “Hang on while I change.”
    Jordan reached for her bag and pulled her change of clothes out of it. She took off her dark blue tee shirt and put on a black top with a spider web pictured on the front. Her jeans were next, these were replaced with black chino’s. The finishing touches were a pair of black boots and a black headband with a green bat depicted on it.
    “There!” Jordan felt better. She shoved her discarded clothes into her bag and took the necklace form Shawna and put it back around her neck. “Look better? I’ll do the make up later.”
    “Yeah…much better.” Alexus agreed. “Okay…how do we do this? Do we need to hold hands or something?”
    Shawna moved over to make room for Alexus. “You need to sit over here while Jordan sits on that side. And then we hold hands while Jordan does what ever with the game piece.”
    Alexus took her place beside Shawna and joined hands with her.
    Jordan took her spot and placed her fingertips lightly on top of the game piece. She closed her eyes. She asked, “Carley, are you there?”
    They waited a minute. The game piece did not move. Shawna let out a chuckle.
    “Maybe she did not hear you,” Alexus said.
    “Carley, where are you?” Jordan asked again.
    Another minute went by, but there was still no movement from the game piece.
    Shawna broke the silence. “Well at least you only paid a buck for this.”
    The game piece moved slowly to the top of the board and over to the left corner to rest on the word Yes. Startled, Jordan removed her fingers from touching the game piece.
    “I didn’t do that.” Jordan said with bewilderment. “It moved all on its own.”
    “Yeah…right!” Shawna said with disbelief. She stood up. “Let me try.”
    Jordan and Shawna exchanged places and they started again after Shawna put the necklace on. She waited until Jordan joined hands with Alexus.
    “Carley, how did you die?” Shawna asked. She placed her fingertips on top of the game piece just like she saw Jordan do. She waited.
    There was no response.
    “Try again,” Alexus instructed. “Maybe you have to ask more than once.”
    Shawna was about to take her fingertips from the piece when it began to move. It went to the letter B and stopped there.
    “B?” Jordan asked puzzled.
    Alexus giggled. “Maybe she can’t remember how to spell.”
    The game piece started to move again. This time it moved to the W on the board.
    “Okay…so maybe spirits can’t spell,” Shawna agreed. She took her fingers off the game piece.
    Alexus remembered the book she found at the flea market last weekend. It was tattered but readable. It had a lot of info in it about occult stuff. She reached for the book, it was on a shelf above where they sat. Opening it up, she began to look for some information on Ouija Boards.
    Alexus was puzzled. “Hey the page on Ouija Boards is missing from this book. Like someone tore it out.”
    Shawna held her hand out to receive the book. “Let me see.”
    She too opened the book to where the page was supposed to be. It was gone. “Well that’s weird. I thought all the pages were here.” She looked around on the floor below the shelf. “Maybe it fell out somewhere.”
    They all got up and began to search for the missing page. They couldn’t find it anywhere. After giving up their search, they returned their attention back to the game board. The game piece was no longer on the W. It was now resting on the letter A.
    “Jordan, did you bump the board?” Alexus asked.
    Jordan looked down at the board. “I didn’t touch the board. Why?”
    “Shawna you did not move the game piece…did you?” Alexus asked. She knelt beside the board studying it.
    Shawna turned to look at the board. “I left it on the W…Why?”
    Alexus pointed to the board. “Look where the piece is now!” She motioned for Shawna to come closer to the board.
    The three of them studied the board.
    “It’s on the letter A now.” Alexus pointed again to the board.
    The game piece began to move on its own. Stopping next to the letter R.
    Shawna moved away from the board. “Oh my God! Did you see that? It moved all on its own.” Her voice became a bit shaky.
    Jordan reached down and lifted the game piece off the board for better inspection. A cricket ran off the board. Jordan laughed, “It’s nothing but a bug.”
    Shawna laughed too nervously.
    “Hey, does anyone know what time it is?” Alexus asked. “It must be getting close to supper time. We should go check in with my mom. We can leave this here for now…put it away later.”
    “Sound good to me,” Shawna agreed eagerly.
    “Alright…” Jordan brushed off her pants and followed them down the ladder and out of the barn.
    The sun was not so high in the sky now. Alexus believe it had to be close to 4 o’clock. She found her mom in the kitchen preparing supper.
    Alexus stood and while Jordan and Shawna took a seat at the small table in the kitchen.
    “Wha cha making, Mom?”
    “Oh, we’re having chicken pot pies tonight.”
    “Do you need any help?”
    “Naw…I’m all set,” her Mom replied. “Dinner will be ready in about an hour…’Kay?”
    “Alright…” Alexus moved toward the hallway, “we are gonna be up in my room then.”
    “’Kay…”
    The three girls went to Alexus’s room. It was up at the top of the stairs off to the left of the hallway. There was a guest room up here along with her parents bed room, a bathroom, and a room that was being used for storage.
    Alexus’s brother was off to college, so her parents made his room into a guest room for now.
    “What do you want to do for an hour?” Alexus asked as she took a seat on her bedroom floor.
    Jordan took a seat in the tiger striped bean bag chair, while Shawna took a spot on the floor near Alexus.
    The walls of her room were scattered with posters. The one above her bed was that of a pentagram while the others were of dark angels, gargoyles, and some sort of tree of life. A few posters of grunge bands were amongst the mix.
    Her bedroom window gave a perfect view of the barn in the back yard. Small glass red bead curtains covered her window. They filtered the sunlight coming in the window, changing the hue of the light to an odd reddish color.
    “Wanna try using that board again?” Shawna asked.
    “I think we should go get it.” Jordan agreed.
    “Let’s do that after supper. We need to find out how to use the thing.” Alexus replied.
    She got up and went over to her book shelf and let her black fingertips drag along the spines of the books on the shelf until they came to rest on a certain book. A book by Margaist himself. She hoped he could shine some light on the subject.
    She opened the book to the table of contents and found a section on the board. The first passage she found she read out loud. “It says here…what not to do…hmm…I wonder what he means when he says to make sure you close the board when you are done with your session….Also says…the board is not to be used as a toy, but a tool.”
    She sat back down on the floor with the book still open in her hands.
    Alexus said bewildered,“says…this thing is supposed to work…no matter who made it…Wow!”
    “You mean…that thing really lets you talk to the dead?” Shawna asked.
    “Yeah…says it works better if we use candles and incense to set the mood,” Alexus explained. “It’s got a whole chapter on dangers…we can read that later…after we try it again…I wanna see if we can talk to Carley…it can’t be that dangerous to talk to a dead kid.” Alexus handed the book to Jordan, she had her hand out to receive it.
    Shawna peeked over Jordan’s shoulder so she could see the pages of the book too. “I don’t know…there seems to be an awfully lot of stuff written about the board being dangerous.” Shawna replied nervously.
    Jordan looked over the pages of the chapter a bit more before saying, “says most of the dangerous stuff comes with extended use. We haven’t used it long enough to worry about getting into trouble with it. I don’t see any harm in contacting Carley. She was our friend anyways, she wouldn’t hurt us.” Jordan closed the book and handed it back to Alexus to put away.
    “After supper I will see if I can find some candles. I think I know where mom keeps them.”
    All the while time had passed while they sat looking for answers in the book about how to use the board. Alexus’s mom called them to dinner. They decided to tell Alexus mom nothing about the strange feature of the board, if she asked about it.
    The pot pies were good. But Alexus’s mom always made great chicken pot pies. They were small homemade ones. Her mom would buy the little pie plates and make her own. She said she liked her own crust better than the store bought crust.
    During dinner, Alexus’s mom asked Shawna and Jordan about their families. She asked how they were and if any special events were coming up, like weddings or family additions. But, neither girl had anything spectacular to report.
    The town of Ashland is a small town. Small enough for all of its residents to know each other. It was common for most of the residents to show up for each others weddings or christenings.
    After dinner, the girls excused themselves from the table. Mrs. Bordaine allowed Alexus to take the night off from doing the dishes.
    Shawna and Jordan ran off to the barn to collect the game. They packed it up to bring it to Alexus’s room.
    Mean while Alexus went in search of candles and some sort of incense. She planned on asking her mom tomorrow, if she would take them to the New Age Store in Mirtle Bay tomorrow. She could buy some incense there along with some real candles.
    She looked under the bathroom sink. She remembered seeing some sort of candle being stored there. The were kept for when the power went out.
    There they were in the back, large candles in jars. One smelled like pine cones and the other smelled like lavender.
    She took them to her room and set them up on her desk. She placed her fake skull head in between the two candles.
    In the hall closet she found a jar of potpourri and the little pot to put it in. It used a small tea light candle under the little pot. She took a couple extra tea lights to use for more candle light.
  • ages 13-18,  books,  Fiction,  novel,  paranormal,  Teen/Young Adult,  teens,  writing,  young adult

    The Board Game of Death Chapter ~ 2 ~ continued

    Alexus had to walk around the garage to get to the barn. Tall grass grew in the field behind the house. Cows had not grazed here in years. Her grandparents were the last ones to keep cows. The barn was now only used for storage.
    Inside the barn, Shawna had set them up in the upper loft. The barn had three stories. The ground level held an antique car, a mustang to be exact and an old tractor. The second level was where things were kept that would not fit in their attic.
    There was a set of stairs leading up to the second level. After that there was nothing but an old rickety ladder. Two of the rungs had been replaced about a year ago by her dad.
    It was kind of dark in the barn. Some sunlight seeped through the old barn wall boards. Alexus knew her way up to the top loft. She could even make the trip in the dark.
    She climbed over the top of the ladder. Shawna was against the far wall. An old blanket was spread on the floor for them to sit on. She had the box open and the board was sitting in front of her.
    “Did you figure it out yet?” Alexus asked. “Does it seem hard to play?”
    “Um…It’s weird.” Shawna replied. “There’s no dice or anything. Just this weird shaped board piece.”
    “Let me see…” Alexus took the box from Shawna. The instructions were written on the inside of the box. “Talk to the dead?” She read out loud. “Yeah…right!” she said in disbelief.
    She sat down on the floor across from Shawna and the game board, setting the box top beside her. She picked up the game piece to examine it.
    It was made of some sort of wood that was funny shaped. But game pieces tend to be funny shaped. This one was pointy at the top and round at the bottom.
    “It says you set that on the game board and hold your hands like and inch above it,” Shawna instructed.
    “Then what?” Alexus asked. She picked up the box again.
    “Let me see.” Shawna took the box from her.
    “Says…with out touching the game piece…ask a question and concentrate on the game piece. It is suppose to move around the board. What? It spells out words? I don’t know….I doubt it works.” Shawna handed back the box.
    “Maybe we should wait for Jordan to get here. I called her…she said she would be over in a bit…she was mowing the lawn.” Alexus set the box back down on the floor beside her and began to study the board.
    It was covered with the letters of the alphabet and three words were at the bottom. They were yes, no, and maybe.
    “Maybe this game is like the eight ball.” Alexus pushed the game piece around on the board. It slid around pretty easily.
    Shawna picked up the box again. “It says you use it to hold seances. Cool. Do you think it could really work?”
    “No way…really? Let me see…” Alexus looked at the box again. “It says we can talk to dead relatives and friends.”
    “Who would we contact first?”
    “I don’t know…how ’bout Carley? She hasn’t been dead that long. In fact I miss her.”
    Shawna turned her attention to her sandwich and soda. Alexus set the box top back down beside her and decided to eat her lunch too while they waited for Jordan to show up.
    After eating in silence for a few minutes, Shawna spoke up. “You know, her brother won’t even talk to me or any one since the accident.”
    “I know. I saw him the other day, and when I said hi…he just looked at me and walked away. It’s not like anyone blames him for the accident. An accident is an accident. He did not mean to drive the car into that tree.”
    “I heard he swerved to miss some cat.” Shawna ate the last piece of her sandwich.
    “Yeah…now mom makes me wear my seat belt even when we are just going two houses down to Mrs. Hamworth’s house.” Alexus complained.
    Footsteps sounded, someone was climbing the ladder. It was Jordan. “Hey!” she said as she poked her head above the floor. She pulled herself up the rest of the way and stepped onto the floor.
    “Hey Jordan!” Shawna and Alexus chorused.
    “What are you guys doing?” Jordan pulled her backpack off her shoulder and set it down off to the side of the room out of the way. “Mom said I can sleep over.” she said with a smile.
    “Awesome!” Alexus scooted over making room for Jordan to sit with them.
    “What’s that? You guys got a Oujia Board?” Jordan picked up the box top to check out the outside of the box. “Hmm…it’s not made by Milton Bradley? Where did you guys get this? I thought this game was only made by Milton Bradley.”
    “Oh we were at a yard sale this morning. That’s where we got it.” Shawna put her hand on the necklace she remembered in her pocket. “It came with this too.” She pulled the necklace out of her pocket and held it up for Jordan to see.
    “You have seen these before?” Alexus asked Jordan.
    “Yeah…I’ve seen them in the store…but mom would not let me get one. She wouldn’t say why,” Jordan answered. She flipped the box over to read the instructions. “Oh cool, we can contact the dead!”
    “Yeah…we were thinking of contacting Carley.” Alexus handed Jordan the extra can of soda she had brought with her.
    “It doesn’t say anything about wearing a necklace.” Jordan handed the box to Shawna to reread.
    Alexus held out her hand. “Let me see the necklace.” After inspecting it she handed it to Jordan so she could check it out.

    Copyright © 2010 by Linda Nelson

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