Meets the Hero in MUST LOVE BREECHES–Weekend Writing Warriors – 11/23/14

wewriwa_square_2Welcome to Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works.

MUST LOVE BREECHES is on sale for 99 cents!

Oops, I’ve been absent for a while from this blog hop! Last I posted, she’d just met the hero but has no idea she’s travelled back in time. Now she’s dancing with the hero and asks him if he comes to these reenactment parties a lot. The first line is from him:

“I am not at all sure what you believe we are reenacting, but unfortunately, I find I am expected to be at these balls with an appalling regularity.”

He had the period syntax and cadence down pat. “Wow, you’re quite good at this. Don’t worry, I’ll try to play along.”

Her partner did the eyebrow-slanting-up-in-the-middle thing and looked away. She could have sworn he muttered ‘Colonials’ under his breath.

Huh? Wait, he was referring to her. “Hey, no need to be rude, and I’m not a Colonial. We soundly beat your hides and settled that score, like, two hundred years ago.” She gave him a playful swat on his shoulder. “Man, you British can sure hold a grudge.”

To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

MUST LOVE BREECHES now available on all major retailers

AngelaQuarles_MustLoveBreeches_200px

She’s finally met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem: he lives in a different century.

“A fresh, charming new voice” – New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare

HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?

A mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle Rochon to pre-Victorian England, but before she understands the card case’s significance a thief steals it. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her time-traveling origins a secret, and resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes.

To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than keeping his distance from the strange but lovely Colonial. However, when his scheme for revenge reaches a stalemate, he convinces Isabelle to masquerade as his fiancée. What he did not bargain on is being drawn to her intellectually as well as physically.

Lord Montagu’s now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and her common sense. Isabelle thought all she wanted was to return home, but as passion flares between them, she must decide when her true home—as well as her heart—lies.

Available for order:

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Or add to Goodreads

Join my new street team

I’m forming a street team to help create buzz on my release, so if you’d like to join, contact me and I’ll add you to my super secret facebook group :)

Cover and Pre-Order Reveal for STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY + 99c Sale on MUST LOVE BREECHES

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Super excited to reveal today, the cover for STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY, Book 1 in my new series Mint Julep and Monocle Chronicles. It’s a New Adult steampunk romance, and boy did I have so much fun writing this! Once again, I hired the fabulous Kim Killion for the cover, and couldn’t be more pleased! 

I wrote the first draft in May of 2012, and after many revisions, it’s close to being ready! It is also available for pre-order. I picked the farthest date out I could, just in case I had some unforeseen circumstances with the editing rounds, so it says February 3, but I hope to put it out before then. The copy editor has the manuscript and she’s scheduled to have it back to me by first week of December, so with the turnaround time from the proofreader, and then formatting, I’m crossing my fingers for an early January release. Of course, y’all will be the among the first to know (first will be my street team and mailing list).

SMUR_Quote

Here’s the details:

Steam Me Up, Rawley
New Adult Steampunk Romance
Series: Book One in the Mint Julep & Monocle Chronicles
Projected Release Date: Jan/Feb 2015
Length: Novel (94,000 words)
Ebook Pre-Order Price: $3.99
ISBN: 978-0-9905400-3-8
Content advisory: Adult language, explicit sex
Cover artist: Kim Killion

The print cover:

AngelaQuarles_SteamMeUpRawley_POD_Web

Blurb

Jack the Ripper might be in town. But is marriage more terrifying?

In an alternate Deep South in 1890, society reporter Adele de la Pointe wants to make her own way in the world, despite her family’s pressure to become a society wife. Hoping to ruin herself as a matrimonial prospect, she seizes the opportunity to cover the recent Jack the Ripper-style murders for the newspaper, but her father’s dashing new intern suggests a more terrifying headline—marriage.

Dr. Phillip Rawley’s most daring exploit has been arriving at his new home in America in a hot air balloon. A tolerable sacrifice, if it means he can secure the hand of his new employer’s daughter in a marriage of convenience. But Adele works, she’s spirited, and she has an armored pet monkey running her errands. Not only does she not match his notions of a proper lady, she stirs up feelings he’d rather keep in tight control.

With Adele hunting down a headline and Dr. Rawley trying to protect and pursue her, a serial killer is spreading panic throughout Mobile, Alabama. Can Adele and Rawley find the murderer, face their fears, and discover true love?

Originally, this was meant to be the sequel to Must Love Breeches, but my agent wisely advised me to make that into a time-travel series, so Steam is a spin-off from Breeches instead. The events that take place in Breeches make the world that Steam is set in.

To that end, to celebrate the cover reveal and pre-order ability for Steam, I’m putting Breeches on sale this week for 99c on iBook, Amazon, B&N, and Kobo! Thank you to Free Kindle Books & Tips and The Fussy Librarian for helping me to promote this sale!

MaggiesWinner of the Unpublished Maggie for the Paranormal Category!

Last month, I was ecstatic to learn that Steam Me Up, Rawley won first place at the Georgia Romance Writer’s Annual Conference. Someone at the awards ceremony posted this pic of the program.

Steam Me Up, Rawley Available for Pre-Order

Amazon| iBook Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play

You can also put it on your virtual shelves:

Goodreads | Library Thing | Shelfari

Steam Me Up, Rawley board on PinterestOfficial Book Page

Tweetables/Shareables

Help me spread the word! Click on any of these links below to automatically generate that tweet:

twitter-24x24 Tweet: MUST LOVE BREECHES, a #timetravel #romance by @AngelaQuarles, on sale today for #99cents #books #kindle http://ctt.ec/a8COy+

twitter-24x24 Tweet: MUST LOVE BREECHES, a #timetravel #romance by @AngelaQuarles, on sale today for #99cents #iBook #Apple #iPad http://ctt.ec/5XUEf+

twitter-24x24 Tweet: MUST LOVE BREECHES, a #timetravel #romance by @AngelaQuarles, on sale today for #99cents #nook #deal http://ctt.ec/my16G+

twitter-24x24 Tweet: Jack the Ripper might be in town. But is marriage more terrifying? #PreOrder STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY #steampunk #romance http://ctt.ec/a5g73+

facebook-24x24 Link to share sale on Facebook. Suggested content: To celebrate Steam Me Up, Rawley’s cover reveal, Angela Quarles has MUST LOVE BREECHES on sale for 99 cents!

facebook-24x24 Link to share pre-order. Suggested content: STEAM ME UP, RAWLEY, a New Adult steampunk romance, is now available for pre-order!

pinterest-32x32 Link to share cover on Pinterest

Do you like to read steampunk despite the industry saying it’s dead? Do you think New Adult has room for non-contemporary genres?

Deep POV: Befores and Untils, do you need them? Truly?

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I haven’t done a writing craft post in a loooong time and since I just sent Steam Me Up, Rawley to my copyeditor, these types of considerations are fresh in my mind. For the last week or so, I’d been doing searches for particular words that can signal that my prose is telling. Sometimes I leave it, because telling in that part of the story was what needed to happen (typically at transition points).

First, my standard disclaimer: These are not rules to live and die by. Using ‘before’ and ‘until’ is not wrong, and sometimes it’s exactly what’s needed. Like any craft tip, absorb it and then see if it applies, or not, to your prose and that particular point in your story.

Like many other romance writers, I like to write in what’s called Deep POV, which means we try as hard as we can, in either first or third person POV, to eliminate as many filters and barriers between the reader and the POV character so that the reader can be as immersed as possible. There are a lot of tips and tricks, and some of them are well-trodden in writing craft posts on Deep POV, like eliminating filter phrases, not naming emotions, etc. But I thought I’d dedicate a post to two words that don’t get as much attention: ‘before’ and ‘until’

The potential problem with BEFORE

BEFORE is a word that can cause what Margie Lawson calls a mini speedbump and can be a form of telling when it’s used to describe what the main POV character is doing. It might only take a split second for the reader to parse what you mean, but why make them do this? Instead of moving forward, the reader stops to absorb what happened before something else happened, as if the order wasn’t right to begin with. If you use subject and verbs, in the order it happens, the story moves forward without the reader having to take that micro-pause. Not only that, but as a sentence structure device, it can certainly get overused. I’ve read some books where the author used this all the time, like every paragraph, sometimes even in the same sentence, and it developed into a predictable habit. Especially in action scenes, you want the action to be straightforward and full of power, and loading it down with ‘befores’ and ‘untils’ can make your action scene lose steam.

What about UNTIL?

UNTIL is also another word to look out for, as it often shows up in told prose. It’s a good word to search for because then you can look at what is around it and see if it can be made more active-it’s a good ‘flag’ for possible telling. Oftentimes, it’s putting distance between the reader and the POV character because the narration is subtly telling the reader that the narrator already knows what’s about to happen, instead of dropping them more into the moment. Again, sometimes telling is what you absolutely want to be doing–just make sure that when you’re telling it’s because you’ve made the conscious decision to tell, and not because you accidentally did.

Some examples

Here’s some examples of sections I revised last week in Steam Me Up, Rawley. These might change even more once they come back from the copyeditor, but here’s how they stand as of now.

Before

She hadn’t realized how hungry she was until she took her first bite.

Okay, several problems here. The word ‘until’ was higher up in my polishing checklist, so I got to this sentence first from that search, but notice that it also has the filter phrase ‘realized’? That is also on my list, so I would’ve gotten to this sentence from that word search too, but I’ve noticed that a lot of times, these words like to hang out together, like they’re all telling buddies or something, like they’re huddling together, sheltering from the fear that they will get nixed on the next Deep POV sweep.

To fix it, I didn’t angst over it too much, as it was not a pivotal scene. It just needed to get the job done, and didn’t need to be told, and could be stronger with a slightly deeper POV. So I switched out the realization that she was hungry to show her taking the first bite and showing that realization instead:

At the first bite, she groaned. So good.

Sparkling, award-winning prose, this isn’t, but the sentence didn’t require fancy. It just needed to be a bit deeper, that’s all.

Here’s another:

He angled up toward Dauphin Street, and she waited until he disappeared around the corner before she set off after him.

She peeked around the corner. His tall form weaved through a light crowd.

This is an action scene, so I definitely didn’t want these in there. Notice I had bother words in there. Again, I didn’t belabor the prose when I changed it:

He angled up toward Dauphin Street, and disappeared around the corner.

She scurried to the corner and peeked around. His tall form weaved through a light crowd.

These are just subtle tweaks, that when applied throughout your novel, can help keep the reader submerged in your POV character. A reader might not know why they weren’t fully invested in the characters and story, but chances are, fixing things like this can go a long way to helping.

In this example, I was telling something that didn’t need to be told at that moment. Since she didn’t know what she was about, since this was something she did without thinking, I shouldn’t have the POV character conscious of this.

Before she realized what she was about, she found his hand near hers and clasped it, entwining their fingers.

I simply changed it to this and left the realization to several paragraphs later, when she actually becomes conscious of what she did, and I showed it, instead of saying ‘she realized’:

His hand lay near hers, and she clasped it, entwining their fingers.

 Wrapping Up

These are just small subtle things that can add up to a lot of impact. Yes, it is tedious to do word searches for these, but the payoff is great. Like anything with Deep POV, I don’t worry about this when I’m drafting, only when revising. And I only do this checklist search as the last polishing step before handing it to my copyeditor.

What about you? Do you have any questions? Do you also search for words like this?

Epub Coding: Making that first line small-capped with some CSS-fu

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OR, HOW TO STYLIZE THAT FIRST PARAGRAPH WITHOUT ASSIGNING IT A CLASS

I thought I’d share a little bit of CSS coding I used in my ebook release MUST LOVE BREECHES. This will be a short post, but I thought there might be some who would like to use the code, so I’m sharing :) For those totes familiar with CSS, this won’t be a revelation, just sayin’.

So, on most e-readers, my chapter beginnings look something like this:

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Today, I’m going to share my code which stylizes that first line without having to wrap any SPAN tags around the first letter or the first line or first couple of words. In fact, the first line always gets stylized no matter how much the reader enlarges or reduces the page. In the example above, if the reader had reduced the type enough to have “truce” on the first line, it would be stylized correctly.

I’m indebted to Carolyn Crane for part of this code. I was reading INTO THE SHADOWS, one of her awesome romantic suspense novels, and it happened to be when I was struggling with stylizing my epub’s first line (I wanted to have some of the words small-capped, etc), and I noticed her whole first line was smallcapped, and I was like, wait, how can she know how many words that would be? So I expanded my text and it was like magic! I probably looked like a doofus at the restaurant as I made this discovery (I was eating dinner at my fave watering hole). So when I got home, I DM’ed Carolyn on twitter and she was gracious enough to share the secret (not really a secret, but it felt that way to me) CSS code that did this witchy magic:

p.firstpara:first-line {
font-variant: small-caps;
}
p.firstpara:first-letter {
font-weight: bold;
font-size: 130%;
}

I then took her code and made some changes to the CSS so that I wouldn’t have to give a class to every opening paragraph. So here’s the HTML for the opening:

<h1 title="Chapter Two"><a class="nolink" href="../Text/contents.xhtml#tocchapter2">Chapter Two</a></h1>
<p class="doodad"><img alt="New Chapter" src="../Images/doodad.png" /></p>
<p class="epigraph">I had a dream which was not all a dream.<br />
Lord Byron, <i>Darkness</i>, 1816</p>
<p>Isabelle slowly opened her eyes and brokered an uneasy truce with her stomach. The colors and shapes seemed overexposed, too sharp. Nearby, French doors led to the balcony.</p>

Notice that I have no class assigned to the opening paragraph, and yet it’s stylized. Here’s how I did it in the CSS stylesheet:

.epigraph + p {
text-indent: 0;
}
.epigraph + p:first-letter {
font-size: 1.2em;
font-weight: bold;
}
.epigraph + p:first-line {
font-variant: small-caps;

}

What I did above was essentially “say” that if there’s a P tag following the EPIGRAPH class (.epigraph + p) then don’t indent it. And then the next bit is telling it that in that paragraph following an epigraph, I want the first letter to be a tad bigger and bolded. And then the next one is telling it to make the first line of that paragraph have small caps.

So, with that bit of coding on the CSS side, I didn’t have to go through all of my chapters and add a specific class to the opening paragraph so that I could control it (or laboriously put span tags around the first three words to small cap them), I instead controlled it through its neighbor, saving me time.

EDITED TO ADD: I forgot to mention, that I also have the first line in scene breaks stylized too, and since they’re all preceded by a scene break image, I used that image class (doodadScene) to manipulate that first line:

.doodadScene + p {
text-indent: 0;
}
.doodadScene + p:first-letter {
font-size: 1.2em;
font-weight: bold;
}
.doodadScene + p:first-line {
font-variant: small-caps;

}

And if your opening paragraph simply follows your header, your code would be:

h1 + p {
text-indent: 0;
}
h1 + p:first-letter {
font-size: 1.2em;
font-weight: bold;
}
h1 + p:first-line {
font-variant: small-caps;

}

So where to put all this CSS code? No need to put it at the top of every chapter (if you have separate html pages for each chapter). Just open up your stylesheet.css file and put it in there. You only need to put CSS code at the top of a page if you want that page to be different than other pages; your master stylesheet is the default styling for all of your pages.

Hope this helps! If you have any questions, feel free to ask, or if I could have made the code even leaner, let me know.

What We’re Reading: Transcendence by Shay Savage

Angela Quarles:

Talk about pushing boundaries! I’m at Paranormal Unbound today talking about a book that is not only a caveman time travel, but is told entirely in the male POV, without dialogue, and the hero can’t learn language! Oh, and it had me in a blubbering mess when I finished it…

Originally posted on Paranormal Unbound:

transcendenceEver since I read Transcendence by Shay Savage last month, I’ve been dying for my turn to come up to review here! If this book doesn’t meet our manifesto of looking for books that are different and push boundaries, I don’t know what does. Because, behold, this book is:

  • not just a time travel romance, but a CAVEMAN time travel romance
  • told almost in its entirety from the male POV (epilogue is in hers)
  • there’s little to no verbal dialogue
  • the male hero has no concept of language and is incapable of learning it

It’s also Exhibit A in the adage that you can break rules in fiction as long as it works. I mean, seriously, we’re told over and over to have dialogue. Dialogue is action. Dialogue moves the story forward. No dialogue in the first page is a no-no. Etc. Yet this book had no dialogue. And it worked…

View original 1,446 more words

Did You Mess Up History and Other Posts

As part of my debut novel release, I’ve been guest blogging around. Most of them have been interviews, excerpts, and the like, but some have been articles related to the book and so I thought I’d highlight them here in case they’re of interest to you.

timetravel

Today, I’m over at FF&P’s blog with “Did You Mess Up the Timeline? Incorporating Theories of Time Travel in Fiction.” I’ve had some readers confused by my ending and I thought it might be fun to explore the different ways fiction has dealt with causality and paradoxes when time traveling. I made the handy chart above, which won’t make much sense without the article, but at least shows some of the different scenarios.

On September 25, I was on R.L. Jameson’s Immortal History blog with “A Brief Look at Mathematician and Visionary Ada Lovelace

On September 24, I was on Petir Fours & Hot Tamales with “My Journey to Publication

On September 22, I did a Get Lost in A Story interview, wherein I talk about the first book I remember reading and how I can get lost in a story

On September 10, I was on Shauna Roberts’ blog with “Secrets of Getting Your Book into Bookstores

On September 9, I was on Jami Gold’s blog with “DIY Book Trailer

Hope everyone’s been having a lovely fall!

Writer Wednesday: Creating an ePub file Using Scrivener + Dreamweaver + Sigil + Kindle Previewer

epub

Having come from a web programming background, I was thrilled when I learned that an epub file is just a zipped HTML website. I’ve also seen enough weirdly formatted ebooks that I wanted to have the cleanest file possible. Since I’d be paying for the size of the download on Amazon, that was another reason to have a clean, lean file. I’d heard that it was easy to export from Scrivener, but that it wasn’t the cleanest, so I experimented until I came up with the following process. I initially had added Calibre in the mix to create my .mobi files, but soon found that it was the one responsible for messing up my coding.

I realize this is extremely specific to people using Scrivener, but I hadn’t found a lot of documentation for a Scrivener to Sigil process; seems like most Scrivener users export their epub and call it done. If you want to get a little fancier with your coding, though, you’ll need to get into the guts of the code. Also, I’m on a PC, so some of this will not apply to Mac users.

What You’ll Need

  1. Compression/Decompression program. I believe this comes already installed on PCs.
  2. Dreamweaver (DW), or another HTML editing program. I happened to already have this installed because of my old career. If you don’t have this, you can skip straight to Sigil, I just found it easier to use DW for some of the heavy lifting in search/replace and creating the styles I wanted, since it’s designed for this.
  3. Sigil, which you can download for free here
  4. Kindle Previewer, which you can download for free here
  5. Some familiarity with HTML already.

Steps to Creating a Clean ePub file

Using this method, I had no problem uploading this file to the various vendors. It validated clean.

  1. Export epub from Scrivener. I found it helpful to make a folder called eBook in my book’s Production folder.
  2. Open file first in Sigil. I found that this created a slightly different folder structure than if I’d just opened it without this step. Save.
  3. Go to the file in Windows Explorer and change file extension from .epub to .zip
  4. Right click on .zip file and unzip it.
  5. Create a project in Dreamweaver and point it to your new unzipped folder. The top level folder structure should contain these two folders: OEBPS and META-INF. It’s the former folder that has all your files you’ll be using (and the one whose name is different if you don’t open first in Sigil. If you don’t open in Sigil, you’ll end up with 3 folders, and it gets confusing. Just open in Sigil first :) )
  6. If you already have your CSS style sheet, go ahead and replace the existing code with it. If not, this is when it’s probably easiest to make your style changes.
  7. Do some site-wide Find/Replace
    1. I wanted to have my Chapter headings hyperlinked and using a header style, so I did a search on whatever style Scrivener had assigned for my chapter headings and replaced with: <h1 title=”Chapter One”><a href=”..Text/contents.xhtml#tocchapter1″>
    2. Find the normal class and replace with <p>. Scrivener will have assigned some kind of class to your regular paragraphs, which you don’t need, so just replace it with a plain <p> tag
    3. Replace <span> with blank. Scrivener inserts a lot of these which are not needed and bloat your code
    4. Replace any blank paragraph spaces
    5. Replace <body class=”scrivener2″> with <body>
    6. Replace <p class=”scrivener3″>****</p> (or whatever the class code is) with <p class=”doodad”><img src=”../Images/doodad.gif” alt=”Scene Break”></p>. I’d set up Scrivener to use **** as my scene breaks and this replace text is specific to me as I wanted an image here instead. But just replace it with whatever you want your scene break to be. If you want to keep it plain, I’d still give it a better class name, like this <p class=”sceneBreak”>****</p> so you can control it via CSS.
    7. Replace any spans that are just italics to <i>
    8. Search for the following quote marks/special characters and replace. I found later that Sigil switched some of these back, and so you might not need to do this, but I was paranoid about having unreadable characters…
      Left double quote= &ldquo;
      Right double quote = &rdquo;
      Right single quote = &rsquo;
      Left single quote = &lsquo;
      Em-dash = &mdash;
      Replace copyright symbol with &copy;
      é = &eacute;
      ê = &ecirc;
      à = &agrave;
      The c in façade, etc = &ccedil;
    9. Open each chapter and Change Chapter title to correct number
    10. Go through and assign classes to any text outside your normal body text. For instance, I had some text messages, letters, and the like, and I wanted them to display differently. So I peeked into the code to see what class Scrivener had assigned it and did a search and replace to a better class name, etc.
    11. Doublecheck links on Thank you page
    12. Insert any images. Easier at this stage. I had a plain title page image and an author photo.
    13. Rezip, and change file extension to .epub
    14. Open in Sigil
      1. It will say it needs to clean it up, and click OK. It will delete all the end tags that didn’t have a start tag (when you went through and deleted all <span> tags, for instance, it left a lot of orphaned </span> tags). It will also add all your closing <i> tags you added.
    15. Add the images to the images directory
    16. Add all the <a id=”tocchapter1″ /> anchor tags to content.xhtml
    17. Open content.opf
      1. In spine, move contents and copyright to the end (if you want it in the backmatter instead), and also make sure rest is in the right order
      2. Add this to guide: <reference href=”Text/body2.xhtml” title=”Dedication” type=”text” /> — this tells Kindle where to open. I wanted mine to open on the dedication page.
      3. Open TOC.ncx and change the order so copyright and toc are at the end
    18. Save and click on the green checkmark and address any issues it might have found.
    19. Save. Now you have an epub file.
    20. To create your .mobi file, do a Save As and call your epub something different. I tacked on ‘_Amazon’ to the end of my file name, so it was MustLoveBreeches_Amazon.epub
    21. Open the content.opf file and in the guide, change your cover code line to point to the image instead of the text file. I found that if I left it as is, Kindle Previewer gave me an error (though it still worked). For instance, my cover guide code was: <reference href=”Text/cover.xhtml” title=”Cover” type=”cover” /> which pointed to the html file where my cover was located. However, if I changed it to point to where I had the cover image instead, my file was error free: <reference href=”Images/cover.jpg” title=”Cover” type=”cover” />. Your file names might not be the same, so change it to reflect your file names, and also pay attention to case, as it’s case sensitive.
    22. Launch Kindle Previewer and open up your Amazon epub and it will automatically create a folder with your mobi file in it. It’s also useful to test here on the various Kindle platforms to see if your code is working great.
    23. Rename your mobi file and move it up into your main Ebook folder.

This will give you a nice clean epub and mobi file. I ended up (after I made sure I had my final version) creating separate epub files for ARe, Nook, and Kobo, so that I could have the links on the Thank you page go specifically to those sites.

You can validate it here, but if you’re doing a lot of validating, you might want to go ahead and download Pagina. It’s free–the site is in German, but you don’t need to know German to use the program, just scroll down until you see the Windows download option.

Note on CSS

Your CSS file is where all the styling action happens. I left that out as it was specific to my book, but that is where I coded it to not indent my first paragraph, make my first line all small caps, gave my chapter headings a different font, etc. I might do some future posts on how I did each of these, if you’re interested.

This is also where Calibre failed me. I had created my CSS and was tearing my hair out trying to figure out why the file on my kindle wasn’t reflecting it. At this stage I didn’t know about Kindle Previewer and I was painstakingly making changes to my epub, pulling it into Calibre and then sideloading it onto my Kindle. I kept thinking my CSS was wrong, until I stumbled on something somewhere in my Google searches that made me think Calibre could be the culprit. That’s when I downloaded Kindle Previewer and breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn’t my code, it was Calibre messing with it. Since then I’ve heard that Calibre is not a conversion tool (though it does convert). It’s intended use is to manage your digital library, but it’s not meant to be used to create your files.

Do you have any questions? I know I assumed some previous HTML knowledge in order to make this post a reasonable size, so if I skimmed over something, please ask. Have you used a similar process? What tricks and tips do you have?

Fall Into Romance – Heroine Meets Hero + $5 Amazon Gift Card giveaway

Blog Hop Button.3With the first day of fall zipping up fast–it’ll be Monday!!–I’m participating, along with other romance authors, in a blog hop to celebrate love and fall. I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card, but there’s also a $75 Amazon gift Card up for grabs, so stay with me until the end for details.

And since I have a new release out, I thought I’d share a scene when the heroine first meets the hero, since that first meet is when you get that first inkling the character is going to fall in love. But first, a little background. This is a time travel romance, title Must Love Breeches, and the heroine is at a reenactment ball and doesn’t realize she’s been zapped back to 1834–she thinks everyone’s just really good at the whole reenacting bit. She’s just met Ada Byron (the future Ada Lovelace), when she’s interrupted:

Before Ada could reply, a frisson of awareness streaked down Isabelle’s spine. A dark shape filled her vision. Sandalwood and a hint of something else, something elemental, wafted over her. Isabelle gazed up. And up. And—Holy Pete. She clenched her teeth to hold her chin in place.

My God, what gorgeous hair! Long, black, and wavy, it caressed the guy’s shirt collar, making her want to plunge her fingers through it. Frolic in it. Twine her fingers around and sniff it.

He’d grown sideburns for the event, and his prominent chin had that sexy little indentation. Could she nibble on it? The high cheekbones and hooded eyes made her insides all squirmy. Gorgeous men always made her uncomfortable, and this one was one notch shy of being too, too perfect. Which left her trying to remember where she was, and why.

Oh, yes. Ball. At a ball in London.

A reenactment of a ball held in 1834, London, England.

Would this man look equally exquisite on the streets in blue jeans and T-shirt, or were his kind of looks enhanced by the period clothing? She’d seen that phenomenon before: someone who looked absolutely yummy in a historical flick and, when wearing modern clothes, appeared positively humdrum.

But never mind that. Right smack in front of her stood a man at noble ease in form-fitting pantaloons and coattails. The black coat molded to his frame, and the starched white collar poked just high enough to accentuate his jaw. With a hand-tied cravat to boot. Hoo! Which brought her to his deliciously sculpted lips, one side cocked up a smidge.

Above those lips and proud nose, his eyes stared right at her. Oh, oops. A fuzzy warmth spread across her chest. This was awkward. His gaze shifted to Ada. Isabelle tried not to look like, well, like a cartoon character knocked on the head, with big X’s for eyes.

“Miss Byron. Always a pleasure.” He gave a perfect bow, not at all cheesy, as though he practiced bowing. Definitely not his first reenactment ball. “May I have the honor of an introduction?” He raised a brow at Ada.

May I have the honor? Really? She was starting to enjoy the whole reenactment thing, but this was a tad over the top. So, he was handsome. Well, okay, drool-worthy. Maybe she would cut him some slack on the over-acting bit.

“Miss Isabelle Rochon, may I present Lord Montagu,” Ada went right with the flow. “Cousin, Miss Rochon.”

Isabelle stuck her hand out to shake his. Lord? Okay, cool. Lord Drool-Worthy’s penetrating eyes held hers. He lightly grasped her hand, the warmth permeating her glove. Without losing eye contact, he slowly raised it to his lips and feathered a kiss across her knuckles.

Electricity spiked up her arm, stealing her breath. Her knees telegraphed: Yep, can’t handle this, checking out now.

Isabelle managed to turn the knee-buckle into an awkward curtsy, but who cared since this was all pretend, right? Must have worked, because His Hunkiness smiled, the corner of his mouth quirking, as if he sensed her distress.

And that mouth had been moving only a moment ago. Damn, he’d been talking this whole time? Something about dancing?

“D-dance?” Her stomach back flipped. Other couples headed for the center, and the quartet, back from their break, took up their instruments.

He held out his hand, open, waiting.

Oh, God. Her palms were sweating. Was that why ladies wore gloves?

Smart ladies.

She placed her hand in his, and he led her onto the dance floor. If she could focus. Tune out her surroundings. Detach. Not grab the moment too hard, or she’d get so nervous, so flustered, she’d be a pile of goo. A slippery hazard on the marble floor.

The first notes from the musicians floated through the air. A waltz.

Lord Montagu bowed.

Isabelle curtseyed and stifled a giggle. Oooh, boy, she could get used to this treatment.

He swept her into a dizzying swirl of sound and color. His confident fingers on the small of her back shot warmth up her spine. Subtle pressures guided her through the music and crowd in a way she’d never experienced, so very aware of his body, of him. She’d thought the waltz quaint, but she was stunned.

Well, not stunned, but… aroused. Who knew this dance could be sexy?

This––her heart pounded, pounded, pounded––this was what she’d pictured. All the preparation, the diligent work on the dress and hair and shoes, had led to this moment. Because, yep, as usual, she’d built an expectation for this ball.

Until this moment, she’d wanted to curse her imagination. It was wonderful to finally have an experience at an event match up.

She let the moment etch into her memory, a rare, sparkling gift to savor. The soft, mellow glow of nearby candles, the glint of jewels, the murmuring voices—the occasional titter of laughter—her partner’s intoxicating scent, and the notes from the violins intertwining through all, through them, while they rode its rhythm. She grinned like an idiot but didn’t care.

He wasn’t much for small talk. Amazing, and a smidge intimidating. He stared at her while he whirled her around the floor, mesmerizing her with those eyes. They strayed from hers to linger on her neck and slowly travel to her chest and waist.

Each area of her body tingled as if he’d touched her, and her heart thumped against her chest as if seeking his notice too. Damn heart. Something was different about his eyes, and she couldn’t figure out what it was in the dim lighting. Someone must have finally doused the electric bulbs.

She couldn’t look away. Weird. Her stomach did another flippin’ flip. Not for the first time, she wondered where her confidence traipsed off to around attractive men.

The last guy who’d hit all her lust buttons had derailed her life back in the States. She’d never let that happen again. So, she fought against the too-strong-to-be-safe attraction by doing what she sensed would most likely break the spell, and perhaps turn Lord Laconic from her: talking. Anything to deflect, protect.

“So, is this your first time at one of these shindigs?” She hoped her voice didn’t sound quite so shaky to his ears.

She tore her gaze from his to see if she could spot Andrew. Or Jocelyn, to give her the lookee-what-I-have-here face. Or her boss. She must stay focused on her goal. A flash of bright red hair in the corner. Jocelyn? But the next turn whipped the red hair from view.

“Shindigs?” He pronounced it carefully, drawing her attention back to him. His eyebrows swooped closer together, the inside edges slanting up.

Okay, that was adorable, dammit. “Yeah, you know, these reenactments? You seem quite a natural.” The words sucked up what air was left in her lungs. She concentrated on breathing through her nose. Stay calm.

And––he was still staring at her.

Oh great, did she have something in her teeth? Did she have stinky breath? Did he think she was some uncouth American and regret asking her to dance? She ducked her head and checked her teeth with her tongue and nearly stumbled. She swung her gaze back to his face to regain her rhythm.

He cocked his head to the side. “I am not at all sure what you believe we are reenacting, but unfortunately, I find I am expected to be at these balls with an appalling regularity.”

He had the period syntax and cadence down pat. “Wow, you’re quite good at this. Don’t worry, I’ll try to play along.”

Her partner did the eyebrow-slanting-up-in-the-middle thing and looked away. She could have sworn he muttered ‘Colonials’ under his breath.

Huh? Wait, he was referring to her. “Hey, no need to be rude, and I’m not a Colonial. We soundly beat your hides and settled that score, like, two hundred years ago.” She gave him a playful swat on his shoulder. “Man, you British can sure hold a grudge.”

His head whipped back, and he gawked at her. “Two hundred years ago? Are you daft, woman?”

Surely, she looked like a candidate for the poster child of dumbfoundedness: mouth agape, brow creased. Oh. She chuckled. “I get it. Man, you are good. You don’t break character, do you?”

He continued to stare at her as if she were the one who was nuts. Her smile slipped. She looked away and muttered, “Reenactors.”

Available at the following e-retailers:

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$5 Amazon Gift Card

I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card to commenters who tell me what time period they’d like to go back to and why.

$75 Grand prize Giveaway

To enter the Grand Prize Giveaway, fill out the Rafflecopter box and press enter! (One entry per person!) You do not get extra entries for visiting more blogs. Every blog has their own giveaway, however, so be sure to visit the hop link for a list of participating authors! The Grand Prize winner will be chosen by the hop coordinator on Tuesday, September 23 using Random.org and the winner emailed.

GRAND PRIZE: 1 $75 Amazon Gift Card – to enter, visit: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/3ad276f818/

Blog Hop participants

To visit the other participating authors and win more prizes, go to: www.hopswithheart.blogspot.com

the gods at random.org have spoken and the winner of the $5 Amazon gift card is nancygoldberglevine!  

Writer Wednesday: Report on Using Amazon’s Pre-Order Option for a Debut Author

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Last night ended the first two weeks of my debut novel’s release, and I thought I’d post some of my thoughts and findings on using the new pre-order option at Amazon.

On August 14th, the news hit the various indie loops that Amazon had opened up the pre-order option for indie authors. Before that, it was only available to traditionally published authors, and to those huge indie successes who had the clout to ask for the option and have it specially coded. I’d already had Must Love Breeches up for pre-order on B&N, Kobo, Apple, GooglePlay, and ARe, so it had been frustrating not having it up on Amazon too. So I immediately picked a go-live date and uploaded my nearly ready file that evening. Several hours later, it was in their system, and I began promoting it the next morning. It enjoyed a brief foray into the Top 100 for Time Travel Romance later that day, for about an hour or two, but after that initial burst of sales, it settled down to just a couple of sales a day. But that was cool to see, especially when I could see if it was a result of any pre-release promo.

Anyway, here’s what I found:

Captures impulse buys

It helped to capture any impulse purchases as a result of any pre-release buzz from people who might have forgotten about it by the time it released. I think this is an important point to consider if you’re a no-name like me. I’ve heard some say that having a pre-order option for someone like me isn’t very beneficial because it’s not like I’m going to make one of the big lists when it releases, and so any pre-order sales are a waste because they won’t impact your sales ranking on Amazon on the day of release. While this is true, I think there’s more to consider.

Let me back up though, and explain what is happening with sales for those that are newer to the process. Pre-order sales affect your sales ranking on Amazon on the day they make the pre-order sale, hence why I briefly made that list the first day. However, the orders are accumulated during this period and don’t count as sales until the day before your release date. This is why big authors like doing pre-orders because all those pre-order sales their name can rack up all get dumped onto their record on release week, making it more likely they can hit the USAToday or NYT bestsellers lists.

So while yes it’s true that all my pre-order sales would never come close to putting me on a list, I’m also pretty sure I wouldn’t have had even half that number of sales if I hadn’t captured them leading up to it. I’m just not a name where someone would mark it on their calendar or sear it into their brain so they wouldn’t forget my release date. LOL, yeah, no. Instead, what was more likely was ‘huh, cool cover, sounds like a good story-click‘ but they would have forgotten about it probably by the time it released. Of course I can’t scientifically test what percentage of my sales were impulse purchases, but my gut tells me, this was good to do.

Also, if you’re only not doing it because you want all your sales to hit on release day so that your sales ranking catapults you onto a list, remember that Amazon rewards those that have consistent sales. A fast rise up the charts, if not accompanied by steady sales after, will plummet you just as quickly, doing you no good. It took a lot of sales on the day of my release to finally pop me into the Top 100, but it did.  Once I got there though, I’ve been able to stay there with just half that number of sales. So, keep in mind that if you’re looking at your respective category chart and see their ranking and use that to judge how many books they’re selling. You need to double that number, it seems, to get you that same spot. The number you’re calculating based on sales rank is how many it takes to stay there.

Allows you to have a firm release date

It was nice having a firm release date. Before that, I was going to play ‘let’s juggle hitting publish buttons’ hoping they’d all release around the same time. With Amazon allowing this, it allowed me to set a firm date, September 3, and update all my pre-release promo with this date. As it was, I still had to do that a little. I hit publish on the print version on Sep 1, cursing myself for waiting too late (their documentation said 3-5 days to update) but it actually worked out almost perfectly as it popped into Amazon on the afternoon of my release date.  I waited until Sep 2 to hit publish on the German distributor site XinXii, and even today, am still waiting for it to populate!

Allows you more visibility on the Hot New Releases list

If your pre-order sales are strong, you’ll appear in your category’s Hot New Releases list, gaining you more visibility. I forgot to check this, but looking at what’s there now and their rankings, I would have been near the top of page 2 for Time Travel. Since the release, I’ve been bouncing between the #5 slot and #8. The cool thing is, you’re on here for 30 days PLUS however many days you were on pre-order, which gives you more exposure.

Also Boughts

I can’t remember the number I heard, but I think it was like, after 10 sales, books start appearing in your Also Boughts strip. In the past, you had to wait on release day until you got that number of sales, which could be hard for a debut author. However, because I had preorders, on my release day at midnight, boom, those appeared. I wouldn’t be able to tell if my book also appeared in other strips but it was a possibility.

The Process

Some authors have had some horror stories to relate, with reports of glitches in the system. I didn’t have any, and I don’t know if my experience with what happened will be how it plays out in the future, but I thought I’d relate it anyway. When you upload your file, you pick a release date and you have the option of uploading a draft. Amazon then gives you a firm date on which you must upload (and mark) your final. What I mean by ‘mark’ is that there’s a radio button you choose to say whether this is your draft or final. Amazon can’t know that what you’ve uploaded is your final, unless you also click that radio button to tell them this is it. The danger of not doing this in time means you lose your pre-order privileges for a whole year. Just to be safe, I uploaded and marked it as my final two days before the deadline. I found that I was able to keep uploading a new final after that, and it took around 6 hours on average for it to update to the system (they send you an email). But about 4 days prior to my release date, Amazon locked it down and didn’t allow me to make any changes (not even to my description, keywords, or categories). So be sure you have those in final form too.

Sales Weight

This is an unknown for me, so if anyone knows the answer, please pipe up in the comments. I know that some lists on Amazon, like the popularity lists, are weighted by the number of overall sales in a given period, and I wonder if, since the sales all get dumped onto the day prior to release, if this counts in that weight consideration? If so, I had two days in a row with nearly equal sales (my release day sales were almost the same as all the pre-order sales that got dumped onto my record for the day before). Not counting those two days, which are naturally going to be a larger burst of sales for people, I’ve been averaging 23 sales a day, and to me, for a debut author, this is baffling! I’m like, who are these people and how do they know about my book??? The steady sales means I’ve been staying up in the lists, which is getting me more visibility, which generates more sales. It’s like magic. Unfortunately, there’s no way to do a controlled experiment to see if this would’ve happened if I hadn’t done the pre-order option… But I do wonder if that weight is helping me.

Having a Buy Link

It was also nice having a buy link ahead of time to have on promo, and also to be able to go ahead and post my book to some website databases, some of which required an Amazon link in order to submit. It also meant that I could reverse engineer a direct link to my Review page (even though people couldn’t leave reviews yet) so that I could put this link into my back matter ahead of time. In other words, your book, on release day, could already have a direct link to leave reviews. It also means, if you have other books out, that you could update that back matter immediately so that you could capture pre-order sales.

Conclusion

For me, I loved having this option and will do it again without hesitation. However, I know some who experienced glitches. One author I know had uploaded her final and yet Amazon suspended her, saying she hadn’t. Last week, pre-order sales reports were frozen and so authors didn’t know if they had any sales. I’m sure these kinks will work out. But if you had any experiences with it that differ from mine, please feel free to share in the comments! Do you see other benefits or drawbacks that I missed?

Edited to Add (9/23/2014)

Just heard from another author that you CANNOT change the date you set for preorder without repercussions. She has a release well outside the 10-day window and changed it from a Monday to a Tuesday when she realized the pre-orders are counted the day before. There was no warning near that field of what would happen if she changed it. When she changed the date, she got an email from Amazon stating that she lost her pre-order privileges for one year, and that an email had been sent to all who had pre-ordered that the release had been delayed.

Meets the Hero in MUST LOVE BREECHES–Weekend Writing Warriors – 9/13/14

wewriwa_square_2Welcome to Snippet Sunday and Weekend Writing Warriors! For those new to this, fellow writers post eight sentences from one of our works.

MUST LOVE BREECHES released a week and a half ago!

So, Isabelle was at a reenactment ball and has stepped back in time to 1834, though she doesn’t know it yet. Picking up where we left off two weeks ago when she meets the hero:

Would this man look equally exquisite on the streets in blue jeans and T-shirt, or were his kind of looks enhanced by the period clothing? She’d seen that phenomenon before: someone who looked absolutely yummy in a historical flick and, when wearing modern clothes, appeared positively humdrum.

But never mind that. Right smack in front of her stood a man at noble ease in form-fitting pantaloons and coattails. The black coat molded to his frame, and the starched white collar poked just high enough to accentuate his jaw. With a hand-tied cravat to boot. Hoo! Which brought her to his deliciously sculpted lips, one side cocked up a smidge.

To join in the fun and see the other wonderful writers, go to Weekend Writing Warriors! Thanks for stopping by!

MUST LOVE BREECHES now available on all major retailers

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She’s finally met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem: he lives in a different century.

“A fresh, charming new voice” – New York Times bestselling author Tessa Dare

HOW FAR WOULD YOU TRAVEL FOR LOVE?

A mysterious artifact zaps Isabelle Rochon to pre-Victorian England, but before she understands the card case’s significance a thief steals it. Now she must find the artifact, navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London, keep her time-traveling origins a secret, and resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot, he curls her toes.

To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than keeping his distance from the strange but lovely Colonial. However, when his scheme for revenge reaches a stalemate, he convinces Isabelle to masquerade as his fiancée. What he did not bargain on is being drawn to her intellectually as well as physically.

Lord Montagu’s now constant presence overthrows her equilibrium and her common sense. Isabelle thought all she wanted was to return home, but as passion flares between them, she must decide when her true home—as well as her heart—lies.

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Join my new street team

I’m forming a street team to help create buzz on my release, so if you’d like to join, contact me and I’ll add you to my super secret facebook group :)